ISP Says it Won’t Send BREIN’s Anti-Piracy Warnings

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ISP Ziggo says it will not send warning notices to file-sharers on behalf of Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN. The ISP, which is the largest cable operator in the Netherlands, has declared itself a neutral access provider that won't become involved in enforcing third-party rights.

breinlogoAs one of Europe’s most prominent anti-piracy groups, BREIN is at the forefront of copyright enforcement in the Netherlands. In early January the outfit revealed some its achievements over the past year, including enforcement actions against hundreds of sites and prolific uploaders of pirate content.

While tackling those closer to the top of the tree, BREIN has had a tendency to leave regular ‘pirate’ users alone. However, in recent times it has been developing plans to target Internet subscribers with ‘educational’ warning notices.

This past weekend, BREIN chief Tim Kuik said that his group hopes to bring about behavioral change among downloaders by contacting them via their ISPs.

“The ISPs can then send the account holder a warning which informs them that their account has been used to infringe copyright. The message is that they are bringing you up to date with illegal activities,” Kuik said.

Last year, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens) gave BREIN permission to collect the IP-addresses of pirating BitTorrent users, allowing the group to target uploaders on a broader scale. But the group still needs help from service providers, since it needs to tie those addresses to individual accounts.

“The Data Protection Authority recommended we make arrangements with the ISPs on the processing of the personal data. Because we do not have the identity of the user,” Kuik said on Sunday.

However, unlike in the US and UK where similar programs are already underway, Dutch ISPs are giving the plan a less than warm welcome. In comments yesterday, leading cable provider Ziggo confirmed it will not participate in BREIN’s program.

“As an ISP we are a neutral access provider. This does not include the role of active enforcement of rights or interests of third parties, including BREIN,” said spokesman Erik van Doeselaar, as quoted by Tweakers.

Other providers aren’t excited by BREIN’s plans either. KPN, based in The Hague, said that there are many unknowns when it comes to privacy.

“As an ISP we can not pass judgment on the legality and proportionality of the plan,” said spokesman Stijn Wesselink.

A third ISP, XS4All, said the anti-piracy outfit’s plans haven’t yet been made clear.

“I won’t the slam the door before I’ve seen [BREIN’s] plans, but it seems highly unlikely that ISPs will act as enforcers,” said spokesman Niels Huijbregts.

BREIN, on the other hand, believe that ISPs should cooperate, since when customers download and share copyrighted content without permission, they breach their providers’ Terms of Service.

The anti-piracy outfit hopes to introduce a scheme similar to the one now underway in the UK, which has received cooperation from four major ISPs.

BREIN says it wishes to mirror the UK effort by having ISPs send educational notices to encourage users towards legal services. However, the anti-piracy outfit is not on the best of terms with local providers and hasn’t been for many years.

Both Ziggo and XS4All are currently embroiled in prolonged legal battle with BREIN, who want the providers to block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay.

Thus far the ISPs have refused, steadfastly sticking to their position that, as a service provider, the copyright wars are not their battle. It now seems likely that the same stance will carry over to the proposed warning notice scheme.

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