Hollywood film studios can claim a significant win in their ongoing fight against online piracy, after the UK High Court ruled that dominant telco and leading ISP BT must block access to an illegal file-sharing website.
BT users will no longer be able to download illegally films and TV shows for free from Newzbin2.
The case against BT, brought by The Motion Picture Association, the Hollywood studios’ trade body, is seen as a landmark ruling, with the verdict likely to encourage more members of the creative industries to take action against file-sharing websites by demanding ISPs block them.
Justice Arnold said in his ruling: “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 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.”
He ruled that BT knew that the users of Newzbin2 included BT subscribers, and knew those users used its service to receive infringing copies of copyright works made available to them by Newzbin2.
BT had argued that forcing it to ban its 6 million UK customers from accessing a website would bring about a new wave of online censorship.
Reacting to the decision of the courts to instruct BT to block Newzbin, Peter Bradwell, Copyright Campaigner at the Open Rights Group – a UK grassroots campaigning organisation defending digital rights – said that website blocking was “pointless and dangerous”. “These judgements won’t work to stop infringement or boost creative industries. And there are serious risks of legitimate content being blocked and service slowdown. If the goal is boosting creators’ ability to make money from their work then we need to abandon these technologically naive measures, focus on genuine market reforms, and satisfy unmet consumer demand,” he declared.