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The pirate-bay of science causes landmark ruling in copyright dispute

Written by Mark Reed on 08 November 2017

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Sci-Hub were sued by the Chemical Society in America (ACS) because they were distributing academic papers without a license. Sci-Hub didn’t represent themselves, so a default judgment was requested by ACS, naturally to their favour.

A recommendation was made in the judgment that ACS would be awarded $5 million in statutory damages but also, and more importantly that all internet search engines, web hosting and internet service providers should be ordered to cease facilitating access to Sci-Hub. The UK are one of the leading proponents in issuing web-blocking orders as an anti-piracy tactic; a tactic used because it is hard to enforce intellectual property rights when considering online infringement.

The first glimmer of support from America regarding issuing web-blocking orders was deliberated in 2012, when congress considered introducing a specific law, but alas was aborted and not relatively discussed since. As it can be appreciated, the current Sci-Hub case would then be argued as going against the wishes of congress. However, the leading judge approved it by saying “any person or entity in active concert or participation with defendant Sci-Hub and with notice of the injunction, including any internet search engines, web hosting and internet service providers, domain name registrars, and domain name registries” to “cease facilitating access to any or all domain names and websites through which Sci-Hub engages in unlawful access to, use, reproduction, and distribution of ACS’s trademarks or copyrighted works”. Basically, it was ordered to go ahead with web-blocking Sci-Hub across all platforms.

Interestingly, this decision by one judge was subjective because another American judge has told Google to delist another IP infringing tech company but that it ‘could not be applied in the US’ and on top of that, that court agreed with the web giant that the court order from Canada probably conflicted with American internet and free speech law.

Watch this space for the development on web blocking throughout the US and whether in the long run we will wait and see if web-blocking will progress and prevail with limiting online IP infringements.

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