Usenet Provider Ordered To Wave Magic Wand And Make Infringing Content Disappear

from the how? dept

We’ve seen a few other cases like this and never can understand how a court thinks it’s reasonable for a third party service provider to know how to block its system from being used for infringement, but that’s exactly what’s happened in the Court of Amsterdam. Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has apparently won a lawsuit against Usenet provider (NSE). The court has ordered NSE to magically make all infringing works available via Usenet disappear. Of course, if you understood how third party systems work, you would know that the only way to do that is to no longer be an open platform, which takes away all the value of such a service. NSE responded pretty much as you would expected — in shock about the impossibility of the order:

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.

It’s kind of amazing that a court of law can’t understand how the internet works. For its part, BREIN claims that this is “a breakthrough step.” Yeah, taking down major communication platforms because the organizations you represent refuse to adapt. That’s a “breakthrough”?

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: brein,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Usenet Provider Ordered To Wave Magic Wand And Make Infringing Content Disappear”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Some Other Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not understanding how things work is how we manage to have modern technology. If everyone had to understand everything, humanity could hardly even manage to stay at the hunter-gatherer level.

Having said that, I agree with your point that if a judge doesn’t understand something, he should call in experts to explain it to him. (or her)

monkyyy says:


int fairy_lawyers_appove{
return (magic(“copyright”)*lawyer(nonsence)*bribed_jugdes(true))*0;

int main(void){
return 1;
else return 0;

“there is no automated way of checking whether Usenet messages contain copyrighted material”
pls that was easy to write to automate the copyright infringement detection

Aerilus says:

Re: Re:

ya you get to writing that a couple million times over for every copyrighted song and movie or picture or piece of software let me know when you are done cause then you hav eto figure out weather each use of the million or so titles is one actually referring to the copyrighted work for example the movie Drive that just came out how the hell are you going to figure out weather a posting is talking about the movie or any form of activity that includes driving a car. once you have that algorithm written let me know you will have probably be verging pretty close to AI at that point and will probably have received an advanced degree and have a job at google but still shoot me an email. because you then need to figure out how to analyze the actual download to make sure that it is what it describes and no one has changed the name to beat the filter. you are also going to need a take-down system that processes dmca request a few full time people to work in that department, so you have pretty much turned a system that could be set up by anyone with some technological know how into a bog of filtering censorship and business management, and legal counsel. how fun.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted ? nevermore!
?Edgar Allan Poe

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Usenet is a user content produced platform mostly designed to house forums for discussions about themes people like and distribute their images, audio, text and video produced by the users and it got used to distribute “illegal” stuff too.

The unintended consequences is that by shutting down Usenet you have a positive ruling for doing so to other user content platforms that range from political to recreational.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Forgot, Usenet is not just used for piracy it is also used for political activism that is protected speech, now if that can just be ignored because of claims of piracy that is troubleling.

Also there is a problem with the whole concept of “shoot first and let God sort them out later” approach.

There is a lot of content in there that is legal, why there is no punishment for people claiming ownership on what they don’t legally own?

You see that is the one thing that tilts the balance and creates an perilous imbalance on the system, as we can already see with the DMCA most of the complaints are target at competitors, is not something used to right a wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

oh mikey

Again with the infringing content outcry. And complaining “it’s too hard” to deal with. Is it really? Any competent IT person could easily identify all those huge posts of data, that are 99.9% infringing content. Easy solution is just to cap the size, doesn’t take a magic wand, just half a brain which you don’t have. Usenet shouldn’t be a place for big files anyways, it’s just an ancient way of pirating.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: oh mikey

Here is another movie.

Lots of audio that can be freely distributed.

Public Domain movies that can be legally distributed.

A lot of freesounds that can be freely distributed.

Open clipart.

Open audio books

Why do you hate liberty and freedom?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: oh mikey

> easily identify all those huge posts of data, that are 99.9%
> infringing content

Actually, it’s not. There are hundreds of binary groups where photographers share and comment on each other’s work. Same with the video groups. And the literary groups.

But I’m sure you know that. Otherwise you’d be commenting from a place of ignorance.

So which is it?

> Usenet shouldn’t be a place for big files anyways

Says who?

