updated 12:25 pm EDT, Thu October 27, 2011
UK judge rules BT blocks pirate site at own cost
A judge has ordered UK Internet service provider BT to block access to the website Newzbin 2 website within 14 days, the BBC reported. Newzbin 2 is a members-only website that has primarily linked to pirated movies and other illegal content. If BT complies, this will set a precedent, as it's the first time an ISP in the country has been ordered by a court to block a website.
BT will use the CleanFeed software that it created through a partnership with the Internet Watch Foundation to block websites that show images of child abuse. The ISP has gone on record before to say tweaking the software to block other sites.
What's more, BT is ordered to cover the costs of the blockage despite its arguments to the contrary. As the ISP is allegedly related to the wrongdoing, it hosted the content and should pay, partner at Wiggin LLP law firm Simon Baggs said.
A High Court ruling in July ordered the same ISP to block access to Newzbin 2. The Motion Picture Association brought the landmark case to courts and has now said it is pleased the blockage would soon begin.
Chris Marcich, president and managing director of the association, said the move means it can now invest more in its own digital offerings and deliver higher quality products and a larger variety of them.
The blocking idea is seen as efficient for rights holders as they would no longer have to sue individuals to dubious levels of success.
Newzbin is now under new management, and one who is outside of the UK jurisdiction. Those who run the site have said that they are readying software that will get around the BT block.
Critics of the strategy have pointed out that the nature of the Internet means BT is a conduit, not a host, and shouldn't be asked to pay for the block. In the US, making the ISP pay would likely be illegal as safe harbor laws prevent a telecoms company from being held liable for actions taking place on its network before it's notified. The promised workaround, if successful, also points to ISP-level blocking being ineffective versus targeting the hosts actually responsible for the piracy.