Hollywood Forces UK ISP To Block Newzbin Usenet Site

Following a hearing in London's High Court, leading UK ISP BT will be forced to block subscriber access to Usenet indexing site Newzbin2. Under the banner of the MPA, the leading Hollywood studios successfully argued that by letting the site continue unabated their interests would be severely damaged. The decision, the first of its kind in the UK, increases the pressure on other ISPs.

As previously reported, UK ISP BT has been facing off against the major Hollywood movie studios in the High Court.

The Motion Picture Association wanted an injunction ordering BT to block its subscribers from accessing Newzbin2, a site it claims causes the industry significant losses due to unlawful movie downloading.

Today a High Court judge ruled in the MPA’s favor and ordered BT to block Newzbin2.

“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,” said Justice Arnold in his ruling.

“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.”

Despite earlier an statement which indicated that Newzbin2′s owners would hire lawyers to fight attempts to have them blocked in the UK, the site has not been represented during the hearings.

BT described the judgment as “helpful” since it provides clarity on a “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,” the ISP said in a statement.

Newzbin2 carries no illicit content of its own, but provides so-called “structural access” to content uploaded by others to the worldwide newsgroup (Usenet) system. Features offered by the members-only subscription site include a raw search, which is very similar to any other Internet search engine and is entirely legal.

The thorn in the MPA’s side, however, is the site’s supply of NZBs. These are torrent-like files which often link to named illicit content. These NZBs, which make otherwise complicated Usenet downloading a breeze, are organized by Newzbin2′s editors into categories such as CAM, Screener, Telesync, R5 and Workprint, titles which leave little to the imagination when it comes to considering the legitimacy of their sources.

Both MPA and BT will be back in court during October to decide on the practicalities of carrying out the injunction.

Now that the MPA has been successful in this website-blocking bid, there are concerns that this phenomenon will spread to other targets. Initially other ISPs in the UK will be expected to follow suit and block Newzbin2 too, a development confirmed by the MPA this morning.

Update: The admins of Newzbin2 have published their official response to the news – read here.

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