BT has been forced to block a filesharing site in a judgement hailed by Hollywood copyright investors and lobbyists.
Justice Arnold of the Chancery Division of the High Court ruled that BT (British Telecommunications) must block Newzbin2, a filesharing portal, because an estimated 70% of the traffic through the website involves unauthorized transfers of intellectual property.
The judge seemed to agree wholeheartedly with the arguments of Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros, Paramount, Disney, and Columbia, and took special notice of the lack of support from other providers, saying “The other ISPs were informed of the present application in case they wished to intervene, but have not done so.”
The judge was not moved by analogies between the ISP and any other necessary utility company. "The question here is whether, when a BT subscriber who is a member of Newzbin2 visits the Newzbin2 website, downloads an NZB file and then downloads an infringing copy of a film or a television programme, that subscriber is using BT's service to infringe copyright. BT contends that the subscriber is not using its service, but the service provided by Newzbin2. In my view this is a false dichotomy...The subscriber may be using both services to infringe."
Nor did the judge accept the argument that BT might be unaware of the details of one of the millions or billions of websites that it provides a connection to on a daily basis. "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 Newzbin2 include BT subscribers; and it knows those users use its service to receive infringing copies of copyright works made available to them by Newzbin2."
The judge knew well that many were following the case, and his decision would have profound and far-reaching consequences. “The Studios have made it clear that this is a test case: if they are successful in obtaining an order against BT, then they intend to seek similar orders against all the other significant ISPs in the UK. The other ISPs were invited to intervene in the present application if they so wished, but have not done so."
Many media sources are portraying BT as having sought this judgement, which may betrue in the sense that Britain’s largest Internet provider wanted a legal decision rather than the sort of non-transparent private industry deal between ISPs and film, TV, and music corporations that was recently agreed-upon in the United States. “This is a helpful judgement, which provides clarity on this complex issue,” a BT spokesperson said. “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."
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