The US technology companies joined together to file a brief (pdf) with New York courts urging judges to strike down a preliminary injunction filed by six film studios of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which calls for a blockade of the alleged piracy site Movietube.
Sony, Universal, Warner Bros, Disney and Paramount are seeking to remove Movietube from the internet and stop internet companies linking to or providing services to the site, including search engines and social networks.
“Plaintiffs’ effort to bind the entire Internet to a sweeping preliminary injunction is impermissible. It violates basic principles of due process ... [and] ignores the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which specifically limits the injunctive relief that can be imposed on online service providers in copyright cases,” the technology companies write in the amicus brief.
They state that they do not condone the use of their services for copyright infringement and that they work with rights holders to tackle issues, but that the “proposed injunction is legally impermissible and would have serious consequences for the entire online community”.
“In pursuing the Defendants here, and attempting to resurrect the defeated Stop Online Piracy Act Plaintiffs disregard established limits on judicial power and the careful balance that Congress has struck between the rights of online service providers and copyright owners. Those protections cannot be swept aside so readily,” the technology companies write.
Sopa was a bill put before the US House of Representatives intended to significantly expand the powers of US authorities to combat online trafficking in copyrighted and counterfeited goods.
The sweeping act would have given companies that claimed their intellectual property was being infringed the power to request court orders to forbid advertising networks such as Google, as well as payment facilities, from conducting business with infringing sites.
Complainants could also ban search engines from linking to allegedly infringing sites and obtain court orders requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to those sites.
The technology companies claim that the movie studios are attempting to use the injunction to perform the same functions as were stipulated by Sopa.
Despite the backing of the MPAA, of which the film studios in question form a part, Sopa was defeated in 2012 following a public outcry that prompted some 115,000 websites to protest against the act. Ten million people signed a petition against Sopa, while eight million made phone calls to Congress and a further four million sent emails.
“Amici urge the Court not only to strike the objectionable provisions in Plaintiffs’ proposed injunction, but also to issue a clear ruling setting out the limits on injunctions against online intermediaries. Such a ruling would assist other courts facing similarly overbroad requests,” write the technology companies.
This article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 11th August 2015 15.27 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010