In a landmark decision the Court of the Hague has ruled that the Dutch hosting provider XS Networks had acted unlawfully by refusing to immediately shut down the torrent hosting site SUMOTorrent and by not assisting the Dutch antipiracy group BREIN in identifying its owners. The provider is now liable for the damages caused by the torrent site’s copyright infringement.
BREIN, the Association for the Protection of the Rights of the Entertainment Industry of the Netherlands wished to find out who was behind the Dutch-based torrent site SUMOTorrent.
To this end the Association requested that the host provider of the website, XS Networks hand over the personal information of the site’s owner. BREIN also demanded that XS Networks shut down the SUMOTorrent search engine and directory immediately.
Both requests were denied by XS Networks, with the company saying it would only respond to a court order. Eventually XS Networks did surrender some personal details to BREIN (which later turned out to be false), but not before SUMOTorrent managed to relocate its operations to Ukraine.
Consequently BREIN decided to sue XS Networks earlier this year.
Precedent in censorship?
Yesterday the Court of the Hague sided with BREIN and ruled that XS Networks is guilty of facilitating copyright infringement.
Pursuant to the ruling the host provider must now pay what are at this time still unspecified damages for the infringing content shared via SUMOTorrent. The host is also to hand over all personal information they have on the operator of SUMOTorrent or pay a penalty of 10,000 euros a day.
The landmark ruling is already being criticised as a dangerous precedent in respect to privacy and censorship. It enables BREIN to ask for the shutdown of any site believed to be infringing copyright, as well as asking for the personal information of the site owner, with providers refusing to cooperate liable for damages, warn the opponents of the ruling.