Torrent sites have been taking a lot of flak over the last few years, especially due to the growing pressure on Internet Service Providers. Recently, a long running case in Austria has ruled to block certain torrent websites, including The Pirate Bay and 1337x. This has led to some controversy, especially regarding the legal content available on the same websites.
The argument being made is that these sites should not be blocked because of the illegal content, since they also have valuable legal content as well. Also, these sites form an important for of communication and data transfer between people.
“A problem in this context is that the offending pages also have legal content and it is no longer possible to access that if barriers are put in place,” said ISPA (Internet Service Providers Austria) Secretary General Maximilian Schubert.
A lot of the pressure to block these websites comes due to the growing support against torrent sites by the music industry. Big names in the music industry have come forward, like Metallica, The Beatles, Justin Beiber, David Guetta, Iggy Azalea, Lady Gaga, etc.
The ISPA secretary then goes on to say, “We do not support illegal content on the Internet in any way, but consider it extremely questionable that the decision on what is illegal and what is not falls to ISPs, instead of a court,” said ISPA Secretary General Maximilian.
“Although we find it positive that a court of last resort has taken the decision, the assessment of the website in the first instance continues to be left to the Internet provider. The Supreme Court’s expansion of the circle of sites that be potentially blocked further complicates this task for the operator and furthers the privatization of law enforcement.
“It is extremely unpleasant that even after more than 10 years of fierce discussion, there is still no compelling legal basis for a court decision on Internet blocking, which puts providers in the role of both judge and hangman.”
While some sides are trying to protect the rights of users and freedom of the internet, an valid case can be made against blocking torrent sites in order to prevent piracy. The way this case in Austria turns will then set the precedent for how the rest of the world rules on a similar case. Russia has already started doubling down on such sites, and so have many ISPs in India.