Newzbin reaches the end of its hearing in court; verdict expected around Easter

As we reported on Monday, the Newzbin trial resumed this week; what we didn't expect was for it all to be over by the end of play Wednesday! Newzbin released a statement early this morning:

The trial restarted on the Tuesday the 2nd March and finished yesterday the third. It's always difficult trying to guess what a judge is thinking as his questions and comments, where probing of either parties submissions, may be no more than professionally required scepticism. Nonetheless, here is our guess.

Our hunch is that they will fail on some of their assertions but will probably win on others. They may not be able to prove damage or loss from copying, but they may convince the court we have facilitated others in obtaining their works.

If they win then, as we said in a previous news story, Newzbin will not be shut down. In all probability there will be 'enquiry as to damages' (the legal expression) and a new mini-trial over the terms of an injunction compelling us to block material of the Claimants. For example we may be required to develop filter mechanisms. At the moment we remain unfiltered and we would fight for the current notice and take down system that we already use. Again this is just our best guess and we may be well wide of the mark.

The second point is user privacy. One thing the Claimants did complain about was that Newzbin "deliberately arranged it's systems so that no user details were available: even if we got an Anton Pillar there would be nothing to seize as no logs were kept". They were correct on that. No user needs worry about their privacy being violated by logs. Equally, since the site has lawful non-infringing use (our hunch is that the judge accepted our arguments on this: he seemed receptive to our submission that GPL, Creative Commons & non-copyright works were on the Indexes) a mere membership of Newzbin proves nothing against any user: the Claimants didn't contend this anyway.

An Anton Piller is an order under UK law which provides the right to search and seize without prior warning. If a successful order was given it would allow the Police to raid the data centre which hosts Newzbin's co-located servers and take them as evidence; the claimants are not going to bother pursuing this channel as they know Newzbin regards the privacy of its users very highly and therefore does not keep logs on what you download. You can read more in the statement Newzbin made last week about their privacy policy.

They finish off by saying:

We don't know when judgement will be handed down but our guess is very shortly before or after Easter. We will let you know.

As will we; this is a landmark case for not just the Usenet industry but search engines as a whole and we avidly wait the response from Lord Kitchin.

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.

4 Comments

  1. merrick
    Posted Mar 7th, 2010 at 10:03 a.m.

    I disagree that this case is about search engines in general.

    This is about how Newzbin editors sort and present links to copyright movies to Newzbin's users. It is also about how Newzbin categorize all these links - I mean, do they really expect the Blu-Ray category to have anything in it but links to pirate movies? ;)

    Other sites that simply offer a search, such as Binsearch, have no problems legally.

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  2. Posted Mar 12th, 2010 at 09:03 a.m.

    You are completely correct in that first regard - unfortunately I had to post this article rather hastily while away and therefore it's quality isn't quite up to scratch.

    If Newzbin lose the case, the raw Usenet search engine they host will live on as it is their current methods of grouping posts by title which is under question.

    However, I don't believe other sites are completely free of their legal problems - many other sites have been shut down for similar issues, the laws of this land can be twisted in funny ways.

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  3. Uninformed
    Posted Mar 12th, 2010 at 08:03 a.m.

    The Oink kid was found not guilty. How is Newzbin any diffrent? It's same jurisdiction and all.

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  4. Posted Mar 12th, 2010 at 08:03 a.m.

    He was but the cases and technologies involved are very different even if it is under the same jurisdiction.

    The case against Oink was not related to copyright infringment, it was a criminal matter of fraud; he was found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud to be exact. The charges against Newzbin are not of a criminal nature and therefore are being handled by civil law instead.

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