Antivirus Software Starts Blocking Pirate Websites

Popular Russian anti-virus vendor Dr. Web has rolled out a new feature that prevents users from visiting allegedly copyright infringing URLs. The company is accepting takedown requests from copyright holders, and blocking access to pirated files when claims are considered legitimate.

drwebFor years the MPAA and RIAA have been warning people not to visit The Pirate Bay and other sites where pirated files are traded. These sites pose a threat to the public, they argue, and Russian anti-virus vendor Dr. Web agrees.

The company, whose products are installed on millions of devices around the world, added a new feature to its anti-virus suite which can block copyright-infringing content.

The new feature, which is included in the latest release of Dr.Web 9.0, is the first of its kind. Unlike other blocklists Dr. Web’s database of pirate URLs is built based on reports from copyright holders.

Rightsholders can submit “takedown” notices to the antivirus vendor, who will then block access to the URLs if the copyright claim holds up. TorrentFreak talked to Dr. Web CEO Boris Sharov who sees the new feature as a natural extension of anti-virus products.

“Antivirus products have a built-in web-filtering system, therefore it’s no problem to block URLs. In the parental control module many malicious URLs have already been blocked for years,” Sharov tells TF.

According to the CEO, the purpose of the new feature is to not only prevent piracy, but also to minimize security risks for users.

“Copyright protection is not just about blocking some URLs. In fact, the new feature is completely in the line of our main functionality – we warn users about possible fraud when they access a copyright-infringing site.”

The company explains that the public is sometimes unable to distinguish infringing files from legal ones, which can lead to all sorts of problems.

“It is both anti-phishing and anti-malware protection – we let people know that someone is going to fool them,” Sharov tells us.

Several copyright holders have submitted takedown requests to Dr. Web recently, and more are expected to follow in the near future. However, the anti-virus company says that it isn’t necessarily out to block all pirated content.

“We have just launched the service and there are some copyright holders who have already asked us to include URLs that are infringing on their copyrights,” Sharov says.

“It’s not our goal to include as many URLs in the database as possible. We just want copyright holders to know that there is a service for them in Dr.Web products,” he adds.

Dr. Web stresses that it will only add URLs to the database upon request from copyright holders. The company won’t use algorithms to detect and block infringing content, such as McAfee recently suggested.

Copyright holders who are interested in the feature can file requests on Dr. Web’s Brand Protection page. Users of the software who prefer an unfiltered web have the option to disable the feature at their own risk.

Whether other anti-virus vendors will follow Dr. Web’s example has yet to be seen.

Photo: Dan Zen

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