Web Blocking's Slippery Slope: It's Never 'Just' One Site
from the thin-end-of-the-wedge dept
Even against a background of repeated attempts to censor the Net, it’s still possible to become a little complacent about some of the actions being taken by the copyright industries. For example, many people probably feel that blocking a site like The Pirate Bay isn’t really a problem because, after all, it’s just one site, right?
A post on TorrentFreak explains why that’s a dangerous attitude:
Copyright activists often warn that a ruling in one case has the potential to be leveraged elsewhere and the wedge can become thicker frighteningly quickly if issues aren’t dealt with early on. It seems that a case currently underway in Ireland involving The Pirate Bay is proving that assessment correct.
At the moment customers of the Irish ISP Eircom cannot access The Pirate Bay since an uncontested 2009 High Court ruling orders the ISP to block the site. But that’s just one ISP, some people will say, and it’s easy to switch to another. Nice try.
That’s because the recording labels want the Web block to be extended to other ISPs. Again, some might say: well, it’s still just one site. But here’s where things start to get serious. It’s not just about one site any more:
The plaintiffs (technically EMI, Ireland) have told the court that they are looking to achieve more than just a blockade of the world’s biggest torrent site. In fact, they have a list of 260 other “objectionable” websites they have identified that they would also like blocked if this attack on The Pirate Bay is a success.
What started out with Eircom agreeing to have The Pirate Bay blocked could now potentially lead to a few other Irish ISPs having to follow suit. In a worst case scenario that could play out to all ISPs having to block 260 other sites on the music industry’s hit-list. Which sites? Only they know.
And of course, if the industry manages to get the court to agree to 260 sites being blocked, you can be sure that it will be back with another few hundred, or a few thousand, at some point in the future. Because once the court rules that Web blocking is acceptable, it’s easier to go back to ask for more censorship, citing that judgement. That’s why it’s important to remember it’s never ‘just’ one Web block.