Usenet index site Newzbin loses its High Court battle against Hollywood studios, Judge rules it does infringe copyright.

A members-only website that helps users to find protected film and TV content has been held liable for copyright infringement after losing a High Court battle against several Hollywood studios.

Newzbin, a UK-based site which turned over more than $1.5m (£1m) last year, is expected to be served with an injunction restricting its activity later this week.

In a ruling issued today (March 29), the court found that Newzbin engages in copyright infringement even though the protected content is not hosted on the site.

It offers users an index of files posted to Usenet, a forum that allows video files to be split up and posted in segments. Newzbin helps users to reassemble the original file by offering an index of the files.

Its activities have been compared to bit torrent site Pirate Bay, which also offered links to copyrighted content but did not host it. Its founders were found guilty of copyright infringement last year and sentenced to a year in prison and fined $3.5m.

The claimants in the Newzbin case, which includes 20th Century Fox, said that the website is focused on piracy because it indexes illegal files making it easier for users who are seeking such content to find it. However, Newzbin claimed it was “content agnostic,” comparing itself to a search engine, and only offered links.

Justice Kitchin, who oversaw the case, will make the precise terms of the Court order available later this week, but it is expected to order Newzbin to facilitating access to protected films and TV programmes. 

Ted Shapiro, the Motion Picture Association’s (MPA) general counsel for Europe, said in a statement: “Newzbin is a source of immense damage to the creative sector in the UK and worldwide. This is an important decision and it sends a clear message that websites focusing on providing viewers with pirated film and TV programmes infringe copyright and are liable for their actions, even where those websites don’t host the content.”

It is not yet clear if Newzbin plan to appeal the decision.