Sunday, September 10, 2006

Dutch anti-piracy police gets addresses

At last a judge granted the Dutch anti-piracy watch dog, BREIN, what it wanted: addresses of offenders; in this legal first ISP UPC/chello had to provide them. The judge ruled that BREIN had provided chello with data, about which there could not be any doubt about the infringement of copyright.

BREIN, founded in 1998, had several times attempted to get an affidavit to force providers to hand over address details about offenders. But every time the request was refused. The law on privacy usually prevailed above the offence.

BREIN is after the biggies, the people who make it their profession to copy songs and movies on internet and DVD. A team of 12 internet specialists search daily the web for offensive sites; police also is checking DVD offers at fairs and public gatherings. Once the internet specialists have identified an illegal offer on the internet and it is run by a biggie, then it will go after the offenders. They often co-operate with the police when matters are clear.

But sometimes they had traced an offender through the IP address, but did not know his name. They had located the illegal sites, had the IP address, but did not have the name. And this is where it starts to get complicated. It is in fact on the intersection of two laws. Piracy is an offence, but providers want to keep the identity of the clients as a secret, unless forced to surrender these data by the court. Of course ISPs like to guarantee clients their right on privacy. In order to get these BREIN has to prove beyond any doubt the illegal activities of an offender.

It has been difficult for BREIN to get the data legally from the ISP as BREIN is a private organisation without any search and warranty authority. So in first instance there will be a conflict between two private civil parties. Brein will have to prove to a judge that copyright laws have been infringed and that the address data can not be traced in a normal way and that the IP number is attached to one person. And this happened for the first time in the case against the illegal movie download site Dikkedonder. UPC agreed with BREIN about the identity of two of the uploaders, but disagreed about the identity of a third one. The judge ordered chello to offer BREIN the address data as he judged the IP-address to have been acquired legally beyond any doubt.

This ruling is a break through for BREIN, a foundation in which collecting societies, publishers and producers, are united. BREIN has now a precedent. It will almost become a rubber stamp procedure now, when a big uploader is being caught. But it the procedure will be never sure, as recently was shown in a US court case, where the owner of a computer had made the computer available for WiFi traffic of others. Despite the fact that the IP address of the owner had been traced, the computer owner could prove that it was someone else on his WiFi connection, who uploaded illegal stuff.

BREIN was happy with the ruling of the Dutch judge, but would not sit down and celebrate. It will offer ISPs information for their clients on illegal activities in order to prevent further court cases. This is of course an honest and nice ideal, but reality is unruly. But now Brein has a tool, which it can use, while uploaders have been warned. The Netherlands are no longer a country from which an organisation like Kazaa can originate.


Blog Posting Number: 503

No comments: