Back in July we reported that UK Internet service provider (ISP) BT had been ordered to block access to pirate link-sharing website Newzbin 2, in what was seen as a landmark case. It was the first time an ISP has been ordered to block access to such as website.
Any hopes that the ruling could still be overturned have now been dashed, with news that BT has now been given 14 days to implement the block, reports the BBC.
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In June, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) had applied for an injunction to force BT to block its customers’ access to Newzbin 2, stating that it was targeting BT specifically as it was the UK’s largest ISP. Its success in forcing BT to block the website also means that other ISPs are likely to follow, something the MPAA has previously confirmed that it planned to pursue.
Newzbin 2 is a UK Usenet indexing website which introduced a number of new ways to help facilitate access to content on Usenet. It is a members-only site which is well known as an aggregator of illegally copied content found on Usenet forums. The original Newzbin was forced to close in 2010 in a High Court ruling, but its successor – Newzbin 2 – was quick to spring up outside of the UK’s jurisdiction. This is why the MPAA was forced to go fro the ISPs instead, as they do fall under the UK’s jurisdiction.
The case has been painted as a ‘Hollywood vs. the pirates’ scenario, with the creative industries seeking to protect their intellectual property. But it’s worth looking at a few specifics of the case. It transpires that BT has been ordered to pay the costs of implementing the block, something it had argued it should not have to do. Indeed, many would argue that just because its users are infringing on local laws, BT shouldn’t have to cover the costs of stopping it. That said, it’s difficult to see who else should be responsible for covering the cost of blocking such sites.
Chris Marcich, president and managing director of the MPAA, said he was pleased that the blocking process could begin:
“This is a win for the creative sector. Securing the intervention of the ISPs was the only way to put the commercial pirates out of reach for the majority of consumers. This move means that we can invest more in our own digital offerings, delivering higher quality and more variety of products to the consumer.”
With the creative industries arguing for years that piracy is affecting business, it seems that they now have an effective way of curtailing illegal file-sharing activity. Whilst individual lawsuits have been taken out in the past, it’s not practical to pursue the millions of people who share copyrighted material online. By targeting – successfully – the UK’s biggest ISP, they’ve now gone for the jugular and it will pave the way for many other websites to be blocked in the future.
BT will implement the block by using its CleanFeed software, which it had created initially to block websites that show images of child abuse. And interestingly, the people behind Newzbin 2 have already said that they are preparing software to help users circumvent the BT block, so this may not be over quite yet.