Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK

High court dictates website block



30th July
2011
  

Updated: Internet Censorship in the UK...


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High Court orders BT to block Newzbin 2

A High Court judge has ruled that BT must block access to a website which provides links to pirated movies.

Newzbin 2 is a members-only site which aggregates a large amount of copied material found on Usenet discussion forums.

The landmark case is the first time that a UK ISP has been ordered to block access to such a site.

It paves the way for other sites to be blocked.

In his ruling, Justice Arnold stated: In my judgment it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright: it knows that the users and operators of Newbin2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of the Studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes.

The Motion Picture Association, which represents the likes of Warner, Disney and Fox, launched the legal action to close down Newzbin 2. MPA signalled its intention to pursue other ISPs.

The judge ruled that BT must use its blocking technology CleanFeed - which is currently used to prevent access to websites featuring child sexual abuse - to block Newzbin.

The Internet Service Providers' Association has been a fierce critic of web blocking. It said that using blocking technology, designed to protect the public from images of child abuse, was inappropriate.

Currently CleanFeed is dealing with a small, rural road in Scotland, ISPA council member James Blessing told BBC Radio 4's PM programme. Trying to put Newzbin and other sites into the same blocking technology would be a bit like shutting down the M1. It is not designed to do that.

Update: Case by Case

30th July 2011. See  article from  theregister.co.uk

BT's head of retail Simon Milner has admitted that the company is not deliriously happy , but BT won't be appealing the decision.

He told the Register that: We believe in an open internet -- we won't do any other blocking . We will never stop our customers getting to any service they want to get to. Unless a court orders us to.

Although the case went against BT, Milner points out that a test case has finally made the law clear. And since web-blocking requires a court order, he says BT is satisfied with that. Each web-blocking request will have to go before a court -- where a judge must examine it on its merits.

There's no suggestion in this judgement that BT has done anything wrong as an innocent intermediary. We said it's questionable whether an intermediary can have these obligations put on it. Now we know.

Comment: Blocking Newzbin2 paves the way for internet censorship

30th July 2011.  See  article from  guardian.co.uk by Loz Kaye

T he court decision to allow BT to block the pirate site means Hollywood is dictating our internet policy

...

There is no good reason to believe that this will end at copyright enforcement, for example those fond of libel action will no doubt be eyeing this result with interest. One of the most depressing aspects of the case is that is the blocking is to be enacted using the system set up to address the issue of child abuse images on the net. This system was simply not made for a hugely wider remit, and frankly the use of Cleanfeed seems shockingly cynical. Assurances given that it would only ever be used for dealing with this most appalling of crimes now seem hollow

...Readv the full article

 

2nd August
2011
  

Update: Setting a Bad Example...


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Article 19 notes that UK internet censorship will set a bad international precedent

The High Court's decision requiring British Telecom to block access to the file-indexing website, Newzbin.com sets a worrying international precedent against the right to freedom of expression.

The decision sets too low the threshold for ordering blocking, fails to properly balance the right to property with the right to freedom of expression, and shows no consideration for the chilling effect such a decision would have. Ordering the blocking of an entire domain name, as opposed to specific webpages, is also likely to breach the requirement for necessity in international law.

Although ARTICLE 19 supports development of clear standards related to online copyright infringement, the judgment of the English High Court on 28 July 2011 sets a worrying precedent which could have a dramatic chilling effect on legitimate online content. It is also highly likely to breach international standards of freedom of expression.

ARTICLE 19 notes with concern that the judge granted the website blocking injunction not only in relation to the studios' own films but also those of third parties who were not involved in the case, on the basis that there was no reason to believe that they would not support it. The judge accepted that the order would also prevent BT subscribers from making use of Newzbin.com for legitimate purposes, but considered that there was little evidence that the site was being used in this way.

ARTICLE 19 believes that the high court order is very likely to breach international standards for the protection of freedom of expression, in particular the principle that any restriction on freedom of expression for a legitimate aim must be proportionate.

