After a court ordered two of the largest Belgian Internet service providers to prevent their users accessing The Pirate Bay, the local anti-piracy outfit is now urging other ISPs to do the same. Internet providers who refuse to give in to this request within 10 days will be taken to court, a threatening letter explains. The blackmailing tactic seems to have worked, as one of the smaller ISPs has already disabled access to The Pirate Bay.
Late September the Antwerp Court of Appeal ordered Belgian ISPs Belgacom and Telenet to initiate DNS blockades of 11 domains connected to The Pirate Bay.
The Belgian Anti-Piracy Federation (BAF) applauded the verdict, which they see as a landmark decision opening the door to further censorship attempts. And indeed, without hesitation the group is putting the verdict to work in their favor.
NURPA, a Belgian advocacy group which promotes and protects the digital rights of citizens, has learned that BAF has sent a threatening letter to various Belgian ISPs. The group has managed to obtain a copy which they published on their site today.
In the letter, BAF mentions the recent verdict against the two Belgian Internet providers, which they say confirms The Pirate Bay is responsible for copyright infringement on a massive scale. To extend the ruling, the anti-piracy group is demanding that other ISPs also begin banning the site’s domains.
“To ensure an optimal effect, this measure should be implemented by all Internet service providers, not just by Belgacom and Telenet,” the anti-piracy group writes.
The ISPs have ten days to comply, BAF adds, or else the group will take them to court.
“Failing a satisfactory response from you within the time limit, the BAF will begin legal proceedings against you,” BAF threatens.
The letter from BAF was supposedly sent last week, and already appears to have had some effect. The Belgian ISP BASE – which ironically has a “freedom of speech” banner prominently listed on its site – has quietly started blocking subscriber access to The Pirate Bay.
BAF’s letter and BASE’s response are criticized by NURPA, who fear that BAF will continue to push for more censorship measures based on false claims.
“These practices of censorship, which are justified by imaginary losses and imposed by blackmail, show the urgent need for legislation on Net Neutrality in order to establish a legal framework for fair protection of fundamental rights on the Internet,” NURPA spokesman André Loconte told TorrentFreak.
Even if BAF manages to convince all Belgian ISPs to block the 11 Pirate Bay domains, it is doubtful that it will have much of an effect. Previously, a Pirate Bay spokesperson told TorrentFreak that these measures only yield the opposite results.
“This will just give us more traffic, as always. Thanks for the free advertising,” we were told.
And he appears to be right.
A few days after the verdict was announced The Pirate Bay registered depiraatbaai.be, a new domain not covered by the court order. Today, just a few weeks later, this domain is already the 124th most-visited in Belgium, on its way to enter the top 100.
Indeed, the years of legal procedures and subsequent blackmailing are easily circumvented by registering a $15 domain.
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