Pirate websites could be blocked without court intervention

The UK government is considering introducing extrajudicial pirate website blocking so that rightsholders will not have to go to the High Court every time they want a site taken down.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) announced in a press release yesterday that the pressure is growing on producers of ‘illegal streaming devices and thieves of paid-for content.’

The government will explore further measures to prevent damage to the creative industries – worth £92bn – caused by the ‘theft of intellectual property’.

Confirmed measures include ‘considering the evidence for and potential impact of administrative site blocking (as opposed to requiring a High Court injunction in every case), as well as identifying the mechanisms through which administrative site blocking could be introduced.’

The press release also focused on the subject of media streaming boxes such as Android TV or Kodi boxes. The boxes are legal until they are altered with apps or add-ons that allow users to access ‘paid for’ material for free.

Highlighting the continued clampdown on users and providers of illegal streaming boxes, minister for Intellectual Property, Sam Gyimah, said: ‘Illegal streaming damages our creative industries. We have always been clear that media streaming devices used to access ‘paid for’ material for free are illegal.

‘Recent prosecutions have shown that if caught, sellers of boxes adapted in this way face fines and a prison sentence,’ he said.

In November 2017, the IPO published guidance on illicit streaming devices (ISD), stating that Kodi and other illegal IPTV set-top boxes and sticks should be avoided.