The Pirate Bay must be blocked by UK ISPs, court rules

The Pirate Bay screenshot The Pirate Bay is hosted in Sweden, where it has an active supporter base

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File-sharing site The Pirate Bay must be blocked by UK internet service providers, the High Court has ruled.

The Swedish website hosts links to download mostly pirated free music and video.

Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media must all prevent their users from accessing the site.

"Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists," the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said.

A sixth ISP, BT, requested "a few more weeks" to consider their position on blocking the site.

BPI's chief executive Geoff Taylor said: "The High Court has confirmed that The Pirate Bay infringes copyright on a massive scale.

"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."

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As media firms step up their battle against piracy and popular newspapers demand action from politicians on web filtering, the internet culture wars are going to get more heated”

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'Compelling alternatives'

In November 2011, the BPI asked the group of ISPs to voluntarily block access to the site.

The request followed a court order to block Newzbin 2, a site also offering links to download pirated material.

The ISPs said they would not block the site unless a court order was made, as is now the case.

Virgin Media told the BBC it will now comply with the request, but warned such measures are, in the long term, only part of the solution.

"As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media complies with court orders addressed to the company but strongly believes that changing consumer behaviour to tackle copyright infringement also needs compelling legal alternatives, such as our agreement with Spotify, to give consumers access to great content at the right price."

The Pirate Bay was launched in 2003 by a group of friends from Sweden and rapidly became one of the most famous file-sharing sites on the web.

It allows users to search for and access copyrighted content including movies, games and TV shows.

No 'extra pennies'

In April 2009, the Swedish courts found the four founders of the site guilty of helping people circumvent copyright controls.

The ruling was upheld after an appeal in 2010, but the site continues to function.

The Pirate Party UK, a spin-off from the political movement started in Sweden that backs copyright reform, said this latest move will "not put any extra pennies into the pockets of artists".

"Unfortunately, the move to order blocking on The Pirate Bay comes as no surprise," party leader Loz Kaye told the BBC.

Peter Sunde of The Pirate Bay reacts to the 2009 conviction - Contains strong language

"The truth is that we are on a slippery slope towards internet censorship here in the United Kingdom."

'Pointless and dangerous'

Critics of site-blocking argue that such measures are ineffective as they can be circumvented using proxy servers and other techniques.

However, one analyst told the BBC that it was still worthwhile to take court action as it underlines the illegal nature of sites such as The Pirate Bay.

"I know it's fashionable to say 'oh, it just won't work', but we should keep trying," said Mark Little, principal analyst at Ovum.

"We should keep blocking them - they are stealing music illegally.

"The biggest culprits of this, really, are the younger demographic who just haven't been convinced that doing this is somehow morally uncomfortable.

"The principle that downloading music illegally is a bad thing to do has not been reinforced by schools or parents."

But Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, called the move "pointless and dangerous".

"It will fuel calls for further, wider and even more drastic calls for internet censorship of many kinds, from pornography to extremism," he said.

"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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  • rate this

    Comment number 555.

    I wouldn't pay £10 for a DVD, so nobody is losing money by me downloading them for free. It is nothing like stealing because everybody still owns eveything and nobody's window was broken. Free content will continue with or without Piratebay. Did shutting down Napster accomplish anything????

  • rate this

    Comment number 554.

    @kittyjhyde What's hysterical about that quote? Redundancy is rife in the UK film industry. That's fact.

    There's less money in the UK film industry now. That's fact.

    So, unless you want to live in 'a different era' where no new films come out - becuase there's not enough money to make them, you have to some how monetise film content - and Pirate Bay doesn't allow you to do that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 553.


    "Why are all the high positive ratings pro file sharing (thieving) and the most negatively rated appear to be from law abiding citizens?

    You are getting some refreshing access to the *actual* state public opinion on the issue. With the right attitude, this could be a learning experience for you. The music industry clearly haven't yet found a way to bribe all the viewers of the bbc

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    Question - if I am with one of the other internet providers eg Orange can I use the site? Not that I will I am very suspicious of most free internet downloads.
    FYI Sorry it is stealing- you are obtaining something for which you have not paid without the owner's (artist producer etc) permission and so depriving them of some income which they would have otherwise recieved- i.e. stealing

  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    There is an underlying assumption that the downloaded material would be bought if unavailable via Pirate Bay - certainly not a proven case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    I love it. People pretending its okay to benefit from someones work without paying them. Try that with a plumber or electrician.

    But hey, the parasites want to be free to do nothing and still have lots of books, CDs and games to use. How could that be wrong?

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    You will never stop people downloading stuff its time the industry understood this and tried a different approach.If people want to download stuff then fine,its easy,just make them sit through twenty minutes of ads this will paid for the content.I think this is more about censorship.All governments love control,this is why they hate the internet.Protect your freedom of speech.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    If they start censoring pornography at source, the likelihood is your tastes and capacity will be recorded, and you will be bribed with it later in life. It will spread to all of your life, too, given the surveillance society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    501.aphoristic"Vote anything but con, lib or lab at the next elections!.. They've all got to go!!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    People this is not theft. This is copyright impingement. Generally copyright is a civil matter and not a criminal matter. Lobbying has turned this in to a crime. But its not theft. Theft is the act of stealing and stealing is to take someone's property without permission or right and not intending to return it. Nothing was ever taken. The companies have not *lost* anything. Its not theft.

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    What would be the use blocking Pirate Bay? It simply hosts torrent files that link to files on other computers. If torrent files are not held by PirateBay, they will done through other modes.

    If Piracy has to be stopped, it cannot be done by force in this digital age. The more you repress, the more ppl do.

    Can u blame a library for displaying city maps using which a person commits an offense?

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    To all you folk ranting about greedy capitalists running the entertainment industry what do you think motivates the owners of Pirate Bay? The sites rakes in millions every year and none of the owners look poor. At least one is a multi-millionaire and a neo-Nazi to boot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    I hate this nanny state who is now telling me I can't visit certain sites. The UK is becoming like China.

    People can still get around all of this by using proxies..... ;)

    Lets see if the BBC publishes this!

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    The simplest argument is to become "CAP-IT-ALL-ists", this means having entertainment companies specify Platinum sales as being the point where they cap pricing. I they ask £12 a movie, once it hits platinum the pricing is dropped since they have covered all their costs and gained a significant profit margin while allowing the poorest to be able to eventually access the same as everyone else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    517 The difference is Spotify have paid or reached agreement with owners of the right to broadcast them, so it is with the owners permission and so legal. The adverts in Spotify are what pays for it, that is why it is free. Just stealing it is also free, but that is why its illegal since no one agreed to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    Good luck, I'm behind seven proxies!

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    511.Geof_D - ".......Please post your addresses and the times you'll be out so I can come to your house and take your stuff....."

    Fine, as long as you bring a 3D printer with you & only take copies of my stuff & leave the original behind.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    If only the money paid by consumers for creative materials (beit books, films, etc) actually went to the artists ... At best all this will do is line the pockets of the global media tycoons instead of those of a rogue activist group.
    Something other than copyright is the only enduring system. How about Creative Commons licencing? Far more flexibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    They are trying to hold back the sea. As some else said, business models change and performers now make money by performing live (at 50 pounds a ticket), sponsorship and other income sources. No sympathy for the record companies who overcharged for a $1 cd for many years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    511. Geof_D - You have failed to grasp the difference between depriving someone of their property and copying someone's work.

    And while I'm at it - its not the MUSIC industry that is worried - its the RECORD industry.


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