During the past 15 years or so, online file-sharing has transformed from a relatively niche hobby into a mainstream activity. As Internet speeds and file availability have increased, most Internet users have contributed to the growth of the sharing phenomenon over the past decade.
But of course, as more and more copyrighted files such as music, movies and TV shows have been shared online over the years, rightsholders have employed varying techniques to try and bring that to a halt. Their latest tool is the blocking of entire domains by Internet service providers and thanks to the efforts of the music industry, the UK will today become the world leader.
As predicted by TorrentFreak back in May, the BPI have been building cases against more than 20 sites that they say are infringing their members’ copyrights. Today that work will come to fruition when six ISPs – BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk – begin blocking them at the ISP level.
The range is the broadest so far, hitting BitTorrent indexing sites, a torrent meta-search engine, a cyberlocker search engine, and several MP3 search engines/download sites.
Torrent sites: 1337x, BitSnoop, ExtraTorrent, Monova, TorrentCrazy, TorrentDownloads, TorrentHound, Torrentreactor and Torrentz.
Others: Abmp3, BeeMP3, Bomb-MP3, FileCrop, FilesTube, MP3Juices, eMP3World, MP3Lemon, MP3Raid, MP3Skull, NewAlbumReleases and Rapidlibrary.
The list is almost identical to the original list sent by the BPI to record companies earlier in the year, but has a couple of interesting omissions.
Gone from the blocking proposals are music streaming service GrooveShark and music download service Dilandau. The former now holds several music licensing deals while the latter is the third most DMCA’d domain on the Internet according to Google’s Transparency Report. IsoHunt is also absent, having shut down earlier this month.
Speaking with TorrentFreak, the BPI said that over the summer they had contacted all 21 sites with a request that they “stop infringing copyright.”
“Unfortunately they declined to co-operate in any meaningful way, so BPI applied to the High Court, where the judge considered the evidence and decided that the sites should no longer be accessible in the UK. The new blocks will come into force by Wednesday, 30 October 2013,” a spokesman said.
The music industry group, which represents all the major labels, defended its action as both “fair” and “proportionate”.
“All of the sites were given a chance to stop infringing copyright before we went to Court, and the Orders were then only made once a High Court judge had fully considered our detailed evidence,” the BPI said. “We also believe that it is fair that the people who work to create music should be rewarded when it is downloaded, rather than sites overseas that are exploiting this music without permission.”
Interestingly, when conducting a review of the Top 10 Torrent Sites 2013 as published earlier this year, after today none of them will be directly accessible in the UK, either due to BPI blocking or in the case of H33T and isoHunt, being taken offline following legal action.
The BPI told us that they accept that blocking can never be 100% effective, and that is something the team at The Pirate Bay know quite a bit about. Earlier this year they released PirateBrowser, an anti-censorsip tool designed to facilitate access to any blocked site.
PirateBrowser has been downloaded more than a million times and will be in even greater demand after today. TorrentFreak is informed that a fresh update will include bookmarks for all the blocked sites so that users can gain easy access.