According to the highest court in Germany, the internet service providers in the country could be given the responsibility of blocking websites that offer illegal music downloads. However, this could only be possible if the copyright holders could show that they have made some reasonable attempts first for thwarting this piracy through several other means. Two cases were dismissed by the federal Supreme Court that were brought by GEMA, the music rights society, against Deutsche Telekom and music companies Sony, Universal Music and Warner Music Group against O2 Deutschland of Telefonica.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court said that enough efforts had been made by the plaintiffs for putting a stop to the violation of the copyrights in the first place and this has to be rectified. It also said that in principle, it is definitely possible for the internet service providers to be given the responsibility of blocking illegal music that’s available on the internet, even if the content could be accessed from somewhere else. The purpose of GEMA is to protect the rights of the owners of musical works and it had demanded that the largest telecom company in Germany, Deutsche Telecom block the website called “3dl.am” as it was providing people with access to music that’s protected by copyrights.
In a different case, the music companies demanded that the O2 Deutschland block access to a peer-to-peer file-sharing network called the “goldesel.to” for music, which is part of the eDonkey network. In the ruling made the court, it was clearly stated that the company providing internet access would only be given the responsibility of blocking the site when reasonable efforts were made by the copyright holder for taking action against those who were violating their rights such as the website operators or even those who have made the infringement possible like the web host company.
According to the music industry, they lose billions of dollars each year due to the illegal downloading of songs and it deprives the industry of the revenue that’s needed for paying artists, songwriters and talent scouts. All over the world, courts are trying to deal with the question of who is responsible for the infringement of copyrights via illegal downloads. For instance, a number of court cases have been filed against Google-owned YouTube. In July, it was ruled by a German court that YouTube only had the responsibility of blocking videos that infringed copyrights when they were brought to its attention.
It wasn’t possible for the video sharing website to scan everything that was posted on the site. The court ruling was welcomed by Deutsche Telekom. In a statement, the company said that the Supreme Court has clearly mentioned that there has to be strict scrutiny concerning the reasonableness of asking service providers to block websites. According to industry experts, asking the ISPs to block websites should always be the last resort of the networks because it is a quite excessive one. It isn’t the only solution as far as copyright infringement is concerned.