Film companies that won a web block order in the United States asked that it be suspended

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By Chris Cooke | Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The group of Israeli film and media companies that recently won web-blocking injunctions in US courts against piracy sites, and has now told the judge handling the case that they probably didn’t. need them. Which is strange. Especially since web blocking has generally not been an available tactic for copyright owners in the United States in the past.

Web blocking, of course, is where copyright owners get injunctions compelling internet service providers to block their customers from accessing piracy sites. In some countries, such as the UK, obtaining such injunctions has become a favorite anti-piracy tactic for the music and film industries.

However, when attempts were made a decade ago to formally introduce a web blocking system into US copyright law, the whole thing turned out to be so controversial that no one ever dared to do again similar proposals, even though web blocking has become fairly standard in other parts of the world.

But then, in the recent copyright lawsuits against, and in New York courts, as well as in the ruling against the defendants, the judge also ordered the Internet service providers to block access to these sites, and other Internet companies to also stop providing services to them. It seemed like a big win for the plaintiffs who may have set a new precedent by providing all copyright owners with more legal tools to fight piracy in the United States.

But now, according to Torrentfreak, the plaintiffs in the case have returned to court to seek a stay of the web-blocking order against ISPs. It’s on the basis that the competing order against other types of internet companies – specifically domain registrars and registries – might be enough to curb the current and future operations of the three piracy sites, in the United States. and beyond.

They told the judge: “The plaintiffs are diligently engaging in efforts to enforce the orders against non-party registrars and registries and service providers in each of the orders. Plaintiffs hope that as a result of these efforts, streaming of pirated content by defendants that infringes plaintiffs’ copyrights will be limited. As such, it might not be necessary to enforce the orders against the ISPs”.

With this in mind, the judge ruled: “The court stays the performance of the obligations imposed on Internet service providers by the default judgment and the permanent injunction orders issued in the aforementioned cases, pending further court order”.

Seizing the domains of copyright infringing sites is another common anti-piracy tactic, of course, and one that can impact multiple countries rather than just one. However, many hacking sites have demonstrated how easy it can be to simply secure alternative domains, with search engines and message boards helping users find the new URLs for their favorite hacking operations. So for most copyright owners, if possible, you would want to block the web as well as grab the domain.

Of course, the film and media companies in this case could still go back to court and get the ISP’s web blocking order not suspended. However – as Torrentfreak notes – the fact that they asked for it to be paused makes you wonder what conversations might be going on behind the scenes with internet companies, and whether the recent request is an attempt to prevent ISP to enter full battle mode in an effort to override web blocking commands entirely.

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