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Newzbin Dies A Miserable Death

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Newzbin gives up the ghost after staff leave, payments firms pull out and ISPs block access to the site

Newzbin, the site that was banned from the UK Internet for offering links to pirated material, has given up the ghost and shut down completely.

The filesharing site, once massively popular in the form of Newzbin1, was shut down in 2010, and came back as Newzbin2. It took a serious hit last year when a court ordered BT to prevent its customers accessing the site, following action initiated by the Motion Picture Association. Subsequently other major ISPs were told to block Newzbin2.

The site said it could not afford to keep going, having lost many editors and servers being unstable.

Bye-bye Newzbin

“Newzbin2 was always hoped to be a viable underground commercial venture. The figures just don’t stack up,” a message on its site read.

“Newzbin1 was said to have had 700,000 registered users. In fact that was the total number of people who ever signed up in the history of Newzbin from 2000 onwards & only a fraction were active, loads of people dropped out & went to other sites.

“We reckon they had about 100,000 users and of those only a few 10’s of thousands paid premium topups.That still made good money for the Newzbin1 guys. We never quite got the trust and lots of people said ‘Newzbin2 is an MPA trap’, that stung us bad and we never got the userbase back.”

Newzbin said it only had around 40,000 active users with just a few thousand premium customers who paid for content. “It costs much more to run than we bring in. It just doesn’t stack up.”

It claimed its payment providers backed out, as the MPA  sued PayPal and are “going at” a provider called Kthxbai in the UK.

The MPA had not responded to a request for comment on those claims at the time of publishing.

“The tragedy is this: unlike Newzbin1 we are 100 percent DMCA compliant. We have acted on every DMCA notice we received without stalling or playing games: if there was a DMCA complaint the report was gone. Period,” the site added.

“That was a condition of our advertising and payment partners so we complied but we never got a single complaint from the MPA. Not one.

“Will we be back? not as a search service but we might run a blog from this site at some point.”

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said that whilst Newzbin was rightly pursued through the courts, the case had some disturbing undertones.

“However, censorship and block orders are disturbing and we think unnecessary given the success in tackling the businesses and payment mechanisms involved,” Killock added.

“Web blocking is a blunt instrument and  is a dangerous practice. We wish copyright owners the best in enforcing their rights and building their businesses, but urge them not to resort to further requests for censorship.”

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