Usenet under fire from copyright holders

The "under-the-radar" file-sharing system has been dragged into the spotlight by DMCA takedowns.

Nic Healey Senior Editor / Australia
Nic Healey is a Senior Editor with CNET, based in the Australia office. His passions include bourbon, video games and boring strangers with photos of his cat.
Nic Healey
2 min read

The "under-the-radar" file-sharing system has been dragged into the spotlight by DMCA takedowns.

(Credit: US Government)

Usenet is one of the oldest discussion forums on the internet, but over the past few years, it's gained a lot of popularity as a file transfer system, one that's far more easy to remain anonymous on than other P2P sharing services.

But despite remaining low profile for some time, as compared to BitTorrent, TorrentFreak.com is reporting a sharp rise in the number of the DMCA takedowns being issued on Usenet.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 criminalised the "production and dissemination of technology, devices or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works". Copyright holders who believe that they are being infringed can issue a DMCA takedown, legally obligating the recipient to remove the offending files.

Mark van Herpen, who processes the notice-and-takedown requests at Usenet provider Tweak News, spoke to Dutch news site "Tweakers", saying that there had been a rapid increase in notices over the past six months from both big and small copyright holders.

TorrentFreak identified the Ultimate Fighting Championships as one of the companies targeting Usenet for infringement. Joe Morganelli, founder of copyright consulting firm Morganelli Group, handles the issuing of the notices for the UFC. He stated that his firm monitors Usenet "24/7 using a Bayesian Classifier", as well as working with "insiders" to get up to date information about copyrighted material being shared.

Are you a Usenet user? Have you seen any changes in the service? Let us know in the comments — anonymously, if you prefer.