MPAA Bulldog, BREIN, Brags About Shuttering "a Dozen" US Torrent Sites

BREIN Logo I came to this news expecting there was something of a witch-hunt going down over torrent sites. Instead, I discovered a serious amount of blowhard bragging in press release form by BRIEN, a Dutch anti-piracy outfit who work with the MPAA out of the Netherlands. Right now, they’re bragging that they’ve gotten 12 torrent sites, of unknown quality in the United States, temporarily shut down by sending copyright infringement notices to their hosts.

For those who don’t know, Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland (BREIN) are a group very similar to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Radio Industry Association of America (RIAA) in that they represent both Dutch radio and movie studios. They’re also well known for reporting several large scale torrent sites to the US Government, such as The Pirate Bay and BTjunkie. As neither of those sites is located within US jurisdiction, and it’s even questionable that they’re covered by any relevant copyright laws, nothing happened.

Of course, now BREIN sent a press-release stating that they just aided the MPAA in shutting down 12 torrent sites in the United States…and we’re suppose to take their word for it. So far, the best reporting on the subject is coming from TorrentFreak,

Twelve torrent sites were wiped from the Internet this week, but there is a catch to this ‘unprecedented’ action. As often with BREIN-led takedowns, nobody noticed a thing. If a torrent site of any significance goes offline for an hour or two our email inbox is usually alive with reports from readers. Today, however, we received none.

That doesn’t mean of course that the news isn’t worth reporting on. BREIN issued a press-release earlier today in which they appear very satisfied with what they’ve accomplished, and they assure the public that this isn’t the last time we will hear about such a torrent site massacre.

The MPAA has declined to emit any press release of their own on the subject.

Certainly, I’m not ready to dispute that BREIN actually shut down a dozen torrent sites—even in the wake of a lack of evidence that they did anything at all. It may even be difficult to say which ones for a while as the number of DMCA filings in the US during a single day may actually be a discouraging number.

Finally, there’s the head of BREIN, Tim Kuik, explaining why they didn’t release the names of the affected torrent sites:

“New sites are popping up, but we take these down faster and faster so they can’t gain an audience,” Kuik says. “Our goal is to limit the availability of illegal sites so people rather use legal platforms. BREIN doesn’t publish any names because some sites relocate and start over elsewhere.”

By this, he means that small-time torrent sites happen to be highly mobile and often move within hours across TLDs (e.g. MyBestTorrent.org would simply become MyBestTorrent.info.) The reason for this is because trackers can be run by almost anyone with an Internet connection. The constellations of torrent trackers out there covers both the light and the dark Internet, spanning public and private sites. This also could explain why nobody noticed that BREIN shut down a dozen sites: (1) there are so many more than a dozen small torrent sites out there and (2) they might have all been private sites as far as we know.

Right now, this press release simply smacks of a partner of the MPAA attempting to validate their own job. But they don’t really need to validate that, they’ve shown a real ability to flex their muscles in the past when in December they actually got 29 torrent and file sharing sites shut down across the EU; maybe US jurisprudence doesn’t sit well with them?

Perhaps the RIAA is right now tossing BREIN a biscuit, patting them on the head, and saying, “Good dog!”

About Kyt Dotson

Technology and civilization walk hand in hand and civilization is nothing without the skin of society, brushing up against itself, speaking strange nothings across dimly lit avenues and computer screens. If we're going to understand ourselves in this digital era, it will be through watching the adoption of technology by people to express themselves as people. I am an anthropologist and an author of science fiction and fantasy--and with my technology, I hope to open up new and exciting worlds that will not just enlighten the humanity of my friends and fans but also educate and enhance the expression of their own personhood. Find more of my work on Google+; send tips to @kytsune.