UK ISPs ordered to block more than 20 file-sharing sites


Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the UK have been ordered to block access to 21 websites allegedly infringing copyright, in what the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has described as Europe’s largest blocking order.

The order, from the High Court, follows requests from UK music industry organisation the BPI, which contacted the file-sharing websites asking them to stop infringing copyright.

“Unfortunately they declined to co-operate in any meaningful way, so BPI applied to the High Court, where the judge considered the evidence and decided that the sites should no longer be accessible in the UK,” the BPI said in a statement.

The order will came into force on Wednesday, October 30.

The UK's six biggest ISPs - BSkyB, BT, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and O2-owner Telefonica - have all received notices.

Gareth Mead, a Virgin Media spokesman, confirmed it had received the order adding that, “as a responsible ISP” it obeys court orders addressed to it.

The latest websites to receive the blocking order include TorrentHound and ExtraTorrent.

“This is the first time in Europe that so many illegal sites have been ordered to be blocked at once,” the BPI added. “While our focus was naturally music-related, some of the sites also infringed film/visual and other entertainment-related rights.”

Geoff Taylor, the BPI’s chief executive, said music companies are working hard to build a “thriving digital music sector” in the UK, offering fans great convenience, choice and value, but that the efforts were “undermined” by illegal sites.

Adding that the sites “rip off artists and contribute nothing to Britain’s vibrant music scene,” Taylor said, “we asked the sites to stop infringing copyright, but unfortunately they did not and we were left with little choice but to apply to the court.”

The concept of a blocking order is not new, said Akash Sachdeva, partner at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP in London, who added that the BPI’s decision to seek the order may be more of a PR move.

“The BPI is on the side of artists and rights holders and the move is as much about getting out into the public domain that these websites are bad and should not be used,” Sachdeva said.

Sachdeva added that, while a blocking order is the easiest and most effective way of cutting off access, it can be easily circumvented by “those determined enough.”

“For a lot of people, this will be the end of the road and the realisation that the website is blocked would make them think twice.

“However, those who are determined enough will find a way and the website could change its domain name or Internet protocol address to get around the order.”  

In August, WIPR reported that the English Premier League’s successful case against sport streaming website FirstRow Sports had resulted in numerous other websites, including the television listing website Radio Times, also being blocked.

FirstRow’s IP address happened to be shared by several other sites.

“They [ISPs] don’t want to make the same mistake as last time,” said Sachdeva, “They will have to be precise about what is being blocked and make sure it corresponds to the correct IP address.”

ISPs, file-sharing, copyright infringement, KickassTorrents, BPI, High Court

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