An Italian court has ordered Cloudflare to terminate the accounts of several pirate sites. The ruling comes after a complaint from local broadcaster RTI, which successfully argued that Cloudflare can be held liable if it willingly fails to act in response to copyright infringement notices.
As one of the leading CDN and DDoS protection services, Cloudflare is used by millions of websites across the globe. This includes many pirate sites.
In recent years many copyright holders have complained about Cloudflare’s involvement with these platforms. RTI, a company owned by the Italian mass media giant Mediaset, took things a step further and went to court.
RTI complained that Cloudflare offered its services to various pirate sites, which made available its TV-shows, including Grande Fratello (Big Brother), and L’isola dei Famosi (The Celebrity Island ).
The broadcaster argued that Cloudflare could be seen, among other things, as a hosting provider under the e-Commerce directive (Directive 2000/31/CE) . And, since it was made explicitly aware of the infringing actions of its clients but failed to take action, the company could be held liable.
US-based Cloudflare disagreed. It countered that the Italian court didn’t have jurisdiction and that the e-Commerce directive didn’t apply to foreign companies, but those objections were rejected.
In a ruling handed down by the Commercial Court of Rome late last month, Cloudflare was ordered to immediately terminate the accounts of the contested pirate sites. These include filmpertutti.uno, italiaserie.tv, piratestreaming.watch, cinemalibero.red, and various others.
In addition, Cloudflare was ordered to share the personal details of the site owners and their hosting companies with RTI.
If Cloudflare fails to comply with any of the above, it must pay a fine of €1,000 for each day the infringements continue.
While Cloudflare doesn’t see itself as a hosting provider, the Court concluded that it can be seen as such, under European law. Among other things, its “Always Online” service hosts various website resources even when the site’s servers go offline.
This means that unlike an ISP, which merely passes on traffic, Cloudflare can be held liable for the infringements of its customers, if it deliberately fails to respond properly to copyright takedown notices or similar complaints.
Interestingly, most of the pirate sites listed in the complaint are still online today. Some are redirecting to new domains, but Italiaserie.org is still operational using Cloudflare. We couldn’t see any RTI content on the site, however.
According to RTI’s attorney Alessandro La Rosa, Cloudflare would violate the court order if any of the mentioned sites make RTI content available through its service. This would mean that Cloudflare is liable to pay €1,000 per day.
The ruling from the Court of Rome can’t be appealed and there are also two similar proceedings against the company before the same Court. These were filed by RTI and Medusa Film (both companies of the Mediaset Group) and remain ongoing.
Cloudflare did not immediately reply to our request for comment.
The full list of affected domains as mentioned in the complaint reads as follows: filmpertutti.uno, piratestreaming.watch, cinemalibero.red, altadefinizione.review, guardaserie.watch, serietvu.club, casacinema.news, italiaserie.org, italiaserie.tv, cinemasubito.org, and ctrlhits.online.
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