Hollywood's Hollow Victory

4:55 AM -- Proof once more that the judiciary has yet to catch up with the 21st century came late last week when the U.K. high court ruled that network operator BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) must block its Internet access customers from visiting file-sharing website Newzbin2, a popular visiting place for those seeking the latest movie content, reports The Guardian.

The ruling followed a case brought by the Hollywood trade body The Motion Picture Association (MPA), which claims its members are being financially harmed by sites such as Newzbin2.

Of course, freely distributing copyrighted content is illegal, but should the onus fall on ISPs to block these sites? And what sort of precedent does this set? Will a political party apply next to have a libelous blog blocked by an ISP? Where does this end? And how much will it cost the ISPs to be online traffic cops?

And the idea that one ISP blocking one site will halt suspected illegal file-sharing is preposterous, as pan-European operator Interoute Communications Ltd. pointed out in a comment on the ruling emailed to Light Reading.

"It is disappointing that the courts have ruled in favour of the movie studios. Forcing BT to act as a task force to eradicate copyright infringement websites will not enable the MPA to achieve its ultimate goal of protecting its revenue," notes Interoute director Lee Myall.

"First, to prevent access to Newzbin2, the injunction will need to be taken to all other UK internet service providers (ISPs) and that in itself is a mammoth task. Second, it will only serve as a temporary fix. Illegitimate sites are like hot potatoes. They change IP addresses and hosting providers to evade being shut down. "This ruling is a slippery slope for ISPs. ISPs have now become fair game for anyone with an issue regarding content on the internet. It won’t be long before another tug of war between artists and ISPs takes centre stage. The shortcomings and potential ramifications of this decision will be endless."

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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