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back to article Million pound Usenet indexer found guilty

Newzbin, a website which indexed Usenet files, but did not host them, has been found liable for copyright infringement by the High Court of Justice in London . Newzbin was a members-only website and had turnover of more than £1m in 2009. It provided members with a search engine for Usenet groups. Precise terms of the judgement …

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Gold badge
FAIL

That defence.

"......mainly used to search for Usenet discussions rather than binary content."

The fact that they called themselves "Newzbin", an obvious play on "NewsBin" (to quote the wobblypedia[1]: "one of the first news clients dedicated to downloading binary content from Usenet"), is a bit of a giveaway here.

Sawing off one of the few legs your defence has to stand on right at the start? Not a good idea.

[1] I make no apologies.

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Stop

Sounds like...

"Any of the material we index can be found on any one of thousands of sites on the Internet so pursuit of us is a futile waste of everyones time and money"

To be read as: "Why are you pinking on us? It isn't fair! If they can do it why can't we? Why are you letting them off?"

Don't wannabe a shill for the record companies, but if you are going to index copyrighted content and make no effort to remove indexes of copyrighted material, then you are aiding and abetting. Simple as.

Besides which, I don't believe that they are purely interested in linux distros, RPM's, DEB's or whateverbuntu's. I'd warrant 95% of their indexed content is porn and copyrighted films or music.

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Anonymous Coward

Not quite true

They have a takedown procedure as do many other websites. Judging from their own actions they do not ignore these requests either.

That said, from what I've heard given the categories in use it would be clear to most people what they intended the site to be used for.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Take down request

But you do have to send the requests via post. Judge found this to be deliberately cumbersome.

Having read a lot of it, seems to me the case is for "infringing copyright" and not assisting in it. Does read like the judge forgets halfway through they dont actually provide the copyrighted material

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps...

...it's made more cumbersome to try and avoid abuse of the system by the media industry and thier use of automated processes that often get it wrong?

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Anonymous Coward

95%

"I'd warrant 95% of their indexed content is porn and copyrighted films or music."

That's probably because 95% of what is uploaded to Usenet is porn and copyrighted material.

If the Internet was 95% porn, then 95% of Google's index would be porn.

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Bronze badge

95%

it is... just turn safesearch off...

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Flame

Bought laws and judges.

"Don't wannabe a shill for the record companies, but if you are going to index copyrighted content and make no effort to remove indexes of copyrighted material, then you are aiding and abetting. Simple as."

Bullshit, imho. Who is _really_ infringing the copyright here?

The guy who puts something in the Usenet or the company who searches from the material that is _publicly available to anyone_? Even you.

You see that MPAA is not doing _anything_ to sue those delivering the content, the real infringers. That should be the least requirement before you can sue anybody for abiding.

"Guilty by giving the address" is the point here and that's ridiculous: It's not by any definition copyright infringment.

The judge is an idiot and the law is even more idiotic. "Abiding" needs that there's also somebody doing the real "crime" (=infringment) at same court: Did you see those? I didn't.

So judge decides whatever he wants, basically: I'm 100% sure there is perfectly valid grounds for exactly opposite decision, also.

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Pirate

Re:

"I don't believe that they are purely interested in linux distros, RPM's, DEB's or whateverbuntu's. I'd warrant 95% of their indexed content is porn and copyrighted films or music."

If I were paying for their search results I would most certainly hope so!!

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FAIL

QQsnet!

This is plain wrong! Surely? Am I the only one to think this stinks?

On the upside:

A spokeswoman for the MPA said it was not about to go to war with search engines like Google...

Because that would be a bucket of FAIL!

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Silver badge

Of course the MPA's not

going to go to war against Google, though they were happy to hit Newzbin. For much the same reason that a pack of hyenas might be willing to tackle a gazelle, but know they aren't going to get very far against an elephant...

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Anonymous Coward

Is there a lawyer in the house?

While these guys were probably not making the smartest moves possible in the way they represented their purpose, in and out of court, that should still have had no bearing on the case (so don't depend on it for your defence!). Thing is, they're not hosting anything but search results. Like OiNK, and google, and bing, and so on. So why is this indexer liable for the content it indexes, and the others aren't? That alone ought to be enough for an appeal, I say. But you'd need slightly sharper defendants than this. Lawyer comments?

