In 2009, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, representing the movie and music industries, took News-Service Europe (NSE) – one of Europe’s largest Usenet providers at the time – to court.
BREIN argued that NSE must delete all infringing content from its servers, and in 2011 the Court of Amsterdam sided with the group.
In its initial verdict, the Court concluded that NSE willingly facilitated online piracy through its services. As a result, the company was ordered to remove all copyrighted content and filter future posts for possible copyright infringements.
According to the Usenet provider, this filtering requirement would be too costly to achieve. It shut down its service but appealed the case.
After several years of litigation, the Amsterdam appeals court last year ruled that NSE wasn’t liable for pirating users after all, but that it is required to offer a fast and effective notice and takedown procedure, possibly with additional measures.
NSE welcomed the court order, and BREIN initially characterized it as a victory too. However, this week the rightsholder-backed anti-piracy group announced that it will take the case to the Supreme Court.
According to BREIN, Usenet as a technology isn’t a problem. However, providers that willingly “abuse” it to facilitate copyright infringement for commercial gain should be punished.
“We found that the Court failed to recognize that NSE is indeed liable for its business, which came down to appropriating user-uploaded files and generating income by keeping copies of these files available for a long time, so paying subscribers could download these,” BREIN director Tim Kuik says.
“Our concern is not over Usenet as such, which in itself is a good protocol, but how commercial providers like NSE use, or better put, abuse it to monetize massive infringement. It is not about technology but about how you use it,” he adds.
NSE, on the other hand, is confident that it operated in accordance with the law, as a neutral service provider. As such, the company looks forward to the Supreme Court case with great confidence.
“It is not surprising to us that BREIN, who first applauded the verdict and called the ruling an important victory, isn’t able to face reality,” NSE CEO Patrick Schreurs informs TorrentFreak.
“The harsh reality is that NSE acted as an ordinary neutral Usenet provider and therefore can’t be held liable for the content on their platform uploaded by others. We are confident that the Supreme Court will affirm the Court of Appeal’s ruling.”
And so, after eight years, the case is still not over yet. Whatever the outcome at the Supreme Court will be NSE will remain out of business. The company previously stated that it’s not relaunching its Usenet service.