back to article BT on site-blocking: Every case will need a court order

BT's head of retail Simon Milner came out swinging after the legal setback over web-blocking. While admitting the company is "not deliriously happy", it welcomes a clarification. And BT won't be appealing the decision. "We believe in an open internet – we won't do any other blocking," he told us. "We will never stop our …

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  1. Tom Chiverton 1

    But

    Does every case mean every site? Or every request over each full URL? Or every claim of an end user infringing?

    Do sites about to have their business ruined get a chance to protest ?

  2. Hashem

    Censorship in the UK

    At least we can learn from Chinese internet users how to circumvent that.

    As an aside, newzbin2 already has a mirror as a secret service on the TOR anonymising network. How is that for efficient? I'm sure it sets a standard for all the similar sites out there for when BT is ordered to block access to them also.

    So in effect that judge just compromised net neutrality in the UK for absolutely nothing.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Censorship in the UK

      "So in effect that judge just compromised net neutrality in the UK"

      Unicorns don't exist.

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Tom Chiverton 1
        WTF?

        It's all gone 1984

        My post with the new URL for Newsbin2 running over Tor's hidden service, which you don't need a Tor client to use, was visible to a few minutes, then 'deleted by moderator' even though it must have passed moderation in the first place.

        Like, meta...

        1. mamsey
          Happy

          It's OK...

          ... if you google the following it is all within the first result.

          newzbin2 secret tor

          1. Anonymous Coward
            WTF?

            Secret?

            How is something a secret if Google returns it as the first search result?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          running over Tor's hidden service

          @Tom Chiverton 1: My post with the new URL for Newsbin2 running over Tor's hidden service ..

          Never mind ... we've got our own way of accessing such unapproved services ....

      2. ShellShockeD

        hmmmm....

        but shrill do .................

  3. Bibbleq
    Stop

    definition of a "site"

    So at what point does it become a new "site" and need a new court order? when its got a new IP, site name, subnet?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: definition of a "site"

      For the purposes of privacy legislation, in the UK and most of Europe the judiciary tends to regard URLs as a combination of content and routing information. Specifically, everything up to the hostname (http://forums.theregister.co.uk) is considered routing information, and thus interceptable. Everything that comes after (/post/reply/12345) is considered content and thus protected (e.g., under RIPA in the UK). Don't ask me for more specifics as I am not able to access any references right now, but a bit of digging in LexisNexis should come up with relevant jurisprudence.

      Therefore, I presume it's each new hostname or IP that counts as a different site. But don't quote me on it.

  4. Paul Ireland

    Most ISPs already internet block

    <<"We believe in an open internet – we won't do any other blocking," he told us. "We will never stop our customers getting to any service they want to get to.>>

    Website blocking maybe, but internet blocking as a whole? Most ISPs and other companies offering email services already participate in an internet blocking scheme, known as spam blacklist IP blocking, which in simple terms prevents email sent from blacklisted IP addresses (whether the email is bona fide or not) arriving in your inbox.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir

      I believe spam filtering occurs at the application layer, not the network or transport layer.

      In your example if you were to run your own email server then you would need to employ your own spam filters - the ISP hasn't already removed them before sending you your communications.

    2. Not Fred31
      Facepalm

      talk about comparing apples with oranges....

      ...you're comparing apples with ocean liners. There is virtually no similarity between blocking spam and blocking websites

  5. Not Fred31
    Thumb Up

    its a great way of finding out where the best sites are...

    .. and then circumventing the blocking system. I'd never heard of newzbin2 before.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir

      Spot on. I was about to add something to that effect to the end of this statement..

      "it seems we have a way to deal with rogue sites which will benefit the film industry including.."

      ..including anyone who hasn't heard of them yet.

      1. Paul_Murphy

        Is there any chance...

        That the RIAA etc could supply a list of sites that they disagree with and that I may not have heard of?

