BREIN has just revealed the identities of foreign pirates. The only problem is that the anti-piracy group did it without a court order.
BREIN, which is a Dutch anti-piracy group, recently said in a statement that it had discovered the identities of people who were running several torrent linking websites on the internet.
The BREIN foundation is the joint anti-piracy program of authors, artists, publishers, producers and distributors of all forms of content and has been in the business of protecting creative works since 1998.
In this recent case, the anti-piracy group was able to locate the identities of foreign pirates with the help of a UK-based hosting service that provided BREIN with the identities of the pirates in question.
The only troubling part of the whole situation is that the UK-based hosting provider fulfilled BREIN’s requests without demanding (or some might say, receiving) a court order.
Anti-piracy groups usually run into trouble when they try to identify pirates that steal copyrighted material and distribute in on the internet for other pirates to download and share. The process is a never ending one and causes, according to the anti-piracy industry, massive damages in terms of lost revenue for content creators.
Pirates are usually able to get away with all their shenanigans because of one simple reason. That reason is anonymity. And hence, Pirates of all shapes and sizes value anonymity over everything else and sometimes even go to insane lengths to secure it.
The safest way for anti-piracy groups to go after pirates is through the use of a court order. It doesn’t matter if the anti-piracy group wants to find out the personal details of a single pirate (who might just be regular user that access the internet through a consumer-level internet service provider) or of a operator that manages a large torrent website (that includes all the linking websites and torrent search engines as well).
Involving a court order into the equation is a must for anti-piracy groups if they’re serious about bringing down pirates and piracy sites.
Court orders can be obtained by anti-piracy groups in a wide variety of ways. But the most widespread one involves the anti-piracy group to collect evidence and then present that evidence in the court of law.
Then the anti-piracy group has to wait for a judge’s decision that forces an internet service provider or an operator of a particular website to hand over the required details which are usually stored in a special file.
That’s basically the standard process all anti-piracy groups have to go through before they go after pirates or piracy websites.
And because the procedure of obtaining a court order is a relatively simple in the grand scheme of things, the industry witnesses hundreds of such cases every year.
At this moment in time, the headlines are all focusing on a recent report published, barely a day ago, by the anti-piracy group BREIN .
In the report, the anti-piracy group stated that the organization was currently investigating three torrent linking sites (the names of these linking sites have not been revealed yet) that have been involved in the distribution of a large amount of popular content such as movies and TV shows.
In the report, the Dutch-based anti-piracy groups also said these torrent sites had hosted a massive amount of copyright-protected content on a cyberlocker ( a third-party online service that offers storing and sharing services for almost all types of media files and data).
In order to increase the pressure on these torrent websites and the people behind their operations, BREIN has taken it upon itself to expose the identities of all key players involved with these three (yet unnamed) torrent sites.
If BREIN is successful in gaining relevant information that helps the anti-piracy group identify the people involved with these torrent websites then it would be easier for the Dutch-based anti-piracy group to make a strong case in the court of law.
In fact, if one takes into consideration the history of anti-piracy groups going up against pirates and piracy websites, it has been observed that once an anti-piracy group is able to get a hold on the identities of the people behind these torrent sites, the operators have the tendency to admit defeat altogether without even putting up a fair fight.
Nevertheless, thanks to a case law that was accepted and recognizes more than ten years ago, BREIN was able to begin its investigations against the pirates without any trouble.
The anti-piracy group did not face any hurdles in the initial stages of this process as the anti-piracy group was able to quickly figure out that the pirates behind the three torrent sites were making use of online servers that were owned by a local hosting service.
As indicated before, this saved BREIN a lot of time as the anti-piracy group had the opportunity to avoid many legal obligations that groups usually have to go through before beginning their investigations.
Back in the year 2003 Augustinus Pessers, a stamp dealer and a lawyer, was falsely charged with a scam by an individual who posted a message on a website. That website was managed by the internet service provider called Lycos.
Understandably, Augustinus Pessers proceeded towards executing a legal action against the accuser and demanded that assertion placing blame on him be taken down with immediate effect.
Moreover, Pessers also pressed for forcing Lycos, the involved internet service provider, to reveal the personal details (such as name and address) of the user who posted the message on the website and in the process accused Augustinus of fraud.
In November 2005, the Dutch Supreme court came up with a ruling that Lycos was liable to release the personal details of the user that posted the message on the website to Pessers.
Of course, the whole process of litigation took a total of two years since Lycos had also hired a defense team to make their case.
Augustinus Pessers, himself a lawyer, won the case and anti-piracy groups including BREIN reveled in the hard-fought victory over internet service providers that refused to share information regarding their users.
