Digital Legal Top Stories

Sky blocks Newzbin

By | Published on Thursday 22 December 2011


Sky’s internet division has blocked its customers form accessing file-sharing website Newzbin after receiving a court order demanding such a block. The court order was requested by the Motion Picture Association which earlier this year won a similar injunction against BT having convinced the UK courts that such web blocks were the only way to tackle Newzbin, which relocated outside the UK after an earlier court ruling said the website was liable for copyright infringement.

Confirming that it was blocking access to Newzbin after receiving a court order, a spokesman for Sky told reporters: “Sky is working with the rest of the industry to implement a sustainable framework for tackling piracy. When presented with clear and robust evidence of copyright theft, we will take the appropriate action in respect to site blocking, as we have with Newzbin2”.

As previously reported, both Sky and Virgin have been more sympathetic towards the content industries regarding their fight against piracy than other net providers, mainly because through their respective TV businesses they are content providers themselves and are directly impacted by file-sharing, especially when movies are illegally downloaded. That said, both ISPs have said they will only instigate web blocks when a court order instructs them to do so. Virgin says it is yet to receive any such order relating to Newzbin so hasn’t as yet blocked the site.

To be fair, TalkTalk, usually the most resistant to requests by the content companies for help in combating online piracy, has also said it would instigate a web block if a court order was issued. A spokesman told the BBC: “We are not in principle against blocking, provided a court decides. [But] we have received no such order in respect of Newzbin”.

That no ISP is keen to block infringing websites without first receiving a court order has been demonstrated in responses from the net sector to the BPI’s recent attempt to have The Pirate Bay blocked.

As previously reported, the record label trade body recently wrote to various net firms asking that, bearing in mind the precedent set in the Newzbin case (that the courts will issue injunctions forcing web blocks on infringement grounds), they voluntarily start blocking access to the rogue BitTorrent search engine. But from what we hear no ISP has agreed to do such a thing voluntarily, and the BPI will now have to begin legal proceedings in a bid to block access to the Bay.

Of course more prolific file-sharers can install software that circumvents such blocks, and Newzbin claims many of its users have done just that. Though most content owners would probably say they are happy just to know that more casual web users will not be able to reach copyright infringing websites, especially those who discover such sites via search engines and are ignorant of that fact the content available there is unlicensed.

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