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More sites blocked in the UK as FA secures injunction

By | Published on Tuesday 12 January 2016

Web Block

The web-blocking party continues, with dozens more domains added to the big British blockade list, this time as a result of action by the Football Association and Premier League.

As much previously reported, web-blocking has become an anti-piracy tactic of choice in numerous countries where such blockades have been allowed, either by a change in the law or, as with the UK, by judges interpreting existing copyright rules as allowing injunctions that force internet service providers to block access to websites deemed to be liable for rampant copyright infringement.

Hundreds of sites have now been blocked in the UK, with the record industry – via trade body BPI – a prolific web-blocker, even though it was the movie industry which secured the key landmark ruling that allowed web-blocks in the first place.

The football industry has also adopted this approach and, according to Torrentfreak, the FA recently secured a new injunction forcing net firms to block access to dozens more piracy sites, most of which specialise in streaming or linking to unlicensed sports coverage.

Of course, the effectiveness of web-blocking is limited because users can usually access blocked sites via proxies, which are usually easy to find with a Google search.

The operator of one of the recently blocked sites, FirstRow, honed in on that fact when speaking to Torrentfreak about the web-block. “FirstRow will remain accessible for all other countries”, they noted. “And UK users can use proxies or the thousands of other websites like ours that remain open”.

However, rights owners remain committed to web-blocking, arguing that anything that makes accessing unlicensed sources of content just a little bit irritating makes legit channels more attractive, even if they require a subscription.

Though labels, studios and, no doubt, the football sector very much wish Google would play its part by delisting sites that have been blocked by the courts in any one jurisdiction. But they might have to wish harder if that’s to ever happen.