[Guest post] Online copyright protection in Greece: recent developments in dynamic website blocking

The IPKat has received and is pleased to host the following guest contribution by Eleni Lappa (Ipwork.gr) on recent developments concerning online copyright protection in Greece. Here’s what Eleni writes:

Online copyright protection in Greece: recent developments
by Eleni Lappa

Online consumption of audiovisual content has become increasingly popular globally over the past few years, even more so since the Covid-19 pandemic. But how can rights in such content be effectively protected?

In Greece, the relevant EU legal framework (which includes but is not limited to the 2019 DSM Directive) has been implemented and is actively enforced by the Committee Against Online Copyright Infringement. The Committee was established by the Hellenic Copyright Organization in 2017.

As time is of the essence when it comes to online infringements, the Committee is obligated by statute to notify the owners and administrators of the domain names involved, as well as relevant internet providers/hosts, of the complaint filed and prescribe a 10-day response/compliance deadline, following which it must issue its decision within a maximum period of 40 days.

A recent application of the framework above is decision No. 135 of 2023, of 4 September 2023, which issued an immediate shut-down order against 9 different domain names that broadcasted pirated audiovisual content. The decision was issued following a complaint filed by 4 major subscription audiovisual content providers and 2 production companies in Greece. The shutdown order, effective for 3 years, had a 48-hour timeframe within which broadcasting had to cease or a hefty per diem fine would be issued against the relevant providers, if they failed to prevent a number of domain names from continuing their online activities.

The decision cites EU case-law in support of the finding that internet providers, although not direct parties to the dispute, should be fined and could not claim ignorance or unawareness that the content streamed by the particular websites was infringing protected content.

One of the most interesting aspects of the decision is the analysis that the Committee provided on the scope of “reasonable measures” of protection, as prescribed by Greek Copyright Law No. 2121/1993 (as amended on 29 July 2023), in particular the extent to which dynamic site blocking would fall within that scope.

In sum, the question had arisen whether the Committee would be allowed to grant the petitioners the right to directly contact the relevant internet providers, post-issuance of the Committee’s Order for the specified domain names, in order to bring dynamic site blocking to effect, for any other domain names used by the same source for copyright infringement, without the Committee’s prior intervention or involvement.

Dynamic site blocking is a flexible remedy allowing the injured party to petition the Committee for a shutdown order, at no extra cost, provided there is proof evidencing that the copyright infringement originated from the same source, already subject to a shutdown order. The Committee held that, while dynamic site blocking is certainly available to copyright owners as a defensive mechanism against repeated copyright infringement, it cannot be issued in advance as a preventive measure or advance precautionary tool granted to the injured party. Instead, its availability must be examined on an ad hoc basis.

Further, the Committee affirmed its jurisdiction as an independent administrative authority to react to any technological variation or advancement when it comes to combatting online copyright infringement, such as throttling, but clarified that it could not deviate from its specific role as set out by statute, by offering a preemptive order, which is a remedy not specifically prescribed by law.

The decision also confirms that the proceedings of the Committee are independent of any available remedies for .GR domain names in Greece such as the ADRP of the Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission (EETT) (a cancellation for bad-faith use of the domain names comes to mind, although this was probably a theoretical reference as none of the domain names involved were .GRs).

Overall, it is encouraging to see efficiency and speed in modern intellectual property rights’ protection in Greece although, due to the very nature of online copyright infringement, the progress made in online copyright protection has no set boundaries to Greece and affects digital viewing on a cross-border scale.
[Guest post] Online copyright protection in Greece: recent developments in dynamic website blocking [Guest post] Online copyright protection in Greece: recent developments in dynamic website blocking Reviewed by Nedim Malovic on Thursday, October 12, 2023 Rating: 5

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