As part of the enforcement of ancillary copyrights, the music portal CannaPower was blocked in Austria. The problem: instead of a domain block, an IP block was applied, so that numerous uninvolved sites sharing an IP address with CannaPower were also no longer accessible.
Numerous uninvolved sites affected
The problems were noticed on Sunday evening, when suddenly, for example, the website of an online store could no longer be accessed from Austria; via VPN, such blocks can be circumvented. For the first time, not just a domain but an IP address had been blocked as part of the ancillary copyright. This is problematic, however, because an IP address usually hosts more than one website. The websites that share an IP address have nothing more in common than the hoster, in this case Cloudflare. The IP blocking therefore also entailed damages for uninvolved parties.
In the meantime, the blocks have been withdrawn, but the incident is still being intensively discussed, as it highlights the problems associated with network blocks. Dominik Polakovics, spokesman for the civil rights organization Epicenter.works summed up the situation in a comparison as follows: “What was going on yesterday on the Internet in Austria is like blocking an entire high-rise building or shopping mall because something was stolen from a store.” This overblocking obviously poses a massive problem, as it also interferes with the rights of bystanders. Epicenter.works therefore accused Austrian politicians of massive omissions on the occasion of the incident and lamented the lack of a clear legal framework for net blocking.
In addition to Epicenter.works, other organizations also called for uniform specifications for the regulation of network blocking. In this regard, the provider Magenta pointed out that since a decision by the highest court, there was no longer a declaratory procedure with which the admissibility of a block was checked in advance. In concrete terms, this means that providers are directly obliged to implement blocking orders – even if, as in the present case, these entail consequences that go beyond those intended. In this context, the lobby group representing the interests of the Austrian Internet industry called for an independent authority to be given responsibility.