Earlier today TorrentFreak reported that users of Irish ISP UPC would not be able to access BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay and will instead be met with a notice telling them the site has been blocked following a court order. This is what several UPC subscribers saw when they attempted to go on TPB site:
“The Pirate Bay has been blocked. The website you are trying to reach is currently unavailable. Further to a request from IRMA, the Irish Courts have ordered UPC to block access to The Pirate Bay website.”
The court order that seemed to be forcing UPC to block TPB was clandestine, little was reported about it in the press and it was allegedly brought about by Ireland’s equivalent of the RIAA – the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA).
The block has come as something of a surprise as in the past UPC has opposed blockades of this nature and won a landmark battle against the IRMA in 2010 winning the right to refuse to implement its proposed 3-strike system against file-sharers. Just 2 years ago, the High Court ruled in favor of UPC stating that there were no laws demanding website blockades or file-sharers to be cut off.
Users started seeing the blockade notice for the first time yesterday, but the number of people who saw this message was relatively few to begin with. As the day went on more and more people reported seeing the notice.
TorrentFreak states that they were unable to find a public record of the court ruling, which seems to contradict the 2010 High Court verdict.
However not long after posting an article about the Irish blockade, TorrentFreak received a message from UPC stating that the blockade was just a test. The statement reads:
“UPC Ireland’s position has not changed. UPC is not required by any court or authority to block the pirate bay and does not intend to voluntarily block the pirate bay. Periodically testing is carried out across our European network which may have been observed by Irish customers.”
It would explain why TorrentFreak could find no record of the court ruling but does not necessarily explain why UPC chose to mention a court order or the IRMA on their redirect page. Did I fall asleep for the last 6 months and wake up on April Fools’ Day?
You can completely understand that people would not be inclined to doubt that the ‘UPC’ test was actually real as it follows similar blockades after court orders in numerous other European countries including the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Finland.
How incredibly bizarre!