BREIN Scores Another Victory, Making It Suck Even More To Be A Dutch Internet Company
from the holy-secondary-liability dept
Torrentfreak reports on a really scary ruling coming out of the Netherlands, in which a court found hosting company XS Networks liable and ordered it to pay up because it hosted a torrent site. We’ve discussed issues of secondary liability, but this goes well beyond what we’ve seen elsewhere. As TorrentFreak explains, super-aggressive Dutch anti-piracy organization BREIN was trying to shut down the site SumoTorrent and get information about its operators. XS Networks, who briefly hosted the site, pointed out that it required a court order to turn over any info. This is a perfectly reasonable stance. However, it later backed down and reached an “agreement” with BREIN to hand over some info. By that time SumoTorrent had moved on to another host, and the info that XS Networks had to give to BREIN was incorrect or useless. BREIN then claimed that XS Networks was responsible for this situation and sued for damages.
This is the point that any reasonable court would laugh at BREIN and tell its boss Tim Kuik to learn a little something about suing the proper party, rather than a tool provider (especially one who simply asked for a court order before coughing up private info and who later was clearly willing to negotiate in good faith). Instead, the court went in the other direction, and said that SumoTorrent “is clearly facilitating copyright infringement” and that XS Networks should have magically known that to be the case, and shut the site down when BREIN first asked. Even if you’re a copyright system supporter, this ruling should scare you. It takes away any sort of due process. Most reasonable people admit that whether or not a site is illegal should require at least a basic adversarial trial in which the site is able to make its case. But here the court ignores all of that, and the fact that it hadn’t yet proved SumoTorrent guilty of infringement, and just insists that XS Networks should have magically accepted that BREIN must be right. Talk about a recipe for abuse by BREIN and other copyright holders.
If you’re a hosting company in the Netherlands, your legal liability just shot way, way up. Apparently, if you don’t magically kick off every site that might be enabling someone to break the law, you yourself may be liable for any illegal actions done on the site (even without such illegality ever being proved). That seems like a great recipe to get a bunch of Dutch hosting companies to reconsider even being in business.