The UK's High Court has ordered local internet service providers to block popular filesharing site The Pirate Bay, which would prevent users in the country from accessing the piracy hub.
While there are countless filesharing websites on the internet, The Pirate Bay is one of the most visible. Since 2003, the Swedish site has hosted BitTorrent files that enable users to share and download pirated video games, among other digital media.
BitTorrent files were to blame for nearly 4 million unauthorized downloads of Electronic Arts and Crytek's Crysis 2 last year -- many of which occurred a month before the game even shipped. Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and EA's Battlefield 3 were both downloaded around 3.5 million times each from BitTorrent files hosted on The Pirate Bay and similar sites in 2011.
Now users in Britain will have one less site to download BitTorrent files from, as local ISPs are required to block The Pirate Bay in the next few weeks, the BBC reports. Local record companies previously attempted to convince ISPs to voluntarily block the site last year, but those providers claimed they couldn't do so without a court order.
The Pirate Party UK, a political party supporting copyright reforms, commented that this move could set a dangerous precedent. "Unfortunately, the move to order blocking on The Pirate Bay comes as no surprise," said party leader Loz Kaye. "The truth is that we are on a slippery slope towards internet censorship here in the United Kingdom."
ISPs in other countries have blocked The Pirate Bay in the past after orders from their respective courts or governments, including Malaysia, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, and others. The founders of the site were even fined millions and sentenced to serve a year in prison each in Sweden several years ago, but that did not cease The Pirate Bay's operations.