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Movie, TV show and publishing companies have obtained permission to block yet more piracy and piracy facilitating sites in the UK. In addition to various streaming portals, the MPA also targets a popular unblocking service. Companies involved in the publishing sector are also trying to plug holes by blocking access to workarounds for Sci-Hub and similar platforms.
For more than a decade, copyright holders have been able to file an application for High Court injunctions that compel Internet service providers to block infringing sites in the UK.
Early targets for the movie and music industries were leading platforms such as the infamous Pirate Bay but, over time, the scale of the task has expanded to include hundreds, perhaps thousands of domains.
Additional copyright holders have also blocked sites that offer live sports and publishing content such as scientific papers and books. These include proxy and mirror sites that re-enable access to previously blocked domains.
New Hollywood Domain Blocks Reported
Under the banner of the Motion Picture Association, Hollywood is perhaps the most prolific when it comes to these types of injunctions and this week ISP TalkTalk reported that a new wave of blocks has been implemented on behalf of these movie and TV show companies.
The first site on their list is project123movies.com, which sports Project Free TV branding but is unlikely to be connected to the original site of the same name. This streaming platform is currently offering all of the latest movies and TV shows, including copies of No Time To Die, which received its theatrical debut just a couple of weeks ago.
With TheWatchSeries branding, gowatchseries.online is a similar operation. In addition to offering a huge selection of movies, the site also offers TV shows, including the Netflix hit Squid Game. WatchMovie.cc, which is bannered WatchSeries 2.0, also offers a wide range of content including a large anime section, a genre increasingly popular in the UK and indeed around the world.
Yesmovies.org, yesmovies.id, and vidembed.cc (which operates under VidCloud branding) follow a similar pattern but perhaps the most significant addition is that of bflix.to, an extremely popular platform with more than 20 million monthly visits. In the UK, bflix is close to becoming the country’s 1000th most-visited site in any category, so shutting down access is an obvious choice for the MPA.
As reported yesterday, GitHub recently removed the repository and mirror website of Unblockit, a proxy service that allows people to access blocked sites.
The main website of the service used to operate from a .ws domain, which has also drawn the attention of the MPA’s members which include Netflix. As a result, additional domains to be blocked in the UK include eztv.unblockit.ws, pw.unblockit.ws, solarmovie.unblockit.ws, icefilms.unblockit.ws, and scnsrc.unblockit.ws.
Unblockit has already moved to a new domain, unblockit.kim, so it’s unclear how effective these new blocks will be. In any event, the MPA also targets fmovies.proxybit.me, which in common with Unblockit is also a blocked site proxying service.
Publishers Maintain the Pressure
The Publishers Association, a UK organization supporting members producing digital and print books, research journals and educational resources, obtained its first blocking injunction in 2015, breaking new ground for the sector. In the same year it expanded the number of targeted sites and in September increased its reach once again.
It can now add another handful of domains to its list including ebookee.unblockit.ws, freebookspot.unblockit.ws, and libgen.unblockit.ws. Again, these are domains operated by the Unblockit proxy service which, as mentioned earlier, has already moved to a new domain.
Finally, publishers Elsevier and Springer Nature are maintaining their pressure on Sci-Hub and tools that attempt to circumvent earlier blocking. By blocking scihub.unblockit.ws they hope to limit access to scientific papers and boost existing blocking measures first reported in February this year.