A UK JUDGE has ordered BT to block access to filesharing web site Newzbin2 in a landmark decision that could affect thousands of users.
Justice Arnold of the High Court of Justice in London said, "In my judgment it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright: it knows that the users and operators of Newzbin 2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of the studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes."
He ruled that BT, which claimed it had no responsibility for how people use its service, must now block access to Newzbin2. He said his decision was "proportionate ... necessary and appropriate".
The judge rejected all seven of BT's arguments against blocking the service, including its assertion that blocking would effectively mean it was required to monitor users. It also asked for the decision to be deferred to Europe, but this was also rejected.
This is a major victory for the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and a huge loss for the filesharing community, particularly those who share legitimate files.
"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," said Chris Marcich, president and managing director for the EMEA region at the MPA. "This court action was never an attack on ISPs but we do need their cooperation to deal with the Newzbin site which continually tries to evade the law and judicial sanction."
The INQUIRER spoke with Loz Kaye, leader of the UK Pirate Party, who was critical of the ruling. "This is a terrible day for ordinary British Internet users. The judgement sets a worrying precedent for internet censorship. This is the thin end of a very large wedge. It also leaves the coalition's internet policy in disarray. It appears that our digital rights are to be determined by Hollywood, not parliament."
The threat of internet censorship is serious, as this ruling will likely set a precedent in law where other web sites can be blocked, both by BT and by smaller ISPs. The potential for this to be abused is significant, so it's no surprise that the MPA's win has met with vocal criticism from internet freedom advocates.
The original Newzbin was closed after a High Court ruling, but it reappeared under a new name and new management, moving its servers overseas to avoid prosecution. This led to the latest case, which no longer seeks to close Newzbin2, but simply block it at all the major ISPs around the world.
It is not known at time of writing whether BT will seek to appeal this decision. µ
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