Why Usenet Community FTD Went After BREIN

It is very common indeed for anti-piracy groups to go after sites
linked to file-sharing. However, in The Netherlands the tables have
recently been turned as the FTD Usenet community is taking legal action
against anti-piracy group BREIN. TorrentFreak spoke with FTD’s lawyer
to discover exactly why this worm has turned.

Founded in 2001, FTD is The Netherlands largest Usenet community
with around 450,000 members. FTD and its associated software allows its
members to report the location of material they find on Usenet, which
could include the usual movies, music and TV shows. This caused it to
be a target for notorious anti-piracy outfit BREIN.

Not wanting to be bullied for what it considers to be a completely
legal operation, FTD took the unusual step of taking BREIN to court,
after Tim Kuik, the head of the outfit, said that FTD and its operators
were committing a crime. FTD’s owners and lawyers vigorously deny this
claim, the details of which can be found in our earlier report.

So what led up to this legal showdown? TorrentFreak spoke with FTD’s specialist IT lawyer, Arnoud Engelfriet, of Ictrecht law firm.

“In January of this year, BREIN announced they were ‘going after Usenet’ and

specifically singled out FTD as their first target,” Arnoud told TorrentFreak.

Naturally this position was of concern to FTD, but instead of
burying their heads in the sand they actually contacted BREIN with a
view to discovering where their differences lay and sorting them out

“Shortly after that, FTD engaged in negotiations with BREIN to find
out what their objections were and how we could overcome them,” Arnoud
told us. The discussions led FTD to pro-actively modify how they
operate to ensure that there could be no doubt as to their legality.

“We even voluntarily made some changes to the FTD platform to ensure
there could be no doubt we were in the clear,” Arnoud explained. But
their attempts to engage and negotiate with BREIN came to nothing.

“After we made the changes, we got complete radio silence from
BREIN. No confirmation, no rejection, nothing,” Arnoud explained. “Only
after several days we found out what BREIN thought - but only by
reading the online news. That was a huge disappointment.”

Indeed, ignoring the outstretched hand and making their intentions
against FTD public, BREIN chief Tim Kuik spoke with Dutch publication
Volkskrant and the resulting article titled “You do not pay for it,
it’s unlawful” labeled FTD’s operations criminal. “Although they [FTD]
are not carrying illegal content on their servers, what FTD does is
simply criminal,” said Kuik.

Usually at this point a site being bullied by BREIN would either dig
in its heels and wait for the lawsuit and injunction against them, or
capitulate in fear of being destroyed.

“We could have waited for preliminary injunction proceedings, which
is BREIN’s weapon of choice,” Arnoud told us. But that would have taken
too much time, and since preliminary injunctions leave little room for
a thorough investigation of all relevant facts, the risk was that FTD
could be forced to close down for all the wrong reasons.

So FTD did something quite unusual in these cases - it went on the offensive against BREIN instead.

“At that stage, we felt that doing nothing would leave the sword of
Damocles over our heads,” Arnoud told TorrentFreak. “BREIN is very fond
of making continuous ominous statements in the press, and that could
create a FUD environment for FTD. Therefore we decided to go to court
and ask for an official declaration that downloading is legal, that
it’s also legal to inform people about materials to download and to
offer a platform to let people inform each other,” he added.

FTD also wants a public statement from BREIN correcting its
assertion that its operations are criminal, and a declaration from the
court that FTD’s operations are fully legal.

“We fully expect to win our case. BREIN is big on statements but
often short on facts and legal arguments to back them up,” Arnoud told

“We have the law and the facts on our side.”

SOURCE : TorrentFreak