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: oh mikey

Don’t you see the idiocy of your suggestion there, of capping file sizes?
What if, in the future, we super Super-Duper-HD, where an hour long video is 10TB? And I film…say…a family holiday? So because of some arbitrary rule of copyright, technology now has to be hindered. I am now no longer able to communicate my video to my family and friends.
“Sorry guys, would love to share my holiday video with ya. But some fool twenty years ago said that if I’m sharing a big file like this, then I must be guilty of copyright infringement”.

non-moron Anonymous Coward says:

Re: oh mikey

So a capped size magically lets through the movie I made that I want to make freely available?

Does the capped size magically let through the large program that I made that I want to make freely available?

Seems like your idea of a capped size does not magically solve anything but it does create new problems.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: oh mikey

Again with the infringing content outcry. And complaining “it’s too hard” to deal with. Is it really? Any competent IT person could easily identify all those huge posts of data, that are 99.9% infringing content. Easy solution is just to cap the size, doesn’t take a magic wand, just half a brain which you don’t have. Usenet shouldn’t be a place for big files anyways, it’s just an ancient way of pirating.

It’s just more pirate apology FUD from Pirate Mike. Of course it’s easy to tell. The top groups of Usenet are binaries, and about 99% of those files are infringing. Close down the binaries–court order complied with. That’s probably what they’ll end up doing. It’s not difficult at all.

Pirate Mike just doesn’t like the reality, and he’ll fight out against anyone who dare do a thing to stop piracy. He’ll pretend something is impossible when it’s really easy, or vice versa–whatever it takes to defend piracy.

But “piracy is not OK,” right, chubby?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: oh mikey

Ah, more abject idiocy from our favourite tosser.

“Of course it’s easy to tell.”

Really? I have uploaded a file called three_musketeers.avi. Is it the new film, or one of the freely available public domain versions?

“99% of those files are infringing”

I suppose you have a citation rather than another moronic assumption?

“Close down the binaries”

…and remove yet another avenue for independent producers to market their work.

“Pirate Mike just doesn’t like the reality:”

Reality appears to be something you’re unfamiliar with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: oh mikey

LOL! I tell you what… Check back with this story later on and see what they end up doing to comply with the court order. How much do you want to be they close down the binaries? It’s really not hard. Will some non-infringing works get taken down wrongfully? Sure, but the blame for that lies with you pirates.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 oh mikey

“Will some non-infringing works get taken down wrongfully? Sure”

Yeah, you don’t care because those works are probably not distributed by your glorious corporate overlords, right? According to you lot, nobody creates art without a massive cash payment.

“you pirates”

It’s pretty pathetic that you people seem to think that protecting free speech and the public domain, and telling the industry what’s losing it money, equates to piracy. I’ll bet whatever you have that I spend more on legal content than you, and I’ll supply the receipts to prove it if you insist.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 oh mikey

“Because so many legitimate movies are distributed using Usenet.”

Again, citation, please, for the ratios you’re claiming. PD movies and indie flicks are distributed via usenet as well as other avenues.

“Shutting down the binaries is the obvious solution to an easy problem.”

Yeah, you’re not paid to care about collateral damage, are you. Luckily for those of us whose morals aren’t dependant on the dollar value, art has intrinsic value not related to it.

“You dipshits brought this on yourselves.”

…and another idiotic insult aimed at accusing me as a pirate rather than actually addressing any of my point. You’re an idiot.

For what it’s worth I’ll admit to downloading a couple of copyrighted works via usenet. That weren’t available legally in my country. In 1997. At this rate, you’re going to destroy piracy aren’t you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 oh mikey

Usenet is a distributed platform for distribution and promotion.

There are groups of photographers, movie makers, theater, dance, tech, cooking and so forth do you think those people don’t share images, texts, audio and video? Youtube should give you a hint is mostly user made content, the vast majority of videos there are not from TV, studios, radio or labels is from people with a camera, the same is true of Usenet.

Looking at the stats, people have a lot of non-binary forums there, there is also a lot of binary forums that have common themes like pr0n and Madonna for some reason, I guess is the people from the 80’s that still keep using that old crap called Usenet, like in 30 years people will still be using Limewire(eDonkey network), now if it is so easy to find the illegal ones lets make a law that punishes harshly anyone who takes down legal content, it should be a crime to claim ownership on what is no yours right?

