High Court orders ISPs to block access to Kickass-Torrents, Fenopy and H33T
The High Court has ordered five British Internet service providers (ISPs) to try and stop the public from accessing three popular peer-to-peer file-sharing resources – Kickass-Torrents, Fenopy and H33T.
The court case was initiated by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), a group which represents music copyright holders.
The three blacklisted websites will join PirateBay, which has been unavailable in the UK since April 2012 (or at least hard to reach) as a result of an earlier lawsuit brought about by the BPI. It appears that the UK’s ISPs won’t be repeating their effort to appeal against the order – which ultimately failed in the case of PirateBay.
However, critics of the move say blocking is an ineffective solution, and rather than spending money on fighting piracy, media industries should investigate additional sources of revenue.
In block we trust
In April, the High Court ordered major British ISPs to block access to the PirateBay, on the grounds that it facilitated copyright infringement. The decision came after the BPI failed to negotiate voluntary blocking.
Immediately after the ban was imposed, the volume of peer-to-peer traffic dropped 11 percent, while the users were figuring out how to circumvent the block. A number of specifically designed websites soon popped up, including one hosted by the Pirate Party UK, offering free access to the PirateBay through proxy servers.
According to the ISP that wished to remain anonymous, by July 2012, the amount of peer-to-peer traffic was back to its pre-ban levels.
This trend was confirmed by analysts from Musicmetric, who say that the court order had “little impact” on the consumption of torrent files. They say that legal services like iTunes and Spotify were more successful in reducing piracy in the UK and US, but the global online piracy levels were still growing, driven in large part by Latin America.
“Blocking websites isn’t as simple as shutting down a market stall selling copied videos or CDs, and web pirates can be very slippery,” commented Gregory Mead, chief executive of Semetric, owners of Musicmetric.
However, the BPI maintains that censoring pirate sites is an appropriate solution, relying on generalised claims instead of numbers. “The growth of digital music in the UK is held back by a raft of illegal businesses commercially exploiting music online without permission,” Geoff Taylor, chief executive of BPI, told the BBC.
“Blocking illegal sites helps ensure that the legal digital market can grow and labels can continue to sign and develop new talent,” he added.
The leader of the Pirate Party UK Loz Kaye, who was personally threatened with legal action in December after BPI cracked down on PirateBay proxies, also noted that such Internet censorship failed to have any impact on the music industry.
“Looking at sales figures from 2012, you can’t draw the conclusion that stopping access to the PirateBay did anything to help artists,” said the activist.
Taylor thinks careful analysis of the market and use of value-added services can safeguard the profits of content publishers. “The key thing is for the industry to find ways of engaging with fans and using data on all online media consumption will enable firms to connect with their fans and drive up revenue as more and more consume music and films digitally.”
Arrgh! How much do you know about online piracy? Take our quiz!