Usenet still exists. It’s underneath most people’s radar, but that doesn’t stop it from getting sued. In fact, News Service Europe, one of the world’s largest wholesale Usenet providers, has ceased operation last week following a court ruling that it knowingly facilitated copyright infringement. The case began over two years ago when the Dutch anti-piracy entertainment industry coalition BREIN filed suit.

The District Court of Amsterdam on Sept. 28 had directed News Service Europe (NSE) to cease “recording and offering material protected by copyright and related rights” and delete all infringing content from its servers.

It further ordered a penalty of 50,000 euros (about $68,000) per day should the company not comply. NSE filed for a delay the execution of the verdict until its appeal could be heard, but the court declined the request.

“This case applies not only to Usenet providers, but it affects all Internet service providers,” Patrick Schreurs from NSE said, promising that he and his business partner Wierd Bonthuis would still pursue its appeal “for reasons of principle.” Schreurs added that he found the court’s refusal of the delay “incomprehensible” and said it left the company with no other option except shutting down since it was not possible to identify and remove all copyrighted material from its servers.

When the court handed down its verdict, BREIN director Tim Kuik said, “It is a breakthrough step to further dismantle the availability of illegal content on Usenet.” He subsequently said there was no need for NSE to cease operations, and that BREIN had offered to meet with them to discuss filtering options but that NSE chose to shut down instead because “no illegal content on their servers means no clients.”

BREIN is the central contact for rights holders, government, law enforcement, trade and media in the Netherlands with respect to all issues concerning the unauthorized copying and distribution of entertainment products both offline and online. BREIN is the Dutch acronym for “Protection Rights Entertainment Industry Netherlands” and also is the Dutch word for brain.

Usenet is one of the first computer network communications systems, having been established in 1980, but it has been declining in popularity; few major Internet service providers still offer access to it. Usenet can only transmit text and binary files, which it organizes into topic groups that are created and managed by the users themselves without a central authority.

Thanks to Techsono for the heads-up.

Related links:


News Service Europe –

WebWereld [NL] –

TorrentFreak –

Photo by Flickr user Will Scullin, used under Creative Commons license

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