MPA Gets Ireland To Crack Open The Site-Blocking Door It Plans To Bust Through
from the block-party dept
Give an inch and they will take a mile, as the saying goes. This mantra applies quite nicely to the recent spate of site-blocking efforts that have taken place around the world. Once content owners, chiefly Hollywood and music groups based in America, manage to slightly open the door to having entire sites blocked by order of government, they then barge through and expand the scope of the site-blocking exponentially.
And the groups doing this barging don’t even bother to hide their plans. In Ireland, one can see this in the recent news of the Motion Picture Association submitting an order to have several websites blocked by ISPs there.
On behalf of several major Hollywood studios, the group requested Irish Internet providers to block access to three popular streaming sites; movie4k.to, primewire.ag, and onwatchseries.to. In their complaint, the movie studios, including Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, and Warner Bros, described the sites as massive copyright infringement hubs, with each offering thousands of infringing movies.
Monday evening the court approved the request. This means that the three websites will soon be rendered unavailable by Eircom, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Three Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications, and Magnet Networks.
The blocking of entire websites on the basis of industry complaints should be seen as no small thing. Given how often sites that Hollywood claims are “pirate sites” in fact have completely legitimate uses, wary eyes should be cast at this sort of censorship. These three sites may not fall under that falsely accused designation. The problem is that in the immediate aftermath of the court’s decision, the MPA is licking its chops to go after many, many more sites.
The ISP asked the court to put a cap on the number of notifications, limiting it to 50 per month. However, the movie studios objected to a blocking cap, and the judge decided not to add any limitations for now.
No caps, because as we’ve seen in other European countries, these blocking requests will now be vastly expanded to include all kinds of websites. With that volume increase will come mistakes, overreach, and false accusations. It’s what always happens. And at that point, Irish citizens, and perhaps the courts, will realize exactly what kind of Pandora’s box has been opened to satiate the folks in Hollywood. The ISPs in Ireland already know this, as they are hedging their support for these blocking efforts in the future.
Irish Times reports that none of the ISPs opposed the blocking request. However, Eir said that the costs involved could become an issue if the number of blocked websites increases drastically in the future.
It’s easy money to bet that those drastic increases will come about quite quickly. Hollywood can’t seem to keep from barging through a door like this once it’s been cracked open.