UK Court Orders BT To Block Access To Usenet Site Hollywood Hates
from the this-won't-end-well dept
It’s been quite a week for UK copyright law, hasn’t it? Today alone we’ve reported on UK courts deciding that they’re qualified to rule on US copyright law and that merely clicking a link to open a web page can be infringement. To top it all off, the UK high court ruled that BT must block access to Usenet service provider Newzbin2. This is an incredibly questionable decision that plunges the UK into blatant government censorship. And, of course, the entertainment industry (who you would think would know better than to celebrate censorship) is thrilled beyond belief.
The ruling itself is quite troubling:
“In my judgment it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright: it knows that the users and operators of Newzbin2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of the studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes,” said Justice Arnold in his ruling at the high court in London.
“[BT] knows that the users of Newzbin2 include BT subscribers, and it knows those users use its service to receive infringing copies of copyright works made available to them by Newzbin2,” Arnold added.
There are many problems with this. First of all, an ISP should never be responsible for the actions of its users, and yet that’s what the court is saying here. Furthermore, Usenet, which has been around for ages (and, of course, predates the web) does have non-infringing uses as well. Sure, many people do now use it to infringe, but it’s pretty ridiculous to blame BT for allowing access to one service that provides access to Newzbin2, because some of its users infringe on copyrights. Furthermore, it’s not even “Newzbin” that is making this content available, as the judge wrote. It’s users who are making the content available.
Considering the sites that the entertainment industry has declared infringing — including the Internet Archive, Vimeo, SoundCloud, Vibe.com and tons of blogs and forums, this is a very worrying sign indeed. Basically, if the entertainment industry is scared of your online site or service, and too clueless to figure out how to use it, you can be booted off the internet in the UK. Scary stuff.