Six Hollywood Movie Studios Win U.K. Landmark Copyright Case to Block Pirate Website

20th Century Fox

 (20th Century Fox)

Six major Hollywood movie studios won a landmark copyright case at London's High Court on Thursday to force the UK's biggest internet service provider (ISP) to block access to a pirate website.

The Motion Picture Association (MPA), which represented the studios, sought to prevent the Newzbin.com site from making money through copyright infringement using BT Group's internet service.

The ruling is the first to force an ISP to block access to such websites and paves the way for similar action against other pirate websites. MPA executive Chris Marcich hailed it as "a victory for millions of people working in the UK creative industries and demonstrates that the law of the land must apply online."

BT added that it "provides clarity" on the issues and "clearly shows that rights holders need to prove their claims and convince a judge to make a court order," saying that the company would return to court after the summer to explain "what kind of order we believe is appropriate."

Around 700,000 members use the Newzbin service, making over £1 million ($1.6 million) a year for the website's operators, according to estimates from the MPA.

Downloads on the site included recent Hollywood movie releases, as well as thousands of music and TV shows.

Under a previous action also brought by the MPA, the High Court in London ordered Newzbin to remove copyrighted material in March 2010, but the site went into administration, avoiding the payment of costs and damages. Its anonymous owners reopened the site in June 2010 as "Newzbin2" and made it clear they would continue to move jurisdiction to avoid being shut down by the courts in future, the MPA said.

Blocking orders already were made using similar legislation in other European countries -- most notably in Italy, where action by ISPs to prevent websites that are focused on infringement has been effective, Dow Jones Newswires reported, citing the MPA.

The MPA's members are Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, part of Walt Disney Co.; Paramount Pictures Corp.; Sony Pictures Entertainment, part of Sony;

Twentieth Century FOX Film; Universal Pictures, a subsidiary of NBC Universal; and Warner Bros. Entertainment, a subsidiary of Time Warner.

Twentieth Century FOX Film is owned by News Corp., which also owns NewsCore.