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Europe rules your ISP can't be forced to block pirate sites

The European Court has ruled record labels and film studios can't use the courts to instruct your broadband company to track or block you.

Good news from Europe: your ISP can't be forced to monitor or block you from using the Web. A European court has ruled that record labels and film studios can't use the courts to instruct your broadband company to track you or try to block you.

"EU law precludes the imposition of an injunction by a national court which requires an Internet service provider to install a filtering system with a view to preventing the illegal downloading of files," the European Court of Justice ruled.

Record labels, film studios and other owners of copyrighted music, movies or media have in recent years tried to steer government and courts towards making ISPs responsible for piracy. They argue that ISPs should keep an eye on what you're doing online, and if they spot you illegally accessing copyrighted material, courts should order your ISP to boot you off the Internet.

That was the plan laid out in the rushed and half-formed Digital Economy Act, currently in the planning and consultation stages here in the UK. The government decided to drop the controversial plans after Ofcom -- and anyone with an ounce of common sense -- pointed out it was a stoopid idea.

Unfortunately, copyright holders have turned to existing legislation instead, beginning with a legal action to cut off file-sharing index Newzbin. This summer the High Court ruled that BT has to block its customers from accessing Newzbin -- and pay for the ban itself -- with similar bans demanded for Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk. But as expected the ban has proved impractical, with Newzbin claiming the ban isn't working.

How the European ruling will affect the Digital Economy Act and other legislation remains to be seen. Is this good news from Europe? Tell us your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.