Newzbin, the Internet’s premier Usenet indexer, has pulled the plug today marking the end of an era. The operators of the site cite the lost legal battle against the MPA as the main reason for the shutdown. Apparently, the court case drained the site’s financial resources.
Newzbin is one of the original Usenet indexing sites and the creator of the immensely-popular .NZB format, which opened up simplified Usenet downloading to the masses.
While the major BitTorrent sites were in Hollywood’s spotlights as the major source of copyright infringement, Usenet sites such as Newzbin remained untouched.
This changed, however, when the Motion Picture Association (MPA), the MPAA’s big brother, sent a threatening letter to the site’s operators in 2008.
This letter was followed by an official announcement of a lawsuit against the Usenet indexer early 2009. The case eventually went to the High Court in February of this year where Newzbin was found liable for copyright infringement.
The court ordered the company that operates the site to stop indexing movies and TV shows to which the Hollywood studios own the copyrights. In addition, Newzbin was told to pay court costs for the MPA, which apparently bankrupted their operation.
“Regrettably the Newzbin website has to close as a result of the legal action against us,” the site’s visitors can now read on Newzbin’s homepage.
The Usenet indexer is linking to a blog post which has additional details on Newzbin’s troubles.
“Apparently Newzbin has been put into administration yesterday because it couldn’t pay its debts. Word is that they owe the MPA £230,000 just in interim costs, and that’s without a full costs ruling or a decision on damages. Apparently they also owe a software development house over £500k,” it reads.
Thus far we haven’t been able to verify the legitimacy of these claims with the Newzbin team, but since the post is linked on the homepage we assume it holds some truth. We will update this article when we find out more.
Update: The following statement was released by former Newzbin owner Caesium.
There’s a lot of questions being asked of me in the last few days, many of
which I simply can’t answer either through legal responsibilities or because
I plain out just don’t know.
So here I will set out what I do know and what I’m allowed to say.
The Newzbin site is not coming back under my control. I have no further
interest in Usenet indexing sites. The legal proceedings over the last two
years, which I will admit the Newzbin team fucked up pretty badly with, has
drained all my remaining motivation for either resurrecting Newzbin now it’s
gone, or starting a new site at all.
The final reason Newzbin actually closed its doors because it went into
liquidation in order to pay the MPA costs. Companies are not allowed to
carry on trading while in liquidation proceedings.
The Newzbin source code *is* in the wild. Someone has it. I don’t know who,
and I don’t know what they’re going to do with it, and I don’t really much
care. Best of luck to them, it won’t be competing with anything I choose to
do in future.
Don’t ask me to share the Newzbin source with you, it is not mine to share.
Control of Newzbin Ltd was transferred away from me (because I sold it. not
by force) in January 2010 and with it, all my rights to the source code and
servers etc etc. Whoever obtained it didn’t get it through me – how did they
get it? I don’t know.
The NZB specification was on Newzbin servers which are now unavailable and
that’s unfortunate. I will ask the new owners of Newzbin’s assets, whoever
they might end up being after the liquidation, if it’s possible to re-host
the NZB specification and DTD for further development to take place.
Coincidentally, today I was made aware of an attempt to re-engineer the NZB
specification by adding optional metadata – that’s already been in the
official NZB specification for months! Clearly someone doesn’t keep up to
Did I get rich from Newzbin? Not really. I made a comfortable living but at
the same time I had no job while I was working on Newzbin, so I pretty much
think I was entitled to take a decent wage, thanks. Newzbin ate my life for
more or less a decade, being one of only three people working fulltime on
it, caring for servers, making regular datacentre trips to replace dead
disks, lugging heavy servers around, being woken up at all hours by the
pager telling me a server was dying, maintaining the accounts, paying VAT
returns, playing nicely with the UK taxman, as well as actually writing the
site on a near continual basis. Anyone who thought it was easy money is
sadly mistaken. Try running a busy site sometime.
If you want a Newzbin refund, you will have to talk to the liquidators,
Bennett Verby. Newzbin Ltd is no longer in my control, in fact it’s not even
in the control of who I sold it to, so I’m twice removed.
I will remain on irc.freenode.net #newzbin for the forseeable future, not
because I have any part in Newzbin anymore, but because I have plenty of
friends there I want to stay in touch with. If you want to come throw abuse
that’s where you can find me.
As for real life, chances are I’ll go find myself a nice simple sysadmin or
coding job where I don’t have to worry about VAT returns or legal
challenges. Anyone hiring? ;)
To all previous competitors of Newzbin – best of luck.
See you round.