Austrian ISP UPC has to prevent its customers from accessing the streaming video site Kino.to after being sued by a local anti-piracy organization. The Verein für Antipiraterie (VAP, which roughly translates to association for anti-piracy) was able to secure a preliminary injunction against UPC from a Vienna-based court because Kino.to offers links to thousands of unlicensed movie streams.
VAP originally tried to go after Kino.to directly, but wasn’t able to determine who actually runs the site. Attempts to shut down Kino.to were further complicated by the fact that the site is hosted in Russia.
VAP decided to go after the ISP instead because Austrian law forces Internet providers to take action against infringement as soon as they become aware of it, much like the DMCA does in the U.S. UPC said in a statement that ISPs shouldn’t control which kind of content its customers access, and that it is looking forward to clarify this issue in court.
Kino.to is one of the most popular sites for links to free and unlicensed streams of Hollywood blockbusters. The site is particularly popular in German-speaking countries. Alexa currently lists Kino.to as the 42nd most popular site in Germany, which makes it just slightly less popular than MSN.com or Flickr.com. Alexa lists Kino.to as number 819 worldwide.
There has been an ongoing trend toward one-click host sites and rogue streaming sites as the growth of BitTorrent and other forms of P2P piracy have slowed down. PricewaterhouseCoopers recently conducted a study on online piracy that found that 82 percent of users who pirate content online use unlicensed video streams.
Rights holders and politicians are increasingly fighting back against this trend by targeting sites like Kino.to. Some sites been sued and taken down, and the White House recently introduced a bill that would make it a felony to watch movies on unlicensed video sites.