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Rights Holders Seek to Extend UK ISP Site Blocks to Stream Rippers UPDATE

Friday, Feb 5th, 2021 (12:03 pm) - Score 4,656
illegal uk internet downloading

Major record labels, including the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) and Phonographic Performance (PPL), have gone to the UK High Court in an attempt to force six of the country’s largest broadband ISPs to extend their website blocks for copyright infringement to include sites that facilitate stream ripping and cyberlocker Nitroflare.

At present ISPs can only be forced, via a court order, to block websites if they are found to heavily facilitate internet copyright infringement, which is supported via Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. So far well over 100 piracy sites have been blocked as a result of this (including several thousand proxy sites and mirror domains). Most of those have been file sharing (P2P / Torrent), video streaming or sites that sell counterfeit goods.

The existing process is very expensive and time consuming for both sides to pursue and implement, although Rights Holders have often deemed it to be a price worth paying as part of their wider efforts to discourage casual piracy by internet users.

According to Torrent Freak, the BPI and PPL are now seeking to extend this measure in order to force BT, Virgin Media, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, EE and Plusnet into blocking several additional websites that are often used to facilitate stream ripping (e.g. taking a YouTube video and saving it to a re-playable file on your hard disk, which could be considered as unlicensed (pirated) copies).

By extension, the labels argue that since the stream-ripping platforms authorize and facilitate the creation of such pirate copies, contrary to the Copyright Act, then they too should be held liable for users’ infringement. The success of this may hinge, at least in part, on whether or not those sites clearly promote themselves for use in such a way.

Kiaron Whitehead, BPI General Counsel, said:

“On 3rd February 2021, the High Court in London held an online hearing for a new set of website blocking cases, brought by the BPI to help reduce music piracy in the UK. The judge, Mr Justice Miles, has reserved his judgement and so we await receiving his ruling, and his written reasons for it, in due course.”

So far as we can tell the record labels seems to be pointing the finger at the following sites: 2conv, flvto, 2Convert, H2Converter, H2Download, Flv2mp3, Flvtool and Ytbapi. Meanwhile Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records and other recording companies have also asked the same court to block access to Nitroflare, which is a cyberlocker site (i.e. one that provides online file-storing and file-sharing services).

The blocking of online file storage and sharing services is typically much more legally contentious because they can also be widely used for legal purposes too (i.e. protected by safe harbour provisions). But the labels argue that this doesn’t apply to Nitroflare because, they claim, the site is “essentially structured for infringement and it can’t be a protection for pirates.”

Judge Justice Miles is expected to reveal his decision in due course, although it is not currently known when this will occur. The catch with stream ripper sites is that people can alternatively achieve the same result by using various software tools, which is much harder to stop.

UPDATE 25th February 2021

The High Court has approved the new blocks against all of the sites, including Nitroflare. The BPI’ General Counsel, Kiaron Whitehead, said the judgements “are not a silver bullet, but they develop existing European law and represent a significant step forwards in copyright law in the UK. We are grateful to the High Court in dealing with this group litigation so efficiently in an online hearing. The BPI will be taking further actions following these judgements.”

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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23 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Chris says:

    I wonder how long before their sights are set on the likes of youtube-dl like the RIAA. This however I believe would only serve to further intensify the streisand effect.

    Perhaps they know better than to go after offline FOSS software, unlike the RIAA.

    I know a lot of educators who find sites like the ones proposed to be blocked absolutely invaluable. Often editing CC licensed content to make it a bit more friendly for younger audiences or simply having an offline copy to ensure a trouble free presentation.

    1. Avatar photo The red one says:

      There are tons of blocks by GEMA in Germany on Youtube.
      Half the music videos are missing.

  2. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

    Showing my age here, but I’d love to know what music in 2021 is actually worth downloading!

    I agree with you too Chris, (I find youtube a video editing smorgasbord of free to access content very useful!) but thankfully google is too big an entity for the likes of the RIAA to think about upsetting, especially as they really need the likes of google on their side. Upending the apple cart of googles youtube cash cow wouldn’t be a wise move.

  3. Avatar photo Aye Aye Captain! says:

    Record labels sking ISPs to block websites to control piracy, is akin to them asking retailers not to sell blank audio cassettes in the 1980’s.

