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Big Blighty telcos ordered to block three BitTorrent search sites

Judge demands action from BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk

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A High Court judge ruled today that Britain's six biggest telecoms providers should block three BitTorrent tracker websites - one of which is allegedly fronted by Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Swartholm Warg.

BT, BSkyB, EE, Virgin Media, O2 and TalkTalk were all ordered by Mr Justice Arnold to shutter access to downloads search engines Fenopy, H33T and KickassTorrents (KAT), after 10 record labels successfully acted as claimants in the case.

This is the latest in a series of blockades demanded against websites that tout torrents to copyrighted material online.

In April 2012, Blighty's big name ISPs were told by Mr Justice Arnold to kill access to The Pirate Bay website, following an earlier judgment in which it was ruled that users of the infamous site had violated record labels' copyright.

However, many have argued that - while the telcos all complied with the order - the effect of cutting off subscribers' access proved to be largely fruitless: workarounds can be easily found by anyone capable of using Google.

Mr Justice Arnold said of Fenopy, H33T and KAT in his judgment that "each of the websites operates as a substantial profit-making business".

He continued: "UK users of the websites who have accounts with the defendants have infringed, and are continuing to infringe, the claimants' copyrights by copying the claimants' sound recordings on a large scale."

In today's ruling, the judge also noted that the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry lobby group had apparently uncovered that Swartholm Warg had been listed as one of the domain registrants of Fenopy under the name of Gottfrid Swartholm.

He was one of four members who founded TPB in 2003, and was convicted - along with Peter Sunde, Carl Lundstrom and Fredrik Neij - of being an accessory to breaching copyright laws six years later. More recently, Swartholm Warg was facing allegations of playing a role in an attack on the UK's taxmen and IT consultancy biz Logica.

The British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) obviously agreed with the judge's order, basically saying he was on song. Its boss Geoff Taylor said in a statement:

Music fans shouldn't have to worry that sites distributing music online are illegal and unethical. Blocking illegal sites helps ensure that the legal digital market can grow and labels can continue to sign and develop new talent.

The country's largest telcos were quick to offer straight-jacketed comment on the matter. BT told The Register:

BT has consistently stated that copyright infringement is wrong and argued that rights holders should use the courts to enforce their legal rights and that we will comply with a court order as a result of any such case.

The court has decided that Fenopy, H33T and Kickass Torrents should be blocked and we intend to do this.

BSkyB simply pointed us to this slightly stale statement on its website. The lengthy ruling can be viewed here. ®

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