        Pretty please - then I would <s>white</s>black-list all the sites that they felt were robbing them of their profits (I'm sure robbing comes in therir somewhere) just so that I could be on the safe side.

        I'm just glad that at the age of 46 there are people who feel that they can dictate what I can see or do, where would I be without them?

        Anyway - list please and then I can break out my TOR client and backup their content* for later study.

        ttfn

        *Yeah - I know, but someday I WILL have enough storage for that sort of thing

  6. Angus Wood

    Clarity

    Newsbin2 does not infringe any copyrights, nor does it link to infringing material. What it does do is scan Usenet binaries groups and create files of NNTP message IDs which one can then put in to a separate downloader program and download those messages from a service like Giganews.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      I'm sorry but I have to take you to task on this one.

      Newzbin2 does *exactly* that. It provides you with an NZB file containing direct links to (in the vast majority of cases) copyrighted materials held on Usenet servers, that is it's raison d'etre. I'm a Newzbin(2) customer, have been for years, and I dont try to dress it up in 'legitimate' clothing, all Newzbin customers know what it is and any who deny it are only deluding themselves.

      Can we stop the holier-than-thou attitude on this please? All Newzbin customers (myself included) are freetards, and dont give me that shit about using it to search for Linux distros either, as these are all more readily available from the creators websites anyway.

      Coat, mines the one with poachers pockets.

      1. Rob Crawford

        Err to be honest

        90% of the time that I use bittorrent or the like of newz2bin etc usually involves me looking for an old version of an application which in the course of being updated lost some particular feature that I had previously found useful (where the feature has been spun into a standalone program which I now have to pay for)

        I really would be annoyed if I had my access blocked to something that I really feel that I have a right to.

        As for robbed software or media, that will always be around and be a target that moves too fast for effective control.

      2. Andus McCoatover
        Windows

        Coat, mines the one with poachers pockets.

        I've got a Barbour. That's got an immense poacher's pocket at the back. Good for a couple of rabbits or three. (Nice for a bit of shoplifting, too, if you were so inclined. Just have to leave the rabbits in the shop someplace)

        That's a coat. 35 years old, but still good..

  7. Richard Porter
    Mushroom

    But?

    "The rights-holders said the law was inadequate – but the case shows it is."

    Uh?

    1. Paul_Murphy

      The point being made..

      Was that the rights holders wanted a changein the law (SWAT teams on the doorstep, 3-strikes etc. ectc.) but the current law has been judged to be adequate and not needing changes.

      So the rights-holders have to justify ISPs switching off websites on an individual basis before a judge - not just on a post-it note slipped under a door at BT for instance.

      ttfn

  8. Velv
    Pirate

    Shoot yourself in the foot

    The more time the rights holders spend chasing down court orders to block "sites", the less time they'll spend going after individual users.

    As has already been pointed out, the technology and the law do not live in the same sphere, and there will always be technical solutions to circumvent the law.

    Expect piracy to increase as a result of this ruling

  9. Hayden Clark Silver badge
    Devil

    We should worry about the nature of the court order

    As I expect that soon site-blocking orders will include a super-injunction element, to prevent the publication of the offending URL. The by-product of this will be that censorship will happen out of plain sight - which is just how THEY want it. Once hearings become unreportable, they can get briefer and briefer, until they become perfunctory telephone conversations, or bulk administrative exercises. Imagine a box file full of tightly-packed printed URLs to be blocked, approved weekly, on the nod.

  10. ph0b0s

    "Pick on our freetards over our cold dead corpse"

    Really? That's what you are going with. An ISP wants a judge to look at block requests rather than just taking the media companies word that the site should be blocked. Yep, they are freetard loving a$$holes alright....

    Really try and editorialise a bit better, as if it was sarcastic it did not come across.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      Don't feed the troll.

      It'll only encourage him.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    All this proves

    Is that our legal "experts" and judges don't have a single bloody clue about technology.

