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New organisation launched in Germany to allow web-blocking without court orders

By | Published on Monday 15 March 2021


A new organisation was formally launched in Germany last week that will make it easier for copyright owners to get piracy websites blocked by internet service providers in the country.

Dubbed a “clearing house for copyright on the internet”, the new set up, called CUII, is a joint venture between the biggest German ISPs and the country’s copyright industries. It means that web-blocks can be instigated against piracy sites without court action being required.

Web-blocking, of course, has become an anti-piracy tactic of choice in those counties where such blockades are an option for copyright owners. The process usually means getting a court to issue an injunction ordering ISPs to block access to copyright-infringing websites. Though in some countries government agencies, or similar, are empowered to directly issue web-blocking orders.

Although the CUII circumvents the need for court action, a committee – including retired judges with knowledge of German copyright law – will review each complaint submitted by a copyright owner. Germany’s telecommunications regulator BNetzA will also review each complaint to confirm that any one web-block does not breach the European Union’s net neutrality rules.

The new body will issue web-blocking orders against websites that are “structurally infringing”. That is defined as a website where mass infringement is key to its business model, and where – by providing access to infringing material – it is causing significant economic harm to the creative sectors.

Specific examples given of sites that would fall under that definition include the good old Pirate Bay, which is often one of the first to be subject to web-blocking whenever it is introduced in any one country.

Although the first site to be put on the CUII blocking list, according to BNetzA, is TV streaming set-up – which is already blocked by some ISPs in Germany and has a nice guide to circumventing the blockades at the top of its home page as a result.