There can be little doubt that one of the most-favored anti-piracy mechanisms of the past several years is that of site-blocking. Rather than tackling sites head on with expensive legal action, rightsholders have domains blocked at the ISP level with the aim of diminishing ease of access and reducing direct traffic.
The strategy is mainly employed around Europe, with the UK standing out as the clear front-runner. Hundreds of domains are now blocked there by local ISPs after several High Court injunctions. Now Portugal has joined the club with a new system that not only aims to speed up the blocking process, but one that could put the UK quickly in the shade.
This week the Ministry of Culture announced the signing of a memorandum between its own General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC), the Portuguese Association of Telecommunication Operators (APRITEL), various rightsholder groups, the body responsible for administering Portugal’s .PT domain and representatives from the advertising industry.
The memorandum lays out a new mechanism for blocking so-called ‘pirate’ sites. In common with similar frameworks elsewhere, the process is initiated by a complaint from a rightsholder association. Local anti-piracy group MAPINET then collates evidence that a site is engaged in the unlawful distribution of copyright works and has failed to cease its activities.
MAPINET subsequently forwards its complaints to the Ministry of Culture where the General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC) conducts an assessment and notifies local Internet service providers of the sites being targeted.
According to reports in local media, the system will target sites with more than 500 allegedly infringing links and those whose indexes contain more than 66% infringing content.
Only two complaints can be filed against pirate sites each month. However, each complaint can contain 50 websites, meaning that 100 sites could become blocked every month. Visitors to those sites will receive a notice in their browser advising them that the site has been blocked (Update: it is not yet clear what informational message users will receive, or whether they will receive one at all)
The memorandum is expected to come into force during the next two weeks so sites could be blocked as early as September.