Copyright owners are moving to have file-sharing sites blocked in the UK. A few weeks ago, a judge ordered Britain's largest ISP, BT, to block access to the file-sharing site Newzbin2, and now three more ISPS have been asked by the MPA to do the same, ZDNet reports.
Out of the three who were asked to block access, only one, Sky Broadband (part of the Sky Broadcasting Group, which News Corp owns a substantial stake of), have said that they intend to comply. The other two, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, say that they don't intend to follow through unless given a court order. BT was also asked to expand the block to include The Pirate Bay, according to The Guardian. Wasn't it just the other day that Britain's Foreign Secretary, William Hague, was criticizing China for Internet censorship? Since the court order blocking access to Newszbin2, the British web is now no longer considered 'open' either.
Even though copyright owners are doing the right thing by trying to protect their content (it is, after all, their livelihood ), blocking whole websites or, worse, file-sharing in general, is not the answer. Believe it or not, peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing does have legitimate uses; from downloading Ubuntu to updating your World of Warcraft installation, we use P2P technology quite regularly, sometimes without even realizing it. While blocking a site like Newzbin2 doesn't cut out file-sharing in general, it doesn't take much foresight to see what might come next.
By blocking access to a site like Newzbin2, they are probably also blocking access to some amount of genuine content as well. By passing the injunction that blocked access from BT, British courts have set a dangerous precedent that will be hard to reverse, one that has opened the door to having other sites censored and one that could, potentially, lead to other forms of corporate censorship. Still, you've got to commend those ISPs who are willing to stand up against them. What will it take to get the courts to start doing the same thing?
Image courtesy of Newzbin2