Currently the most visited torrent index on the planet, KAT is also one of the most-blocked sites on the Internet and the focus of legal action in increasing numbers of countries. With cases pending as far away as Australia, the latest European addition to the list is Finland.
A decision just handed down by the Market Court, a specialist venue hearing IP, competition and market law disputes, compels a total of seven Internet service providers to begin blocking KAT. They include the three largest providers DNA, Elisa and TeliaSonera Finland plus Anvia, Kaisanet, Lounea and MPY Palvelut.
The decision follows June 2015 amendments to copyright law that allow sites which are run by people who conceal their identities and are “clearly” set up to infringe copyright to be blocked at the ISP level.
But despite the important ruling, rightsholders are disappointed that the mechanism of blocking requested in the original application has been diluted by the Court. Although ISPs will be expected to block KickassTorrents’ URLs there will be no obligation to block the site’s IP addresses.
“Unfortunately the Market Court granted the rightsholders behind the initial application a considerably more limited blocking order, which in the rightsholders’ view will make the blocking partially ineffective,” says Jaana Pihkala, Executive Director at the Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Center (CIAPC).
CIAPC says it will take time to consider the decision and may in time seek an opinion from the Supreme Court.
Once the KAT blockade is put in place it’s expected that users of the site will either try to circumvent the ban with VPNs and/or proxies or will simply migrate to other sites. That will likely trigger more applications to the court in which rightsholders will seek to block even more domains. As the UK example shows, that is likely to descend into a seemingly never-ending game of whac-a-mole.
The Pirate Bay is already blocked in Finland following a process that dates back to May 2011 when the Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Center (CIAPC) and music industry group IFPI filed a lawsuit at the District Court.