Last month, with a hint of tongue in our cheeks and doubt in our minds, we reported that Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN had been slaying torrent sites by the hundred. According to the Hollywood-backed group, it forced the closure of 422 “illegal sites” including 384 torrent sites so far in 2010, a herculean feat by anyone’s standards.
While BREIN wouldn’t tell us the names of any of the sites, we later discovered the names of a few and although many were very, very small, there were others (admittedly non-torrent sites) with fairly significant traffic.
Today we bring news that BREIN have been continuing their aggression – this time against a BitTorrent site with a considerably higher profile. By torrents indexed, BitSnoop is certainly one of the BitTorrent big boys – 8,247,385 torrents linking to a mind-boggling 8.97 PB of data at time of publication.
BREIN’s threats follow their usual tried and tested format. Bitsnoop are accused of “providing systematic and structural access to content without the authorization of the copyright and neighbouring rights holders” via a system “which facilitates, enables and participates in the distribution of infringing files”.
BREIN indicates the operation of such a site is a crime under Dutch law and warns of the possibility of server seizures, arrests and custody arrangements for suspects.
“The maximum punishment for (aiding and abetting) professional infringement is 4 years imprisonment or 67,000 euro fine for natural persons and 670,000 euro for legal entities,” explains BREIN General Counsel Pieter Haringsma. “In addition the prosecution usually claims the proceeds of the criminal activity. At the same time injured parties can join the criminal action in order to obtain damages or file civil action to claim those.”
So what will Bitsnoop have to do in order to avoid trouble? BREIN suggests closure.
“In the interest of and on behalf of the rights holders represented by BREIN and in order to avoid civil action and/or criminal prosecution, we request you and your organization to cease and desist immediately the above mentioned unlawful activities and to provide us immediately with the official name and geographical address of the entity or person(s) providing the website and tracker services,” Haringsma concludes.
The owners of Bitsnoop acknowledge receipt of the threats, but don’t appear to be particularly fazed by them. Instead they have have chosen to neutralize BREIN by putting a backup plan into action which unsurprisingly doesn’t involve voluntarily handing over their names and addresses as requested.
“Today we’ve got a long letter from BREIN, demanding to shut down the site, bend over and take it up the arse,” Bitsnoop told TorrentFreak, while adding that the site has now seamlessly moved to Spain – an established file-sharing safe haven.
“Of course [BREIN boss] Tim Kuik will trumpet his victory – but this is just ridiculous, he obviously does not care about copyrights, he just wants to suck on MPAA/RIAA funding – hundreds of ‘closed’ torrent sites look good in corporate reports.”
“All this caused Bitsnoop to be offline for a whopping 10 minutes, which is surely a glorious victory for Kuik!”
Tim Kuik told TorrentFreak that he has no comment to make on specific cases but took the opportunity to clarify terminology.
“We are not issuing ‘threats’ but instead summons to cease and desist illegal activity. In the event they persist in such illegal activity appropriate legal measures will be taken.”