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Piracy Movies The Courts United Kingdom

Newzbin Usenet Indexer Liable For Copyright Infringement 168

Posted by Soulskill
from the sorry-about-your-luck dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The world's most popular Usenet indexing site, Newzbin, has been trounced in London's High Court by the movie studios. Held liable for the infringements of its users, later this week Newzbin will be subjected to an injunction which will force it to filter out illegal copies of movies from its NZB index. From the article: 'Newzbin’s help guides were referred to in the decision. They state that the site can help people find what they're looking for, "whether that be obscure music, tv shows, games or movies. Think of us as a TV guide, but we're a guide that applies to Usenet." ... Newzbin has members called "editors" who help to compile reports on material to be found on Usenet. Newzbin's own documentation was used to show that the site encouraged editors to post links to movies. The verdict notes that to assist editors useful links to IMDb and VCDQuality are provided, the latter being useful to provide information about "screeners."'"
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Newzbin Usenet Indexer Liable For Copyright Infringement

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  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday March 29, 2010 @01:26PM (#31659424) Homepage

    Time to migrate to a new protocol. What's next, FTP?

      • by jgagnon (1663075)

        A return to Gopher would be an improvement for a good portion of the HTML space.

        • by Dishevel (1105119) *
          I liked Gopher. Right hand fingers on the arrow keys and left hand thumb on the space bar. Flying through the internet at the speed of light. gopher rocked.
          • It's possible to make websites act as fast as gopher, if you strip away all the garbage and focus on plain text plus maybe 1 or 2 GIF ads (to pay the bills).

          • by kevinbr (689680)

            Yeah back in the day when I saw a web browser for the first time and how SLOW it was, I laughed and predicted gopher would rule the known universe. Not one of my finer moments ....

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2010 @01:44PM (#31659682)

      You mean, SFTP, right??

      Those who download copyrighted content via NNTP are simply hiding by obscurity. Most of the public doesn't know about NNTP nor is it a "simple" (simple as in guntella, .torrent) method of file sharing. I personally believe that the RIAA/MPAA went after the wrong protocol by attacking torrent and P2P networks when all along those who "know" know that if you want to kill the beast you need to cut off the head (or in this case, the backbone). NNTP also allows for advanced encryption schemes and large amounts of bandwidth. It's a pirate's haven.

      The issue with attacking NNTP has been that those who run NNTP services don't control the content whatsoever. They aren't held responsible for what's uploaded to their servers, and I think this is a fundamental issue with regarding net-neutrality.

      Usenet is sort of a micro-chasm of the entire internet. Servers host files and peers download and upload data as needed. The servers, in this case, represent the free internet. Unregulated. This is the beginning of effective attempts by the RIAA/MPAA to get their proverbial hands into the Usenet system and restrict it. They'll start on the outside and work their way in to core services, all in the name of protecting "American IP" (read: profits).

      • by icebraining (1313345) on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:05PM (#31659952) Homepage

        The issue with attacking NNTP has been that those who run NNTP services don't control the content whatsoever. They aren't held responsible for what's uploaded to their servers, and I think this is a fundamental issue with regarding net-neutrality.

        What? NNTP servers store the content, while bittorrent servers (both the torrent files repositories and the trackers) never do. In fact, if you decouple the .torrent file sharing from the tracker, you can have trackers that know nothing about the content, not even the torrent name (only some hashes) [openbittorrent.com], or even trackerless torrents [lifehacker.com].

        Bittorrent is much harder to stop; the only way to do it is to convince each ISP to implement DPI filters and play cat and mouse with the developers of bittorrent clients, and it'll only end if they basically turn the Internet into TV 2.0.

        • The thing is, with usenet only the uploaders are really committing a serious infringement (and even then only once).

          The downloaders are pretty much clean (from serious trouble).

          In what we call P2P sharing, the down-loaders are also uploading multiple copies too, causing them to be easy to sue seriously.

          It is much easier to pick on the littlest guys (end users), and P2P let them do that.

