CJEU sinks pirates on the internet

16/06/17, EU/Competition

The Pirate Bay is a well-known online file sharing platform which acts as an indexer of BitTorrent files and links. BitTorrent is a protocol through which users can share files with each other on the internet – it operates by dividing files such as videos into segments which are shared by peers without the need for a central server. In the protocol users who wish to share a file create a ‘torrent file’ referring to a central tracking server that identifies the users available to share that particular file. The torrent files (or ‘magnet’ links relating to them) are then are uploaded onto an online platform such as The Pirate Bay which enables them to be searched and identified. The Pirate Bay does not store the works itself but most of the links it stores relate to works such as films or music.

In a controversial decision the Court of Justice has held that that the operators of The Pirate Bay ‘by making that platform available and managing it, provide their users with access to the works concerned’ notwithstanding that the site itself does nothing more than index the link files. It therefore held that the making available and management of an online sharing platform like The Pirate Bay must be considered an act of communication to the public of the relevant works themselves and thus an act of copyright infringement.

The judgment is here.

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