Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-telenor-will-block-the-pirate-bay-in-sweden-without-a-shot-fired-180520/
Back in 2014, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry filed a lawsuit against Bredbandsbolaget, one of Sweden’s largest ISPs.
The copyright holders asked the Stockholm District Court to order the ISP to block The Pirate Bay and streaming site Swefilmer, claiming that the provider knowingly facilitated access to the pirate platforms and assisted their pirating users.
Soon after the ISP fought back, refusing to block the sites in a determined response to the Court.
“Bredbandsbolaget’s role is to provide its subscribers with access to the Internet, thereby contributing to the free flow of information and the ability for people to reach each other and communicate,” the company said in a statement.
“Bredbandsbolaget does not block content or services based on individual organizations’ requests. There is no legal obligation for operators to block either The Pirate Bay or Swefilmer.”
In February 2015 the parties met in court, with Bredbandsbolaget arguing in favor of the “important principle” that ISPs should not be held responsible for content exchanged over the Internet, in the same way the postal service isn’t responsible for the contents of an envelope.
But with TV companies SVT, TV4 Group, MTG TV, SBS Discovery and C More teaming up with the IFPI alongside Paramount, Disney, Warner and Sony in the case, Bredbandsbolaget would need to pull out all the stops to obtain victory. The company worked hard and initially the news was good.
In November 2015, the Stockholm District Court decided that the copyright holders could not force Bredbandsbolaget to block the pirate sites, ruling that the ISP’s operations did not amount to participation in the copyright infringement offenses carried out by some of its ‘pirate’ subscribers.
However, the case subsequently went to appeal, with the brand new Patent and Market Court of Appeal hearing arguments. In February 2017 it handed down its decision, which overruled the earlier ruling of the District Court and ordered Bredbandsbolaget to implement “technical measures” to prevent its customers accessing the ‘pirate’ sites through a number of domain names and URLs.
With nowhere left to go, Bredbandsbolaget and owner Telenor were left hanging onto their original statement which vehemently opposed site-blocking.
“It is a dangerous path to go down, which forces Internet providers to monitor and evaluate content on the Internet and block websites with illegal content in order to avoid becoming accomplices,” they said.
In March 2017, Bredbandsbolaget blocked The Pirate Bay but said it would not give up the fight.
“We are now forced to contest any future blocking demands. It is the only way for us and other Internet operators to ensure that private players should not have the last word regarding the content that should be accessible on the Internet,” Bredbandsbolaget said.
While it’s not clear whether any additional blocking demands have been filed with the ISP, this week an announcement by Bredbandsbolaget parent company Telenor revealed an unexpected knock-on effect. Seemingly without a single shot being fired, The Pirate Bay will now be blocked by Telenor too.
The background lies in Telenor’s acquisition of Bredbandsbolaget back in 2005. Until this week the companies operated under separate brands but will now merge into one entity.
“Telenor Sweden and Bredbandsbolaget today take the final step on their joint trip and become the same company with the same name. As a result, Telenor becomes a comprehensive provider of broadband, TV and mobile communications,” the company said in a statement this week.
“Telenor Sweden and Bredbandsbolaget have shared both logo and organization for the last 13 years. Today, we take the last step in the relationship and consolidate the companies under the same name.”
Up until this final merger, 600,000 Bredbandsbolaget broadband customers were denied access to The Pirate Bay. Now it appears that Telenor’s 700,000 fiber and broadband customers will be affected too. The new single-brand company says it has decided to block the notorious torrent site across its entire network.
“We have not discontinued Bredbandsbolaget, but we have merged Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget and become one,” the company said.
“When we share the same network, The Pirate Bay is blocked by both Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget and there is nothing we plan to change in the future.”
TorrentFreak contacted the PR departments of both Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget requesting information on why a court order aimed at only the latter’s customers would now affect those of the former too, more than doubling the blockade’s reach. Neither company responded which leaves only speculation as to its motives.
On the one hand, the decision to voluntarily implement an expanded blockade could perhaps be viewed as a little unusual given how much time, effort and money has been invested in fighting web-blockades in Sweden.
On the other, the merger of the companies may present legal difficulties as far as the court order goes and it could certainly cause friction among the customer base of Telenor if some customers could access TPB, and others could not.
In any event, the legal basis for web-blocking on copyright infringement grounds was firmly established last year at the EU level, which means that Telenor would lose any future legal battle, should it decide to dig in its heels. On that basis alone, the decision to block all customers probably makes perfect commercial sense.