Dutch Anti-Piracy Group Uses Facebook to Find and Fine Uploaders

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A Dutch anti-piracy group has found a novel way to target individual illegal file-sharers in the country: find their Facebook groups and fine them into submission. BREIN announced on Thursday it had successfully obtained a court order against an individual who has uploaded illegally obtained music to a cyberlocker site and then shared the links on the social network.

According to BREIN, the uploader used the Facebook group to advertise his uploads as a "hobby" and to gain recognition from other users. Though it's unclear how they did it, the anti-piracy group was able to track down the user on Facebook and serve them with a court order. He agreed to stop and to pay a settlement of €7,000 euros ($7,900 USD).

The user announced his situation in a message posted to the FB group. "Ladies and gentlemen, by order of BREIN I have to stop uploading music," he wrote, according to BREIN. "I will therefore quit effective immediately. In addition, I will leave the group today, both as administrator and as a member." He added that if he didn’t quit, he'd be fined € 2,000 a day with a maximum of € 50,000. "I wish everyone all the best."

BREIN noted that the €7,000 settlement is lower than earlier court orders, which typically averaged €15,000. They said they took the "personal circumstances of the offender" into account when calculating the amount, signaling that anything larger would have been a hardship for them.

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According to BREIN, the Facebook group actually continued to operate with another uploader at the helm but was soon shut down by the social network, which also closed four other similar pages at BREIN’s request.

Whether BREIN's strategy of identifying infringers via Facebook spreads to other groups remains to be seen. As the group notes, it's worth a try given that cyberlocker sites "have ineffective Notice & Takedown policies, which ensure that their main source of revenue, unauthorized entertainment content, continues to exist."