The record industry in Britain is celebrating a recent win in its legal battle against The Pirate Bay, after the High Court of Justice Chancery Division ruled that the site was and in essence continues to be an illegal operation.  In the written judgment, [2012]  EWHC 268 (Ch) (20 February 2012), Pirate Bay describes itself as “the world’s largest bittorent tracker.  Bittorent is a file-sharing protocol that in a reliable way enables big and fast file transfers.” The claimants, represented by British Recorded Music Industry Ltd (BPI) and Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), included nine record companies: Dramatico Entertainment Ltd, EMI Records Ltd, Polydor Ltd, Rough Trade Records Ltd, Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd, Virgin Records Ltd, Warner Music UK Ltd, and 679 Recordings Ltd.  BPI sought and won an injunction against Pirate Bay under section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (the 1988 Act), which implements Article 8(3) of European Parliament and Council Directive 2001/29/EC of 22 May 2001 on aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (as describeed in the Information Society Directive).

The defendants included: British Sky Broadcasting Ltd., British Telecommunications PLC, Everything Everywhere Ltd., Talk Talk Telecom Group PLC, Telefonica UK Ltd. and Virgin Media LTD. They are six main internet service providers (ISPs) with a fixed line market share of nearly 94% of UK internet users.  Although the defendants failed to attend the hearing or to obtain representation, this judgment requires thems to take measures to block or impede access by their customers to Pirate Bay, a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing website.

As also reported by the1709blog.blogspot.com,  Justice Richard David Arnold made a distinction in his 84-page written judgment regarding Pirate Bay’s communication to the public between claims advanced by claimants in 20C Fox v Newzbin, [2010] EWHC 608 (Ch) (29 March 2010) and the assertions in this caase. In pertinent parts, the judgment states:

[paragraph 44] In 20C Fox v Newzbin, the claimants did not contend that the users had communicated the works to the public. By contrast, in the present case the claimants do contend that the users of [Pirate Bay] are communicating the copyright works to the public, but for present purposes do not contend that the operators of TPB are doing so.

[paragraph 81] In my judgment, the operators of [Pirate Bay] do authorize its users’ infringing acts of copying and communication to the public.  They do far beyond merely enabling or assisting.  On any view, they ‘sanction, approve and countenance’ the infringements of copyright committed by its users. But in my view they also purport to grant users the right to do the acts complained of.  It is no defense that they openly defy the rights of the copyright owners.  I would add that I consider the present case to be indistinguishable from 20C Fox v. Newzbin in this respect.  If anything, it is a stronger case.”

[paragraph 84] both users and the operators of [Pirate Bay] infringe the copyrights of the Claimants (and those they represent) in the UK.

In yet another article regarding this case, Musicweek.com reports that Geoff Taylor, the chief for BPI, responded to the ruling with the remarks below:

The high court today ruled that the Pirate Bay is illegal.  The site defrauds musicians and causes high damage to the music industry and wider creative industries.  The ruling helps clarify the law on website blocking and we will now proceed without application to have the site blocked to protect the UK’s creative industries from further harm.

A hearing is schedule in June to decide how and which ISPs should block Pirate Bay’s site.