In recent years blockades of “pirate” websites have spread across Europe and elsewhere. In the UK, for example, more than 100 websites are currently blocked by the major ISPs.
Opponents of this censorship route often argue that the measures are ineffective, and that people simply move to other sites. However, in its latest Digital Music Report music industry group IFPI disagrees, pointing at research conducted in the UK.
“Website blocking has proved effective where applied,” IFPI writes, noting that the number of UK visits to “all BitTorrent” sites dropped from 20 million in April 2012 to 11 million two years later.
The key to an effective blocking strategy is to target not just one, but all leading pirate sites.
“While blocking an individual site does not have a significant impact on overall traffic to unlicensed services, once a number of leading sites are
blocked then there is a major impact,” IFPI argues.
For now, however, courts have shown to be among the biggest hurdles. It can sometimes take years before these cases reach a conclusion, and the same requests have to be made in all countries.
To streamline the process, copyright holders now want blocking injunctions to apply across borders, starting in the European Union.
“The recording industry continues to call for website blocking legislation where it does not already exist. In countries where there is already a legal basis for blocking, procedures can be slow and burdensome,” IFPI writes.
“For example, within the EU, blocking The Pirate Bay has meant taking multiple legal actions in different member states and rights holders are calling for injunctions to have cross-border effect.”
In addition to website blockades the music industry also stresses that other stakeholders should do more to help fight piracy. Search engines should prioritize legal services, for example, and advertisers and payment processors should cut their ties with pirate sites.
While IFPI’s numbers suggests that BitTorrent piracy has decreased globally, it still remains a significant problem. The group estimates that there are still four billion pirated music downloads per year on BitTorrent alone.
In other words, there’s plenty of blocking to be done before it’s no longer an issue, if that point will ever be reached.