In the past years, there have been an increase in European cases when intellectual property rights have been used as a tool to ask ISPs to block or filter websites – either through court actions or by voluntary measures. See also the caselaw of the European Court of Justice - SABAM vs Netlog (C-360/10) and UPC Telekabel case (C-314/12).
The table below aims to highlight a snapshot of what is happening in several European countries – whether websites are being blocked or filtered by ISPs either as part of the IPRs infringement legal cases or by being included in national blacklists or other voluntary measures.
|Country||Websites blocked or filtered by ISPs?||Types of websites blocked||Relevant case law or voluntary measures|
How is blocking made?
|Allowed by the electronic communications legislation|
|Austria||Yes||Illegal movie streaming, pirate bay (kinox.to).||OGH 4Ob71/14s||ISP is free to choose method (usually at the domain name level).||Yes|
Online gambling websites with no licence issued by the State Commission on Gambling (SCG) – a complete list is available here.
In December 2017 the Bulgarian General Directorate for combating organized crime (the Cybercrime division) blocked a website which provided unlicensed access to more then 39 000 literary works. No information is provided on how the blocking was made. This is a standard enforcement measure for suspending illegal activity, which can be imposed by investigation/supervision authorities.
SCG v T.Net Ltd (case 662/25.03.2014, Plovdiv Regional Court)
|Domain name||Yes. Article 22, paragraph 4 of Gambling Act|
No (IPR violating content)
Yes (content violating criminal law like child pornography, extremism, racism, etc.)
A new bill 186/2016 was passed in the Parliament and signed by the president. The bill submitted by the Czech Ministry of Finance (CMF) newly regulates gambling and its taxation. § 82 allows CMF servants to ban internet games that do not meet criteria or do not have a license in the Czech Republic. Based on the ban the ISPs will be obliged to block particular gambling websites at their own expenses. The subject of controversy is focused on the fact that the banning order does not require a court warrant. Such a practice may facilitate massive internet censorship in the future. Many IT companies (including CZ.NIC – Czech domain registry) and members of civil society protested against the bill and filled a complaint at the Constitutional court.
The Constitutional Court ruled that the law is not in conflict with the constitutional order of the Czech Republic.
|Online gambling websites with no licence issued by the Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic.||-|
Not clear.Few court decisions enforced withdrawal/deletion of data at the hosting services located in the Czech republic.
The piratebay.seand 18 URL of the site (en .net, .org, etc.)
Paris Court of First Instance decision based on requeirements of article L. 336-2 of the Code de la propriété intellectuelle (CPI)
|Court decision orders to Orange, Bouygues Telecom, Free, SFR to take all necessary measures in order to impede access to the website from French territory||Yes, as long as the list of blocked websites is not in conformity with CPI|
|Germany||No||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable|
|Italy||Yes||For info on IPR blocking, see the AGCOM 2014 annual report. The web sites publishing content in contrast with IPR in the field of audiovisual or video-game received the order of disabling the access. They were mainly Torrent websites.|
Case Law no. 45/14/CSP against Torrent Download
Case law n. 44/05/DDA/AC against Lime Torrents
Case law 04/DDA/GDS against Torrentz.pro
Case law 03/DDA/CA against Torrent Downloads
Case law 02/DDA/FP against Cineblog-01.net
Other cases: 49/14/CSP; 50/14/CSP; 51/14/CSP/; 66/14/CSP; 90/14/CSP; 92/14/CSP, 146/14/CSP; etc.
|AGCOM using the mechanisms of notice and take down. In case the providers refuse, the AGCOM will intervene directly and take down only the contested content. Postal Police intervene on the web in case of pedopornography, web sites instigating violence, hate; jihadist web sites.|
Yes, the websites will be blocked on the basis of the AGCOM Regulations on IPR in electronic communication no. 680/13/CONS. At the date of January 23rd 2015, AGCOM has received 166 requests of intervention for breach against IPR on line. 30 procedures ended with orders of disabling the access, by blocking the DNS.AGCOM, taking into consideration the principles of graduation, proportionality and adequacy established in the regulation, blocks IP only in particular cases – for example if the server is located outside Italy. Furthermore, on January 27th 2015, the Match-off Operation against the web sites transmitting in streaming live and on demand film in contrast with the existing TV rights imposed the shut-down of 124 pirate web sites by the Nucleo Speciale Radiodiffusione Editoria of Italian Police.
Six Popcorn Time-affiliated sites were shuttered by the Dutch anti-piracy organization BREIN in the Netherlands, including three Netherlands-based Popcorn Time sites -- popcorntime.nl, popcorn-time.eu and popcorntimefiles.nl. BREIN said that “Popcorn Time is an illegal service particularly popular in the Netherlands and gets a lot of media attention,” BREIN said in a roughly translated statement: “This free service competes with paid legal offers including Netflix.”
|The Netherlands has criminalized acts of the possession, distribution and production of child pornography (Article 240b of the Dutch Criminal Code). Since 1 January 2010 ‘providing access to child pornography’ has also been prohibited in the Netherlands.||In collaboration with the ISPs, the government has established an ‘internet child pornography filtering platform’ . Furthermore, the Child Pornography Reporting Office keeps a blacklist of child pornography websites. In the future, the ISPs participating in the platform will use the list to block access to the websites. But the effort to complete such a list has been dropped recently and blocking is not likely to happen.||Yes|
|Romania||Yes||Online gambling, child pornography, selling illegal psychoactive products||For the case of online gambling, the National Gambling Office makes a black list with unauthorised online gambling sites and force ISPs to comply with the blocking order (Decision no. 17 from 26.06.2015).|
Yes, the law allows blocking of websites, if the users are properly informed.
However despite the electronic communications law, the National Gambling Office issued Decision no. 17 from 26.06.2015 forcing ISPs to block unauthorised online gambling sites and redirect visitors to a page hosted by the Special Telecommunication Service (STS).
Content downloads or streaming (newpct.com, spanishtracker.com)
Rojadirecta / links to sporting events broadcasts
FAP v NewPCT, Juzgado de Instrucción Número 10 de Zaragoza
Juzgado número 2 de lo Mercantil de La Coruña
|ISPs and DNS providers||Unclear, the site aggregates links to contents offered by others.|
|Switzerland||Not for purposes of IPR enforcement.|
Currently, sites with visual depictions of sexual abuse of children (which are hosted outside of Switzerland) are blocked voluntarily by major Swiss ISPs on the basis of a confidential blocklist maintained by police. However, the Swiss parliament has voted to introduce mandatory blocking of foreign online gambling sites. Similar measures have also been proposed for some types of illegal content.
|Currently, a voluntary measure.||Currently, by means of DNS resolution of the domain name.||Currently neither explicitly allowed nor forbidden by the law.|
|United Kingdom||Yes||Illegal content (Dating, Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco, File sharing, Gambling, Games, Pornography, Nudity, Social networking and Web forums, Suicide and Self-harm, Weapons and violence, Obscenity, Criminal Skills, Hate, Media Streaming, Fashion and Beauty, Gore, Cyberbullying, Hacking, Sex education, Search Engines, Phishing, Malware and Spyware)|
Payment mechanism blocking
|Cartier International AG et al. v. British Sky Broadcasting Limited et al. and the Open Rights Group,|
IP and Domain
Last updated on 28 February 2018.
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