As the non-governmental organization (NGO) Epicenter.works reports, there were a number of reports on Sunday evening that various websites that seemed to have nothing to do with each other were suddenly no longer accessible. However, it turned out that what they had in common was that they were hosted by the cloud service provider Cloudflare. In this case, however, the latter had no fault to complain about, but instead became the target of a network ban.
This was initiated by the “LSG – perception of performance protection rights GmbH”, which organizes the protection of copyright claims on behalf of rights holders. The company had obtained decrees that forced almost all providers in Austria to implement blocking measures. Here, however, it was not the DNS entries of the website from which the alleged infringements were committed that were blocked, but the IP address.
Collateral damage, please
It should be clear to anyone with a little knowledge of the network infrastructure that this can become a problem. Most systems continue to be addressed via IPv4 addresses, but there are too few of them for each individual computer or service on the network to have its own number. With large hosters and cloud providers, several customers often share an IP address and the systems, for example, direct the visitor to the right place using the DNS data provided.
As a result, in the present case, several other websites, including an online shop, were also blocked. “What was going on yesterday on the internet in Austria is like blocking an entire high-rise building or shopping center because something was stolen from a store,” commented Dominik Polakovics from Epicenter.works. Completely legal offers could not be reached for hours because it is too costly for the media industry to track down the actual suspects, who are mostly based abroad.
“This willful Internet shutdown shows how ruthless the copyright industry is. Of course, they knew what damage they were doing and they didn’t care,” says Thomas Lohninger from the organization. He therefore again called for a fundamental solution to the problem, which politicians have been arguing about for 13 years.