BT, Virgin Media, O2 and Be There have started to block access to three of the world’s largest BitTorrent sites. The blockades were put in place following a High Court order earlier this year, which ruled that KickassTorrents, H33T and Fenopy were facilitating copyright infringement. With the sites no longer accessible, hundreds of thousands of UK BitTorrent users will be looking for a new hope, or options to bypass the filters.
KickassTorrents is currently listed among the 50 most visited websites in the UK, but this is about to change.
Starting today, several British Internet providers started blocking the popular torrent site, as well as Fenopy and H33T.
The blockades follow on from the High Court verdict last month which required six ISPs (BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk) to block subscriber access to the three torrent sites. The legal action was initiated by the music industry group BPI, representing a variety of major labels.
Previously a similar order took down The Pirate Bay in most of the UK.
According to the High Court ruling the three sites are profiting heavily from the copyright infringements carried out by their users. For example, the annual revenue of KickassTorrents was estimated to be between $12,525,469 and $22,383,918 according to an expert quoted in the verdict.
The verdict doesn’t detail when the blockades should go into effect but TorrentFreak learned that today BT, Virgin Media, O2 and BE began censoring the sites in question. The screenshot below shows the notice Be There subscribers see when they try to access the sites.
Be There block
While the blockades of the other ISPs appear to be more nationwide, Virgin Media subscribers report differing results around the country, with some able to access the sites and some not. It is expected that all Virgin customers will be blocked during the hours to come.
Virgin Media block
The admin of H33T, one of the sites that’s now blocked, told TorrentFreak previously that the blockades are the music industry’s instrument to keep their monopoly intact.
“Attacking H33T is an attack on sharers, that is the real BPI agenda. The BPI and their MAFIAA masters are playing for control of consumption of digital media in the UK. Independent networks of people freely sharing content is a challenge to their broken business model,” he said.
The UK Pirate Party is disappointed with the increase in website blocking as well.
“This is the latest in the continuing Internet whack-a-mole farce. This comes just after the European Commission study which reported that ‘illegal music downloads have little or no effect on digital music sales’,” UK Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye told TorrentFreak.
“In the Pirate Party we have always maintained that website blocking is dangerous, it is now clear that it is misguided too. The number of these blocks is now rapidly expanding. Where does this end? The BPI is out of control,” Kaye adds.
TorrentFreak contacted BPI who confirmed that the blocking started today, but the music group didn’t comment on the expected efficacy. Recent history, however, shows that it might not be the silver bullet the music industry is hoping for.
Several Dutch and UK Internet providers argued previously that the Pirate Bay blockades were not preventing people from sharing, as BitTorrent traffic didn’t decline after the blockades were implemented.
When The Pirate Bay was blocked hundreds of proxy sites popped up, making it very easy for people to circumvent the blockade. Thus far there are few dedicated reverse proxies for KickassTorrents, Fenopy or H33T, but availability is sure to increase in the days to come.
Update: we added responses fron the UK Pirate Party and BPI.