In a move that could have major implications for the future of the free web, BT has been ordered by a High Court Judge to block pirate website Newzbin 2.
No, not pirate website as in the Jolly Roger and all that jazz, pirate as in illegal content such as software, music and movies. And it's the first time that an ISP has been ordered to block access to such a site in the UK.
The case was brought by the Motion Picture Association and in his ruling, Justice Arnold stated: "In my judgement it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright: it knows that the users and operators of Newzbin 2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of the studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes.
"It knows that the users of Newzbin 2 include BT subscribers, and it knows those users use its service to receive infringing copies of copyright works made available to them by Newzbin 2."
The case provides a legal landmark, and has unsurprisingly been received with opposite feelings from open-web campaigners and copyright holders.
Copyright campaigner Peter Bradwell of the Open Rights Group said: "Website blocking is pointless and dangerous. These judgements won't work to stop infringement or boost creative industries.
"And there are serious risks of legitimate content being blocked and service slowdown. If the goal is boosting creators' ability to make money from their work then we need to abandon these technologically naive measures, focus on genuine market reforms, and satisfy unmet consumer demand."
However, Lord Puttnam, the president of the Film Distributors' Association, said: "Finally, it seems we have a way to deal with rogue sites which will benefit the film industry including UK independent distributors and, more broadly, the entire creative sector."
Whilst Pocket-lint doesn't approve of illegal file-sharing, we do have concerns that this ruling could lead to further blocks for sites that the powers-that-be don't deem to be acceptable. The web has always been free from the shackles and constraints of the old media, but this judgement could well be the first link in a new control chain.