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BT gets 14 days to block Newzbin2

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Websites and IP addresses will become unreachable for the first time in the UK for copyright reasons. The High Court has ordered BT to block subscribers access to Newzbin 2, as well as any other sites or end points it uses. BT has 14 days to implement the measure, and must pay for it, too, a cost estimated at £5,000 initially.

US movie studios brought the case over Usenet scraper Newzbin, and although BT tried to argue that copyright infringement wasn’t any of its business, and that policing it was intrusive, a court comprehensively rejected its arguments earlier this year.

Both sides then declared they were happy: with copyright industries saying they’d established an important principle (they had), and BT arguing that a slow and expensive procedure was still required (it is).

BT must pay the full costs – and the costs of notifications. The High Court rejected BT's move to share costs with the studios.

The judge said it was a price ISPs had to pay for immunity, when looked at the bigger risk picture.

“The exposure of intermediaries to an injunction under Article 8(3) is part of the price which they pay for immunity from claims for damages under Articles 12(1), 13(1) and 14(1) of European Parliament and Council Directive 2000/31/EC of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (“the E-Commerce Directive”).”

In case you’re wondering, “site” means destination. Soon after the earlier judgement, users could access Newzbin2 unlicensed material thanks to a browser plug-in. The judge said that was still accessing Newzbin2.

“I do not consider that the Studios should be obliged to return to court for an order in respect of every single IP address or URL that the operators of Newzbin2 may use. In my view the wording proposed by the Studios strikes the appropriate balance.”

There are many, many alternatives to blocking websites, some with driving analogies. The PRS proposed a “traffic lights” warning instead, preferring to give punters advice than stop them doing something they shouldn’t. Another alternative involves totting up “speeding points” for actively infringing in a known dodgy area.

You would think all are preferable to the illiberal measure of site-blocking, which is as expensive to fight as it was before. But ISPs are anything but sympathetic in this area – and none of them, nor the any of the “copyfighting” digital rights groups have been able to find one they can support, either.

So, alas, web-blocking it is. ®

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