The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in cooperation with their sister organization from the Netherlands, Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland (BREIN), carried out operations this week to seize 29 US-hosted domains, mostly BitTorrent and Usenet indexing services, and redirect them all to the BREIN online home page. Now, questions are arising as to how these entertainment industry organizations were able to do this with no notice or recourse for the domain owners.
TorrentFreak spoke with BREIN director Tim Kuik in an attempt to get an explanation for the actions.
“This year we have made over 600 of these sites inaccessible. Some seek refuge in a foreign hosting provider. These 29 apparently thought that in America they could go undisturbed. That is incorrect,” Kuik said. “They are directed at the Dutch public” and “unlawful under Dutch law.”
“Through cooperation with our foreign colleagues we can make sites in other countries inaccessible,” he added, his “foreign colleagues” being officials at the MPAA
TorrentFreak also requested a list of the affected Domains, however Kuik was quick to rebuff that request: “No, that would amount to free PR for the sites that intend to continue their unlawful activities at another hosting provider. These are not large sites and we want to keep it that way,” was the reply. The MPAA has yet to comment on the situation.
The US government’s seizure of 82 sites during the week of Thanksgiving without due process was bad enough, especially since the owners of those domains are still waiting for an explanation as to what they had done wrong. This is a step worse because the MPAA and BREIN are not even government agencies. These are anti-piracy organizations that appear to be carrying out their own brand of vigilante justice.
I don’t have a problem with governments using legal means and due process to shut down websites that are clearly infringing on copyrights. To allow entertainment industry executives to practice vigilante justice by seizing sites that have not been proven to host illegal content is a whole other issue entirely, and a dangerous precedent to set.