Danish ISP May Fight Order to Fence in the Pirate Bay

One of Denmark's largest ISPs is considering fighting a court order to shut off its subscribers' access to The Pirate Bay, the embattled file-sharing search engine.

Tele2 was ordered to shut off access last week after the court concluded The Pirate Bay facilitates the trading of copyright material without the permission of rights holders, according to a translation by the Danish Pirate Party, a digital rights activist group.

Tele2 complied, but plans to meet on Monday with other telecommunications companies on whether it should challenge the ruling, said Nicholai Pfeiffer, chief of regulations for Tele2, on Wednesday. So far, other Danish ISPs (Internet service providers) have not shut off access.

"In this case, we think it is needed to have a clarification of the legal grounds, and that is why we are discussing this with the other companies," Pfeiffer said.

Background

The court's ruling was hailed by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which along with other industry groups, are lobbying governments to force ISPs to undertake stronger measures against piracy, such as content filtering.

This latest legal move in Denmark has a precedent. Last year, a Danish court order ISPs within the country to block AllofMP3.com, the Russia-based Web site that sold albums for download well below market prices. The ISPs complied. Record industry groups charged the site was a fraud and was not paying royalties for the music it sold.

But concerns abound over whether ISPs should be forced to take responsibility for content that goes across their networks. In a statement released Wednesday, Tele2 said that discussions over copyright issues should take place between those who have the rights to the content and those who are hosting it, not network operators.

The situation in Denmark is just the latest fracas involving The Pirate Bay, which is based in Sweden. Last week, Swedish authorities charged four people affiliated with the BitTorrent search engine for facilitating copyright violations.

The Pirate Bay's owners say they do not host illegal content on their servers but merely allow people to find torrents, or small information files that coordinate the download of content from computers around the world via P-to-P (peer-to-peer) sharing. After a police raid, the site's servers are now located outside of Sweden.

The Pirate Bay quickly moved this week to restore service to Tele2 subscribers by setting up a new Web site. Tele2 subscribers who trying to visit The Pirate Bay can go to The Jesper Bay, according to the TorrentFreak blog. The site gives instructions on how to get access to The Pirate Bay.

(Rune Pedersen of Computerworld Denmark contributed to this report.)

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