In a decision in the High Court, BT has been ordered to implement its blocking of Newzbin2 within 14 days. This is of little surprise since the UK ISP lost its court battle with Hollywood back in July, but in addition to blocking just Newzbin2, the company also will have to block any similar website at which Newzbin2 might reappear and foot the bill for the whole exercise.
Not to pick holes in our legal system at which I studied for years, but it is not equipped to cope with digital issues at all, and this decision simply proves that the distance between UK law and UK digital reality is wider than ever…
Firstly – the filters will make almost no difference in accessing the offending site. Hackers from Newzbin2 have already managed to circumvent the previously secure Cleanfeed technology causing problems for wider criminal law enforcement (it was previously a child porn filter only and wasn’t put under the same strain), so whether the filter is imposed or not is of little importance.
Secondly – how is it in BT’s interest to continually play whack-a-mole with possible Newzbin2 clones, when Newzbin2 arose from the ashes of Newzbin with no actual link between the organisations. Is BT supposed to block any site that lists NZBs in case they are like Newzbin2, or only if they carry a Newzbin2 logo or share members? These are all problems for the entertainment industry, not technology companies. Yes there should be more co-operation between the two – but if the court was going to order such a thing – surely the onus on finding the sites should be on the entertainment industry, and the blocking on BT? With any future blocking done *without* court oversight, there are major issues with free speech here as well – who will compensate a company that has their legal site blocked as a result of overzealous enforcement by BT?
Thirdly – why should BT be paying to enforce the rights of copyright holders online? They get *no* benefit from such a play, whilst the entertainment industry appear to be getting their police-work done by someone else, without having to pay anything for the service. In most realms one has to pay to protect and enforce their rights – why does the fact that the problem is online allow companies to shift the burden because they cannot evolve and are losing money.
This decision was always bad for the internet and economy as a whole as it allows one industry to blame another for their downfall, and get them to cover the expenses of protecting interests – all at a time when the bail-outs of the banks have shown us that we do not want to prop up failing businesses. If your profits are reliant on protecting rights, then you should have to pay to protect them – not confuse the digitally-confused judges into siding with you. With the addition of the anti-whack-a-mole procedure as well, this is also now a problem for curtailments on free speech with no oversight of the courts.