When it comes to civil anti-piracy enforcement, BREIN is without a doubt one of the most active players in the industry.
The group, which receives support from Hollywood and other content industries, has a track record of targeting a wide range of piracy threats, both large and small.
While most of these anti-piracy actions are the result of in-house investigative work, BREIN certainly doesn’t shy away from court appearances, where setting a favorable precedent is seen as more important than obtaining monetary damages.
This week, the group announced its latest annual report, providing insights into the priorities of the organization and the progress being made.
Looking at the numbers we see that the anti-piracy group has closed the books on a rather productive year. In total, it completed 368 investigations which resulted in the shutdown of 349 illegal sites and services.
These targets include 179 Pirate Bay proxies, 39 streaming sites, and 38 heavy uploaders, plus open directories, Facebook groups, and sellers of illegal IPTV subscriptions.
In addition, over 650,169 links to pirate sites were removed from third-party search engines such as Google.
BREIN also kept a close eye on advertisements for pirate services and other illegal offerings. A total of 3,210 advertisements were flagged and reported, while 18 persistent advertisers were identified and stopped.
Pirate Bay Blockade Expands
The above numbers surely make a difference but there is more to report. Following ten years of legal action, in 2020 BREIN finally won the site-blocking battle in the Netherlands and last year this blockade was strengthened.
In November, BREIN signed a deal with all large Dutch Internet providers to streamline the blocking process. Through this “Website Blocking Covenant,” the Internet providers promise to block pirate sites when rightsholders obtain a blocking order against one of the other ISPs.
While not mentioned in BREIN’s annual report, the group booked another significant blocking victory last year. Following a notice from BREIN, Google voluntarily removed all Pirate Bay URLs from its search results in the Netherlands.
The blocking doesn’t stop at The Pirate Bay either. In 2021, BREIN initiated a new legal proceeding to block six additional torrent sites. That effort eventually resulted in a new blocking order against the ISP Delta a few months ago, which was voluntarily adopted by other ISPs.
Camcording, Settlements and Warnings
Aside from the blocking action, BREIN also took a variety of other enforcement actions. The group investigated six illegal cam recordings that appeared to originate from Dutch movie theaters. This investigation, which also involves the MPA, remains pending.
The anti-piracy group further reports that 54 settlements were reached with pirates, while 18 received a house visit, often with help from a debt collector. The targets often include site operators or people who make pirated content available.
Amidst all the positive achievements, there was also a setback. Several years ago BREIN initiated a campaign to identify heavy BitTorrent uploaders so they could be warned and educated. Thus far, the first warning is yet to go out.
The annual report notes that 920 persistent uploaders have been identified by their IP addresses thus far but Internet provider Ziggo is refusing to forward infringement notices. Ziggo has a court decision in its favor but that is under appeal and may eventually end up at the Supreme Court.