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Gold badge

No, there's never a lawyer on an El Reg forum

"Thing is, they're not hosting anything but search results"

From my reading of the judgement (and I stopped about a quarter of the way through) this is not the case, and that's rather the point.

They were actively involved in manually creating NZB files and hosting them on the site. Had they been just running an algorithm over the internet, they could hide behind the "search results" defence, but once they start authoring and hosting their own content they are surely liable for that content and the judge presumably felt that (unlike a video recorder, say, which has legitimate uses) an NZB pointing to copyrighted material was of no intrinsic value except to assist in copyright infringement.

Similarly, a search engine that finds a libelous statement should not land in hot water, but a website that employs human staff to translate such statements into various languages for the benefit of subscribers might very well find itself a little warm and wet.

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Badgers

Wasn't that Pirate Bays Defence?

"Had they been just running an algorithm over the internet, they could hide behind the "search results" defence"

I thought that's what Pirate Bay tried?

The main reason Google, Bing, and the larger companies arent being targeted has already been stated. They pay lip service to take down requests and they are simply too big

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Anonymous Coward

Binsearch

....and countless others are just as good.

Nothing to see here ;)

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WTF?

"This verdict confirms that..."

"... such websites have a duty of care to prevent the availability of illegal content on their websites."

Like if you put "<text> torrent" the search box in Google?

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*sniff*

It will be missed if it disappears completely....

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FAIL

The War on Search Engines

The RIAA rep crows that they're not currently targeting Google but..... "websites have a duty of care to prevent the availability of illegal content on their websites".

So let's look forward to a China-friendly world where all net searches are automatically filtered to remove anything illegal, offensive or transgressive (by the standards of any individual, corporation or nation with the power to sue). Their version of Web2.0 will look like AOL circa 1993 - just links to nice, safe shopping & hobby sites.

I'm not a total fan of pirates, hackers, spammers etc, but if I have to take a side I'll stand with them against the smothering embrace of the RIAA pigopoly.

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FAIL

RIAA?

You can't even get the basics right. It was the MPA not the RIAA.

Freetards is not very bright today.

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Insert acronym

MPA, RIAA, whatever. They're all trying to do the same thing.

Same shit, different wrapper.

I'm all for copyright used appropriately to protect creative work as intended. The RIAA and MPA and other organizations like them are abusing copyright law to protect their oldthink business models and lousy me-too content that's anything but creative.

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WTF?

Hah

>>A spokeswoman for the MPA said it was not about to go to war with search engines like Google<<

Yes, because they'd spank you and send you crying home to mommy. No, you don't want to go to war with Google.

>>She said: "This verdict confirms that such websites have a duty of care to prevent the availability of illegal content on their websites."<<

No. It proves what any other lawsuit proves. You have more money and can bamboozle judges better than than your victims can show the truth.

The truth doesn't help in a case like this where a judge probably doesn't even know what a search index is, how to understand electronic process, let alone how to judge a case based on one.

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Thumb Down

But note, *no* content hosted on *their* servers

This routine is almost as farcical as the US patent office.

There is a *lot* of binary content on usenet.

*Some* of it is no doubt copyright.

But hey, going after the posters might cost *real* money and time.

Thumbs down for this very poor judgement.

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FAIL

MPAA..

Like trying to stop sand falling through your fingers, why dont they just create their own movie download service instead of wasting time with this crap?

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Anonymous Coward

Because apparently they are ...

a bit thick...

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FAIL

a bit thick?

Film, TV and Music industries need to understand simple concepts. Put their prices down and there will be no incentive for people to bother downloading for free.

If HD movies were sub $5 without DRM who would even be concerned about a free copy? Perhaps only those who would never consider paying at any price.

I thought it was already an accepted fact that those who illegally download music in UK also spend more on average on music than those who do not.

If the industry vultures who prey on the creatives who actually make the material we consume werent so short sighted and greedy then they would already be a solution.

The pr0n industry have embraced and innovated with regard to digital content, some have prospered - those who deserve to fail do so.

