The Motion Picture Association (MPA) has asked two other UK internet service providers (ISPs) to consent to a court order that would force them to block their customers' access to a copyright-infringing website.
The MPA previously won a High Court ruling against BT forcing it to "block or attempt to block" access to the Newzbin2 website and has asked TalkTalk and Virgin Media to consent to a similar court order.
Newzbin2 is a members-only site which collates links to a large amount of illegally-copied material including films, music and computer games, found on Usenet discussion forums.
A spokesperson for the MPA confirmed to Out-Law.com that the organisation had "contacted the other ISPs" and that it was "involved in constructive discussions" but said it would not comment in any more detail at this stage.
TalkTalk told Out-Law.com that it had received the MPA's letter, but that it considered some of the MPA's proposals "objectionable".
"We have received a letter from the MPA asking whether we would object (in court) to an order for TalkTalk to block access to Newzbin," TalkTalk said in a statement.
"We are considering our position since there are some objectionable elements to the proposed injunction. We will only block access to a website if ordered to do so by a court," it said.
Virgin Media also confirmed that it had received MPA's letter and that it would only act on receipt of a court order.
"The recent Newzbin2 ruling clarifies the legal process for content owners to challenge alleged copyright infringement," a Virgin Media spokesperson said in a statement.
"As a responsible ISP, we will comply with any court order addressed to us but strongly believe such deterrents need to be accompanied by compelling legal alternatives, such as our agreement with Spotify, which give consumers access to content at the right price,” the Virgin spokesperson said.
Out-Law.com asked Sky whether it could confirm if the company had been approached by the MPA to consent to a blocking order, but the company had not responded before this story was published.
Domino effect of BT's court ruling
In July the High Court ordered BT to prevent its customers accessing Newzbin2. Last month, following further court hearings involving the ISP and the Motion Picture Association (MPA), the Court ordered BT to use its 'Cleanfeed' filtering technology to "block or attempt to block" its customers' access to Newzbin2.
The MPA, representing six major film studios - including Warner Brothers, Disney and Fox – had requested the action under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. That Act gives UK courts the power to grant an injunction against an ISP if it had 'actual knowledge' that someone had used its service to infringe copyright.
Claire McCracken, expert in technology law at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that it was only a matter of time following the BT ruling that the MPA would seek similar orders against other major UK ISPs in respect of access to Newzbin2.
"The Newzbin2 matter involves such a large amount of infringing material that it is easy to show that the ISPs concerned have actual knowledge that their service is being used for infringing activities. The complex issues involved have been considered already in the BT case and the future process for obtaining blocking orders, in clear cut cases at least, can only get quicker and less expensive," McCracken said.
Earlier this month the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), which represents major record labels and artists, asked BT to block access to The Pirate Bay website. BPI claims that the file-sharing site "defrauds musicians and other creators of their wages" by supporting illegally copied content. BT has said it is considering its response to the request but that a court order would be needed before any blocking would begin.
BT has used its 'Cleanfeed' filtering system to block the Newzbin2 site, but Newzbin2 operators have claimed that it has developed software to enable BT customers to circumvent the Cleanfeed system. The ISP has mainly used its Cleanfeed technology to block access to websites featuring child abuse images.
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