Dutch file-sharing site closes after notice from anti-piracy watchdog
Amsterdam, 15th November 2007
The peer-to-peer (P2P) site Shareconnector.com has closed after it received an official notice about its copyright infringement from Dutch anti-piracy watchdog BREIN.
The 23-year-old operator of the site closed it down on 12th November after BREIN officials called at his home in Amstelveen. The site had been structurally making available links to copyright infringing files.
The files themselves were stored by users of the file-sharing network eDonkey. A statistical sample of the site showed that 95 per cent of the links provided access to illegal files that mainly contained popular entertainment content such as films, music and games.
Shareconnector became known in 2004 as the successor to the world's largest eDonkey portal site Sharereactor.com after it was taken down by the criminal law enforcement authorities in Switzerland. 'Release groups' - users who leak music before it becomes commercially available - that had been active at Sharereactor joined Shareconnector which quickly became the largest Dutch eDonkey portal.
When notices from BREIN failed to yield a result, Dutch law enforcement confiscated Shareconnector's servers in December 2004 and arrested its operator, who was known on the site as 'Adi'. The website stayed offline until December 2006 when it came back with 'Adi' announcing that he considered his site legitimate and would ignore any further notices from BREIN.
In August 2007 the criminal court ruled that linking can amount to complicity to criminal copyright infringement, but nevertheless acquitted 'Adi' stating the prosecution had not provided sufficient evidence to reach a conviction. The prosecution appealed but it is not clear when this appeal will be heard.
BREIN then held 'Adi' liable under civil law for reopening the website. The statistical sample BREIN took showed that 95 per cent of the links on the site provided access to illegal content. In the Netherlands linking to illegal content is illegal itself and a site that structurally links to illegal content is prohibited and liable for damages. BREIN claimed an injunction against 'Adi' under forfeiture of a penalty sum of €5,000 per day as well as damages for past activities. When 'Adi' did not respond to the claim BREIN hand delivered a reminder to his home.
'Adi' then closed down Shareconnector, whose home page now states:
BREIN still plans proceed with a civil court claim. Tim Kuik, director of BREIN, says: "We still have an interest in getting an injunction. The site owner is not acknowledging that his activities were unlawful and is only stopping to avoid financial exposure. There is still too large a risk that he will come back for a third time."
In July 2006 the Civil Court of Appeal in Amsterdam ruled in the BREIN/Technodesign (Zoekmp3) case that a website that makes structural use of the availability of unauthorised content files is unlawful and liable for damages.
Kuik adds: "If your business model is based on illegal content you're acting illegally. It is not relevant that the actual content is not stored on the site but by users of the site."
This ruling has been applied in the BREIN/KPN (Dutchtorrent) case and the BREIN/Leaseweb (Everlasting) case. BREIN in the meantime has caused the closure of over 200 illegal P2P sites.For further information contact:
Tim Kuik, Tel. +31 (23) 799 7999