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back to article Provider: Anti-piracy ruling has 'killed Usenet'

Europe’s biggest Usenet provider News-Service Europe (NSE) says anti-piracy organisation BREIN has "killed Usenet". The Dutch organisation this week lost a landmark case in which it was ordered to remove all pirated content or risk fine of €50,000 per day. "It is technically as well as economically impossible to check the …

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What is a Judge therefore?

> but the judge chose to ignore this legal framework altogether.

What is the point of a Judge if it is not to uphold the law.

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Stop

Judges do not uphold the law, that is the job of the police.

Judges make judgements, if a judge decides that the "legal framework" is unsuitable then he can choose to ignore it. This could be overturned later on by a higher court if the defendants decide to appeal which is why most countries have a series of courts which keeps the various level of judgement in check.

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Meh

Technically easy

On a purely technical level this is simple. Carry usenet, don't carry usenet binaries. This is easy to automatically identify.

On a practical level it won't change anything (too many other distribution channels and there always will be), and on a moral level it would take a very good argument to persuade me this is the right approach, but technically no problem.

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FAIL

Legally tough

Funny how no one has taken on Google for indexing pirated stuff on the web. Blocking video is equally easy.

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WTF?

easy to filter binaries?

Technically there is no difference between a "binary" message and a text one.

Binaries are customarily kept to groups that have "binaries" somewhere in their name, but it's really only a custom to avoid flooding the text groups with garbage ASCII.

It is therefore virtually impossible to filter out binaries. Stop carrying popular binary groups? Other, less conspicuous ones will be created.

Not to mention that posting lyrics and guitar chords would still be infringement. And those would probably go in non-binary groups. At 50 000 a pop, better not carry any group at all...

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Black Helicopters

As others have said its not technically easy.

Now many may wonder "But what organization would demand the impossible?". One funded by the Dutch government and as such one which /needs/ some "victories" every now and then to ensure their next annual payroll. Even if their victory is totally bogus; just look at Piratebay. Man, they were all muscles then, they'd "get piratebay" and at the end it has cost the taxpayers millions of Euro's and Piratebay are still going strong.

Brein is the kind of organization which would prefer if all internet connections were monitored and screened in order to be sure that no illegal content would pass along. The kind of organization which would have no problems with putting the blame onto ISP's, preferably shutting them down entirely (after all; one point for the "good guys", and all those potential criminals who were using their service have now been stopped!).

Its the kind of organization I'd immediately associate with the Stasi in former East Germany, knowing /very/ well what I'm saying here. People talk way too lightly about the Stasi now as if it were a 'mere' agency like MI6, the CIA or FBI. WRONG. But having said that; that is my opinion on BREIN.

They don't care about privacy, freedom of speech, Internet freedom or justice. All they care for is to make sure that the Dutch government keeps them on the payroll (or, in Dutch, they want to ensure their "subsidie").

SO yes; I believe this firm that BREIN tries to destroy Usenet. BUT... Lets also not forget the other aspect; you don't need a 24 lines usenet connection merely to follow Usenet conversations, which is exactly what commercial Usenet providers are offering. So they are not fully free of blame either.

But in this case the remedy is much worse than the "disease".

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Holmes

Well, maybe not easy, but doable

Binaries tend to be split over multiple messages, with some kind of identification which set of messages belong together; text messages are single messages. Also, binaries are encoded, again with the encoding method indicated; text messages aren't. So two attributes that can be used to filter on. Would such a filter catch all? Probably not. Would it show that you're taking a serious effort to drop binaries, whether or not they're carried in binaries groups? Definitely.

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Big Brother

@Stoneshop

Yes what you propose is doable but you are forgetting the bleedin obvious. Not all binaries are made up of illegal content.

There is lots of legitimate legal content which is distributed via Usenet Binaries. Ok I know the vast majority of Binaries are likely to be illigal content but you cannot tar everything with the same brush. Therefore companies providing access to usenet content would not want to block access to all binaries groups as they could not be sure that they are only blocking access to illegal content.

I do not see how it is possible to electronically scan every single binary file in the newsgroups to ascertain if the contents is illegal. The name of the file is no guarantee and the digital content could be anything. Ok software would be easier to identify but a ripped DVD would be harder as the digital content would vary depending on the bit rate and encoding used and would not contain any of the identification markers associated with a DRM.

