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Big UK Broadband ISPs Blocking 3,814 Internet Piracy Related URLs

Tuesday, Mar 21st, 2017 (2:09 pm) - Score 2,571

One of the major broadband ISPs involved in enforcing a court-ordered block of websites that facilitate Internet piracy (copyright infringement) has revealed that their filters are now preventing access to a total of 3,814 URLs (sites), although this figure doesn’t tell the whole story.

Over the past few years Rights Holders have increasingly harnessed Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) in order to force the largest broadband providers (BT, Virgin Media, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and EE) into imposing a court ordered block (example). Overall more than 100 websites (e.g. The Pirate Bay) have been blocked from view via this approach (see Sky’s list).

However one of the ISPs recently informed TorrentFreak that their block-list has now expanded to cover a total of 3,814 URLs and it’s important to put this into the correct context. The original injunctions don’t just require those ISPs to restrict access to the primary website but also any mirrors or web based proxy servers that are dedicated towards providing access to the same location.

Since new proxy mirrors pop-up and site locations change all the time then Rights Holders are forced to play an endless game of whack-a-mole. On top of that some of the filtering systems are domain based and so the list has to include a few duplicates (e.g. domains with “www.” in front and those without).

All of this is important because blocking a site isn’t nearly as cheap as you might think. Back in 2015 Wiggin LLP revealed that an unopposed application tends to cost around £14,000 per site. On top of that the additional admin required to maintain the block and keep ISPs up-to-date with related IP address changes and new URLs (Proxy Servers) comes to around £3,600 per site per year.

At the same time ISPs also incur on-going costs as part of their work to introduce the blocks. EE previously suggested that a “near four figure sum” was involved with each update, while Sky Broadband hinted at a “mid three figure sum” and then roughly half that for future updates. Similarly Virgin Media pegged their own annual costs at a “low five figure sum“.

Meanwhile the hard-core pirates or those with the most basic of knowledge can easily circumvent the restrictions by using all sorts of different approaches, such as DNS changes, HTTPS, Proxy Servers or Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections etc.

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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