Anti-piracy group BREIN is well known in the BitTorrent community, having already managed to shut down hundreds of small sites. The Dutch outfit is currently being sued by a group of Usenet enthusiasts after it called their site illegal. Undeterred, it’s now flexing its muscles to get NZB sites closed down too.
Funded by the movie, music and gaming industries, BREIN has been a thorn in the side of BitTorrent sites for years. More recently the outfit extended their activities to target sites frequented by Usenet users. They labeled the Usenet community FTD as criminals, and are currently being sued for doing so.
On TorrentFreak we’ve also had issues with BREIN after they labeled us a ‘pirate weblog’ and then used material from our site without proper attribution. Our legal counsel had to jump in, in an attempt to stop their libelous writing and harassment of smaller website operators.
As expected, this didn’t have much effect, and BREIN continued their operations claiming a few dozen victories by shutting down smaller torrent communities. They usually operate by sending emails to the site’s admins or hosting providers claiming that their activities are illegal, ordering them to shut down or face legal action.
Besides torrent sites, BREIN is also targeting Usenet indexers, claiming that they assist in copyright infringement. The NZB files found on many of these sites can be considered as Usenet’s answer to .torrent files as they point to content hosted elsewhere. They also make the otherwise-complicated Usenet downloading process relatively easy to master. BREIN does not like the fact that NZBs bring Usenet to the mainstream and considers sites hosting those files to have the same function as torrent sites and is targeting them in much the same way.
One of the NZB sites threatened by BREIN is BNI-online. The site received an ultimatum, with BREIN ordering them to stop their ‘illegal’ activities within 48 hours or be taken to court. The site has responded to this request and ceased its operations.
Splendid, the site’s founder explains that BREIN’s threats are one of the reasons for closing down the site. At this point we can not confirm that any other sites have closed after similar threats, but it wouldn’t be a surprise. Every torrent or NZB site hosted in The Netherlands will be approached by the anti-piracy outfit sooner or later.
This week, BREIN will be in court with another Dutch based site, Mininova, and TorrentFreak will of course keep you updated on the outcome and progress in this trial.