No Surprise: If You Actively Promote The Fact That You Lead People To Infringing Content, Courts Will Smack You Down

from the ok,-move-on dept

I’d been avoiding writing about the Newzbin case, because, honestly, I didn’t have much to say about it — but people keep submitting it, so here’s a very quick post. Newzbin, one of a bunch of Usenet aggregators, was found liable for copyright infringement of its users in a UK court. The ruling doesn’t appear all that different from similar rulings elsewhere, with courts focusing on staff actively promoting the infringing nature of content on the site. In this case, it told site “editors” to promote works that were almost certainly infringing. Whether or not this makes sense in the larger picture, the message is clear: if you actively promote infringing activities, courts are not going to look kindly on your activities, even if the actual infringement is done by users. This trend has been clear for quite some time, and I’m still confused why any site would encourage its users to infringe these days. It’s just asking for a legal beatdown.

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Companies: newzbin

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Comments on “No Surprise: If You Actively Promote The Fact That You Lead People To Infringing Content, Courts Will Smack You Down”

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27 Comments
Brendan (profile) says:

Making it too easy?

But part of the argument was that the reports (which helpfully group related usenet headers together) were the problem, not the indexing of the headers themselves. I assume this is because the header indexing is simply publicly available factual information.

What I don’t understand is how the headers are somehow “worse.”

Is Google similarly guilty for allowing user to search the listing of several torrent sites at once?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Making it too easy?

Google actually suggests, based on other users searches, that you add “torrent” to your search terms to find what you’re looking for. When I search for an HBO show, and suggests I add torrent, stream or download to my terms are they not encouraging me to infringe? Are they, too, asking for a legal beatdown?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

“I’m still confused why any site would encourage its users to infringe these days. It’s just asking for a legal beatdown.”

Most of the time its a couple off hand posted comments based on baiting that kill sites like Newzbin. “Yeah if you are looking for VVVVVVV try searching for …”, “TV shows are easy to download …”, etc

Just had an idea … how about an rss feed of a torrent of torrents.

or

How big would a zip file of all the current torrents at the pirate bay be?

or

an RSS feed of just the Checksums of a torrent of torrents.

… also how deep can levels of liability go legally?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

you are mistaking incidental people with actual players. if the cab company is called rides to murders or the pirate cab, and if they offer a list of the top 100 ways to kill someone, and they only carry people to murders, they might be part of the deal. the only a cab company defense wont work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

if the cab company is called rides to murders or the pirate cab

I see. So, the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers or MLB’s Pittsburg Pirates must be criminal organizations.

and they only carry people to murders

Okay then, that means Newzbin really wasn’t an “actual player” because they didn’t index *only* infringing messages. Thanks for clearing that up.

NAMELESS.ONE says:

Soooooo

i r has this newsgroup servers and you can up files like this like my own video and music tune as an example

there solves it all no?
thats showing people how they can do three own videos and its not telling them at all in the least to infringe and hten if they do i can go huh i dont keep logs and i aint watching it except to keep it running.

Anonymous Coward says:

Notice and Takedown Not Good Enough

In this case, it told site “editors” to promote works that were almost certainly infringing.

The closest thing I could find to that was this:

“People look at our site for movies, games and apps, pretty much in that order,” said guidance for editors quoted by Mr Justice Kitchin in his ruling. “If you report movies, then you get rewarded for it because we want you to report them …you’re benefiting the entire community a LOT more by making movie posts and decoding the cryptic filenames people come up with.”

I couldn’t find anywhere that they actually told editors to promote infringement unless you just assume that all “movies, games and apps” infringe. In fact, their TOS actually prohibits infringement and they had a notice and take-down procedure in place. Justice Kitchin, however, has decided that that isn’t enough and that they must use filters to keep links to infringing files from being posted in the first place.

Justice Kitchin also said that “[Newzbin] well knows that it is making available to its premium members infringing copies of films”. Now I thought that Newzbin was just an indexing site, so I really don’t understand that one.

Finally, to justify his ruling, he somehow also relied on an EU ruling that hotels are liable for public performance fees if they actively promote such performances by providing radios or televisions in the guest rooms.

Anonymous Coward says:

Downloader Shield?

Here’s another angle to this ruling. Justice Kitchin of the High Court wrote, “I am entirely satisfied that a reasonable member would deduce from the [Newzbin’s] activities that it purports to possess the authority to grant any required permission to copy any film that a member may choose from the Movies category on Newzbin and that [it] has sanctioned, approved and countenanced the copying of the [studios’] films”.

So it looks to me like the High Court in the UK just absolved downloaders of any liability because “a reasonable member” of a service could deduce that all files indexed by the service are authorized for copying. So said the court! 🙂

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Confused.

“You pack your luggage for a vacation. I make a list of what you packed. I go to jail because, unbeknownst to me, one of the items on my list turned out to something illegal.

Is that analogy about right?”

No, it’s more like “We provide a service whereby we will stash guns and drugs so that the custom officials won’t find them. Oh, yeah, we’ll pack your underwear too if you like, but nobody actually uses us to do that. wink. wink.”

“What? How dare we get busted for packing guns and drugs in people’s luggage?!? We pack EVERYTHING!!! That’s so unfair! We’re just luggage packers….”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Confused.

“What? How dare we get busted for packing guns and drugs in people’s luggage?!? We pack EVERYTHING!!! That’s so unfair! We’re just luggage packers….”

Yeah, that reminds me of people selling drug paraphernalia trying to claim that they aren’t liable for the illegal drug use that follows. Just the other day I caught a supposedly “legitimate” store in my very own neighborhood selling what is probably the most common drug paraphernalia of all. It was right out on the self in plain view everyone, including children! I think they were calling them “Baggies”, or something like that.

/s

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