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 1355.

    Musicians do make money . . the way they should do, from touring and playing the plethora of festivals over the Summer period.

    Drop in single sales is the reason for a festival every weekend in Summer.

    As someone said earlier . . ' As one door closes . . another opens .'

  • rate this

    Comment number 1354.

    What's killing the industry is tosh like Xfactor, Britain's Got Talent, The Voice, and other vapid Saturday night musical entertainment shows for the great unwashed.

    Hey music exec - Remember when you used to charge me £20 for a CD album? Well the tide has turned. You'll never stop downloading. U mad?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1353.

    How are sites like these damaging the music business, you don't give the people who run pirate bay money so how do they make money from them? These kinds of sites have been on-line for decades and yet the music business has not shut down.

  • Comment number 1352.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1351.

    This isn't as clear cut as many people suggest. Downloading films and music for free is to a certain extent wrong. However, from what I know most of my friends just download stuff they wouldn't have bought any way and would've waited for it to come on the TV (as regards films). With music, maybe the record companies should look at funding more good live artists and make their money on touring.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1350.

    My other thoughts on this are.. ok PB gets blocked, but how long before we see this encroaching on alternative territory. How long before the government decides we shouldnt be reading Pravda,communicate with friends in a country they currently dont like, watch videos about sciences that dont meet 'the party's' criteria. Orwell just got his dates wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1349.

    interesting discussion with ISP rep and BBCRadio4 Today programme John Humphrys - latter stance 'anything illegal (on internet) should be stopped, surely, as elsewhere in society'. Theft from handbags doesn't make handbag manufacturers responsible, car makers in getaway cars, gunsmiths in shooting crimes, nor theft from houses, the locksmith, especially if they have the key.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1348.

    Look every time the moive industry gives $100,000 to a us senitor to keep mickey mouse in copy right do we do any thing?

    The moive creators want to be treated with respect then, they need to do the same to us, and stop giving back handers to keep extending copyright every time mickey mouse is about to drop out of copy right!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1347.

    Online piracy is by no means ruining the film industry, most large firms have only seen a drop in profit. Censorship of the internet is not an answer, it will just enrage those of us who have the skills to bypass it, after all the whole point of the internet is global, uncontrolled, freedom of information.

    Focus on developing new strategies, reasonable prices and adapt to new times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1346.

    We're all stealing money from these artists, we should be much more considerate, I'm not even sure how Adele survives with her £24 million, she must be finding it so tough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1345.

    When the first recession of recent times happened, the film and music industries were the only ones not affected. In fact, those two industries made more of a profit. Internet piracy seems to have no effect on music and film, and thanks to it, stores like iTunes have shown up to make downloading legal. It is foolish to suggest that these sites destroy jobs in the UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 1344.

    The simple fact, as research shows, comes down to this:
    ''People download things for free because the ability exists. If someone was not prepared to pay for something, taking away the free version will not change their mind. They will simply look for other things that cost nothing to entertain them''.
    This is about censorship, motivated by monopolised greed. Pure and simple, it will have no effect

  • rate this

    Comment number 1343.

    Evading the block is trivial: download and install the TOR Onion Router, and you can access any blocked site. This just puts pirates to a slight inconvenience while pushing up prices for the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1342.

    70% of worldwide music sales are controlled by the "Big Three" record labels.... SonyBMG, Warner and Universal (Now owns EMI). These companies are very greedy. These companies have too much poweer. Radio is repetitive because they make the rules. Did musicians make money before records were made? Yes, by actually performing REAL, non-autotuned songs!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1341.

    I've known a lot of people who've downloaded stuff, video, audio and software. In a lot of cases, the main purpose was try before you buy. If someone liked a film, then they would buy it on DVD when released because the cinema costs have sky rocketed, or buy a CD once the price had dropped a little. Not everyone has wedges of cash, but are told by the media they need everything immediately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1340.

    An artist spends years of effort learning to play and write music, months of his time and quantities of money recording a CD at a level of quality - and then you expect to just have it for free? Piracy is just thieving with cute earrings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1339.

    For those comparing downloading to burglary, a better analogy is if you broke into a house, made a perfect copy of some items and left.

    I do download tv programmes, as I fail to see the difference between recording them via sky HD (which I have and pay for) and downloading as either way I don't see any adverts. Downloading is just more convenient.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1338.

    Why do record companies even need to play a part in modern music ?

    Why in the era of the internet with the possibility for any creative person to capitalise i=on their own skills globally . . do these dinosaurs try to convince us that we still need them holding our hands ?

    Dragons Den

    X Factor

    Britains Got Talent

    The Apprentice

    Even reality shows where designers and artists compete . . why ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1337.

    if bigest int providers ban this site than the small providers wont, and I first will go with others providers.1000 reasons why

  • rate this

    Comment number 1336.

    Musicians make so little money these days from CD sales, much of their money comes from merchandise. It's the labels and company execs getting their wands in a knot. This just closes another door for unsigned bands to get their music heard. It's hard enough to get going as a band these days, and many other online hosting sites charge a fee. What quicker way to kill off hard working bands?


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