Tuesday 3 December 2013

Blocking orders, proxies and VPNS: a reader asks

Blog reader Dan Scofield writes to ask the following question:
"With the recent order forcing ISPs to block Primewire.ag and other sites that provide hyperlinks to 'infringing hosting sites' what can be done, if anything, about the use of proxy websites and VPNs to bypass these blocking orders?

My 13 year old sister knows how to use proxy websites and I doubt it will be long before kids (even the most technically illiterate of them) figure out how to use these sites. They really aren't complicated to use and I don't know if the courts have the powers to block the use of proxy websites (given they have perfectly legitimate uses) in order to stop this practice. Therefore, it seems to me that the only thing the courts can do to stop this is to actually have the infringing sites taken down rather than blocking access to them -- a feat that will be incredibly hard when the hosts can easily kickstart a new server in some remote location.

I suppose the blocking order of the sites that facilitate copyright infringement is a victory for IP rights holders, but when one reaslises how easy it is to get around the block, it becomes a rather hollow victory. And, in this day and age, people will quickly learn of proxies/VPNs for this purpose and the block will rendered a futile attempt at putting a stop to copyright infringement".
Readers' thoughts are welcome, both on the legal issues and on the wider commercial issues on both sides of the equation.


Anonymous said...

Action has been taken last year to close down a proxy (of The Pirate Party), against the individuals: http://torrentfreak.com/pirate-party-proxy-shutdown-means-activists-will-fight-another-day-121219/ Although this cannot be done for every proxy or technical circumvention which is provided, with each success of s97A, the orders are becoming wider, and therefore more proxies,and other sites offering access to blocked sites will also be caught, and therefore blocked, under the orders.

Anonymous said...

I should probably jump in here, Mr Anonymous.

It was taken down not because there was any legal decision to do so, but because knowing it's weak position, the BPI decided that attempting to personally bankrupt each of the party officers by naming them as defendents in a civil suit was the way to do it.

It's just like patent trolls, and (other) copyright trolls, the cost of defending is FAR greater than the cost of settling, and there comes a time when you have to cut your losses. Note that on the DAY the proxy came down, two more pirate parties started their own ones. They did so outside the UK jurisdiction too.
A more complete report on why the party took it down is here https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/media/uploads/pdfs/FINAL_BPI_Panel_Report.pdf

Unknown said...

The question is how long it will take them to realise that this mixture of whack-a-mole and Streisand Effect does nothing but cost money and publicise the existence of torrent/streaming sites and increase the popularity and knowledge of how to use proxying services?

The answer surely is to provide their products in a timely and convenient manner so consumers had no reason to go elsewhere.