Therefore the only guaranteed way to block Usenet Binaries with illegal content would be for a human to manually extract and review the content and make a decision on the legal status of the file. The cost to provide this level of checking would be prohibitive and probably more than these companies earn.

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FAIL

Erring on the side of caution

"Ok I know the vast majority of Binaries are likely to be illigal content but you cannot tar everything with the same brush. "

Providers can. It's their servers, their rules; you have no *right* to have your (binary or not, legal or not) article propagated, only a reasonable expectation. If it's erroneously caught in a filter? Tough titties. If they want to keep out binaries, due to the punishment associated with carrying an illegal one, and they do so by blocking all binaries (as best as they can), then so be it. End of story.

If you have a binary to distribute, put it on an ftp server, as $deity intended.

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Yag
Facepalm

next step...

Emasculating all males in order to prevent rapes.

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Anonymous Coward

The answer is simple

Don't carry the binary groups. Most ISPs don't anyway. That leaves 15-20m non-infringing spam messages a day for anyone who wants to read them.

Am getting sick of Chicken Little whining from ISPs that turns out to have no basis in fact. How about advertising your speeds honestly eh, chaps?

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Surely at worst this kills binaries on usenet?

I would have thought that at the worst case this would kill putting binaries on usenet, not usenet entirely, since surely the simplest solution is to just strip all binaries from posts?

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FAIL

How?

Over Usenet, binaries are carried as plain text.

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Anonymous Coward

Double Fail

Last time I used usenet, many many years ago, binaries were sent as raw 8 bit, not ascii encoded

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FAIL

Headers?

Binaries have headers to tell the programs that they are binaries. Linux groups used to use Begin at the front of their message because Outlook Express was to stupid not to know that it wasn't a binary, but the did issue a patch for it. You would have to read every message but you could filter it without a problem. Also all you have to do it get a premium server outside the EU and you would be able to pirate again.

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FAIL

Fail on how Binaries start

Not at all, the BEGIN line was part of the message as placed by a program called UUEncode. it turned all the 8bit characters into 7bit characters that could then be represented as ASCII characters. Look it up.

FIDOnet carried binaries the same way.

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I believe Outlook Ex required "begin" twice to recognise it.

I think nowadays there isn't a good reason to put binary data on Usenet that is -not- copyright infringing. Well, I can just about see it as an alternative to RSS.

I use a few Usenet groups through Google Groups, and the user population is diminishing.

In group talk.origins (creationism and the idiots who believe in it) there's a nasty thread of people who like to grab and post the text of a random web page, letter to editor, etc., promoting creationism and denigrating evolution, and then sit back and let sane but slightly unobservant people try to argue with it. It may appear to be a carefully considered and laid out although fundamentally loopy argument presented, but it isn't its actual author presenting it to us, refutation does have to be done since it's what we're there for but it may have been done already on the original web site, and I would be gratified to see draconian penalties imposed on the copyright-breachers who are doing this ripping-off.

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Anonymous Coward

@downunderrob

*facepalm* Another double fail!*

I wrote:

"Last time I used usenet, many many years ago, binaries were sent as raw 8 bit, not ascii encoded"

You, and the other people who down-voted me should have at least done your research before replying to a double-fail

UUencode is old-school. I've no need to look it up - I've usenet experience of it since 1989.

But as I said, many many years ago, people started using Yenc, which is 8 bit and DEFINTELY not 7-bit ascii.

So I sugest you "Look it up"

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What a shock ...

BREIN estimates at least 80 per cent of binaries shared through Usenet are illegal. That is SUCH a surprise coming from an organisation whose very existence, not to mentiontheir pay, depends on the size of Usenet piracy exceeding the total GNP of most of the western world.

It is impossible to check on the legality of every message.

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My heart bleeds

It may be a challenge to check millions of messages for copyright-infringing works, but it's a lot easier to check messages for "Newsgroups: .*alt\.binaries" and not pass those. Considering how much machine resources get used per useful MB of non-infringing binary files, that's probably not even a bad idea; there's little reason to hide the source of files that are perfectly legal to distribute. And there's nothing in there that says text posts have to go either, which means what I use USENET for doesn't change.

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WTF?

