Interview with Usenet search sites targeted by the MPAA
Thursday, March 2, 2006
Last week, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced it had launched seven lawsuits against operators of websites it claims had been "facilitating the distribution of copyright works".
In its announcement, the MPAA said it had commenced legal action against the following BitTorrent tracking sites: isohunt.com, bthub.com, and torrentbox.com, which are all owned by the same person; torrentspy.com; niteshadow.com as well as ed2k site ed2k-it.com and Usenet search engines nzb-zone.com, binnews.com, and dvdrs.net.
Despite the announcement on its website and in the media, the MPAA has failed to notify the administrators of the sites involved directly. Joe from Binnews told Wikinews he only found out about the MPAA's actions after reading it on several news sites. He said, "At first, I double read the article making sure we were not being punk'd. But then I was shocked that we had to read about it publicly first. As of today (February 25), we have yet to get anything (from the MPAA)".
"Descds", an administrator of dvdrs.net told Wikinews that the first he knew of the action being taken against the site was when he was approached by the press and users of his site. He said, "We haven't been informed by the MPAA and quite frankly are outraged by the method they have adopted to file these lawsuits. In actual fact we would still be none the wiser had our members and members of the press not have contacted us."
"When we found out about the filed lawsuit we was first worried (after all we are only a small site with limited funds), then shocked and finally outraged. Had the MPAA contacted us anytime in the sites history regards their concerns we would have happily worked with them to gain a resolve," he said.
Descds also said that despite attempts to contact the MPAA he has received no response.
When asked by Wikinews how they felt about discovering the MPAA's lawsuits both administrators said they would have appreciated being notified before the announcement was made public.
Binnews told Wikinews, "We do feel they should have notified first. We do not even have a confirmation this is for real."
Dvdrs said, "We have stated many times had the MPAA personally contacted us we would have happily listened to their issues and acted accordingly. We are doing nothing wrong legally on our site and to be made look like an established piracy ring is an outrage. We have worked extremely hard on site to keep within international laws and they have publicly destroyed everything we have worked towards in the last two years. We are receiving negative PR and this is totally unacceptable."
Wikinews has discovered that both Binnews and dvdrs.net have procedures in place for dealing with alleged copyright infringement under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Despite this, both sites deny ever being contacted by any organisation with a "takedown" notice.
When asked if Binnews ever received a takedown notice, Binnews replied, "Nope, we have never received a notice from anyone. My cell phone is tied to the site, we have proper DMCA guidelines on the site and no one has contacted us."
When asked the same question, Dvdrs said, "No never. We would actively respond to any DMCA request quickly and efficiently. We fully support the law and would never try to evade anything within its scope. Had a DMCA been issued by any member, our site would have immediately deleted the offensive file."
When asked how they would deal with a DMCA takedown notice, Binnews said, "We would act quite quickly. An email sent to the alert system is tied into all of "staff" members, my cell phone and my email."
According to Dvdrs, they would be equally as compliant. "We would immediately delete the offending file on our server and conduct a thorough research into any files that may also be connected to the one mentioned. We would also respond to the request personally with a follow up email expressing our actions," they said.
Wikinews asked the administrators if they thought their sites were any different to conventional search engines like Google and Yahoo. Binnews replied, "No, you can go to any search engine and find just about anything."
Dvdrs also shares Binnews' position telling Wikinews, "No. We index what is already readily available on commercial, tax paying, US based registered companies hard drives. All we are doing is pointing to files not on our network, much the same way google or any search bot operates. We do not host these files and without the premium paid service of third parties our marked up text based XML files are useless. We have never hosted illegal files and only offer information."
Dvdrs has expressed that if the MPAA deems them illegal they should also target those who are actually hosting the files. Descds said, "We feel that should the MPAA deem us illegal then they must also target premium paid Usenet Providers who act as the transit for these files. Ironically both Easynews and Usenetserver offer both indexing and carrier for these files and yet have received no such lawsuits filed."
"We also find it ironic still that Newzbin, creators, instigators and promoters of the NZB format and un-arguably the biggest Usenet Indexing site in the world have received no lawsuits filed. We feel that we are being rail roaded and are not at all happy about it."
On the other hand, Binnews was surprised that the MPAA did not target ISPs and Usenet providers in the first instance. "Cut the head off and there is nothing for us to index and report on. If the ISPs acted in a proper manner and did what they are more than capable of, we would not be assisting people in combating piracy on their networks," they said.
Despite being outraged with the MPAA and its actions, Descds said that despite being outside of US juristiction he is happy to assist the MPAA in anyway necessary. "We would like it known for the record that we are actively trying to reach a resolve regards this action by the MPAA. We have contacted them and said openly many times we would welcome their input and act accordingly. Should they feel that NZBS are illegal we will remove those sections immediately and await a legal judgement on their legality. DVDRS is not a pirate network and to call us such has insulted our member base."
"I would also like it noted that although we host in the US i am actually a UK citizen who currently does not have to adhere to their communications and judgements. However, such is our resolve that I would happily comply should communication between us take place. We can offer little more to help this but hope that the MPAA retract their statement that we are an organised pirate network and restore our good name. Should the MPAA decide to not communicate with us and continue their legal actions we will instruct our attorneys and contact legal bodies like the EFF for help on this matter," he added.
Binnews also had this to say of the MPAA's lawsuit: "Binnews does not host any files, the claim that we read "BinNews.com offers files for over 3,000 movies" is 100% completely false. We do not host any files, never have and never will. We provide a legitimate service to copyright holders. No where on our site does it say, "join us, we can give you free movies." We do not even have pre-made nzb files."
History of binnews and dvdrs.net
Binnews started "as a way to monitor what is on usenet," according to Joe.
"Our intent is not and never has been to facilitate piracy. Its quite the opposite. We have several guides that explain how binnews can assist a company in getting rid of piracy," he said.
Dvdrs.net started out as a community site in March, 2004, where people could discuss movies they loved, and hated, offer help to people with home cinema issues, discuss games and basically befriend members. Descds said, "We have evolved several times and have always kept a keen eye on the laws of both local and international authorities."
Dvdrs.net adopted NZBs at users' request several months after the site was launched. Descds told Wikinews that the site had never been contacted by any legal representative to ask for the removal of NZB files.
"There has never been a law passed anywhere, as far as we are aware, that states NZB files are illegal to host. Had there been, we would have dropped them and continue with other aspects of our site. DVDRS is not all about indexing Usenet and has a very healthy community discussion group," he said.
"MPAA launches seven lawsuits against torrent, ed2k and usenet sites" — Wikinews, February 24, 2006