53 piracy websites just got blocked in Singapore, but it won’t faze the internet-savvy

Regular visitors to torrent and content streaming sites such as The Pirate Bay and Solarmovie.sc will find that access to those portals (and other sites of similar piracy ilk) have been blocked.

Last month, the Singapore High Court ordered all local internet service providers (ISPs) — Singtel, StarHub, M1, MyRepublic, and ViewQwest — to block 53 piracy portals found to be “flagrantly infringing” on intellectual property. All of ‘em complied with the court order last Friday.

“This action by rights owners is necessary to protect the creative industry, enabling creators to create and keep their jobs, protect their works, and ensure the continued provision of high-quality content to audiences,” a Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) spokesman informed The Straits Times.

MPAA successfully applied to block the 53 sites under Singapore’s amended Copyright Act earlier this year — a move prompted by the association’s apparent finding that the sites are “responsible for a major portion of copyright infringement of films and television shows” here.

The move — considered the biggest action taken by copyright holders in Singapore in more than a decade — could be deemed a victory. The Pirate Bay is after all considered the de facto digital haven to search, download, and upload files, and Singapore joins the list of countries around the world that have officially ordered ISPs to block access to the notorious site.

Despite Singapore being the world’s fourth richest country, we’re also one of the world’s worst digital pirates, by the way.

 

A futile gesture

The thing about having ISPs blocking websites is that it’s easily circumvented with a little internet know-how. As pointed out by dozens of netizens, one can easily access the blocked sites by way of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), proxy servers, or a simple switch of Domain Name System (DNS). On top of that, there are mirror sites available online that would still allow folks here to gain access to torrent indexers.

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The main takeaway should be this — telling ISPs to block sites will never eradicate piracy. What it will do, however, is prevent the masses and average internet users from having easy access to those sites, and that’s probably good enough for copyright holders like MPAA. As discussed and proven in multiple cases overseas, site-blocking measures won’t stop illegal downloading, and they won’t make much of an impact in reducing copyright infringement. If the content producers and governments were actually serious in curbing digital piracy, they’d have doubled down on making *all* content available to everyone worldwide through legal, fairly-priced means.

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