ISPs will block piracy websites in far-reaching default move

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In a decision that could prove significant for the music industry, a federal court has officially ordered Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to several television and movie piracy websites.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla recently issued the corresponding judgment in a trio of orders, specifically calling “all” ISPs – 96 of which, including Verizon, AT&T, Spectrum and Cox Communications, are listed in the filing – to blacklist israeli-tv.com, sdarot.com and israel.tv.

The plaintiffs, including United King Film Distribution and Keshet Broadcasting, “producers and providers of film, television, sports and news content in Israel,” filed an amended complaint against the defendant piracy websites in late January, according to legal documents.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs — who “possess valid U.S. copyright registration in at least 51 original works and at least 273 unregistered works” — argued that the defendant websites had “reposted and streamed » content at your fingertips. . These media included Hebrew-language broadcasts “produced and owned by” the plaintiffs, in addition to works by “major” American studios and licensed “for broadcast exclusively in Israel.”

But since none of the defendants responded or “otherwise appeared in this action,” the court slapped them with a $7.65 million damages bill for breach of copyright. author as well as “prejudgment interest on all monetary reparations”, at nine percent, from the end of December.

In addition, the defendants were permanently enjoined to provide access to the plaintiffs’ protected media or to infringe the content in question.

That said, the court also acknowledged that the owners of the defendant websites had “gone to great lengths to disguise themselves and their ill-gotten proceeds…including using multiple false identities and addresses associated with their operations and deliberately misleading contact”.

Of course, it’s not uncommon for hacking websites (or substantially similar platforms owned by the same parties) to reappear after being sued. And on that front, the presiding judge took aim at the ISPs themselves in an effort to keep the defendant platforms completely off the web, as mentioned at the outset.

“All ISPs (including, without limitation, those listed in Exhibit B herein) and any other ISP providing services in the United States will block access to the Website at any domain address known today (including, but not limited to, those listed in Schedule A herein ) or which will be used in the future by the defendants (“Newly Detected Websites”) by any technological means available on ISP systems,” the court said.

Not stopping at ISPs, however, the judge also said that “third party providers of services used in connection with defendants’ operations” – encompassing “web hosting providers”, “VPN service providers”, “web designers” and even banks, to name a few – “are hereby permanently prohibited from providing services to” hacking websites.

Driving the point home, the judge ordered banks and related financial institutions to “freeze all accounts owned or controlled by ‘defendants’ and then ‘transfer all funds from blocked accounts’ to plaintiffs after 30 days” unless the Defendant has filed with the Court and served on Plaintiffs’ Counsel a request that such sums be exempted from this Order.”

Registrars and registries, for their part, were ordered to transfer to rightsholders all of defendants’ current domain names and “all newly detected websites.”

It’s no secret that the The music industry has invested several million dollars in an attempt to weed out feed mining platforms, fake feed providers and related websites. But even the massive judgments against these platforms have yet to include full orders for ISPs (and others) to block piracy sites; the UK High Court in March 2021 however ordered ISPs to block several stream-rippers.

In the months and years to come, it will be interesting to see if this decision becomes a common component of judgments in similar cases in the United States.

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