Until creatives, consumers and govt realise the problem is the ignorant tw@ts that run these industries not people who pirate we will all be ripped off / criminalised / exploited.

This is a win for 17 overpaid VPs at Sony / Colombia and wherever; well done - with enough money who cant confused a stupid judge.

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Anonymous Coward

Incentive?

There are many things in life I'd like but I can't afford.

I have an incentive for not stealing them, though. It's called 'the law'.

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Anonymous Coward

Silly boy

Ahhh. That old stinker again.

You don't do something because you are afraid of the authorities, rather than not doing something because it is wrong. You must be a nice person to know.

A bit like those religious 'tards who think that if you don't believe in Jebus then what would stop you from raping and pillaging all the time.

Oh yeah, it's not theft you stupid fecker.

I t ' s C O P Y R I G H T I N F R I N G E M E N T n o t t h e f t .

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Unhappy

annoyed...

as a regular user fo Newzbin, its intergration with my usenet downloader was second to non at the time i signed up for it. And yes there may be content on its index that is copywrite, but they activly took it down in a speedy manour.

Much how wikipedia gets its content from users submissions, so does newzbin. You cant control the masses all the time.

As others have said, Nezbin IMO was an easy target. Bad judges, bad lawers.

Nar mind, ill just have to get my NZB's from elsewhere.... like Google!

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FAIL

Observe...

...freetard spelling, punctuation and grammar

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WTF?

Erm... ok...

"not about to go to war with search engines like Google"

So there is a difference in the way the results are presented to me if I were to type:

'<Generic Film Name> NZB'

Or

'<Generic Film Name> Torrent'

into Google? I don't think so, google provide me with a snippet of text from the page, plus the link, and also a cached copy should the site be down!

"This verdict confirms that such websites have a duty of care to prevent the availability of illegal content on their websites."

Either that makes no sense, or what the MPA mean is websites are responsible for their own content. If that IS what the MPA means then all it does is prove they are talking cr@p, if that isn't what they mean then it proves they are talking cr@p...

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Try it

If I type "avatar torrent" I get a link to a website, not the torrent itself. I can see the difference. Can you?

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@Anomalous Cowherd

What happens if you search for "avatar filetype:torrent"?

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Try it

'If I type "avatar torrent" I get a link to a website, not the torrent itself. I can see the difference. Can you?'

Two degrees of Kevin Bacon instead of one? Is that where infringement officially ends?

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Anonymous Coward

Money

I think the biggest problem is the fact that they make money.

The argument many people have used in the past is that the MPAA are not losing any money since the people who download copyright material would not have paid for it anyway. The fact that Newzbin charge a fee shows that people are willing to pay. Not so much freetards as cheaptards.

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money?

Then surely the correct response is to steal the idea and do it on the legal. If there was a newzbin run by the MPAA then they could capitalise on peoples desire for protected content.

Im pretty sure even at 10 times the price [Newzbin charges 30p a week] millions of people would pay for a legal alternative.

MPAA are too stupid to adapt their business model to survive the inevitable. Movies will be downloaded no matter who they sue, someone will get paid - just not them for the moment.

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Paris Hilton

Not going after google!

Of course they wont go after google for the simple reason that the movie industry needs search engines to like it and index searches of its new releases.

If they went after google all google would do is block all searches related to content from MPAA members, pull trailers from you tube and effectively kill the market.

Forget the legalities of it all, google doesnt need to win the lawsuits, they will get withdrawn in a shot.

Paris - equally likely to sue google!

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nullvoid

it sounds like the reports created by the editors were there downfall, added to the auto imdb link and warez categories they did not have a leg to stand on. but my upmost respect to the owner Cesium, his decision to keep no server logs protected his users/editors anonmymity

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Anonymous Coward

downloading a .nzb is not downloading the file itself.

Just because you have the .nzb does not mean you downloaded the file, this is far less watertight than the bit-torrent ip farce that the ambulance chasers use. You cannot prove that just because someone downloaded a pointer to a file, they have the file themselves.

To prove you downloaded the file, one would need to know which of the many usenet providers you use, and then submit a court order to them to force them to hand over their logs of the threads you downloaded..

