A website which hosts non-copyrighted media has been blocked by BT and Virgin Media
Several British ISPs have blocked access to the Promo Bay website (promobay.org), even though it does not host any illegal material.
The platform was created in cooperation with controversial peer-to-peer sharing resource the Pirate Bay, in order to promote independent musicians, artists and filmmakers.
ISPs have told TechWeekEurope they are blocking the site as it was on a list of websites they were told to prevent access to when they were handed the court order regarding The Pirate Bay. After action from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) earlier this year, all major UK ISPs blocked the file-sharing site.
Getting it wrong
BT and Virgin confirmed they were both blocking access. However, the website is not hosted on the Pirate Bay servers, and does not contain any material that infringes copyright.
For several years, the Pirate Bay used its homepage to promote certain independent artists. In January, it streamlined the process, which resulted in over 10,000 submissions to date. Being featured on the 75th most popular webpage on the Internet (according to Alexa) helped participants gain thousands of new fans, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of views.
This opportunity helped independent artists earn money without the involvement of record labels or film studios. Promo Bay was subsequently created in order to help organise the submissions and give exposure to artists not lucky enough to be featured on the home page.
Australian entrepreneur Will Dayble is managing the site and is responsible for shortlisting the most promising projects.
“These providers are pretty monolithic and old school, I’d imagine it’s just a broad-scale block against a bunch of Pirate Bay properties and we fell under the net. I doubt it’s a pointed move against the Promo Bay in particular,” Dayble told TorrentFreak.
Dayble has started a petition urging ISPs to let their customers access promobay.org, which has so far failed to gain momentum.
In April, the High Court ordered five major British ISPs to block access to the Pirate Bay, on the grounds that it facilitated copyright infringement. The decision came after the BPI, which represents music copyright holders, failed to negotiate voluntary blocking.
In May, Virgin Media became the first provider to enact the court order. Orange was next to shut off the access, followed by Sky, TalkTalk and finally BT.
Immediately after the ban was imposed, the volume of peer-to-peer traffic in the UK dropped 11 percent, while users were figuring out how to circumvent the block. A number of specially-designed websites soon popped up, offering free access to The Pirate Bay through proxy servers. The Pirate Party UK was among the organisations running such services.
According to an unnamed ISP, by July, the amount of peer-to-peer traffic was back to its pre-ban levels.
The proxy wars
Last month, the BPI had asked the UK branch of the Pirate Party to stop offering the proxy server that allowed access to the site despite the blockade.
“Illegal sites like The Pirate Bay make it harder for new bands to get signed and for innovative digital music services to flourish,” said Geoff Taylor from the BPI in an e-mail. In response, the leader of the Pirate Party Loz Kaye assured that the proxy will exist as long as the blocking continues.
“Blocking of legitimate websites is unacceptable. The wide blocking order that the courts granted against the Pirate Bay made it likely that this could happen,” commented Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, talking about the Promo Bay situation.
“We have contacted the ISPs to ask why this block is in place and how it can be removed,” he added.
Arrgh! How much do you know about online piracy? Take our quiz!