29 June 2017Jurisdiction reportsPetter Rindforth

Blocking copyright infringement online

On February 13, 2017 the new Swedish Patent and Market Court of Appeal issued a decision that internet service provider (ISP) Bredbandsbolaget has to implement technical blocking measures for three years to prevent its subscribers from accessing file-sharing sites The Pirate Bay and SweFilmer.

This case started in 2014 when Universal Music, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and Svensk Filmindustri brought a joint action against Bredbandsbolaget. It claimed that—by supplying internet connection to its customers, thus enabling access to The Pirate Bay and SweFilmer—Bredbandsbolaget was aiding and abetting (objectively) copyright infringement.

The Stockholm District Court dismissed the claims, holding that requiring an ISP to block the sites was unduly burdensome.

The Patent and Market Court of Appeal (Case PMT 11706-15), however, found that under EU law it is possible for copyright owners to obtain an injunction against ISPs whose services are used to commit copyright infringement, even if the ISP only provides its customers with internet access.

According to the court, the Swedish Copyright Act should be interpreted “in the light of EU law”. The court also considered whether such a blocking injunction would be proportional. In this respect, it found that since the content being made available via The Pirate Bay and SweFilmer is primarily copyright protected and distributed illegally, an injunction would be an appropriate response.

Judge Christine Lager stated: “The Patent and Market Court held that right holders such as film and music companies can obtain a court order in Sweden against an ISP which forces the ISP to take measures to prevent copyright infringement committed by others on the internet.”

Wider implications

Although this case involved only one ISP, it is expected that all other Swedish ISPs, such as TeliaSonera, ComHem, Tele2 and Telenor, will follow this new practice to quickly block access to certain infringing websites upon a single request from a copyright owner.

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