The Haifa District Court two weeks ago ordered the three largest internet service providers in Israel to block access to the Israeli file-sharing site httpshare, this following a petition levied by the 12 largest record companies in Israel.
Court: Illicit site ought to be blocked
The controversial site, httpshare, doesn’t contain any actual movies or music files for surfers to download, but merely has links to file sharing sites, such as bittorent, which allow web surfers to download such files.
Web surfers have noted that in the last few days they receive a 404 error message from their internet browser when they attempt to access the site, but no notice of the site’s obstruction has appeared online as of yet.
“I order the respondents, that is Israeli internet service providers, to systematically block access to the illicit site, httpshare,” wrote Haifa District Court Justice Gideon Ginat in his February 25th verdict, “so that surfers cannot enter this site and utilize it in in order to impede upon the claimants’ copy rights.”
The judge did not set a timeframe for this expected shut down, or indicate how long access to the site will be blocked.
Site operators: The battle has begun; the site is perfectly legal
Site operators in turn are attempting to fight back against this virtual shut out by changing the IP address of their website, but have reported that internet service providers have managed to block out their website even after they have made these modifications.
“The file sharing battle has begun…we’ll be left with a world wide web that contains news alone,” reads the site’s homepage, which is now only partially available utilizing certain internet access providers.
Httpshare: The file sharing battle has commenced
According to site operator, who left a message to visitors frequenting their site's homepage, the site, “is perfectly legal. According to legal codes in the Netherlands, sites providing external links allowing surfers to download movie, music, games and program are perfectly legal. Sites cannot sites these illicit files on their internet servers, and that is precisely what we do not do. The site merely provides links to file sharing sites such as http:bittorent.”
Moreover, site operators noted, “The website operates from the Netherlands, and the fact that is in Hebrew does not make it automatically subject to Israeli law! Israeli law applies only to Israeli residents and to websites operating from Israel itself.”
IFPI: We’ll go after international sites as well
Why have other Israeli websites not been blocked out by service providers? According to Moti Amitai, Director of the Enforcement Unit of the Israeli branch of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, “he IFPI has taken action against sites which operate from Israel and whose proprietors are Israeli.”
In this particular case, notes Amitai, the site’s operator seemingly lives abroad, and so this represents an entirely different scenario.
As for international files sharing sites, Amitai noted that “we want to utilize this verdict as a precedent and go after international sites as well. We are now looking into the logistics and the legal issues involved.”