Following straight after a report on British music industry attacks against Pirate Bay, we now hear that Amsterdam-based Dutch Usenet provider News Service has been effectively ordered to close down operations after Dutch courts commanded the service to cease 'recording and offering material protected by copyright and neighbouring rights' less it face penalty payments.
The legal case had been launched two years ago by BREIN, an anti-piracy Dutch uber-foundation, formed from other groups such as the MPA, looking to promote anti-piracy laws and their enforcement. Though the fine details are not fully known, at least back in 2010, the Usenet provider should have been protected by Article 6:196c of the Dutch Civil Code, based on European e-commerce directives, which very clearly, even through translation, state that information service providers are not liable for the information they transmit. Perhaps times are changing as even News Service's on-line Notice and Takedown (NTD) procedure, allowing for the removal of copyright material per request, proved ineffective in the courts.
To be clear, News Service had not actually been ordered to close down but to stop recording and distributing copyright infringing content. Unlike in the recent Newzbin case, where as a search provider, Newzbin had been requested to remove special and focused indexing of TV and movie content, quite reasonably the Dutch Usenet provider had no choice but to appeal the court's request as it is not involved in the processing or detection of what types of content pass through its servers, making the request technically infeasible. The appeal was sadly declined on November 4, 2011, a precedent-setting decision that could have serious ramifications in future cases.
Dark days indeed for Usenet providers around the world.