German Court Rules Against Internet Security Non-Profit Quad9 In First Hearing Versus Sony Music Germany

Date: 2021-11-30

Location: www.quad9.net

Global Internet Freedom Threatened by Copyright Ruling Targeting Unrelated DNS Operator

Zurich, Switzerland November 30, 2021 – The Hamburg Regional Court today ruled that they would not suspend an existing injunction against Quad9 in a case filed by Sony Music Germany. The case centers around Sony Music’s demand that Quad9’s servers located in Germany stop resolving DNS names of third-party sites which are claimed to have URLs that contain copyright infringements.

Quad9 filed an objection earlier this year, and as a result of this ruling Quad9 intends to continue opposition to the injunction in a higher court, and will move to appeal in a continuance.

There is no component of the claimed copyright infringement that Quad9 participates indirectly, nor is there any infringing data on Quad9’s servers, nor does Quad9 have any business relationship with the site in question. The injunction claim is only that Quad9, by allowing end-users to map internet names to IP addresses as part of its DNS resolution service, is legally obligated to stop resolving those names if demanded by parties claiming to be rightsholders.

Quad9 will continue to implement DNS blocking for the domain name named in the injunction which resolves to a website that is claimed to be offering links to copyrighted material.

“We’re disappointed that this first set of hearings ended in what we think is an outcome that is not consistent with the legislative intentions of the German government,” says John Todd, General Manager of Quad9. “There are a large number of Internet-based services which we think ultimately are put at serious risk by this ruling, and we will not stop our legal challenges on this injunction. We object to the decision not just for ourselves but for all of our end-users, network operators, software developers, and network services that we believe are the targets of this ruling in its much wider context.”

“As a non-profit whose goals are to protect end-user privacy, security, and rights, we will continue to pursue our legal fight against what we think is an outcome that threatens the very core of the Internet’s ability to be a useful and trusted tool for everyone. Corporations should not have the ability to directly demand that network infrastructure operators censor sites.” Todd continued.

Quad9 is supported by Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte e.V. (GFF), eco Association of the Internet Industry (eco.de), and Stiftung Mercator Schweiz (stiftung-mercator.ch) in its defense, among others.

"The German Bundestag abolished the German interferer liability for Internet access providers years ago to facilitate the operation of open WIFIs. Exposing the operators of recursive DNS resolvers to legal risks erodes the legal safeguards the law makers intended to establish." says GFF project coordinator Julia Reda.

“These types of rulings receive little attention until it is too late. The implications of this precedent are serious and wide-ranging if not strongly opposed, and we encourage deep considerations of the outcome of this case. Quad9 is working for the benefit of end-users, not commercial interests, though this case has just as serious a set of negative implications for many companies as it does for individuals.” said Todd. “We appreciate the support that has already been expressed by our user community, and we encourage and welcome any support in financial terms that will allow us to continue funding our legal defense. While we are grateful to the GFF, eco, Stiftung Mercator Schweiz, and others for their ongoing support, but we still need to cover a significant legal bill that is part of the process of countering a well-funded opponent. We believe we will ultimately be successful in the next iterations of this case, and that this first ruling is only a temporary condition until other courts examine the arguments as part of a broader consideration of rights and implications.”

About Quad9

Quad9 is a free service that replaces your default ISP or enterprise Domain Name Server (DNS) configuration. When your computer performs any Internet transaction that uses the DNS (and most transactions do), Quad9 blocks lookups of malicious hostnames from an up-to-the-minute list of threats. This blocking action protects your computer, mobile device, or IoT systems against a wide range of threats such as malware, phishing, spyware, and botnets, and it can improve performance in addition to guaranteeing privacy. The Quad9 DNS service is operated by the Swiss-based Quad9 Foundation, whose mission is to provide a safer and more robust Internet for everyone. Quad9 is a not-for-profit organization whose operational budget comes entirely from sponsorships and donations. To donate to Quad9’s cause, please visit this link. For more information, please visit https://www.quad9.com.

About GFF

The GFF (Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte / Society for Civil Rights) is a Berlin-based non-profit NGO founded in 2015. Its mission is to establish a sustainable structure for successful strategic litigation in the area of human and civil rights in Germany and Europe.

The GFF’s current cases focus on protecting privacy, freedom of information and the press, and defending equal freedom for all. These areas present critical challenges to fundamental rights and therefore create opportunities for strategic litigation. The GFF’s long-term goal is to permanently improve the protection of human and civil rights in Europe. For more information, please visit https://freiheitsrechte.org/english/.

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