Domain blocking is now firmly established as one of the entertainment industries’ go-to methods for reducing online copyright infringement. Its use is widespread around Europe by both the music and movie sector.
In Europe the most important legal decision was announced in March last year when the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed that EU ISPs can be required to block access to sites engaged in copyright infringement.
Elsewhere, individual countries are making their own decisions on how to move forward. Last July, Singapore legislators approved the Copyright Amendment Bill which allows copyright holders to obtain High Court orders forcing local service providers to block “flagrantly infringing” websites. Now, six months on, entertainment companies are ready to launch their first tests.
IFPI regional director Ang Kwee Tiang confirmed that the music group will initially target three to five “infringing sites” over the next two months.
“We are now actively looking into exercising this in the future,” he said.
The sites to be targeted have not yet been revealed but it’s always been the understanding that The Pirate Bay would be tackled first. The site’s reputation as the “worst-of-the-worst” allows entertainment companies to present a relatively straightforward case to the courts. The rising number of blocking orders already granted elsewhere only add to the mix.
“Now, The Pirate Bay has more than 6 million links. We take the screenshots and we show that these are not licensed. We’re going to show that The Pirate Bay has been blocked in nine or 10 different countries. I think that will be very convincing for our cause,” Ang said.
However, with The Pirate Bay currently down, it’s possible that other targets will have to be selected in the first batch. Ang confirms that evidence is still being collated but he’s confident that a successful blockade will help to reduce piracy.
“I divide (consumers) 80 to 20 – 80 per cent are average consumers, if they cannot get it easily and if a legal site offers it, they may go for the legal site,” he said.
“The committed pirate is like a committed criminal. They will search for ways to circumvent. But once we have the website blocking, then we are free to tackle the 20 per cent.”
The driving force behind the site blocking phenomenon can be found in the entertainment companies of the United States but following the SOPA debacle public discussion to progress site blocking has been fairly muted. That doesn’t mean nothing has been happening, however.
In December it was revealed that behind closed doors the MPAA has been working hard to bring site blocking to the United States. Whether those aims will still be progressed following the somewhat embarrassing leaks will remain to be seen, but it’s likely the movie group won’t be steered off course for long.
Overall, Hollywood definitely sees blocking as an important anti-piracy tool. The practice is endorsed by none other than MPAA chief Chris Dodd and internal MPAA research has found it to be effective.