The Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) were asked to take this action in accordance with a court order successfully obtained by the BPI which represents the British music industry.
This follows similar orders made against high profile sites such asPirateBay. Major copyright holders, such as those record companies that the BPI represents, regard site blocking as a more effective tool in the fight against piracy than targeting individual offenders, which was originally the plan under the Digital Economy Act.
The chief executive of BPI, Geoff Taylor, said: “We asked the sites to stop infringing copyright but unfortunately they did not and we were left with little choice but to apply to the court.”
The ISPs, which include BT, BSkyB and Virgin Media, had until 30 October 2013 to put the blocks in place.
The BPI feels that the blocks currently in force have substantially reduced the use of illegal peer-to-peer sites in the UK. There is, however, some debate as to how much of this reduction can be put down to blocks being placed on infringing sites.
Music analyst Mark Mulligan believes that other developments are more responsible for the decline in usage of file-sharing sites. "As things move more towards cloud-based models and streaming, there is less use of peer-to-peer sites. While such blocks will deter the casual pirate, there are still plenty of workarounds for those more determined to get content for free."
Ofcom’s recent study of illegal downloads in theUKdescribed piracy as a “minority activity” with two per cent of internet users accounting for around three quarters (74%) of the volume of total downloads.
Nevertheless, the Ofcom study did not find that online piracy is no longer a common practice; the study indicated that more than half of all internet users (58%) either streamed or downloaded at least once illegally during the past year.
The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.