BitTorrent Sites Safe Haven Under Threat

Leaseweb, the ISP of some of the largest BitTorrent sites like Torrentspy, BTjunkie and Demonoid was forced to take down everlasting.nu, a relatively small BitTorrent site. The outcome of the lawsuit initiated by the Dutch anti-piracy outfit Brein could spell trouble for some of the key players in the BitTorrent landscape.

breinIn response to this decision (Dutch link) several BitTorrent admins, who prefer not to be named, already announced that they have plans to leave Leaseweb. Others are setting up backup locations in case their site s are targeted. An admin of one of the bigger BitTorrent sites said:

“It looks like we’re not going to be very safe anymore on Leaseweb, we are putting backups in place on another location, just in case.”

This Thursday, the Amsterdam court concluded that everlasting.nu structurally facilitated copyright infringement by allowing their users to download copyrighted content via torrents hosted on their site.

Leaseweb’s lawyers argued that there was no evidence that these torrents really pointed to copyrighted works. They referred to the fact that rights holders often upload fake files themselves and that the name of a .torrent file is not sufficient to prove that copyrighted works are being distributed. Brein responded to this argument by stating that everlasting.nu then would be a very customer unfriendly BitTorrent site if this was the case, and the judge agreed with this.

At the end of the hearing the court decided that Leaseweb has to take down everlasting.nu and hand over the name and address of the owner. Additionally, Leaseweb is obliged to take down everlasting.nu, in case the site returns in the near future.

It still remains unclear what made the judge decide that everlasting is facilitating copyright infringement and how this will affect the position of all the other BitTorrent sites hosted by Leaseweb. The fact that everlasting has their own BitTorrent tracker was not used as an argument in the decision. So does this mean that hosting .torrent files is illegal now?

Brein sure thinks so, they already announced another lawsuit against Leaseweb to take down another BitTorrent site. At this point it is not sure whether this is one of the big players like Torrentspy, BTjunkie and Demonoid, or yet again a smaller BitTorrent site.

To be continued.

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