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(May 16, 2012) In February 2012, the High Court of England and Wales ruled that both the users and operators of The Pirate Bay, which is one of the biggest illegal file-sharing websites in the world and is based in Sweden, infringed the copyrights of the music companies whose files are being distributed by the website in the United Kingdom. The lengthy court judgment addressed a number of areas, including both international treaties as well as the domestic legislation in the UK. (Dramatico Entertainment Ltd. v. British Sky Broadcasting Ltd, [2012] EWHC 268 (Ch).)

The court considered that the users violated copyright laws because they were downloading copyrighted material that was not licensed to them. The court further considered that the operator, The Pirate Bay, was infringing copyright laws, as it was not only providing the platform for copyright infringement, but authorizing it and actively encouraging it by providing instructions to users on how to circumvent any court-ordered blocking of sites, indicating which were the most reliable places to obtain the materials and then also profiting from these actions. (Id. & Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, c. 48.)

The court has recently ordered five UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to this site under section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This section allows the High Court to grant an injunction against ISPs if they have knowledge of another person using their service to infringe copyright. In practice, this means that ISPs can be ordered to block or otherwise limit access to offending websites. (Id.)

The order has been criticized by some, who argue that it is the start of a slippery slope to controlling the content of the Internet. Concerns were also raised over whether blocking the site would have any impact, as there are means by which a block can be bypassed. (Robert Dex, UK ISPs Must Block The Pirate Bay, High Court Rules, THE INDEPENDENT (Apr. 30, 2012); File Sharing and Copyright Infringement: Pirate Bay in the High Court, International Law Office website (Apr. 23, 2012) [register to use].)

Author: Clare Feikert-Ahalt More by this author
Topic: Communications More on this topic
Jurisdiction: United Kingdom More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 05/16/2012