Following a ruling in the High Court yesterday five of the UK’s largest broadband providers are obliged to block access to The Pirate Bay. The court case was instigated in December last year as the BPI requested the notorious file sharing portal be blocked to protect British jobs and creative output. Last year’s High Court ruling in which Newzbin was blocked across Europe served as a precedent to this case.
Five of the UK’s largest ISP were told to comply with the ruling including Sky, O2, Virgin, TalkTalk and Everything Everywhere (Orange/TMobile). Meanwhile BT has asked for “a few more weeks” while it considers its legal position. The judge in the case, Justice Arnold, ruled that ISPs and The Pirate Bay were both responsible for copyright infringement.
Following their success it is expected that the BPI could go after other big names in the file sharing world. Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive said “The High Court has confirmed that The Pirate Bay infringes copyright on a massive scale.” He said the freedom banner under which they sail is cynical and misrepresents their true motives: “Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them. This is wrong - musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else.” On the cost of illegal file sharing to the UK economy Mr Taylor said: "Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists. We urge anyone using The Pirate Bay to explore the many digital music services operating ethically and legally in the UK.”
Director of Big Brother Watch, Nick Pickles may agree with the negative sentiment about the Pirate Bay but believes that this kind of blocking is too crude and will be easily bypassed by canny downloaders. Further implications in the site blocking will rear their head later, he thinks, when it is revealed to be an ineffective tool, ISPs will have to act even more drastically to keep within the law “Ultimately the risk is that ISPs will be expected to monitor everything their customers do online to ensure they are not doing something they should not be. Indeed, it is almost inevitable certain groups will call for this when web blocking is exposed as the ineffective and easily avoided instrument it is.”
ISPs are already in a difficult position, if they don’t fight these blocking calls they invite more and more censorship, if they do decide to fight they can end up with large legal bills. When will Google, the piracy leader be blocked by our ISPs? That is the slippery slope the UK is now on, according to Forbes.
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