The City of London Police have arrested a 20-year old man in Nottingham, alleged to be the operator of a proxy service that facilitates access to the Pirate Bay and other sites blocked under court order by the UK’s six largest ISPs.
Immunicity, an open proxy service set up as a censorship circumvention tool, was taken down on Tuesday 5th August. The site’s alleged operator was arrested some days later, and was released on bail following questioning.
In a statement relating to the take-down, the City Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) said:
The owners of the aforementioned domains are suspected to be involved in the criminal distribution of copyrighted material either directly or indirectly and are liable to prosecution under UK law for the following offences: Conspiracy to Defraud, Offences under the Fraud Act 2006, Copyright, Design & Patents Act 1988.
Head of PIPCU, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, welcomed the arrest, saying:
This week’s operation highlights how PIPCU, working in partnership with the creative and advertising industries is targeting every aspect of how copyrighting material is illegally being made available to internet users.
We will come down hard on people believed to be committing or deliberately facilitating such offences.
Although the infringing sites in question are not blocked by all UK ISPs, running a proxy service specifically designed to unblock these sites could leave one open to charges of “intentionally encourage or assist someone else committing a crime” under the Serious Crime Act 2007, according to intellectual property lawyer Darren Meale:
...There is a difference between providing Internet access generally (which ISPs do) and providing a service or website which sets out to link to another, illegal, website. An attempt to make ISPs liable for what flows through them in the same way as someone running a file-sharing site failed in Australia in a case called iiNet. I think the same distinction would be drawn in Europe and the UK.
Providing general Internet access: OK subject to exceptions such as if the ISP is hosting. But setting up a service designed to help people access illegal websites: that’s much more dubious. That’s not to say that the legal issues that surround all this are straightforward – they’re not.
– Darren Meale, speaking to Torrentfreak
For more information, see:
- PIPCU arrest Nottingham man believed to be running proxy server – City of London Police
- Piracy police arrest Nottingham man, 20 – BBC News
- City Of London Police Arrest Creator Of Anti-Censorship Proxy Service Based On Hollywood’s Say So – Techdirt
- Exploring the Legal Basis for the New ‘Pirate’ Proxy War - Torrentfreak