BT forced to block access to Newzbin2

Ruling could set precedent for future piracy laws

A British judge has made a landmark ruling which could set precedent for future rulings on piracy, net neutrality and file-sharing.

Justice Arnold's ruling has forced UK infrastructure provider BT to block all access to the file-sharing site Newzbin2, which aggregates content from Usenet sites for download by subscribers. A large proportion of that content is illegally pirated copyright material.

The case was brought by the Motion Picture Association, in an attempt to prevent illegal downloads of film and television programs, but the ruling clearly has possible repercussions for the piracy rife in the games industry, too.

"In my judgement it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright," said Justice Arnold in his ruling statement. "It knows that the users and operators of Newzbin 2 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."

By forcing an ISP to comply with an access ban, based on a perceived knowledge of assisted copyright infringement, Arnold could well have opened the floodgates on a potential raft of similar rulings.

BT welcomed the ruling, claiming that its clarification of the rules was "helpful".

"It clearly shows that rights holders need to prove their claims and convince a judge to make a court order," a BT spokesman said. "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."

Originally, the laws and technology - known as Cleanfeed - used in the ruling were designed to prevent access to child pornography. Many believe that commandeering those mechanisms to deal with piracy is a step in the wrong direction.

"Currently CleanFeed is dealing with a small, rural road in Scotland," said James Blessing of the Internet Service Providers Association in an interview with BBC Radio 4.

"Trying to put Newzbin and other sites into the same blocking technology would be a bit like shutting down the M1. It is not designed to do that."

Whilst no game divisions were directly involved in the case, both Warner and Disney were heavily represented by the MPA.

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Latest comments (20)

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus9 years ago
So they went after child pornography first. Laudible goal.

But now they're equating piracy - which is a problem - with child porn, which is taking out a set of houseflies with a nuke.

What's next to be censored? After all, former US Attorney General and Bush administration lackey Alberto Gonzales once said that piracy contributed directly to BOTH child porn and terrorism, in the same sentence. Once they got their foothold via child pornography, we all knew that they would use that as the hammer to pound anyone who came across powerful lobbies in any way.

The ends do not always justify the means.
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Alan Pierce Programmer, Digital Delight9 years ago
Why don't they go after Google? They "aggregate content" in the same way as the newsgroup sites, and neither actual host the content themselves.
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Tony Lawson Studying games software development, University of Sunderland9 years ago
isnt this censorship? who are BT to dictate what i can and cant access. I can see this as an excuse to start blocking anything and everything.
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Show all comments (20)
all part of the digital NWO :)
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Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 9 years ago
Oh well. Just as long as the under 18's can still buy their COD at retail I think we are fine as a business :)
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Daniel Vardy Studying HND IT, De Montfort University9 years ago
Doesn't matter in reality, there will always be a work around for this. If someone wants something, they will eventually get it. Like everything related to law, its the person with the largest wallet who will benefit...
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend9 years ago
It's all downhill from here on in, cheers Justice Arnold you noob.

We all know where this will go and it isn't good for the freedom of speech you currently have on the interwebs. Sure child pornography is bad and shouldn't happen, but telling an ISP to block customers from visiting a site that 'may or may not' have it on is a short-sighted idiotic move.

As mentioned, what about Google or all other search engines??

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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 9 years ago
I feel another hacker group will get involved.
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Alan Pierce Programmer, Digital Delight9 years ago
I wonder what method they use for blocking the site? It would probably be host rather than IP otherwise they will inadvertently block other sites, but both host and ip can be changed anyway. Newbin3 ? :p

Either way, users will just go to the thousands of other newsgroup indexing sites. I just can't understand the point of this.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alan Pierce on 28th July 2011 2:32pm

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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 9 years ago
Well, let's be honost, usenet is only used for illegal files these days (as in some countries like the Netherlands it's legal to download movies/music (but not upload)), I still wondered why usenet itself hasn't been targeted by such groups..
newsgroups aren't really used as a forum these days, real forums have replaced usenet for that, and for legal filesharing there are also much better ways for that..
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
The net will do what it was made to do. Decentralize, reroute information and then redistribute it again. For each weakest link somebody thinks he has cracked, 20 other links are ready to replace it. No amount of court rulings has stopped drug trafficking, so how can there be any hope of data trafficking to be ever stopped by content owners?
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I think its more than data trafficking the powers want. Total media control would be the ultimate aim, but it starts with something like types of data usage.

One thing you'll notice is the unlimited broadband afforded by mobile and IOS platforms will be curtailed somewhat. Ideally it should be just a monthly service....
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Andy Payne Chair/founder, AppyNation9 years ago
Klaus writes some very wise words. Not everyone will like them or agree with them, but they are wise for sure. In truth this is a mega complex issue and one which needs far more debate if unintended consequences (or intended) are allowed to put the power into the hands of a few, mainly governments and large corporations.
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More government shenanigans w laws - we're still surprised at this? Never give a good government laws that you wouldn't trust a bad government to look after.

I can't help but feel this whole US-inspired "protect IP at all costs" slash-and-burn attitude is just gonna turn people off the whole idea of protecting copyrights full stop. There's 3+ billion peeps from the developing world who are going online in the next decades and these countries, including China, culturally don't give a toss about copyright.

I know in the games industry I'm supposed to support this kind of action as it's apparently "money from my pocket" etc. but growing up everybody - everybody! - copied every piece of music/movies/games/TV they got their hands on. Now I've an ego like the next man but I don't feel my generation was morally superior to this generation, so I can't find it within myself to condemn anyone who copies stuff they love for their own enjoyment. And forgetting work & jobs, on a basic human level (which is the primary one lest we forget) I just can't get behind anyone who does. They're not on my team and my tent aint in their camp. This is court-based bullying and weight-throwing with no moral value at all - there's nothing to celebrate here.
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Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer 9 years ago
"Nature will find a way..." I don't remember in which movie I heard that, but it applies here :)
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Jason Avent Studio Head / Creative Director, TT Games Publishing9 years ago
Can't people just get to Newzbin through a proxy in a different country?
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Elton Hall9 years ago
I heard that It was domain name blocking which doesn't take anything to circumvent especially if you happen to run a DNS server.
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Michael Bennett Jack of all trades, master of some. 9 years ago
A bad precedent for freedom of speech, and probably completely ineffective as an anti piracy measure. Anyone savvy enough to work out bit torrent can easily access the site through a proxy.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
"We have to protect the rights of those who disagree, even if they are idiots, or dangerous."
Wau Holland (est. 1990ies), popularized in 2002, opposing a ruling from the city of Düsseldorf which forced local Internet providers to ban certain addresses.

"You have the right to agree with us now. Anything you think will be held against you in front of a jury of our peers. You have the right to speak to an attorney. We will hold him liable as well."
Miranda rights, est. 2025

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 29th July 2011 8:51am

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David Spender Lead Programmer 9 years ago
This won't change anything - not even for newzbin2. Look at all the effort put into getting rid of pirate bay. And how has that worked out?
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