The ruling gives short shrift to this well-established principle as follows:

  • In its judgment, the high court failed to carry out a proper balancing exercise between freedom of expression and the right to property. In particular, the judge provided very little reasoning for his conclusion that the intellectual property rights of the studios clearly outweighed the free speech rights of BT and its many UK users;
     
  • The threshold for granting such a website blocking order was set very low, despite its obviously far-reaching consequences. In particular, the studios simply had to show that BT knew that one or more persons were using its service to infringe copyright, and that was sufficient to justify an order blocking the entire site;
     
  • Moreover, little or no consideration was given to the chilling effect that the order is highly likely to have on freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the Internet, especially legitimate online content. This is borne out by the overly broad terms of the order sought, which is directed to the website's domains and sub domains rather than specific URLs deemed illegitimate. In ARTICLE 19's view, any order seeking to block access to domain names as a whole rather than specific URLs is very likely to breach the requirement of necessity under international law. In this respect, ARTICLE 19 also points out to a July 2011 report by the OSCE Special Representative for Freedom of the Media said that Arguably, the practice of banning access to entire websites, and the future publication of articles thereof (whose content is unknown at the time of access blocking) goes beyond any notion of necessary restraint in a democratic society and, instead, amounts to censorship .

ARTICLE 19 urges the establishment of clear legislative standards in this area in order to strike a fairer balance between the interests of rights holders and Internet users and better protect freedom of expression on the Internet.

 

4th August
2011
  

Update: For the Moment...


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Ofcom come out against file sharing website blocking

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has said that the government will not bring forward regulations on site-blocking established as reserve powers in the Digital Economy Act, following a technical Ofcom report. The ministry added: We are keen to explore the issues raised by Ofcom's report and will be doing more work on what measures can be pursued to tackle online copyright infringement.

Ofcom's report effectively kicked web-blocking into the long grass. Ofcom examined various techniques and concluded that blocking discrete URLs or web addresses is not practical or desirable as a primary approach. Ofcom instead recommends something critics might see as more draconian, however:

The report says that if site-blocking is adopted, it should be at the domain level. But such a technique will become harder, when digital signing is more common. So it recommends examining further measures such as transparent proxy-blocking (cleanfeed) or hybrid routing technology:

In the medium to longer term we consider that deep packet inspection techniques are likely to provide a more robust approach to blocking than DNS. Although costly to implement today, we would expect that costs will fall as the larger ISPs invest in DPI devices for other purposes. However, for it to be part of a legislative approach the cost burden for smaller ISPs would need careful evaluation as would legal concerns related to compatibility with privacy, data protection and interception rules.

 

18th September
2011
  

Update: Cryptic Response...

Newzbin 2 takes evasive action against the BT website blocking ordered by the UK High Court

The operators of Usenet indexing site Newzbin2 have introduced measures to circumvent court-ordered web-blocking measures designed to render the site inoperable in the UK.

Site staff aren't revealing how the stand-alone software client works but some basic network packet analysis shows that it defeats ISP BT's Cleanfeed censorship system by using a handful of techniques including encryption.

Following a complaint from the Motion Picture Association, earlier this year a judge at London's High Court ordered leading UK ISP BT to block subscriber access to Usenet indexing site Newzbin2.

TorrentFreak ran some basic tests on the Newzbin2 client today which revealed that it does indeed defeat known features of Cleanfeed in a number of ways. Initially the client tries to resolve the site's domain name to an IP in the usual manner via DNS, but from there, and without going into too many details, an encrypted session is initiated between the client and the Newzbin2 site in a way that Cleanfeed won't like, rendering blocking impractical and snooping more or less impossible.

Perhaps from the viewpoint of the UK authorities website blocking could prove to be a bit of a nightmare as it drives more and more people to take evasive action, that will surely make general eavesdropping a whole lot more difficult.

 

31st October
2011
  

Updated: Last Minute Suggestion...

New intervention in the legal case requiring BT to block Newzbin2

Media industry copyright representatives returned to court to hammer out the final details in the pioneering web-blocking case against Usenet indexing site Newzbin2.

Although BT had already lost their case opposing the action, there was a last-minute development when a Newzbin2 and BT user stepped up to intervene in the proceedings.

The individual, known only as DM , had already come under legal pressure from the Motion Picture Association (MPA) trying to prevent the intervention.

