Pirate site blocking has been a topic of ongoing discussion throughout Europe, with The Pirate Bay as one of the main targets.
This is also true in Ireland where the notorious torrent site was first blocked in 2009 as part of a voluntary agreement between copyright holders and local ISP Eircom.
A few years later other major Internet providers were ordered to follow suit. The High Court in Ireland concluded that the Pirate Bay caused substantial harm to various rightsholders, and ordered several large ISPs to block the site on its networks.
Fast forward to today, and another range of blockades is looming on the horizon. The Motion Picture Association (MPA) has filed a case at the Commercial Court, hoping to block access to three popular streaming sites; movie4k.to, primewire.ag and onwatchseries.to.
Watchseries is the most popular of the three, according to the movie group, good for nearly two million visitors from Ireland last October. Primewire had 1.26 million Irish visitors in the same month, followed by Movie4k with 200,000 visitors.
RTE reports that the MPA’s fresh blocking demands are targeting a total of eight ISPs – Eir, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Three Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications and Magnet Networks.
Based on yesterday’s hearing it appears to be only a matter of time before the three sites will be blocked.
None of the ISPs have raised principle objections against a court determination in this case. That said, reports suggest that there are still a few finer details that have to be worked out, which could include issues regarding costs and the technical implementation.
If granted, the question remains whether any new blocks will be effective to limit the availability of pirated movies in Ireland. The three targeted sites are just the tip of the iceberg, and recent history has repeatedly shown that people quite easily switch to new sources.