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UK ISP Virgin Media Finally Blocks the Newzbin Internet Piracy Website

Tuesday, Aug 14th, 2012 (1:20 pm) - Score 1,991

National UK cable operator Virgin Media has this week become one of the last big fixed line broadband ISPs to block customers from being able to access the Newzbin (Newzbin2) website, which is deemed by the High Court to be a site that facilitates internet piracy (copyright infringement).

Most of the largest ISPs (e.g. BT, TalkTalk, Sky Broadband etc.) have already blocked the site (here) and Virgin Media has now finally received a court order, which references Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, requiring them to impose an identical restriction.

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The original case was launched in December 2010 after the Motion Picture Association (MPA) extended its crusade against the Newsgroup (Usenet) indexing website by filing an injunction against BT, which had initially refused to impose a voluntary block of the site without first receiving a court order. The MPA ultimately won that case (here) and Rights Holders have since applied similar measures to The Pirate Bay (here).

Virgin Media’s Statement

We’ve received an order from the courts requiring us to prevent access to Newzbin in order to help protect against copyright infringement. As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media complies with court orders addressed to us, but we strongly believe that changing consumer behaviour to tackle copyright infringement also needs compelling legal alternatives to give consumers access to great content at the right price.

The news comes despite recent information revealing that many consumers find related restrictions easy to circumvent, while other data appears to suggest that such blocks only have a short-lived impact upon overall piracy levels (here).

It usually takes a few days (sometimes a couple of weeks) before such orders are fully enacted by an ISP. Meanwhile Rights Holders already appear to have identified 6 addition websites for similar action in the future (here).

The UK government is also attempting to develop a voluntary code of practice between ISPs and Rights Holder, which would cut out the court process and make it easier for Rights Holders to impose similar restrictions across a much larger number of websites and ISPs (here). But that’s unlikely to be ready until 2015, assuming it survives.

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In related news Ofcom recently commissioned an interesting study into the spread of websites that share IP addresses (full PDF report), a practice which Ofcom claims to be “of interest because it makes website blocking technically complex“. For example, an ISP can’t easily block an “illegal” website by IP address if that IP is also shared by a lawful website.

It will come as no shock to any webmasters out there that IP address sharing is hugely common, with “97% of websites [residing] on IP addresses shared with other websites, compared to 87% in 2002. This has important implications for the use of IP address blocking to prevent access to unlawful Internet content. In particular, it is likely that some unlawful websites and lawful websites may share the same IP address.” Yet another headache for law makers and ISPs alike.

Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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