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.
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.