The blocking and censorship of BitTorrent sites is becoming an anti-piracy favorite with both the movie and music industries. Many of the top sites, with The Pirate Bay at the forefront of course, are now blocked at the ISP level in several countries across Europe.
After a slow and considered start, two countries are now emerging as the easiest places in the world to have sites blocked at the ISP level.
The world’s leading torrent sites are regularly being added to existing blockades or pending actions initiated by local music and movie groups in the UK, and in Italy an already long list of torrent, file-storage and streaming domains is growing on a monthly basis.
The latest action in this south European country involves embattled torrent index isoHunt. Run by Canadian national Gary Fung, the site is currently locked in a seemingly never-ending legal action with the MPAA in the United States, but its problems in Italy are with the local branch of IFPI.
FIMI, the Federation of the Italian Music Industry, claims that isoHunt is costing the Italian music industry millions of euros and something must be done quickly in order to stem the tide.
Following a FIMI complaint and urgent request from a local prosecutor, this week a judge in the Court of Milan ordered ISPs to block the isoHunt.com domain and its current IP address. To deal with any countermeasures the site may have planned, all future IPs are also covered by the order.
Marco d’Itri, who runs a site detailing the spectrum of web censorship in Italy, told TorrentFreak that the ruling itself is not public and although ISPs have a copy, they are forbidden from sharing it. D’Itri adds that the blockade comes in advance of a full trial, but to his knowledge no case has ever progressed that far.
“It’s just a handy shortcut used by the content owners to censor a domain, because usually the victims do not appeal,” he explains.
However, there are exceptions. Earlier this year file-hosting site Rapidgator hit back against a similar blockade and later won its case. Then just last month an Italian court ordered a blockade against popular sports streaming site Rojadirecta. The site is now fighting back using the same legal team as Rapidgator.
Local ISPs were informed of the court order against isoHunt on Monday and were quick to respond. The site is now blocked across most of Italy (along with two other sites – dendi86download.com and lascena.net) leaving users to try and find a workaround using VPNs or proxy sites.
In addition to ongoing legal action in the United States which has the potential to cost isoHunt up to $750m, it seems likely that isoHunt will be blocked by ISPs in the UK before the end of the year.