• Usenet FTD Not Guilty of Copyright Infringement

    It appears that the Dutch Usenet community FTD has survived their legal battle with BREIN - but not without its fair share of wounds. A Dutch Court of appeals has ruled that FTD isn't guilty of copyright infringement, but it does promote illegal uploading. What this means is that FTD survives, but but its community software that helps people find Usenet content will have to be altered significantly.

    This Dutch newsgroup community interacts with each other using a sophisticated piece of software called FTD. This software allows community members to chat, send email, and locate Usenet content. FTD allows members to leave "spots", or more information where Usenet content is located. This information includes the file name, number of files, and what newsgroup the file is located. Although "spots" are not NZB files, they are nevertheless useful in finding verified Usenet content very quickly.

    Unfortunately, the only piece of news we have to go on is a news flash from BREIN. Sure, it could be spun in any direction they want, but the bottom line is that FTD had a much more grave ruling reversed from earlier this year that indeed found the site guilty of copyright infringement. If that ruling was upheld, FTD as we know it may have been forced offline. But this is good news for FTD, and we're sure their community will adapt soundly to this ruling since in the end, its all about the community.

    Here's the news brief:

    Court of Appeals prohibits illegal referrals by FTD

    The Court of Appeals of The Hague ruled today that Usenet indexer FTD is not infringing copyright but nevertheless acts unlawfully by systematically encouraging illegal uploading. The court issues an injunction against referrals to files of a Dutch motion picture on penalty of a fine of 10,000 euros per day. This injunction is based on unlawful act (tort) by FTD. A previous injunction based on direct infringement through unauthorized making available of the files by FTD is annulled. The end result is that FTD must refrain from listing referrals to illegal files of the film.

    FTD maintains a searchable selection of referrals to the best quality files of the most popular entertainment content, in general those files are infringing and furthermore largely unfindable without FTD. This selection also contained referrals to illegal files from a popular Dutch movie just after it was legally released on DVD and the Internet. The film producer Eyeworks filed for an injunction that was granted on the basis of direct infringement by FTD that in turn filed an appeal against this decision.

    The Appeal Court now rules 'that FTD structurally / systematically and deliberately maintains an application that stimulates an activity -illegal uploading- that they know or should know, constitutes copyright infringement and causes (serious) harm to the rights holder while she, FTD, profits from that activity.'

    The Court finds that downloading from an illegal source is allowed under Dutch law. Its verdict on the illegality of FTD's activity is based on its structurally / systematically stimulating effect on illegal uploading. The same Court today also ruled on the appeal against a verdict regarding the Private Copying levy. The Court concluded that downloading from an illegal source is permitted according to Dutch law and should be compensated by the Private Copying levy. Possible conflict with the EU copyright directive should be resolved by the Dutch legislature.

    Source: Slyck