In recent years, site blocking has emerged as a preferred anti-piracy solution in dozens of countries.
These blocking measures are not bulletproof but pose a hurdle for casual pirates, which can bring down overall piracy rates.
In many countries blocking is a relatively new measure, but Denmark has years of experience. The first Danish blocks date back to 2006, when music industry group IFPI filed a complaint targeting the unlicensed Russian MP3 site AllofMP3.
Not much later, Denmark became the first European country to force an ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay. Since then, many other pirate sites have received the same treatment.
Denmark Expands Piracy Blocklist
This week, a new batch of sites was added to this ever-growing blocklist. The Court in Næstved issued an order targeting nine music piracy sites that reportedly had hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors from Denmark.
The Court’s verdict isn’t yet publicly available, but the complaint was filed by local anti-piracy group Rights Alliance, which acted on behalf of several prominent music industry organizations including IFPI, Sony Music, Universal Music, and Danish music group KODA.
Rights Alliance informs TorrentFreak that the order includes stream ripper domains ytmp3.cc, y2mate.com, yt1s.com, savefrom.net, loader.to, onlinevideoconverter.pro, yt5s.com, and ytmp3.plus. All of these sites can convert YouTube videos into downloadable MP3 files.
The ninth site, Onebas.com, is a clear outlier as it’s a music streaming site, instead of a stream ripper. This service appears to mimic services such as Spotify, by playing embedded YouTube videos.
Playing embedded YouTube videos is fine as long as the rightsholder permits it. However, Onebas.com also offers full album downloads for registered users, charging $1 a piece. That’s something artists and labels certainly won’t be happy with.
The Court in Næstved agreed that all nine music sites should be blocked. On paper, the blocking requirement is limited to Internet provider Fibula. However, based on a ‘code of conduct‘ agreed between rightsholders and ISPs, other providers will follow suit.
239 Sites and 1146 Mirrors Blocked
The ‘code of conduct’ is illustrative of a blocking process that’s constantly being improved. The parties involved try to make the experience more effective, flexible and less cumbersome, except for the pirates. This also includes dynamic orders that allow rightsholders to add mirror domains of previously blocked sites.
Thus far, court orders have resulted in the blocking of 239 pirate sites. In addition, another 1146 mirror site domains have been added. This list continues to expand with new mirrors on a regular basis.
Rights Alliance is pleased with the latest blocking order. According to the anti-piracy group, it will help to reduce traffic to these sites.
“It is the Rights Alliance’s experience that blocking the illegal services contributes to the fact that the traffic to the services falls by 75 percent on average. This significantly reduces the scope of copyright infringements,” the group notes.
No Silver Bullet
In 2018, Denmark became the first country to target YouTube rippers with a blocking order. With the latest court ruling, rightsholders hope to make it harder for the public to download from streaming sites. However, history also shows that blocking is no silver bullet.
While some people may kick the piracy habit when they run into blockades, many others will simply switch to sites that remain available. This comes as no surprise to Rights Alliance and underlines why new blocking orders are still needed.
“Here, 5 years later, the technology is still widely used to illegally download music from YouTube,” Rights Alliance notes, referring to the stream ripper situation.
Even in the ideal situation where all pirate sites and mirrors are effectively blocked, piracy will remain a concern. According to a recent survey, 38% of all Danish pirates use VPNs to access blocked sites, while 36% switch to alternate DNS servers to do the same.