UK ISPs Blocked 7,000+ Piracy Domains in the First Six Months of 2024

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During the first six months of 2024, the UK's leading internet service providers were required to block at least 7,000 domains and subdomains to prevent subscribers accessing pirate sites. The majority of blocking activity was aimed at disrupting pirate IPTV services offering live sports and other live broadcasts. In common with previous years, the music, movie, and publishing industries continued with their blocking programs.

stone blockNext month will mark the 13th anniversary of the first site blocking injunction in the UK.

Action by the major Hollywood studios against Usenet indexing site Newzbin led to ISP BT being ordered to block the service.

That was just the beginning and in most cases today, major UK ISPs including BT, Virgin Media, and Sky, are supportive of site blocking requests and happily carry them out, despite increasing complexity.

UK Site Blocking

In broad terms, blocking injunctions allow rightsholders to block domains, subdomains, and IP addresses, depending on the services targeted and the type of injunction obtained. Largely static piracy websites are tackled by blocking domains and subdomains, which are often deployed en masse by pirate sites to circumvent blocking.

In many cases, the details of specialist ‘live’ blocking injunctions targeting IPTV providers are treated as confidential by the High Court. These blocks are usually temporary in nature and designed to prevent piracy of specific sporting events, typically football matches in the UK’s Premier League.

There is no reliable way of tracking this type of blocking and we make no attempt to cover it here. The one major exception is blocking carried out on behalf of broadcaster Sky following an injunction the company obtained in 2023.

Pirate Site/Service Blocking: First Half of 2024

Specific details remain unavailable to the public but the volume of fully-qualified domain names (FQDN) blocked as a result of the Sky order renders the broadcaster the most prolific requester of blocks (on a URL basis) for the whole of the UK for the first half of 2024.

uk blocks by fqdn h1-2024

Sky’s dramatic lead and the unusual nature of the order led to the pirate services targeted deploying thousands of subdomains in an effort to mitigate blocking. In no small part this has led to the massive blocking seen in the first half of this year.

A not-dissimilar situation has also led to the BPI targeting hundreds of domains/subdomains featuring the term ‘mp3juice’ or variations thereof. The music industry group has also been kept busy trying to block various unblocking portals that regularly spring up to circumvent blocking of more traditional sites including The Pirate Bay, TorrentDownloads, 1337x, and LimeTorrents.

For the MPA, a tsunami of 123movies, movies123, soap2day, putlocker, solarmovie, lookmovie, and bflix variants maintained their reputation as irritants in the first half of the year.

At the same time, these and similar brand names presented pirate site visitors with an impenetrable sea of clones and look-a-likes that may (or may not) infect their machines with malware. This is mostly due to the virtually impossible task of sifting through a quagmire of copycat domains to determine which (if any) relate to sites previously considered safe or safer to use, before they were blocked.

It’s likely that the second half of 2024 will serve up more of the same. Whether piracy rates will fall as blocking increases is a completely different question, unlike the risk of malware infection which seems primed for movement in an upwards direction.


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