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 495.

    No comment from me. I wouldn't know about TPB because I never used it. Heard it was full of viruses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 494.

    Interesting that the editors' picks are almost exclusively anti TPB.
    This is a bigger issue than blocking a single site, and it's less one sided than people imagine. The figures used by the record industry have been proven to be wildly inaccurate, and regardless of your views on copyright, this is censorship in a society that is supposed to champion free speech.

  • rate this

    Comment number 493.

    The only people who stand to gain anything by this is the record labels, not the artists.

    More importantly though, the wider issue of censorship is a slippery slope towards an authoritarian society. As soon as anyone has the legal right to restrict knowledge, it's only a matter of time before somebody abuses that power to conceal something a lot more important than a few films and music files.

  • rate this

    Comment number 492.

    This is ridiculous, some bands leak their own albums on Pirate Bay before release so more people will buy their music. Bands who write their own music earn most of their money from tours it's just the big record labels who want the CD money, they need to update their business model not punish all of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 491.

    The problem with the dvd/blu- ray industry is region codes get rid of region codes and people will buy the films .

  • rate this

    Comment number 490.

    So because some visitors to PB go on to break the law of copyright infringement the whole thing should be blocked?

    What a GREAT(?!) idea - while we're at it shall we lock up every single man, woman & children in the UK (if not the whole world) just to make sure we catch the real criminals amougst them...???

  • rate this

    Comment number 489.

    This is a step in the direction of a dictorial internet. Do we want to live in a country like China?! The music industry should have to take PirateBay to court if they feel there is an offence.... not censor the internet. This is so wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    There goes the neighborhood

    I mean internet.

    As 383 suggests, there are other factors involved in regards to the Industry suffering losses.
    The way we're headed, everyone loses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 487.

    The "same as being burgalled" argument doesn't hold water for me. If you get your TV nicked, you know its gone, whereas if a million people downloaded my song for nothing, I wouldn't even know about it. And I would never know how many of those would have paid for it if it hadn't been available freely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 486.

    There is no such things as bad publicity.
    Headline news for downloading torrents. Now every Granny in the country has heard of torrents. Ha ha.

  • rate this

    Comment number 485.

    2 things, 1) it is impossible to stop anyone in the UK accessing the pirate bay. 2) Wouldnt it be better to stop the child pornography lot 1st? I mean the only people pirate bay are hurting are the movie studios who make an awful lot of drivel, and the actors who earn enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 484.

    I often download music/films/games which I ALREADY OWN as the pirated versions usually have cleaner installs, better compatiability & no disc/internet checks, Better file formats, extras added by the fans.

    Paid services should try harder, not punish people who actually buy things. Who wants a buy game they can only reinstall 3 times or a song they can only listen to through iTunes. Ridiculous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    Pirate Bay is on the internet. The only way to stop people from downloading things that they don't want to pay for from PB is to remove the site completely.
    The existence of PB on the net proves that people would rather download it than pay for it. Call it what you like, but the only way to stop it is to remove PB from the net (only to have it come back 3 days later in a similar format..) Thankyou

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    I will always prefer to buy legal, real films, music and games because I like having both the collection of things and the ability to play them at any time. But I simply don't have the money to so. The arts industry rips off customers continually, I don't sympathise with them at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    I can't help but imagine the music industry as a fat little schoolchild throwing a tantrum, squealing "stop copying me", and sulking in the corner. While its classmates grow, learn and mature, its still refusing to move past its one, narrow-minded idea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    It's NOT censorship. That term is only being used to validate theivery and present it as a political struggle.
    ALL of the music on piratebay is still completely available to us all. We just need to pay a pittance for it as a legal download or disc. Therefore it has NOT been censored. Now watch all the negative ratings hit me from people who think they're 'freedom fighters'. Big Brother my ass.

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    Theft is theft...

    It''s all about power, the movie makers what more powers/barriers so they can exploit the consumer. Does piracy cost jobs? I seriously doubt it. If capital expenditure is viewed from a circuit of capital perspective, it is merely a displacement of jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.

    Those who want a free and uncensored internet should look back to the story of the website which was able to make money from showing nude images of people without bothering to check age, consent status, or who owned the copyright on the images.
    If ISPs fail to come up with constructive solutions to the various forms of internet criminality, then others will do the job for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    I downloaded a pirated album of a musician i had been recommended by a friend, that musician is now my favourite artist and i have bought 5 CDs and been to 7 concerts and bought 2 t-shirts from that artist. this isn't uncommon amongst my peers. i whole heartily believe i spend more on movies and music and games *Because* i download.

    Content providers need to re-evaluate their business model.

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    The assumption that ALL illegal downloads represent lost income is a complete fallacy. The true figure is the increased amount that would be spent (if any) if illegal downloads were stopped. No one, including the industry and the courts have any idea how much this is - in this light they both look rather foolish and more than a little quixotic.


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