Eight months after it started operations, the Greek “Commission for the notification of online copyright and related rights infringement” has issued its first blocking order. However, the order is unlikely to greatly reduce piracy in Greece because of limitations in how it has been imposed.
The blocking order application was filed by EPOE, an organization for the collective protection of audiovisual works representing Greek film production and distribution companies Odeon, Seven, Feelgood Entairtainment, Tanweer Alliances and the Greek Film Centre. These entities are the licensees of rights in films produced Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Walt Disney Pictures, Universal and Sony Pictures for the Greek territory. EPOE requested the blocking of several torrent, streaming and subtitle websites providing access to infringing content.
Following this application and the notification of a blocking request to all Greek internet access providers, the Commission issued three separate decisions. The first two decisions stated that two providers had complied with blocking requests that the Commission had emailed to them; the detail of the requests was omitted from the text of the decisions. This means that it is unknown to the public which websites were blocked by the providers in compliance with the Commission’s requests. Furthermore, the names of the providers have been also erased from the published documents, so it is also unknown which two ISPs complied voluntarily with the blocking request.
The third decision ordered the blocking of 38 infringing websites by all internet access providers registered with the Greek Telecommunications and Post Commision [EETT] and which had previously declined to comply with the Commission’s blocking requests. The blocked sites include piratebay.org and popular Greek pirate websites gamatotv.me, xrysoi.online, tenies-online.com and liomenoi.com. The effect was that over 200 entities were told to block these sites within 48 hours.
Failure to comply with the order would result in fines of EUR850 per day. The decision does not order any hosting or content providers to remove infringing content, even though the preamble to the decision states that the Commission sent the blocking request to “the hosting providers and to the administrators or owners of the infringing websites, the contact details of which were accessible to the Commission” again without clarifying which specific hosting providers, administrators or website owners received the blocking request.
The Committee rejected EPOE’s request to order the blocking of all future alternate URLs of these websites on the grounds of lack of precision. As a result, most of the blocked websites just changed their top-level domain and were easily found again with a simple online search. Moreover, several websites explained how to bypass the blocking measures. As a result, the blocking orders might obstruct some traffic, but tech-savvy users will still be able to watch illegal content without much difficulty.