More sites blocked in the UK even though it doesn't seem to stop piracy

28th Feb 2013 | 14:50

More sites blocked in the UK even though it doesn't seem to stop piracy

A good use of everyone's time, then

The High Court has ruled that the UK's ISPs must block three more piracy-related sites after a suit from music industry body BPI.

Kickass Torrents, H33t and Fenopy join the website block list that already features The Pirate Bay and Newzbin2, with all the major UK ISPs now required to restrict access to these sites.

The BPI's CEO Geoff Taylor explained that "blocking illegal sites helps ensure that the legal digital market can grow and labels can continue to sign and develop new talent".

Blockhead

There are plenty of people who remain unconvinced about website blocking as an anti-piracy measure, however.

When the courts brought The Pirate Bay block in last year, it was famously easy to workaround (and remains so to this day) which made the whole process fairly pointless. Stats showed that TPB activity was down at first after the block, but shot back up after mere days.

What's more, the blanket block handed down didn't cover sensitivity to the nuances required by the modern internet, which meant that the perfectly legal The Promo Bay was also blocked by some ISPs for a time.

Blockbuster

It's this blanket approach that worries the Open Rights Group, whose executive director Jim Killock described blocking as "an extreme response", the effectiveness of which remains questionable.

"Blocking… will encourage new forms of distributed infringement," he said. "The BPI and others should be mindful that their tactics may have the opposite effect to their intention, by legitimising and promoting resistance to their actions.

"We are concerned that these orders are not protecting speech, are over-blocking forums and discussion and are prone to error as the actual block lists are private."

No doubt those who are pro-block will point to recent stats showing that piratical activity is down as justification for restricting access to sites at will but that approach ignores the rise and rise of legitimate music streaming sites.

Even the government scrapped tricky website blocking plans in 2011, and it has long been agreed that increasing legal access to film and music content will stem the public's need to surf pirate-infested waters.

What we really need is hard stats to show whether or not website blocking works - otherwise there's a risk that rights holders and courts will indulge in more and more web censorship just for the sake of it.

piracy internet website blocking ISPs BPI Open Rights Group censorship
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