Re: My heart bleeds

> "Newsgroups: .*alt\.binaries" and not pass those

You won't block all infringing binaries that way. So you'd still have to pay 50000 a day.

Plus you'd filter out a lot of non-infringing content.

And that's even before people start creating binary groups that don't have "binaries" in the name.

Not to mention that raw human-readable text can fall foul of copyright laws, too. So yes, text HAS to go I'm afraid.

> there's little reason to hide the source of files that are perfectly legal to distribute.

What exactly do you mean by that?

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Can't we...?

Given the huge variety of ways that copyright laws can be breached, on usenet, the web and in just about every media, I think we need to change our way of thinking about communication.

We need to stop teaching reading/writing skills to the general population, most of whom lets face it have an average reading age of 7 and waste it on the Sun and FHM.

Instead I propse we find a morally incorruptable group and that they be the only people allowed to read & write. They can disseminate acceptable and useful information to the population orally, perhaps once a week meetings in some kind of hall?

-Brother Proffesor G

Monks of Multimedia.

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When BREIN are finished

Hopefully they'll go after the tobacco companies when they're sone with Usenet, working on their logic 80% of joints have tobacco in them.

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Facepalm

"..... working on their logic 80% of joints have tobacco in them."

Which would be a problem in NL why exactly?

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It Kills NSE (for now) and probably other Usenet hosts to follow

From what I can tell from a quick look at their website, NSE make their money by hosting Usenet for others. I would bet that the majority of their customers are Usenet Resellers who sell to Joe Public wanting to download those very binaries that they must now remove.

I imagine some big trucks moving masses of servers cross border to another country etc etc etc

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Copyright trumps child pornography then?

Back in 1999, Felix Somm, the head of Compuserve Germany won an appeal against a conviction for distributing child pornography and nazi propaganda. He'd done nothing wrong himself, but the German courts had previously held him liable on 13 counts, for child pornography being distributed via Usenet (and stored on Compuserve's news servers).

The appeal ruled that Compuserve (and Somm himself) could not be held responsible for content distributed via a global flood-routing system like Usenet. This ruling was used as a precedent in numerous cases afterwards and offered some protection for news service providers.

It seems that copyright trumps everything lately.

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The big companies have not use for it.

So it's not a problem it it gets killed off.

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What about the Internet?

ISPs should be subject to the same rule. ANY packet that contains "pirated" bits should be filtered out by the ISP. Just for consistency. And yes, that includes the tune playing in the background while you chat on Skype.

That way we can all enjoy a nice, clean world with no Usenet or Internet whatsoever.

The French were right, Minitel is the way of the future!

Seriously, the amount of sheer stupidity and complete tech illiteracy in "anti-piracy" groups and "anti-piracy" tribunals is staggering. That's supposed to be their -very well-paid- jobs, you'd think they'd at least pretend to have as much knowledge of it as the average 10 years old kid.

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How about we have a new law that says politicians can only work for the benefit of the electorate as a whole? See how quick Government shuts down then.

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Terminator

It was already dead, Jim

Really? I thoght that Google Groups and all things 2.0 killed Usenet.

Still, I oppose anything that gives BREIN the oxygen of oxygen*

* God, I miss Linda Smith.

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Pint

You mean it wasn't, Shirley?

> I thoght that Google Groups and all things 2.0 killed Usenet.

As you must know, Surely, Google Groups (as well as Yahoo!Groups etc) do act as a www<->nntp gateway. Hence they maintain NNTP servers, Shurley?

Sureley that is more "use Usenet" than "killed Usenet"?*

> Still, I oppose anything that gives BREIN the oxygen of oxygen

Shurely that grants you a +1?

* God, I'd miss Usa Nette if she ever could die.

--

Never call me Jim again; Shirley, you won't.

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Paris Hilton

It's life, Jim, pretty much as we know it

Google Groups is great for indexing Usenet, but useless otherwise. You can't beat a good newsreader.

And there's no problem finding ISPs who carry your favourite technical group, despite what various others have said here. You'd be pretty hard-pressed to find one who carried the binary groups, though.

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http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/fail_32.png

"You'd be pretty hard-pressed to find one who carried the binary groups, though"

Virgin Media anyone? Roughly 8 days retention. Not that would ever.......................

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Stop

To reiterate...