          • by harl (84412) on Monday March 29, 2010 @03:15PM (#31660896)

            In what we call P2P sharing, the down-loaders are also uploading multiple copies too, causing them to be easy to sue seriously.

            But can you prove that in court? If you send someone 99.9% of a torrent will they be able to watch the movie? If it's rared they won't even be able to open it.

            You didn't make a copy. Oh you copied part of it? How does that work without making use of the digit 1 infringement against every copyrighted work ever?

            With BT style P2P it's possible to never send anyone the full work. This includes the original seeder. How have you made a copy at that point?

            It's a legal loophole. No one makes a copy yet everyone ends up with a copy. There's no law against possession of an illegally made copy the only crime is illegally making a copy.

            This is why they had to create the secondary crime of contributing to or accessory to copyright infringement.

            • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Monday March 29, 2010 @03:31PM (#31661100)

              You believe you can circumvent the law by technical means. It doesn't work like that. Copying part of a work isn't a defence; you're still trying to share it.

              • copying part of something is a defense, like almost hitting someone but pulling the punch at the last second, its not a punch until it lands, just wind. The crime it the completion of the act, without that you have not act to be a crime. Its true in full acknowledgement of that, attempted murder is a seperate crime with a seperate schedule of punishments. I don't think they have made attempted copyright infringment a crime as yet.

            • it's not a legal loophole.
              If I'm a publisher and I only print half of some book and sell it without permission from the copyright holder I'm still fucking with their copyright.
              Yes yes 1 bit is not infringement but 20 pages certainly is and if I'm getting a book off bittorrent chances are I'll upload a decent portion of the book while I'm downloading it.

              It's the same silliness where people claim it isn't infringing if you send someone an encrypted copyrighted work since without the password it's useless. etc

            • by Snaller (147050)

              "It's a legal loophole."

              The courts would have to not punish people for it to actually be a loophole.

              • by harl (84412)

                The RIAA goes after bearshare and limewire users. The big BT cases have been against trackers. Using laws custom written to target them.

                Please cite a case against a BT user.

            • by Xtifr (1323)

              You didn't make a copy. Oh you copied part of it? How does that work without making use of the digit 1 infringement against every copyrighted work ever?

              Ooh, I like your logic. Lets try that in syllogistic format:

              An individual bit is a subset of a digital work;
              Individual bits are not subject to copyright,
              Therefore, all subsets of digital works are not subject to copyright.

              Wow, if only I'd realized that all members of a set must be identical, it would have made my logic classes so much easier.

              Horses eat hay;
              Horses are mammals,
              Therefore, all mammals eat hay.

              I'm going to save a lot of money on catfood! :)

              • by harl (84412)

                Those are your conclusions not mine. They illustrate your logic and position not mine.

            • You don't have to copy an entire work to infringe copyright, and your entire argument is predicated on the assumption that you do.

              • by harl (84412)

                So you think the digit 1 infringes all copyright protected works because it's a partial copy?

                • No, of course not. I live in the real world, and here we have shades other than black and white. Remarkably, trained lawyers and experienced judges are even capable of perceiving them.

            • by shentino (1139071)

              Part of a work is still a derived work.

    • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Monday March 29, 2010 @01:45PM (#31659698)

      There's nothing wrong with the protocol. Newzbin are an indexing site; one of many. In their case, they provided a commercial service for hand-categorized nzbs, which are pretty analogous to .torrent files, from a legal point of view at least. That they had categories labelled up for 'screener', 'R5', 'Warez' etc etc along with the documentation explicitly advising editors how to post infringing material.

      What's interesting is that they've not been threatened with shut down or massive fines yet, unlike the pirate bay; as far as I'm aware, contributory infringement [chillingeffects.org] is illegal in the UK.

      So while Newsbin's nzb files will live on as the standard method of collating binary files on usenet, the site itself is destined to be filtered into 'uselessness' (see mininova) even if it isn't shut down with a followup judgement. I expect a number of other indexing sites to spring up, and a number of the existing ones to grow larger - probably hosted in countries that aren't quite so pro-copyright holders as the UK, especially if they don't have contributory copyright infringement laws common in the US and western Europe.

