LARGE-SCALE WEB BLOCKING JUST AROUND THE CORNER

June 19, 2013 – 4:06 pm

As the music and movie business continues to streamline and hone their processes on the back of the experiences of past experiences, blocking websites via the High Court is getting close to a formality in the UK and could soon be the same in Ireland. Groundwork done with zero opposition and a sympathetic court, large-scale blocking is only just around the corner – guaranteed. By Andy of TorrentFreak.

Faced with millions of Internet users that won’t take the hint or aren’t even aware there’s a problem, the issue of online piracy continues unabated.

Every single day, tens of millions of netizens access copyrighted material for free via thousands of file-sharing sites. Unable to shut them down, copyright holders are trying another approach.

Rightsholder blocking of websites has become a hot-topic in Europe, with the music and movie industries going flat-out in multiple regions to create favorable legal climates for what they see as a legitimate strategy to protect their investments.

The blocking bogeyman is The Pirate Bay, a site that refuses to comply with even a single copyright takedown. This militant stance has given the record labels and Hollywood everything they need to approach the courts with their plight and receive a very sympathetic hearing. And the signs are that’s exactly what they’re getting.

A High Court order to have The Pirate Bay blocked was issued last year and was followed by another against KickassTorrents, H33T and Fenopy in February 2013. Just this week, the record labels in Ireland posted a big win when the High Court there granted a similar injunction against The Pirate Bay after the law was tweaked last year.

Buoyed by these successes the labels are readying more blocks. Last evening (June 13) the Irish Recorded Music Association confirmed it will target a further 20 sites in an effort to stop infringement of their copyrights.

“We will be back in court very shortly to take out five to 10 other sites,” said IRMA director general, Dick Doyle.

“We have already selected a total of 20 of the worst offender sites and we will go after the next five in the very near future.”

As revealed here on TorrentFreak in May, the BPI are also planning another wave of web blockades in the UK. It would not be unreasonable to presume that the list will be very similar to the one being compiled by their Irish counterparts.

And, with the groundwork now laid, it appears that the record labels are on the road to perfecting a process that may soon become somewhat of a formality.

The High Court process is now laid out. The ISPs do not contest the labels’ applications to have sites blocked and the sites themselves are not given the express opportunity to defend themselves. This is perhaps moot, since none are expected to do so.

Furthermore, no formal hearing is required, with the judge dealing with applications based on the facts as presented by the labels. The labels’ case is that the sites make every effort to provide an infringing service with the layout and categorization of their torrents, coupled with their lax attitudes to takedown requests. Merely providing torrents is not enough to fail the ‘pirate’ test.

“Infringement was not merely an inevitable consequence of the provision of torrents on the site, but their objective and intention,” explains Darren Meale, senior associate at the Dentons lawfirm.

“Mass copyright infringement was the ‘cornerstone’ of the sites’ business models; each site showed an obvious disregard for copyright law; and each had sought to evade international investigations by constantly changing domain registrant details and moving ISPs,” comments Meale on the reasoning of the judge.

On this basis it is accepted by the court that the users of this type of torrent site are infringing the copyrights of the labels and since the sites themselves are facilitating and authorizing those infringements, they too are guilty of copyright infringement.

Add to that the sites’ relevance to the UK market (such as a large number of local visitors and UK targeted advertising) plus ISP knowledge that infringement is being carried out by their subscribers, and the court appears happy to sign off on the blockades.

Meale, who has written extensively on the blockades, believes that the content industries have become adept at dealing with the legalities, using streamlined processes that reduce costs and save time, and that will serve them well in the future.

“The evidence put in by the record industry will also be similar each time and therefore cheaper on each occasion. That points to s97A applications becoming fairly fixed in terms of time and cost and so much easier for the industry to fund and to evaluate their effectiveness by way of a cost/benefit analysis,” Meale concludes.

Rest assured, the recording and movie industries haven’t come all this way to stop now. In bite-sized chunks over the next 12 months they will seek to have all of the top 20 file-sharing sites blocked at the ISP level.

And, with proxy sites now automatically blocked after the fact, that might only be the beginning.

Note: Visit TorrentFreak for more updates.

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KickassTorrents DOMAIN SEIZED AFTER MUSIC INDUSTRY COMPLAINT

With millions of visitors every day KickassTorrents (KAT) is one of the largest torrent sites on the Internet, trailing only behind The Pirate Bay.

This status has put the site on the radar of the US Government and a wide variety of entertainment industry groups around the world.

Yesterday (June 13) the torrent site ran into trouble with its KAT.ph domain, and there were signs suggesting the domain was no longer in control of the original owners. Over the past few hours more details have emerged, and the Government of the Philippines has now confirmed that the domain name has been seized on copyright grounds.

The seizure is the result of a complaint filed by the Philippine Association of the Recording Industry and several individual music labels. The complaint stated that KickassTorrents was causing “irreparable damages” to the music industry, and a local court agreed to suspend the site’s domain.

“The complaint alleges that the registrant of KAT.ph is violating intellectual property rights by making copyrighted music available for download to its users,” the dotPH registry informed TorrentFreak.

Early this week the Philippine Intellectual Property Office issued a temporary restraining Order directing the dotPH registry to suspend the KAT.ph domain for 72 hours. The order, signed by the IPO Bureau of Legal Affairs, will become final if the domain owners don’t appeal.

According to dotPH, the company that maintains the database of PH domain names, the music industry first complained about KickassTorrents in 2011. However, the company said at the time that it would only take action following a court order.

“dotPH was initially contacted by the complainants’ lawyers in December of 2011 with a demand to take down the domain, and dotPH agreed to cooperate if provided with an order from a court or appropriate authority,” TorrentFreak was informed.

“dotPH received the restraining order earlier this week and subsequently suspended kat.ph in compliance with IPO’s directive,” the registry adds.

While the case is presented as a local action aimed at preventing piracy of original Filipino music, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if US forces have also been applying pressure. In its latest Special 301 Report the US Government listed the Philippines on its copyright “watch list,” demanding further action against so-called rogue sites.

“The United States looks to the Philippines to take important steps to address piracy over the Internet, in particular with respect to notorious online markets,” the Office of the United States Trade Representative wrote in its report.

TorrentFreak reached out to the KickassTorrents team for a comment on the domain seizure, but we have yet to hear back.

Whether the seizure will have much of an effect has yet to be seen. After the domain name was taken away KickassTorrents quickly moved to a new one, and the site continues to operate under the new Kickass.to domain. - Ernesto of TorrentFreak

  1. 4 Responses to “LARGE-SCALE WEB BLOCKING JUST AROUND THE CORNER”

  2. So, when are they going after individuals who download, maybe time to stop downloading?

    By Rob on Jun 20, 2013

  3. @Rob - this is shaping up as the new “WAR ON DRUGS”. Thousands of new government hires (who of course will conform to the dear leader’s agenda). No end game, no victory, just political patronage.
    Sound like Nazi Germany? Russia? China? Iraq? Nixon vs The Smothers Brothers? Enjoy BigO while you have it…

    By TDC on Jun 21, 2013

  4. ISP’s blocking websites is illegal, or it at least should be because the client pays a subscription so that the ISP provides that client with an access point to the World Wide Web. That’s it.
    They cannot provide you access and then tell you where you cannot go, as that is out of their eligibility.
    That would be like renting a car at Hertz and then Hertz telling you that access to New York City is prohibited because there’s crime in New York City…
    Ludicrous.

    By JimmyJump on Jun 22, 2013

  5. Fuck them. They are clueless.

    By mc pete on Jun 22, 2013

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