Between April 2012 and May 2015, a handful of international rightsholder groups went to the UK High Court to obtain blocking injunctions against some of the world’s most popular ‘pirate’ sites.
In response to these blockades, dozens of alternative domains appeared. Some simply provided a new way to access an existing site while some were clones or mirrors offering a similar experience to the original. However, the vast majority were proxy-style operations, ones which allowed users to bypass blockades by visiting a new URL.
This appearance of new domains epitomized the “whac-a-mole” analogy so often referenced in connection with pirate sites. When one gets struck down, another appears. It’s a neverending game for rightsholders but in the UK it seems to be one they’re willing to play.
As recently as October, dozens of new domains were added to the UK’s blocklist adding to the hundreds already present. And now, during the second week of November, around 170 more have been silently tagged on.
The full list can be found below and it contains many familiar names. The vast majority are connected, however loosely, to sites covered by earlier court orders. As is usually the case, many of the targeted URLs are Pirate Bay proxies, mirrors and/or clones, with the same holding true for KickassTorrents.
One ‘sleeper’ site definitely worth a mention is PirateProxy.la. According to Alexa, from a standing start in September the site has grown to become the 278th most popular site in the UK overall. That growth will almost certainly come to an abrupt end with the latest block.
Popular MP3 sites also get a look in (MP3Bear, MP3Clan, MP3Lemon, MP3Monkey, MP3Raid, MP3Skull etc) but at this point it’s almost impossible to say with any certainty how or if they are connected to the original sites. It’s a situation playing out across the whole file-sharing site spectrum and is potentially putting users at risk.
While rightsholders used to announce blockades when a new court order was won, these days sites are added almost silently to the blocklists operated by BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk.
Initially the BPI, MPA, The Premier League and Members of The Publishers Association, obtained more than 20 injunctions against ‘pirate’ sites but now additional domains are simply added to those orders. Pirate Bay proxies, for example, are considered part of the Pirate Bay operation and no new court order is required to have them blocked.
The list of domains blocked in the most recent wave