ISPs told to take measures to block a file-sharing website

Five of the six major retail internet services providers (ISPs) have been ordered by the High Court to take measures to block access to The Pirate Bay, a file-sharing website that was recently ranked the UK’s 43rd most popular website.

Earlier this year, the High Court ruled that both users and operators of The Pirate Bay website, known for its pirate ship logo, had infringed the copyrights of a number of record companies. The claim was brought under section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and an order was sought to force the six main ISPs to block or impede access to The Pirate Bay.

Following its earlier ruling on the matter, on 27 April 2012 the High Court ordered five of the six ISPs (Everything Everywhere, O2, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media), who had previously agreed to the terms of an order, to block access to the file-sharing site using appropriate technical means. The sixth ISP, BT, is currently considering whether it has the ability to comply with the order.

Nick Briggs, partner and intellectual property expert at Shakespeares, says:

“It appears that the tide is turning against ISPs, with the High Court sending a clear message that it is happy to issue an order requiring them to take action to block access to the offending site, without expecting the claimants to take direct action against the infringers.

“In taking this approach the High Court has made it clear that its decision is based on the fact that ISPs are acting as service providers by extending its broadband service to the operators and users of The Pirate Bay who are using it to infringe copyright. The court also noted that the ISPs have actual knowledge that its services are being used for this purpose.”

Commenting on whether the blocks created by the ISPs will hold, Nick Briggs added: “We will have to wait and see but the entertainment industry will be hoping that it begins to change people’s attitudes to illegal file-sharing.”

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