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The block busters


The block busters

Despite several courts ordering ISPs to block access to sites suspected of promoting online piracy, it’s not hard for users to get around the barriers. TB&I asks where to next for rights owners?

“They’re easy to implement but they’re very easy to circumvent: there are hundreds of ways around them,” explains Trefor Davies of the systems that block access to file-sharing websites, often seen as the enemy of copyright owners. As a council member at the UK’s Internet Service Providers Association, Davies knows how easy it is for infringers to beat the protective systems.

In the past four years, courts across Europe have forced Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to sites accused of aiding online piracy. In a ruling in July 2011—believed to be the first of its kind in the UK—the High Court ordered the country’s largest ISP, BT, to block Newzbin2, which indexed files that were posted on an Internet forum.

While this was a relatively recent development, rights owners have waged their battle against the notorious The Pirate Bay for much longer. Courts in both Italy and Denmark ordered ISPs to block the file-sharing site in 2008, and following appeals, the blocks were in place by 2010. In January 2012 acourt in the Netherlands demanded that two ISPs block access to the site, and by April the UK’s High Court ruled that six major ISPs must follow suit. Only days later, five more Dutch ISPs were told to implement blocking systems. They have since appealed against the decision.

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