Simpsons Solicitors

Landmark UK decision on ISP liability

August 4th 2011

At a time when debate is raging about ways to tackle online infringement of copyright, an English court has handed down a landmark decision ordering England’s largest ISP, BT, to block access to an infringing website.

This is the first time that section 97A of the UK’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act – which implements obligations under Europe’s Information Society Directive – has been tested. This section enables injunctions to be granted where an ISP “has actual knowledge of another person using their service to infringe copyright”.

The case follows on from a previous decision that a website operated by Newzbin Ltd infringed the copyright of the film studio applicants. The film studios contended that the only way to obtain effective relief to prevent or at least reduce the scale of these infringements was to seek an order for BT to block access to the NewzBin site. The High Court of England and Wales found in the studios favour.

This outcome is in contrast to the Full Federal court decision in Roadshow Films Pty Limited v iiNet Limited [2011] FCAFC 23 (24 February 2011). The English High Court’s discussion of the meaning of “knowledge” under section 97A of the CDPA compared with 1911 and 1956 UK Copyright Acts will be of interest to Australian readers.

Full text of the High Court’s decision is available here.

For more information about this case to to: http://www.copyright.org.au/news-and-policy/details/id/1990/

For inquiries relating to publishing and copyright law please contact Adam Simpson.