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ISPs' pirate-choking blocking measures ARE effective – music body

Says BitTorrent use down 11% in EU lands suffocating access

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High Court orders dished out to telcos in the UK and elsewhere in the European Union demanding that they block access to sites serving pirated content have helped to decrease access to BitTorrent trackers, a music industry body has claimed.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry published its annual report on digital music (PDF) on Monday. It said that file-sharing had dropped by 11 per cent in the countries where such measures were imposed on ISPs, based on figures from comScore/Nielsen.

In early 2012, a High Court judge in Blighty ruled that notorious file-sharing website The Pirate Bay and its users violated the copyrights of nine record labels based in the UK.

The decision quickly led to Britain's biggest ISPs being slapped with court orders to choke access to the site. The measures were then applied to other BitTorrent sites, even though it remained very easy for anyone with access to a search engine (read: everybody online) to find a simple workaround to the blockade.

But the IFPI, which lobbies on behalf of rights holders in the music industry, claimed that "Actions by ISPs have become a widely accepted and effective way of curbing piracy online."

It added that some countries throughout the world - including 10 in the EU - had implemented similar blocking measures in an effort to suffocate "access to specific services that structurally infringe copyright law".

The IFPI also noted that some nations, such as Norway and Italy, were adopting legislation to try to stamp out online pirates.

Google and other search engines are still not doing enough to stifle access to sites that infringe copyright, the lobby group said. It claimed that 74 per cent of netizens had been introduced to pirated content through search results. The IFPI said:

In August 2012, Google announced that it was altering its algorithm to take account of notices received from rights holders to place infringing sites lower down in search results.

Unfortunately, this seems to have had little impact. A search for the name of any leading artist followed by the term 'mp3' in the leading search engines still returns a vast proportion of illegal links on the first page of results.

The IFPI argued that Google can do much more with its technological prowess to prevent people searching for illegal content that is shared online.

It said that, as of January 2014, the ad giant had been sent more than 100 million requests to remove links to infringing material. The outfit added that the pleas would have been "considerably higher were it not for the cap on the number of requests that Google imposes on individual rights holder groups". ®

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