UK High Court Orders ISP’s To Block Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy


Six major UK ISP’s have today been ordered by the UK High Court to block access to the file sharing sites, Kickass Torrents, H33t and Fenopy.

The ruling, that was made today by Mr Justice Arnold, was granted after 10 record labels including EMI, Sony and Universal petitioned the court in October 2012 to order the ISP’s to block access to the file sharing sites from their users claiming that the sites infringed copyright on a “significant scale”. The decision has been welcomed by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), whose Chief Executive Geoff Taylor stated, “The growth of digital music in the UK is held back by a raft of illegal businesses commercially exploiting music online without permission. Blocking illegal sites helps ensure that the legal digital market can grow and labels can continue to sign and develop new talent.”

The UK ISP’s affected by this ruling are:

  • Sky
  • BT
  • Everything Everywhere
  • TalkTalk
  • O2
  • Virgin Media (set to be merged with US cable giant Liberty Global)

This is the third ruling in two years by Mr Justice Arnold regarding the blocking of file sharing sites in the UK under the instructions of various corporations.

The first was back in July 2011 when the MPA (Motion Picture Association) who are the international counterpart for the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) requested that the UK High Court rule to block access to Newzbin 2 from BT customers (UK ISP) on the grounds that the site made available copyrighted material to its users. In October of the same year, BT were given a two-week ultimatum by the court to implement blocks to the site. Then in December 2011 SKY were also ordered to block access to Newzbin 2 from its users. Chris Marcich, President and Managing Director of the MPA stated after the July verdict:

“This ruling from Justice Arnold is a victory for millions of people working in the UK creative industries and demonstrates that the law of the land must apply online. This court action was never an attack on ISPs but we do need their co-operation to deal with the Newzbin site which continually tries to evade the law and judicial sanction. Newzbin is a notorious pirate website which makes hundreds of thousands of copyrighted products available without permission and with no regard for the law.”

The second time Mr Justice Arnold ruled in the favor of the big labels with regards blocking file sharing sites by UK ISP’s, came in April 2012. Nine major labels including EMI, Polydor, Sony, Virgin and Warner demanded that The Pirate Bay be blocked by the same six major ISP’s arguing that The Pirate Bay infringes their copyrights under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. Just after the decision was made to start blocking The Pirate Bay, the unsinkable site saw a huge spike in traffic to their site, resulting in a whopping 12 million more visitors in one day. Workarounds, in the form of proxies, that circumvented the blocking to The Pirate Bay were instant, proving that any form of censorship made against sites such as TPB are completely pointless.

In the same month that this decision was made, Sir Tim Berners-Lee made a statement during a press conference at W3C where they were discussing the recent controversial pieces of legislation, including SOPA and PIPA in the US, and ACTA in the UK.

“Record labels have a very strong voice when it comes to arguing for their particular business model, which is in fact out of date,” he said. “The result is that laws have been created which make out as if the only problem on the internet is teenagers stealing music. The world is bigger than that. The internet is bigger than the music industry. The economic impact of the internet is bigger than the music industry.”

In the same year that the ruling was made, a report by the The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPA) claimed that Piracy in fact had very little effect if any on music and film sales.  (see page 10) Something that most people knew, but has always eluded the big labels.

So now it’s Strike Three for Mr Justice Arnold who swings and hits out another pointless yet corporate pleasing verdict out of the park. If there’s one thing that users and the ISP’s know, is that these futile judgments will be circumvented by people within seconds as people start to use proxy servers or VPN’s to torrent and or gain access to these restricted sites. The proxies for The Pirate Bay were made available very quickly when the ruling to block that sites was enforced last year and we can expect the same to happen this time around as well.

If you are thinking about trying out a VPN for privacy and/or security reasons then I would highly recommend CactusVPN. They don’t record logs (other than those required for payments etc) and of all the VPN’s I have reviewed, they are the fastest and most reliable. One thing to pay attention to when using a VPN are DNS leaks which are fairly simple to fix.

Let the whack-a-mole games begin….

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