Britain to ISP’s: speed up blocks on pirate sites

Following the recent landmark Newsbin2 ruling requiring ISP’s to take a more active role in policing pirate websites, UK ISP’s are working to speed the court ordered actions though to block pirated sites. The implementation details haven’t been finalized between the creative industries and ISP’s, but copyright-owners seem to be optimistic.

The goal is to produce a self-regulating industry consortium that will quickly police its own actions, hopefully speeding the ability to crackdown on alleged theft of copyrighted material and lessening government intervention in the process. Creative industries were hoping for more, but ISP’s still insist a court order is in place before taking action.

Recently, Hollywood studios and the Motion Picture Association’s counsel spent over $1.5 million to fight Newsbin2, and it took 18 months. The new effort would speed the action and reduce the costs significantly. ISP’s, however, will only respond to individual site requests, not blanket lists sent to the ISP’s.

The crux of the legal arguments stem from whether an ISP can be expected to act if it knows that copyright infringement is taking place on a site using their services. The recent suit is seen as a test case for future efforts. In the past, ISP’s have claimed that they’re too busy to track what traffic goes to each site.

So will this have a cooling effect on pirating in the UK, or will the sites simply relocate their operations in other facilities outside the UK? Also, anonymizing software may make it more difficult to track the source and destination of traffic, further complicating matters. Pirated content has always been a game of cat-and-mouse, with the net effect being a continuing thriving pirate community. But this will force them to work around the efforts using a combination of the latest technology and “street smarts.” As long as demand remains, it seems likely that pirate traffic will continue, as long as the risk is low enough for the operators and users to persist. This legislation attempts to move the risk factor up to the point of being uncomfortable, so where will the operators go next? Stay tuned.

Author Cameron Camp, ESET

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