By Jacqueline Clover and Ezra Steinhardt

On 30 October, 2012, press reported that the Finnish Supreme Court had rejected an appeal from Elisa, a Finnish internet service provider (ISP), against a court order that required Elisa to block its users from accessing the well-known file-sharing website, The Pirate Bay.

The order, which was granted in October 2011 in response to a claim brought by the Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre (CIAPC) and the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI), requires Elisa to block access to the Pirate Bay by removing Pirate Bay domain names from Elisa’s Domain Name System (DNS), and by blocking access to Pirate Bay IP addresses.

The decision will be welcomed by rights holders, who have consistently argued that court-ordered domain name blocking orders are a necessary and effective means of fighting online copyright infringement.  ISPs, on the other hand, continue to argue that the bans do not significantly reduce peer-to-peer file-sharing, or copyright infringement, and that they are easily circumvented by more sophisticated users (for example, by use of proxy servers).

Courts across Europe are now considering similar questions with increasing frequency.  UK ISPs were required to block access to The Pirate Bay in April;  Belgian, Italian and Dutch courts have also issued similar orders requiring ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay. In Ireland, the ISP USP appeared to be preparing to institute a similar block in anticipation of a court order requiring it to block The Pirate Bay at the request of the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA). And rightholders have not limited the focus of their attentions to The Pirate Bay.  Last week, press reported that the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) had requested that UK ISPs block access to a further three file-sharing sites (Fenopy, H33t, and Kickass Torrents).