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UK High Court approves site-blocking Order

The UK High Court has approved an Order requiring the five major UK ISPs to block access to eight sites following an application submitted by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) – the European arm of the Motion Picture Association of America. These sites enable people to search for, locate and access copyright infringing film and television content.

The sites are:

  • couchtuner.ag;
  • merdb.link;
  • putlocker.is;
  • putlocker.plus;
  • rainiertamayo.com;
  • vidics.ch;
  • watchfree.to; and
  • xmovies8.tv.

According to the MPA, this legal process is a well-established, legitimate and proportionate response to illegal websites that make creative content available without permission from rights holders. It is provided for by Section 97a of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.

The principle that linking to infringing content directly infringes copyright is well established in EU law (Newzbin, Solarmovie, Svensson).

This legal process was first used by the MPA in 2011 and has subsequently been used by rights holders in the film, music and sports sectors to require UK ISPs to block access to illegal sites.

All blocking actions require robust evidence demonstrating the illegal nature of a site which must be considered and accepted by a High Court judge.

The MPA notes that blocking actions are just one measure to tackle copyright infringement. Others include consumer education campaigns and promoting consumers’ access to legal content.

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