The MPAA and their colleagues in The Netherlands appear to have shut down more than two dozen BitTorrent, Usenet and other file-sharing sites today. Accused of linking to movies, music, TV shows and games, at least one domain appears to be redirecting to the website of Dutch anti-piracy outfit, BREIN.
In an operation carried out by the MPAA and Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, 29 BitTorrent and Usenet indexing sites are believed to have been closed down.
The names of the sites, which appear to have been offering links to movies, music, TV shows, games and books, are currently unavailable but at least one appears to be identified as HD-UNiT3D.
As can be seen from its http://hd-united.com/ URL, it diverts straight to BREIN’s homepage.
Despite being hosted in the US the anti-piracy outfit cited Dutch law as the reason for the closures. “They are directed at the Dutch public” and “unlawful under Dutch law,” Kuik told TorrentFreak.
“This year we have made over 600 of these sites inaccessible. Some seek refuge in a foreign hosting provider. These 29 apparently thought that in America they could go undisturbed. That is incorrect,” Kuik said.
“Through cooperation with our foreign colleagues we can make sites in other countries inaccessible,” he added.
BREIN says it will also seek out the personal details of those who operate the sites in order to hold them personally liable.
As mentioned in our earlier articles, BREIN has indeed closed down many torrent and Usenet related sites. However, while some of them have been reasonably sized, most of them are particularly small and easy to close by pressuring their hosts.
The fact that none of the owners or users of the sites have alerted us about these alleged closures suggests that no sizable sites were included.
The MPAA are yet to make a statement on the action and as yet BREIN haven’t formally identified any of the sites targeted. If past actions are anything to go by, they will try to avoid naming them for fear of giving them even more publicity.
That HD-UNiT3D is redirecting to BREIN’s homepage is both worrying and suspicious. Previously, BREIN simply asked the hosting providers to take the sites down or face the legal consequences. This is the first time that they appear to have gained some level of control over a domain, an action that is usually only taken by the authorities and not a private anti-piracy group. Whether this is the result of old-fashioned pressure or something else will remain to be seen.
Update: TorrentFreak requested a list of the affected domains from BREIN and received this response from Tim Kuik.
“No that would amount to free PR for the sites that intend to continue their unlawful activities at another hosting provider. These are not large sites and we want to keep it that way.”
In response to a question about how the sites were taken offline:
“The sites were taken down by the hosting provider,” said Kuik.