BREIN has a laundry list of significant anti-piracy victories under its belt, not only by introducing site blocking to the Netherlands via a case against The Pirate Bay but also winning a landmark decision in the Filmspeler case, which found that selling piracy-configured set-top boxes is illegal under EU law.
Many of BREIN’s achievements aren’t so widely publicized in real-time but via its annual report, the Dutch anti-piracy group shines a light on its activities of the preceding 12 months. Its latest publication reveals that 2019 was a busy year, as BREIN sought to protect the rights of copyright holders in the fields of movies, TV shows, music and publishing, plus games and images.
BREIN Investigations Increase Year on Year
The global anti-piracy landscape is huge and almost impossible to map comprehensively given its fluid nature. However, BREIN is certainly taking on its fair share of cases and looking into a surprising number of matters at any one time.
During 2019, BREIN said it completed 596 investigations, up from the 511 it concluded during the previous year. The anti-piracy group doesn’t provide a precise overview of the nature of each of these investigations or the reasons for discontinuing each of them. Nevertheless, at the close of last year, 243 were still active, up from the 97 that remained ongoing at the end of 2018.
The War Against Downloading and Streaming Platforms
For many years, BREIN has reported successes against pirate platforms, often taking down hundreds in a 12 month period and 2019 was no exception. When downloading and streaming platforms are combined, BREIN says that it disabled 564 overall during the period. Sites targeted by the anti-piracy group commonly operate in the torrent, Usenet, linking, and cyberlocker niches.
Continuing to Tackle The Pirate Bay
After unrelenting pressure by BREIN, in 2012 a Dutch court issued an order for ISPs to block The Pirate Bay in the Netherlands. While that decision was overturned two years later, BREIN took the matter to the Supreme Court, which led to an EU Court of Justice referral.
In 2017, Europe’s highest court ruled that The Pirate Bay could indeed be blocked. The case in the Netherlands is still pending but with an interim injunction in place, ISPs are blocking the site. That has led to the emergence of hundreds of mirrors and proxies, all of which keep BREIN busy.
According to the group’s annual report, 258 mirrors and proxies of The Pirate Bay were blocked by ISPs using IP address and DNS methods while 333 proxies “ceased their service” during 2019.
Illegal IPTV and VOD suppliers
One of BREIN’s most notable achievements in 2019 took place in partnership with the MPA. Together the groups took legal action against Russian pirate CDN ‘Moonwalk’ (1,2) which reportedly serviced around 80% of Russia-based streaming sites.
Lower down the chain of supply, BREIN reports it also curtailed the activities of “23 illegal dealers” in ‘pirate’ IPTV and VOD subscriptions plus another 12 sellers operating via Facebook. A seller of piracy-configured IPTV devices offered through an online marketplace agreed to pay a settlement to BREIN after being tracked down by the group. During the past several years, BREIN has taken down around 300 pirate IPTV sellers and obtained settlements worth tens of thousands of euros.
BREIN also took on a more unusual case targeting the operator of a so-called ‘Plex share’ offering 5,700 movies and 10,000 TV-shows. That individual agreed to shut down and pay a settlement to the anti-piracy group.
Uploaders and other distributors
BREIN doesn’t have a history of regularly targeting small-time ‘personal’ file-sharers but does take action against people who supply content for download or devices designed for copyright infringement on a larger scale.
During 2019, BREIN targeted several Facebook and other social media-based groups offering eBooks, shutting them down and obtaining settlements from their operators. The anti-piracy outfit also concluded a case against a seller of Nintendo R4 cartridges pre-loaded with up to 100 games after the seller signed a cease-and-desist with a financial penalty clause. A similar agreement was reached with a Usenet uploader.
In a sign that BREIN expects these types of settlements to be adhered to, the anti-piracy group reports that it took action against at least two offenders who previously agreed to comply and then reneged.
In response, a repeat eBook pirate who continued her activities had her house and assets seized by BREIN before payments were resumed. A major uploader who did not comply with the terms of his settlement was summoned to court, with additional legal and collection costs.
Upcoming Activities in 2020
After being granted permission to monitor BitTorrent users several users ago, BREIN indicated that it might be prepared to demand cash settlements from people who repeatedly upload infringing content. While that never appeared at any scale, the anti-piracy group does have something up its sleeve for the months ahead.
“The dealing with frequent uploaders includes an awareness program of 6 months in which a maximum of 1000 accounts a month will receive an educational warning by email. For research into its effect, funding has been obtained,” BREIN says.
“The start of the education is planned mid-2020. Whether enforcement will eventually take place is subject to the effect of the awareness program.”
The full BREIN Review 2019 report can be obtained here (pdf)
From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.