In recent months Portuguese Internet providers have started to block hundreds of websites that allegedly link to copyright infringing content.
The voluntary blocking regime was formalized last summer through an agreement between several parties including the Ministry of Culture and the Association of Telecommunication Operators.
The agreement allows copyright holders to add new pirate sites without any intervention or oversight from a court, something which has now led to some rather unusual collateral damage.
This week several people noticed that the website of indie game developer Carbon Games was blocked as well. Instead of access to the company’s website, visitors in Portugal see the following message.
“The site that you’re trying to reach was blocked due to an order from the Regulator Agency”.
The issue was first reported by Revolução dos Bytes, which confirmed that the blockade is active across several large ISPs including NOS, MEO and Vodafone.
Generally speaking sites are added following complaints from copyright holders. The reported sites are then investigated by local anti-piracy group MAPINET and will end up on the blocklist if there’s enough evidence of systematic infringing activity.
Sites that fall into this category should contain at least 500 links to infringing material or have one-third of the site dedicated to facilitating copyright infringement. This doesn’t appear to be the case for the Carbon Games site.
The good news for Portuguese gaming fans is that the blockade is easily circumvented. In addition to using the non-www address which isn’t blocked, people can change their DNS to something that doesn’t rely on their ISP, such Google DNS or OpenDNS.
MAPINET has yet to comment publicly on the unusual blockade and we will update this article when we find out more.
Update: MAPiNET Issued a statement to TorrentFreak explaining that the Carbon Games site is not listed in their system. It’s still unclear why the site is blocked across various ISPs.
Update: The blockade was requested a month ago on behalf of SRIJ (Regulatory Services and Games Inspection). Carbon Games was not informed about the blockade.