.... alt.binaries is just a title. Any group can be used to post any type of file. Removing alt.binaries.* wont remove copyrighted material posters will just move it to a new group without the term binaries in it.

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Mushroom

No

What has killed Usenet long ago for real users is

1) The Binaries. Few ISPs will run a NTTP server anymore

2) Spam

Some of us used to use it for real messages. It was 300bps Packet Radio friendly too...

I guess the freetards will get IRC killed next.

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Silver badge
Stop

> What has killed Usenet long ago for real users is

> 1) The Binaries. Few ISPs will run a NTTP server anymore

Wrong. First, Usenet never died. Where did you get that strange idea from? With the decrease in bandwidth costs and hardware costs, more and more individuals and small not-for-profit groups run their own NNTP server. Then, binaries never hurt Usenet. People who don't have the storage or the bandwidth just don't carry binary groups. The reason why ISPs don't run NNTP servers anymore is because 99.9% of their clients don't care and the ones who do care have other feeds anyway (because ISPs-run NNTP servers were ALL rubbish to begin with). Given the low profit margin in the intertube biz, ISPs cut costs by stopping their half-arsed attempts at Usenet.

> 2) Spam

> Some of us used to use it for real messages. It was 300bps Packet Radio friendly too...

I guess some of you need to learn how to use filters, killfiles etc. Spam is not a problem on Usenet if you properly manage your feeds. Email spam consumes orders of magnitude more bandwidth than Usenet spam, and is much harder to tackle because SMTP networks are a mess compared to the relatively well-organized NNTP network. If spam was deadly, email would die, but Usenet would survive.

> I guess the freetards will get IRC killed next.

You cannot kill IRC without killing the Internet altogether. Unlike Usenet, which is asynchronous and thus relies on NNTP servers' retention time, IRC work in real time; anyone with an internet connection can set an IRC server and happily yack away at whoever wants to listen. You can take down an IRC server, even imprison its operator, all it takes some redirection trickery and someone else with some spare bandwidth and the "users" will hardly notice that anything happened at all.

Of course, being a Reg commentard, you probably knew all that already.

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That internet concept of re-routing around failure etc for post-nuclear war reliability is really starting to bite. I wonder if the US military would have let their baby loose on the world if they knew what it would be capable of as it grew up?

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WTF?

No, it won't "kill" Usenet.

Usenet effectively died years ago, when the spammers and counterfeiters moved in and made it their home.

However, NSE is talking out of its arse: all it has to do is ban all attachments. Job done.

Of course, that _would_ "kill" the debased, zombie, form of Usenet that remains today, given that it has effectively become little more than a spam-filled waste of bytes. And that would mean NSE would have no business at all. Perhaps they should have considered this issue in their management meetings; their demise would no great loss, frankly.

Meh.

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FAIL

@ Sean Baggaley 1

> Usenet effectively died years ago

I beg to differ. I use the good old thing dayly, for work and fun alike (I don't peruse binary groups though).

> However, NSE is talking out of its arse: all it has to do is ban all attachments. Job done.

However, you are talking out of your arse. The concept of attachment doesn't exist on Usenet. All binary content is "encrypted" as text, transmitted as text, and "decrypted" from text at the other end.

The rest of your post is just garbage, so <snip>.

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Anonymous Coward

@ ElReg!comments!Pierre

"All binary content is "encrypted" as text, transmitted as text, and "decrypted" from text at the other end.

The rest of your post is just garbage, so <snip>."

Ironically, since you don't realise that most binary content has been sent as raw 8 bit for about 10 years, *ALL* of your post is just garbage.

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WTF?

I'll have some of whatever he's smoking, waiter.

How, on your planet, do Usenet clients work out where the bits intended for human consumption end, and the binary blob(s) begin? Wild stabs in the dark?

Or do they look for markers in the post -- something involving the letters 'M', 'I', and 'E', perhaps?

If a client can parse a post and spot an attachment, so can a filter running on a server.

As for Usenet's status: are you seriously claiming it's still a vast, thriving community? This horse isn't dead: it's glue.

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Headmaster

Wouldn't be arsed to reply, but...

Just in case anyone is put off trying out Usenet by this or any other post here...

