back to article Brit ISPs shift toward rapid pirate website blocking

Leading UK ISPs are now privately agreed on the principle of restricting access to websites in response to hastily obtained court orders, according to sources close to discussions that took place in Westminster this week. The shift follows the landmark Newzbin2 ruling in July, which affirmed the responsibility ISPs have to …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Graham Marsden


    ... so protecting the profits (and bonuses) of the multi-million pound international music and film industry by allowing them to demand that sites that they say are infringing their copyrights be closed *immediately* is *so* much more important than protecting small businesses from unjustified take-downs because someone posted something which, allegedly, infringes copyright on Friday evening and it won't be until Monday morning that they find out that their site has been down over the weekend as they didn't instantly jump to delete the offending post when the industry said they should.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "ISPs have had to acknowledge that being a mere conduit is not an absolute defence," said one industry representative.

    On that basis, I'm assuming that the Post Office now have to open and read all post and that telephone providers also have to listen to all calls in order to identify any potentially infringing material.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      No, because the ISPs are in the unique situation of knowing where the data are being sent from and to, without having to look at it. A postal operator doesn't know this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Postal operators DO know where the post is going to (alas not where it is from though)

        But more importantly , telcos definitely know where calls are from and too - so ISPs are in no way in a unique situation.

        As Telcos are in the same 'unique' situation should the rules apply to them too?

      2. Jedit Silver badge

        @AC 17:04 220911

        ISPs may know where data is being sent from and to without having to look at it, but they still do not know what it is. They don't even know that it is illegal just because it's P2P traffic - for example, it's possible to patch World of Warcraft through the Blizzard Downloader without receiving a single byte from Blizzard themselves.

        Also, due to VPNs and IP spoofing, an ISP cannot definitively prove the source or destination of its traffic. So, you fail again.

  3. James 12

    And on that logic

    So my car is responsible for my speeding...

    This knife is responsible for the stabbing of my boss....

    Facebook is responsible for my Riot Now comments

    An soon I'll no longer be responsible for anything I do :)

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      No. By that logic the person who sells you the knife with the knowledge that it's going to be used to stab someone is held responsible for selling it.

      As the article says, by opposing *EVERY* proposal for regulation people have not made things better.

      With this current request, you still require a Magistrate to order the site to be blocked. That's a reasonable level of protection which I can agree to, if having my site taken down can result in punitive damages should it be unjustified.

      1. Jedit Silver badge

        "Peter ... I can see your house from up here."

        The ISPs are actually selling you the knife with no knowledge that you plan to use it to stab anyone. They are still being held responsible for selling it, though, you are right there.

      2. Tieger

        @Peter2 18:39

        more like 'the delivery driver that brings the knife from the warehouse to your house is being held responsible' but whatever....

        there havnt been any *sensible* suggestions from the industry - because guess what? they dont want a sensible solution. if they could make it so that every person in the country was legally obliged to buy a copy of every piece of shite they churn out (to make sure they didnt pirate it) they'd happily go for that. they have no interest in a fair middle ground, and therefore throw stupid solutions around (That wouldnt really help anyway in most cases) and then act all surprised and victimised when they're told to fuck off.

        and as for your last point... oh great, a magistrate. bloody brilliant. remind me, what qualifications do magistrates require in this country? oh thats right. you need to be... over 18 and have a lot of free time. wow. i'm glad we'll be entrusting our freedom to people with that level of skill and expertise. they're sure to be able to properly evaluate the information presented to them in a timely manner arnt they.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          My understanding is that it'd actually go in court in front of a panel of three magistrates as +95% of court cases in the UK do.

          How is this a problem? Requiring a court order to shut down a website appears to be pretty proportionate and reasonable from my point of view. Governments will not tolerate people flouting the law forever and it should be obvious to anybody that protesting that you should be allowed to break the law is pointless.

