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Internet providers in Europe may soon have little choice but to filter out pirate sites. In resolving an Austrian case, the European Court of Justice has ruled that EU countries can ask carriers to block copyright infringers, whether or not the networks are involved. The EU's laws don't require that governments limit injunctions to just the parties directly linked to a case, according to the court. While the decision isn't good news for online free speech advocates, there's no guarantee of a chilling effect -- individual nations still have to decide whether or not they'll block sites in the first place. It's the providers who are most likely to face any short-term consequences, since they may have to pay extra to obey local content restriction orders.

[Image credit: European Union Naval Force Somalia, Flickr]