TorrentFreak understands that DM asked that the full block on Newzbin2 should be avoided, and the MPA should specifically identify which URLs point to infringing material and have those removed instead.

The judge felt that DM's submission should be aired and he allowed that to go ahead. Whether it has made any difference is yet to be seen. And because he won his submission he won't have to pay the costs of the MPA opposing him.

The court has reserved its judgement on details considered in this latest hearing.

Update: Court confirms block on Newzbin 2

31st October 2011. See  article from  xbiz.com

Britain's largest ISP, BT, is being forced to use its Cleanfeed blocking capability to stop users from accessing a website enabling movie piracy.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported that as a result of a case won by Twentieth Century Fox and five other studios last July, a  judge told BT that it had to use the Cleanfeed content-blocking system to block Newzbin. This is a website that indexes Usenet content that is commonly posted without copyright consent.

BT has argued against the court order saying it would be inappropriate because Newzbin isn't a customer of the company.

 

18th November
2011
  

Updated: Court Internet Censorship Begins...

BT blocks Newzbin 2 website

BT has started blocking Newzbin 2 as ordered by a UK court.

Newzbin 2 is a members-only site which indexes material shared in Usenet discussion forums. The site is being blocked via legal actions of the Motion Picture Association, who managed to get the UK court to block the site.

We've heard that the British Telecom censorship of the free web has begun, the group behind Newzbin 2 told the BBC. It also said that 93.5% of its active UK users have downloaded workaround software developed by them to bypass the block. The group would not divulge how it worked.

Newzbin2 shall go on, its users shall continue to access the site and its facilities, the Newzbin team told the BBC. Nothing has changed and they [the MPA] have no change after paying millions of dollars in legal fees.

Update: Inevitable clamour for more blocking

18th November 2011. Based on article from out-law.com

The Motion Picture Association (MPA) has asked two UK internet service providers (ISPs) to consent to a court order that would force them to block their customers' access to a copyright-infringing website.

A ZDNet report said the MPA told it that it had sent letters to Virgin Media and TalkTalk referring to the recent order by Mr Justice Arnold and asked the major UK ISPs whether they would consent to a court order requiring them to impede subscriber access to the Newzbin2 website .

TalkTalk said in a statement:  We are considering our position since there are some objectionable elements to the proposed injunction. We will only block access to a website if ordered to do so by a court. .

Virgin Media also confirmed that it had received MPA's letter and that it would only act on receipt of a court order. A Virgin Media spokesperson said in a statement: As a responsible ISP, we will comply with any court order addressed to us but strongly believe such deterrents need to be accompanied by compelling legal alternatives, such as our agreement with Spotify, which give consumers access to content at the right price.

 

16th December
2011
  

Updated: Another Block in the Wall...

Sky blocks Newzbin website in response to court order

Sky Broadband has begun blocking Newzbin2 after receiving a court order telling it to do so.

The ISP is the second major internet provider to block access to the Usenet indexing website, after BT started doing so around the end of October. However, major rivals TalkTalk and Virgin Media said that they have received no such court order themselves, and are not blocking the site.

We have received a court order requiring us to block access to this illegal website, which we did on 13 December, Sky said in a statement: Moving forward, as and when clear and legally robust evidence of copyright theft is presented, we will take appropriate action in respect to site blocking, which will include complying with court orders.

The European branch of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) representing Walt Disney, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Brothers won a court order in July that forced BT to block access to Newzbin2. In early November, shortly after BT began blocking Newzbin, the MPA sent letters to all the major ISPs, saying the organisation intended to seek similar court orders and asking whether the ISPs intended to fight against this move.

The MPA has also gone to BT to seek a block of the Pirate Bay file-sharing website, but BT has said it will not institute further blocks without a court order for each case.

 

2nd April
2012
  

Update: Picking on the Little Guy...

Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights considers jail to be excessive for an insult on Twitter

The Swansea student given 56 days in prison for posting racially offensive comments on Twitter should not have been jailed, according to Europe's most senior human rights official.

In an interview the day before he left office, Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, said the sentence imposed by British courts on Liam Stacey was excessive.

After six years in his post at Strasbourg, the Swedish official used his departing comments to plead for greater freedom of expression and to question blanket imposition of traditional media restraints on the internet. Hammarberg told the Guardian:

It was too much. He shouldn't have gone to prison. To put him in prison was wrong.