          Many people seem to want the government to go away and leave the status quo unchanged. It is obvious that this will not happen. Either we police ourselves, or the government polices us. People have said loudly that they will not be involved in responsible self regulation, so outside regulation is being imposed.

          I foresee this pattern being repeated many, many times with different things on the internet.

  4. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Mere conduit?

    "ISPs have had to acknowledge that being a mere conduit is not an absolute defence,"

    Ummm, yes it is.

    What next? Vodafone, O2, Orange and 3 all up on conspiracy charges for allowing their networks to be used to arrange drug deals?

    1. Chad H.

      Take it further?

      For anyone here who's experienced a break in, Did the theif use the council's road?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...speedier access to justice..."

    ...for some, a very sloppy denial of it for others I don't doubt given the UK legal systems consummate failure to get its head round technology, even given the time. And before you know it, a few politically inconvenient sites will follow based on some spurious justification.

    A very slippery slope indeed.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Monthly charges after being cut off

    If I understand correctly, this allows/requires ISPs to cut people off.

    Where I live, most providers try to get you to sign up for a least a year (billed monthly) with penalties if you cancel. Even without a deal like this, they require at least a month from customers of notice before end of service( they charge you for an additional month of service after the end of the current month of service so it can be almost 2 months if your timing is off)

    How will this law deal with that? Will it allow an ISP to cut of a customer's internet access and then continue to charge them fees?

    1. Alain

      Contract ended by law

      We now have the three-strikes and you're offline law passed here in France. To the best of my knowledge ISPs are required to give up your remaining contract time if you're cut off by law.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes - you'll find it in your T&Cs of service that you're still liable even if service has to be cease by your breaking the T&Cs - and they all have a section that says something like 'must not use the service to send, encourage the receipt of, upload, download, use or re-use any material which is abusive,indecent, defamatory, obscene or menacing, or in breach of copyright, confidence, privacy or any other rights or which may contain viruses or other similar programs"

  7. Rab Sssss

    it costs to much for us to prove!!!!

    well colour me very unsympathic...

    or in other words boo fucking hoo.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please no more, I can't bear it, I have an ISP to run not a chicken farm as government would have us believe. Running an ISP is complex so please don't make it any worse with self regulation or otherwise. It works well as it is so just leave it !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Chicken farming.

      You think chicken farming is simpler than running an ISP?

  9. Richard Barnes

    I may have missed something here but....

    .... won't simply using a VPN get round any ISP-based site blocking?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: I may have missed something here but....

      No, you haven't missed anything. Any blocking can be circumvented fairly easily by tech savvy people.

      The number of people who know how to is small, and will do so is even smaller, though...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Yes, Andrew, you did miss something here

        "Any blocking can be circumvented fairly easily by tech savvy people."

        "The number of people who know how to is small, and will do so is even smaller, though..."

        But that number will grow. Only the tech savvy knew how to file share once. Remind us how that stayed a minority pursuit among geeks, please?

        1. Gavin 2


          Quite right.

          I used to live in the UAE, out there a lot of sites are blocked, including gambling sites. Quite a few expats i knew like to gamble and were miffed that they couldn't get to their favorite gambling site. That was until I pointed out to one of them that the blocking only worked on http sites and not https, so going to the https part of your favourite site worked fine.

          Only mentioned this to one person but all them knew about it in a few days.

      2. Law

        Not so anymore

        People like Giganews offer "free" VPN with the higher tier usenet services - they give tutorials and support for setting it up. Anybody actually using sites that will be blocked like Newzbin will know enough to read support forums for these sites - random people in them will suggest they just up their payments $5-$10 a month and get the vpn services bundled with it. Setup doesn't take any real know how, it takes all of 2 minutes to set it up once then forget about it.

        Ofcourse - eventually services like Giganews will just get blocked instead, because "just blocking the indexing sites doesn't work and its expensive"... but that's besides the point.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, sigh, as is always the case with this type of thing, this will prevent nothing while giving the government even more control of our lives.

