Studios take Newzbin2 clampdown to big ISPs

Studios take Newzbin2 clampdown to big ISPs

Summary: The Motion Picture Association has written to major ISPs, saying it is about to seek a court order forcing them to follow BT in blocking access to Newzbin2

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TOPICS: Legal, Piracy
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The Motion Picture Association has begun the process of forcing the UK's big ISPs to block the Newzbin2 file-sharing site.

Virgin Media and TalkTalk received letters on Monday from the MPA, which said the film industry body plans to seek a court order to obtain the block. The letters also asked whether the ISPs planned to contest the order, the companies told ZDNet UK.

"[The MPA] is now coming after all the big other ISPs and asking them to do the same thing [as BT]," TalkTalk's regulatory chief Andrew Heaney said on Tuesday.

The MPA won a court order in July forcing BT to block retail customer access to Newzbin2, a Usenet site that helps people unlawfully share copyrighted material. The movie studio group made it clear at the time that it would at some point seek a similar block from other major ISPs.

In late October, the court gave BT two weeks to start blocking Newzbin2. BT began filtering traffic days later, using the Cleanfeed technology it had previously installed to prevent access to child pornography sites.

Virgin Media said it would block Newzbin2 if told to do so by a judge.

"As a responsible ISP, we will comply with any court order addressed to us but strongly believe such deterrents need to be accompanied by compelling legal alternatives, such as our agreement with Spotify, which give consumers access to content at the right price," a Virgin Media spokeswoman said.

The MPA confirmed that it had sent the letters. They referred to "the recent order by Mr Justice Arnold and asked the major UK ISPs whether they would consent to a court order requiring them to impede subscriber access to the Newzbin2 website," a spokesman for film studio group said.

The BT case was a second shot for the rights-holders, as a suit against the original Newzbin site succeeded only in shutting down its UK operations. In the interim, the proprietors simply moved their hosting to the Seychelles and mildly altered the name of the service, making an ISP-level block the only way of inhibiting access for UK web users.

Justice Arnold's Newzbin2 judgement was followed by a letter to BT from the MPA, the BPI and various other content industry bodies. The letter asked BT to extend the block to The Pirate Bay, a Swedish BitTorrent tracker that is also sometimes used for copyright infringement.

However, BT told the rights-holders that they would have to get another court order, as it would not institute any such block without a judge's say-so.

TalkTalk's Heaney said that ISP would take a similar stance, if it received a similar request.

The court order against BT calls only for BT Retail customers to be blocked from visiting the Newzbin2 site, and smaller ISPs that resell BT's wholesale connectivity are not subject to its terms. This means that, if the rights industry were to concentrate only on the big ISPs for reasons of practicality, customers wishing to circumvent the block could simply move to a small provider to do so.

"At this stage, we don't rule out any options," the MPA's spokesman said. "Our goal continues to be secure greater cooperation from all internet service providers in tackling pirate sites that are focused on wholesale copyright infringement and making significant money in the process."

The MPA will focus its efforts on only "the most harmful sites", he added.

Apart from changing ISPs, people may be able to circumvent BT's filtering of Newzbin2 using VPNs, proxies or the encrypted client that Newzbin2 released shortly after the UK court's judgement.

Topics: Legal, Piracy

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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2 comments
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  • These actions stink of a desperate attempt by an industry fast running out of ideas of how to conduct its business in a technically evolving world.

    Wouldn't it be a good idea for the 'media industry' to wake up to the 21st century get on-board and embrace ‘free’ file-sharing sites as a very cost effective means for them to distribute their own content? By simply throwing their weight around playing ‘big brother’ to restrict ISP with court orders only makes users more determined to undermine them (note the relatively easy workarounds commented in the article).

    By taking control back, they can drive out the "piracy" element of file-sharing, and put them back in driving seat of distributing quality and quantity media.

    With a little creative thinking there must be plenty of revenue streams open for possible financial exploitation. How about advertising through distributed content during download, adding additional files in the torrent, or on the distributor websites themselves. Cinemas, DVDs content, search & social network websites have been exploiting this for years. Like most, I hate advertising, but if it’s a means for this industry to quit with their draconian, narrow-minded approach, then why not?

    Another revenue stream could be having other ‘media’ type websites paying to advertise ‘teaser’ trailers sending traffic to the download site?

    Or, build a closer relationship with ‘free’ distribution of artists’ material with merchandising sold. There surely must be a market link between distribution and exposure with merchandise sales as a result?

    Or for studios to pay studios for quantity of downloads on whichever sites become most popular over time?

    These are just a couple of ideas off the top of my head, and I’ll leave the viability open to comment. My point is there's surely plenty of alternative revenue streams to selling DVDs.
    All that's needed is a little thinking outside-the-box.
    LeeCripps
  • Like the Dinosaurs the MPA and their ilk will slowly die out. The VPN providers are doing well and in effect are implementing the internet data levy that the UK government (and other European states) ruled out. I think at the time they said it would cost each and every internet user another £6 per month to compensate the MPA and the music industry for supposed "loss of sales". Pity they never had the political will to do it. The problem for a lot of people is things like itunes, Spotify and Napster don't have all the tracks you want, especially old and obscure stuff. So that leaves you either trying to find secondhand copies of old media or look at torrent site to see if someone else has what you looking for.
    ians1