Wiggin helps Hollywood studios defeat BT in copyright case

The High Court has granted an injunction to six major Hollywood studios that will force British Telecom (BT) to stop its internet users from accessing a website that infringes copyright.

The Hollywood studios, led by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, had sought a High Court injunction under the Copyrights Designs & Patents Act to prevent BT’s customers from accessing the Newzbin website.

Richard Spearman QC of 4-5 Gray’s Inn was instructed by Wiggin partner Simon Baggs to represent the claimants. He went head-to-head with Matrix Chambers Antony White QC, who was instructed directly by BT.

The claimants argued that an injunction was the most effective method of closing down the Newzbin website, which indexed and enabled searching of copyright protected content.

It was argued that the injunction would provide proportionate means to deal with the site and dissuade others from following suit.

BT, the largest internet service provider (ISP) in the UK, denied that it had actual knowledge that the users and operators of Newzbin were using its website to infringe copyright.

A High Court injunction, it argued, would be contrary to its status as a “mere conduit” and BT cannot be expected to enforce copyright holders’ rights.

Mr Justice Arnold granted the injunctions. He stated: “I’m satisfied that the order sought by the studios is a proportionate one.”

The judge also highlighted that the case was perceived by the studios to be a “test case”, adding “if they’re successful in obtaining an order against BT, then they intend to seek similar orders against all other significant ISPs in the UK.

“The other ISPs were informed of the present application in case they wished to intervene, but have not done so.”

The claimant studios were: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal City Studios Productions; Warner Bros Entertainment; Paramount Pictures Corporation; Disney Enterprises and Columbia Pictures.