In what some quarters are worried could lead to a dangerous trend, BT have been ordered to block file sharing website Newzbin 2 by a High Court Judge in London. The website is alleged to provide links to pirated movies and is a victory for the Hollywood studios.
The ruling could lead to other websites being blocked in an attempt to crackdown on internet piracy, and is the first time an ISP has been made to prevent access to such a site. The BBC is reporting that the Judge Justice Arnold said “In my judgment it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright”.
The Motion Picture Association was responsible for bringing the case against the UKs biggest broadband provider, and will be back in court in October to sort out how the blocking will actually work. The ruling won’t be opposed by BT and describes it as “helpful”.
President of the Film Distributers Association Lord Puttnam said that they now “have a way to deal with rogue sites which will benefit the film industry”. BT said in a statement “It clearly shows that rights holders need to prove their claims and convince a judge to make a court order. BT has consistently said that rights holders need to take this route”.
Sites similar to Newzbin 2 have grown in popularity with people who want to download free content instead of traditional peer-to peer downloading methods. Previously a court ruled that Newzbin 2s predecessor must stop directing people to free content, but a new site was quickly started away from the UK laws.
BT will now have to use its CleanFeed technology that is currently used to stop child abuse websites, to stop access to the Newzbin 2 website. But before the ruling was passed Newzbin 2 threatened to break the BT filters. A BT spokesman responded by saying “We would be appalled if any group were to try to sabotage this technology as it helps to protect the innocent from highly offensive and illegal content”.
The Internet Service Provider’s Association has often been criticizing web blocking, and feels the technology used to stop images of child abuse won’t be up to the job of stopping websites such as Newzbin 2. The recent Digital Economy Act which allows ISPs to write letters to users downloading pirated content has been called unenforceable by the likes of BT and TalkTalk.
If users continue and ignore warnings they could then face court action, but the British Government is looking into widespread website blocking. This includes the idea of a voluntary scheme between the rights holders and ISPs.