Paris Court Says Search Engines Don't Need To Block Torrent Searches

from the good-ruling dept

Copyright rulings in France have occasionally been a complete disaster in the past, so it's nice to see the High Court of Paris recognize that Google and Microsoft cannot be forced to block any searches that include the word "torrent." The two separate lawsuits were brought by SNEP, which could be seen as the French version of the RIAA. The organization argued that since the law allowed "all appropriate measures" to be used to block infringement, it could demand that search engines block any searches that include the word torrent. The court wasn't buying it, noting correctly that not all torrents are infringing, and such a rule would be way too broad:
“SNEP’s requests are general, and pertain not to a specific site but to all websites accessible through the stated methods, without consideration for identifying or even determining the site’s content, on the premise that the term ‘Torrent’ is necessarily associated with infringing content,” the Court writes in its order.

More specifically, the court notes that the word “torrent” has many legitimate uses, as does the BitTorrent protocol, which is a neutral communication technology. This means that blocking everything “torrent” related is likely to censor legal content as well.

“Yet [torrent] is primarily a common noun, with a meaning in French and in English; it also refers to a neutral communication protocol developed by the company Bittorrent that enables access to lawfully downloaded files.

“The requested measures are thus tantamount to general monitoring and may block access to lawful websites,” the High Court order adds.
That was in the ruling in the case against Microsoft. In the case against Google, SNEP lost on more of a procedural technicality. Google pointed out that SNEP brought the case in the name of just three artists, rather than itself, and the court more or less agreed that SNEP couldn't bring a case on behalf of just those artists. Still, the clear ruling on the Microsoft case suggests that SNEP wouldn't have had any more luck against Google if it had filed the case in the correct procedural way.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: censorship, copyright, france, paris, search, search results, torrent
Companies: google, microsoft, snep

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread

  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 20 Jul 2016 @ 11:38pm

    Re: Re: It's like paper, it's a medium not the content

    Plus, most Linux distributions have a torrent option, and a great many other developers do use the protocol as an easy way to get their data to their users.

    This is why the whining about torrents has always been weak. It's a file transfer protocol built to efficiently transfer large files, nothing more or less. Just because some people can't tell that it's not just for piracy, that doesn't mean it doesn't have legitimate uses. It certainly doesn't mean that throttling or blocking torrents will either stop piracy nor have zero negative side effects.

    In fact, this argument has always been a great litmus test for bias. If you confront an anti-torrent type with the fact that many people use torrents to reduce bandwidth costs and make their businesses feasible, the answer you get will either be denial (i.e. they're ignorant of this truth) or dismissal (that company's bottom line doesn't matter, because larger corporations might be losing money through piracy). The ignorance might be easy to overcome, but the hypocrisy is stating that torrents need to be blocked to save one type of company, even though doing so would kill another, is always rather telling and difficult to change (you can't change a man's mind if he paycheck depends on the status quo, etc)..

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.