Politicians are at a bit of loss to know how to ... protect internet freedom while also having regulations against [such problems as] hate speech and child pornography.

There are limits to freedom of expression but regulators don't know how to handle this. It would be useful to have a more enlightened discussion at a European level, otherwise we are going to have different practices in different countries.

In traditional media there are editors who are responsible for print content. It's not so easy to have to the same legal procedures when it comes to action [against lone online voices].

People are at a loss to know how to apply rules for the traditional media to the new media. It's tricky and that's why there needs to be a more thorough discussion about this.

 

8th April
2012

 Offsite Article: So what did the troll actually say?...

Liam Stacey wrote vile things. But do you know why he went to jail? Well, you should. By Victoria Cohen

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

1st May
2012
  

Update: Torrents of Court Orders...

UK High Court orders UK ISPs to block Pirate Bay

The UK High Court has ruled that several ISPs including Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media must censor The Pirate Bay file sharing website.

The blocking process was established in law by the media industry action against the Newzbin2 Usenet indexing site last year. A few weeks later a conglomerate of music labels filed a lawsuit against several Internet providers, demanding that they block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay.

Nine labels including EMI, Polydor, Sony, Virgin and Warner said that The Pirate Bay infringes their copyrights and that several ISPs including TalkTalk and Virgin Media should implement a blockade under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.

In February the High Court agreed that The Pirate Bay and its users do indeed breach copyright on a major scale, and this decision has now been followed by a court order.

ISPs Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media must censor The Pirate Bay website in the weeks to come. A sixth ISP, BT, has asked for more time to consider its position.

The Open Rights Group says the court-ordered block represents the thin end of the wedge.

Blocking the Pirate Bay is 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, ORG Executive Director Jim Killock said: Internet censorship is growing in scope and becoming easier. Yet it never has the effect desired. It simply turns criminals into heroes.

 

10th May
2012
  

Updated: The Pirate Bay...

Recommended by media industry copyright activists

Last week the UK High Court ruled that several of the country's leading ISPs must block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay. The decision is designed to limit traffic to the world's leading BitTorrent site but in the short-term it had the opposite effect. Over the last few days The Pirate Bay has had 12 million more visitors daily than it has ever had before.

A site insider told TorrentFreak that this provided a golden opportunity to educate users on how to circumvent blocks: We should write a thank you letter to the BPI.  It's not possible to buy advertising articles from leading UK publications such as the BBC, Guardian and Telegraph, but The Pirate Bay news was spread across all of them and dozens beside, for free. The news was repeated around the UK, across Europe and around the world reaching millions of people. The results for the site were dramatic.

Another thing that's good with the traffic surge is that we now have time to teach even more people how to circumvent Internet censorship, the insider added.

Last Friday the UK High Court ruled that several of country's leading ISPs must censor The Pirate Bay website having ruled in February that the site and its users breach copyright on a grand scale. The blocks, to be implemented by Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media (BT are still considering their position), are designed to cut off all but the most determined file-sharers from the world's most popular torrent site.

In fact Virgin Media were the first off the blocks and have already started to block the site.

I don't suppose the security services will be very pleased that so many internet users are encouraged to use VPNs and proxies etc. They will now be looking for needles in much larger haystacks with some of the barn lights going dark.

Update: Seeing Orange

10th May 2012. Thanks to James

As of 9th May, The Pirate Bay has been vetoed by Orange.

Here is a screenshot of what Pirate Bay visitors get to see via Orange.

Absolutely disgusted, a total violation of internet freedom and what it is meant for.

 

 

Update: Blockaded...

Sky joins the blockade of Pirate Bay


Link Here 3rd June 2012
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

Sky has become the latest ISP to implement the court order forcing it to block filesharing website The Pirate Bay.

Everything Everywhere (EE) and Virgin Media have already taken similar action, while the order has also been extended to BT, O2 and TalkTalk.

The latter two of these three major broadband providers are still working to introduce the ban, while BT has requested more time to make the required arrangements.

