Request to filter infringing searches rejected in France

In recent weeks, the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris had rejected an action which sought to block all torrent searches through search engines by forcing their providers to implement filters.

The action was first brought by SNEP, who are the French Syndicate of Phonographic Publishing, who targeted Microsoft in their claim and the search engine, Bing.

SNEP sought an injunction against Microsoft to force them to implement filters on Bing to prevent torrent content with a link to their domain shown in the results of a search for the period of 12 months.

The substance for their claim came from Article 8(3) of the InfoSoc Directive. This provides Member States of the EU to “ensure that right holders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe a copyright or related right.”

Microsoft counter claimed that this action should be dismissed as SNEP had not used their free of charge reporting and removal tool to combat the problem.

Laying down judgment, the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris rejected Microsoft argument for the need to use the ‘notice and takedown’ tool first. The Directive did not require this.

However, SNEP were also disappointed as the Tribunal also rejected their claim as they stated the injunctions referred to in Article 8(3) and that sought by SNEP, were for specific content and should be easily determined and proportionate. Asking for an injunction for all lining torrent content is not in line with this, their claim was deemed general, the opposite of what is required.

Therefore, it seems that those looking to search engines to develop a liability to prevent torrent links to their domains need to look again. However, this does not mean that search engines are not completely off the hook, so watch this space.

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