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Shooting the messenger...

Sony Music is trying to block websites via public DNS resolvers


Link Here6th December 2021
DNS-resolver Quad9 has lost its appeal against Sony Music's pirate site-blocking order at the Regional Court in Hamburg. The non-profit Quad9 Foundation is disappointed with the outcome but isn't giving up the legal battle just yet, noting that various Internet services are at risk if the order isn't successfully challenged.

Earlier this year, Germany's largest ISPs agreed to voluntarily block pirate sites as part of a deal they struck with copyright holders. These blockades, which are put in place following a thorough vetting process, are generally implemented on the DNS level. This is a relatively easy option, as all ISPs have their own DNS resolvers.

DNS (un)Blocking

DNS blocking is also easy to circumvent, however. Instead of using the ISPs' DNS resolvers, subscribers can switch to alternatives such as Cloudflare, Google, OpenDNS, and Quad9. This relatively simple change will render the ISPs' blocking efforts useless.

This workaround is widely known, also by copyright holders. As such, it may not be a surprise that a few weeks after the German blocking agreement was reached, Sony Music obtained an injunction that requires DNS-resolver Quad9 to block a popular pirate site .

A blocking order against a DNS resolver is quite unusual and the Swiss-based non-profit organization Quad9 swiftly announced that it would appeal the verdict. The foundation stressed that it doesn't condone piracy but believes that enforcing blocking measures through third-party intermediaries is a step too far.

Court Upholds Site Blocking Order

Quad9 repeated these and other arguments at the Regional Court in Hamburg, asking it to overturn the injunction. After reviewing the input from both sides, the Court chose to uphold the site-blocking requirements.

The name of the targeted site remains redacted but the legal paperwork mentions that the unnamed site links to pirated music. We previously deduced that Canna.to is the likely target, as that site was already part of the ISPs' voluntary blocking agreement when the proceeding was initiated.

Having lost its first appeal, Quad9 notes that it will continue to block the site, as required by the injunction. The non-profit is disappointed with the Court's decision but announced that it will continue its appeal at a higher court. Quad9's General Manager John Todd said:

[We] will continue to pursue our legal fight against what we think is an outcome that threatens the very core of the Internet's ability to be a useful and trusted tool for everyone. Corporations should not have the ability to directly demand that network infrastructure operators censor sites.


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