Compared to many other countries around the world, pirating movies and TV-shows is hugely popular in the Netherlands.
Up to a third of the population is estimated to download or stream copyrighted content without paying for it.
This high percentage is not surprising as the Netherlands has traditionally been a relative safe haven for pirates. Downloading movies without permission was not punishable by law until two years ago and individual uploaders were not targeted legally either.
This has now changed, with local anti-piracy group BREIN announcing the first settlement in a new torrent piracy crackdown.
Over the past months the group has used elaborate tracking software to monitor the IP-addresses of torrenting pirates. With help from ISPs, they can then obtain the identity of the account holder tied to these infringements.
This week the elaborate tracking effort resulted in the first settlement. The person in question was accused of sharing 12 episodes via BitTorrent and agreed to pay 400 euros for each, for a settlement of 4,800 euros in total.
According to BREIN director Tim Kuik, this is just the start of a broad crackdown, noting that hundreds of thousands of other uploaders are at risk.
“We intend to work our way up to larger numbers. We will not shirk from addressing hundreds or thousands or even more,” Kuik informs TorrentFreak.
The anti-piracy group remains vague on how the personal details of the uploader were obtained in this case. Previously, various residential ISPs refused to hand over information without a valid court order.
In this ‘trial’ case no court order was issued, so BREIN likely targeted a hosting provider or other intermediary which cooperated voluntarily.
“Most hosting providers disclose identity details voluntarily, it is only most of the access providers that say they require a court order,” Kuik tells us.
“In the clear and serious matter at hand, BREIN used a combination of information obtained from an intermediary voluntarily and further investigative work,” he adds.
The anti-piracy group is not willing to share the name of the intermediary which shared the personal details, but several hosting providers have proven to be rather cooperative in copyright infringement cases.
According to Dutch case law, Internet providers must cooperate when there are serious copyright infringement allegations. However, thus far this has been untested on a larger scale where thousands of IP-addresses of multi-person households are harvested.
If BREIN goes ahead with its large-scale crackdown, this issue will likely be fought out in court. Ultimately, that will determine how easy and effective the campaign will be.