Website blocking has become an increasingly common anti-piracy tool around the globe.
In dozens of countries, ISPs have been ordered by courts to block pirate sites, usually on copyright grounds. More recently, neutral DNS providers have been targeted as well.
Earlier this year, an Italian court ordered Cloudflare to block three torrent sites on its public 184.108.40.206 DNS resolver. The order applies to kickasstorrents.to, limetorrents.pro, and ilcorsaronero.pro, three domains that are already blocked by ISPs in Italy following an order from local regulator AGCOM.
Cloudflare Appeals DNS Blocking Order
Disappointed by the ruling, Cloudflare filed an appeal at the Court of Milan. The internet infrastructure company doesn’t object to blocking requests that target its customers’ websites but believes that interfering with its DNS resolver is problematic, as those measures are not easy to restrict geographically.
“Because such a block would apply globally to all users of the resolver, regardless of where they are located, it would affect end users outside of the blocking government’s jurisdiction,” Cloudflare recently said.
“We therefore evaluate any government requests or court orders to block content through a globally available public recursive resolver as requests or orders to block content globally.”
At the court of appeal, Cloudflare argued that DNS blocking is an ineffective measure that can be easily bypassed, with a VPN for example. In addition, it contested that it is subject to the jurisdiction of an Italian court.
Court Dismisses Appeal
Cloudflare’s defenses failed to gain traction in court and its appeal was dismissed. DNS blocking may not be a perfect solution, but that doesn’t mean that Cloudflare can’t be compelled to intervene.
The dismissal is a win for Sony Music, Warner Music, and Universal, the companies behind the complaint. It’s also seen as a clear victory by Enzo Mazza, CEO of the Italian music industry group FIMI.
“This is an important decision for Italy and beyond. Cloudflare, as well as other intermediaries providing similar services, should step up their efforts in preventing users access to illegal websites which were ordered to be blocked,” Mazza says.
Global music industry group IFPI agrees. According to Chief Executive Frances Moore, the order sets an important precedent.
“By upholding the original order against CloudFlare, the Court of Milan has set an important precedent that online intermediaries can be required to take effective action if their services are used for music piracy,” Moore notes.
This is the first time that Cloudflare has been ordered to make pirate sites unavailable through its public DNS resolver 220.127.116.11. This is an important expansion since many Italians switched to public DNS resolvers to bypass ISP blocking measures. With the court order, rightsholders can remove this shortcut.
While this type of order is new in Italy, a similar blocking injunction was requested in Germany last year. A local court ordered DNS provider Quad9 to block a pirate site but the decision is still under appeal.
Cloudflare believes that these types of orders set a dangerous precedent. The company previously said that it hadn’t actually blocked content through the 18.104.22.168 Public DNS Resolver. Instead, it implemented an “alternative remedy” to comply with the Italian court order.
TorrentFreak reached out to Cloudflare for a comment on the dismissal but we received no immediate response.
A copy of the court of appeal’s decision is available here
From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.