For nearly a decade Denmark has been a testbed for pirate site blockades. The first blocks were ordered back in 2006 after music industry group IFPI filed a complaint targeting the Russian MP3 sites AllofMP3 and MP3sparks.
Not much later Denmark became the first European country to force an ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay.
After some small additions during the years that followed, a Danish Court has now ordered another round of pirate site blocks, the largest one thus far.
Following a complaint from the local Rights Alliance (RettighedsAlliancen) group the blocklist was updated with 12 popular torrent, streaming and MP3 download sites.
The new domains are free-tv-video-online.me, watchseries.lt ,solarmovie.is, tubeplus.me, mp3vip.org, rarbg.com, extratorrent.cc, isohunt.to, eztv.ch, kickass.to, torrentz.eu and music-bazaar.com.
Due to a recent agreement the sites will be blocked by all ISPs, even those not mentioned in the lawsuit. Late last year Rights Alliance and the telecommunications industry signed a Code of Conduct which ensures that blockades are put in place country-wide.
Speaking with TF, Rights Alliance head Maria Fredenslund says that their primary goal is to limit piracy through education. For this reason, the blocking page includes links to legal stores and services.
“Right Alliance doesn’t merely take an enforcement approach. We want to understand user behavior offer people legal alternatives,” Fredenslund says.
“We are quite happy that there are so many people who are looking for online entertainment. Our goal is to steer them in the right direction, instead of simply blocking access,” she adds.
For the affected sites there will be a drop in Danish visitors. Interestingly, however, not all site owners are disappointed.
TF spoke with the operator of one of the torrent sites on condition of anonymity. He says that these blocking efforts are free advertising and that users can still access the blocked domains through proxies or anonymizing services.
“Blocking is the greatest thing that can happen to a site. It is free advertising for your site. People want the things they can’t have,” the operator says.
“Whoever is blocking the sites is actually doing us a favor by telling the users that they can’t open the site, thus making the users want to open the site even more.”
Rights Alliance sees things differently and points to the results of a test on the effectiveness of blocking efforts.
“There are clear signs that our approach works. A recent test revealed that if people were warned that they had attempted to visit an unauthorized site, 84% chose not to continue,” Fredenslund tells us.
The test in question was conducted at various Danish schools. Instead of completely blocking access the schools inserted a notification which allowed users to visit legal alternatives or continue to the illegal sites. The majority of the people who saw this notice decided not to visit the page.
Whether the result will also translate to people’s non-monitored home connections is not clear. In any case, the new blockades in Denmark are throwing up an extra hurdle.