Usenet aggregator Newzbin has been forced to close thanks to legal action by the Motion Picture Association.
Newzbin was one of the first sites to index Usenet binaries and is credited with the creation of the NZB file format, which massively simplified the process of downloading and rebuilding large media files.
Usnet has been quietly chugging away in the background while P2P services like Napster, BitTorrent and Limewire attracted the attention of the copyright cops, but now it seems the spotlight is turning inexorably towards binary newsgroups hosted by the Usenet network.
Recent announcements by large companies like Microsoft that they are withdrawing from the usenet world will do little to help maintain the massive network, which was one of the forerunners of the Internet as we know it today.
The legal action has been ongoing since early 2008 and in February this year the oufit was found guilty of copyright infringement, despite the fact that it has never hosted any illegal files.
The Newzbin web site has been shut down already, and the home page simply states, "Regrettably the Newzbin website has to close as a result of the legal action against us". A link on the page points to the blog of an (ex) Newzbin editor which states:
"Things are moving fast at everyone's favourite Usenet indexer Newzbin. A Newzbin Editor let slip some interesting gossip to me on IRC. Apparently Newzbin has been put into administration yesterday because it couldn’t pay its debts.
"Word is that they owe the MPA £230,000 just in interim costs, and that’s without a full costs ruling or a decision on damages. Apparently they also owe a software development house over £500k. They also stopped taking payments a few weeks back.
"I predict Newzbin is toast. Does it mean the end of the service for users? Maybe not. While I can’t see how Newzbin can dig themselves out of this hole or carry on, there have been odd developments. Users have been pressing Newzbin to Opensource the site code but they’ve refused.
"However the rumour is that someone hacked their servers and grabbed the code and several databases. If that is right I’m guessing a clone site will spring up soon, or maybe several." (Rumours about the source code being out in the wild have since been confirmed.)
Newzbin is currently in liquidation and there is more information about refunds, source code and privacy issues here.