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UK High Court Forces ISPs to Block Websites Hosting Popcorn Time App

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 (5:17 pm) - Score 3,338

The High Court has approved a new injunction that forces all of the major broadband ISPs (BT, Virgin Media, Sky Broadband, EE and TalkTalk) into blocking their customers from being able to view several websites that host a BitTorrent-fuelled video streaming app called Popcorn Time, plus a few other piracy sites.

The move is hardly surprising because Popcorn Time, which hasn’t been around that long, has quickly become a tool for facilitating Internet piracy (i.e. streaming pirated movies and TV shows) and as such it was a natural target for the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which pushed hard for today’s court ordered block.

According to Judge Birss (TorrentFreak), “It is manifest that the Popcorn Time application is used in order to watch pirated content on the internet … The point of Popcorn Time is to infringe copyright. The Popcorn Time application has no legitimate purpose.” As usual the blocks have been ordered under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA).

The Latest 8 Blocked Websites (Domain Suffix Redacted)
– popcorntime.**
– flixtor.**
– popcorn-time.**
– isoplex.isohunt.**
– watchonlineseries.**
– axxomovies.***
– afdah.***
– g2g.**

But it’s not cheap to impose such blocks and last year’s effort to censor websites that distributed counterfeit goods (here), which was pushed forward by luxury brands firm Richemont, revealed that an unopposed application tends to cost around £14,000 per site.

The admin involved in maintaining said block and keeping ISPs up-to-date with related IP address changes, and new URLs for the site, also comes to around £3,600 per website per year (i.e. blocked websites often change IP address, use proxy servers or switch domains). Similarly the ISPs claim to incur costs of anything from a few hundred to almost a thousand pounds per block.

In any case it usually only takes anything from a few days to a couple of weeks before the ISPs update their filtering systems in order to block new sites. But such restrictions are little more than a placebo and remain incredibly easy to circumvent via Proxy Servers or Virtual Private Networks (vpn) etc.

However today’s ruling will also be of concern to legitimate live streaming apps, such as the recently released Periscope by the developers of Twitter. Some Rights Holders understandably fear that such apps could easily be used to share pirated content and so the game of whack-a-mole continues.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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