Explaining its approach to protecting copyright, the pay TV giant said it has invested billions of pounds in creating high-quality content for its customers and acknowledged the importance of protecting this material against piracy. Such protection makes sure that consumers continue to benefit from TV programmes, movies and music both now and in the future, Sky stated.

 

 

Updated: Blockaded...

O2 and Be Broadband join the blockade of Pirate Bay


Link Here 20th June 2012
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

O2 is set to block its customers from accessing file-sharing site The Pirate Bay from today.

The move means customers of Be Broadband, a subsidiary of O2, will also be blocked from the site.

The ISP is the latest to fall in line following a High Court order in April. In a statement, O2 said: "The main UK internet providers were ordered by the high court to block access to specific IP addresses and URLs used by The Pirate Bay website.

We have no option but to comply with this order and will be doing so overnight.

Be Broadband posted a message about the blocking measures on its company blog. It said:

Our parent company was one of the named ISPs so we are obliged to comply.

We wouldn't chose to do this voluntarily but we need to comply with UK laws just like any UK business. We're aware of the concerns voiced by members about the broader issue.

Update: Talk Talk Block Block

12th June 2012. See  article from  torrentfreak.com

Talk Talk has now joined the blockade of the Pirate Bay leaving BT as the only major ISP allowing access.

Meanwhile the Finnish High Court has ordered local ISPs to block the Pirate Bay.

Update: BT complete the set of ISPs blocking the Pirate Bay

20th June 2012. See  article from  torrentfreak.com

BT has become the latest and last  major UK Internet provider to block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay. The ISP has gone further than other providers since it also restricts access to the new IP-addresses added by the deviant BitTorrent site in recent weeks. Nevertheless, even these additional efforts were quickly neutralized. Immediately after the block kicked in Pirate Bay added a set of new IP addresses to allow BT subscribers access again, for now at least.

BT subscribers who try to access Pirate Bay get an Error -- site blocked message.

A Pirate Bay insider told TorrentFreak that they can continue adding new addresses for years to come. For them, it's more a statement than anything else as there are already dozens of proxy sites that allow users to access The Pirate Bay just fine.

The most frequently visited proxy in the UK, operated by the local Pirate party, is already among the top 600 sites in the UK. With the new block by BT it is expected to attract even more visitors. In addition, the Pirate Party is picking up a few new members in the process.

Interestingly, the MPAA and other copyright holders have yet to demand similar measures from US Internet providers. But maybe that's coming up next.

 

 

Offsite Article: Charting a Different Course...


Link Here 17th July 2012
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block
A drop in file-sharing following a court ordered block of the Pirate Bay was short-lived, data seen by the BBC suggests.

See article from bbc.com

 

 

Offsite Article: BPI Kicks Ass...


Link Here 23rd October 2012
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block
Media Companies ask UK ISPs to block file sharing sites Fenopy, H33t and Kickass Torrents.

See article from bbc.co.uk

 

 

Offsite Article: BPI To UK Pirate Party: Shut Down Your Pirate Bay Proxy...


Link Here 30th November 2012
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block
Party Leader Loz Kaye says issues such as censorship are at the core of why the Pirate Party exists and they will stand up and fight for Internet users. Thanks to Nick

See article from torrentfreak.com

 

 

Offsite Article: BPI set to block three more BitTorrent sites...


Link Here 19th February 2013
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) will ask the UK's six biggest ISPs to block three more sites accused of piracy at a court hearing.

See article from openrightsgroup.org

 

 

Update: Kicking Ass...

High Court blocks UK internet users from 3 more major torrent sites


Link Here 1st March 2013
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

Website blocking is continuing in the UK, with the High Court adding three major torrent sites to the country's official ban list.

Following complaints from the music industry led by the BPI, the Court ordered the UK's leading Internet service providers to begin censoring subscriber access to Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy.

Last year nine major record labels led by the BPI asked several of the UK's leading ISPs to censor The Pirate Bay. The process concluded at the end of April 2012 when the High Court ordered the site to be blocked.

October 2012 and the labels were back for more, this time asking six ISPs (BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk) to begin blocking three more leading BitTorrent sites under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.

 

 

 

Update: Secret Censorship...

UK's blocking of file sharing websites descends into a dark secretive world


Link Here 20th July 2013
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block