BREIN has made a name for itself this year by going after Mininova and The Pirate Bay, the two largest torrent sites on the Internet. They refer to users of these sites as thieves, but BREIN’s boss might not be much better himself.
In a recent interview Tim Kuik told the readers of a Dutch magazine that he is the proud owner of a Sony VAIO laptop. “It was once confiscated from a hacker,” Kuik added, noting that he couldn’t give out any more info because of the type of people his organization deals with.
This confession of the Dutch anti-piracy boss raises some interesting questions. Although BREIN often assists the police in raids and investigations, they are nothing more than a private non-profit organization and hold no law enforcement powers.
Even if they did, using a confiscated computer for personal use might break a few laws. So how did Tim get his laptop? Did he steal it?
We can only guess, but there are plenty of examples where similar anti-piracy outfits gain access to goods that were initially seized by the police. In the UK cases of TV-Links and FileSoup, the private anti-piracy group FACT was placed in charge of the seized property instead of the police.
Similarly, in the United States the RIAA often plays the role of law enforcer instead of sticking to their lobbyist position. They even employ ‘investigators’ who work on cases together with the police. Can we really allow these biased groups to influence the work of real law enforcers?
These developments are worrisome to say the least. The line between law enforcement and the anti-piracy lobby is getting more and more blurred. The police are raiding houses of people based on misleading information from anti-piracy outfits, and as a reward they seemingly gain control over confiscated goods.
Back to the confiscated Sony VAIO. Tim Kuik has effectively stolen the machine if he indeed got ‘his’ laptop from a raid BREIN was involved with. And by stealing we don’t mean that he made a copy like most pirates do. So who’s going to tip off the police now?
Update: Tim Kuik told TorrentFreak in a response that he acquired the laptop legitimately. The laptop was given to him by one of the parties involved in the case who received it as compensation. We have the verdict, but it doesn’t mention the laptop.