High Court rules ISPs should block major music piracy sites


Alex Baldwin

High Court rules ISPs should block major music piracy sites

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The UK music industry has secured blocking injunctions against the UK’s most notorious music stream-ripping sites and a related cyberlocker service.

The English High Court heard arguments from record label umbrellas the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) on February 3, relating to the damage major music piracy websites have on the legal music streaming business.

It ruled that the websites infringed on record label copyrights and ordered internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to them.

Key offenders cited in the case were cyberlocker Nitroflare and popular stream-ripping sites Flyto and 2Conv. Together, the websites attract more than a billion visits a year.

Amanda Solloway, minister for IP said: “This result is good news for artists and performers, and I am grateful to BPI for its defence of our country’s IP laws. These ‘stream-ripping’ providers steal hundreds of millions of pounds which should be going to our world-renowned music industry.”

The ruling will see four currently active stream-ripping sites blocked, including Flyto (which averages approximately 58 million annual UK visits per month), 2Conv (approximately 25 million), Fly2mp3 and H2 Converter. While these are the only websites mentioned, a number of similar websites seem to also be blocked, according to TorrentFreak.

“The High Court has confirmed what we all believed, namely that the operators and users of these egregious cyberlocker and stream-ripping sites – together with the associated stream-ripping app—infringe copyright in multiple ways and should be blocked in the UK,” said Kiaron Whitehead, BPI’s general counsel.

“These two new judgments are important both legally and practically. They are not a silver bullet, but they develop existing European law and represent a significant step forwards in copyright law in the UK.

“We are grateful to the High Court in dealing with this group litigation so efficiently in an online hearing. The BPI will be taking further actions following these judgments.”

The BPI said it had prepared for the litigation for two years and presented more than 3,000 pages of evidence to the court to support its case for a blocking injunction.

BPI had also negotiated with six of the largest ISPs in the UK prior to the court appearance—BT, EE, PlusNet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media—for months prior. According to BPI, all ISPs agreed not to oppose the case and comply with the court's decision.

Music platforms’ ‘duty of care’

Alongside these judgements, the BPI has called on the government to do more to help reduce music piracy and grow the value of the legal music streaming market.

The organisation is asking for the introduction of a ‘duty of care’ for online music platforms, preventing platforms from misusing ‘safe harbour’ provisions to underpay for music they use. 

It also seeks a statutory damages regime to deter illegal sites and faster, more affordable ways for rights owners to obtain blocking orders.

The Parliamentary Select Committee launched an inquiry into the impact music piracy has on the economics of music streaming in October last year. So far, four oral evidence sessions have been held to discuss the topic.

Cyberlocker and stream-ripping sites are responsible for approximately £200 million a year in damages to the music industry ecosystem.

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Copyright, BPI, PPL, BT, EE, PlusNet, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media