April 30, 2012 9:19 pm

Judge blocks channels to Pirate Bay

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Record labels and other content owners have claimed a victory after the High Court ruled that five of Britain’s largest broadband providers must block access to The Pirate Bay.

The ruling against the source of illegal file-sharing used the precedent of last year’s Newzbin case.

The BPI, which represents music companies, began legal proceedings in December after the six largest services providers refused its request to block The Pirate Bay, which is based in Sweden .

“Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists,” said Geoff Taylor, BPI chief.

Justice Arnold ruled in July that under the European copyright directive, BT had to block Newzbin2, after a consortium of rights holders brought a case alleging that it contained links to unlicensed digital copies of films such as The King’s Speech. The precedent allowed rights holders to go after The Pirate Bay, alleged to be a larger conduit for pirated material.

The blocking orders were made on Monday by Justice Arnold after his ruling in February that both the operators and users of The Pirate Bay were responsible for copyright infringement.

The BPI is expected to launch further actions against online piracy hubs, despite concerns that determined file-sharers will be able to use technology to circumvent the blocks.

BSkyB, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media said they would comply with the order. BT, which was not named in the order, said it was still considering its legal position.

Nicholas Lansman, secretary-general of ISPA, the broadband providers’ trade body, said there should be greater investment in legal digital alternatives.

“While it is right that a judge, and not ISPs, made the call to block The Pirate Bay and shows that the existing legal framework contains the necessary powers for rights holders to protect their copyright online, the blocking of websites should not be viewed as a silver bullet,” he said.

“We hope that this litigation will be followed by the continued development of innovative fully licensed online services by rights holders, which is the most effective way to tackle online copyright infringement.”

Internet freedom advocates condemned the ruling, which comes amid a campaign to protect children by forcing parents to “opt in” to allowing pornography to be viewed using their internet connection. “Blocking The Pirate Bay is pointless and dangerous,” said Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group. “It will fuel calls for further, wider and even more drastic calls for internet censorship of many kinds, from pornography to extremism.

“Internet censorship is growing in scope and becoming easier. Yet it never has the effect desired. It simply turns criminals into heroes.”

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