Virgin Media cuts Pirate Bay access for millions of punters
First major telco to implement court order
Virgin Media has become the first major telco in Blighty to implement a court order blocking access to notorious BitTorrent search website The Pirate Bay.
The move follows a demand in London's High Court late last Friday from Mr Justice Arnold, who told Virgin Media, TalkTalk, BSkyB, Telefonica and Everything Everywhere to comply with preventing those companies' broadband subscribers from surfing to TPB.
Screengrab courtesy of Reg reader Colin Lyman
As we previously reported, national telco BT was missing from the order. That provider has been given more time to comply, but we understand that an announcement from BT about cutting-off The Pirate Bay – which has been one of the most popular sites on the internet – is imminent.
The High Court ordered the five telcos to block Sweden-based www.thepiratebay.se, which serves up "magnet links" to music, movies and other file downloads.
Virgin Media's swift action meant that, as of Wednesday, around 4 million of its customers were in theory unable to access TPB.
In practice, some of those punters have already been revealing workarounds via Twitter to foil the VM blocking method. There are also The Pirate Bay web addresses that were not covered by the court order.
The Pirate Bay has also, unsurprisingly, offered up ways for its Blighty-based fans to circumvent the telco cut-off, which was spearheaded by the UK's music trade's association, the British Phonographic Industry.
One operator of the infamous site wrote:
Noone from TPB was invited to the court case, which would be normal to do in a democracy. This is not the first time this happens, it's been the same in most countries we're censored in. We have no right to speak since we're not rich.
Five ISPs got sued by the record companies to force them to block us. This is particularily [sic] interesting since music released and promoted exclusively here on TPB is currently in the brittish [sic] top charts. We are simply competitors that they just managed to squeeze out of their market, in a maffiesque [sic] way.
The blog post went on to list a handful of ways around the imposed block.
The Register asked Virgin Media to tell us how it had killed access to The Pirate Bay for its customerbase.
A spokesman explained: "It is a version of what we use for the Internet Watch Foundation blocklist, called 'Web Blocker'."
Earlier this week, the telco – like many of its rivals – said it would comply with the court order, but called for "legal alternatives", citing its recent agreement with Spotify as an example, to help tackle copyright infringement. ®
disappointing pay alternatives
During the Sunday afternoon drought-quenching downpour, I decided to try and pay to stream one of the original Indiana Jones trilogy films - you know classic Sunday afternoon viewing to doze off in front of.
Ready with credit card I went off to Netflix to have a search - only to find a lack of public search interface. I guess there is a search feature once you've successfully registered but I didn't fancy signing up to tons of spam just to fail to find my film of choice.
Undeterred I went to Lovefilm. Search interface - tick. Indiana Jones - tick. On DVD rental only. I couldn't seem to refine my search to LoveFilm instant only. Fail.
Disappointed I went to TPB. Search interface - tick. Indiana Jones - tick. Download in 10 mins to watch - tick.
I am not a freetard nor do I want to be. I was ready with a credit card to pay there and then to watch content immediately - not wait for a DVD in the post. Does a decent, legitimate movie stream portal exist?
A sad day
Irrespective of whether or not The Pirate Bay was 'bad' or 'good', it's a sad day, sat here atop the slipperly slope of censorship.
Sure, sites have been taken down in the past, blacklists have been used to filter the illegal stuff out of our reach, but this is definitely another level.
My predictions for the years to come, if we don't manage to reverse this:
- 'Ordinary' people will become familiar with using proxies, TOR, VPN etc. as part of 'normal' internet usage to circumvent the ISP-level blocks. Kids will show their previously tech-unsavvy parents how to do so and once their use reaches a critical mass, the Govt., Judges and Lobbyists will take note.
- Rather than see the mass avoidance of censorship as a wake-up call that the whack-a-mole censorship can never work for long - if at all - they'll add the proxy servers, VPNs, TOR nodes to their hitlist because they're obviously a BAD THING that enables people to do BAD THINGS.
- ISPs and website owners will be ordered to maintain some sort of net ID scheme, whereby they must attribute every action on the internet to an individual, else they're liable for their customers' actions. They comply because they can't afford not to.
No, You need to get real.
Are you serious or just trolling? Copyright infringement is hardly on the same level as child porn.