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Future UK Trade Deals May Add Piracy Website Blocks by ISPs

Monday, May 9th, 2022 (8:33 am) - Score 3,120
Censorship Blocked Website Message by UK ISP

In a sign of things to come, it’s interesting to note that the recent free trade agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom included measures that require both sides to provide injunctive relief for website blocking by broadband ISPs – targeted at sites that are found to be facilitating internet copyright infringement (piracy).

At present such blocking orders, which in the UK flow from Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA), aren’t cheap to bring but have in recent years become very common. Hundreds of websites have been blocked through this approach (thousands if you include their many proxies and mirrors), which usually include file sharing (P2P / Torrent), streaming sites, Sci-Hub and those that sell counterfeit goods etc.

NOTE: Rights Holders typically target the biggest ISPs for such injunctions (e.g. BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Plusnet etc.).

Similar laws exist in Australia, where the country’s Federal Court has demanded that dozens of Internet Service Providers ensure they are preventing subscribers from accessing over 100 website domains linked to pirate content. Such blocks are of course easy to circumvent via various different methods, but the goal is usually aimed more at reducing casual infringement by people who would probably give up after hitting a block.

Nevertheless, it’s interesting to note how TorrentFreak has spotted that the recent free trade agreement between the UK and Australia  – specifically ‘Chapter 15: Intellectual Property‘ – includes a provision for blocking orders related to pirated content. This also extends to the disclosure of ISP subscriber details and procedures for domain registrars, like Nominet in the UK.

Article 15.89
Blocking Orders

1. Each Party shall provide that its civil judicial authorities have the authority to grant an injunction against an ISP within its territory, ordering the ISP to take action to block access to a specific online location, in cases where:

(a) that online location is located outside the territory of that Party; and

(b) the services of the ISP are used by a third party to infringe copyright or related rights in the territory of that Party.

2. For greater certainty, nothing in this Article precludes a Party from providing that its judicial authorities may grant an injunction to take action to block access to online locations used to infringe intellectual property rights in circumstances other than those specified in paragraph 1.

Article 15.90
Procedures for Domain Registrars

Each Party shall encourage its domain registry to take appropriate, timely, and effective measures to suspend domains used for infringing intellectual property on their respective country-code top-level domains. That encouragement may be satisfied by measures including the facilitation of cooperative arrangements between, the relevant domain registry, law enforcement, and industry groups.

Article 15.91
Disclosure of Information

A Party may provide, in accordance with its law, that its competent authorities may order an ISP to disclose expeditiously to a right holder information sufficient to identify a subscriber whose account was allegedly used for infringement, where that right holder has filed a legally sufficient claim of trade mark or copyright or related rights infringement, and where that information is being sought for the purpose of protecting or enforcing those rights.

On the surface, this won’t change much for the UK and Australia, which already have similar provisions and approaches to copyright infringement, but there’s more to it than that. The text appears to flow, at least in part, from an earlier recommendation, which was tabled by the Alliance for Intellectual Property (see here).

As part of that, the alliance noted that such text “will send an important message to future countries that we might choose to negotiate trade agreements with.” The goal here is thus not to add anything particularly new to existing UK and Australian law, but rather to try and export such measures to countries that may not yet have them in place via future trade deals.

Whether this will work is unclear, but it’s probably easier to advocate for the inclusion of such provisions than other things in modern trade deals.

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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.
Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. anna says:

    They miss a trick here.. If they actually provided a lot of the stuff on P2P legally people would buy it. I can never find what I want anywhere that sells or rents it – so I have to go to P2P to get it some of the time.

    They complain about stealing revenue and stuff – but if something is not available anywhere BUT P2P then how it be so? If it was available on Apple Music or example I would buy it – but it never is.

    1. RaptorX says:

      @anna That’s a fair point. Their logic however, is that they want to totally control access so that *should* they release the content due to pent up demand, then they can sell it to those who would have otherwise pirated it for free. They don’t care how frustrated people get at being unable to or otherwise get their hands on the content otherwise. Greedy and control freaky of them, isn’t it? You can tell that I don’t agree with this mentality.

    2. Mike says:

      It’s about control, they want their old analogue monopoly back, to be able to charge what they want, to make content available how they see fit or not at all.

  2. Alex A says:

    Shhh, nobody tell them that most ISPs just do a DNS level block, and you can just VPN to another country who doesn’t care about copyright.

    1. Peter says:

      Even changing your DNS server skips past it.

    2. An Engineer says:

      They are quite aware but for now don’t care. Most people are pretty casual users of dodgy content. Very few actually do it at an ‘industrial’ level. People renting seed boxes or having devices at home dedicated to infringing copyright and holding several TB of it are few and far between.

      Far fewer people are regularly infringing than used to and they’ve always used it a ton. They’ve no intention of paying for their content regardless of legitimate sources. Can’t compete with ‘free’. Dealing with them requires changes to the rules that would impact on perfectly legitimate users too.

    3. Mike says:

      @An Engineer

      “Piracy is an issue of service, not price” – Gabe Newell

  3. Bent says:

    Just use a paid vpn you are sorted simples

    1. Mike says:

      Unfortunately beyond the scope of the average normies level of intelligence.

  4. Bent says:

    Only idiots pay for movies or music where you just can torrent everything. The pirate bay and frostwire everything.

    1. Mike says:

      While I agree in boycotting large media companies that push this sort of censorship, there are many independent artists who are worthy of support, especially if you want more of what they produce.

    2. Anon says:

      Indeed, why pay for stuff when you can steal it?

    3. Mike says:

      @Anon

      Stealing tangible objects deprives the owner of the original item, that’s why we don’t do that.

  5. Andy Grey Rider says:

    The last time I saw a pirate movie, it featured Burt Lancaster.

  6. John says:

    To be fair there is nothing interesting to watch at the moment. Neither in cinemas, streaming services nor p2p.

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