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MPA wants BT to block Newzbin, Hotfile fights user data disclosure request

Another push by the copyright cartels
Mon Jun 27 2011, 14:12

THE MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION (MPA) is attempting to get internet service providers (ISPs) to block the private filesharing network Newzbin, while file hosting service Hotfile is fighting off attempts to force it to disclose user data.

British Telecom (BT) is the primary target of the MPA's attention, chosen for its dominance in the UK market. The MPA also cited BT's Cleanfeed web site blocking system, which means it won't have to add new technology to ban access to Newzbin.

BT is prepared to fight this in court, but since this is a legal dispute it was reluctant to go into detail about why it does not agree with the MPA's request.

The MPA claimed that if it obtains an injunction against BT then it "would hope that other ISPs would take note". If they don't, there will likely be further lawsuits to ensure all British broadband providers block Newzbin.

A spokesperson for Newzbin going by the name Mr White, presumably a reference to the Tarantino film Resevoir Dogs, told The Telegraph that efforts to close Newzbin would ultimately fail, adding "we can run faster than them and shapeshift." We imagine this means it will simply move and operate under a new name if the courts rule against it, an approach it used before when a previous version was closed down.

Enforcing blocks at the ISP level means that Newzbin can be made less of a threat without having to chase after the filesharing entity itself, an approach that has proven fruitless to date.

The original Newzbin was brought down after a High Court ruling, but it reappeared overseas under the name Newzbin2 with new management, angering the MPA into considering new legal action.

Meanwhile, Hotfile is being targeted by the US wing of the MPA, the MPAA, in an attempt to force it to reveal details about its users, who might or might not be infringing copyrights.

Hotfile classified the MPAA's request as "murder by litigation," which probably isn't an exaggeration when we see what the MPAA wants - all hosted file data, all user data, all business partner data, all source code, and all financial data for the company itself.

According to Torrent Freak, Hotfile has a history of making settlements instead of fighting off lawsuits, but that doesn't stop it from refusing to hand over potentially incriminating and privacy invading information of its users and affiliates.

Hotfile is willing to agree to most of the MPAA's requests, but when it comes to user details it has redacted the information to protect their identities, which is vitally important if it wants to keep its user base. This will likely be an argument against disclosing the information in court, as the revelation could have a seriously damaging impact on its business, not to mention the privacy implications.

Hotfile is also not happy to part with its source code, claiming that it is a trade secret. It's not really clear why the MPAA considers this relevant to the case, but it will definitely put Hotfile at a disadvantage if its source code is publicly revealed. µ


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