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agreed

Its odd that this wasnt part of their defence!

If I use a tomtom to find an exs new house so that I can go round and kill her does that mean tomtom are liable?

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Paris Hilton

Why did they bother?

There's a tonne of indexers on the web, which people will disperse to. So this will not increase sales revenue in the slightest. It's not like a torrent site where there's a central index to a load of files, with usenet there's multiple indexes to the same files, which you then use your usenet provider to grab.

It's not even like you *need* an indexer anyway, you could still get your binaries by downloading headers and searching with a newsreader.

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Absolutely

Newzbin don't provide anything that you can't get anyway by using a newsreader, they just make it a bit easier to find.

This case is a joke and as someone above pointed out, it seems the judge forgot the difference between hosting material and indexing it.

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RE: No need for index

Agreed and a large part of the case seems to hinge on this...

"# As Mr Clark further explained, if a user wished to retrieve such a large group of files directly from Usenet, he would have to identify all the messages they incorporate, download them one at a time and then use a separate software application to assemble them together. This would clearly be an onerous and inconvenient task and take days to accomplish. It could also be extremely frustrating, as Mr Elsworth himself elaborated. A user might spend a great deal of time and effort downloading the majority of the messages only to discover that one message, the final piece in the jigsaw, was missing. In that event he would be prevented from reconstituting the work and his days of effort would have been wasted."

I reckon it could be done in minutes not days.

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No need for index?

The index helps one know what is available - theres no need for the NZB. Equally you could got to TVRage or TV.com and see what was aired last night in USA or IMDB to see what came out on DVD etc,

Using any usenet client you could just search for the file and select the list of articles yourself. A download and repair takes under 15 minutes and is fully automated by grabit et al....

Why not post the NZBs on USENET rather than the website, problem solved

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@nsld

"Of course they wont go after google for the simple reason that the movie industry needs search engines to like it and index searches of its new releases.

If they went after google all google would do is block all searches related to content from MPAA members, pull trailers from you tube and effectively kill the market."

Interesting points. Why you make it sound like Google is virtually a monopoly.

Thumbs up for the point.

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Anonymous Coward

Google is a monopoly

"Interesting points. Why you make it sound like Google is virtually a monopoly."

.... maybe because it is?

At least now.

It also behaves like one and if you don't believe, read their CEO's comments, he's an ignorant idiot and makes the company slogan "Do no evil" to a some kind of cruel joke to users.

More realistic would be "Do as much evil you can".

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FAIL

Legal Alternative. We Are Still Waiting zzzzzzzz

If only the movie industry would create a decent legal Movie download site.

(and before the Mactards arrive iTunes is a million miles away from 'decent')

People are clearly willing to pay for a download service. Trouble is the Movie industry is either too clueless or too greedy to work it out.

The Movie industry would like to charge you £15 every time you watched a film. Ideally if you watch a film at home they would like to charge every person/animal who catches a glimpse of the screen. If you don't pay you are supporting terrorism or some other such rubbish.

I would pay for a legal TV episode download site. No DRM, sensible formats and a sensible price is all I ask. Not difficult considering this available for free, now. Its a no brainer. Unless you are an out of touch Hollywood exec.

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Pint

Questions

They made a ton of wonga so that made then stick out like a sore thumb!

Indexing is wrong? Right, so when are Google et al gonna get lynched then?

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Ton of wonga?

Turning over just under a million and making 300k profit doesnt sound like a ton of money to me!

Unless its in pound coins.

Im sure plenty of ad supported torrent and usenet sites make just as much. Registering as a legal entity in UK was the issue.

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WTF?

Make your results behave the same as google? Yes?

They state that they have no intentions of going after Google then all newsbin have to do is present there results just like google? Problem solved and no infringement? Simple as, surely?

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Black Helicopters

Maybe the small indexers should check if Google is being evil

"A spokeswoman for the MPA said it was not about to go to war with search engines like Google."

This is a great way for Google to get a legally-allowed monopoly in Blighty, and perhaps all of the EU as well, while Hollywood pays for it.

I wonder why Hollywood would pay for Google to get a monopoly?

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