One of the most popular Usenet indexing sites has closed down citing legal action by anti-piracy group BREIN as one of the main factors. Newzbin, which is especially popular among Dutch Usenet users, has been running for almost eight years but according to its operators, contributors have become increasingly wary of the consequences of linking to copyrighted material.
While largely fast and efficient, by today’s standards obtaining content such as movies and TV shows from Usenet feels a little archaic. There are plenty of tools around to make the process more straightforward but for years, users have continued to rely on so-called .NZB files.
In basic terms, these are somewhat like .torrent files in that they point to locations where specific content can be found on Usenet. Once loaded into an appropriate client, content is easily downloaded.
As a result, sites like Newzbin.org (not to be confused with an infamous but long-shuttered site of the same name) have appeared online to act as communities for people who find (or ‘spot’) content on Usenet and then share the relating .NZB files. Newzbin has been in operation for around eight years, touting itself as the spiritual successor to FTD, a major NZB site that lost legal battles with BREIN more than a decade ago and was forced to shut down.
Ten years later, Newzbin – which is estimated to serve around 150,000 users – has suffered the same fate.
Newzbin Announces it Will Shut Down
A few days ago, the operators of Newzbin published an announcement to its platform, declaring that the service would be shut down after many successful years in operation.
“We regret to inform you that we will be discontinuing Newzbin. In short, the plug goes out and Newzbin goes black after more than 8 years. It has been a very difficult decision for us, but with the current status of Usenet and the offer, we are forced to stop.”
Newzbin’s operators reported that “things are getting quieter” with more uploaders choosing to act cautiously due to the pressure of the current legal environment and the risk of getting caught. Newzbin’s team also said that the joy they once had operating and developing the site had also disappeared
Newzbin Permanently Shuts Down
In a final farewell message published late Tuesday night, Newzbin said that after taking over from another site (NZBEE) on the first day of 2014, its goal was always to become a worthy successor to FTD. Over the years that appeared to be on the cards as more users came to rely on the site for their Usenet downloads.
“Thanks to our good team of moderators, the posters, spotters, translators, but above all the members who were willing to help others, Newzbin had grown into the great safe Usenet home for everyone,” Newzbin’s operators.
But the good days were numbered.
“Despite the enormous growth in popularity, we unfortunately also saw a decrease in posts in recent years. Of course this also has to do with the advance of [Dutch OTT online service] Videoland, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video etc. and probably also the coronavirus period we are in,” the site explained.
“But posters have also become frightened by recent news reports from the BREIN Foundation.”
The BREIN Effect
With most other anti-piracy groups concentrating on web streaming, IPTV services, torrent sites and file-hosting platforms, BREIN has continued to focus on these and more.
Just this week, BREIN said that indexing site NZBXS had shut down and settled with anti-piracy group. That included an agreement to hand over user details, users that may find themselves contacted by BREIN in the future due to their utilization of NZBXS’ API to power software including Sickbeard, RADARR, and CouchPotato.
What Next for the Newzbin Database?
When major indexing sites shut down, there are always calls for indexes and databases to be shared with others to assist in a comeback or third-part resurrection. Newzbin is currently on the fence and has not yet decided what to do.
“We understand better than anyone that it would be a shame if [the database and NZBs] were completely lost, but unfortunately we have no plans to transfer this or release the database for the time being,” Newzbin’s operators report.
According to BREIN, however, Newzbin’s operators aren’t out of the woods yet.
“It is true that we are identifying and tackling more and more illegal uploaders and spotters,” says BREIN director Tim Kuik.
“We are also chasing the sites they use, such as Newzbin. Those who follow us know that we are getting closer each time and that things will get pretty expensive once we get you. We’re not done with that, not even with the people behind Newzbin.
“The development of legal supply is always the best way to combat the extent of illegality. We never made a secret of that. But to reach full maturity, that legal offering also needs continued protection against illegal competition that is offered for free or at much lower prices,” Kuik concludes.
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