As pirate site blocking programs expand around the world, Denmark already has more than 15 years of experience in this branch of copyright protection.
After blocking Russian MP3 site AllofMP3 in 2006, Danish rightsholders haven’t looked back. The big drive now is how to streamline the site-blocking process so that piracy platforms can be hit as quickly and as comprehensively as possible.
Part of the problem is that to have pirate domains blocked, rightsholders need to have authorization from the court. This can be obtained by obtaining an injunction against an ISP but when a single ISP is the target, other ISPs are not legally required to do anything.
In 2014, rightsholders and ISPs solved these problems by signing a Code of Conduct which ensures that when one ISP is ordered to block, others follow voluntarily. But in the world of site-blocking, there’s always more to be done.
Dynamic Blocking….And Beyond
Since blocking pirate sites is a commitment rather than a one-off effort, Denmark’s site-blocking regime also tackles domain switches and proxy sites. This so-called ‘dynamic blocking’ doesn’t require a new court process. Anti-piracy group Rights Alliance has the authority to identify any new domains and forward them to ISPs for blocking, a process that will now be accelerated.
The Conduct of Conduct (CoC) that provides the framework for blocking has been revised over the years, to accommodate the changing piracy landscape. Earlier this month it was updated again, hoping to shut down domains more quickly than before.
“[T]he illegal market on the Internet is constantly and rapidly developing, which is why it has been necessary to carry out a slight revision of the CoC agreement,” Rights Alliance explains.
“This implies greater flexibility and automation of the processes in the agreement, which should make it easier for both the Rights Alliance and the members of the Telecom Industry to block illegal websites.”
The plan is for ISPs to block new domains within seven days, using automation to retrieve updated lists before carrying out the usual DNS blocking.
How Will The System Work?
Both Rights Alliance and Teleindustrien (Telecommunications Industry Association in Denmark) have published copies of the new Code of Conduct but neither explain how the new system will work. Indeed, the CoC contains a paragraph that explains that a section detailing the individual steps, procedures and criteria, has been withheld “in order to achieve the purpose of the agreement.”
Given that Denmark’s blocking program is DNS-based, it’s trivial for ISPs to modify local DNS entries to redirect pirate site visitors to Share With Care (SWC), a portal designed to encourage pirates back on to the legal path of authorized content services.
Somewhat intrigued by the apparent need for secrecy, we took a closer look at Teleindustrien and to our surprise, found the complete opposite.
Complete Blocking Transparency
It appears that when ISPs are ordered to block domains for any reason, Teleindustrien goes public with three things: the laws under which the blocking was ordered, who ordered the blocking, and which domains were blocked in response.
For example, the telecoms industry group details recent blocks associated with the Ukraine conflict (including RT.com and sputniknews.com) and publishes the domains to an easily downloadable .csv file – perfect for ISPs looking to implement DNS blocking.
Another .csv file is published for gambling site domains deemed illegal in Denmark, 183 according to the latest batch
The data relating to Denmark’s pirate site blocking program reveals how quickly it has expanded over the years. In 2017, Danish ISPs were blocking around 100 pirate sites, a figure that jumped to 478 in 2020.
The latest .csv file containing the list of blocked piracy domains is dated September 27, 2022. It contains 892 URLs – some of them domains in their own right and others representing sub-domains on various sites dedicated to unblocking.
It’s unclear how the new streamlining provisions in the revised Code of Conduct can beat pulling a plain text file from a website but Teleindustrian also provides the data in PDF format for the Adobe fans out there.