Web & communication software

Pirate Bay Website Circumvents Belgian Blocking

Following a court ruling last week that ordered two Belgian ISPs to block access to the Pirate Bay, the website has set up a new domain name to help users get around the blockade.

The Belgian Court of Appeal of Antwerp ruled that ISPs Belgacom and Telenet had to set up DNS blocking for 11 Pirate Bay URLs after a case was brought by the Belgian Anti-Piracy Foundation (BAF). However the court stopped short of forcing the ISPs to monitor whether their customers circumvent the blocks.

Thus, the Pirate Bay has simply set up a new domain, depiraatbaai.be, that will redirect users accessing the Internet from a Belgian IP address.

The Pirate Bay is a Swedish website that hosts magnet links and torrent files, which allow users to share electronic files, including multimedia, computer games and software via BitTorrent, and is seen as the leading anticopyright website globally. Swedish courts convicted three men affiliated with the site of copyright law violations last year.

"We're still growing despite (or perhaps because) all their efforts," said a message on the Pirate Bay website on Thursday. "So, if you live in Belgium you should change your DNS in order to circumvent the blockage. And if you're tired of your ISP playing tricks on you, you can always just get a VPN. This also lets you access the full Internet freely wherever you are." The Pirate Bay is no stranger to blocking orders, which have come from courts in other countries as well.

Meanwhile digital civil liberties groups have criticized the court's ruling, saying that it undermines fundamental rights.

"The decision of the Antwerp Court of Appeal sets a dangerous precedent for blocking of content by Internet service providers in Belgium," said Andre Loconte, spokesman for NURPA (Net Users' Rights Protection Association). "It is incompatible with the doctrine of proportionality advocated by the European Court of Human Rights. By imposing a blockade of the Pirate Bay, the court legitimizes the censorship of all content under open license distributed through this site."

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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