While the UK Court of Appeal has opened the door for broadband ISP blocking to combat trademark or copyright-infringing activities (see our earlier report ), the picture in the United States, China and Hong Kong is more complex.
“‘It is, it is a glorious thing, to be a Pirate King,’ said W.S. Gilbert: but he was speaking of ship pirates. Today we speak of film pirates. It is not a glorious thing to be, but it is a good thing to be in for making money.” So said celebrated English judge Lord Denning in a 1980 pirate video case. One could say that being an IP pirate king today is much less risky than it was then; it can certainly be more lucrative. It is logistically more straightforward, with an enormous potential global market for unlawful copies of commercial content and counterfeit goods, downloadable at the touch of a screen or delivered in small packages from almost anywhere in the world. Add to this the ease with which, at the first sign of serious trouble, your virtual pirate galleon can set sail and anchor at another server in a remote jurisdiction where it is not easily enforced against. Or, if sunk by a takedown request, it can simply be refloated and renamed. The 21st century Blackbeards and street market hustlers of cyberspace might well feel as if the World Wide Web was made specially for them.
However, what if the virtual galleon need not be sunk, but merely traced and the digital barges carrying the infringing content and offers of counterfeit goods denied access at the shores of the world’s online markets?
This article focuses on whether internet service provider (ISP) blocking remedies are available to trademark and copyright owners in the United States, China and Hong Kong; but starts with a brief look at the position in the United Kingdom, where the courts have shown willing to adopt innovative solutions to this 21st century problem.
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