London judge holds website liable for piracy

The High Court of Justice in London handed a victory to Hollywood studios on Monday after it ruled that the website Newzbin Ltd. is liable for copyright infringement as users sought out links on its site to pirated movies.

In his judgment, Justice David Kitchin wrote that Newzbin “engaged in a deliberate course of conduct well knowing that the vast majority of materials in the Movies category of Newsbiz are commercial and so likely to be protected by copyright and that the users of Newzbin who download those materials are infringing that copyright.” The precise terms of a court order are expected to be announced later this week, although Kitchin indicated that an injunction would extend only to protecting studio movies and not other potentially copyrighted material.

Newzbin had argued that it was a “passive” service, and that it was “merely acting as an intermediary in providing a link to sites” where studio films could be downloaded.

The Motion Picture Assn., representing the six major studios, said that the ruling was significant to the implementation of European legislation in the UK because it showed that Internet intermediaries “are increasingly being used by third parties to infringe copyright, and that such parties are in the best position to bring such illegal activities to an end.”

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