Bollox. Usenet is alive and well. Pretty much my entire technical career has been based on being an "expert" (IMHO) in 4 different areas. The thing that really did it was the 4 relevant newsgroups. If you want to move on from being good to being an expert, that's the way to do it - get involved, ask questions, answer questions. I earn twice the (top-end) industry average (or work half the year), and the single most important factor in that was getting involved in the NGs. Ok, perhaps it's not what it was, but it's still invaluable, provided you can find a relevant NG that carries a reasonable number of posts.

Stackoverflow and the like are catching up, but they're not there yet. I find them good for the less structured stuff that you need to dip in and out of occasionally.

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Bollocks

>Ironically, since you don't realise that most binary content has been sent as raw 8 bit for about 10 years

Usenet can't carry 8-bit.. It's a 7-bit medium. Encrytption converts 8-bit binaries into 7-bit, before transmission, and decrypts afterwards.

Twit.

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@Strum

>Usenet can't carry 8-bit.. It's a 7-bit medium. Encrytption converts 8-bit binaries into 7-bit, before transmission, and decrypts afterwards.

*facepalm*

You think that after reading a statement that usenet has been 8 bit for about 10 years, you'd do a bit of looking up before you reply.

YEnc has been used for YEARS, and it's definitely not 7 bit ascii.

And whilst on the subject, uuencoding etc. is NOT encryption/decryption..

Twit - right back at you #2

PS: A quick googling found this from 10 years ago:

"Meanwhile Usenet is able to to transport more than "US-ASCII", it could also transport other characters. Just a few special characters are still forbidden. Unfortunetaly the encodings were never changed. We are all still using BASE64, BinHex, UUencode. We are all wasting every day bandwidth, time, diskspace and money.

yEnc is now a proposed encoding method which is using the fact that news-servers can today transport binaries more efficient. On eMail the situation is far more complicated because there are a lot of older programs and computers involved. But also there would be potential for savings."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YEnc

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Anonymous Coward

"8 bit for 10 years"

Before you 2 downvoted, a quick google would have found this document that is 10.5 years old:

yenc has been used for 10 years and is certainly not 7-bit ascii

http://www.yenc.org/whatis.htm

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Thumb Down

Why are you still calling it 'piracy' when it isn't?

Copyright infringement isn't, and never has been, 'piracy' in any reasonable interpretation of that word. Piracy is when you rob a ship on the high seas. It was very fanciful to extend this to 'pirate radio' in the 1960s, just because those unlicenced radio stations were indeed on the high seas. The copyright industry has extended the meaning even more, but that is an emotional manipulation to make it sound like more than it is. Could we just call it 'copyright infringement' to take out that emotion?

(c) Yes Me, 2011.

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Just as a point of fact, the use of "piracy" to describe unauthorised copying goes back to the 17th century - before there was copyright!

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Anonymous Coward

Not dead

How can it be when I use it everyday. But I've never read a binary group.

Bandwidth and storage is cheap enough for anyone to run their own server, so long as it dosn't include binaries. And filtering is not that difficult, put a limit on max message size and there wont be much binary content, etc.

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Bronze badge

oh, please

"And filtering is not that difficult, put a limit on max message size and there wont be much binary content, etc." Bullshit. A properly designed newsreader (i.e., not MSOE) can post binaries in very small segments (way back in the dawn of time, when e-mail accounts were limited in size and I needed to shift humungous 5 MB files I used to segment 'em and post 'em to <name of newsgroup redacted> along with parity data, and then email the recipient and let 'em pick up the file at their leisure) and I _know_ that several newer newsreaders an generate smaller segments than the ones I used. Whatever message size limit you apply will be bypassed within the first few hours at the very most. Usenet thinks that binaries are merely encrypted text, and it is trivial to segment encrypted text. Poorly designed newsreaders (such as MSOE) have problems with segmented files or files using certain types of encryption; properly designed newsreaders don't even notice the 'problem'.

Your solution will (finally!) remove the blight that is MSOE and the plague that is Google Groups from usenet; congratulations.

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"Bandwidth and storage is cheap enough for anyone to run their own server, so long as it dosn't include binaries"

I have never understood why more sites don't do this for, say, user discussion. It can't be *that* hard to run a private news server, (not usenet, just site-specific groups) and the interface for modern web-based forums is atrocious in comparison.

Web browsers still understand nntp:// links, right?

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