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UK Music Industry Tells Big Broadband ISPs to Unblock The PromoBay Website

Thursday, Dec 6th, 2012 (7:53 am) - Score 891

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which claims to be a representative voice of the UK music business, has officially called on the country’s biggest broadband providers to unblock the “newly reinventedPromoBay.org website as it no longer appears to be engaging in internet piracy (copyright infringement).

It was revealed earlier this week that the controversial PromoBay site, which was apparently setup to help promote the work of independent musicians and film creators, had been blocked as part of the earlier court ordered crackdown on internet piracy site The Pirate Bay (TBP). But the site was recently taken over by an Australian entrepreneur (Will Dayble), whom setup his own site, content and server for the domain that was separate from TBP.

Since then a number of privacy and civil liberty campaigners, such as the Open Rights Group (ORG), have called upon ISPs and the music industry to remove the block as the site is no longer deemed to be directly connected with content on TBP’s otherwise censored web server. Now a new report from the BBC confirms that the BPI has finally agreed to do this.

Geoff Taylor, BPI Chairman, said:

Until very recently, the domain name ‘promobay.org’ linked directly to The Pirate Bay and it was therefore a domain name blocked by the ISPs under the court orders. The newly reinvented Promobay.org website appears not to be engaged in copyright infringement and we therefore asked the relevant ISPs yesterday to no longer block it.”

It’s worth pointing out that the original blocking injunction required ISPs to very generally censor access to “www.thepirate***.se its domain and sub-domains and any other IP address or url whose sole or predominant purpose is to enable or facilitate access to The Pirate Bay website“.

Laurence ‘Loz’ Kaye, Leader of the UK Pirate Party, said:

The lifting of the Promo Bay block vindicates everything the Pirate Party has said on site blocking all along. There ought to be no question of the BPI, or any other organisation, getting to decide what should be seen on the net and what should not.

The Promo Bay fiasco clearly shows that the music industry cannot be trusted with censorship powers. There can now be no question of any other blocks on sites or proxies. It is time to resolve the whole issue of web blocking.”

Jim Killock, Executive Director of ORG, said:

The incident is rather revealing: it firstly shows that there is a significant need for greater transparency about the nature of blocking injunctions. Secondly, it shows that the BPI have been given a great deal of discretion over what may be blocked. Thirdly, it shows an alarming lack of transparency about what precisely is blocked. Neither ISPs nor the BPI seem keen to disclose what is on the list. It is effectively secret.”

In fairness we must remember that the BPI itself has now called for the block to be removed, which could be seen as a move to wrong-foot those whom might seek to use this as an example of mission creep or simply flawed abuse of censorship. Meanwhile PromoBay.org itself remains a website with precious little apparent activity or fresh content.

But the fact that it took a huge publicity campaign just to get one questionable block removed is perhaps another example of why better checks and balances (ideally an open appeals process) are needed to ensure that any wrongful blocks can be tackled effectively. Hard luck if you’re running one of the many other sites that each year get trapped in a similar situation.

The government has long since been planning for a voluntary solution to this problem, although nothing new has been heard on this front since earlier in the year.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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