Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mininova Hit With Court Order To Remove Copyrighted Content

Popular torrent sharing site Mininova has been stuck a blow today when a Dutch court ordered the site to remove all links to copyrighted content.

Today's decision was handed down by the Utrecht District Court in regards to a lawsuit against Mininova by Stichting Brein, a Dutch copyright group. The court ordered Mininova to remove links to all copyrighted content from its site—or pay up to €5 million in penalties.

Much like The Pirate Bay case, Mininova and its operators weren't actually accused of copyright infringement. Since in a peer-to-peer system, the actual files being transferred reside on millions of users computers around the globe, the site itself could not be held for direct infringement. The direct infringement would be the responsibility of those users. The Netherlands however recognizes "contributory copyright infringement," which means that the site contributes the infringement by collecting and displaying links for users to download. This was the charge in this case.

$ sale at GoDaddy.comIn a blog post Mininova has said it is considering an appeal to the Brein ruling. Erik Dubbelboer, co-founder of Mininova said, “We are obviously not satisfied with this ruling. The result of this ruling for Mininova is that we have to reevaluate our business operations. At this time, we cannot determine what this will actually entail or imply. We will have to examine the verdict thoroughly first. We are considering to appeal this judgment.”

My Opinion:
Should this case stand it would be the second major blow to torrent sites this year. The loss of The Pirate Bay trial and now the Mininova decision might mark the end of several major sites. Of course it won't kill off file sharing, in fact I think it will do little more than shut down a few sites or cause them to shift gears.

Despite the fact that its founders were hit with millions in fines The Pirate Bay hasn't closed, in fact it was sold off and remains up and running today. The site will undergo some changes and is trying to go legit, much like Napster did back in the day. But that had little impact on file-sharing itself. The medium is such that you can never really kill it off. You might cut off one or two sites and force some change but you can never totally kill it.

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