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CJEU rules in ISP blocking case

On the morning of 27 March, the EU’s Court of Justice made its decision in the UPC Telekabel Wien case. The case, on which Advocate General Cruz Villalón already gave his opinion last November, was made by two Austrian rightholders against UPC Telekabel, an Austrian internet service provider (ISP). The rightholders made a claim for the ISP to block an infringing streaming website called, officially located in Tonka, which the court in Vienna granted. UPC Telekabel went into appeal, arguing that such a block would infringe both the firm’s rights to conduct its business, as well as citizens’ rights to have free access to the internet.

The Court of Justice ruled in favour of the two rightholders, and made clear that ISPs can be held liable and therefore made to block websites, but only if measures taken are proven to prevent infringing actions and do not unnecessarily deprive internet users of their ability to access web pages. This means that some assessment has to be made by the national courts, leaving discretion to the member states’ judiciary. It remains to be seen how the ruling will be interpreted by the different member states.

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