Usenet is not going away, you are closing the paid static servers, not the distributed nature of the system.

WysiWyg (profile) says:

Re: Re: oh mikey

This of course assume that the only thing infringing on someones copyright are movies and similar files.

What about text? What about pictures? What about music? You will be hard pressed to throw those out with a size cap.

And here’s the kicker; the company will be on the hook for a crapload of money if someone finds a picture that’s copyrighted.

No sane company takes that risk. Which means that the only way to comply with the courtorder is to shut down.

There is no other way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Masnick’s Law? Pft, plenty of prior art. Prohibition in the 20th Century, Christianity trying to stamp out pagan religions and folklore…

Who do you think’s going to give in first? The millions of people who know that the entire population can’t be policed, or the few dozen governments trying to do the policing?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Sort of a non-answer. You seem to be saying that because maybe a few people might want to break the law, that these companies should be allowed to make money by encouraging, supporting, and providing the means to do so, knowing exactly what is happening.

You are suggesting they are “too big to fail”, which is bullshit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Here is a little facts to you.

– Usenet can be mirroed and it has been done a thousand times already.
– Usenet can run in an overlay on top of the internet and you wouldn’t be able to police it.
– Usenet is just a little tiny piece of the puzzle, you people didn’t make a dent on the real “piracy”. How do I know? I didn’t stop ripping DVD’s and I don’t see the SWAT teams at my door, where are you people, I’m a pirate why can’t you stop me? More impressive I can record TV OMG! I can record radio OMG! I can record any stream OMG! will you close HULU and VEVO, all radio stations and TV broadcasters? yah that is what I thought.

You come in front of people with idiotic theories of what others are doing or thinking and when proven wrong just keep beating that drum over and over again, nobody cares, the real people ripping off your precious content don’t care and they will never care, I sure won’t.

NullOp says:


Like I’ve said before, the in’s-and-out’s of the digital world are well beyond the capability of most people. Mostly because it deals with so much detail and detail is the thing most people try to avoid. Lawyers/Judges/Courts like to think they deal with detail….Ha! Modern systems and how those systems are used are generally way beyond them. Wave a magic wand indeed! The sad thing is, they really do think it’s that easy.

Paul keating (profile) says:

Tomorrow's "Postmaster" message

Is this the message we will all see tomorrow after sending an email?

“Your mesage has been received by the central IP Clearinghouse System. ?It will now be reviewed for compliance with the intellectual property laws of the 345 legal jurisdictions currently existing on our Planet. ?During this process all the words, phrases and various other bits of your message, including any attachments, will be reviewed by our systems to ensure that same do not conflict with the rights of our members. Please be patient as the review includes a search for possible conflict with any word combinations or ideas that have ?(or in the case of copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets, may not have been) registered under the laws of any of the above 345 countries (or in the case of the USA any of the 50 states thereof).?

We estimate that this review may takeup to 20 working days. Again, please be patient. We are undertaking this effort for the benefit of you and the public in general in order to ensure that creative development continues to grow and civilization continues to prosper.?

If you wish to avoid file review in the future you may subscribe to our “save our old way of life” campaign and for the cost of a mere $100 per month your emails will bypass review and be delivered immediately. Note that certain restrictions may apply. ?For complete deltails call 1 (900) 555.1212 (toll charges of $0.50 per minute).

YOUR IP Rights Management Partners

R says:

“It’s kind of amazing that a court of law can’t understand how the internet works.”

It’s not that they don’t understand, it’s that they don’t give a crap. That’s the law, if usenet can’t follow it then it can’t be legally run.
The problem with this approach is that when you stop caring about you’re adversaries, you effectively lose any chance you had of getting them on board and negotiating a compromise – it just devolves into all out war.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

BREIN claims it is possible, why doesn’t NSE demand they give the court their magic wand that makes it happen?

I think the Judge would have to reconsider when its shown that what BREIN demands is completely impossible, that even BREIN can not make it happen. BREIN seeks to limit all sorts of things to protect copyright, while stomping on everything else.

Isn’t this the same BREIN that has been handed evidence in cases, stolen laptops, seized servers and committed acts that if not for their political donations would be seen as unlawful acts?

can't be bothered to sign in says:

Re: Re:

“BREIN claims it is possible, why doesn’t NSE demand they give the court their magic wand that makes it happen?”