    The very same people that will use sites like this are the very same people who can circumvent any futile blocking attempts.

    Each and every time the music / movie industry does this sort of legal bullying it is one more time I will not buy one of their products. This does not mean I will download it either but I am just royally hacked off with these corporations essentially bullying everyone else just because they cannot evolve their markets and are just plain greedy fuckers.

    Lets hope they run out of that sooner rather than later.

  12. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    Paris Hilton

    I've run out of ideas for a witty title

    Nick Lansman; "However, concerns about over-blocking, ease of circumvention and increased encryption are widely recognised, which means that blocking is not a silver bullet to stop online copyright infringement. Rather, as the government-commissioned Hargreaves Review recently found, there should be more focus on offering innovative, fully-licensed content services to give consumers what they are clearly demanding."

    So; the ISPs know it, the government knows it, internet users know it, even the dogs in the street know it! So why have the copyright mafiaa still got their heads stuck up their own arses (or each others arses)?????

    Give me what I want, when I want it, and for a reasonable price, build it and if the product is right people will use it and be glad to pay to use it*. Think Sky+ box and TCM, Film4 etc. I can't wait for netflix to start operating this side of the atlantic.

    * No, it won't get rid of freetards

    Paris, head stuck... oh you know the rest....

  13. paulc
    FAIL

    Common Carrier status...

    BT's big mistake was implementing Clean Feed in the first place as this effectively lost them common carrier status and not being responsible for what was transmitted over their lines.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Common Carrier status..

      The common law concept of Common Carrier has no relevance in the UK's telecomms world. Various statutes apply instead and the situation is, err... not very clear, for a change.

  14. theloon
    FAIL

    "Vision doing well" "we won't do any other blocking" "YouView is coming along" - oh the hilarity

    You almost have to admire the stones on Milner.

    Vision is an industry joke. Youview - another industry laugh. Was it not called Canvas? Oh and why does BT Wholesale Content Connect still seem to have no content after more than 5 years in development? Start-ups with far less resources have gone from zero to hero in less time!

    You only have to watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmhimnAsYWM to see one of the execs bumble his way through a CDN interview...

    The entire industry is going in completely the opposite direction and BT continues to behave like the 3 wise monkeys.

    Not blocking! A highly questionable statement. We all know BT blocks and actively gets in the way of the customer experince using QoS, claiming that they have to protect their customers from themselves and each other. Bit Torrents is blocked, you can test it yourself, no discrimination as to what it is, legal or otherwise. Capacity is "managed" to substantially less than your line speed and their is nothing the user can do about it, specially during peak times.

    You could call BT if you want to hear the standard reply of "We only guarantee X speed in peak hours". X was 2meg last time I called customer service, I had a 8meg service, clocked at 7meg.

    "We believe in an open internet" - yeah really?

    Good luck blocking Newsbinz and other sites, cat and mouse time again. We will all watch this and giggle as the courts and SPs stumble about fly swatting.

    How about turn up a service that people actually want? Portable, affordable, multidevice media platforms.... Oh that's right Apple and others already did ;)

    1. Sir Cosmo Bonsor

      Yet

      Yet apparently you continue to use them as your ISP. Vote with your feet if you want any kind of respect.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      oh wow that interview was painful

      you know the guys talking bull when you forget the question as soon as he starts speaking.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    title

    Why the frig does everyone keep calling it Newzbinz/Newzbins?

    1. Paul Leighton
      Happy

      I'm happy with that

      Let them block newsbinz then.. at least newzbin will still work :D

  16. b166er

    Dream on

    I say BT are complicit and they've just scored a very lucrative deal with the studios for their Vision platform, to offset the inconvenient 'being seen to do the right thing' court costs.

    As always, thank fuck BT isn't my ISP.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Dream on

      BT already offers commercial movies over IP on its Vision service, and needs to make money. None of that is a conspiracy, I believe the phrase is "business model".

