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Dutch anti-piracy group targets file swappers

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Dutch anti-piracy organisation Protection Rights Entertainment Industry Netherlands (BREIN) is going after individual music files swappers and will bill or prosecute people who offer large amount of files through services as KaZaA, Gnutella and Grokster.

BREIN has an impressive track record of battling counterfeit software, CDs and movies. Its partners include the movie industry's local trade organisations, Dutch recording industry bodies, as well as the Association of Phonogram Retailers. All criminal investigations are carried out by the FIOD-ECD (Fiscal and Economic Crime Service), which operates under the supervision of a special unit of the Dutch Public Prosecution Service.

Last year BREIN carried out over 6000 private investigations, most of them into the offer of illegal digital files on the internet. More than 200 illegal online dealers were closed down.

By hunting individual file swappers, BREIN is following the lead of the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA), which recently started an unparalleled campaign to track down the identities of alleged file-swappers in the US.

Some believe the threat is only intended as a deterrent. In recent months anti-piracy groups in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Italy have already attempted to bill file traders, but they are faced with strong opposition from ISPs who are worried they are being forced to police the Internet for illegal song copying. BREIN also largely depends on voluntary notice and take down procedures.

In the future this may change. In June a majority of Euro MPs signed a declaration that calls for a more concerted action against alarming levels of piracy in the Member States. ®

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