    If people are intent on content piracy, they’ll continue to pirate it, blocking websites will make little or no difference.

    1. Avatar photo MikeC says:

      Could not have put it better Captain

  4. Avatar photo Oggy says:

    Why do they only go after fixed line providers and not the mobile providers who have far more subscribers?

    1. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

      Because the mobile subscribers are mostly behind CGNAT and get alternate IP addresses daily, perhaps?

    2. Avatar photo Oggy says:

      Quite possibly, but then you’re aiming at ~20m subscribers out of a total of approx ~105m internet subscribers in the UK.

      It’s a case of going for the low hanging fruit.

    3. Avatar photo Bigsix FiveG says:

      They only target the big six ISPs and not mobile provider’s.

      Good news for us lot on 5G.

  5. Avatar photo Chris Sayers says:

    Recording artists seem to get less and less from the created works these days, and not necessarily because of piracy, it’s because the record labels negotiate silly terms with music streaming sites, so this is all a bit rich coming from them, me I’d rather buy my music on a nice shiny platter.

    If these sites are so bad then why don’t they sue and take over the whole domain, there is precedence for this, why this piece meal approach.

    1. Avatar photo Chris Sayers says:

      Doh, “whole”…. its a domain you can’t have a half dim wit.

  6. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    There is plenty of software which does the same? All they keep doing is educating the public to new methods… and paying a lot to do so!

  7. Avatar photo Peten says:

    Here we go again any judge that bacjs this needs to be hurled out by the time most of this stuff comes to YouTube it is years old and the have made more than enough out of it

  8. Avatar photo Anthony Goodman says:

    Every song ever made is on youtube to listen to for free. If you have any product that accesses Youtube (nearly all does) you have every song ever made on every device. So I am not sure why they are getting so annoyed about piracy.

    1. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

      Because the RIAA is all about publicity stunts, nothing else. Lets see them go after VPN’s or google if they’re so good at what they do.

  9. Avatar photo Mik says:

    Wake me up when they block vpns.

  10. Avatar photo Dave says:

    So my local council meetings (pretty boring compared to Hansforth but one lives in hope!!)
    are placed on Youtube, and are in the public domain.

    Will this mean I cannot download it to my network, and display the meeting in its superb boredom on my 68 inch TV?

  11. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

    No, it’ll mean you’ll have to go to a “pirate-bay like” mirror website listing loads of alternative you-tube ripper download websites.

    1. Avatar photo Dave says:

      Really the issue is with Google-we-do-no-evil.
      Keeping a local copy of the meetings is essential to ensure the democratic process, as ‘politically embarrassing’ content can disappear.

  12. Avatar photo Mark says:

    Why do they even bother?

    Firstly it’s easy to bypass such blocks using proxy sites or VPNs

    Secondly, it has been proven time and time again that piracy actually helps sales figures!

    Thirdly, all the website does is grab the download link from the source code. We could do this ourselves but it would be a lot slower than the website.

  13. Avatar photo WonkoTheSaneUK says:

    Whack-a-mole schemes like this are always doomed to failure.
    The sole reason for trying them is “Being SEEN to be doing something about it”.

  14. Avatar photo MrD says:

    It’s odd so many of you are mentioning YouTube in this.
    YouTube blocks/removes content quite regularly when it’s reported. There is a mechanism in place that stops it (when the label wants to push it).

    And honestly, this news article is not about “Content” being blocked, but about tools that let you save “Content” from sites like Youtube or Amazon.

    Basically the two main ideas behind their current argument would be that you save content you should be paying for (So you pay 1 month and “save” a whole years worth), or that your saving content to avoid advertising revenue (like YouTube).

    I have struggled for years to keep my kids from downloading illegal music/videos. Far too many consumers thinks it’s okay to steal content. Listening/watching to it on the radio/tv or a streaming service means revenue from the content providers – ripping it and sharing it means none.

    Disclaimer – I ripped all of my CD’s to FLAC and every DVD I had I saved and converted to h.264. When wife gave the majority of DVD’s to the church to sell then I deleted said DVD content from my network. I never shared any of my content – nor added stuff from the interwibble. Not on a high horse here or anything, but many people seem perfectly happy to steal. Not purchased a CD/DVD/BluRay in many years – Paying for online content is now so cheap then there’s no big need.

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