Premier League copyright battle prevents access to innocent sites

Internet surfers have been wrongly forbidden access to hundreds of sites due to an unrelated battle to stop copyright infringement of live football coverage.

Hundreds of websites including the Radio Times have been blocked as a result of the ongoing fight between the Premier League and First Row Sports, a site that offers live streaming of football matches.

"It's outrageous that our website has been suddenly switched off and our users wrongly informed that it's to protect against copyright infringement. "The Premier League seems to be behaving like the worst sort of blundering striker who's forgotten the first rule of football - check you're at the right end before you shoot,” Radio Times editor Ben Preston told the BBC.

The sites involved were blocked as they share an IP address with the site. The problem occurred when users typed in “radiotimes.com” as opposed to “www.radiotimes.com” which was also the case with other sites.

The Premier League reportedly only became aware of the issue when the BBC informed them and that it was “urgently” looking into the matter.

Other sites that were blocked include football clubs Blackburn Rovers, Brentford and Reading, in addition to Notes from Nature and Galaxy Zoo.

First Row Sports is being blocked after the Premier League obtained a court order from the High Court that bans access to the site. Under the ruling the Premier League, as a rights holder, provides ISPs with the IP addresses that need to be blocked and the ISPs have “no obligation” to check they are correct.

The owners of a torrent news site flagged a similar problem up earlier this week when Sky broadband users were prevented from accessing Torrent Freak due to EZTV exploiting a flaw in Sky’s web filters.

High Court rulings are also in place to prevent access to other sites including YIFY, The Pirate Bay, Fenopy, and Newzbin2 after the right holders had complained of copyright infringement.

Image Credit: Flickr (tEdits)