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 1415.

    You're playing whack-a-mole. Smack Pirate Bay and watch it rise up somewhere else. Welcome to Or .net. Or Or Or another name but the same site. Same with Youtube.

    Try, I dont know, putting better films on UK TV around the year instead of at xmas. Give us the US shows too. Until then, I wont stop pirating. No incentive not to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1414.

    On the contrary, pirating media (music especially), allows people to sample music they wouldn't have otherwise bought and, if they like what they hear, potentially purchase the music, go to gigs, buy merch etc. A bit of research into Arctic Monkeys rise to fame wouldn't go amiss..

    This ruling will actually hurt the small labels. People won't pay £10+ for something they don't know in a recession.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1413.

    As a hobby musician, I play for the sheer awesome love of music. In the main, BPI music seems to me to have become cash register orientated, horribly formulaic & shallow reflecting the decadence & emptiness of contemporary society.

    If I ever put my stuff on the net it will be as free to you as the sunshine. There's more to life than bankers' dishonest money.

    Have a good satisfying revolution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1412.

    The difficulty with piracy of any kind (in any era!) is that it will always find a way and a new guise. We live in an age when the main motivator of individual, corporate and political ambition is greed, thus providing a fertile soil for piracy of all kinds from the song to the singer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1411.

    This ruling merely proves that, when it comes to the internet, the law really is an ass.

    As a "techie" I know how, and when, to wear an invisibility cloak in order to obtain access to any site I want.

    So go ahead ISP's. Block PB, block the football live streaming sites, block what you want, but you will NOT stop me accessing what I want, when I want it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1410.

    The groundwork for internet censorship started started with fashionable notions of 'political correctness' (sic). Freedom of expression in the West is a thing of the past - but the golden age of internet freedom is a greasyer pig to wrestle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1409.

    Let me give people the facts. There are 3 main people involved in making music - the songwriter, artist and record label.

    Historically, they make money from:

    Songwriter: royalties
    Artist: live shows
    Record label: sales

    Piracy reduces sales...labels demand bigger cuts of royalties...songwriters lose out. We would like the public to help us so that we can continue making music.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1408.

    Look at the list of the highest ever grossing films on wikipedia. All of the top 10 films have grossed well over 1 billion dollars each.
    Notice how the majority of them have been made in the age of file sharing.
    Internet "piracy" does not damage artists ability to make a living -it enhances it. Censorship does damage democracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1407.

    There are 2 business models one can use here:

    1) Invest in new ideas, support the good ones, reap the rewards and outdo your competitors.
    2) Continue investing in old ideas, blame failure on outside influence and use your corporate weight to swing the lead and make your competition illegal.

    Guess which one the courts are supporting, and what that actually means for our long term economy...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1406.

    Whilst they're at it they really should block Google and every other search engine out there. I just searched for "proxy" and found thousands of ways round this ban. It seems Google are helping us break the law! They must be stopped now!....oh wait, Google are above the law (read: have more money than UK plc)....silly me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1405.

    This has existed for years and yet the music industry simply protects its marigns (which are significant) despite changes in technology that have consistently reduced the costs associated with the distribution of music/film. The few reap the rewards whilst the many pay the costs, new artist suffer and the public suffers, if the industry reduced the cost signfincantly the incetive would diminish

  • rate this

    Comment number 1404.

    What a state of affairs. When I hear how many "millions of pounds are lost in revenue" blah blah I don't buy it for one minute. My experience is that most people that I know buy albums, blurays and video games all the time but what they download, they would NEVER buy in the first place. Almost a "taster" and if they like it, then a premium medium is purchased.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1403.

    This is actually ridiculous, Trust incompetent judges to create laws and rules about things they do not understand. Firstly, TPB Does not break any swedish laws or unknown to many any copyright infringement laws; they use torrents which are basically thousands of links to different piecs of data. To sum it up TPB does not host any data, they just get torrents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1402.

    I am with TalkTalk, and i for one am not worried about this. There are 101 ways to bypass a website. All the government are doing is blocking the website to the non technical minded person. Most computer literate people will know how to bypass this.

    I for one will not stop downloading what i need, why the hell should i pay money to some junkie with a guitar, or some coke head that acts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1401.

    This is kind of ridiculous, how they can say that thepiratebay are commercially lining their pockets with stolen music and films.

    Show me where you have to pay to download a .torrent file (not the film itself) from thepiratebay?

    Instead of blocking sites like this, tools LIKE spotify should be promoted further. Giving commerse to bands through ads, while providing a (half) free service to users.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1400.

    Piracy is theft of intellectual property and will continue unless the financial sanctions against those profitting from it and those who 'handle' the stolen property is significant enough for it to be a deterrent. Arbitrarily blocking sharing sites is not the answer as the exchange of digital information over the internet is the whole point of the internet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1399.

    I find the whole blocking of various "undesirable" web sites quite laughable really. Blatantly the political policy makers and dusty old law lords have not a clue how this here T'internet works.... but then we should be used to pointless legislation and infringement of our civil liberties dressed up in such a way to sound "nearly" credible....fortunately Joe public is waking up slowly last

  • rate this

    Comment number 1398.

    I would never advocate copyright infringement, under any circumstances, however if the artists and industry behind the music were not such self serving, sanctimonious, greedy and manipulative, then the courts would not be clogged up with such cases which, on the grand scale of things, really don't matter. If courts are to legislate morality perhaps they should look at all perspectives!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1397.

    My wife is an intellectual property lawyer. i understand the reasoning behind this, but the practice is dangerous. We tightly control our borders, place surface to air missiles on flat blocks and monitor the population's use of the internet. How, please, are we different from Syria, except that the revolution hasn't started yet?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1396.

    Let them block it.

    If the industry cannot prove that their profits have substantially increased after a period of say 6 months following the block, then it should be removed and damages for both income lost and reputation should be paid to the Pirate Bay.

    An industry that is willing to back Jedward surely can put its money where it's mouth is.


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