The process of blocking access to pirate sites typically includes suspending access to the IP addresses associated with piracy domains online. But these blocks can be sidestepped by using virtual private networks and alternative DNS services, which in turn has resulted in efforts to require VPN and DNS resolvers to block access as well.
In July 2022, acting on a copyright infringement suit by Sony Music Entertainment Italy s.p.a., Universal Music Entertainment Italy s.r.l., Warner Music Italia s.r.l., the Court of Milan issued an interim injunction ordering Internet service provider Cloudflare to stop consumers from accessing three copyright infringing BitTorrent sites – kickasstorrents.to, limetorrents.pro, and ilcorsaronero.pro – via Cloudflare’s DNS resolver. Italy’s regulator, AGCOM, had previously ordered them to be blocked online. Cloudflare appealed.
In November 2022, the Court of Milan dismissed Cloudflare’s appeal, which related to the DNS resolver used by Cloudflare, called 22.214.171.124. Cloudflare appealed again, citing principles of due process and privacy. In its 2022 Cloudflare Transparency Report, Cloudflare also rationalized that “…such a block would apply globally to all users of the resolver, regardless of where they are located, it would affect end users outside of the blocking government’s jurisdiction.”
In a prepared statement, IFPI noted that “Court of Milan dismissed an additional application filed by Cloudflare to clarify the technical implementation of the order. The court held that CloudFlare’s motion was outside the scope of enforcement proceedings … (noting that) Cloudflare can block websites via its public DNS service as it adopts similar measures for example in connection with other illegal or harmful content.”
Record companies in Italy successfully act against Cloudflare. Press release. July 18, 2022. FIMI (Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana)
Italian court demands Cloudflare implement some web-blocks. Article. Chris Cooke. July 19, 2022. CMU Complete Music Update
Italian court upholds web-blocking order against Cloudflare’s DNS resolver. Article. Chris Cooke. November 10, 2022. CMU Complete Music Update
Cloudflare Transparency Report, 1H 2022. White paper (PDF). File dated 3/3/2023. Cloudflare
Comment from IFPI on the Court of Milan’s decision to uphold its order against Cloudflare. Press release. March 30, 2023. International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)
Why it matters
“We welcome the decision today from the Court of Milan which confirmed that CloudFlare is obliged to cease providing access to three copyright infringing sites and any additional ‘mirror sites’ via its public DNS service,” commented IFPI. “In doing so the Court of Milan has set an important precedent that online intermediaries can be required to take effective action if their services are used for music piracy,” they said.