As mentioned earlier, this is was the same case that BREIN took advantage of when the organization ,through their initial investigation, found out that the servers being used by the three pirate websites were essentially Dutch-based and were hosted by a company called Serverius.
So what exactly was established because of the Pessers ruling?
Well, the court decreed that the hosting company would have to conform to the disclosure request made by Pessers’ team.
It should be mentioned though that the servers involved in the Pessers case were actually managed by another hosting company that ran its operations from overseas.
According to claims made by BREIN, 3NT (3NT Solutions is essentially a UK-based hosting service that is owned by companies that are based in Panama and Belize) was responsible for giving up the personal details of the three pirate sites that were being investigated.
Not only that, but 3NT had to release sensitive information regarding the pirate sites that the company was hosting at Serverius, without the requirement of a court order.
BREIN said in a statement that the personal details consist of name, address, email address and payment details. The Dutch-based anti-piracy group also said that 3NT Solutions also suspended its hosting services to the illegal sites at issue.
As mentioned earlier, in the normal course of things whenever an anti-piracy company wants to search out information regarding the identities of any internet service provider’s users (in other words, customers) in the United Kingdom, they have to obtain a court order.
In the UK, that court order is also known as a Norwich Pharmacal Order.
However, regarding this issue, BREIN said that the court order was not necessary since the anti-piracy group had already found out that 3NT Solutions operated many servers in the Netherlands.
Tim Kuik, who is the president of BREIN, in an interview with TorrentFreak said that both serverius, as well as 3NT Solutions, had a legal obligation to assist in curtailing piracy. He also said that simply being based or registered in another country (Netherlands in this case) than where the server is located does not mean that one can escape that responsibility.
Kuik also noted that the companies involved in this case, Serverius and 3NT, were reluctant to abide by their responsibilities. He further added that these companies knew full well that BREIN had the capacity to sue them if they did not conform to the requests being made.
The president of BREIN was of the opinion that Serverius and 3NT Solutions were likely to lose the case against BREIN if the situation came to that at some point in the future and both would lose a good bit of money as well.
Kuick also spoke about how in the Netherlands, it was a regular occurrence for BREIN that identifying details were provided by intermediaries voluntarily when requested. He said that court cases were exceptional in those situations.
BREIN also stated that companies that weren’t based in Netherlands were also beginning to follow the same disclosure rules. The most recent case being of Google. BREIN asserted that more and more companies were that were not based in the Netherlands had started to adhere to similar rules.
Regardless, Kuick and his associates remain firm on their stance and maintain that once they are able to collect the personal details on the pirates, BREIN would continue its mission against the operators and managers of the three pirate sites that were currently being investigated by the anti-piracy group.
BREIN also intends to proceed against the cyberlocker provider that is facilitating these torrent sites.
As expected, 3NT Solutions did not come out with a statement regarding the issue when approach by TorrentFreak for a comment.
Pirates along with Piracy sites have been having a difficult time in the past couple of months as some major organizations including law enforcement agencies have gone after people involvement in copyright violation activities with ruthless precision.
Back in July, Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of Kickass Torrents, was arrested by Polish law enforcement agencies and has been kept in a local prison since that eventful month.
A grand jury accused Artem and two of his associates, of being the key player behind the operations of the highly popular file-sharing torrent search engine.
Val Gurvits, who is currently participating on Artem’s U.S defense team, said that the arrest had been extended to November 19 and Artem was planning on challenging extradition through his Polish counsel.
He further added that the hearing should be sometime in late October.
In an interview given to TorrentFreak, Gurvits noted that the primary basis for challenging extradition was that the acts of which Artem was accused did not constitute a crime in Poland where he was detained nor in the Ukraine where he lived and worked.
This case is in stark contrast to the one BREIN is trying to take forward since the owner behind the pirate site has been identified and moreover has been captured.
However, Gurvits told TorrentFreak that in his opinion, operating an index search engine could not constitute a crime in the Unites States because secondary infringement is not criminalized under US law.
He also claimed that if KickassTorrents was a criminal operating, then Google should also start worrying.
Artem’s defense team remain adamant that Artem could not be tried for a crime since he did not break any law.
However, the team has faced insurmountable difficulties, so far, in setting up a meeting with Artem.
As of this moment in time, Artem is only allowed to seek counsel with his Polish lawyers.
Gurvits concluded the interview with TorrentFreak by reiterating that in his opinion, given that Artem was accused of committing a crime in the United States under US law, denying him access to US counsel was a blatant violation of his basic human rights.
We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear more about Artem’s case and BREIN’s case against the three torrent websites.