After similar action against The Pirate Bay, an Italian court has today ordered all ISPs to block subscriber access to another major BitTorrent site, BTjunkie. The public prosecutor described BTJunkie as one of the most prominent havens for pirated media and the authorities further blame the BitTorrent site for the failure of the Italian pay-per-view TV-station Dahlia TV, which shut down due to financial problems last month.
BTjunkie will be “censored” in Italy following an order from the public prosecutor of the Sardinian capital Cagliari. Both the IP addresses of the site and its domain name will soon be made inaccessible by all Italian ISPs, blocking users’ access to the site.
Local authorities claim that BTjunkie was one of the most frequently visited BitTorrent sites in the country, with over half a million visitors from Italy every day. In addition, they claim that aside from downloading music and movies, it was also possible to stream soccer matches of Italy’s top competition – the Serie A – via the site.
The court order follows an investigation by the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), an Italian police force with responsibility for dealing with cybercrime, and falls under operation “Poisonous Dahlia.” The name of the operation references Dahlia TV, a pay-per-view television network that shut down in March due to financial problems. Among other things, Dahlia TV was offering live soccer matches of the Serie A soccer competition.
According to the prosecutor BTjunkie is in part responsible for Dahlia TV shutting down, as it allegedly offered streams of the soccer matches that the television network broadcasted. This appears to be a misunderstanding, as BTjunkie is a regular torrent indexer that is not involved in streaming in any way.
TorrentFreak briefly spoke to BTjunkie’s owner who was surprised by the developments in Italy. He’s currently considering how to respond and whether there are ways to circumvent the blockade, but he told us that he does not intend to appeal the court’s decision.
“I’m disappointed with the Italian judicial system. We will do our best to fight for Italian peoples right to communicate. At the moment I can suggest to try any of the other popular torrent sites and checking TorrentFreak later for a update on alternative methods for accessing BTjunkie from Italy.”
BTjunkie is not the first BitTorrent site to be rendered inaccessible in Italy. The Pirate Bay was first ‘censored’ in the summer of 2008, when a similar court order led ISPs to block millions of Italians from accessing the world’s largest torrent site.
At the time, The Pirate Bay chose to appeal the decision and it eventually won the court case. The Court of Bergamo ruled that no foreign website can be censored for alleged copyright infringement and the block was lifted temporarily, as the case was appealed once again by the authorities.
The Supreme Court then reviewed the case and ruled that ISPs can be forced to block BitTorrent sites, even if they are not hosted in Italy or operated by Italian citizens. According to the decision by the Supreme Court, sites offering torrent files that link to copyrighted material are engaging in criminal activity.
The above means that even if BTjunkie’s owner wanted to, fighting the ban will be very hard, if not impossible. In response to the Pirate Bay blockade some people setup a proxy site that offered access to The Pirate Bay, but this site was eventually pulled offline by the authorities as well.
Update: BTjunkie works in Italy via a proxy of course.