      1. MonkeyBot

        Re: Re: Dream on

        When BT's customers (who *pay* for that service) are called freetards, I don't see why a business model can't be called a conspiracy.

        It's not like the two are mutually exclusive.

  17. Pseu Donyme

    Slippery slope

    surely ? As in blocking a search engine that merely facilitates infrigement but does not directly participate. At least BT did not cave in directly ...

  18. PyLETS
    Flame

    Ludicrous idea

    The idea that an ISP isn't primarily concerned with providing communications facilities to its customers seems disingenuous. As if their primary motivation is to act as unofficial censor whenever a big enough content company claims something communicated infringes its rights. The job of judge, jury and executioner has to stay with the courts. As if Big Content ever could be trusted to police fair use and act impartially when shareholder value is at stake.

    It's one thing for a court to order the Post Office not to accept parcels from Joe's Cheapest DVD Car-Boot Sale Emporium, as only a court can test the legitimacy of what Joe is selling against an over-complex set of legislation and case law. Expecting the Post Office "voluntarily" to steam open parcels from anyone and second guess the contents when a contributary copyright infringement litigation gun is held against their heads is another thing entirely.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    It's all bollocks anyway

    The copyright infringing material isn't on Newzbin2, or any other usenet indexing site, it is solely on usenet, which is a globally distributed system that cannot (currently) be dismantled by MPAA in the US due to freedom of speech laws, so they can't go after the actual content, only sites that exist solely to make it easy to access that content.

    Pure search sites will escape all this, so even if you cannot access newzbin2.com, you can use any number of pure usenet search engines, all of which will produce nice nzb files, just like newzbin.

    Even if they go after the search sites, and some judge foolishly allows it, the content is still there. Monitoring message headers from a.b.mm, a.b.mm.x264 and a few others for nzb files will find all current scene releases.

    You'll notice that the complexity increases as I step through these solutions. I think this is the aim of going after indexing sites - make it harder to do, and more people may buy the content instead.

  20. Killraven

    One Wet Dream Away...

    ...from serious journalism. Thanks for the reminder that this is just a blog.

    Freetards and the trenchcoat brigade. Seriously? What twaddle.

    Never mind the multiple studies showing that the biggest "pirates" are also the customers that spend the most honest cash.

    Never mind that you don't have to be a "pirate" in order to understand and appreciate the need for a proper system of justice involving more than some corporate entity pointing a finger and going "punish them".

    Just, never mind at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Err...

      "...Never mind the multiple studies showing that the biggest "pirates" are also the customers that spend the most honest cash..."

      Cite them then, I've never heard of any study that says copyright infringers spend the most money (I presume implicit in that is that they spend the money on media.)

      1. Killraven

        Alright then...

        2003: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/world/2003-09-17-europe-downloaders_x.htm

        2005: http://www.warsystems.hu/hirek/professional/research-shows-that-fileshares-also-are-big-spenders-on-legal-music-downloads/

        2005: http://www.zeropaid.com/news/5584/illegal_downloaders_are_also_biggest_spenders_research/

        2009: http://www.radioandmusic.com/content/editorial/news/illegal-uk-downloaders-are-big-spenders-study

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC 29/07/11 17:15 - Google is your friend

        Well, there are the following reports (all commissioned by governments you'll notice and not the industry more interested in putting out deliberately skewed figures)

        http://www.rieti.go.jp/en/publications/summary/11010021.html

        http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ippd-dppi.nsf/eng/h_ip01456.html

        http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2009/01/dutch-government-study-net-effect-of-p2p-use-is-positive.ars

        And the one study that *was* commissioned by one of the movie companies was apparently conveniently suppressed.

        http://www.geek.com/articles/geek-cetera/movie-industry-bins-report-proving-pirates-are-great-consumers-20110720/

        So that's a study done for the Canadian government. One for the Japanese government and one for the Dutch government. All supporting the conclusion that 'pirates' are actually amongst the best customers for films and DVDs. Plus one that was apparently suppressed because those that commissioned it found the conclusions 'unpleasant'.

