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ISPs asked to block access to three more allegedly infringing sites by UK music body

The UK's biggest six internet service providers (ISPs) have been asked to block their customers' access to three websites that have been accused of infringing music labels' copyright.23 Oct 2012

The British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) said that it had written to BT, Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media to request that they block access to the Fenopy, h33t and Kick Ass Torrents sites.

The sites allow users to access files via BitTorrent, which is a method for sharing large files on peer-to-peer networks.

The BPI said that it could ask for a court order to be issued to the ISPs that forces them to block access to the three sites if they do not do so voluntarily. However, the six ISPs said they would not block access to Fenopy, h33t and Kick Ass Torrents unless ordered to do so by a court, according to a report by the BBC.

Under section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act UK courts have the power to grant an injunction against an ISP if it had 'actual knowledge' that someone had used its service to infringe copyright.

Earlier this year the BPI won a High Court order forcing the six biggest UK ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay, a website that enables users to search for and download copyrighted content, including music and films. That followed similar action taken by major film studios in convincing the High Court to order BT and others to block access to a similar website, Newzbin2, in 2011.

"Like The Pirate Bay, these websites are profiting illegally from distributing music that isn’t theirs, without permission and without paying a penny to the musicians, writers and producers who created it," a BPI spokesman said in a statement. "It is plain wrong. The existence of these sites damages the growth of Britain’s burgeoning digital music sector. We have therefore asked Britain’s six biggest ISPs to block access to the sites."

The report by the BBC suggested that BPI is keen to obtain blocking of the sites before Christmas, but the music industry trade body spokesman told Out-Law.com that this was mere "speculation". "We’ve said nothing publicly about any purported timescales and have no comment on it," he added.

However, digital rights campaigners the Open Rights Group (ORG) warned against the process for achieving website blocking being speeded up.

"Web blocking is an extreme response," Jim Killock, executive director of the ORG, said in a statement. "The orders are often indefinite and open ended, and will be blocking legitimate uses. The BPI and the courts need to slow down and be very careful about this approach."

"The BPI seem to be trying to speed things up and that is not good. It will lead to carelessness and unneeded harms," Killock added. "As an approach, censorship is a bad idea. It leads to more censorship, and is unlikely to solve the problem it seeks to address. Digital music is going through a period of real growth because it is trying to innovate: this is a much more effective approach than copyright crackdowns."

In June the Government announced that it would repeal sections of the Digital Economy Act (DEA) which give the Culture Secretary the power to draw up new regulations on website blocking. The Government referred to the cases of Newzbin2 and The Pirate Bay as proving that existing copyright laws were sufficient in enabling rights holders to take action against internet piracy.

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