Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has targeted pirates of all shapes and sizes for the last quarter-century.
It’s also one of the few groups that systematically tracks copyright infringers on Usenet, one of the oldest file-sharing systems which still has millions of users.
BREIN has a long track record of going after Usenet indexing sites. These portals don’t host any infringing material on their servers but, much like torrent sites, they offer NZB files or ‘spots’ that make infringing material easy to find on Usenet.
These enforcement efforts are not limited to these indexers. The anti-piracy group has also targeted players higher up the chain, including Usenet providers. On the other end of the spectrum, prolific uploaders are spotted as well.
BREIN Settles with Usenet Pirates
This week, BREIN reports that it settled with two members of a relatively new Usenet community. Several prolific uploaders had switched to this site after another NZB community was taken offline by the anti-piracy group. In hindsight, this was a costly decision.
The first uploaders who, similar to the sites, remain unnamed, offered pirated copies of books and settled for €7,200. The second person uploaded both music and books and agreed to a €5,000 settlement, which is partly conditional due to personal circumstances.
These settlement agreements further stipulate that the uploaders will have to pay an additional €500 per upload if they are caught for a similar offense in the future.
These are not the first people connected to the site to be tracked down. Last month, BREIN announced that it had settled with an administrator for €7,500, while an uploader agreed to pay €5,000. At the time, the anti-piracy group already said that more suspects were on its radar.
OSINT and Info from Intermediaries
All of these settlements took place outside of court. BREIN doesn’t explain in detail how these people were tracked but director Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak that OSINT and information from previous enforcement actions proved useful.
In addition, BREIN also obtained information from online intermediaries, without going to court. Kuik clarified that companies are required to share information with rightsholders based on existing case law. “No court procedures were necessary,” Kuik notes.
According to the Lycos/Pessers ruling, online intermediaries are required to cooperate if, among other things, the requested personal information is required to address concrete harm and there’s no alternative option to obtain it.
BREIN doesn’t name any of the sites where these users were members, but did clarify that both were oriented at a Dutch audience and are no longer online.
Usenet a Piracy Refuge?
The anti-piracy group will continue to monitor Usenet activity going forward. It is particularly critical of some commercial Usenet companies, which it sees as a refuge for pirates, that facilitate and profit from widespread copyright infringement.
In a high-profile lawsuit, BREIN previously tried to hold Usenet provider News-Service Europe liable for copyright infringement. This case went on for fourteen years, going all the way to the highest court.
Earlier this year, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Usenet company, ordering BREIN to pay €65,000 in legal fees. This was a bittersweet victory for the provider, which found itself forced to shut down years earlier.