Not too long ago we had a semi-loss for The Pirate Bay in The Netherlands, which was convicted ‘by default’ because the defendants did not show up in court to plea their case. Today, The Netherlands once again saw a ruling in a high-profile piracy case, and again, there’s a loss for the defendants. Update: Oh, and by the way – thought about putting some lyrics you like on your website or blog? Think again. We live in a crazy world, people.
This time, the lawsuit focussed on Mininova, a bitorrent search engine similar to The Pirate Bay. Like The Pirate Bay case, this one was also started by BREIN, the Dutch variant of the RIAA/MPAA, and again, just like the previous suite, BREIN won. However, it’s easy to misread the actual verdict.
The judge in the case actually makes it quite clear that Mininova itself is not doing anything illegal, that it’s not breaking the law. The judge sentenced Mininova not because it is performing an illegal act, but because Mininova is not doing enough to stop the illegal act. Since downloading copyrighted content in The Netherlands is legal, said ‘illegal act’ is not downloading, but uploading.
More specifically, the judge said that Mininova made it possible for people to breach Dutch copyright law, Mininova promoted these acts, and profited from these acts. Currently, Mininova employs the “Notice and Take Down-procedure”, in which rightsholders can contact Mininova so that they can then remove offending content. This procedure is not enough, the court states.
The verdict, therefore, reads that Mininova must remove all offending torrents from their website, and from here on out, they must actively prevent such torrents from being uploaded to the website. The fine for not complying within three months of this verdict is as follows: Mininova will have to pay 1000 EUR per offending torrent to BREIN, with a maximum of 5000000 EUR.
Mininova co-founder Erik Dubbelboer isn’t particularly pleased with the verdict, obviously. “We are obviously not happy with the verdict,” he said in a statement. Mininova will most likely appeal the decision, for which they have three months’ time.
I’ll let you have this one, BREIN. You’re fighting the tides, and sooner or later you’ll have to face the new reality of the modern, 21st century entertainment industry. While it may not seem so today, it is still the case that laws should exist to serve the people – not the other way around.
Enjoy your victory while you can.