Bloomberg News

BT Must Use Porn-Block System to Stop U.K. Film-Piracy Site

October 26, 2011

(Updates with ISP letters in seventh paragraph.)

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- BT Group Plc, Britain’s biggest Internet-service provider, was ordered by a U.K. judge to use pornography-blocking technology to prevent customers using a movie piracy website opposed by Hollywood film studios.

News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox and five other U.S. studios won a ruling in July forcing BT to block access to Newzbin, a site found to promote illegal sharing of films. BT must now use Cleanfeed, a content-blocking system currently used by the company to bar access to child-pornography websites, to block its customers from using Newzbin within 14 days, Judge Richard Arnold ruled today in London.

“Copyright owners can take a great deal of comfort from today’s decision,” said Simon Baggs, a lawyer from Wiggin LLP in London, who argued for a film studio trade group in last year’s case. “The court has conclusively recognized the critical role that ISPs can be required to play in preventing infringement.”

The judgment in July was the first of its kind and the studios said at the time it could be used to win similar orders against other ISPs. Fox, Universal Studios, Warner Bros., Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures and Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures were backed in the case by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Court Injunction

Fox persuaded a U.K. court in March 2010 that Newzbin infringed its copyrights. The site shut to avoid damages only to resurface with more than 700,000 members as “Newzbin2,” the movie studios claimed. They argued London-based BT and other ISPs must block the site altogether to prevent infringement, while BT argued a court injunction would be inappropriate, because the website isn’t a customer of the company.

The court disregarded claims by a Newzbin2 “casual editor” that the website now contains more non-infringing material and could be used for legitimate purposes in the future, like Napster.

Arnold gave “limited weight” to enforcement concerns raised by other ISPs after the July ruling, saying he should have received letters earlier from Virgin Media Inc. General Counsel Scott Dresser, TalkTalk Telecom Group Plc and Everything Everywhere, the U.K. venture that operates France Telecom SA’s Orange brand and Deutsche Telekom AG T-Mobile unit, according to the ruling. TalkTalk said it doesn’t use Cleanfeed.

--Editors: Christopher Scinta, Peter Chapman, Robert Valpuesta

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Scinta at cscinta@bloomberg.net


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