Digital Legal Top Stories

Virgin Media blocks Newzbin

By | Published on Monday 20 August 2012

Virgin Media

Virgin Media is the latest UK internet service provider to put a web block in place in a bid to stop consumers from accessing file-sharing community Newzbin. The net firm has instigated the block after receiving a court order, which was in turn instigated by the Motion Picture Association.

As previously reported, the first legal action by the movie industry against Newzbin resulted in the site itself being issued with a court order to stop enabling infringement, but instead its owners moved the site’s servers to Sweden and outside the court’s jurisdiction. The MPA then launched a successful case last year to force BT to block access to its customers to Newzbin. This set an important bit of precedent in UK copyright law, ie that the English courts could force ISPs to block access to websites that prolifically and persistently helped others to infringe copyright.

Although the UK Digital Economy Act of 2010 contained some new provisions to allow such blocks, that element of the DEA was all but deleted, with the three-strikes approach to combating file-sharing prioritised. However, the Newzbin case showed no new legislation was actually needed to enable web-blocks in the UK (meaning web blocking has ironically occurred before three-strikes has even got off the ground).

Confirming it had now blocked access to Newzbin, Virgin Media said in a statement: “As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media complies with court orders addressed to the company, but strongly believes that changing consumer behaviour to tackle copyright infringement also needs compelling legal alternatives to give consumers access to great content at the right price”.

Both BT and Sky have previously blocked access to their customers to Newzbin, while all the major UK ISPs have similarly blocked access to The Pirate Bay following legal action by record label trade body the BPI. Though the operators of both file-sharing services say the blocks haven’t affected their traffic, more web-savvy file-sharers being able to circumvent such blocks pretty easily.

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