In 2009, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, representing the movie and music industries, took Europe’s largest Usenet provider News-Service Europe (NSE) to court.
Through the court BREIN demanded that NSE delete all infringing content from its servers, and in 2011 the Court of Amsterdam sided with the copyright holders.
The Court argued that NSE willingly facilitated copyright infringement through its services. In its verdict the Court ruled that NSE had to remove all copyrighted content, and filter future posts for possible copyright infringements.
Responding to the verdict the Usenet provider said that it was economically unfeasible to filter all messages. The company therefore saw no other option than to shut down its services while the appeal was pending.
This week the Appeals Court ruled on the case overturning the previous verdict, setting a more positive precedent for Usenet providers and similar services.
The Court concluded that NSE does not facilitate copyright infringement as long as it maintains a procedure through which copyright holders can send unlimited takedown notices.
In addition, the Court decided that proactive filtering of copyrighted content is not required, as that conflicts with existing jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice.
“We are very pleased with this ruling,” NSE CEO Patrick Schreurs says. “The Court correctly states that a Usenet provider such as News-Service Europe can not be expected to proactively monitor the messages others place.”
The ruling this week is an interlocutory verdict. The Court still has to rule on how NSE’s notice and takedown procedure should operate. Afterwards, both BREIN and NSE still have the option to take the case to the Supreme Court.