Microsoft blocks Pirate Bay links

28/03/2012

Microsoft has begun blocking links to The Pirate Bay's website on its Windows Live Messenger platform. The software giant claimed that it had acted to combat malware, rather than piracy. Users who attempt to add The Pirate Bay links to their messages prompt a warning saying that: "The link you tried to send was blocked because it was reported as unsafe."

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The Pirate Bay claims to be the world's "largest bittorrent tracker", offering users the ability to download illegal copies of films, music and software.

However, it also hosts magnetic links to lawfully available material - such as music uploaded by unsigned bands - which is also subject to the block.

The company’s full statement can be read below:

Windows Live Messenger is set up to help ensure customers receive IMs only from people whose IMs are welcome and has long had the capability to block certain content from being transmitted in an effort to protect our customers. Before anyone can send customers an IM, those customers must first agree to add the sender to their Contact list; this helps protect customers from unwanted IMs from strangers and from annoyances such as spam and spim (spam via IM).
In addition, we use SmartScreen technology to protect our customers from malicious and unwanted content including phishing, malware and spam. We block instant messages if they contain malicious or spam URLs based on intelligence algorithms, third-party sources, and/or user complaints. Pirate Bay URLs were flagged by one or more of these and were consequently blocked.

Microsoft has declined to comment on any further plans to block links from other torrent sites.

The news is the latest setback for The Pirate Bay. Earlier this month a Swedish company which hosts the site's web address said it had been contacted by the country's Prosecution Authority and police for information about the organisation.

The move prompted speculation that the authorities might be seeking to shut the site down, following an earlier court case that found its original administrators guilty of helping people circumvent copyright controls.

Users in the UK may also face a wider ban later this year. The High Court plans to announce in June whether internet service providers should block access to the site. It has already ruled that the organisation facilitates copyright infringement.

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