No surprises as CJEU upholds website blocking injunctions

By John Wilks

In a case of potential relevance to copyright owners throughout the EU, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has upheld the system of website blocking injunctions in place in Austria, following a reference from the Austrian Supreme Court in the case of UPC Telekabel v Constantin Film. The court confirmed that such injunctions can play a preventative role.

The fact that the CJEU approved the Austrian courts’ approach should come as no surprise, since member states are obliged under article 8(3) of the 2001 Copyright Directive to ‘ensure that rightholders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose service are used by a third party to infringe a copyright or related right’. If the existence of that obligation wasn’t a clear enough indication that website blocking injunctions are permitted under EU law, the recitals to the directive make clear that ‘in the digital environment’ such an injunction should be available ‘against an intermediary who carries a third party’s infringement of a protected work… in a network’.

Article 8(3) is the provision under which the Austrian blocking injunction regime was introduced, as well as section 97A injunctions in the UK and equivalent provisions in several other member states…

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