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High Court rules against Newzbin

High Court rules against Newzbin

Newzbin's Usenet gateway service - which provides a way to search for files, including copyright content - has been found to infringe copyright.

In a move designed to send shivers down the backs of downloaders everywhere, the High Court of Justice has ruled that a company providing a gateway to binary Usenet files can be held liable for breach of copyright carried out by its users.

In the ruling, Newzbin Ltd - a UK-based company which provides links to files held on Usenet servers, enabling its customers to easily find and download copyright and public domain content - was found to be engaging in copyright infringement, despite not actually hosting any files itself. Although the details of the court order have not yet been made public, it is believed that the court will order Newzbin to cease its operations until such time as it can reasonably guarantee that copyright material is not made available through its service without rights holders' permissions.

The ruling was welcomed with open arms by UK rights group the Motion Picture Association, with general counsel Ted Shapiro stating that Newzbin represented "a source of immense damage to the creative sector in the UK and worldwide," and claiming that the ruling "sends a clear message that websites focusing on providing viewers with pirated films and TV programmes infringe copyright and are liable for their actions even where those websites don't themselves host the content."

The move comes as file sharers come under increased scrutiny ahead of the proposed Digital Economy Bill, which seeks to introduce punishments including disconnection from the Internet for those who stand accused of participating in the illicit trade of copyright content online.

Although considered a victory for rights holders such as the MPA and the companies it represents, the court's ruling will come as a blow to those who used Newzbin's services and could very well spell the end of the company's operations in the UK.

Do you believe that services such as Newzbin should be held accountable for the actions of their users, or are they blameless as they don't host the files in question themselves? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

13 Comments

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mi1ez 31st March 2010, 13:33 Quote
What the hell? It's just a search right? granted a usenet specific search, but a search nonetheless. 'king ridiculous.
Sleepstreamer 31st March 2010, 13:39 Quote
The difference between Newzbin and other search engines/indexing sites is that there is manual checking involved before adding the item to the index, which is probably why they where found guilty.
leexgx 31st March 2010, 13:47 Quote
as long as they still list them (but mark them as DMCAed) you can still always search usernet in condense mode that option is Automatic it basically the same as doing an search on usernet it self

its all the categorizes as well that went against them as well, and the idea of Rapidhsare redirecting to legal sites and there thinking that if they fail 3 times they are going to pay for it is not likely
Fizzban 31st March 2010, 13:48 Quote
Seems unfair to me as they don't actually host the data themselves. But there are some who will think pointing the way to copyrighted content is as bad as actually hosting it. Depends greatly on your point of view.

Personally I think it's ridicules. Where do you draw the line with it? Do you start prosecuting search engines like Google for pointing the way to the torrent sites? If I was Newzbin I would appeal.
will. 31st March 2010, 14:03 Quote
Ars did an article about this, and all props to the judge, he had his head screwed on. The Newzbin guys just thought they could get away with the whole "It's just a search engine" defence. They really didn't seem to know what to say and I got the impression they started out cocky and quickly realised that they are not the Pirate Bay.

Still rubbish though, I use Newzbin, A LOT, and I'd hate to see it go down the pooper.
skunkmunkey 31st March 2010, 14:41 Quote
Another example of a flawed justice system, hell... a flawed goverment. Its not like you cant just use your newsreader to search for the files anyway... I use newzbin for TV shows, specifically ones that don't air over here in the uk or when they sky box decides not to record my stuff. The shutting down of newzbin is nothing more than an inconvenience...
NuTech 31st March 2010, 14:52 Quote
I recommend anyone interested to read the full judgement , Newzbin's defence and legal team was so horrendous that the Judge had no option but to side with the MPA.

For some insane reason their legal council advised them to play ignorant to the common usage of Newzbin and instead defend it as a 'text article reader' and 'home movies indexer'. Nobody wins a case by playing dumb to a Judge, I imagine it just pisses him off instead.
Zurechial 31st March 2010, 16:25 Quote
Suck it up, pirates! :D
brave758 31st March 2010, 16:46 Quote
Does this mean google is next!
Javerh 31st March 2010, 17:50 Quote
^^ Google shows where your Porsche is parked on Google Maps. That's definitely siding with the auto sharers!
BLC 31st March 2010, 19:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by NuTech
I recommend anyone interested to read the full judgement , Newzbin's defence and legal team was so horrendous that the Judge had no option but to side with the MPA.

For some insane reason their legal council advised them to play ignorant to the common usage of Newzbin and instead defend it as a 'text article reader' and 'home movies indexer'. Nobody wins a case by playing dumb to a Judge, I imagine it just pisses him off instead.

Definitely a case of TL;DR! ;) I will read the judgement, but currently waiting for a knock on the door from Dominos..... :p

Although I have just read a Register article on the subject (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/31/newzbin_ruling/)... The company said it had "notice and takedown" policy, but the judge decided that it was most certainly not being utilised. As other posters have pointed out, the company used editors to classify content; the instructions given to editors also appeared to encourage the proper and consistent classification of copyrighted material, because that was the number 1 reason that people use the site.
greyhavens24 3rd April 2010, 16:05 Quote
Look, put simply, we all know that downloading software that you should pay for is illegal. It doesn't matter how much you justify it or state you only trying the software out before you buy is a very thin and tenuous defence. I do think that perhaps software in general and games certianly should look at a slightly different model. How many people would buy say Dragon Age: Origins for a £5.00 and then pay extra for DLC if they like the game and want to experience more of the game?

If you are actively assisting an illegal action then what you are doing is essentially illegal - isn't that incitement to commit an offence or assisting an offender? If I was to post on Facebook that my next door neighbour was going on holiday for 2 weeks and my neighbours and I are all out at work during the day and my neighbour that's on holiday gets burgled am I not doing the same thing? I have actually pointed out exactly where and when to burgle my neighbours house and have made it easier for a crime to be committed for those individuals that want to commit a burglary. Downloading software is illegal, it is theft and the sooner we stop it, the sooner games prices will drop and DRM will become less restrictive.

As for peoples comments about being able to do the same thing with Google. Good Luck to you in:
a) you find what you're actually looking for and
b) getting rid of the trojan/key-logger whatever that's in the file you've downloaded.

Try going to these sites and see what happens with your firewall/anti-virus software. But then I guess that kind of serves you right.

Unfortunately the good of P2P and usenet et al are undermined by a criminal underbody. How many good ideas ( I said ideas, not services) have we lost this way? Kazaa, eDonkey etc that COULD HAVE been a great way of distributing Demos, Legitimate Software etc due to their relative ease of use.

I think newzbit have been treated quite fairly they have been given an opportunity to cease and desist.
ydna666 4th April 2010, 10:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Javerh
^^ Google shows where your Porsche is parked on Google Maps. That's definitely siding with the auto sharers!

You definitely have a point there. I wonder if their lawyer pointed that one out :p
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