BPI demands UK Pirate Party shut down its Pirate Bay proxy

Back in February this year the music industry won an injunction against the six leading UK ISPs requiring that they “take measures to block or at least impede access by their customers to a peer-to-peer (‘P2P’) file-sharing website called The Pirate Bay.” Over the course of the next few months the ISPs complied; but meanwhile the Pirate Party instigated a proxy service to allow UK users to bypass their ISP blocks. As of this morning, this service is still operational.

“We believe that websites should not be blocked merely because some organizations claim they interfere with their business model,” states the Pirate Party. "The Pirate Bay has substantial non-infringing uses; from the promotion of independent musicians, the distribution of independent films to making sure free and open source software is easily available.”

BPI, however, disagrees. It has written to the Pirate Party and apparently made the letter available to the BBC. The BBC quotes BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor’s letter: “We are passionate believers in freedom of speech. But it doesn't justify The Pirate Bay helping themselves to other people's work. The human rights implications of blocking this illegal site have been fully considered by the High Court. Whatever their views, Pirate Party UK are no more above the law than anyone else.”

For its part, the Pirate Party has received an email copy of the letter, but not the physical letter. In a statement, Loz Kaye responded: “As we stated in May 2012, we provided the proxy as a tool for users on networks where the Pirate Bay is blocked through filtering, we will continue to do so as long as this situation continues. The proxy continues to be a legitimate route for those affected by court orders issued to some (but not all) UK ISPs requiring the site to be blocked. Whilst some providers continue to allow access to the web in an unfiltered manner, others are limiting access to specific parts of the internet.”

Kaye also said that the party would respond to the BPI formally “by the 6th of December as requested by Mr Taylor.”

This is just the first round in what is likely to evolve into further legal action by the BPI. Both sides will have an eye on earlier events in the Netherlands, where the Dutch BREIN won similar court injunctions blocking The Pirate Bay. The Dutch Pirate Party set up its own proxy, BREIN went back to court, and the Pirate Party was forced to close its proxy service. It is quite possible that BPI will first seek to extend the blocking injunction to all UK ISPs, and then seek to include the Pirate Party’s and by extension all UK proxy services that link to The Pirate Bay.

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