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The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that broadband providers can now be ordered to block customer access to piracy websites that infringe copyrights.

It is the culmination of a year-long process that began when ECJ Advocate General Pedro Cruz Villalon stated that ISPs should carry some responsibility for their customers’ actions, even if they themselves are not directly liable for what people do.

At the time, he argued that the implementation of a "blocking measure" on providers relating to a specific website would not be disproportionate in principle, but this was only his opinion.

Under the new ruling, such measures have now been made legally binding across the EU, though national courts will still have the final say.

In cases where copyright is breached, the ISP will be viewed as an intermediary in the process, with the ECJ ruling that it will not be necessary to prove that the customers of the ISP actually access the protected subject-matter made accessible on the third party’s website.

It added: "The directive requires that the measures which the Member States must take in order to conform to that directive are aimed not only at bringing infringements of copyright and of related rights to an end, but also at preventing them."

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