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Rights Holders Ask Google to Block UK ISP Piracy Site Blocking Notifications

Monday, July 3rd, 2017 (9:07 am) - Score 1,734
banned and forbidden uk internet censorship

Several enforcement groups for copyright holders have taken the unusual step of asking Google to remove links for the website blocking notification pages used by Virgin Media, BT and Sky Broadband, which inform visitors when websites have been blocked by a court order.

Over the past few years copyright holders have succeeded, via Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA), in getting the High Court to issue court orders that force all of the United Kingdom’s largest broadband ISPs to block websites (plus any related mirrors or proxies) that have been identified as facilitating copyright infringement (e.g. The Pirate Bay).

Customers of those ISPs (Sky Broadband, BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media etc.) who attempt to visit any of the blocked sites are usually redirected to an automatically generated blocking notification, which explains why the site is not loading and often provides some additional links to further information. For example, Sky’s notification page (http://blocked.nb.sky.com) will spew out a message like this:

sky broadband piracy website block notification

Virgin Media also runs a similar notification system (http://assets.virginmedia.com/site-blocked.html). None of the aformentioned redirections contain any copyright infringing content, they are merely information pages that explain that the site has been blocked by a court order and very little else.

However TorrentFreak has spotted that two enforcement groups for copyright holders (RipBlock and Leak Delete) have in recent weeks asked Google to remove the aforementioned notification pages from their index for reasons of copyright infringement (example requests here and here).

Similarly BT’s block page (http://www.ukispcourtorders.co.uk) has also been targeted, although that one is perhaps more understandable because is also lists all of the blocked sites and the group(s) responsible for the block itself.

It’s entirely possible that this could all be the result of yet more overblocking by automated anti-piracy robots, which sometimes seem to scrape the Internet for any mention of anything even remotely piracy related before asking Google to block them (DMCA take-down notices) via a massive list (millions of URLs per day).

Luckily Google knows not to put implicit trust in such lists, which tend to get more wrong than they do right, and so far the notification pages have not been removed from their index.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar Steve Jones

    It seems to me pretty outrageous to demand the de-listing of a site that simply lists the court orders and domains affected. Unless there is an injunction in effect to the contrary, court orders are in the public domain, and it seems undesirable on public interest grounds that there should be artificial obstacles to accessing the information.

    I also suspect that getting Google to de-list these pages would be largely ineffectual anyway.

    • Avatar George M

      Lord Chief Justice Hewart in 1924 stated
      “It is not merely of some importance, but of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should be manifestly and undoubtedly seen to be done”.

      The UK has turned it’s back on this legal maxim in the last 30 years and it has not produced ANY good results. Justice may be blind but it is not mute.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      Now I read the source, it just looks like this is a manifestation of a bot looking for links to the blocked domains and automatically generating de-listing requests. So it’s more a side-effect than anything else, but I do wonder where this sort of automation will lead. Mistakes very likely.

  2. Avatar hmm

    utter fail

  3. Avatar dragoneast

    The internet makes fools of us all. (Or, perhaps better put, shows us all up for the fools that we are).

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