Section 97A of the United Kingdom’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) has come in handy again after Rights Holders won one of their most significant victories to date, securing a court order that forces all of the country’s largest broadband ISPs to block 53 websites that were found to facilitate Internet copyright infringement (piracy).
Apparently 32 of the blocks came as a result of requests by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which managed to get several lists tackled at the same time and thus save money in the process (the cost of blocking a site via court order). As usual the ISPs, including BT, Virgin Media, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, EE and strangely O2 but not Vodafone, were first given a voluntary option to block the sites but refused.
The move comes only a month after an identical court order was secured against 21 similar sites (here), which the big ISPs have only very recently implemented (see Sky’s blocklist). Typically it can take between two weeks and a month for ISPs to implement the blocks, although curiously some of the sites (e.g. IP Torrents and Torrent Day) were blocked by BT for a period earlier this week and before the court order had been revealed.
Chris Marcich, President and MD of the MPA, said:
“Securing court orders requiring ISPs to block access to illegal websites is an accepted and legitimate measure to tackle online copyright infringement. It carefully targets sites whose sole purpose is to make money off the back of other people’s content while paying nothing back into the legitimate economy.”
A further 21 sites were also blocked as a result of a court ordered injunction process that was started by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), although unfortunately we don’t yet have the full list of those.
The 32 MPA Blocked Sites
As per the aforementioned link, blocking like this doesn’t come cheap and so it’s interesting to note that a group of music bodies including UK Music, the Musicians’ Union and The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) have recently reignited old calls for consumers to pay a new tax on copying.
The tax idea stems from the Government’s earlier decision to legalize copying for personal use, which the industry isn’t especially happy about and has even started the process of calling for a Judicial Review of the decision. In short, Rights Holders want a tax to be applied to any blank media (e.g. CDS, hard drives, USB memory sticks etc.) that is capable of recording and this would then come back to them and nobody else, which might seem absurd but other EU countries have already done something similar.
Separately Rights Holders have previously proposed more radical ideas, such as forcing all broadband ISP customers to pay a tax of around £1+ per month on their Internet connections in return for the industry being more lenient towards online copyright infringement. But such ideas have rarely held much water, not least since law abiding citizens would be unhappy to be charged a fee in order to cover any perceived damage by pirates.
In the meantime the new blocks aren’t likely to cripple the related sites and indeed they may even help to advertise their existence. Meanwhile those who engage in Internet Piracy will easily be able to circumvent the restrictions by using all sorts of different approaches, such as DNS changes, Proxy Servers or Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections.
PS – Many more blocks are on the way.