Well, this is interesting. As the debate over CISPA rages on here at home, content providers seem to be getting their way in Europe. BBC News reports that the High Court of England and Wales has ordered major British ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay.
The court order was apparently made at the behest of the British Phonographic Industry—the local equivalent of the RIAA. Here's how it went down: in November 2011, the BPI asked Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2, and Virgin Media to cut off their users from the notorious BitTorrent tracker. The ISPs refused, saying they wouldn't block the site unless a court order was issued. Five months later, here we are.
Intellectual property stalwarts are praising the move, of course, but other folks are understandably unsettled. The UK's Pirate Party (yes, it's a real thing) claims the block will "not put any extra pennies into the pockets of artists." It also states, "The truth is that we are on a slippery slope towards internet censorship here in the United Kingdom."
Oh, sure, it's always easy to pull the old slippery slope argument—but in this case, I'm inclined to agree. Today's Internet is rife with blogs and social media sites that have very fuzzy notions of what constitutes proper attribution and respect for copyright law. Even YouTube is packed with unlicensed content (including full-length movies) that have slipped under Google's radar. If we start to block every site that infringes on copyrights, I reckon much of the Internet is going to go dark.
Update 5/3/2012: This story originally attributed the decision to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which was incorrect. The decision was actually made by the High Court of England and Wales. Apologies for the mix-up.
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