Newzbin lose case against the MPA and are liable for copyright infringement

In what is another landmark ruling for copyright policy in the United Kingdom, Newzbin have been held liable for copyright infringement by the High Court of Justice and in particular, Lord Kitchin. This word comes straight from an MPA press release and Newzbin have yet to comment on the matter.

The details of the court order will not be announced until later in the week however the press release mentions that the judge decided Newzbin infringed upon the MPA's copyright by merely linking to protected content as opposed to hosting it itself.

The MPA released the following from Ted Shapiro himself:

“We welcome the Court’s decision today, Newzbin is a source of immense damage to the creative sector in the UK and worldwide. This is an important decision and it sends a clear message that websites focusing on providing viewers with pirated film and TV programmes infringe copyright and are liable for their actions even where those websites don't themselves host the content. This decision will help to support the continued investment in new legal online services and the creation of new films and television shows for enjoyment by audiences both in the UK and around the world.” Ted Shapiro, the Motion Picture Association's general counsel for Europe.

The MPA statement goes on to mention that this ruling clarifies the position of 3rd party sites that don't directly infringe on the copyright of others but merely facilitate it by linking (in this case with NZB files to the raw Usenet headers).

We haven't had word from Newzbin yet but as soon as we do we'll either update this point or point to a new one. It is likely they won't have much to say until the actual specifics of the court ruling are released later this week. Remember, this case does not cover the way the raw Usenet indexer works and as such, Newzbin will probably live on in the form of raw header search - this case was related to the grouping of those headers into handy easily-downloadable posts.

Update

Newzbin's Press Release

We are very disappointed with the judgment. Regrettably the court has accepted the distorted and flawed evidence that Hollywood presented. Contrary to the finding of the court our site has not deliberately sought to index infringing material, nor to assist those of our users who use it for that purpose. The site provides a generalised search facility for binary content found on Usenet and not just infringing material. 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.

Sadly the MPA are stuck in a technology stone age. Rather than addressing their own broken business models & monopolistic commercial practices they seek to curtail innovation and freedom on the Internet. It is notable, for example, that the MPA are the sponsors behind attempts to introduce Chinese internet censorship into the UK through the Digital Enterprise Bill. Perhaps if they used their energy providing what people want, rather than buying laws to sustain their own house of cards, they might have a stronger future. We certainly reject their attempt to use this decision and our site as an excuse for rushing through undemocratic laws in a wash-up just before an election.

We lacked the limitless legal funds and legions of lawyers the MPA had and that is the only reason for their win. That said, we are looking at our grounds of appeal and how we move forward to continue to provide innovation and useful search resources for our users.

Ultimately, the dinosaurs of the content industry will need to face reality; the sad thing is that winning cases such as this only damages them and puts their own future in doubt.

They also link to the full Newzbin vs MPA case report; which we will be analysing over the coming days - it's well worth a read though.

djm posted by djm
This entry was posted in Industry News and tagged court, legal, mpaa, newzbin, nzb-sites, uk-law, usenet-indexing. Leave a comment. Header image by ell brown

28 Comments

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Posted Apr 3rd, 2010 at 22:04 p.m.

    Sad fucking day

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  2. Usenet Guy
    Posted Apr 11th, 2010 at 14:04 p.m.

    Too bad. From my experience though, they go after the people that try to make money off copyrighted works.

    "Contrary to the finding of the court our site has not deliberately sought to index infringing material, "

    That statement really doesn't carry much merit. I mean when you got R5, Cam, TS, TC, ect. ect., it is pretty obvious what you are doing.

    The lesson of this? Don't make money off this stuff whether you are carrying it, indexing it, or releasing it. You are just going to draw unwanted attention to yourself.

    Anyway my two cents...

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  3. Posted Apr 11th, 2010 at 17:04 p.m.

    That statement really doesn't carry much merit. I mean when you got R5, Cam, TS, TC, ect. ect., it is pretty obvious what you are doing.

    Indeed; and that is in fact one of the reasons they lost. If you take a look at the case report you'll see the point #33:

    When searching the Newzbin index for binary content, a member can break down a number of these categories into various sub-categories. Particular attention was focused during the trial on the "Movies" category. This is sub-categorised by "Source" (for example "CAM", "Screener", "Telesync", "R5 Retail", "Blu-Ray", "DVD" and "HD-DVD"), "Video Fmt" (for example, "DivX", "XviD", "Blu-Ray" and "HD-DVD"), "Region", "Video Genre", "Audio Fmt", "Language" and "Subtitles". Miss Sidhu, a witness for the claimants and an internal investigator employed by the Federation Against Copyright Theft Limited ("FACT"), said in unchallenged evidence that several of these source sub-categories are a strong indication of piracy. For example, CAM typically refers to the use of a handheld cam or video recorder in a cinema to record a film shown there; Screener refers to a copy of a film supplied on a restricted basis to persons within the industry, such as critics, before the film has been released commercially; Telesync refers to a copy of a film made in a cinema using professional camera equipment and a direct connection to the sound source, and sometimes with the frame capture rate of the camera synchronised with that of the film being shown; and R5 Retail refers to DVDs released in Russia before commercial release elsewhere. Ms Sidhu also explained that where the source of the indexed content is a commercially available optical disc, such as a DVD, although the source will often be legitimate, the uploading of a copy of that film from the disc to Usenet and the copying of it online will not be lawful. Further, the video formats DivX and XviD, at least, are commonly used formats associated with the piracy of audio-visual content.

    and also point #69:

    I am satisfied that Mr Elsworth well knew that these categories were primarily intended for new commercial films. The position was confirmed a little later when Mr Elsworth was asked about a post in January 2007 in these terms: "looks like were going to need Blu-Ray attributes as Blu-Ray has been cracked officially". Mr Elsworth accepted that he suspected that it meant that a way to make a copy of a Blu-Ray had been developed and then the following interchange took place (on Day 2 at 134):

    Q. Yes. And you need a category for Blu Ray, or we need a category for Blu Ray, because Blu Ray has been cracked so now people will be copying movies off of Blu Ray so you need to deal with those. That's what this post means, doesn't it?

    A. That does look like what that post means, yes.

    Q. So that person has copyright infringement in mind?

    A. No, I would not say that person had copyright infringement in mind. I would say that person looks like he just wants to report Blu Rays. He cites a reason for adding the Blu Ray category as they are being cracked but he does not cite a specific intention to report copyrighted Blu Rays.

    Q. Well, what else would it be?

    A. I don't know.

    Q. Why would it be Blu Rays that would need cracking?

    A. I don't know.

    Q. You can't come up with any explanation other than a copyright-protected commercial movie, can you?

    A. No.

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