Quad9 and Sony Music: German Injunction Status

Quad9 was notified last Friday that Sony Music had obtained an injunction against Quad9 in the lower court of Hamburg, Germany, seeking to block DNS resolution of domains used to host music content files on the grounds that such resolution contributes to infringement upon Sony’s copyrights.

Quad9 has no relationship with any of the parties to the alleged infringement. Our systems resolve domain names, conveying public information on the public Internet, as any other recursive resolver would do, and there is no allegation that the domain names themselves, or any information that Quad9 has handled, infringe upon Sony’s copyrights.

We have retained counsel, and we are in the process of filing an objection to the injunction, though we are required to comply with it.

We believe that copyright holders have the right to protect their work - that is not in dispute. Artists deserve to be compensated, and we do not support copyright infringement.

But we do not support the overreach of drafting uninvolved and technologically remote third parties in the enforcement of infringement disputes. The inclusion of recursive DNS servers, which do not handle copyrighted material and have no relationship with the involved parties, in the ranks of legally mandated blocking mechanisms is a dangerous precedent. The assertion of this injunction is, in essence, that if there is any technical possibility of denying access to content by a specific party or mechanism, then it is required by law that blocking take place on demand, regardless of the cost or likelihood of success. If this precedent holds, it will appear again in similar injunctions against other distant and uninvolved third parties, such as anti-virus software, web browsers, operating systems, IT network administrators, DNS service operators, and firewalls, to list only a few obvious targets. This externalization of the costs and risks of the content industry onto unrelated systems and vendors will have a chilling effect on the technology and internet industry in Germany. Our objection to this injunction has nothing to do with content, but instead with the transfer of costs and risks onto distant and unrelated third parties. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case of a DNS resolver being held liable for music piracy, to which it was not a party.

Quad9 is a non-profit and is supported by donations from organizations and individuals who believe in our privacy and cybersecurity mission. The protections we offer are available to the public at no cost, which is one of the reasons that they are so widely adopted across the world and why we have been so effective in protecting the public against cybersecurity threats. We successfully protect users from more than sixty million malware and phishing incidents each day. The cost of legally defending this critical cybersecurity service will be significant, and that cost will detract from our mission of helping end users keep their digital lives secure and private. There are issues at stake here that are larger than just our own concerns, so we will continue our efforts as we are able.

We would like to acknowledge the response from our user community. Over the weekend after the first news of the action, we saw an increase of more than 900% in donor volume via our website. We welcome both monetary and moral support in the face of this challenge. It is clear that our user community understands the threat and is rallying to fight it. Every bit helps, and we appreciate the donations.

The two court documents are included below, both in the original German and in a translated English text. The English text is not to be considered a perfect translation.