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High Court orders UK ISPs to block two streaming sites

UK Internet service providers [ISPs] are being forced to block two unauthorised movie-streaming sites following a High Court ruling.

The “Big Five” ISPs, made up of BT, Sky including O2, Virgin Media, EE and TalkTalk, must block SolarMovie and Tubeplus from early December after High Court Judge Lord Justice Arnold agreed with rights owners that brought the case.

A written verdict from the judge stated that "viewed from the perspective of the user, the websites do in a very real sense make the content available to the public," after ruling they should be shuttered to UK users.

The Register reports that the ruling is the first time that access to illegal streaming sites has been stopped as opposed to restricting access to torrent trackers and lockers, as has been the case in the past.

Cases against sites offering access to copyrighted content have become increasingly common in recent times with ISPs ordered to block five sites – Yify-Torrents, Project-Free TV, Primewire, Vodly and Watchfreemovies – in a case last month. Those sites must be blocked by the end of November and the list of sites has reached 25, including 13 torrent sites and 12 aggregators.

The High Court decision has been lauded by various groups representing the UK’s creative economy such as actor’s union Equity and indie producers group PACT.

"Protecting producers’ IP rights is vital to the continued growth and success of the independent television production sector. We therefore welcome the news that Motion Picture Association [MPA] has succeeded in blocking these illegal sites in the UK,” said John McVay, chief executive of PACT.

Blocking torrent and streaming sites is tricky for ISPs to carry out and the problems were laid bare in the summer when EZTV exploited a flaw in Sky’s web filters that enabled it to point UK visitors to TorrentFreak’s IP address and away from its site.

Image Credit: Flickr (Dubes)