UK ISP BT ordered to block access to pirate link-sharing site in landmark case

UK ISP BT ordered to block access to pirate link-sharing site in landmark case

A UK High Court judge has ruled that BT must block access to Newzbin 2, a popular platform for sharing pirated movie links.

The BBC reports that Justice Arnold ruled that BT had ‘actual’ knowledge of people using the service to infringe copyright, noting that:

“It knows that the users and operators of Newzbin2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of the Studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes. It knows that the users of Newzbin2 include BT subscribers, and it knows those users use its service to receive infringing copies of copyright works made available to them by Newzbin2.”

It emerged last month that the Motion Picture Association (MPA) had applied for an injunction to force BT to cut off its customers’ access to Newzbin, stating that it was targeting BT specifically as it was the UK’s largest Internet Service Provider (ISP).

News that MPA has won its case means that this is a landmark moment – it’s the first time that an ISP has been ordered to block access to such as website. It could also mean that other ISPs will follow, an avenue that MPA has said it plans to pursue, and it could mean that other similar sites will be blocked in the future too.

Aggregation sites such as Newzbin have grown in popularity, and they’re seen as an alternative to traditional peer-to-peer downloading methods.

Newzbin is a UK Usenet indexing website, and it introduced a number of new tools that help facilitate access to content on Usenet. Newzbin is a member-only website, and it’s well known as an aggregator of illegally copied content found on Usenet discussion forums.

The original Newzbin was forced to close last year in a High Court ruling, but a new version of the website – Newzbin 2 – was quickly set up outside of the UK’s direct jurisdiction. And this is why MPA has had to go for the ISPs.

Chris Marcich, President and Managing Director (EMEA), MPA said:

“This ruling from Justice Arnold is a victory for millions of people working in the UK creative industries and demonstrates that the law of the land must apply online. This court action was never an attack on ISPs but we do need their co-operation to deal with the Newzbin site which continually tries to evade the law and judicial sanction. Newzbin is a notorious pirate website which makes hundreds of thousands of copyrighted products available without permission and with no regard for the law.”

Justice Arnold said that BT must use CleanFeed – which it has traditionally used to block access to websites featuring child abuse – to prevent its users accessing Newzbin.

The fact that an ISP has been ordered to block access to an aggregation website is likely to have massive implications, and it has set a precedent that could pave the way for many similar injunctions in the future.

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