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French court tackles illegal streaming and download sites

A Paris court has ordered Internet access providers and search engines to block access to a number of websites providing illegal copies of copyrighted films and TV shows.

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A Paris court ruled on November 28 that French telecommunications firms and Internet search engines must cut off access to 16 websites offering access to illegal copies of copyrighted videos.

While courts have previously ordered Internet access providers to block targeted websites before, "this is the first time search engines have been ordered to de-list pirate websites and it is a crucial step towards respecting the law on the Internet,” a group of bodies representing film producers and distributors said in a statement.

Five film and television industry bodies are supporting the lawsuit, which was filed back in 2011.

The court ruled that French sites Allostreaming, DPstream and a whole list of other popular websites were “entirely or nearly entirely dedicated to copying audiovisual productions without the consent of their authors”.

The websites advertise “free streaming” and “free downloading” of the latest cinema releases and popular TV series.

The ruling orders internet access provider such as Orange and Iliad-Free to block access to those websites for their French customers. In addition, search engines including Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Bing must remove search results linking to those websites.

The tech companies may ask the plaintiffs in the case to cover the cost of the ban.
The ban must be in place within two weeks and will last one year.

The French technology website Numerama noted that Google search results for the banned websites already pointed to websites with slightly different names that were not covered by the order.

The court ruled that copyright holders could ask for the list of violators to be updated, but only a judge could make the final ruling.

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