Court orders closure of Mininova B.V. in the Netherlands

In a court case initiated by copyright organisation BREIN, the District Court of Utrecht ruled in its decision of 26 August 20093 that Mininova B.V., one of the largest BitTorrent index sites in the world, should permanently remove all "torrents" – links that refer to information stored elsewhere – from its website www.mininova.org in as far as there are “reasonable doubts” that such torrents do not refer to copyright-protected works.

The court held that although Mininova does not directly infringe the Copyright Act 1912 nor the Neighbouring Rights Act, it has acted unlawfully against copyright holders affiliated with BREIN by facilitating, stimulating and benefiting from the uploading of copyright-protected works. The court disagreed with Mininova's argument that it would be impossible for Mininova to identify those torrents that refer to copyright-protected works. The court held that it is common knowledge that recent movies, TV series, games and music are protected by copyright. With respect to torrents referring to such content, Mininova should have reasonable doubts as to their legitimacy. Furthermore, the court provided a practical solution: Mininova should in any event permanently delete torrents referring to titles featuring on a continuously updated list to be provided by BREIN.

Finally, the court held that the Notice and Take Down (“NTD”) Procedure which was used by Mininova, was not sufficient to avert the injunction, as it had proven unsuitable for permanently deleting torrents. Pursuant to this NTD procedure, if torrents were uploaded again after their initial removal, the right holders had to submit a new notice.

Mininova has been granted three months to comply with the judgment. From then on, internet users will no longer be able to download copyrightprotected music, films and games via Mininova.

It will be interesting to see whether or not this case will be appealed and whether the right holders will institute claims for damages.