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 1335.

    This debate smacks of my generation unquestioningly slated something that is new, just because it is new & they feel the need to react in a knee jerk fashion to the young...... 20/30 years time people will look back at this "debate" & wonder what the fuss was all about as by then downloading will be mainstream........just as 60s pop music was slated for being morally wrong at the time

  • rate this

    Comment number 1334.

    To number version of your argument...
    But they fail to realise that just because little Jonny has stolen my car does not mean he would ( or indeed could ) have paid for it if he was forced to buy it. No, it just means instead he would not have it in the first place - it's not lost revenue.
    Given your moral stance, I'm sure you'll forgive little 'Jonny'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1333.

    I worked in an independent music shop when I left school. I remember my shock when I found out how little it costs to make a CD and how much the price increased through each middle man's profits before it finally reached the buyer. We sold CDs at cost price (to us) plus a tiny bit of profit. Our new chart CDs cost £7.99, whereas other shops around us charged £13.99. The shops made a HUGE profit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1332.

    The government is in a tizzy because it is loosing TAX revenue and as it is as greedy as the music industry it will be backing them to the hilt

  • rate this

    Comment number 1331.

    Banning one file sharing site will not stop pirating, there are many other sites out there that share and host pirated files, but none are as reliable as the pirate bay, so what makes you think that this will stop at banning one website, next all other torrent sites will be banned, then something else, so much for our freedom. Say hello to a British Korea in 50 or so years...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1330.

    Piracy will continue until all content providers release their content worldwide on day one, in high-def, with a reasonably-priced subscription model, available to play on all the consumer's devices. This goes for music, TV shows, films and games. Wake up publishers, it's not rocket science.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1329.

    @1326 "It's not people 'deserve' . it's about facing the reality of the situation".

    By that argument, heroin dealing is fine, terrorism is fine, child abuse is fine, slavery was fine - that argument was used then... until they abolished it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1328.

    I am all for blocking sites IF companies like Microsoft etc remove the product protection so I can make legal back ups of the media I have bought that said the ISP that refuses to block is going to get alot of new custom

  • rate this

    Comment number 1327.

    Include ALL films on Netflix or Lovefilm, Include ALL artists on Spotify premium and I for one would never download another movie or mp3.
    I am signed up to both and the lack of artists or films available online is frustrating.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1326.

    1324. Gizzit

    ' Nobody "deserves" free products. '


    It's not people 'deserve' . it's about facing the reality of the situation.

    I, have without doubt, purchased more music and discovered a wider range of music (that I would never have otherwise) since the advent of the internet.

    I will quite happily pay 90p for a single but there are some tracks that are impossible to get hold of legally

  • rate this

    Comment number 1325.

    TPB is just a medium like google or a text message or even these comments. What are they going to do next, shut them all down?

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    TPB is just a medium like

  • rate this

    Comment number 1324.

    Personally I stick to the legal routes - Spotify, Netflix etc. No doubt that Big Media are greedy, but I make a judgement on the price being asked - if it's worth it, I pay, if not, I do without.

    Nobody "deserves" free products.

    I'd like to see more sites like Bandcamp - where the reward is going to artists and not to overpaid execs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1323.

    This is brilliant news; roll out TOR 2.0. For those of you who disagree, please consider adding your home computer to the TOR network as a router.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1322.

    The music industry are 'gougers'.
    Illegal downloaders think that this justifies theft.
    If these people walk in to a newsagent and a Mars Bar is 60p do they buy it? If it is 70p do they steal it?
    If it is about fairness then people should donate £2 to charity for every album they steal. How many of you do that?
    There are no Robin Hoods here.
    Stealing is cheaper than buying.
    End of argument.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1321.

    All these copyright reforms are only designed to aid the big record companies and artists who are bringing in millions. The fact is that I believe they hurt smaller independent artists.

    As a musician in a successful self managed band I make most of my money from gigs, not albums. I want as many people as possible to hear our music to help build up a fan-base. File sharing helps this greatly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1320.

    Tragic, next they will ban search engines for doing their job, ban phone books for letting you find people gods this is madness. OK so pirate bay has links to dodgy music and software, but if people look there are also many legitimate programs being streamed there by corporate clients too. Many new pieces of software also stream via torrent too. talk about shooting yourself in the foot

  • rate this

    Comment number 1319.

    Plant Smith comment 1312.

    Yes all those things you mentioned are theft, and yes if you worked for me the very least you would get is a public dressing down whether you liked it or not, I expect you would feel your 'rights' to thieve had been infringed but not half as much as mine are to not get stuff stolen. Or just not pay you for a week, you know, because I can, and like, its innit...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1318.

    If you could download a car... would you ? Hell yeah !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1317.

    rulling is useless as all previous ones, the dns blocks can be overcome by even the most inept people. Instead of wasting time and money, if companies want to stop piracy then they have to evolve their business models like the audio industry did. Terrible companies are losing their own money.until intellectual copy write is held by artists not the publishers they will find it hard to find allies

  • rate this

    Comment number 1316.

    Yet they complain about the Chinese government. Hypocrites!


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