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The movie industry secures a load more web-blocks

By | Published on Monday 25 November 2013


While it feels like record industry trade body the BPI has been leading of late when it comes to securing web-block injunctions against file-sharing websites, let’s not forget that it was the movie industry which first secured the legal precedent that says that the English courts can force internet service providers to block access to websites that primarily exist to enable copyright infringement. And the film studios have been doing the web-block tango once again.

Various sites are now in the process of being blocked it would seem, including torrent search engines and communities which provide access to downloads of unlicensed content, and sites which link through to movies and TV shows being streamed by unlicensed YouTube competitors (services designed to help users find unauthorised content during that short period between user upload and the inevitable issuing of a takedown notice).

According to Techie News, the latest injunction secured by the movie industry targets YIFY-Torrents, PrimeWire, Vodly, WatchFreeMovies and Project Free TV, and this follows another court order less than a month ago which ordered a blockade against SolarMovie and TubePlus. Of course, as with all web-blockades against sites hosted outside the UK, proxies will almost certainly appear online, and in Google searches, to enable users to circumvent the blocks, though rights owners will hope the extra hurdles will deter some users.

Before granting the Motion Picture Association’s first web-block injunction this month, the judge hearing the case did ramble at length about whether simply providing a link to infringing content can in itself constitute copyright infringement. This is a topic that has been discussed many times before during the fifteen year legal battle against file-sharing, though the law is still a little ambiguous on the matter, despite all the injunctions that have now been issued.

Of course lots of sites inadvertently (or sometimes deliberately) link to unlicensed content on an occasional basis, and Google provides such links constantly but in amongst all the legit links. Clearly the law needs to be able to draw a line between those sites and the Project Free TVs and Tube Pluses of this world. But when presented with that challenge in 2010 the UK parliament chose to steer clear of the task, leaving it to the UK courts to subsequently decide.

Though, according to the Outlaw site, the Swedish courts have turned to the European judiciary for clarity on what exactly European law says on this issue, which may or may not have an impact on English rulings down the line.