AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch Supreme Court referred a landmark case against the file-sharing website Pirate Bay to the European Court of Justice on Friday, a move that could lead to a precedent in efforts to curtail the sharing of copyrighted movies and music online.
Pirate Bay, which opened in 2003, provides links to files stored on other users’ computers. Its creators have faced legal action for copyright infringement in several countries, but the Dutch case could influence the broader clash between users and the entertainment industry.
“The judgment is very significant, as for the first time the highest European Union court will now have to decide on the legal possibilities of blocking peer-to-peer websites,” said Joris van Manen, a lawyer at Hoyng Rokh Monegier. The firm represents Dutch industry group Stichting Brein, which brought the suit five years ago.
In 2010, Brein asked a Dutch court to order internet service providers XS4LL and Ziggo, which is owned by Liberty Global [LBTYAE.UL], to block Pirate Bay. Friday’s referral of the case to the European Court capped five years of litigation at all levels of the Dutch court system.
Van Manen said it opens the way for legal action against other internet providers and “will set the standard for the entire EU.”
The Luxembourg-based court has been asked to consider two main points: whether Pirate Bay’s actions infringe European copyright laws and to what extent a court can order internet providers to block subscribers access to illegal websites.
Reporting By Anthony Deutsch, editing by Larry King