The BPI confirmed that the High Court’s blocking of pirate music websites and apps – which previously only applied to users of fixed broadband networks – is being extended to users of mobile networks, starting with EE, which makes part of the BT group.
The trade body described website blocking as a “powerful legal remedy for those who own and invest in copyright and trademarks in the music, film, sports and gaming industries, whose rights are violated online”.
The recording industry has made blocking a website a key part of its anti-piracy strategy.
Over the past decade, the BPI has obtained several High Court Judgments and Orders against the UK’s four largest broadband providers – the BT Group, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media – blocking over 70 illegal sites and apps, and thousands of related music copyright infringing sites.
EE already blocks such pirate music sites on its landline network, but this is the first time since website blocking began in 2011 that a mobile operator has started blocking the sites.
Ofcom figures show that in the last quarter of 2021 mobile subscriptions in the UK rose to 85 million.
“There are now more mobile subscriptions than people in the UK,” said BPI General Counsel Kiaron Whiteheadthe attorney responsible for designing and implementing the music industry’s website blocking strategy, “and we want these fans to enjoy genuine music sites and be protected from illegal sites as much as ‘they are already on their broadband and their Wi-Fi”.
The operators of these pirate sites earn millions of pounds a year, with no money going to the creators of the music they operate
BPI estimates that online piracy costs the recording industry £200m a year, which could rise as mobile usage grows.
“Mobile data connections are faster and more reliable than ever,” Whitehead said. “A quarter of people now connect to the internet via 3G, 4G and 5G rather than broadband and Wi-Fi. With this growth comes an increased risk of music piracy. The operators of these pirate sites earn millions of pounds a year, with no money going to the creators of the music they exploit.
“We are therefore delighted that EE – which was the first mobile network to launch 5G to the UK population – has now become the first mobile network to block pirate sites subject to our High Court blocking orders under of Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.”
“BPI hopes that with EE now blocking access to its mobile network, more consumers will be protected; more artists, performers, music publishers and record labels will benefit; and more fans of music will be able to support their favorite artists and discover new music legally,” a statement from the trade body said.
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