Actually, that was in the verdict: “The fact that NSE states it cannot filter the binaries does not prevent granting an injunction.” So basically the court simply ignores the fact that authorized content might also have to be deleted.

To be fair, you have to consider that it’s very easy to show that the latest movies can be downloaded from Usenet without permission from the rights-holders. It’s true after all, so there “clearly” exists a “problem”(in BREIN’s mind anyway). It’s not so easy to show that this is an inevitable consequence of the free flow of information.

The fact that Usenet has been used for sharing content so intensively these last few years really hurt NSE?s case. It also hurt that it appears to have been making an effort to keep the binaries available on its servers for longer and longer, apparently to improve it?s service, which apparently consisted largely(>80%) of supplying infringing content, or at least the means by which it can be acquired.

The main argument for the defense is probably best summed up by that NSE is not required to police Usenet. However, Dutch judges really don’t like a “passive innocent bystander defense”, especially not if that bystander appears to be making money in the process. Dutch law requires everyone to actively defend the rights of others, unless there is a good reason not to do so (e.g. endangering your own life). To win the case on this point, NSE would have had to A) actually prove it is impossible to implement a filter, and B) actually prove that there is a legitimate cause for providing its services in the manner it did. They may have stated such arguments, but didn’t prove them or offer to prove them (which means you give the court a valid excuse to ignore the argument completely).

As usual, none of the technical reports and other bull-crap BREIN used (you know, the stuff that is debunked by Mike on a daily basis) to make its case was seriously challenged. BREIN is a well-funded and well-organized outfit. Its court strategies are well thought through and part of a larger plan. It doesn’t mind losing a case or two (although it will deny ever having lost a case). This verdict opens the way for it to go after ISPs or at least to threaten them with it. Some of the reasoning in this ruling could have much larger ramifications.

RD says:

Fscking idiots in this world

Pray, tell, how exactly do you accomplish this:

“Shutting down the binaries is the obvious solution to an easy problem. You dipshits brought this on yourselves.”

Spoken from true ignorance about how the internet works. Please, enlighten us, how do you simply “shut down” a system that is decentralized, and where everyone has a copy of the data?

See, its ignorant, intellectually inadequate people like you that are the problem in this world.

Just to educate you, BRIEN, and the rest of the know-nothings in the world, Usenet works essentially like this:

Usenet is made up of many “peers.” These peers are repositories of all the data on usenet. These peers can be anyone – an ISP, a usenet provider like the paid ones (like Giganews) or even a university. When something is posted (and this is the important part – info is posted TO usenet, not CREATED by these peers) the information is copied out to all the peers. These posts are ALL (please read this part carefully and try to grasp the concept) in PLAIN TEXT. There is no such thing as a “binary” posting.


The “binaries” aspect comes in where some clever people have found a way to encode a file (the “binary” but really its just a FILE, any file, any kind of file) using this plain text, in as many multiple parts as necessary to get the whole file out. Once someone downloads all these parts, the file can be reconstructed out of this plain text back into its original form.


So, as you can see, you can post ANY kind of file to ANY place on usenet and it can be downloaded by anyone.

The whole “shut down binaries groups” is specious. The “binaries groups” are just a group with a name – like This can be ANYTHING. Groups just got named to make it easier to identify the type of material most likely to be in them. Shutting down/removing all “alt.binaries.-whatever” groups will do ZERO NOTHING NADA to stop people from posting files.

Lets repeat that for the cheap seats and the willfully ignorant with blinders on and their fingers in their ears:


You will solve exactly ZERO piracy issues by doing so. People will just either move to other groups, or create news ones with weird or obscure names and continue on.

The only way for ANY isp, company or anyone to follow a court-order to “remove binaries from usenet” is to destroy usenet utterly and remove the entire system from the internet.

So, if you truly feel that this is an acceptable solution, that removing ALL speech because of SOME infringing things, then by all means, destroy usenet. But be prepared to also destroy everything else that is similar: Bitorrent, Google, Newspapers, TV, and speech in general. Because these can all ALSO be used to infringe illegally, and since you have shown to have no problem burning the baby along with the crib, you have to support doing so as well.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »