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BT missing from Pirate Bay High Court slap-down

ISPs, entertainment industry react to web blocking order

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BT has been granted more time to respond to an order to block The Pirate Bay that was handed down by the UK's High Court in London late on Friday afternoon.

The Register understands that a separate announcement from BT is imminent.

"We continue to have discussions with the BPI and we hope to announce an outcome acceptable to both of us soon," said the national telco today, explaining its absence from the order dished out to telcos including TalkTalk, BSkyB and Virgin Media by Mr Justice Arnold.

Meanwhile, those ISPs slapped with the order, which followed a judgment in February that found that infamous BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay and its users violated record labels' copyright, have offered up their immediate reactions.

Virgin Media repeated its statement from earlier this year. It said:

As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media complies with court orders addressed to the company but strongly believes that changing consumer behaviour to tackle copyright infringement also needs compelling legal alternatives, such as our agreement with Spotify, to give consumers access to great content at the right price.

BSkyB similarly said its "position remained unchanged" from the February ruling when it told El Reg that it would take "appropriate action" where there is "clear and legally robust evidence of copyright theft". It also said at the time that it would comply with any court orders.

Mobile broadband operator O2 said it had "no option but to comply" with the High Court's order. It also reflected the views expressed by Virgin Media on the business of file-sharing online:

On the wider point about copyright infringement, we have always said that music rights holders should continue to develop new online business models to give consumers the content they want, how they want it, for a fair price.

TalkTalk – the only major ISP in Blighty to currently have implemented network-level anti-malware blockers on its service – unsurprisingly welcomed the order.

“We will comply with the decision made by the court and are in the process of doing this. TalkTalk have always maintained that we are not in principle against blocking provided there is a court order,” it said.

The Open Rights' Group labelled the order as "short-sighted". The outfit's executive director Jim Killock said:

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.

Internet censorship is growing in scope and becoming easier. Yet it never has the effect desired. It simply turns criminals into heroes.

The entertainment industry, meanwhile, offered some suitably canned statements:

PRS for Music boss Robert Ashcroft said he was "delighted" with the order and claimed it had "sent another clear signal to damaging sites like the Pirate Bay that they will be blocked".

Ashcroft hoped the cutting off of The Pirate Bay would open up a "level playing field for properly licensed digital services".

Richard Mollet over at The Publishers Association branded The Pirate Bay operators "online criminals".

He said: "It is crucial that the High Court provides protection to the book and publishing industry by blocking The Pirate Bay.”

While Chris Marcich, EMEA president and managing director of the Motion Picture Association, opined that the "whole of the creative community will benefit from today's action".

Musicians' Union general secretary John Smith figured it was about time that the High Court caught up with action taken in other parts of Europe.

"The individuals responsible for operating The Pirate Bay have total disregard for the rights of musicians," he said. ®

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