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Judge rules BT must block access to file-sharing website
Thursday 28 July 2011 11:21:32 by John Hunt

The Motion Picture Association (MPA) has won a high court battle to force BT to block access to a website used to access pirated material. This is the first time a court has ruled that an ISP should be forced to block such a website. Newzbin 2, the website in question, allows members to download illegally copied material from Usenet forums, a common way for distributing pirated material. The MPA asked various major ISPs to block the website last September, but none agreed to do so without a court order.

"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.

It knows that the users of Newzbin 2 include BT subscribers, and it knows those users use its service to receive infringing copies of copyright works made available to them by Newzbin 2."

Ruling by Justice Arnold

This may set a precedent for music/movie industry bodies to come forward and ask for other sites which enable unlawful file sharing to be blocked in a similar way. This could cause a huge headache for providers who have until now been able to use a 'mere conduit' defence for anything their network is used for, much like Royal Mail are not liable for blocking the distribution of illegal products through the postal service.

BT will have to add the website to its 'CleanFeed' service which is used to block access to sites distributing child sexual abuse images. In doing so, it may mean that CleanFeed will need beefing up as the service currently deals with a handful of websites and a limited amount of traffic, but it is likely to see many more hits if users trying to access the Newzbin 2 website find that this is restricted.

"This is a helpful judgement, which provides clarity on this complex issue. 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. We will return to court after the summer to explain what kind of order we believe is appropriate."

BT statement

The people behind the Newzbin 2 website threatened to take down any blocking that BT used for the site which they believed would be "trivially breakable".

"ISPA has long maintained that this is an issue that rights holders should seek to address in court, rather than through voluntary means, and today's ruling should go some way to offering clarity on what is a complex area.

However, concerns about over-blocking, ease of circumvention and increased encryption are widely-recognised which means that blocking is not a silver bullet to stop online copyright infringement. Rather, as the Government-commissioned Hargreaves Review recently found, there should be more focus on offering innovative, fully-licensed content services to give consumers what they are clearly demanding."

Nicholas Lansman, ISPA Secretary General

Comments

Posted by undecidedadrian over 5 years ago
So Fox, Disney et al all belive that their copyright on their films is as important as child protection as should use the same mechanism.

I think this will come back and bite them hard somewhere down the line, especially as it have given Newzbin 2 a ton of free advertising.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
Trivially breakable. Indeed. What a waste of time, money and effort. The deact has a lot to answer for. Anyone who really wants to pirate stuff can do it despite the best efforts of an ISP to block them. It really is time for the digital dinosaurs to stop trying to break the internet and bring their business model into this century?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Timeline as I see it is this, a firm chased people for infringement ASC:Law, people found other ways to get the material.

MPA goes to court to try and stiffle this newer route.

At the end of the day, there is no fundemental right that means we should have access to works for free. Films are available online in various forms, if the price is not acceptable then its simple just don't watch the film.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@undecidedadrian

Neither are important, blocking child abuse material simply sweeps it under the rug, a German adult support group (MOGIS) for people who were abused as a child said this.


@andrew

Natural right of freedom of speech.

Enforcing IPR violates that natural right and the natural right to privacy, also anti-free market as well.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
andrew that isn't what this is about though the bigger picture of piracy etc, this is about an indexing site that indexes lots of things, just like Google does.

Newzbin doesn't host anything its just an index. Even if they managed to shut it down completely (Newzbin) it wouldn't stop people downloading as none of the files are on their servers.

Another epic fail and waste of time and money for the MPA, easily worked around.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@GMAN99

This was merely about getting a precedent set, now they can go after any site they wish.

Soon the government will force all providers to use the IWF list.

Censorship complete.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
If newzbin is just another google but for usenet, why does it have so much users, when google needs no signing up?

Suspect it is the way that newzbin makes things easier, just like napster in the past, sharing music was easy, but napster made access even easier.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
"Suspect it is the way that newzbin makes things easier, just like napster in the past, sharing music was easy, but napster made access even easier. "

^ This, except its not about sharing its not p2p
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Did not say newzbin was about sharing, careful word placement.

napster was about sharing, though many did not. Usenet has very few uploaders, many downloaders
Posted by Talk1968 over 5 years ago
I checked that website out, all it does is exactly what Google does, it acts as a search engine, you can find these things in Google search but i don't see the courts banning Google, its ridiculous really, i could understand if the particular site in question hosted pirated files, but it does not.

