ISPs Agree To Block The Pirate Bay in Iceland
Local Internet providers in Iceland have reached an agreement with entertainment industry representatives to prevent subscribers from accessing The Pirate Bay and Deildu.net. The private agreement is being subjected to heavy criticism by the Pirate Party, which is currently the most popular political party in the polls.
As the arch-rival of many copyright groups, The Pirate Bay has become one of the most censored websites on the Internet in recent years.
Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site and the list continues to expand.
This week Icelandic ISPs reached an agreement with local entertainment industry representatives to prevent subscribers from accessing the notorious torrent site.
In addition to The Pirate Bay, the Internet providers also promised to block Deildu.net, Iceland's most popular private torrent tracker.
The agreement follows a court decision from last fall when the Reykjavík District Court handed down an injunction to ISPs Vodafone and Hringdu, forcing them to block the two sites.
Iceland's local equivalent of the RIAA (STEF) wasn't satisfied with the limited scope of the order and wanted other providers to follow suit. The group set an ultimatum threatening legal action last year, but the parties eventually decided to settle the matter out of court.
The decision to block access to The Pirate Bay does not come without protest. The local Pirate Party, which is the most popular party with a third of all 'votes' in recent polls, describes it as censorship.
"We are of course against this, especially because of the circumstances," Ásta Helgadóttir, Member of Parliament for the Icelandic Pirate Party, informs TF.
The Pirate Party views a private censorship agreement between ISPs and copyright holders as a worrying development, and warns that the judicial system should not be bypassed.
"The blocking itself is currently nothing other than an inconvenience which is quite easy to circumvent with some googling or setting up a VPN. What's more serious is the way the rightsholders could bypass the judicial authority to get their censorship measures through with the ISPs," Ásta tells TF.
Instead of asking for pointless DNS blockades copyright holders should focus on negotiating better contracts with the artists they are supposed to represent.
"The real problem is the poor negotiation status of the individual artist when it comes to signing contracts. That is the real problem, not private sharing of culture," Ásta says.
According to local reports the Internet providers have agreed to block The Pirate Bay's main domain names and any new ones that subsequently arise. However, for now, many of the well known proxy sites are still available.
Recent history has shown that people who want to access blocked sites can always find a way. Circumvention tools such as TOR, VPN services or the specialized Piratebrowser are readily available and growing in popularity as blocking efforts expand.