  21. Daniel Owen

    Site Defence

    If I am a provider of a copy protected work, even if it's as small as a one man band photographer. Can I now ask the court to block google as they are linking to my work on a completely different site?

    Would the court invite google to defend itself? (they didn't invite newzbin2)

  22. g e

    Said it earlier, worth repeating.

    Buy your movies & music secondhand.

    When it's too expensive to do business in the current model, these massive media organisations will have to make changes.

    They exist on money, and the consumers control it.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    London Metro front page:

    "Film industry sinks Movie pirates"

    A few ORG quotes aside, it was a straight-up press release from the **IA.

    BT are now ordered to use their CleanFeed system to try to block Newzbin, and presumably also TPB just as soon as the **IA lawers can cite precedent at a suitably gullible judge.

    CleanFeed was, until now, a low-profile initiative designed to help limit the amount of CP being downloaded in the UK. Now instead, it will likely be targetted for circumvention by the army of 'freetards' (sic) who do not believe that the word theft can be legitimately applied to intangible assets.

    I just hope the peados don't end up benefitting from this disgusting cartel stitch-up.

  24. LittleTyke

    How can people obtain old movies other than from Usenet?

    While ripping off the studios is wrong, and I can rent a recent DVD from my local library for £1 for a whole week, one thing that Usenet provides is access to many thousands of old movies, documentaries, and radio and TV shows that are simply not available to buy anywhere. There is a billion dollar business out there waiting to happen for some keen entrepreneur. I'd do it, except I'm too old now to cope with the stress.

  25. Roger Mew

    MMMm

    So lets get this right, using a hide IP address and thru a proxy server that means that the BT march off to say Malaya and stonk a block yeah get real. All this sort of thing is purely for non technical legal nits. Lets face it with so many free Proxy servers one can go anywhere.

    Lets us suggest that UK law is so all over the world, UK police act throughout the world. How stupid.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kinda of odd...

    Given the extreme ways that BT "manage" their network, I find it a little odd that they are suddenly defending neutrality.

    By extreme I mean an Infinity connection which can run at 37/8mbs, but during "peak" times (4pm-midnight and most of the weekends) is limited to <500kbs down and 1mbs up if you happen to use p2p.

    Whilst their claim that p2p can seriously impact services sounds valid, their management is not prioritising other traffic, it's a set value throttle (one that makes my old 2mbs ADSL seem fast). Once midnight passes and the throttle comes off (sometimes they seem to forget) the torrents start flying - which seems strange... If all the bandwidth hogging torrents have been pushed into the same time window, and all trickling along until 00:01 ticks by, surely when they are all released at the same time their "excessive" consumption should result in only a marginal speed increase. Yet in my experience there is a sudden jump into the 10+ mbs region.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legitimate use...

    Apart from linux distros, and replacement ISOs of software you own but the CD/DVD you have has failed, there is another legitimate use for walking on the dark side.

    As a software author I regularly trawl P2P/Usenet etc, looking for hacks and cracks to my software and leaked serial numbers. It's just like the car manufacturers/testers employing (hopefully reformed) car thieves to test vehicle security.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Incompetence ?

    Classic fail here !

    Block the intermediary that provides a link to Usenet while leaving the individual Usenet providers alone.

    Perhaps it would be too costly & difficult to prosecute each Usenet provider.

    After all each provider maintains a separate copy of the offending file(s).

    Thanks for the free advertising BT, I didnt know Newzbin2 existed prior to this.

  29. Richard Kettlewell

    NSPs

    I've long been curious why the MPAA (etc) don't go after the NSPs directly, rather than wasting their time on indexing sites. As far as I know there aren't even that many of them (that actually carry binaries groups).

