Copyright Infringement: Sony Obtains Injunction Against DNS Resolvers

The open DNS resolver operator Quad9, who recently immigrated from the USA to Switzerland for data protection reasons, made the acquaintance of Europe’s copyright hunters. Sony and its Hamburg law firm Rasch obtained an injunction against the New Swiss at the Hamburg Regional Court. If they are threatened with 250,000 euros or in custody, they are obliged to prevent access to a domain that makes albums of the music label accessible via sharehoster.

Quad9 is claimed as a so-called interferer because the foundation enables the resolution of the corresponding domains via its public DNS resolver service, which is available free of charge.

The district court in Hamburg found that Quad9 was not covered by the usual liability privileges for mere intermediaries like an Internet service provider or even domain registrar. The law firm Rasch also obtained a verdict against the Quad9 competitor Cloudflare last year. However, it was about customers of Cloudflare’s CDN service. As a public DNS resolver, Quad9 itself has no customers.

Noteworthy is the court’s admission that it doesn’t matter that Quad9 is just one of many DNS resolver operators. After all, if the users stayed with Quad9 as DNS resolver, the relevant pages would be inaccessible due to the injunction. Quad9’s share of the resolver market is around one percent. The foundation recently moved to Switzerland – actually to position itself as a privacy-friendly alternative to the top dog in the DNS market, Google DNS.

Google attracts the majority of the DNS queries that are not processed via the users’ own ISP. According to the latest measurements, 14 percent of normal DNS queries and another 15 percent of the initially unsuccessful queries go through the Californians. In the future, inquiries about copyright infringers that Sony is targeting may end up there.

Bill Woodcock – chairman of Quad9 – announced to heise online that the foundation would defend itself against the injunction. He does not accept the argument that Quad9 also provides a filter service for malware and phishing, i.e. that it already filters. These filters were used to protect users from attacks – and they cost the foundation quite a bit.

The chairman of the foundation also complains about the nature of the procedure. According to the court order, Quad9 only had a few hours to respond to the Sony attorney’s “letter”. It was sent on March 26, 2021, with a deadline set by March 26, 2021 4 p.m.

Sony’s team also didn’t try very hard with the sharehoster and the two authors of the infringement targeted by Sony. They wrote to them and, in the case of the domain owner, received no answer even after two days. The service provider ProMedia commissioned by the law firm Rasch sent requests for deletion to the sharehoster on March 11th, 2021 and March 18th, 2021 and on March 23rd sent a “message to the administrator” of the domains in question using a form with a deadline of March 24th. set. Unfortunately, there was no answer, and neither did any companies found in Lithuania and the Ukraine which, according to research, had been fished from the RIPE database.

In the end, the court will have to re-examine whether the requirement of subsidiarity required in previous judgments is actually met.

Thomas Rickert, lawyer for the eco Association of the German Internet Industry, considers the use of the resolver operator to be questionable: “I cannot imagine a provider who is further removed from responsibility for any illegal domains than a public resolver operator,” he says. He fears that if the Hamburg resolution actually existed, Internet service providers in particular would have to expect more mail from lawyers in the future.


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