Virgin Media, BSkyB Must Block File-Sharing Sites: Judge

Virgin Media Inc., British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc, BT Group Plc and other U.K. Internet service providers must block access to three music file-sharing sites, a court ruled.

Users and operators of KAT, H33T and Fenopy infringed 10 music companies’ copyrights “on an industrial scale,” Judge Richard Arnold said in a written ruling handed down today. The record labels included Sony Corp.’s British unit.

The U.K. music industry has had some success pressing providers to block or restrict access to so-called BitTorrent sites to protect dwindling revenues. Last year a U.K. court ruled The Pirate Bay, based in Sweden, was used to infringe copyrights and ordered four ISPs to block it.

“The growth of digital music in the U.K. is held back by a raft of illegal businesses commercially exploiting music online without permission,” Geoff Taylor, chief executive officer of the British Recorded Music Industry group BPI, said in an e-mailed statement. “Blocking illegal sites helps ensure that the legal digital market can grow.”

An e-mail sent to the press room of KAT, the full name of which contains an expletive, didn’t receive an immediate response.

Virgin Media “supports the clear, legal framework put in place to protect against copyright infringement and we continue to comply with court orders specifically addressed to the company,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

BT said in an e-mailed statement it has consistently stated copyright infringement is wrong and copyright holders should use the courts to enforce their legal rights. It will comply with the ruling.

The case is: Emi Records Limited & Ors v. British Sky Broadcasting Limited & Ors, U.K. High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, case no. HC12F04958.

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