High Court battle to stop movie piracy on BT system

A test case action at High Court was launched, by major film studios that are battling piracy online, against the biggest internet provider in Britain. A London judge is being urged to grant an order potentially forcing BT to cut off their customers’ access to a website that is a flagrant violator of copyright infringement.

The proceedings have been brought by Paramount, Disney and Twentieth Century Fox over the website Newzbin that has over 700,000 members. Richard Spearman QC, argued for an injunction for the applicants told Justice Arnold that the Newzbin infringement on copyright was being done on a grand scale the hearing is expected to take three –days.

The piracy impact on the TV and film industry of economically he said was nothing less than staggering. He said it was a social evil when speaking of the illegal activity and in real figures he estimated the loss to be several hundred million of pounds. A report that was published last year over loss to the film industry due to piracy was estimated at £477 million in 2009 and for the TV industry £58 million.

Brought on behalf of the Motion Picture Association of America the High Court action is believed to be Britain’s first where the target is the internet provider in order to block customer access to a website under the 1988 Copyright, Design and Patents Act (CDPA).

The attempt by filmmakers is the same as blocking access to sites that have child abuse images. Mr. Spearman said the order was quite simple to do by BT and costs nothing. The QC also told the judge the not only the applicants but others have tried to stop not only Newzbin but all of piracy in general yet there are still huge losses that the industry faces all the time.

He added that if nothing is done to the Newzbin’s then they can move offshore become anonymous the individuals disappear and do a cock a snook at the courts and the copyright holders who trust the justice system.

The Newzbin website was taken off line as a result of orders that the judge made and the company that had been operating it was put into liquidation thereby avoiding the payment of a cost order of even any damages. But they only remained off line a very short time and now are up and running continuing to provide TV and movies.