Monday, June 24, 2024

IPOPHL issues first site-blocking request against NZ-based piracy sites

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has issued its first site-blocking request against 11 domains and subdomains under the YTS brand, one of the top piracy websites in the world.

IPOPHL deputy director general Nathaniel S. Arevalo signed the request on May 3, 2024 after a decision was issued on May 2, 2024 by IPOPHL’s IP Rights Enforcement Office (IEO) supervising director Christine Pangilinan-Canlapan.

The IEO found that the 11 sites associated to YTS, namely yts.mx, yts.rs, yts.do, ytsuproxy.to, yts.dirproxy.com, yts.unblocked.love, ytssss.jamsbase.com, yts.lt, yts.ag, yts.am and torrents.yts.rs., all committed piracy or copyright infringement, violating Section 216 of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, as well as Memorandum Circular 23-025 or the Rules on Voluntary Administrative Site Blocking.

“A thorough examination reveals that all of the aforementioned websites are hosting pirated versions of movies or TV shows, allowing users to access these illegal copies by downloading them through links on the same website or by streaming them online,” read the IEO decision.

Infringers were operating by using various methods to distribute and access copyrighted material illegally, including via peer-to-peer networks for sharing files, hosting content on illegal streaming websites, distributing files via direct downloads and using tools like virtual private networks (VPNs) to hide their activities.

According to the decision, the websites under complaint are also listed in the WIPO Alert, a data-sharing platform on piracy of the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The YTS is the official home of New Zealand-based YIFY, one of the world’s most prolific sites involved in the illegal replication and distribution of copyright content. A 2015 report from the Motion Picture Association (MPA) of America said the site has a library of some 4,500 infringing motion picture titles.

“Millions of netizens visit this website so this a major win for the creative industry. We encourage more stakeholders to come forward, file a complaint and further disrupt access to piracy websites,” IPOPHL director general Rowel S. Barba said.

The issuance stemmed from a complaint filed by the MPA, which cited IPOPHL for its first site-blocking request.

“This site blocking order and forthcoming blocking actions will have a substantial impact on the Philippines piracy landscape. We will continue to work closely with the Philippines’ government and creative industry in the fight against the scourge of digital piracy,” the MPA said in a statement.

The MPA’s member studios include Netflix, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal City Studios, Disney, and Warner Bros., among others.

As to the administrators of the pirated sites, they could not be contacted as they are unknown or could not be ascertained after reasonable efforts to identify them. Hence, as a way of notification according to the rules on site-blocking, IPOPHL posted the request on its website.

After giving respondents five working days to respond or raise any protest against the decision, IPOPHL served the site-blocking request to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Internet service providers (ISPs) on May 14.

The NTC issued on May 16 a memorandum order directing all ISPs to effect the immediate blocking of the websites and report within five days the actions they have taken.

As of May 18, almost all ISPs that are signatories to the site-blocking memorandum of understanding have cut access to the sites. — Janina Lim, IPOPHL Information Officer III

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