Netherlands: BREIN catches a ‘spider in the web,’ cuts off torrenting trackers

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While much attention is given to streaming piracy, the Dutch anti-piracy organization BREIN continues to be busy against illegal distribution via Bittorrent protocol.  Because past efforts have been successful in blocking Bittorrent sites within the Netherlands via court order, the focus has turned to ‘trackers’ which are private torrent sites outside the country.

In 2022, BREIN (also the Dutch word for ‘brain’) identified an individual who maintained a script that aggregated 25 illegal trackers.  Authorities acted against him in August, which took the active sites offline.

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According to BREIN, a scripter writes and maintains the software (the script) for a site. In addition to managing a number of his own sites, this individual also rented and hosted torrent sites he had scripted for others and offered VPN connections to other users for a fee to disguise IP addresses.  He then rented out seedboxes that enabled automatic uploading and downloading. to speed up torrent traffic.

Shortly after a law enforcement action in August, the man signed an agreement to refrain from further involvement on forfeiture of a fine of 2,500 euros per day (part) with a maximum of 50,000 euros.  After the turn of the year, he committed to pay 12,000 euros in installments.  If he defaults on payment, 18,000 euros will become immediately due and payable.

How the tracker process works

BREIN says that Dutch private trackers focus on Dutch users in terms of language and content and generally have several tens of thousands of torrent links to illegal files. The number of members with a user account rises to several tens of thousands per site.

The advantage of a private tracker is that downloading is faster because each user also has to keep uploading a certain amount, otherwise it will be deleted. In addition, moderators (administrators) provide assistance and ensure that the files provided are in order and no spam or viruses are provided. Large public illegal torrent sites normally have several tens of millions of users per month, which is usually reduced by around 95% due to blocking.

Read the original BREIN news release: BREIN approach torrent ‘scripter’ decimates number of ‘private trackers, BREIN, January 4, 2023 (Auto-translated from Dutch to English by Google Translate)

Why it matters

“Our approach to Dutch private trackers is an extension of the approach of indexing sites for Usenet, which has already created a major gap among illegal communities and uploaders. We also want to achieve this within the illegal bittorrent scene,” said BREIN director Tim Kuik.

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