Posted by Talk1968 over 5 years ago
I think movie studio's are missing a trick here, they could potentially make huge sums of additional revenue and beat the pirates at their own game by embracing the internet and releasing films for download ( low quality - lets say dvd quality ) at the same time as the cinema release, price it right and the pirates would go out of business, well ok some might still want it for free but a lot would embrace the official release, at least i think so.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
No no, just for the benefit of the wider audience not yourself ;)
Posted by Talk1968 over 5 years ago
Another thing worth noting, this is publicity for a service i had not heard of before, how many other people will now check them out. ?
Posted by baby_frogmella over 5 years ago
@otester
Does "natural freedom of speech" also mean you should have the freedom to steal from your local Tescos? Whatever the rights/wrongs of this decision it is wrong to download material which you have not paid for.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
baby_frogmella, this isn't about stealing (which is wrong) this is about whether we should use a system that is for an entirely different purpose to censor a site that indexes amongst other things copy written material.

Leaving aside how fruitless the exercise is, I believe its wrong. And it certainly won't stop anything. A quick change and any Newzbin customer will continue as-is
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Talk1968 , hmm maybe but people will still want something for nothing.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@baby_frogmella

Firstly, theft is depriving the owner of the original item, last time I checked, copying does not equal theft.

Secondly, downloading isn't illegal, only uploading is.


@GMAN99

It is not a physical item hence it is nothing, so people want nothing for nothing.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Also Newzbin haven't threatened to break any filters simply to avoid them in the first place. Some of the reporting makes it sound like they are going to mount an attack or something, no... just make the site unfilterable/avoid it being flagged.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
otester, your not drawing me into that side of it :)
Posted by brutos over 5 years ago
This simply will not make any difference......
Posted by omnius over 5 years ago
Quick namechange and system beat. loads of cash wasted banning one site address + more expencive films/music to recoup costs = yet more priacy. rinse and repeat!
Posted by omnius over 5 years ago
oh and is it just me or does it sound like they targeted the one isp that has to do what its told because the others told them to take a hike?
Posted by Firefalcon over 5 years ago
MPA can die in a ditch, their blatant attempts at censorship will at anything drive more people to go download stuff, stuff them and their out dated models,their propaganda and crocodile tears. No sympathy for them.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
omnius , its a test case they will target more ISP's after this to waste more of their time & money
Posted by omnius over 5 years ago
arrrr sorry misunderstood there, would still like to see them take on google mind, bet they have a link on there systems to newzbin
Posted by fibrebunny over 5 years ago
One of the issues with newzbin was that they have editors. Binsearch acts as a search engine and NZB files can be located this way or you can google for them as newzbin are by no means the only site out there. Previous court action made many users seek alternative sites.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@GMAN99

"It is unavoidable, it is your destiny!"
Posted by Oddball over 5 years ago
This will really work (sarcasm).
Posted by k2150 over 5 years ago
The Film & Music Industries have been shutting down Bit Torrent indexing sites for years, for every site they shut down, another opens up. Now they're saying it's the ISP's responsibility to block access to Usenet indexing sites, this is doomed to fail for exactly the same reason. What is suprising is how easily BT rolled over to the MPA lawsuit without even appealing the court ruling. No doubt a slew of lawsuits will follow against other UK ISP's which will do absolutely nothing to stop the illegal downloading of movies and music on the intenet.
Posted by JttB over 5 years ago
@k2150

Why would BT want to appeal it?

If they can cut down on people downloading films and what not, they get less strain on their network.

They throw the obligatory challenge, lose and then use it to try and keep the network stable and if anyone complains they can point them at the MPA etc..

Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
I think the first post is spot on and the 2nd also in terms of been able to bypass the mechanism. Also worth noting that these american companies would have no chance of getting this ruling in their own country but yet again the UK shows how soft it is with these companies bending to all their wishes. BT wont save any momey on backhaul but they take a PR hit ss other isps wont be blocking the site, thats why they made them goto court instead of just agreeing to it.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
andrew, not all filsm are available and the #1 reason people use pirated content is availability rather than price. Price is also a reason but not the main reason. As long as media companies have staggered release dates and regional release dates piracy will always exist at modest levels.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
This is about censorship and control, not profit.

The sheep never learn...