  30. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    At least you don't have Mediacom...

    They do "3 strikes" with regards to torrents and such, shutting off service after each "strike" -- but, have their IP address->cable mdoem database scrambled so in actuality they shut people's service off at random. When they did this to me, that was when I cancelled service.

    Now, they do DNS hijacking (with an opt-out, that reportedly intermittently doesn't work.) Instead of returning a proper DNS response indicating a name doesn't exist, it falsely claims non-existent names are mediacom's server, which (for port 80 at least) serves up loads of ads and crap.

    MUCH worse, they interfere with HTTP connections, hijacking 404s to go their ad and crap-filled page -- with NO opt out (they falsely claim they have one, it doesn't work and they've theoretically been "looking into it" for about 6 months.. which to me means they *aren't* looking into it, that is just a stall tactic.). What pisses me off about this is a day or two ago, I wasted an hour thinking a site had mysteriously lost it's DNS, just to find out they had hijacked my 404 page.

    To top it off, apparently now insert their OWN ads into pages such as google (luckily I haven't seen this yet). I guess they are thinking twice about this after some friendly calls from site owner's lawyers.

    Apparently they even do all this now for *commercial* lines, including the inability to opt out. No, I don't have service from them and never will in a miilion years if they won't give me a clean internet connection; but I saw all this crap first-hand via wifi.

  31. Glen Turner 666

    BT just want indemnity, and that's what they now have

    Looking at it from BT's view they have what they want, which is no one suing them for taking a site offline. BT's nightmare was a worthy (say, a medicines handbook) but hacked (say, torrenting) site, BT taking that offline, and then being whacked by the site and its users for compensation, contributory negligence, or worse. Now that's all a court's problem and if BT are merely following a court order then BT can't be touched legally, no matter how poor the decision of the court.

  32. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  33. Colin Millar

    What an irrelevant waste of time

    Looks like the lawyers all got paid and nothing changed.

    If a UK court tells BT to do something they will do it - great - what's new?

    Whatever BT does or doesn't think about this hardly matters - ISPs have continually tried to dodge any sort of responsibility for anything and if they end up inside some complex, expensive and unsuitable legal/regulatory system it's their own stupid fault (although we will all end up paying for that).

    And why do the rights associations think this sort of move is of any use at all? Their current business model is based on a monopolistic approach which every other economic sector has written off as failed. They need to move into the 20th Century (or even the 19th would do). Their economic and trading strategy is pretty much straight out of the British East India Company handbook.

  34. takuhii
    FAIL

    But surely SOME sites must be blocked by default

    Surely ISPs block some sites by default? Kiddie porn and so on, they can't CONDONE that sort of thing, SURELY????!

  35. Daniel Owen

    Legalise cleanfiler bypass

    One of the major problems I see with this ruling is that previous breaking cleanfeed was illegal, not because of the technicalities in doing so but because if you did you were essentially downloading CP.

    Now you break cleanfeed and simply be accessing an index file (that there is nothing illegal about). Yes it can be used for illegal purposes but on it's own there isn't anything illegal.

  36. BritBloke
    FAIL

    what-a-crock

    "We will never stop our customers getting to any service they want to get to."

    That obviously doesn't extend to email. BT have been performing wholesale blocks on emails from legitimate websites for a number of years based on very small numbers of "spam" reports from idiots who don't know the difference between "report and spam" and "unsubscribe".

  37. Bob. Hitchen
    Paris Hilton

    Dumb & Dumber

    This is a hoot. Son't need anything complicated just a proxy server. All newzbin does is give the ability to provide a nzb for anything that takes peoples fancy that is on Usenet. Then run something like NOMP with a news server to get all the bits and pieces using the nzb as a template. I don't know how many people still use Usenet and those that do will be resourceful. I just can't see the point of the exercise.unless it is just a stalking horse to block masses of websites downstream.

    Paris regularly contributes to the newzbin sister site.

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