Obtaining digital content for free would be considered an illegal practice that would be banned after a landmark ruling in Europe against one of the biggest in the industry.
The Pirate Bay
The Pirate Bay, an infamous free downloads site, is under fire for copyright infringement regarding a decision concerning streaming services.
It said The Pirate Bay’s owners “cannot be unaware” of the illegal material posted to its site and that it links to such content “with the purpose of obtaining a profit”.
“Making available and managing an online platform for sharing copyright-protected works, such as ‘The Pirate Bay’, may constitute an infringement of copyright.” said the court.
TPB and other websites are already blocked in the UK by ISPs under national law.
TPB is a liability for law enforcers ever since its launch in 2003. It has survived raids and arrests of founders while infamous competitors have collapsed.
In the decision, the court said that similar websites ease infringement by making it available to the public. Consequently, TPB is unable to claim they are not involved.
“Importantly, even if the works in question are placed online by the users of the online sharing platform, the fact that operators of that platform play an essential role in making those works available means that they are potentially liable for copyright infringement.” said Tom Collins, associate at law firm Stevens and Bolton.
The aftermath of the ruling could affect other online services including search engines and ISPs.
“The decision will be welcomed by copyright owners, as operators of file sharing platforms such as The Pirate Bay, which knowingly facilitate access to unauthorized content such as films and TV shows, cannot hide behind the fact that they do not upload the files themselves.” said Collins.
It comes during a hunt for pirated content and declining numbers in online piracy. A decision from the EU court in April over Kodi streaming devices said people who watch illegally copied material could also be prosecuted for disobeying laws.
Google and Microsoft signed up to a Government clampdown on copyright material in the UK earlier this year, agreeing to make it more troublesome to find sites that have been served with numerous infringement notices.