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UK high court orders blocks on three filesharing websites

Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy are blocked
Thu Feb 28 2013, 14:09
Policeman in front of no entry sign

THE UK HIGH COURT has ordered that major UK ISPs must block their subscribers from accessing the filesharing websites Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) cartel is behind the court orders and it went after the websites last autumn.

"Like The Pirate Bay, these websites are profiting illegally from distributing music that isn't theirs, without permission and without paying a penny to the musicians, writers and producers who created it. It is plain wrong," said a BPI spokesperson at the time.

"The existence of these sites damages the growth of Britain's burgeoning digital music sector. We have therefore asked Britain's six biggest ISPs to block access to the sites."

BT has confirmed that it is one of the half dozen, and told The INQUIRER that it will block websites when it is asked to do so.

"BT has consistently stated that copyright infringement is wrong and argued that rights holders should use the courts to enforce their legal rights and that we will comply with a court order as a result of any such case," said a spokesperson. "The court has decided that Fenopy, H33T and Kickass Torrents should be blocked and we intend to do this."

The same goes for Virgin Media. "As a responsible ISP," said the firm. "Virgin Media supports the clear, legal framework put in place to protect against copyright infringement and we continue to comply with court orders specifically addressed to the company." The four other ISP firms are Sky, O2, EE and Talktalk.

According to the leader of the UK Pirate Party Loz Kaye, such blocks like we've already seen on The Pirate Bay and Newzbin help nobody, including artists.

"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," he said.

"Even so, the industry is insisting on pushing for ever greater blocks, just as we in the Pirate Party have been warning. The UK has now handed the power over what we see on the Internet to corporate lobbyists. The BPI is out of control."

The legal documents released with the court order paint the trio of websites as big hitters with high Alexa traffic.

They were host to large amounts of music, media and movie material and millions of torrent files, according to experts, and annual advertising revenue across the three websites is estimated as ranging from about $750,000 to over $22m.

To the BPI this is a stiff move in the direction of legitimate business and one that will drive local music even deeper into digital territories.

"UK music labels have innovated to build one of the most vibrant digital music sectors in the world. But the growth of digital music in the UK is held back by a raft of illegal businesses commercially exploiting music online without permission," said BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor.

"Music fans shouldn't have to worry that sites distributing music online are illegal and unethical. Blocking illegal sites helps ensure that the legal digital market can grow and labels can continue to sign and develop new talent."

Open Rights Group responded, saying that this is all just part of an erosion of the civil liberties of internet users and a heavy handed grab at web control.

"Blocking is an extreme response, which will encourage new forms of distributed infringement," said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group.

"We are concerned that these orders are not protecting speech, are overblocking forums and discussion, and are prone to error as the actual block lists are private. Furthermore, users and the public interest have not been represented in the processes. ORG is actively examining ways to rectify this."

Earlier this month the BPI reported that 114 million albums and 938 million single digital tracks have been sold to date in the UK. µ



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