UK ISPs start blocking torrent sites after court order

Four ISPs are now blocking access to three torrent sites -- but will it make much difference?

Joe Svetlik Reporter
Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.
Joe Svetlik
2 min read

If you're looking for some naughty torrent action this weekend, hard cheese, my friend -- BT, O2, Virgin Media and Be Broadband have started blocking such sites following an order from the High Court.

But not all. Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy are the only torrent sites you won't be able to access using the above ISPs, thanks to a High Court order earlier this year, The Inquirer reports. The ban started yesterday, but will it really stop nogoodniks?

The three blocked torrent sites are pretty huge: Kickass Torrents is one of the 50 most-visited websites in the UK, while H33T and Fenopy have hundreds of thousands of visitors a day. They join The Pirate Bay, which was also blocked by ISPs last year. Wily pirates have found plenty of ways to get around that, however, and it hasn't meant fewer people are file-sharing.

The High Court order came about because of a request from nine major record labels, led by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). They cited Section 97A of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, and asked BT, EE, O2, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media to stop letting users access the sites. It's not known whether Sky, EE and TalkTalk will follow suit and block torrent sites in future.

The four ISPs who have blocked the sites didn't do so voluntarily, but they didn't dispute the BPI's demands either.

I can see why music labels and film studios are so protective of their copyright, but is blocking sites really the answer? It won't stop someone googling and finding another site hosting torrents. And while three of the biggest might be out of action -- only on some ISPs, remember -- it'll just drive traffic to the others, helping them grow, until they're big enough to be the target of a court order, and the whole process starts again. It's like playing whack-a-mole.

Is blocking access to torrent sites the answer to clamping down on copyright infringement? Or is there another way? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.