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Hollywood Wins Case In UK Against Piracy Website

July 28, 2011

Twentieth Century Fox and five other Hollywood film studios won a ruling in the U.K. that forced Britain’s biggest Internet-service provider (ISP) to block access to a website that promotes online piracy.

The studios said the judgment could be used to win similar cases against other ISPs.  The Motion Picture Association of America backed Fox, Universal Studios, Warner Bros., Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures and Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures in the case.

Chris Marcich, a regional managing director for the film association, said in a statement that the ruling “is a victory for millions of people working in the U.K. creative industries and demonstrates that the law of the land must apply online.”

The website, known as Newzbin, liquidated after losing a related U.K. lawsuit with Fox last year, only to resurface with over 700,000 members. 

The rulling states that BT Group Plc and other ISPs must block the site altogether to prevent infringement.

“BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright,” Judge Richard Arnold said in the ruling.

The ISP said it agreed Newzbin’s activities were illegal, but argued that a court injunction would be inappropriate, because the website is not a customer of the company.

“This is how you test the law,” BT spokesman Simon Milner said outside court today. The judgment “sets a helpful precedent showing that you have to get a court order and prove significant infringement.”

Industry trade groups were supportive of the U.K. ruling.

“The judgment sends a clear signal that ISPs have a role to play in protecting their customers from rogue websites that exploit and profit from creative work without permission,” Geoff Taylor, chief executive officer of the British Recorded Music Industry trade group, said in a statement.

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