USENET Provider Must Prevent Infringement

April 2, 2014

usenext logoA German court has ordered UseNeXT to prevent copyright infringement on behalf of a German anti-piracy group. UseNeXT could, according to the injunction, be held liable if copyright infringement continues.

The group that brought the action, GEMA, filed it against Aviteo, Ltd., the company that provides the UseNeXT service. This was the outcome of an ongoing fight between the two, and it holds some serious implications for USENET providers.

The Complexity of It

UseNeXT itself was not putting anything on the USENET system that infringed on anyone’s copyrights. It also wasn’t established that a UseNeXT user was responsible for putting them on the USENET system, but the company could be held liable for the presence of such material, nonetheless.

Gema_logoGEMA and UseNeXT have been going at it since 2006. There were court injunctions issued in the past that told UseNeXT that they had to do more to protect the copyrights that GEMA represents. This latest ruling could hold the provider responsible if any copyright infringement is found on their systems, which GEMA hailed as a victory for those who have intellectual property that they want to secure.

UseNeXT is planning on appealing this ruling, which should come as no surprise, given that it could put a lot of responsibility on USENET providers that they really have no way of upholding.

USENET providers are not able to control what goes onto the USENET system any more than ISPs are able to control what goes on the Internet. The USENET service providers only provide access to the system.

The DMCA allows copyright holders or their representatives to issue a takedown request, many of which are handled by automated systems and which allow content to be taken off of the USENET server when it violates a copyright holder’s rights. This new ruling, according to GEMA, could even be used to shut down the provider, so there are grim implications.

Copyright holders have had many provisions made to help them secure their rights, but the USENET system is one that they have been ramping up attacks against in recent years. Most websites that have video or audio content have a means for copyright holders to get material taken down and the USENET system does, as well. Like the copyright industry’s continuing attacks against NZB sites, however, the attacks against USENET access providers by entertainment industry organizations seem to be getting more aggressive and their goals much broader.

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