Mininova’s Death of a Thousand Cuts

By  |  Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 4:03 pm

A Dutch court has ordered Mininova, a popular torrent search Web site, to remove all torrents linking to copyrighted content from its Web site within three months, or it will face hefty fines.

Dutch anti-piracy organization Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland (BREIN) filed a lawsuit against Mininova that resulted in the judge’s ruling.

Torrents are a terrific way to distribute large files, but the technology has been abused by copyright violators. While sites such as Mininova do not host pirated content, they do host torrent files that link to tracker servers that facilitate piracy. Tracker servers coordinate communication between peers that are distributing files.

Mininova took measures to remove torrents that link to copyrighted content from its site by deploying a content recognition system in May. That was not enough to appease the judge, who ruled that Mininova had to do more to prevent piracy – even though it was not directly responsible.

That may just be a sisyphean task. Mininova is a community Web site where its users upload torrents, and there are many thousands of torrents. I do not see how it will be able to keep every “bad” torrent off of its site without reviewing each submission manually.

With BREIN examining Mininova under a microscope, and a court imposed penalty of 100 Euro per infringing torrent, it is probably just a matter of time until the site dies a death of a thousand cuts. The fines are capped at 5 million euros, but that might be too much for Mininova to swallow.

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