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Radio Times and football websites are hit by overzealous filtering

Fri Aug 16 2013, 13:50
Policeman in front of no entry sign

A NUMBER OF LEGITIMATE WEBSITES have been blocked in the rush to shut off access to First Row Sports, a streaming link website.

First Row Sports was lined up for the chop earlier this summer and was blocked by internet service providers (ISPs) including Sky in late July.

Unfortunately some other websites have been affected since it was blocked, including TV listings website Radio Times and those of a few Premiership football teams.

It was the Premier League that took the First Row Sports case to court, and it was happy when the court agreed that it was a threat to copyright owners.

"The scale of First Row's activities is very large. There are a large number of links listed on the site at any one time. First Row was ranked by Alexa as the 268th most popular website in the UK in January 2013 and the 239th most popular in April 2013," it said in legal papers.

"To put that in perspective, First Row was on that basis more popular, in January 2013, than both and In April 2013 alone, First Row received 9.98 million unique user hits worldwide."

Unfortunately it appears that there has been a scattershot approach to enforcing the court order, and the blocking of unrelated links has affected a number of innocent websites.

First Row Sports is unrepentant and promises to return under a new guise. In a tweeted message posted today it said, "Keep watch this space for EPL".

The BBC uncovered the blocks and informed the Premier League about the impact it was having on other websites. The editor of the Radio Times is understandably mad about the website suffering.

"It's outrageous that our website has been suddenly switched off and our users wrongly informed that it's to protect against copyright infringement," said Radio Times editor Ben Preston to the BBC.

"The Premier League seems to be behaving like the worst sort of blundering striker who's forgotten the first rule of football - check you're at the right end before you shoot."

Virgin Media told The INQUIRER that while it respects court orders it has had to stop blocking First Row Sports.

"As a responsible ISP we obey court orders when addressed to the company. However, we do not believe the instruction to block this particular IP address meets the criteria of the court order against First Row Sports so we have stopped blocking it and have written to the Premier League," said a Virgin Media spokesperson. µ


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