People in the Netherlands will soon have access to The Pirate Bay, one of the world’s most censored file-sharing websites, as a court in The Hague ruled that Dutch ISPs need to stop blocking the site after the ban proved ineffective against piracy.
The Court of The Hague released its verdict that two leading ISPs operating in the country – XS4All and Ziggo – no longer have to block access to file sharing website The Pirate Bay.
“In applying the case law from the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the Court of Appeal held that an access provider is not under an obligation to take measures that are disproportional and/or ineffective” according to the legal representative of XS4ALL.
The court’s verdict was based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which includes the “freedom to conduct a business” and “right to property.” Entrepreneurial freedom overrides property rights, the court ruled.
The Pirate Bay was blocked by Ziggo in 2010 after anti-piracy group Stichting Brein, which represents copyright holders in the Netherlands, went to court, citing the file-sharing website’s copyright violations. In 2012, XS4ALL joined Ziggo to appeal the court’s previous ruling. Brein took the case to court again, winning a full trial.
Both providers subsequently filed appeals, arguing that the measure was ineffective, citing reports of independent research institute TNO and the University of Amsterdam’s Baywatch report. The latter actually showed that the number of subscribers who admitted to downloading or streaming from illegal sources went up after the blockade. TNO found that the amount of BitTorrent traffic on XS4ALL’s network increased after the block.
“Since the Pirate Back blocking lawsuit began, BitTorrent traffic has not been reduced, it increased instead,” XS4All’s Niels Huijbregts stated on the provider’s website.
The appeals court has also ordered the Brein anti-piracy group on Tuesday to pay about 326,000 euros ($445,000) in legal costs.
XS4ALL said on its website that the company was “very pleased” to win the case.