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Record industry could save £200m as court order extends pirate website block to mobile networks

The music industry celebrates this morning after a High Court Order forces mobile providers to start blocking pirate music websites, potentially saving the record industry £200m a year.

Website blocking acts as a powerful legal remedy for those who own and invest in copyright and brands from music, film, sports and gaming industries, whose rights are being infringed online.

The record industry has therefore been a champion of the tool, investing heavily to protect artists and fans.

The order, which was obtained by the record label trade body British Phonographic Industry, will extend the blockers to mobile networks, starting with EE; it only previously applied to users of fixed line broadband networks

In the last decade, BPI has secured multiple High Court judgments and Orders against the UK’s four biggest broadband providers – BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media – blocking over 70 illegal sites and apps, and thousands of related sites infringing music copyright.

EE is already blocking those pirate music sites on its fixed line network, but today’s news represents the first time since website blocking began in 2011 that a mobile operator has begun blocking the sites.

Ofcom data suggests that in the last quarter of 2021, UK mobile subscriptions increased to 85 million.

“There are now more mobile subscriptions than people in the UK and we want those fans to enjoy genuine music sites and be protected from illegal sites as much as they already are on their broadband and wifi,” said BPI General Counsel Kiaron Whitehead, the barrister responsible for devising and delivering the music industry’s website blocking strategy.

Whitehead added: “Mobile data connections are faster and more reliable than ever, and a quarter of people now connect to the internet over 3G, 4G and 5G rather than broadband and wi-fi. That growth brings with it the risk of increased music piracy. The operators of these pirate sites make millions of pounds a year, without a penny going to the creators of the music they exploit.

BPI have said they hope that with EE now blocking access on its mobile network, more consumers will be protected; more artists, performers, music publishers and record companies will benefit; and more music fans will be able to support their favourite artists and discover new music legally. CITY A.M.

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