Torrentz.eu, a well-known file sharing website accused of illegally distributing copyright property, was shuttered by in England by police.

UK copyright cops actively close offending web sites

The Police and Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) in the UK suspended the web site domain, coming after Torrentz.eu had been banned in the UK along with 21 other sites in October.

The UK’s copyright cops, PIPCU, has claimed it has shut down 2,500 websites that were selling fake branded merchandise, such as purses, bags and cloths, as well as those sites that had violated copyright for movies, music and publications.  The domain blocking was first reported on the website Torrentfreak.

Blocking the sites is done by local internet service providers.  “We’ve received court orders requiring us to block a further 21 file-sharing sites found to be infringing on copyright,” an ISP spokesperson was quoted as saying.  “As a responsible ISP we obey court orders addressed to the company.”

Austrian court sets copyright blocking precedent

In May the European Court affirmed the rights of governments to block web sites construed of violating copyright. In a higher court ruling regarding movie rights reaffirmed an Austrian court that ruled in favor of two firms that held copyrights asked an Austrian judges to restrict access to a website where their movies could be downloaded and viewed for free.  The two firms were asked the Austrian courts to prohibit UPC Telekabel Wien, an internet service provider, from providing access to the offending websites. Past court rulings had opposed using internet service providers in a policing role.  The court had initially ruled against ISPs being required to police web sites and block users for copyright infringement.

“An ISP which allows its customers to access protected subject-matter, made available to the public on the internet by a third party, is an intermediary whose services are used to infringe a copyright,” reads a court issued comment on the matter.

The Austrian precedent setting case does not mandate a filtering activity by the internet service provider.  ISPs will only be asked to police issues that have been brought to their attention by copyright holders and will not be required to initiate their own content monitoring.

Back in the UK, the PIPCU is confident regarding their position. “In the eight months since launching we have suspended more than 2,500 infringing websites is further evidence of the expertise of our officers and the level of their commitment to clamp down on IP crime,” PIPCU DCI Andy Fyfe was quoted as saying. “Consumers also need to be aware that by accessing websites like this they are running the risk of their personal details being compromised and being used for other fraudulent scams, as well as the exposing their computer to malicious malware.”