NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The RIAA has won a legal victory against the Usenet.com Inc, a web-portal that provides, for a fee, search and download portal for access content on Usenet Internet news groups.
Usenet newsgroups predate the world wide web and provide discussion groups for a huge range of topics from the mundane to the arcane. Additionally, they include file attachment capabilities that allow users to post potentially copyrighted material to be available for download. Unlike the better known peer-to-peer file sharing methods, where users pull pieces of files from other sharers all over the Internet, Usenet files are all hosted intact on individual servers.
The lawsuit also alleged that access to this copyrighted material was a key component in Usenet.com's marketing efforts and that statistical samplings of their servers uncovered significant quantities of copyrighted material.
U.S. District Judge Harold Baer of the Southern District of New York handed down a ruling finding the Usenet service guilty of direct infringement, inducement of infringement, contributory infringement, and vicarious infringement. Baer laid aside Usenet.com's defense that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act provided them "safe harbor" as an ISP and their attempt to employ the Betamax defense wherein a company selling a device cannot be held liable if said device is used in copyright infringement.
Both parties have been requested to submit briefs on the determination of appropriate damages.
The lawsuit was originally launched in 2007 and since then, many ISPs have been cutting user's access to Usenet newsgroups, restricting would-be users to for-pay services like Usenet.com.