UK Plan Would Block Access To Sites That Assist Copyright Infringement

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There’s a plan in the UK that would, if enabled, lead to ISPs blocking access to specific Web sites in order to cut down on piracy. It takes all of two seconds to understand why this is a silly idea, and thankfully a prominent consumer rights group there has come out against it.

There was a meeting at the end of February attended by rights holders, ISPs, and the likes of Google and Yahoo. They had gathered to discuss, in so many words, What To Do? The conclusion was the creation of a working group that would investigate the possibility of ISPs blocking access to Web sites that were deemed to be aiding in the infringement of copyright.

The idea would be that if a site is found to contain, say, a bunch of Rapidshare links for a Blu-ray rip of The King’s Speech (or whatever), the site could be flagged and ultimately the ISP could block off access to it.

Presumably you cold just use a proxy server to connect to the blocked site, then download the links using your non-proxy connection, but that’s a minor point.

The Open Rights Group, which defends “freedom, transparency and new creative possibilities” in the digital age, pretty much laughed at the idea, saying that blocking Web sites is a “bad idea,” and taking issue with it “self-regulatory basis where vital judicial oversight is bypassed.” Who will guard the guardians, that sort of thing. Do you really want to leave ultimate authority and oversight to non-accountable people?

Never mind the fact, of course, that so, so many people find their wares by way of Google. “Kings speech + torrent” or “snoop dog rapidshare.” Seems to me that’s aiding copyright infringement. Are we prepared to block access to Google, or are we willing to make an exception there?