High Court orders further website blocking

By Colin Mann

The High Court has issued Orders requiring the six largest UK ISPs (BT, Sky, Virgin Media, EE, TalkTalk and 02) to block access to two illegal streaming sites, SolarMovie and Tubeplus.
These sites provide access to a wide variety of copyright infringing TV and film content without permission from rights holders. Lord Justice Arnold November 13 issued a written verdict ruling that these sites directly infringe copyright, stating that, “viewed from the perspective of the user, the Websites do in a very real sense make the content available to the public.”
The High Court October 2013 also issued orders requiring UK ISPs to block access to five other illegal websites which failed to remove copyright infringing material. These sites are:

  • Yify-Torrents
  • Project-Free TV
  • Primewire
  • Vodly
  • Watchfreemovies

ISPs are required to block these sites no later than the end of November and the blocks against SolarMovie and Tubeplus will be required by early December.
Commenting on this action, Chris Marcich, President and Managing Director (EMEA), MPA said: “If we are to ensure that people everywhere have the continued ability to create new ideas and be rewarded for their creation, then the status quo of online content theft cannot continue. We have an obligation to take action against illegal websites that steal content and refuse to take it down when asked to by the owners of that material. The growth of the legal online market is held back by illegitimate sites. Legitimate content markets help everyone. We want an Internet that works for everyone, where the creative property of artists and creators is protected along with the privacy and security of all users. The Internet must be a place for investment, innovation and creativity and today’s verdict represents a step towards realising this.”
Christine Payne, Chair, Creative Coalition Campaign and General-Secretary, Equity, said the orders represented a great step forward in the fight to ensure creators’ rights are respected online. “More than 1.5 million people work in the UK’s creative industries and online copyright infringement threatens their livelihoods, putting money in the pockets of criminals rather than the creators who have done the hard work. These websites steal creative works for their own, untaxed, profit whilst paying nothing back to creators themselves. It is right and proper that legal, proportionate action be taken to tackle these sites to help turn the tide of widespread online copyright infringement.”
John McVay, Chief Executive, Pact said that protecting producers’ IP rights was vital to the continued growth and success of the independent television production sector. “We therefore welcome the news that MPA has succeeded in blocking these illegal sites in the UK. This action ensures that ordinary people who love great content can avert the risks associated with such sites and are not being subjected to their personal or financial details falling into the wrong hands. Instead they can enjoy the wide range of legal digital services offering secure, high quality content.”
Blocking orders have already been issued in the UK following actions by the film, music and football industries. Similar legislation has also been used to issue blocking orders in other European countries.
Blocking orders have previously been issued against streaming sites in the UK but this is the first time that a written verdict has been issued alongside the blocking order.
The High Court made the judgement based on the law as well as the evidence provided. The Judge had to be satisfied that blocking was appropriate and proportionate in the circumstances.