UK: Copyright holders ask for website blocking

By EDRi · June 29, 2011

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Deutsch: [Britische Rechteinhaber fordern Netzsperren |]

According to some leaked reports, copyright holders seem to have proposed
during a roundtable with UK Government representatives, ISPs
and others on 15 June 2011, plans that could lead to the blocking of
websites that allegedly host copyright infringing material.

Apparently, the Rightsholder Group’ plans include a voluntary website
blocking scheme that would involve “expedited court procedures” letting an
“expert body” decide if websites that host copyright-infringing material
should be blocked, meaning that lobby groups might decide on website

The leaked document would make reference to a “balance” between evidence and
speed of action, no analysis seems to exist on how the blocking will be done
or on the effect of such measures, no clear or comprehensive definitions of
what content will be considered blockable seem to be mentioned.

“The objective is to establish a system that protects a copyright owner’s
property rights by substantially inhibiting infringement while protecting
the legitimate interests of consumers, site operators and service
providers, including (where relevant) access to services and information and
freedom of expression,” says the leaked document.

The meeting where the document was presented was closed to copyrights group
and only Consumer Focus attended it, as the official “consumer” watchdog.
Consumer Focus’s opinion is that blocking is no solution: “Consumers’
willingness to, or preference for, watching football games online and on
mobile devices will not diminish because access to unlicensed websites is

According to Consumer Focus, the copyright holders propose that, after the
“expert body” has decided that copyright infringement evidence submitted by
copyright holders is valid and that website blocking is appropriate, the
Applications Court of the High Court issues permanent injunctions against
the respective websites. “These proposals are a significant regulatory
intervention and require at the very least significant changes to the Civil
Procedure Rules. As such they should be publicly consulted on and evidence
based,” says Consumer Focus.

EDRi-member Open Rights Group (ORG) also believes that discussions over how
to enforce online copyright infringement measures should be held in public.
“It is critical that policy making happens through a broad and open public
debate, especially on matters that so tangibly affect rights such as access
to information and freedom of expression,” stated Peter Bradwell from ORG.

Rights holders’ proposed voluntary website blocking scheme (22.06.2011)

Secret website blocking proposals presented to Ed Vaizey (21.06.2011)

Leaked proposals detail copyright holders’ website blocking code plans

Ed Vaizey website blocking roundtable (15.06.2011)

BT wary of rights holders’ site-blocking proposal (23.06.2011)