Dutch Usenet community adds 'pirate'-button to antipiracy site

Dutch Usenet-platform FTD shows a Dutch judge how easy it is to add a button for searching illegal content by adding exactly such a button to the website of Dutch copyright-enforcer Stichting Brein.


Dutch Usenet-platform FTD shows a Dutch judge how easy it is to add a button for searching illegal content by adding exactly such a button to the website of Dutch copyright-enforcer Stichting Brein.

FTD wants to prove it is innocent of the copyright infringements that Brein is accusing it of, reports Dutch IT-newssite Webwereld. The Dutch antipiracy outfit has been accusing FTD of breaking the law, but has not been hit with a lawsuit. FTD has made a preemptive strike by suing Brein, for libel. In that court case Brein has asked the judge to order FTD's shutdown.

Before suing Brein, the Dutch Usenet-platform had removed from it's application a search-button for downloads. The FTD software serves to discusses 'spotted' uploads of content on newsgroup (Usenet) servers. The buttons servers to find so-called nzb-files, that simplify downloading of content from newsgroups.

'Only cosmetic change'

The functionality and presence of that button is one of the key points in the legal battle between FTD and Brein. The antipiracy organisation states that removing that search-button is merely a cosmetic change. The removal of the nzb-button was immediately undone by hackers who offered an add-on button to search for content that is discussed on FTD.

According to Brein the responsibility for copyright infringement still rests with FTD. That Dutch Usenet-forum is accused of facilitating, and condoning, the finding of illegally copied content. Downloading of that material (such as movies, music and games) is in itself not illegal in the Netherlands. Copying and distributing (such as uploading) is, however.

FTD admits that the removed search-button is effectively available again, but claims it has nothing to do with that reappearance. To make that clear to the Dutch judge presiding in the lawsuit FTD had added a search-button to Brein's website. That is done by way of a browser add-on, reports Dutch music site 3voor12.

'Like a sticker on a flyer'

The adding of that button yielded one of the highlights of the court session, says FTD's Ronald Sievers to 3voor12. "You could see it as a sticker that someone puts on your flyer. We do not approve of it; it's not without reason that we removed the original button. In order to explain how something like that works, we showed the judge such an add-on the website of Brein."

"That tool easily transforms the site of Brein into a search engine for torrents. They had clearly not expected this. You could see [Brein chairman] Tim Kuik blowing steam." Torrents are quite different from Usenet-downloads (and uploads), but a torrent file functions quite similar to a nzb file. The Dutch search-button is a browser add-on that works in Firefox through Greasemonkey. It has been posted on the internet for download.

Mentioning upload is forbidden

The court session in which the search-button was demonstrated was the appeal in a case against FTD by Dutch film and tv production company eyeWorks. In the first round, which was 'ex parte' so without defence by the accused, eyeWorks achieved an initial victory. It got a court order forbidding the mentioning on FTD of uploads of the new movie 'Komt een vrouw bij de dokter'.

The mentioning of illegal copies would facilitate copyright infringement and constitute illegal disclosure, argued the judge. Antipiracy organisation Brein runs with that verdict and states that the spotting of illegal content leads to larger scale infringement and is legally speaking 'functional disclosure'. Hence, spotting is as illegal as distributing (uploading), argues Brein. Verdicts in both cases are planned for mid November, although delays are probable because of the courts being swamped with other cases.

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