      Two thoughts spring to mind;
      1) will they get a copy of users search history (complete with creditcard logs linking them to the account)? (and no, I've never been a member)
      2) when do they start going after the usenet providers themselves?

      • by BarryJacobsen (526926) on Monday March 29, 2010 @01:58PM (#31659870) Homepage

        1) will they get a copy of users search history (complete with creditcard logs linking them to the account)? (and no, I've never been a member)

        This was posted on Newzbin a while back:

        Server logs and user activity Some subscribers are a little concerned about privacy in the light of the current litigation so to put their minds at rest we thought we would explain what the privacy implications are of our logs. We are currently keeping webserver logs for a period which is sufficient to allow us to defend ourselves against web attacks. However we cannot tell from our logs what NZBs you have downloaded. At all. If we can't do this then neither can any complainant with access to our logs. Furthermore we rotate old logs so that they are deleted. No request has been made for our logs during the discovery phase of litigation and due to the nature of the legal process that request would have to have been made a long time ago: it wasn't. They cannot now, legally, have it; and moreover they dont actually seem that interested either. The fact is this: they are gunning for Newzbin not you. Bottom line: We cannot tell anyone what NZBs you have been using whether those are for Linux distros, porn or just embarrassing lawful material. Don't worry.

      • by Spad (470073)

        See my post below - afaik this judgement applies only to movies that MPA members hold the copyright to and not to other movies or, indeed, other media.

      • Newzbin are an indexing site; one of many.

        Worth pointing out that some of the larger usenet providers also index their content and make it available for searches. Hell, even the makers of Newsbin (the client program of a similar name) does it and sells it to customers for a $5/month.

        I guess Rule No. 1 for usenet providers is don't base your business model on a tarted-up search. For everyone else, terrabytes of "data" will continue to be posted to usenet on a daily basis. Finding what you want may be a li

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        1) will they get a copy of users search history (complete with creditcard logs linking them to the account)? (and no, I've never been a member)
        2) when do they start going after the usenet providers themselves?

        Yes ( and i bet its grounds for warrants to search your home/pc ), and looks like they are heading that direction now.

        Gotta love getting in hot water decades later for doing something that was legal.. "you used usenet... that makes you a pirate"

      • by dargaud (518470)
        So, who has invitations for newzbin so we can evaluate if those piracy claims have any validity in them, heh ?!?
    • by xtracto (837672)

      ... [sourceforge.net]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DAldredge (2353)
      How about actually buying the work that you want?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dwandy (907337)

        How about actually buying the work that you want?

        ...didn't know that was an option. They all look like licensing or rental deals to me. Actual ownership seems to be something that won't be conferred to the serfs.

        • by DAldredge (2353)
          You know what I meant. And, if you get enough money they will sell you full rights but it will cost a lot more than just a simple limited license.
      • What if it isn't commercially available anymore?
      • by Nursie (632944)

        And then I can store the movies on my media server and stream them to any PC in the house? And take them with me on a laptop drive when I travel? Transcode for PSP?

        Oh wait, ripping and encoding tools are also illegal because they bypass anti-circumvention methods.

        There is a better product available from the pirates, money or no. Hell in the past I've both downloaded and bought movies (Futurama, for instance) because I wanted to pay but also wanted the convenience of having an unrestricted electronic copy, o

    • by t0p (1154575) on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:22PM (#31660184) Homepage

      The protocol isn't the problem. The problem is someone profiting from the online availability of "infringing" material. It's very difficult to portray yourself as a "content-agnostic" search engine merely enabling users to share files when you're turning over £1 million a year.

      What I find a little unsettling is the judge's critcism of Newzbin's takedown procedures. From TFA:

      Newzbin was also criticized for its “delisting” or notice and takedown procedures, which were referred to as a “cosmetic” and “cumbersome” mechanism designed to “render it impractical” for rights holders to have material removed.

