When the poorly thought out strategies for dealing with online copyright infringement started to take effect, I said at the time that we would see a migration towards Usenet.  I am aware of whats called the “first rule of Usenet” which is not to talk about Usenet, but since I have no interests in infringing copyright by downloading such material and my Usenet interest is mainly comp.os.linux.advocacy, I really don’t have a problem breaking that “rule”.  I expect what passes today as “the scene” will have words about that.

We saw recently that the operators of Newbin being found liable for copyright infringement, which FACT proudly linking to the following article which says:

The IPKat thinks that this is a good example of a copyright owner taking its time, getting its evidence together, marshalling its legal arguments in order to get maximum benefit from the litigation process.

To which I would reply that whilst the result was good (as far as copyright holders are concerned) its hardly a victory at all since there are plenty more NZB indexers on the net, and they don’t rely on huge amounts of users in a swarm for downloaders to effectively use them and in any case does the “IPKAT” think that most Usenet users really need an NZB indexer in the first place to get their “warez”?  Does IPKat even understand how Usenet works?  Id suggest not, as the kitty also said:

Fox and other film makers and distributors sued Newzbin, which ran an internet discussion system called Usenet, for copyright infringement

Which, in my opinion is rather wrong.  Newzbin was a site which offered links to material found within Usenet.  Newzbin itself is not a means to get anything as you need a Usenet provider in order to access the material which Newzbin links to.  Newzbin is no more “Usenet” than this article and have we not seen what happens when the entertainment sector “takes its time” (that being tech runs way ahead and by the time they realize they have a problem its far too late) – I’ll let you decide as you visit IPKats site and wonder if this is one kitty who should have stayed in the bag when it was tossed into the river.

We saw recently how a Usenet NZB indexer site was targeted by 20th Century Fox which was reported as being a great success by all those involved.  But was it?  I personally had never even seen that particular index site and can think of 10 more off the top of my head, which to me makes it all seem rather pointless.  We need to look no further than the Pirate Bay to see that numerous court cases and prison sentences have not changed a thing and TPB seems to continue on as it always has (with the occasional tiny break in service as the next attempt to close it down comes along)

Amazing(sarcasm)….A Nzb client?

Torrentfreak wrote an excellent article detailing an affiliate of Giganews which is developing an NZB client (Unzbinz) which aims to give users a user-friendly uTorrent type experience albeit via Usenet and NZB.  Now whilst this software is not groundbreaking (and the src for the easy to use Klibido has been available for years) it does highlight a more mainstream desire for Usenet and in my opinion a direct result of the civil cases surrounding the bittorrent protocol. What Ive said before is that this migration will pose a problem to the law firms that are sending settlement letters as not only is the sharing aspect removed from Usenet (in respect of the downloader) but also that its a near imposible delivery system to track a downloader on.

Giganews was reported to have had issue with the Unzbinz software displaying in the screenshot “Steal this film” which is actually a legal to download documentary about filesharing (and its a recommended download) to be an encouragement to download material.  Giganews is reported to have responded with:

…As you know, we can’t control and monitor everything that is uploaded to Usenet….

Which is what I want to look at in a little more detail.  Since Giganews (and I expect any Usenet provider) wants to distance themselves from either facilitating or condoning copyright infringement, I would ask them why they are providing some of the groups like:

alt.binaries.dvd.movies

alt.binaries.dvd.music

alt.binaries.dvdrip

alt.binaries.games.xbox360

and ask, what have you actually controlled or monitored?

Check for yourselves, these groups are nearly 100% copyright infringing material.  If Giganews is wanting to control (or monitor) why is it not blocking these groups?  Could it be that all Usenet providers know exactly what the majority of their customers want and are desperately trying to convince the film companies that they are doing everything they can?  And if I can establish within minutes that the majority of binary newsgroups contain copyright infringing material, where is the evidence of the Usenet providers pro-actively trying to remove it?

I have to say I had a brief encounter with the binaries when downloading the complete FredFish Amiga PD disks.  The binary groups which I frequented are excellent resources for PD from the Amiga/ST/Arch days (Ive built up quite a collection) but I think that any Usenet provider who tries to claim to anyone that they are actively trying to control/prevent copyright infringement on their servers is wrong.   I  believe a Usenet provider who didn’t offer those “warez” newsgroups wouldn’t last very long.  Maybe Im wrong?  I see this as an example of Giganews trying to keep everyone happy, it doesn’t want to lose its customer base but conversely it doesn’t want to be on the receiving end of a legal battle either.  Maybe someone here can tell me otherwise? – I doubt it.

And what about Google/Yahoo/Bing/Others?

How far does the liability of “facilitating copyright” go? Since typing into any one of those search engines (or in Bings case a “decision engine”!?!) ” + nzb” will usually reveal links to the files, are we to expect the next major case to tackle them?  What about sites that link to the indexer’s but not the files themselves? Are they in play too? What about mentioning it here? If I mention an indexer am I too held liable for encourging copyright infringement?

Its not like the “good old”days?

Going off on a slight tangent for a minute…

The whole filesharing/warez & “scene” of today is, in my opinion a rather sad indictment of the level of skill which is revered by the masses.  Lets go back in time to the “golden age” of the Amiga.  Then you see cracktro’s, trainers and the demoscene (with also a rather creative example of compression where mainstream titles were compressed in a complete form on less disks than the original) in these days the scene had talent.  You were either a coder, a musicman/woman or an artist.  These were the days where to have reputation you had to have talent.  These days people like Axxo are heralded like “scene gods” when in reality all they are doing is using 3rd party software to rip CD’s or encode a DVD to xvid within an AVI container….its hardly the stuff of experts is it?  It is my opinion that the “real” scene is mostly gone and what we have now is a mass free for all which goes under the guise of being “scene”.

Of course the movie industry (for example) had an oportunity to jump on board all those years ago when it became obvious which way the wind was blowing.  Maybe they gave to much faith to Macrovision and future DRM to consider a scenario like this or maybe they thought it a fad which would swiftly move on?  Or maybe they took pearls of wisdom from the IPkat “copyright owner taking its time, getting its evidence together”? Guys and girls, you don’t have the time to take your time, thats why you have the problem now.

So whats the answer? I say this every time (and if you’ve read it before, please skip) the only way copyright infringement can be reduced is by licensing ISP’s in a similar way to a pub landlord.  Make them responsible for their customers.  I think if the onus is put onto the ISP’s themselves to prevent their customers downloading copyrighted material, you would have a far more effective result.  Sure, there have been pro-copyright successes but then as the Pirate Bay proves, for every one successful case at court the victory is hollow since the rules change and a new source is found.  The tech is already here (I.e BT and Usenet) and for every indexer or tracker thats closed down, a new one emerges.  Unless you can find a viable way to outlaw the technologies behind these practices (not the trackers/indexers) you will never remove the problem.

I would suggest that people put the IPkat out for the night and realize this problem is far too deep routed for any one (or collection) of court victories to change.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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