The High Court of Paris recently decided that French ISPs and search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) must completely block access or remove 16 copyright-infringing video sites from their indexes and search results. The case was originally filed in 2011.
The successful plaintiffs were several France-based film and TV trade associations, including L’Association des Producteurs de Cinéma and La Fédération Nationale des Distributeurs de Films. These groups represented a range of producer interests including American film studios.
Below are the domains that Google et al must now completely delist:
According to Torrent Freak, the French court found that the plaintiff trade groups had shown that the sites were “dedicated or virtually dedicated” to distributing films and video content without permission (aka copyright infringement).
The trade groups had also wanted Google and the defendants to bear the cost of the enforcement. However the French court ruled that the “beneficiaries” must bear the costs. The required blocking and delisting must be implemented in the next few weeks.
It’s unclear whether there are any appeals available to Google and its co-defendants. However the decision is part of a larger European trend — some would argue a very disturbing trend — toward holding search engines legally responsible for the conduct of third parties.
Recent US-based research has questioned the notion that search engines promote or contribute to online piracy. It also casts doubt on the efficacy of one of the remedies approved in this case: delisting offending video sites.