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Court Gives UK ISP BT 14 Days to Block the Newzbin2 Piracy Website

Posted: 26th Oct, 2011 By: MarkJ
pirate flagbt retail ukThe High Court of Justice in London has today handed down a written judgment that requires broadband ISP BT to block the Newzbin2 piracy website, including any other IP address or URL that the sites operators may use, within the next 14 days. BT will also have to foot the bill.

Judge Justice Arnold ordered BT to block the site in July 2011, after the MPA filed and successfully won an injunction against the broadband provider (here), although the details have only recently been agreed (here). Newzbin2 is a Usenet (Newsgroup) indexing site that has also been deemed to facilitate "illegal" internet copyright infringement.
Key Points from Today's Judgment

• BT has 14 days to block Newzbin2 and any other IP address or URL that the operators of Newzbin2 may use.

• BT has to pay the implementation costs of the blocking order (BT have estimated the initial cost of implementation at about £5,000 and £100 for each subsequent notification).

• The Judge has ordered BT to pay the costs of the application from 16 December 2010 to 28 July 2011. From 28 July 2011 to date each party will pay their own costs.

• The Judge has rejected BT’s request for the studios to give a cross undertaking in damages.
The operators of Newzbin2 have since released a new software tool that allows visitors to easily circumvent the measures (here), which is why Rights Holders have been given the power to notify additional IP addresses and/or URLs to BT.

This is unlikely to be effective as such tools can easily be adapted, much as Tunisia, Egypt and many other Middle Eastern states have since found out. Others fear that the additional costs involved could lead to customers paying higher prices.

Justice Arnold said:

"In my judgment the costs of implementing the order should be borne by BT. The Studios are enforcing their legal and proprietary rights as copyright owners and exclusive licensees, and more specifically their right to relief under Article 8(3).

BT is a commercial enterprise which makes a profit from the provision of the services which the operators and users of Newzbin2 use to infringe the Studios’ copyright. As such, the costs of implementing the order can be regarded as a cost of carrying on that business.

My conclusion there that the cost to BT “would be modest and proportionate” is supported by the evidence subsequently filed by BT, which estimates the initial cost of implementation at about £5,000 and £100 for each subsequent notification."

Richard Mollet, CEO of The Publishers Association, said:

"Today’s Order is fair, proportionate and clear. This will give the British creative sector more confidence to continue our investment in online business models."

Geoff Taylor, CEO of the BPI, commented:

"It is high time that British musicians and creators had an effective way to deal with websites and services that rip off their music. This judgment is an important first step in that direction and shows responsible ISPs the way forward."

Chris Marcich, President and Managing Director (EMEA) of the MPA, added:

"This is a win for the creative sector. Securing the intervention of the ISPs was the only way to put the commercial pirates out of reach for the majority of consumers. This move means that we can invest more in our own digital offerings delivering higher quality and more variety of products to the consumer."

However not everybody agrees that "securing the intervention of the ISPs" (so far it's only BT) is the only way to tackle internet piracy. Indeed many consumer and civil rights groups have warned that blocking is a blunt tool, one which often fails to address the root causes of why people infringe copyright.

Peter Bradwell, Campaigner from the Open Rights Group (ORG), said:

"Website blocking simply will not work. It's a dangerous technological intervention when the legal markets are still a mess. Consumers have moved online a lot quicker than the creative industries. The focus should be on making sure they catch up with consumer demand instead of these deranged plans to censor what people are allowed to look at."

BT will now need to adapt its Cleanfeed system, which works alongside the Internet Watch Foundation ( IWF ) to block child sexual abuse content, to include Newzbin2. Many of the big ISPs are also working on a new Voluntary Code of Practice to perform something similar (here).
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