The censoring of torrent related sites in the UK increased in a big way today as 21 sites that were deemed to be guilty of copyright infringement by the BPI and MPAA, have been blocked to UK visitors by the major ISP’s. The ISP’s that were forced to comply with a High Court order that ordered the blocking of these sites are:
- Virgin Media
According to SKY’s information page, the list of sites that were blocked by the UK ISP’s today are:
Music Download Sites
(Note: Some of the sites that were being blocked are now available to Sky and Virgin Media customers, although this may just be temporary. Thanks to Woof for the update)
This is the latest round of blocking in the UK since July when the TV Show indexing service, EZTV, was blocked by the same ISP’s after the BPI were again gifted a High Court ruling. A spokesman from the BPI informed TorrentFreak that they had contacted all 21 sites this summer with a request that they “stop infringing copyright.”
“Unfortunately they declined to co-operate in any meaningful way, so BPI applied to the High Court, where the judge considered the evidence and decided that the sites should no longer be accessible in the UK. The new blocks will come into force by Wednesday, 30 October 2013,” a spokesman said.
The music industry group, which represents all the major labels, defended its action as both “fair” and “proportionate”.
“All of the sites were given a chance to stop infringing copyright before we went to Court, and the Orders were then only made once a High Court judge had fully considered our detailed evidence,” the BPI said. “We also believe that it is fair that the people who work to create music should be rewarded when it is downloaded, rather than sites overseas that are exploiting this music without permission.”
How to bypass the blocking of torrent sites in the UK? (or elsewhere in the world)
It’s actually pretty simple, and takes a few seconds to locate workarounds for the pointless blocking. Even though attempting to gain access to these sites has been hindered due to the latest wave of site blocking in the UK, that doesn’t mean that users are unable to find safe useable workarounds to this blocking. The first, and best option, would be to start using a decent VPN service so that you can simply access these sites via the servers belonging to your VPN in the same way that you would access Hulu.com or other geo-restricted sites from the UK or elsewhere. The VPN service that I have been using for some time now is CactusVPN (BitTorrent friendly) who have servers in the US, (3 servers) UK (3 servers) and Netherlands. (3 servers which can be used for P2P) Using a VPN is as easy as surfing normally but without having to worry about your surfing habits being spied on or coming across blocked sites like the one mentioned above or the UK Porn Block which is set to kick in soon, whereby all pornographic sites will be blocked to UK users by default. For full use of all their servers, it will put you back £3.04 (US$4.89) a month at their current prices, which is nothing, and you can opt for monthly, bi-annual or full year options. I have written a review on CactusVPN here showing speed tests on their servers as well as how to use their inbuilt kill switch that will immediately stop a specific program for you should the connection drop out. CactusVPN do not keep any user logs either which is something that I always look for in a decent service, and can also be used on your Smartphone.
Example below is BitSnoop.com used normally when accessed via CactusVPN, or any other decent VPN service like Private Internet Access (PIA), for which I have written a review along with speed tests on their servers.
The next method that works would be to download and install the PirateBrowser which will also give you access again to your favorite sites. However it is also important to point out that the PirateBrowser is not designed for anonymous surfing even though it does use the Tor network, but is only designed as a workaround for the censoring / blocking of websites. Once you start to actually download anything from one of the sites above, you are still exposed.
If you are after anonymous surfing and secure surfing, then you should invest in a service like CactusVPN or Private Internet Browser (PIA) as this certainly won’t be the last of the corporate control that determines what sites UK people can and cannot visit.
Finally you have your proxy servers which again, will enable you to access the site of your choice, but don’t offer you the anonymity that a VPN will provide. For example to access BitSnoop.com simply use the unblocksit.es main page and type the blocked site into the address bar and hit ‘Go.’ This will instantly take you to the main BitSnoop page. Other services that also bypass the government blocking are Come.in and Unlock Torrent, but again these services only allow you to gain access to the sites but still allow other parties to see what you are browsing and/or downloading which is why I would advise that you start using a VPN like PIA or CactusVPN instead as it offers far better security and anonymity that a proxy will.
Below is a sample workaround list for the torrent sites that are being blocked using the unblocksit.es set of proxy sites that stay one step ahead of government censorship. The sites below have been tested as working when used on an ISP that is currently blocking them. (in my case SKY)
- The Pirate Bay
- Kickass Torrents
If you have noticed any other UK ISP’s or mobile network providers that have also started to block any of the sites listed above, please add them to the comment section below.
[Update 1] Two more sites have also be added to the UK mass block list as of 13th November 2013, which are SolarMovie and TubePlus. The ban on these two streaming portals went completely uncontested by the six major UK ISP’s after the ruling was handed down by the High Court under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. These acts of censorship have only been made possible after the constant lobbying of corporate Hollywood on the UK government who seem more than happy to do their bidding. When corporations can dictate the law or create new laws, then you have to wonder where it will lead.
[Update 2] It seems that YIFY has also been blocked in the UK as BT (my ISP) are now actively blocking the site. I would assume that this will be the same for users who use any other UK ISP. Please let me know for confirmation
[Update 3] The following sites have also now been added to the UK ISP blocklist:
- Project Free TV
Please note that under UK law it is illegal to download material that is copyrighted, such as TV Shows, Films and other such IP related goods etc. Using a VPN or Proxy service in order to enable you to download such material is also illegal and shows intent. A VPN service may protect you to a point, but nothing is fool proof nor does it guarantee 100% anonymity. Be warned.
The author does not condone such illegal behavior, and the article is meant to be educational rather than a, ‘how to’, piece.