LONDON - Britain's High Court has ordered the country's Internet service providers to block file-sharing website The Pirate Bay, the U.K.'s main music industry association said Monday.
A High Court judge told Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media on Friday to prevent access to the Swedish site, which helps millions of people download copyrighted music, movies and computer games.
Music industry group BPI welcomed the order by justice Richard Arnold that the service providers block the site within the next few weeks.
BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said sites like The Pirate Bay "destroy jobs in the U.K. and undermine investment in new British artists."
The service providers said they would comply with the order. A sixth provider, BT, has been given several weeks to consider its position, but BPI said it expected BT would also block the website.
Providers who refuse could find themselves in breach of a court order, which can carry a large fine or jail time.
Monday's announcement follows a February ruling by the same judge that the operators and users of The Pirate Bay have "a common design to infringe" the copyright of music companies.
The Pirate Bay has been a thorn in the side of the entertainment industry for years. In 2010, a Swedish appeals court upheld the copyright infringement convictions of three men behind the site, but it remains in operation.
The website, which has more than 20 million users around the world, does not host copyright-protected material itself, but provides a forum for its users to download content through so-called torrent files. The technology allows users to transfer parts of a large file from several different users, increasing download speeds.
Defenders of such sites say old creative industry business models have been overtaken by technology that allows music, movies and games to be acquired at the touch of a finger on computers, tablets, phones and other devices.
Both O2 and Virgin said banning orders against copyright-breaching sites had to be accompanied by other measures that reflected consumers' behaviour.
O2 said in a statement that "music rights holders should continue to develop new online business models to give consumers the content they want, how they want it, for a fair price."