      While I have no personal knowledge of how "cumbersome" the procedure is, I don't see why it shouldn't be "cumbersome". If an alleged rights-holder wants his alleged material removed from the index, why shouldn't he have to jump through a few hoops? Why shouldn't the alleged rights-holder have to prove definitively that he owns the rights he claims? If the takedown procedure were too streamlined and gave the alleged rights-holder too much benefit of the doubt we could end up with a situation where any tom dick or harry could make malicious complaints about content they don't own just to cause trouble for the site. I can't just point at any car I like the look of, say "that's mine" and get the police to drag the driver out through the window.

  • It has begun (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Finally usenet showed up on the radar.
  • Intent (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GPLDAN (732269) on Monday March 29, 2010 @01:31PM (#31659504)
    Isohunt is treading the same line, you can go to Isohunt's main page and read up on the legal fights. Much of it has to do with the perception that it is actively aiding users in finding or distributing illegal content. It's the equivalent, here in Chicago, to the old Maxwell Street market. Everybody knew if you lost your hubcaps, you went to Maxwell Street to buy them back. But as long as the street organizers themselves kept up some semblance of actual legit commerce, they city turned a blind eye.

    http://home.netcom.com/~cowdery/maxwell/mamoser.html [netcom.com]

    In this case, Usenet contains what I affectionately call a "Rared Sale" (get it?) - where everything is less than a quarter. In fact, it's free! And as long as we all remember the First Rule of Usenet: Nobody talks about Usenet, then it's all fine. Apparently, these blokes forgot that rule.
    • If Isohunt disappears, where can I go to find my NapisyPL tv show rips?

      Back to article - No need to kill Usenet. Just go back to the old system of sharing information directly from one sysop's computer to another sysop's computer, and then have the info filtered downward to the local users' computers.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      Actually, Newzbin -is- actively helping. They have 'editors' that go through the raw data and form indexed downloads manually and filter out serial numbers.

      I'm not condemning the service, just saying that it's not 100% passive like Google or isoHunt.

  • But as usual the cart is put in front of the horse.

    I could take my house off of every map in existence.. and you'll still be able to find my house if you've been there.
    If you don't going to go after illegal content, go after ILLEGAL CONTENT! If the content is there it will be found.. no matter how many signs and arrows to it you remove.

    Here we go again..
  • Just because it's a movie doesn't mean the MPAA owns it. Did the help guides specifically say they help you find MPAA owned/copyrighted movies, or just movies in general? I'd hate to think the whole world has forgotten that a "movie" itself is an art form, not just an MPAA dropping subject to fees and copyrights.

    • by westlake (615356)

      Just because it's a movie doesn't mean the MPAA owns it.

      The MPAA is a trade association. It doesn't "own" anything." Members are drawn form the "big six" studios"

      20th Century Fox
      Walt Disney
      Sony Pictures
      Paramount (Viacom)
      Universal
      Warner

      But you'll most likely discover the independent studio has signed on to the MPAA's rating and title registration services. You can't copyright a title, but you can protect it by contract.

  • Splintering the internet by language(check) ban of proxies(in the works) usenet targeted for destruction (suspected)
    Money and bought politicians will strive to plug any holes in the internet beyond government control.
    This is why adhoc wireless is so important.
  • We will get you pirates and prove that Global Warming is a hoax, once and for all!!!

    Either that or we'll finally kill off Usenet - win-win, either way.

  • As far as I can tell from the limited information available and still pending the final injunction details, this judgement only applies to movies and not any other content that may or may not be indexed on Usenet.

    At least the judge showed sense in ruling that the MPA couldn't get an injection banning the publishing of content that they didn't hold the copyright to; I know they like to think that they control everything, but sometimes reality gets in the way.

  • or - why are people are so stupid.

    If you write about breaking the law on your site, you are going to get nailed soon or later.

    We've seen that again and again - its not that they are overlooking you, its that THEY are overworked and haven't gotten around to you yet.

  • I don't get it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gillbates (106458) on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:40PM (#31660386) Homepage Journal

    Not all movies are illegal. Some don't contain "objectionable content". Some - mostly the kind I'm rediscovering - have elapsed the protection of copyright.

