The Dutch Music and Film industry organisation “Stichting Brein” has won a landmark case against usenet provider news-service.com. Lawyers for Stichting Brein successfully argued that even though news-service.com is only providing access to material uploaded elsewhere, because it is available on their servers they are responsible for policing it. As a result, news-service.com has to come up with a way to remove or block access to all copyrighted content or face a fine of up to 50,000 euros per day.
This is potentially quite a worrying precedent for net neutrality. Not only does it potentially spell doom of usenet service providers all over Europe, but depending on how it is interpreted it could erode protection such as the UK “Mere Conduit” defence where ISP’s have been able to successfully argue that they cannot be held liable for civil or criminal infringements cause by users of their bandwidth as all they are is a “bit pipe” to the internet and that it is in fact the user who must be held liable.