Why some files can't be downloaded from Usenet

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 26, 2012
Updated • Jun 9, 2013

If you are downloading files regularly from the Usenet, you may have noticed that some downloads do not complete anymore. Transfers work in pretty much the same way as downloading files via P2P connections, and if a file is listed as complete by the Usenet server you are using, it should download just fine to your system as well, right?

It should be clear that partial file downloads will be broken on the system, but you have PAR2 files for that which you can use to recover the full file. You can use Par2 files to recovery any download, provided that the Par2 blocks are of the same size or larger than the incomplete, corrupt or missing blocks of the downloaded file.

But this article is not about incomplete or corrupt uploads, it is about a trend that has reached the Usenet. I'm talking about DMCA requests to pull down data from servers. Rights-holders use DCMA requests to ask companies to pull data from the Internet. This can happen using automation or manually, but we have seen in the past that the process is not 100% fool proof and that legit files may be pulled due to requests.

You may know that from Google Search where results may have been removed due to these requests. The same requests are sent to file hosting providers, websites, blogs, and now Usenet Providers.

The provider pulls the files from the server after verifying that the DCMA request is legitimate. The result is that while the file is not available anymore on the server, it is still listed in the headers that you retrieve when you update a group that you download files from. The file is listed there as any other complete file, and you will only notice that it is not when you try to download it to your computer.

Depending on when you try to download the file, your download may not start at all, or may stop at any point. This usually happens when the files get removed while you are downloading or while some parts are still available on cache servers or content distribution networks.

You can't download that file anymore once it has been pulled by the Usenet provider. You sometimes may be able to recover the files using par files, but only if you were able to download the file partially to your system.


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  1. davidwr said on November 27, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Wow, what took the copyright industry so long?

    I naively assumed that all US-based major USENET servers have been on the receiving end of such notices for years.

  2. Morely Dotes said on November 27, 2012 at 12:41 am

    “The provider pulls the files from the server after verifying that the DCMA request is legitimate.”

    Two corrections, Martin; Firstly, it’s “DMCA” (Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or as it’s known to those who hold the rights of citizens dear, the Corporate Ownership of Everything Act). Secondly, many providers don’t bother checking the “legitimacy” of a DMCA take-down notice because they don’t want to bother with the legal system, so they routinely take down anything the get a notice for. One side effect of that is that it’s not difficult to send a phony take-down notice to some providers, and have perfectly legitimate content removed. I would not recommend doing it, but it’s obviously possible; I’ve seen it done.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 27, 2012 at 12:57 am

      Thanks, corrected the error. You are most certainly right when it comes to the second point, and that’s a real shame.

  3. Wayfarer said on November 27, 2012 at 12:17 am

    A great deal of what PayPal does every day stretches the law – certainly summary withholding of funds etc. And what isn’t illegal is too often – in the UK at least – subject to far too little oversight and regulation. Given the current way the whole banking system is being critically examined, I reckon PayPal is getting away with murder.

  4. berttie said on November 26, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Does Paypal have court orders to withhold the funds? If not, what right does it have to hold onto the money? Is Paypal a financial services company, or a vigilantly organization?

  5. hal9000 said on November 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    the lastest batman film and the tv series arrow are partially removed from pretty much all servers within hours of upping, so i have heard :)

  6. DanTe said on November 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I was wondering what’s been happening to the files. Oh well.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      I’m not sure when it started but it seems to be a recent trend, something that has probably started in the last six month period or so.

  7. ilev said on November 26, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Regarding Usenet :

    Paypal Bans Usenet Providers Over Piracy Concerns

    After banning several of the largest file-hosting sites, PayPal is now taking aim at Usenet services. The payment processor has just cut off several providers of Usenet services and frozen the funds in their accounts. These actions are due to growing copyright infringement concerns which have resulted in an extremely strict and in some cases privacy-violating set of requirements being laid down by the payment processing company.

    On Tuesday, PayPal cut off its services to five Usenet resellers including XSUsenet, EasyUsenet and Usenet4U, reports the Dutch news site Tweakers. The Usenet providers can no longer accept PayPal payments and the funds that remain in their accounts have been frozen for 180 days…


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