Usenet indexer Newzbin has endured its fair share of ups and downs over the last few years, mainly as a result of its intense legal battle with the major Hollywood studios. Remarkably the site morphed and fought back and now finds itself in the unusual situation of never being asked to remove links to infringing content. Calm before the storm? If so, Newzbin are prepared.
Newzbin1, as we shall call it for clarity, was an extremely successful Usenet indexing service. At its peak it turned over around £1 million from its 700,000 members, but eventually attracted the unwanted of Hollywood lawyers.
Having lost its legal battle with the MPA in March 2010, in May it collapsed under a mountain of debt, only to resurrected under new management as Newzbin2.
The site has gone about its business ever since, continuing in pretty much the same manner as it did before the closure and indexing the same content – including Hollywood movies. One would think, therefore, that in common with dozens of torrent sites, file-hosting services and even search engines like Google, Newzbin2 would be overwhelmed with DMCA takedown requests. Not so, says Mr White of Team R Dogs, the group behind the site.
“Oddly we seem to get very few DMCA notices and when we contact the sender we are ignored. I’ve sent any number of email replies to email addresses which state ‘we monitor this email account’ only to receive no reply,” Mr White told TorrentFreak. “Why, it’s almost as if they are just sending them without caring if anything is done.”
Since the DMCA takedown notice is one of the most powerful weapons for removing content, or in the case of Newzbin2 mere links to content on the Internet, it’s strange that the site doesn’t get many. Even more so when the site, in Usenet terms, is Hollywood enemy #1. So are the MPA interested at all?
“We’ve had /one/ DMCA notice since December & even that wasn’t from the Hollywood Dirty Half Dozen but a software maker,” Mr White explained. “We emailed them and they totally blanked us. We’d be perfectly happy to take it down if they’d identified the posts.”
Of course, while DMCA notices can be a useful tool, they’re by no means the only one available to use against file-sharing sites. Currently the MPA are locking horns with ISP BT in the UK in an attempt to have Newzbin2 blocked there.
“The MPA’s lame attempt at censoring us in the UK won’t be permitted to cut Brits off from us if it happens,” insists Mr White.
However, with the recent domain seizures in the US ringing in everyone’s ears – not least the operators of Newzbin2 – there may be a more direct way of reducing traffic to the site on a worldwide basis, but Team R Dogs don’t appear too concerned.
“We are making sure that the site is going to be around for the long haul. Given the shenanigans of the US government, with its unlawful domain seizure project, we may need to change domains to non-US ones: we have solutions for that in place, with backup domains,” Mr White assured us.
With the future in mind, Mr White told TorrentFreak that there are plans to upgrade the site to make it more reliable and improve coverage of Usenet content.
“While we have backup servers and databases in several global locations we plan to migrate systems to fully distributed & redundant global databases & webservers so that any one server going AWOL won’t bring the site down, or even need backups to be brought manually online.”