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A new push from US Lawmakers is aimed at site blocking for popular streaming sites including websites that provide Movies and TV Shows.
This comes after the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing regarding online piracy.
Numerous big hitters were involved including representatives from the MPA (Motion Picture Association), UFC, and even an award-winning film producer.
The CCIA (Computer & Communications Industry Association) was also present representing various Internet Service Providers.
During the hearing, Committee Chairman Darrell Issa noted the widespread challenges they face to combat piracy including operations outside of their jurisdiction.
Many of these pirate websites like Fmovies are hosted on servers that exist outside the United States, currently outside our ability to take them down. This creates unique judicial challenges for enforcement against widespread piracy on such websites.
In some cases, these websites are even hosted within foreign governments, like the Russian government on military bases, and other enemies of the United States..
It is unclear whether or not these statements regarding military bases are accurate as there is no evidence to support this claim and Russia implements very strict anti-piracy measures.
Mr. Issa did call out one streaming site by name, FMovies, which is a well-known Movie and TV Show streaming site located in Vietnam.
In fact, MPA Senior Executive Vice President Kary Temple displayed a live demonstration of the website focusing on the vast library of content available.
This includes various movies and TV Shows that are yet to even be released in the United States.
She stated in her testimony the simplicity of the website as well as the amount of visitors the site receives which is upwards of 160 million people per month.
Anyone can simply type the Fmovies URL into their favorite browser today and an extremely professional and legitimate-looking site pops up. You can literally scroll through thousands of movies and television shows including this year’s Blockbusters and even movies that have not yet hit theaters.
“You’ll see all of our top-rated Blockbusters and popular films. Here you see coming up Wonka, which won’t be out in the United States theaters until this Friday.
As many know, there are thousands of websites available on the internet today located in hundreds of different countries that provide content including Movies and TV Shows without the proper copyright authority.
Site Blocking Measures
While there have been attempts in the past to remove these sites, it is oftentimes difficult since most of them are based outside of the United States.
This leads many to believe that site blocking is the only course of action available to take to try and divert people from accessing these websites.
Temple made the following comments regarding site-blocking measures and why they are important:
If we had site blocking in the United States, as we do in the 16 other countries where versions of this site have been blocked already, then this piracy site’s U.S. traffic would have plummeted, protecting us consumers and the US creative sector, while removing the financial incentives for piracy..
It’s beyond time for Congress to revisit no-fault injunctive relief to combat blatant forms of piracy.
The adversary of these site-blocking measures was CCIA President Matthew Schruers who noted the problems that can occur when these are in place.
The biggest issue with site-blocking measures, he pointed out, was overreach including restricting access to legal, verified sources which has occurred in the past.
The blunt instrument of architectural regulation is particularly inappropriate for policing subject matter like copyright..
There exists a long history of site-blocking injunctions leading to overreach. This includes examples of overblocking restricting access to thousands of websites, without evidence or process. It is simply not possible to craft a uniquely American, speech-protecting site-blocking regime.
He specifically noted the inadvertent blocking of Spofity in the House of Representatives over 10 years ago.
This did not stop others from chiming in on the situation as U.S. Representative Ted Lieu noted the absence of Internet Providers from the hearing.
He called for an immediate blockade of FMovies and asked that members of the CCIA appear in a future hearing:
I just went on my phone and went on Fmovies and it’s still up. And I can watch Willy Wonka for free without paying for it. Why don’t the online service providers block it right now, like today?
This is such an unreasonable case it is so clearly online piracy copyright infringement and you don’t want your organization and your members to be defending something so blatantly unlawful and unreasonable. So I just ask your members to block that site today.
In closing of the hearing, Mr. Issa noted that if US Customs can stop pirated goods from getting into the United States, why can’t the same blockades be made for online goods?
The internet of course is not a physical item and therefore nothing is imported into the US regarding these online movie sites.
What About VPNs?
While there are currently numerous countries that implement site-blocking measures, this is not always a foolproof plan.
As you can expect, a quality VPN has the ability to encrypt a user’s connection to the Internet making it impossible for the Internet Service provider to determine what he/she is accessing so a block doesn’t work. Also, VPN users can simply change their geo-location and ultimately avoid these measures by altering their online location.
The only way we see site blocking making a big impact is if the VPNs are required to block access to these sites as well which is a long stretch.
It is important to note however that numerous VPN Companies are located overseas including our #1 VPN Provider which makes it unlikely that this will occur anytime soon.
Digital Copyright Piracy Hearing Video
As usual, these brilliant US lawmakers are out of touch and wasting tax dollars on something that will never amount to anything. How about telling your MPA friends (donors) to get in touch with reality and shift to a business model like Spotify which cut down on music piracy dramatically? If the price is right and the platform is convenient, people will pay for the media that they consume.
We want to know what you think of the latest US Subcommittee Hearing. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!
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