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Gloves off in Dutch anti-piracy punch-up

ISPs fight back

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Five Dutch ISPs will launch a "procedure on the merits" action against Dutch anti-piracy organisation Dutch Protection Rights Entertainment Industry Netherlands (BREIN). As reported yesterday, BREIN intends to sue the ISPs next month to obtain the identity of 42 individuals suspected of illegally swapping copyrighted music. The ISPs believe a normal summary proceeding or kort geding will not allow a full investigation of the merits or otherwise of BREIN's case. A procedure on the merits demands such investigation.

Former Kazaa lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm will now defend the providers in the full proceedings on the merits, which is expected to take months if not longer. The ISPs say they are in no hurry to proceed with a preliminary injunction. Obviously, BREIN disagrees, and says that the movie and music industry is losing money every day as a result of illegal file swapping.

Meanwhile, Dutch maverick weblog Geen Stijl (No Style) has started a campaign against BREIN. Geen Stijl urges its readers to fill out a form asking BREIN if they have any personal data on them. Under article 35 of the Dutch privacy law BREIN is obliged to reply within four weeks. Geen Stijl hopes the protest will create "administrative mayhem" at BREIN, but BREIN has already said it will send out a standard reply and will charge individuals who demand more detailed information.

The weblog also argues that BREIN is a privately-owned company (linked closely to music rights society Buma/Stemra) and that private companies in the Netherlands are not allowed to actively collect personal data and link these to an IP address. ®

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