In a case which could influence future rulings on piracy and file-sharing, British Telecom has been forced to block access to Newzbin2 due to its “perceived knowledge” of the copyright infringement perpetrated by the file-sharing site.
The case, brought the Motion Picture Association to prevent illegal downloads of film and television programs, established that a large proportion of the content aggregated by Newzbin2 for download by its subscribers was illegally pirated copyright material.
In his ruling statement, Justice Arnold said:
“In my judgement it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright. 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.”
The ruling was welcomed by BT, who claimed that clarifying the rules in this way was “helpful”.
Potentially, this ruling could set precedent for other cases to be brought and might play a future part in cases concerning the videogame industry.
The danger exists that ‘perceived knowledge’ of copyright infringement could be branded as a reason to restrict access to websites by ISPs, particularly if they are fearful of the legal ramifications of allowing their customers unrestricted access to the likes of file-sharing sites that may contain copyrighted material.