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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  1. Neil 38

    Slight difference

    I believe the issue was the content of the results, not that a result was provided at all.

    Google provides a generic result, no matter what type of file is searched for, some pertinent text from the site is provided in a summary with your search term in bold, but Google does not provided context specific information.

    Newzbin does and that was the problem. Newzbin provides information specific to the type of content, like video codec and audio format / language for video and platform for binaries etc.

    Another issues seemed to stem around Newzbin actually generating NZB files rather than just serving up a pointer to an NZB file previously generated and held elsewhere.

    1. kingosticks

      That's [not] what she said

      spokeswoman for the MPA: "... It was about how the search results were presented. ..."

      If you search for a picture with google you get its dimensions, file size and type. If you search for a video you get its length.

      Doesn't seem quite fair really.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Metadata is "infringment"?

      "Newzbin does and that was the problem. Newzbin provides information specific to the type of content, like video codec and audio format / language for video and platform for binaries etc."

      So providing more metadata is 'copyright infringment' now?

      Great. Shoot the lawmakers for making such law and judges who enforce it. Even if it's their job, they _should_ know better.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Case without merit

    What newzbin provided more than anything was high quality metadata on usenet. Even if newzbin were to close today (and that isn't happening, looks like an injunction against 20th century fox et al films being indexed), the same content would still be available, would still be on usenet, and would still be indexed on the many other indexing sites.

    Even if this was taken to its logical conclusion, and every indexing site was taken down, everything would still be more available than the pre-newzbin days, as almost every single report these days has a NZB generated by the poster. We just go back to manually searching headers for lists of NZBs and lose all that lovely metadata.

  3. PirateSlayer
    Thumb Up


    Good result.

    "Newzbin called on the MPA to address its broken business model instead of lobbying for restrictive laws like the Digital Enterprise Bill."

    :D. That gave me a good laugh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      @ pirateslayer

      What a prick! You sound exactly like Monty Burns (as do most music & film industry protectionist buffoons).

      Look, it's simple (for the music/film business) to completely wipe out piracy

      1. Don't be greedy.

      2. Don't be greedy.

      3. Don't be greedy.

      4. Give the public as much digital content as is already available but for a fair price*

      * Fair Price :

      Music single : £0.35

      Music Album :£3.00

      Film 480 (DVD) : £3.50

      Film 720 or 1080 (HD/Bluray) : £4.50

      Things change - it's unavoidable. Just because it was easy to rip joe public off before (with physical media) does not mean that you can do it now.

      Stop crying / bleeting about piracy and adopt a new business model that will, if executed properly make more money than ever before (simply by volume) and pretty much wipe out piracy in the process.

      Lastly, as has been widely reported - Music sales are actually up as are film sales and cinema takings. All this crap about piracy etc etc are diversionary tactics for companies and gubberments to exert yet more control and tighter leashes.

      1. PirateSlayer

        See massive piracy thread elsewhere

        :D. So you live on a planet where you can walk into a shop and assign your own prices to everything?

        This is such a blob of fail all I can do is tell you to read the other freetard threads from the last week or so. You are just wrong. You are not proposing or living through a "new business model", you're just a pirate freetard. It's that simple.

        I am not an apologist for the music film business. I have no interest in their businesses, make no money through their businesses. If I want something they are selling, and I think the price is right I buy it. If not...I don't...real simple! Then they will change the price if enough people don't buy god! A market!

  4. Anonymous Coward


    For all the people moaning `it's not fair` etc etc bad MPA, go and read the judgement. And I don't mean skim over it - I mean read and comprehend it. Newzbin were / are doing some very silly things which completely incriminated themselves. After reading that I can see exactly how and why the MPA won, and I am also very sad to see it go - it's by far the best online Sky+ box in existence!

    1. kingosticks

      Oh well

      I agree they did it to themselves and made a lot of money in the process, probably due to being the best at what they did - there is no easier or more convenient way to get the material they index. It's a shame they prosecute the site but don't offer a legal alternative.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Pretty much every usenet provider...

    ... has a search facility of their own these days. I know mine does. I also know that there's not a snowball's chance in hell of them getting hit as it would fall into the "way too expensive to sue" category.

