The Publishers Association is celebrating a significant legal victory today. It has forced reluctant internet service providers to block access to a number of sites containing huge volumes of copyright material. The courts ruled that freedom of the internet does not mean freedom to steal other peoples’ work and make money selling it or selling advertising based on access to illegal copies.
Why it takes court action to force ISPs to co-operate is one of the enduring mysteries of modern life. The argument that technology and search is a neutral platform and operating these money making businesses does not carry a responsibility to intervene against criminality was rapidly undermined when Google and others were forced in the court of public opinion to act against child pornography. The principles – or lack thereof - became very clear in the public gaze at that point, but the fact that ISPs continue to drag their heels is not very edifying. Hopefully this High Court ruling will help common sense prevail.
NLA media access watches with more than passing interest. Our anti-piracy initiative, OATS, is now used by most national newspapers and achieves a take-down rate on infringing material of over 80%. We applaud the Publishers Association for taking action to reduce the volume of illegal use of published content.