CloudFlare Stands Up to Record Labels in Copyright Case

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CloudFlare is not backing down from a group of companies who want it to stop providing services to websites that allegedly infringe on copyrights.

In a move praised by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), CloudFlare told a court this month that it shouldn’t be forced to block sites without proper legal procedure after a group of record labels demanded it stop providing services to various websites connected with the music streaming site MP3Skull.

“Copyright law limits the kinds of orders that a court can impose on Internet intermediaries, and requires courts to consider the pros and cons thoroughly. In this case, as in other recent cases, copyright (and trademark) holders are trying to use extremely broad interpretations of some basic court rules to bypass these important protections,” EFF said in a blog post.

READ MORE: CloudFlare Shows How Much Bandwidth Prices Vary Around the World

CloudFlare took a similar stance before when it was involved in a case with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) last year, who obtained a seizure order that prevented internet companies from offering services to a Grooveshark copycat. At the time, CloudFlare’s general counsel told The WHIR that it found it “disquieting that the plaintiffs would try to rope CloudFlare into being their copyright and trademark police.”

Voices from the other camp are calling CloudFlare’s latest move a “desperate new strategy to protect pirate sites.” A blog post by the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property said that “the issue is simply whether, under the Federal Rules, CloudFlare is bound by the injunction that has already been issued against the MP3Skull sites. Perhaps not wanting to get bench-slapped again on the aiding and abetting question under Rule 65, CloudFlare is taking an even lower road with this desperate new argument that it’s magically immune to court orders against its customers under the Federal Rules.”

EFF believes that the court should reject this argument as it is too broad-reaching; “Still, the court should reject the record labels’ argument that one injunction obtained by default can bind ‘countless conduit online service providers, search engines, web hosts, content delivery networks, and other service providers’ — in other words, the entire Internet — without considering the burdens, costs, and alternatives for each, as Congress required.”

Elsewhere, adult entertainment firm ALS Scan has filed a complaint in California that names CloudFlare as part of a “growing number of service providers [that] are helping pirate sites thrive by supporting and engaging in commerce with these sites.

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