UK judge tells ISPs to block piracy sites


A judge at the England and Wales High Court on Thursday ordered six British Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to three popular file-sharing websites.

Mr Justice Arnold told the UK’s six leading ISPs, which account for 94 percent of the market, to restrict their customers from accessing KAT, H33T and Fenopy. The sites allow users to download music and movie BitTorrent files.

The ISPs – BSkyB; British Telecom (BT); Everything Everywhere; TalkTalk; O2; and Virgin Media – have 15 working days to comply with the ruling.

The case was brought by 10 record companies, including EMI, Sony and Universal, which also represented the British Recording Music Industry (BPI) and were supported by the Motion Picture Association.

All three sites are said to have been highly popular – particularly KAT, which is among the top 135 most visited sites in the world – and provided vast amounts of content. Around 20 percent of the files on each site is believed to have infringed the claimants’ rights.

Arnold said both the users and the operators of the sites were infringing copyright, and that the orders were necessary to protect the IP of the claimants and other copyright owners.

“The orders are narrow and targeted ones, and they contain safeguards in the event of any change of circumstances. The cost of implementation to the defendants will be modest and proportionate,” he said.

Joel Smith, partner at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP in London, said the ruling was very favourable for rights owners and that he expected the six ISPs to comply fully with the ruling.

“They are all reputable ISPs and they haven’t argued against the order. I don’t expect them to appeal.”

He added: “The UK courts are at the forefront of blocking websites, such as with The Pirate Bay (in 2012), and it’s important that ISPs are targeted, not the users of the sites or their operators, which can hard to track down.”

But Loz Kaye, leader of the Pirate Party UK, said the BPI was out of control by increasingly pushing for blocking, adding: “The British music industry has nothing positive to show from their site blocks and personal legal threats. Looking at sales figures from 2012, you can't draw the conclusion that stopping access to the Pirate Bay did anything to help artists.”

There are mixed results about the effectiveness of blocking, with data varying from country to country.

Arnold is no stranger to ordering ISPs to block file-sharing sites: in 2011 he told BT to block indexing site Newzbin, and last year ordered the same six ISPs in today’s case to block The Pirate Bay, a notorious file-sharing site.

This article was first published on 28 February 2013 in World IP Review

richard arnold, pirate bay, fenopy, KAT, H33T, pirate party uk

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