    I have used Newzbin and I'm sure that there's many an ISP that thanked Newzbin and all the other indexing services because of the load taken off their pipes due to all the headers not being downloaded.

    I'm quite willing to pay for content. I'm not willing to pay multiple times for content I have already paid for. Nor am I willing to pay full price to replace (for example) CDs that were sold as "lasts a lifetime, doesn't scratch, degrade etc etc". I paid for the artists work. I'm not paying again, although a nominal fee for media replacement is fine. Otherwise I will continue to rip every bit of media I buy and put it on our LAN.

    I and many like me will just ignore whatever the MPA/courts say. The UK is already a "do as we say, not as we do" society and I've gone well past the point at which I'm going to take any notice at all of the 4376th new offence (thats a guess but there are more than 4300) that NuLab creates.

    The MPA is an irrelevance to 90% of the kids in this country as is copyright. What you going to do? Prosecute them all? I'm sure NuLab would be more than willing to go for that, but anyone with half a brain knows that in these days of CRB checks, once you have a criminal record then there is no incentive to "reform".

    Just ignore the law - really. We have so many spurious laws in the UK now that not even judges know them all.

    Do what you think is right. If you like something then pay for it. If you don't then why keep it?

    However do NOT go down the road of paying for copyrighted material you have ALREADY paid for. Mandelson and his luvvie friends want you to do exactly that.

  6. Absent


    I reckon this was the downfall of the case. Probably if Newzbin solely offered their automated raw or condensed usenet search facilities they would have won but the fact that they have human editors flagging, categorising and providing extra info on the files means these editors at least would have been well aware the nzb's related to copyrighted content.

    I'm not siding with the MPA, I love Newzbin, but maybe in the law's eyes they took it a bit too far.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What goes around...

    There is a prison cell waiting for dirtbags who believe they are above the law.

    1. jon 72


      A quick search with Google reveals that they are continuing to index, and in some cases even host copyrighted material from pirated sources. Of course everbody knows this but seem reluctant to mention it to them, let alone take them to court for damages.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      "What goes around"

      Overlooked that the police weren't involved AC?

      Or do you really believe that the UK imprisons people for civil offences?

      Either way, dumb, dumb, dumb.

  8. Craig 2


    "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?"

    If tomtom included a button labelled `find my ex` and maybe `find closest hardware store selling knives` then YES! That's the difference, what is it with people that can't understand the difference between copyright material being available from a search, and designing a search specifically for finding copyright material.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother


      "If tomtom included a button labelled `find my ex` and maybe `find closest hardware store selling knives` then YES! That's the difference, what is it with people that can't understand the difference between copyright material being available from a search, and designing a search specifically for finding copyright material."

      Even if your Tomtom did have the ability to locate your ex and even if it did direct you to the nearest hardware store that sells knives, why would that be illegal - and it's most definitely not an infringement of anyone's copyright?

      I can see how it could be useful to get directions to your ex's house. Maybe she's invited you over for Sunday Lunch - perhaps to try to reconcile your failed relationship - but she doesn't have a carving knife so wants you to pick one up on the way. Your future happiness could solely depend on your knife-wielding abilities in the dining room.

      Of course, you could use that information to sneak into her house and slit her throat whilst she's sat at her dining room table (maybe you disapprove of her new partner, or you can't afford the maintenance payments... who knows?). However, Tomtom isn't responsible for the actions you chose to take once you'd located your ex and had bought a knife.

      I think that indexing sites - whether that be search engines like Google, Bing (hahaha... as if anybody uses Bing), Yahoo et al, or NZB-specific sites such as NewzBin, Binsearch, United Forums, Merlins Portal,, NZB Matrix, etc... etc... etc... - should be treated in the same manner. It shouldn't be illegal for any of them to provide me with details of stuff; it should be illegal for me to commit a crime which I may have been able to do using that info.

      It's not illegal for Tesco to sell me a knife, but it's illegal for me to kill your ex with it. It's not illegal for me to tell you to drive on the motorway at 120mph but it's illegal for you to actually do it. It's not illegal for me to explain that you can rob a bank by wearing a stripey t-shirt and a pair of stockings on your head and brandishing a sawn-off shotgun, but it's illegal....... you get it?

