Over the last few weeks, the largest ISPs in the UK have been required by a court order to block your internet feed in such a way as to prevent you from accessing certain websites – the most well-known one of course, being ‘Pirate Bay’ ostensibly operated from Sweden. (At least it now uses a Swedish domain name, and when I last looked at where IP packets were going to, it was Stockholm, but of course when you read this article it may physically be anywhere in the world.)
The details of how the block is being implemented have emerged, and it seems it is a combination of fiddling with lookups at the DNS level, and imposing the use of transparent proxy servers for every web access. (There are other things the ISPs can do, and maybe either they already are, or may do so in the future.)
It seems to me that the ISPs are simply following the letter of the Court Order. So is there any valid ground for criticism?
I’ve taken the time to read the court judgment, and its interesting.
Unlike other attempts at dealing with unlawful file sharing (particularly the idea of three allegations of copyright infringement and your whole family loses its internet connection) the Court Order appears to me to be compatible with the internet user’s fundamental rights.
The law requires a balance to be drawn between competing interests; the right to free expression on the one hand, and the right to property on the other, and to make sure that any action taken is reasonable in scope.
So don’t beat up the ISPs, as some commentators have. They are just following the law. And it seems that they are doing exactly what they’ve been required to do, and nothing else.
Now there are a number of websites within the UK which have started to offer Pirate Bay access as a service. In a followup article, I’ll explain why it is it may not be a very smart of moves to use them, but how is is almost certainly a very dumb move on their part of the site owners to run them, particularly in the UK
But the UK courts haven’t (yer) ruled that it’s illegal in itself to visit www.thepiratebay.se
It has ruled that its unlawful to use it (and, in fact, by analogy any similar site) to enable copyright infringement, and that because that appears to be the site’s principal purpose, it would be proportionate to require the defendants to take steps to prevent user access.
But the odd thing about the Order, however, is that it applies specifically to half a dozen companies, including BT.
This means that any company that was not named in the order (or relies on the services of a company named in the order to deliver web browsing to its users) is not (yet) legally required to block TPB.
s. So of course, they don’t. I’ve read reports of TPB being readily available on certain mobile phone network
So all you need to do to get around the Pirate Bay block, if it affects you, is change ISPs.