BT ordered to block Newzbin in 2 weeks

High Court judgement heralds a cat-and-mouse technological battle between BT and Newzbin
Darren Allan

October 26, 2011

The music and film industry have moved a step on in their battle with file-sharing hub Newzbin (which is now Newzbin2, its second incarnation, having been previously shut down over copyright matters).

Today the powers-that-be successfully secured an order from the High Court which forces BT to put a block on the site in two weeks time.

What’s more, BT will have to fund the block out of its own pocket, which will run to some five grand – pocket change to the telecoms giant, of course, but an interesting twist to the ruling.

However, there’s a bit more to this story than Newzbin simply being blocked, of course.

BT will enforce the block on the website using its Cleanfeed technology. However, when the judgement was first announced last month, Newzbin immediately began formulating methods and achieving workarounds to defeat Cleanfeed censorship.

Indeed, the order took into account the possibility of workarounds by provisioning for additional URLs to be blocked in the future, namely those that could be used to swerve the censorship.

In essence, a censorship battle is beginning, where BT will move to block Newzbin where it can, and the site will strive to keep ahead with counter-measures of its own.

However, there are a number of different paths that can be taken by Newzbin, and indeed users, to make keeping it locked down difficult. On the other hand, traffic is certainly going to take a hit, and probably a major one.

The Open Rights Group are rightly unimpressed about this move to curb liberty on the internet.

Peter Bradwell, a campaigner for the group, said: “Website blocking simply will not work. It’s a dangerous technological intervention when the legal markets are still a mess.”

“Consumers have moved online a lot quicker than the creative industries. The focus should be on making sure they catch up with consumer demand instead of these deranged plans to censor what people are allowed to look at.”

Nail, head, and hit, we think.

Of course, in the grand scheme of file-sharing, Newzbin is but a drop in the ocean. That still doesn’t mean this ruling doesn’t have potentially ominous undertones for the future of a free internet.


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