      All that will happen is a transfer of where the pirated material comes from:

      - Dumb pirates will get caught

      - The tech savvy pirates will setup VPNs and continue to pirate to their heart's content

      - Joe public will get scared that they can be monitored, they will stop downloading or potentially join the 'Dumb pirates' crowd

      - Cautious Joe public will get their pirated materials (on some portable media) through a tech savvy contact

      Then some new technology will come out that is "impossible" to track, everyone will switch and the game will begin again with a new set of freedoms on the table.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How long before VPN traffic on your account flags you for special investigation?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Expensive blocking???

    >>"An Industry association ISPA told us it was concerned about the costs of setting up the blocking solutions on smaller ISPs."

    How expensive is it to change a DNS record to point to

    Anything more expensive will simply be circumvented by a VPN / proxy / tunnelling by those intent on getting around the blocking, so block using the cheapest method possible which will affect the dumb unwashed masses who simply go to and click links.

    Not that I agree with this, just saying it isn't expensive.

  11. Arnie

    Last one out....... etc

    well with the new tools being provided by the likes of newzbin2 it really makes no difference in the short term. The bigger picture could well result in the entertainment industry having a say in citizens use of encryption that is not signed by them or their GIMP the british government.

    Mines the shoes with sandpaper soles cause this is a slippery slope we're on

    1. Arrrggghh-otron

      bring on the GIMP

      Thumbs up just for calling the British Government the entertainment industries GIMP!

  12. Tom 38

    Four words

    IPSec VPN to Amsterdam.

  13. Derk
    Big Brother

    Oh Really?

    Do they honestly think that by denying access to a few pirate websites will make Joe Public rush to ITunes, HMV, or where ever to get their music or video's? Its not going to happen. People don't buy it because the vast majority of the "Industries" output is shite. There are many vested interests out there that want the net censored, and using something like this and the usual mission creep that happens? well, just like Arnie says, a very slippery slope indeed. If it happens, then hopefully there will be lots of civil disobedience, and who knows? unrest, rioting? revolution?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I just got Sky Broadband, so I am able to now use the Sky Anytime+ to download films and programs. However, they are only available for download in standard definition, not HD. This means I will still probably download from other sources stuff that is on Sky because I can get it in better quality else where.

      When companies do give you a 'legal' choice, they have to make it worth while, not some half cocked idea that does not satisfy people needs or wants.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    So it was expensive in time and money

    For the big boys so they get the law changed.

    It must be nice to have that sort of influence.

    I wonder if I can do the same so its cheaper and quicker to get justice when I need it?

    Thought not.

    I am sick and bloody tired of these companies re-writing democracy to suit them - and they wonder why most people think they are the lowest form of life.

  15. Christian Berger

    And people still wonder why BT is worth less than their copper

    Seriously, I'm not paying ISPs to police the Internet. I'm paying them to relay bits, independent of any political issues.

    It's like the mail system. I'm paying money for them to deliver the letter to the other address. Thanks to 19th century agreements, this even works between countries who are at war.

    So just make the ISP do their job. Make laws so they can simply provide service, without having to invest into expensive technologies like "billing" or "authentication". (You can always turn off the port if there's no contract) And outsource the copper into a different company so you get competition.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its a lawyers wet dream

    So this week Every ISP gets acourt order telling them to block In less than a week, the same site is now using the URL so the lawyers are back in court, another court order is sent out. The week after its now called, the lawyers run to the magistrate grinning insanely...


    "Copyright enforcement options today are expensive and impractical"

    I have a lot of sympathy with people who want to protect their intellectual property rights.

    But to suggest that blocking sites might be inexpensive or practical takes a very short term view, and underestimates the long term cost and consequences.

    The people who want to do this will not go away. If the inclination remains, they will find a way to circumvent censorship.

    The impact of dealing with mass use of encryption will then be absolutely immense, but sadly, inevitable.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like