UK court: ISPs are responsible for downloaders

ISPs will have to do more to help content owners protect their content online following a High Court ruling. In a case brought by a group of film studios including Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros, the judge found that Newzbin, a private online forum, was liable for its members' copyright infringement when they used the site to download movies and TV shows.

Newzbin argued that it was no more responsible for copyright infringement than Google is, but the judge said its knowledge of the downloading meant it shared responsibility.

Wiggin, the law firm that represented the studios, said that the ruling set a new precedent. “It doesn't mean that the judgment only has application to sites of this particularly egregious type,” it told the FT. Many websites seek to avoid liability by relying on precedents that pre-date the web. But now, any site which is actively promoting links to infringing content – which could include video streaming sites – could be held liable for the copyright infringement of their users, said the firm.

“[it doesn't mean] ISPs need to be proactive [in policing content on their networks] but the judgment supports the view that ISPs can be required to block websites. It opens the door to rights owners to seek to require ISPs to take action where infringement is taking place.”

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