Following a case brought by Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount, Disney, Columbia Pictures, yesterday Usenet indexer Newzbin lost its High Court case.
Newzbin was found liable for copyright infringement and will later this week discover the terms of an injunction which will forbid it from indexing movies and TV shows to which the above complainants own the copyrights.
“We are very disappointed with the judgment,” said Newzbin in a statement emailed to TorrentFreak. “Regrettably the court has accepted the distorted and flawed evidence that Hollywood presented.”
Newzbin says that contrary to the findings of the court, the site has not deliberately indexed infringing material and it did not assist its members who use the site for that purpose.
“The site provides a generalised search facility for binary content found on Usenet and not infringing material. Any of the material we index can be found on any one of a thousand sites on the Internet so pursuit of us is a futile waste of everyone’s time and money,” they added.
TorrentFreak asked Newzbin about the implications of this negative result for other UK-based Usenet indexers.
“They will clearly need to consider this judgement carefully,” the company told us. “We are unique in using editors and that formed a significant basis for our liability, but even absent editors, Usenet indexing in the UK is much more problematic.”
Newzbin then went on to launch an attack on the MPA, who they say are an organization 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.”
Noting the recent heavy lobbying of the UK government by the entertainment industries in respect of the Digital Economy Bill, Newzbin say that the MPA are a sponsor of attempts to bring “Chinese internet censorship” into the UK.
“Perhaps if they used their energy providing what people want rather than buying laws to sustain their own house of cards their 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.”
Echoing the complaints of dozens of file-sharing orientated sites before them, Newzbin went on to criticize the imbalance in resources when contemplating a legal battle against the combined might of the movie studios, noting that this was the only reason for their win.
“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.”
In the meantime, Newzbin will be required to implement some kind of filtering mechanism – so how will that play out?
“We will do what we are required to by the terms of any court order: we feel though that filtering is likely to be imperfect and there is a risk of filters missing material, which concerns us. The site may need to stop delivering all film & TV indexing for a matter of days while we consider how to address the judgement.”
In some respects the ruling against Newzbin has similarities to that imposed against Netherlands-based torrent index, Mininova. With this in mind we asked how this UK ruling might be received by Newzbin’s members and how the reaction would affect its business.
“We are mindful of the effect that filtering had on Mininova’s reputation with users and we hope to address those concerns and remain a useful site without breaching the terms of the order,” they told us.
Nevertheless, the site insists it is not going away, will remain the number one indexer and has great plans for the future. They also extended thanks to their supporters.
“We’d like to thank our users for their support, we’d certainly like them to chip in towards our legal costs! Above all we’d like them to know that we are not going away even if the next few weeks will be turbulent while we deal with the judgement.”
Looking ahead, Newzbin told TorrentFreak that they will appeal if they believe there are realistic grounds for doing so.
“We believe the judgement is flawed and we are analysing it carefully but we have made no final decision,” they concluded.