Court Orders Cloudflare’s DNS Resolver 22.214.171.124 to Block Pirate Sites in Italy *TorrentFreak
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An Italian court ordered Cloudflare to block three torrent sites on its public DNS resolver 126.96.36.199. The anti-piracy measures were requested by local music industry group FIMI and anti-piracy group FPM. This is the first time Cloudflare DNS has had to block rogue sites, and with that injunction in hand, Google and OpenDNS could be next.
Popular internet infrastructure company Cloudflare has come under a lot of pressure from copyright holders in recent years.
The company offers its services to millions of sites, including multinationals and governments, but also some of the world’s leading pirate sites.
Rightsholders are unhappy with the latter, and some have even accused Cloudflare of facilitating copyright infringement by continuing to provide access to infringing platforms. In Italy, these complaints have been followed by legal actions by key players in the music industry, resulting in injunctions that force Cloudflare to block several pirate sites operated by its customers.
Cloudflare fiercely protests these blocking requests and others. The company sees itself as a neutral third-party service that merely caches or forwards content. Even when Cloudflare blocks sites or customers, the associated sites remain operational.
Music Industry Demands Cloudflare DNS Blocking
Rightsholders agree that there is no magic bullet to stop piracy, but argue that Cloudflare can and should do more to address the problem. In a case in court in Milan, they argued that Cloudflare should go even further.
In court, anti-hacking team FPM and music group FIMI pointed out that Cloudflare’s DNS resolver was also problematic. This DNS resolver helps people access pirate sites, even when the sites aren’t using Cloudflare’s CDN services. As such, Cloudflare should also be required to block problematic sites on its DNS servers.
After hearing these arguments, the Milan court agreed. He issued an interim injunction that forces Cloudflare to block three torrent sites: kickasstorrents.to, limetorrents.pro, and ilcorsaronero.pro. These sites are already blocked by ISPs in Italy following an order from local regulator AGCOM.
Historical DNS blocking order
This is the first time that Cloudflare has been ordered to make rogue sites unavailable through its public DNS resolver 188.8.131.52. This is a significant expansion as many Italians have switched to public DNS resolvers to circumvent ISP blocking measures. With the court order, rights holders can remove this shortcut.
“We welcome the Court’s decision which will further strengthen the ongoing infringing site blocking program executed by AGCOM in Italy, while increasing the effectiveness of enforcement actions taken by rights holders to protect their online content,” said FIMI CEO Enzo Mazza.
According to Mazza, the court order is an important next step in protecting copyrighted content online. It acknowledges the liability of third-party intermediaries under the new EU Copyright Directive and clarifies that companies such as Cloudflare can be ordered to follow ISP blocking orders.
So far, Cloudflare has refused to act, even when AGCOM has put sites on a blocklist. With the recent court order, the company will have no other choice as potential penalties are at stake.
Google and OpenDNS?
In theory, similar injunctions could also follow against other DNS providers, including Google and OpenDNS. “The decision opens the door to others offering similar services, like Google,” Mazza told local media.
While this type of order is new in Italy, we saw a similar injunction in Germany last year. A local court ordered DNS provider Quad9 to block a hacker site, but the decision is still under appeal.
Cloudflare is also expected to appeal the Italian injunction, which is only a preliminary ruling. For now, however, it is required to block all three torrent sites on its DNS resolver within 30 days. This also applies to any future domain names the Sites may use.
In response to previous orders targeted at pirate sites operated by customers, Cloudflare chose to implement measures limited to Italy. The company hasn’t publicly commented on the recent DNS blocking order, but we expect this will also only be enforced locally.
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