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  1. #1
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    Google, Microsoft can’t be forced to apply censorship “torrent” search rsults

    The high court of Paris has ruled that Google and Microsoft do not have to censor their search engines to remove all results involving the world "torrent" used in conjunction with the names of three French musicians.

    The French music producers' association "Syndicat national de l’édition phonographique" (SNEP) had sought a court order to force the US companies to remove results for searches pairing the word "torrent" with the artists' names, which they claimed directed users to pirate sites.

    As an article on the French site NextInpact explains, the Tribunal de grande instance de Paris refused to grant SNEP's request for Google's search results to be censored because of a legal technicality raised by Google's lawyers. SNEP's request referred to only three artists, and should have been on behalf of its entire membership, the high court ruled.

    In the case of SNEP's attempt to censor Bing, Microsoft adopted a different defence. The Parisian court agreed with the US company's lawyers that for it to be granted, SNEP's request "must involve specific and identifiable content." In addition, measures needed to be "proportionate and specific for each site listed," and they must be "accurate and necessary, efficient and useful." In the court's view, these requirements were not met, and the request was therefore refused.

    However, as NextInpact notes, the court went considerably further in its ruling on the Microsoft case. It criticised SNEP's attempt to turn the word "torrent" into some kind of badge of dishonour for search results, and noted how legal sites would be adversely affected too:

    SNEP's requests are general because they do not concern a specific site, but all sites accessed by the methods cited, without considering the identification or even determination of the site's content, based on the premise that the term "Torrent" is necessarily associated with infringing content, while it is primarily a common noun, which has a meaning in French and English, but also means a neutral communication protocol developed by the company Bittorrent, which provides access to files that can be downloaded lawfully, or corresponds to the names of artists or groups, or is included in site names.

    The high court went on to say that "the measures sought are similar to general surveillance measure and could cause the blocking of legitimate sites."

    As well as rejecting SNEP's requests, the Tribunal de grande instance de Paris ordered the organisation to pay €10,000 to both Google and Microsoft to cover their costs. Ars has asked SNEP, Google, and Microsoft for their comments on the outcome, but has not yet received replies. This post will be updated with any responses that are received.
    "To be or not to be doesn't matter much to me." -Samantha Fox

  2. #2
    too cool to conga
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    Court Rules Google & Bing Don’t Have to Apply Censorship “Torrent” Search Results

    The High Court of Paris decided this week that Google and Bing are under no obligation to try and prevent piracy by filtering out torrent-related searches. The problems with taking such drastic measures is the fact that it would be casting too wide a net and could potentially filter out torrent sites which offer legitimate content.

    Groups within the entertainment industry have long taken issue with search engines for not doing more to prevent sites offering pirated content from showing up in search results. An industry group in France called SNEP took the issue all the way to the High Court of Paris.

    SNEP’s demands included that both Google and Bing implement automated filters. The group wanted all search results featuring the word “torrent” to be blocked, as well as all websites which feature the word torrent in their domain name.
    The High Court ruled against the industry group, which means Google and Bing are free to serve torrent-related search results as they always have. The Court illustrates the flaws of conceding to SNEP’s requests:


    The Court adds that a torrent is by nature a neutral communication protocol that can be used to access lawfully downloading files. Therefore complying with SNEP’s requests may end up blocking access to lawful websites.
    For it’s trouble, the High Court has ordered the music industry group to pay Google and Bing $10,000 to cover its legal fees and costs.
    "To be or not to be doesn't matter much to me." -Samantha Fox


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