Save the Egg! A court in Denmark has ordered a British furniture company to block users with Danish IP addresses from visiting its website.
In most of Europe, including Denmark, furniture designs are protected by copyright for 70 years from the death of the designer. However, in the UK, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act limits protection for furniture to 25 years from the first sale of the product.
The section of the law which governed protection limitations has recently been repealed (PDF) – but the government is still consulting with affected business on when to effect that change.
In the meantime, Danes can buy cheaper replicas of famous Danish designers' furniture from the UK.
In order to protect classics such as the famous Egg chair, designed by Arne Jacobsen, the Danish furniture industry has obtained a court order telling UK webshop voga.com to block Danish IP addresses.
The court found that although all Voga products are legal in the UK, it was in some ways targeting the Danish public with Google Adwords and delivery assistance to Denmark. Despite these findings, the site's prices are in pounds sterling and the website is in English.
According to Danish digital rights group IT-Pol, the next step could be the furniture industry taking on Danish internet service providers in court to secure a blocking injunction. The industry is certainly going all out here – it also sought, and was awarded, an order for Voga to block even pictures of replica furniture.
IT-Pol said it is very worried that a Danish court imposing a local blocking order on a website in another EU member state where the content is perfectly legal will have far-reaching consequences for website operators across Europe.
New EU Commission digi-veep Andrus Ansip has vowed to tackle geo-blocking as a priority. “One particular area to address will involve putting a stop to blocking of online consumers based on their location or residence. This will be about reforming and modernising copyright rules and getting rid of unjustified curbs on transfer and access to digital assets,” he told the European Parliament last month. ®