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Premier League Win Court Orders for UK ISP Block of the FirstRow Website

Tuesday, Jul 16th, 2013 (6:04 pm) - Score 1,182

As expected the Football Association Premier League (FAPL) has successfully won a court injunction that will force broadband ISPs in the United Kingdom to block their customers from being able to view the FirstRow website (FirstRowSports), which is often used to stream video of football and other TV sport matches.

The writing has been on the wall since late June 2013 when the league advised most of the markets biggest ISPs of their intention to seek a court order. It then gave them a week to challenge the action (here). Naturally none of the ISPs chose to challenge the case.

The judge apparently agreed with the FAPL’s assessment that Sweden-based FirstRow has a very popular website that had been making millions of pounds by facilitating internet piracy (copyright infringement). Similarly FAPL claimed that it had achieved no success when attempting to locate and contact the sites operator(s).

A Spokesperson for the FAPL said:

We are extremely pleased that the order blocking this website has been granted and we will be enforcing it, in conjunction with the ISPs, ahead of the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season.

It is absolutely imperative that content industries are afforded protection under the law if they are to continue investing in the sort of quality talent and facilities that has made them successful and of interest in the first place.

The judgment recognises the parasitic nature of the enterprise; this was an out and out commercial operation with estimated revenues of up to £10 million a year, whilst giving nothing back to the sport..”

According to The Mirror, Judge Justice Arnold said that FirstRow had been “profiting from infringement on a large scale” and thus saw no real reason not to block them. Meanwhile FirstRow’s website claims that it “merely displays links to audiovisual content located on servers of third parties and provided and/or transmitted by third parties” and does not host or control the content itself. This is a similar argument to the one used by The Pirate Bay (TPB) and other previously blocked sites, which clearly doesn’t work as a defence.

Sky Broadband, EE, TalkTalk, O2, BT and Virgin Media will all now be expected to enforce the ban, which will of course only be skin deep and thus very easy to circumvent.

Mark-Jackson
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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