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Belgian telcos ordered to blockade Pirate Bay

Court rules ISPs must cut access to torrent site

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The Belgian Anti-Piracy Federation (BAF) has urged all Belgian ISPs to block freetard site The Pirate Bay after a higher Antwerp court ordered Belgian cable company Telenet and telco Belgacom to make the site inaccessible to their subscribers.

The banning order comes after an Antwerp Commercial Court last year believed such a measure was "disproportionate".

In 2010 BAF took Telenet and Belgacom to court after lengthy negotiations fell through. BAF believed that many Belgian films, TV shows and albums of Belgian artists were offered unlawfully for download online alongside international titles.

"It is the government’s responsibility to protect the legal economy and to enforce the law, also on the internet," managing director Christophe Van Mechelen said in a statement.

"Our entertainment industry needs to be protected from incurring further losses caused by illegal downloading and sharing."

The Antwerp Court of Appeal has now overruled the decision of the Commercial Court and ordered Belgacom and Telenet to initiate DNS blockades of at least 11 domains related to The Pirate Bay, the infamous bittorrent site. Telenet and Belgacom represent over 80 per cent of the Belgian broadband internet market.

Non-profit Belgian advocacy group NURPA was quoted as saying the decision sets a "dangerous precedent" for blocking of content by internet service providers in Belgium and abroad.

Until recently, only a district court in Hamburg had ordered a German ISP to unplug access to the site or see its staff face two years in prison or a $250,000 fine for each example of copyright infringement found.

However, in the Netherlands a lower court last year decided that cable operator Ziggo and KPN-owned ISP XS4ALL do not have to block The Pirate Bay as was requested by Dutch lobby group BREIN. The court believed blocking the entire site was "unjustified" since ISPs can't be held liable for the actions of individual users. ®

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