Anti-Blocking Website More Popular Than Spotify and Skype in the UK

While the UK High Court has been making busywork of blocking access to a myriad of popular torrent sites via the country’s ISPs, users apathetic to the restrictions have been using the sites anyway via the popular proxy site Unblocked.pw. Torrent fans have flocked to the site, using it to circumvent the token efforts of the UK justice establishment to control internet piracy, so much so that Unblocked.pw has become the 192nd most popular site in the country, placing it ahead of Spotify and Skype.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron loves a good block. Only this week, he was threatening to ban internet porn, because “Won’t somebody please think of the children?”. He said:

“Our one nation government is working hard to make the internet a safer place for children, the next step in this campaign is to curb access to harmful pornographic content which is currently far too widely available. I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will face being shut down.”

What is a “one nation government,” anyway? How is that any different from a regular government? Or, is Cameron slyly telling Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland that they don’t really count? In any case, the threat to take away the country’s porn is a deep cut, considering Pornhub, XHamster, Xvideos, and RedTube all feature within the top-100 sites in the UK, with TubeCup and YouPorn close behind:

  • Pornhub (#41)
  • XHamster (#44)
  • Xvideos (#47)
  • RedTube (#92)
  • TubeCup (#105)
  • YouPorn (#122)

At No. 44, PornHub is more popular than Netflix, even. But it was the position of Unblocked.pw that was most surprising, positioned at #192. The site, which is less than a year old, is already more popular than popular IM service Skype (#195) and music streaming site Spotify (#194).

Fighting censorship has been the primary motivation behind running Unblocked,” the site’s admin told TorrentFreak. “It’s to show that whatever regulators do to censor things online, there will always be a way around it. The initial motivation came from when The Pirate Bay was blocked in the Netherlands. We set up Proxybay.co to maintain a list of Pirate Bay proxy sites and show people how to create their own.”

If porn sites were to go the same way as torrent sites, expect to see the saucy equivalent of Unblocked.pw hit the top-200 sites in the UK soon after.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

UK Expands Torrent Site Blacklist to Proxies

The UK High Court has quietly added a number of proxies and mirrors to its torrent site blacklist, restricting backdoor access to sites such as Torrentz and ExtraTorrent. Of course, ExtraTorrent has already launched a new mirror site to bypass the block.

The list of blocked torrent sites in the UK now exceeds one hundred, with enforcers constantly playing whack-a-mole in a desperate attempt to suppress every new torrent site URL that springs up. Last week’s ruling has seen torrentz-proxy.com, torrentsmirror.com, etproxy.com, extratorrentlive.com and extratorrentonline.com added to the blacklist.

“The High Court has declared that ExtraTorrent and Torrentz are operating unlawfully and infringing copyright. The Court Order which requires ISPs to block the sites also requires BPI to notify the ISPs of changes to the sites,” said a spokesperson for the BPI (British Phonographic Industry), one of many organisations that have obtained High Court orders against torrent sites to infringing upon copyrighted materials.

Fruitless efforts, though, since torrent sites are always one step ahead. “The connectivity issues were totally solved after we launched a new mirror. It appears that all UK visitors are able to visit the website now as the traffic is back and still growing,” the ExtraTorrent team told TorrentFreak.

The full list of sites blocked to copyright infringement within the UK now reads:

Rojadirecta, LiveTV, Drakulastream, Ebookee, LibGen, Freshwap, AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre, Freebookspot, popcorntime.io, flixtor.me, popcorn-time.se, isoplex.isohunt.to, watchonlineseries.eu, axxomovies.org, afdah.com, g2g.fm, Bursalagu, Fullsongs, Mega-Search, Mp3 Monkey, Mp3.li, Mp3Bear, MP3Boo, Mp3Clan, Mp3Olimp, MP3s.pl, Mp3soup, Mp3Truck, Musicaddict, My Free MP3, Plixid, RnBXclusive, STAFA Band, watchseries.lt, Stream TV, Watchseries-online, Cucirca, Movie25, watchseries.to, Iwannawatch, Warez BB, Ice Films, Tehparadox, Heroturko, Scene Source,, Rapid Moviez, Iwatchonline, Los Movies, Isohunt, Torrentz.pro, Torrentbutler, IP Torrents, Sumotorrent, Torrent Day, Torrenting, BitSoup, TorrentBytes, Seventorrents, Torrents.fm, Yourbittorrent, Tor Movies , Demonoid, torrent.cd, Vertor, Rar BG, bittorrent.am, btdigg.org, btloft.com, bts.to, limetorrents.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, seedpeer.me, torlock.com, torrentbit.net, torrentdb.li, torrentdownload.ws, torrentexpress.net, torrentfunk.com, torrentproject.com, torrentroom.com, torrents.net, torrentus.eu, torrentz.cd, torrentzap.com, vitorrent.org.Megashare, Viooz, Watch32, Zmovie, Solarmovie, Tubeplus, Primewire, Vodly, Watchfreemovies, Project-Free TV, Yify-Torrents, 1337x, Bitsnoop, Extratorrent, Monova, Torrentcrazy, Torrentdownloads, Torrentreactor, Torrentz, Ambp3, Beemp3, Bomb-mp3, Eemp3world, Filecrop, Filestube, Mp3juices, Mp3lemon, Mp3raid, Mp3skull, Newalbumreleases, Rapidlibrary, EZTV, FirstRowSports, Download4all, Movie2K, KickAssTorrents, Fenopy, H33T, and The Pirate Bay.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Privatoria.