    What sites like Newzbin do is provide a central repository for content owners to search for infringing content. If I had my book/movie/video game being pirated, believe me, I would find sites like this very helpful in shutting down the uploaders. At least, those within the relevant legal jurisdiction.

    Even the police like an anonymous tip. It's almost as if the content cartels *WANT* you to pirate their content, so they can then sue you for ridiculous amounts of money. (Why get 99 cents a song, when you can get statutory damages of a few hundred thousand dollars?)

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:46PM (#31660440) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, if you're going to base your ENTIRE BUSINESS MODEL around something illegal, don't fucking TALK about that shit! For God's sake! Ok look at Bernie Madoff, he successfully didn't get caught for decades, even when several very smart people were yelling at the FTC that what he was doing had to be fraud! How? He didn't talk about it! When the FTC came 'round and asked "Hey, are you defrauding people" he was all like "No!" and then he made fun of them for even asking and they felt so bad about questioning him about it, they just kind of wandered off.

    The wrong way to go about basing your business around illegal stuff would be to, say, have meetings about how everything you're doing is completely illegal and then sending your meeting minutes to the ISO auditors. That always leads to questions like "This bit here about where you're illegally benefiting from copyright infringement... what's that about?" It goes downhill from there.

    If you're uncomfortable being compared to Bernie Madoff perhaps you should consider a career in something less illegal. The rest of you, only have meetings about your illegal stuff in the bathroom with the water running and don't keep minutes of those meetings! For fuck's sake... This isn't rocket science people!

    • by MattskEE (925706)

      (Obligatory Office Space quote)

      MICHAEL
      I wish we had never done this. What are we going to do? You know what I
      can't figure out? How is it that all these stupid, Neanderthal, Mafia
      guys can be so good at crime and smart guys like us can suck so badly
      at it?

      SAMIR
      We're new to it, though. If we had more experience -

      MICHAEL
      No. No. Y'know what I think? I think we're screwed. There's evidence
      all over that building to link it to us. Even if we could launder
      money, I wouldn't want to. If we're caught while laundering mo

  • by nuckfuts (690967) on Monday March 29, 2010 @03:18PM (#31660928)

    The reason that NZB's even exist is that large files uploaded to Usenet get broken up into a ridiculous number of small fragments. It then becomes a chore to locate and reassemble all the pieces.

    Bandwidth and storage capacities have increased tremendously over the years that Usenet has been around. Why do people who operate NNTP servers still impose such restrictive limits on file size?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume (22995)

      Because file transfers aren't absolutely reliable. With small file sizes, most of the parts make it from server to server, and people already have a bunch of ways of dealing with a little bit of missing data (use more than 1 provider, par2, etc.).

      I imagine the fact that a change would favor new users and irritate (some/many?) established users is also a factor.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        Actually, I think that's an argument in favor of larger post lengths. The less pieces there are, the less filling in you have to do, and the less PAR file downloading you'll need to do to support it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by maxume (22995)

          I guess it depends on how the servers handle a bad transfer; if they discard incomplete files, larger files will carry a larger penalty, if they just post the partial file, there shouldn't be much difference.

          I suspect inertia is a primary factor.

  • All anyone would need to do is simply encrypt header titles that are only viewable in specific programs correctly

    Then they cant filter them.... and you know they dont want to filter them anyways ;)

    First rule about Usenet... dont talk about Usenet.

  • by gilgongo (57446)

    Until now, I'd never heard of Newzbin. Now I know about this "usenet" thing you speak of, I will investigate.

  • The Usenet? That thing still around?
  • We are losing.

  • I'm a pretty big pirate, and I have spent money to pirate things before. I've bought Rapidshare accounts, and such, so clearly my pirating isn't derived from my lack of will to pay anything. However, due to ridiculously high prices, DRM, and other annoying things that occur during my purchase (or as someone wittily noted, my "rental"), I am encouraged to pirate. I spend roughly $100 a year on tickets to movies at various theaters. I LOVE going to the movies. But I'm a college student with somewhat limited f

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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