Originally started in Sweden in 2003, The Pirate Bay hosts download links to free video and music. It claims to be the largest of its kind, with more than 5.5 million registered users and over 4 million torrent files. It it estimated that around 3.7 million Britons are Pirate Bay users, according to ComScore
, and Alexa
consistently ranks it in the 100 most popular websites in the world.
In a battle over copyright law, the U.K. High Court has ruled that The Pirate Bay must be blocked by Broadband providers Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media. According to reports, the ruling will take effect within weeks.
In a statement
on the case, the British Phonographic Industry (BP) said: “Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists."
The case follows a decision in February that the website and its users are infringing on British copyright law.
was welcomed by music and film producers, who have complained of lost profits due to free downloading of their content.
BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor spoke about the case, "The High Court has confirmed that The Pirate Bay
infringes copyright on a massive scale. Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them.
"This is wrong – musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else."
However, this decision by the High Court has angered digital and civil rights groups. Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group has said in a statement, “Blocking The PirateBay is pointless and dangerous. It will fuel calls for further, wider and even more drastic calls for Internet censorship of many kinds, from pornography to extremism,”
"Internet censorship is growing in scope and becoming easier. Yet it never has the effect desired. It simply turns criminals into heroes."
Opponents to the law state that the website does not actually infringe copyright, as no content is hosted by the site and that it functions in a similar way to Google.
However, the U.K. court found that its operators “actively encourage” copyright infringement.