It is difficult to stop websites promoting infringing activities as the people behind those sites are hard to track down. Blocking orders attempt to deal with this problem by requiring internet service providers to block access to the relevant websites. They were first sought by record labels and film distributors who were seeking to prevent the unauthorised distribution of music and films via the web.
The orders came to prominence with the blocking of the Pirate Bay, but the orders have also been used to block access to sites streaming football matches and selling counterfeit luxury goods.
The High Court noted last year that the blocking orders had resulted in a marked and sustained drop in traffic to the blocked websites. However, there still remains a question of the long term effectiveness of this tactic as for every website that is blocked, a duplicate website is likely to be created at a separate ISP address within a matter of days. It may assist in steering those who are looking for the products to purchase legally away from the blocked providers, but for those specifically searching for pirated of counterfeited goods, the overall effect is likely to be limited.
The blocking injunctions also have the added benefit of keeping the issue of piracy in the limelight, showing to government and the public at large that the industry as a whole is trying to deal with these issues (but without targeting users who may also be consumers).
Whilst the process is now much more streamlined and the costs of obtaining the remedy have decreased, the ongoing costs of maintaining an up to date list of ISP addresses means that realistically blocking injunctions are only available to those with a significant music or film catalogue or to very successful or luxury brands.
UK internet service providers have been asked to block access to dozens of URLs that are suspected of linking to pirated content.
Content providers regularly update the lists of sites they want blocked and the latest one includes popular file-sharing index Demonoid.
The list was started in 2012 when ISPs were forced to block access to the Pirate Bay.
At least 23 new URLs are on the latest list being sent to the main UK ISPs.