The High Court has ruled that several UK ISPs including Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media must censor The Pirate Bay website. This means that millions of Internet users will be prevented from accessing the popular BitTorrent site in the weeks to come. The Pirate Bay say they aren’t concerned by yet another court-ordered blockade, and point out that there are plenty of ways to circumvent such censorship.
After the MPA won its blocking case against the Newzbin2 Usenet indexing site last year, it was only a matter of time before similar sites were targeted in the same mannner.
Indeed, after a few weeks a conglomerate of music labels filed a lawsuit against several Internet providers, demanding that they block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay.
Nine labels including EMI, Polydor, Sony, Virgin and Warner said that The Pirate Bay infringes their copyrights and that several ISPs including TalkTalk and Virgin Media should implement a blockade under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.
In February the High Court agreed that The Pirate Bay and its users do indeed breach copyright on a major scale, and today this decision was followed by a court order.
ISPs Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media must censor The Pirate Bay website in the weeks to come. A sixth ISP, BT, has asked for more time to consider its position.
A Pirate Bay spokesperson told TorrentFreak that this measure is going to do very little to stop people from accessing their site, as there are many ways to circumvent it. “This will just give us more traffic, as always. Thanks for the free advertising.”
The UK Pirate Party is also prepared for the block and is offering a reverse proxy which allows blocked Internet users to access The Pirate Bay.
Virgin Media responded to the BBC by saying that a blockade won’t be very effective unless the entertainment industry works on legal alternatives as well.
“As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media complies with court orders addressed to the company but strongly believes that changing consumer behavior to tackle copyright infringement also needs compelling legal alternatives, such as our agreement with Spotify, to give consumers access to great content at the right price,” their spokesperson said.
Music industry group BPI, on the other hand, sees today’s verdict as a major victory.
“The High Court has confirmed that The Pirate Bay infringes copyright on a massive scale. Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them,” BPI boss Geoff Taylor said.
The Open Rights Group says the court-ordered block represents the thin end of the wedge.
“Blocking the Pirate Bay is pointless and dangerous. It will fuel calls for further, wider and even more drastic calls for Internet censorship of many kinds, from pornography to extremism,” ORG Executive Director Jim Killock said.
“Internet censorship is growing in scope and becoming easier. Yet it never has the effect desired. It simply turns criminals into heroes.”
The UK is not the first country in Europe where the Pirate Bay is blocked by court order. Similar verdicts were already handed down in Italy, The Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Finland previously.
Despite these blockades, The Pirate Bay continues to grow month after month.