There are dozens of anti-piracy groups active around the world and BREIN is one of the frontrunners.
The Dutch organization is mainly active in Europe where it’s responsible for taking down illicit sites and services, while also obtaining several favorable precedents.
In 2017, BREIN booked a prominent victory at the European Court of Justice, which ruled that it’s illegal to sell devices that are pre-configured to access copyright-infringing content. This “Filmspeler” order was the death knell for sellers of pirate streaming boxes.
Paired with the earlier GS Media ruling, which held that companies with a for-profit motive can’t knowingly link to copyright-infringing material, this provides a powerful enforcement tool.
In the years that followed BREIN went after hundreds of pirate streaming tools and operators of IPTV services. One of the main targets was GoFastIPTV.eu, which offered unauthorized access to movies, TV shows and pay TV channels, plus more than 85,000 on-demand titles.
BREIN was initially unable to track down the operator through its regular private enforcement options. The paper trail went all over the world through companies in the UK and Brazil, eventually running dead at a hotel in Lisbon, Portugal.
There was one significant lead left, however, as the IPTV service used the Dutch Rabobank to process payments. The bank wasn’t willing to hand over the data right away, so BREIN decided to take the matter to court. Rabobank was forced to cooperate last year.
Operator Located, Settlement Reached
This information led to a breakthrough as BREIN was able to track down the IPTV operator in South America. The person initially failed to respond to communications but that changed when BREIN started legal procedures last year.
The anti-piracy group now reports that it has reached a conditional €70,000 settlement with the operator of the now-defunct GoFastIPTV.eu service. That carries a fine of €25,000 per day if the service is restored, as well as a €10,000 fine for each future infringement.
This settlement figure is relatively modest compared to what we have seen elsewhere. That said, the big achievement for BREIN is that a large illegal IPTV supplier has ceased its operations. In addition, BREIN has another court ruling in hand that will make it easier to obtain the personal details of suspected pirates.
Subscribers Lose Too
BREIN notes that its enforcement actions don’t focus on the users of IPTV services. However, these subscribers are indirectly hit as well since they lose access to the service, which is often paid months in advance.
“Although BREIN focuses on providers, the use of illegal services at home is also copyright infringing. When the service is taken down, customers will lose their money and their illegal access, while they usually have to pay half to a whole year in advance.”
For the Dutch anti-piracy group, IPTV services remain an enforcement priority. EUIPO research found that the Dutch are using these services more than all other Europeans. It’s big business too, generating hundreds of millions of euros in revenue in Europe alone.
Thus far, BREIN reports that it has tracked down more than 50 providers of illegal IPTV services since 2017, while shutting down over 300 sites where these subscriptions were on offer. This tally is expected to continue increase over the years to come.
Update: BREIN has just announced a settlement with the directors of four limited companies who were found personally liable for their infringing businesses.
BREIN’s statement does not directly name the companies involved but the details fit an earlier case involving the directors of Dutch companies Leaper, Growler, DITisTV and Ultimo.
BREIN tried to get the directors to stop selling 10 euro-per-month IPTV subscriptions as far back as 2014 and had to take the matter to court in 2018 to show infringement was taking place. When an offer to pay a settlement in lieu of a full lawsuit was refused, a case was presented on the merits. The men eventually lost that case.
The settlement reached is worth 115,000 euros, part of which is conditional. There is also a penalty clause of 10,000 euros per day for any breaches.