In July, Portugal’s Ministry of Culture announced the signing of a memorandum between its own General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC), ISP group APRITEL, rightsholders, the body responsible for administering Portugal’s .PT domain and representatives from the advertising industry.
The memorandum laid out the framework for a voluntary site-blocking mechanism which would see sites with more than 500 infringing links and those whose indexes contain more than 66% infringing content quickly subjected to a nationwide ISP blockade.
After The Pirate Bay was blocked back in March via court order, the new process paved the way for rapid site blocking and it didn’t take long for the first batch to be processed.
Last month the country blocked more than 50 sites including KickassTorrents (Kat.cr), ExtraTorrent, Isohunt, YTS and RARBG, no court order required. And, just as predicted, the country is now preparing its second wave of blockades.
Almost 40 sites are included and unsurprisingly torrent sites feature prominently. BitSnoop, YourBitorrent, SeedPeer, Torlock, Torrentfunk, TopTorrent and Torrents.net head up the list, with ‘release blog’ favorites RLSlog and Sceper making an appearance.
Streaming sites will also be blocked as part of the current action, including ProjectFreeTv and TubePlus on the video front and MP3Skull in audio. The full list, courtesy of Tek, can be found below.
While blocking sites is hardly a new activity, the way it’s being carried out in Portugal is raising concern.
Since the process is voluntary there’s no unwieldy court process to navigate, which is certainly a plus for local anti-piracy outfit MAPINET. However, there are those who feel that the system is too streamlined and that judicial oversight is an absolute must if there is to be no abuse. Questions are also being raised over the legality of the scheme itself.
The other issue of concern is the sheer number of sites that could end up on Portugal’s blocklist. Currently, rightsholders can only file two complaints with the government each month but each complaint can carry up to fifty domains.
That means that if all sites are accepted as infringing and MAPINET works to capacity, more than 1200 allegedly infringing sites could be blocked by this time next year.
That would make Portugal the world leader in ‘pirate’ site blocking and a shining example of what entertainment companies could aim for if bypassing the courts became an option elsewhere.
The full list for November 2015