The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has arrested a
20-year-old man in Nottingham on suspicion of copyright
infringement for running a proxy server providing access to other
sites subject to legal blocking orders.
The man was questioned by police but has been released on bail.
The arrest was made after police — with the support of the
Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) — found evidence
relating to the creation of a proxy server that provided access to
36 other websites that had been blocked for hosting illegal or
The proxy server in question is Immunicity, run by the
Torrenticity Group — as first highlighted by TorrentFreak — which was designed to unblock both torrent
sites and proxies. It required users to make a simple change to
their browser settings — adding a Proxy Auto Configuration file
(PAC) — which could then instruct your browser to send your web
traffic through different proxies depending on the URL you are
looking for. This means that you could access sites that had been
blocked by UK ISPs following High Court orders, such as The Pirate
Bay, KickassTorrents, HEET, ExtraTorrent, YiFY and EZTV. This means
that Immunicity and similar services fall foul of
anti-circumvention provisions within UK copyright law.
Now when you visit Immunicity.org, you simply see a
scary-looking takedown notice from the police, along with links to
places where you can find legitimate content. This is a bit
concerning, particularly as Immunicity doesn’t host
copyright-infringing content, it merely lets users route their
traffic through the proxy network in the same way VPNs do.
The arrest is part of the police unit’s clampdown on piracy
websites, called Operation Creative. Wired.co.uk reported on another of the operation’s measures last week,
which sees the police replace advertising banners on websites that
are found to be hosting copyright-infringing content.
“We will come down hard on people believed to be committing or
deliberately facilitating such offences,” said head of PIPCU, Andy
Copyright holders have been making applications for High Court
orders to force UK ISPs to block websites providing access to
copyright-infringing content — mainly music and movies. But
invariably these orders have been circumvented through the use of
proxy servers. But it looks as though the police has now turned its
attention to those very proxy servers. Watch out.