The other side of the Internet: Is the Usenet legal?

The Usenet is a globally accessible network that exists parallel to the World Wide Web (WWW). While this was only established in 1989, the Usenet has existed since 1979. It uses an architecture that can best be compared to that of a forum.

  • The stay in the Usenet is not illegal, but certain actions in it can be.
  • Staying in Usenet is not illegal, but certain acts in it can be.

It is divided into a number of so-called newsgroups in which users can exchange information on specific topics. But not all newsgroups are text-based; many of them are also file-oriented. In this case they are called „binary groups“.

The basic stay in Usenet is completely legal. However, the binary groups also offer the possibility of using it in a way that is questionable from a copyright point of view.

Access to Usenet and download files

If you want to access newsgroups, this works via a specific server. Such a news server can, for example, be offered by the Internet provider. The disadvantage of this variant is that binary groups in particular are often not offered via such servers.

  • Full access to newsgroups is obtained through a Payserver. This also makes it easy to download data from the Usenet. Two concepts are usually available for downloads:
  • The first option is to buy a certain number of gigabytes, which can then be downloaded from the server – the so-called pay-by-download concept.
  • This is often used when files are downloaded only occasionally. The second and most frequently used variant is a monthly subscription, which allows as much data to be downloaded as desired.
  • The largest European provider of this type is the provider UseNeXT. Its service is free of charge for 14 days and only requires a small fee. But what about the legality of these downloads from Usenet?
  • Usenet download: Legal or not? What is legal on Usenet has been the subject of discussion for some time now.
  • To find a german usenet provider visit

Illegal content can also be found on Usenet

However, you do not have to expect a warning from a lawyer if you register with a provider such as UseNeXT because of applicable Internet law, including a cease-and-desist declaration.

The use of such a provider is necessary if you want to be on the Usenet and thus, like the Usenet itself, completely legal.

Downloading films from the Usenet – a download is only legal if there is no further upload. The music industry in particular has been trying for years to take legal action against various providers. Worldwide, however, the corresponding court rulings show that they have not been successful so far.

For example, the courts agree that Usenet providers must be classified as legal because they themselves do not violate copyright law and are not responsible for the actions of their members.

A Usenet user is also not responsible for the content offered there and can freely download with a client (check the best usenet clients at infobeat) and use it. Unlike a file-sharing program, a downloader in Usenet is not also an uploader, which is a serious difference. It should also be noted that there are also data such as films and music that do not have copyright and can therefore be downloaded legally in general.