Two years ago BREIN, representing the movie and music industries, took News-Service.com (NSE) to court.
The group demanded that the Usenet provider delete all infringing content from its servers, and today the Court of Amsterdam sided with the copyright holders.
In an unprecedented verdict the court ruled that NSE has to remove all copyrighted content within four weeks, or pay 50,000 euros ($68,000) in fines per day. The court states that NSE willingly facilitates copyright infringement through its services.
NSE argued that are simply transmitting content, much like an Internet provider does. However, the court rejected this defense, adding that a notice and takedown procedure is insufficient to protect the rightsholders.
The decision could have far-reaching consequences for many other Internet services, starting with NSE resellers such as Binverse and Usenext..
“We are very disappointed with the Court’s verdict. It is technically as well as economically unfeasible to check the contents of the 15 to 20 million messages that are exchanged on a daily basis. Added to which, there is no automated way of checking whether Usenet messages contain copyrighted material or whether permission has been obtained for the distribution of such material,” NSE CEO Patrick Schreurs said in a comment.
“We see no way of complying with this verdict. Furthermore, the verdict endangers our very existence as a company, and is thus a threat to Usenet itself, as the facilitation of Usenet services has become impossible on the grounds of this verdict. The exchange of messages by means of this oldest of Internet services has de facto become impossible,” he adds.
The Usenet provider is currently considering whether it should appeal the decision.
BREIN is delighted with the verdict of the court, which is very similar to the one that signaled the end of the BitTorrent site Mininova two years ago.
“It is a breakthrough step to further dismantle the availability of illegal content on Usenet,” director Tim Kuik responded.
There is little doubt that the verdict of the Amsterdam Court is going to have a huge impact on the Usenet market, and the question has to be asked where it will stop. Could file-hosting services like MegaUpload and RapidShare be next? And what about other cloud hosting services such as Dropbox?
For now, however, NSE is faced with the impossible task of finding a way to identify and delete all copyrighted files from its servers.