@k2150

Downloading copyrighted material isn't illegal.
Posted by Talk1968 over 5 years ago
@otester

They would rather you pay them for the content but i think they are fools and should use the internet and, as i already said, they should start a new service, release films for download at the same time as the cinema release, price it at around £9.99 or stream it for a 24 hour pass at between £2.99 and £3.99 a go, it won't cut down all ;iracy but it will get them new customers and make them money, oh and it will not lead to the death of the cinema or dvd or blu ray etc etc, all can live in tandem.
Posted by Stubabe over 5 years ago
@otester

Downloading copyrighted material is indeed illegal in the UK since it is considered as duplication. Even format shifting for your own personal use is technically illegal at the moment.
Posted by Stubabe over 5 years ago
@baby_frogmella
The real issue here is not if copyright infringement is right or wrong but why should BT police someone else's copyright for them at their own expense? As an analogy, if criminals were known to be crossing your back garden in the process of committing a crimes would it be fair for a court to impose that you pay to erect 6 foot high barbed wire electric fences all around your land even though it greatly inconvenienced you? Having researched it you felt the fence option too expensive and cumbersome to bother with especially if they could just cross your neighbours land instead.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
of course its about control, for example FOM enforce copyright for material that isnt even available to buy.
Posted by cf492bcc over 5 years ago
Stubabe: How can you duplicate something that you do not already possess?

Servers duplicate and distribute; they 'serve' content. Downloaders are not servers, they are clients.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Popquiz.

If <insertcompanyname> had a website selling counterfit DVD films on the Internet and the MPA found out, could they state that the Royal Mail was complicit for picking up and delivering the items and could the MPA stop the Royal Mail and all other couriers picking up and delivering the items?
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@Talk1968

They created this very situation so they could gain control over the internet, these people aren't stupid, they are pure evil and this is their battle plan. Backed by the banking elite, unlimited funding, they are practically immortal.

Just so you don't get the idea I'm a leech, on Steam I have over 140 games from ethical developers and I've also been donating to Vodo.net who have been making free to download films/TV shows to show my support.

Posted by otester over 5 years ago
The middleman is dead by the way, distribution costs next to nothing now and product placements inside the movies/TV shows is the way forward, eliminating advert breaks and also making content free.

@Stubabe

In addition to what cf492gbcc said...

Source?
Posted by Stubabe over 5 years ago
Are you really that naive? The server is an inanimate object (and thus has no legal standing), it is merely responding to your instruction. When you photocopy a book it is you pressing the copy button that commits the offence not the copier nor its owner. If the copier was in another building and you activated remotely the same thing would apply so why do you think a server is different? By downloading you are clearly party to the act and ironically are far more culpable (legally) than the server operator. If you used that as a defence in court your own council would laugh in your face.
Posted by Stubabe over 5 years ago
@otester
Err, common law?
I am no friend of the MPAAs of this world, but reading the copywrite legislation in this country I find it hard to see how a judge would see it any other way. It is the initiator of the act and not the person providing the tools to do so that commits the offence. I would like to the see the test case but I really wouldn't want to be the defendant who's case depended on that line of reasoning
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@Stubabe

If you have studied networking you would know that it's no different from sending a letter, the sender initiates the transfer.
Posted by Stubabe over 5 years ago
I have and I am well aware of that - it's also totally irrelevant. What you fail to realise is that law doesn't give a dam about IT technicalities. You asked for it, you knew about it, it happened ultimately because you requested it ergo it's your responsibility. IT kit is not made of people, it cannot authorise/deny or initiate any legal activity - people do that. Any argument based on IT technicalities won't hold up as people commit criminal acts not servers or network protocols.
Posted by Stubabe over 5 years ago
I should add I really don't think anyone will be sued for merely downloading - it would be pointless and far too many do it. I just don't see any legal reason they couldn't. Not that I care - I don't download stuff myself but I can't really blame anyone that does.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@Stubabe

You are not liable for receiving it under law, the sender has to set up their machine so that it can initiate the transfer, hence making them liable as the 'distributor' as stated in the CDPA 1988.

Also it's under civil, not criminal law.
Posted by cf492bcc over 5 years ago
Stubabe, it's the responsibility of the server operator to ensure they hold the necessary duplication and distribution rights to content before serving it. Serving it is duplicating and distributing.

In your photcopier example, you already have a copy in your possession that you then further copy.
Posted by cf492bcc over 5 years ago
Stubabe (cont),

I have a copy of this thinkbroadband page in my possession. I cannot legally duplicate it and distribute it further though as I don't possess the rights to do so.

If aspects of this page are being duplicated/distributed unlawfully by thinkbroadband though, then they are liable. It's logically the reponsibility of thinkbroadband to ensure they are not infringing rights.
Posted by cf492bcc over 5 years ago
Stubabe (cont),

Following your logic, if thinkbroadband serve content without the necessary legal rights to do so, then all clients that receive that content are also liable to prosecution. That would be an utterly idiotic law that could land masses of innocent people in trouble through no fault of their own.

The fact that the Government quietly wishes that people never realise this is an apt demonstration of their desperation to stop people attaining content in an unlawful manner.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
hahahahah so its all over no blocking now? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14372698
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