  9. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Ha! That's what she said!

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

    -Ha, but you'll find that we take EXTREME care to prevent the availability of illegal content on our website. ANY content actually. See, there is absolutely NO content whatsoever on our site, m'lady»

    Not taking any side in this, but the «guilty by hypertext link» fad is idiotic and more and more frightening (see for example the websites banned in Oz for merely linking to banned websites).

    I also note that El Reg voluntarily and repeatedly mention the names of websites that link to copyright-infringing material, thus /de facto/ directing readers towards _criminal_ content. Down with that sort of things, you filthy pirates.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    whos next?

    will they go after the likes of VCDQ.COM next for just reporting whats out there?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eventually they'll get it

    Denial isn't going to change the law. Eventually those in denial will get it or they'll pay for their denial.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE:What goes around...

    No there isn't, at least not in the UK

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Stop ACTA!

    Oh no a precedent for ACTA.... :S

    "[..] welcomed the verdict and said it helped clarify European law on "internet intermediaries". "

  14. Jonathan

    copyright infringement vs out dated business model

    the problem i have with all this is that i am about 100% certain that the recording and film industries are hiding behind intellectual property law to attempt to sustain outdated business models which are no longer valid.

    they make false claims in their defence about the scale of the cost to them (1 download = 1 purchase not made is rubbish. i download... occasionally, hey i admit it, but i haven't downloaded anything for months now and a lot of what i get is either stuff that i want to sample, which i either like and buy or don't like and never listen to again (which i wouldn't have taken a chance on just buying) or stuff i already have on tape or VHS and as far as i am concerned I have purchased a licence to watch/listen to.

    not being a fan of billy bragg's music or generally his politics i was surprised to find myself nodding along to his comments that the record industry may well be floundering at the moment but the music industry is flourishing - that all you need now as an artist is to have 5000 people worldwide who are willign to pay a tenner a year for your output to have the basis of a sustainable career and you don't need a record industry.

    admittedly films might be slightly trickier due to the big upfront investment required for a hollywood movie, but hey... if i really want to see a movie I'll go see it on a big screen (in 3-d) with top drawer sound (and put up with the people behind me munching crisps and translating it into polish the whole way through). if not, then i wait.

    (why can't i get a cheap (similar to pirate dvd priced) say S-VHS quality copy between the theatre release and the DVD release? it'll kill the pirates, it'll get the studios that money and f i like it and want a good quality copy then i can get a discount on the DVD for handing in my S-VHS disc?)

    the advent of the motor car made the whole stagecoach business obsolete. i'm sure alot of stagecoach driver jobs, coachhouse jobs etc. were lost as a result.

    if it was a film studio or a record company running the coaches i get the feeling that they would still be bleating on about how the motor car had kileld their business to this day instead of getting with the program and realising that they need to change their business model.

    when they do that, adjust their distribution networks and pricing accordingly then i'll sympathise with them.

  15. Mectron

    deak UK citizens

    you are now fully owned by the most dangerous terrorist group on this planet: MPAA

  16. Ed Gould

    MPA screws the public again

    *IF* this ruling is correct then every library in the world that has an index is guilty.

    Why isn't the MPA out trying to sue libraries they would be laughed out of court.

    The idea of how long a film lasts or other nonsense is waaaayyyyy beyond copyright laws. Again if this is a MPA concern they should be suing IMDB or the other scores and scores of Internet places that carry such information.

    I can see if there is a page from the script digitized where they might be copy right issues or some other piece of information that this is copyrighted material but the MPA just got lucky and drew a judge that does not have a clue in life how information should be copyrightable.

    All you librarians out there batten down the hatches as the MPA is coming after you next!

  17. Jonas Nagel

    @MPA screws the public again

    The only difference with a public library, which conducts an index of books (or music if you want so) is that the library does not tell you how to get the books illegaly (or music for that matter, unless if they have it in archive and lend it to you).

    OTOH I agree with the sentiment of the posters who mentioned that sueing others is not a good company strategy (except for lawyers).

    Mine is the one with the injunction in the pocket.


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