It is Now Illegal For UK Music Lovers to Rip CDs They Already Own

Legally own a CD and want to burn a second copy for your car? Own a film on Blu-Ray but want to rip a copy to watch on your tablet during a plane flight? Want to extend the use of media you legally purchased for your own, private use by duplicating it? Thanks to a new UK High Court ruling, you’re now a criminal.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation puts it:

In a nutshell, the court struck down the UK government’s decision to allow users to lawfully make copies of content that they have purchased for personal use, given the absence of a compulsory levy to compensate copyright owners for the “harm” that they suffer from such copying. The government’s choices are now to remove the private copying exception—making personal copying illegal again, or to supply additional evidence that copyright owners suffer no or minimal “harm” from personal copying, or else to begin imposing a new tax on users to compensate the industry for that “harm”.

So, according to the High Court, if you want a separate copy of, say, The Balcony by Catfish and The Bottlemen, an album you already own, to listen to in your car, you are “harming” the copyright holder by not buying a second copy, despite there being no proof of lost sales due to such practices. The free copying exception that most of Europe enjoys isn’t fit for us British plebs, it seems. But not much is any more (ECHR, anyone?).

Thank you Electronic Frontier Foundation for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of WiseGeek.

Ebook Piracy Sites to Be Blocked by UK ISPs

Yesterday, the UK’s High Court ordered that websites carrying pirated ebooks should be blocked by the country’s internet service providers. The court ruled that an application made by The Publishers Association grants that the sites be blocked under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988). Within the next 10 days, BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, and EE will be legally obliged to block any and all sites deemed to be carrying copyrighted reading materials.

Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of The Publishers Association, said of the victory:

“A third of publisher revenues now come from digital sales but unfortunately this rise in the digital market has brought with it a growth in online infringement. Our members need to be able to protect their authors’ works from such illegal activity; writers need to be paid and publishers need to be able to continue to innovate and invest in new talent and material.

“We are very pleased that the High Court has granted this order and, in doing so, recognises the damage being inflicted on UK publishers and authors by these infringing websites.”

Much like the MPAA, it seems that The Publishers Association hasn’t heard of proxies or VPNs, and I would not be surprised to discover that the cost of this legal action was more than any offset loss of sales through piracy by publishers.

Thank you The Publishers Association for providing us with this information.

Pirate Movie Streaming App Popcorn Time Blocked by UK Court

The High Court ruled yesterday that popular movie streaming platform Popcorn Time be blocked by the UK ISPs. Sky, BT, EE, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media will be forced to block access to five URLs that offer the Popcorn Time app for download.

In his ruling, Judge Briss did a marvellous job of stating the obvious regarding Popcorn Time’s legal status, stating, “It is manifest that the Popcorn Time application is used in order to watch pirated content on the internet and indeed it is also manifest that is its purpose.” Though his follow-up “No-one really uses Popcorn Time in order to watch lawfully available content” is not entirely correct, since movies on Popcorn Time are usually DVD or BluRay rips, meaning that they have to be “lawfully available” in order to be streamed. Users are just accessing them without paying for them via illegal means.

Popcorn Time has issued the following statement:

We’re pretty disappointed from the judicial system in the UK and feel pretty sorry for the citizens of England for their basic rights, like the freedom of speech and net neutrality being revoked so easily.

We hope to see some sort of protest from the citizens of the UK against this order, but given how easy it is for the judicial system there to hurt their basic rights, we doubt they will do so

We find this move they made pretty predictable and we’re sure that this is not the last of it. We’re working full force now even more than ever on making Popcorn Time fully p2p and soon the software will not be depended on any domain or centralized server to operate.

Since no ISP has challenged the order, it will come into effect soon, with access to popcorntime.io, flixtor.me, popcorn-time.se, and isoplex.isohunt.to denied to UK users. However, anyone who already has Popcorn Time installed should not see any disruption to their service. Regardless, as with the spate of blocked torrent sites over the last few years, the move is sure to prove futile, with proxies and VPNs offering savvy internet users access to any blocked content.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

List of Blocked Torrent Sites in the UK Doubles

The High Court has ruled that 53 torrent websites be prohibited by UK Internet Service Providers, in the largest mass blocking yet. The list of sites include BitSoup, IP Torrents, Isohunt, Sumotorrent, Torrentdb, Torrentfunk, Torrentz, Warez BB, and Rapid Moviez. The Motion Picture Association (MPA) is responsible for submitting 32 of the requests.

The ISPs obliged to comply with the order are Sky, BT, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2, and Virgin.

Chris Marcich, president of the MPA’s European division, said, “Securing court orders requiring ISPs to block access to illegal websites is an accepted and legitimate measure to tackle online copyright infringement.”

According to Ernesto Van Der Sar, editor of Torrentfreak, the move will deter very few from accessing their favourite torrent site, explaining, “It deters a few people who can’t access their usual sites, but most people will try to find ones that are not yet blocked or use VPNs or proxy sites to get the same content.”

Source: BBC