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The Motion Picture Association (MPA) – the international counterpart of the Motion Picture Association of America – has obtained UK High Court Orders requiring the five major UK ISPs to block access to thirteen websites dedicated to making copyright infringing material available for free on a large scale. The blocks are set to go live in the next few days.
The sites in question enable people to search for, locate and access copyright infringing film and television content.
The sites are:
According to the MPA, the 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. Furthermore, it says that the principle that linking to infringing content directly infringes copyright is well established in EU law (Newzbin, Solarmovie, Svensson).
The 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.
Research shows that site blocking is effective – Incopro’s 2015 study found that, on average, sites in the UK lose 75 per cent of their Alexa estimated usage following a site block.
A recent study from Carnegie Mellon University found that former users of blocked sites increased their visits to paid legal streaming sites by 23.6 per cent. It also found that site blocking caused a 6 per cent increase in visits to paid legal streaming sites such as Netflix and a 10 per cent increase in videos viewed on legal ad-supported streaming sites such as BBC and Channel 5.
The MPA notes that blocking actions are just one measure to tackle copyright infringement. Others include consumer education campaigns such as ‘Get it Right’ and promoting consumers’ access to legal content.