Mininova Deletes All Infringing Torrents and Goes ‘Legal’

Mininova, the largest torrent site on the Internet, has removed all torrents except those that were uploaded through its content distribution service. Mininova's founders took the drastic decision after they lost a civil dispute against Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, and were ordered to remove all infringing torrents from the site.

mininovaMininova’s decision to delete all infringing torrents from its index marks the end of an era that started five years ago.

In December 2004, the demise of the mighty Suprnova left a meteor crater in the fledgling BitTorrent landscape. This gaping hole was soon filled by the dozens of new sites that emerged to fulfil the public’s increasing demands for torrents. Mininova became the most successful of all.

Mininova was founded in early 2005 by five Dutch students, just a month after Suprnova closed its doors. The site started out as a hobby project created by tech-savvy teenagers, but in the years that followed the site’s founders managed to turn it into a successful business that generated millions of dollars in revenue.

With increased popularity also came numerous complaints from copyright holders, who saw their intellectual property being shared by users of the site. For years Mininova has complied with these takedown requests, but earlier this year the Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN decided to take the torrent site to court nonetheless, demanding that the operators proactively filter torrents pointing to copyrighted material.

The case went to court in June and a few weeks later the verdict was announced. The judge ruled that Mininova is not directly responsible for any copyright infringements, but ordered it to remove all torrents linking to copyrighted material within three months, or face a penalty of up to 5 million euros.

To avoid having to pay these penalties, the Mininova team saw no other option than to disable access to all torrents except those that were uploaded to their content distribution platform. This means that only approved uploaders can share torrents through the site for now.

During the last few months, Mininova has extensively tested several filtering techniques, but none of these proved 100% effective. “It’s very unfortunate that we’re forced to take this action, but we saw no other option,” Mininova co-founder Niek told TorrentFreak.

Mininova still hasn’t decided yet whether they will appeal the verdict, Niek further told TorrentFreak. They have appealed the verdict pro-forma, which gives the company more time to decide whether they will indeed continue with the appeal. As it looks now, a successful appeal is the only option for Mininova to bring all torrents back.

In the meantime the Mininova team will focus on other projects besides Mininova, as well as growing the number of users for their content distribution platform.

The implications of Mininova’s decision will have a huge impact on the BitTorrent community. The millions of Mininova users and uploaders have to look for a new home, but perhaps even more importantly, Mininova had the largest collection of user-submitted torrents that were used by dozens of smaller torrent indexers.

More information on the consequences and background of Mininova’s decision will be addressed in a follow up article.

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