Website blocking has become the go-to anti-piracy measure for the entertainment industries when tackling pirate sites on the internet.
The practice has been around for well over 15 years and has gradually expanded to more than forty countries around the world.
Thus far, pirate site blocking is notably absent in the United States. However, American-funded forces are active elsewhere in the world to forge new blocking initiatives, through voluntary agreements or the courts.
Philippine Blocking Measures
The resulting blocking measures are immediately noticeable to the public at large but there’s also quite a bit of information sharing and discussion taking place behind closed doors. In this regard, a recent letter from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) is particularly noteworthy.
IPOPHL is the main facilitator of a new site-blocking regime established under a memorandum of understanding (MOU). As part of the agreement, set to come into effect later this month, Internet providers agreed to voluntarily block access to known pirate sites.
The Philippine Government is determined to tackle online piracy, a goal reiterated in a recent IPOPHL letter to the U.S. Trade Representative which contained additional background information.
MPA and ACE Guide Blocking Efforts
It transpires that the blocking measures were made possible thanks to assistance from the Motion Picture Association and ACE, its affiliated anti-piracy arm. Among other things, the movie industry group provided technical expertise.
“This [site blocking] mechanism was realized with the support of the Motion Picture Association through the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) who worked with IPOPHL in providing information on similar mechanisms and best practices in other jurisdictions,” the letter reads.
“ACE also conducted a training on site-blocking to equip the IPOPHL’s IEO personnel with technical knowledge on site-blocking mechanisms.”
It’s no secret that the MPA is heavily involved in rolling out site-blocking initiatives around the world. What we hadn’t heard until recently is that the industry group also brings stakeholders together in an ‘Annual Global Site Blocking Strategy Conference’.
MPA Recognizes ‘Innovations’ at Site Blocking Conference
The conference, which took place last month, came up in IPOPHL’s letter mentioning the MPA’s recognition of the Philippines’ site-blocking progress.
“At the [MPA’s] Annual Global Site Blocking Strategy (GSS) Conference held in Amsterdam on October 3, 2023, the Philippines (through IPOPHL) was a recipient of one of the awards this year, for pushing for site blocking legislation and for the coordination and roll out of the voluntary site blocking MoU.
“Every year, the MPA hands out a few awards to those countries or counsels which have excelled in the field of site blocking,” the letter adds.
The conference and the accolades were not reported publicly, but the MPA confirmed to us that the Asian country was indeed praised for its achievements. Aiming to avoid confusion with the annual MPA awards, the group stressed that the award isn’t official.
An MPA EMEA spokesperson notes that the Philippines agreement shows that voluntary collaboration between the MPA, governments, and Internet providers can have the desired effect.
“The voluntary siteblocking MOU, made possible thanks to the leadership and support of the Philippines Intellectual Property Office is yet another example of the MPA, authorities and ISPs working together in the fight against piracy.
“Siteblocking has proven to be an effective tool against large scale content theft and we applaud the Philippines for taking action to support creativity,” MPA’s spokesperson adds.
In addition to the Philippines, countries including France and Italy were also ‘recognized’ for their innovations in site blocking, but more specific details are not available.
Overall, it’s clear that MPA is determined to help countries around the world roll out effective site-blocking measures. Whether it will be able to use this wealth of knowledge in the United States anytime soon is unknown. But that’s nothing new.
A copy of the letter sent by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) to the U.S. Trade Representative is available here (pdf)