Several major UK broadband ISPs, including BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and Virgin Media (VMO2), have been ordered by the High Court in London to block six more streaming websites after discovering that they facilitated copyright infringement on the Internet (piracy).
As usual, these blocking orders, which arise from Article 97A of Copyright, Designs and Patents Law (CDPA), are expensive to bring but have become very common in recent years. Hundreds of websites have been blocked using this approach (thousands if you include their many proxies and mirrors), which typically include file sharing (P2P / Torrent), video streaming sites, Sci-Hub, and those that do. sell counterfeit products, etc.
The latest injunction against the suppliers was jointly sought by Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount, Universal, Warner and Netflix. In total, six very popular video streaming sites (movies and TV shows) were targeted by the order, including Tinyzonetv, Watchserieshd, Levidia, 123movies and Europixhd.
It should be noted that it often takes a few weeks for such commands to be fully implemented, and at present none of the named ISPs appear to have added them to their internet filtering systems.
Summary of court order
It is also clear that the operators and users of the target websites are using the services of ISPs to infringe copyright. It can be reasonably inferred that ISP broadband subscribers use them to access target websites, given their popularity in the UK and the market share of ISPs. ISPs also have actual knowledge of using their services to infringe copyright, given the prior notice given to them of this request, which included sample evidence, and the meaning of the request and supporting evidence, and indeed their expressed lack of opposition to the order.
I am convinced that the injunction is necessary to prevent or at least reduce the damage to the Studios. I accept that the granting of an injunction under section 97A has proven to be the most effective means of hindering and deterring infringement activities of this nature. It will not affect legitimate trade. Having heard the comments on the form of the order, I am satisfied that it is proportionate and not unduly complicated. There is no indication that it will be difficult or expensive to implement.
In my opinion, the injunction strikes a fair balance between protecting the rights of the Studios and the other rights incurred. In particular, the public has no legitimate interest in accessing copyrighted works in violation of the rights of the Studios and to the significant detriment of the Studios. Any infringement of their rights and those of the ISPs is justified by the legitimate aim of preventing such infringement. The order contains appropriate guarantees.
Despite the costs and ease with which such blockages can be circumvented by consumers, Rights holders often see this as a price to pay as part of their broader efforts to deter casual piracy. Some studies (example) have also suggested that sites blocked in this way tend to lead to increased traffic to legal alternatives, but this can be countered by rising prices and increasing fragmentation of the content of those alternatives. Credits to TorrentFreak for spotting.