Netherlands: Court fines IPTV operator €25k excluding compensation to plaintiffs

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A court in Geiderland Arnhem ruled against an individual who had been accused in 2019 of offering and selling IPTV packages under the names HIPTV and AtomTV.  The court decreed that he would be fined €10,000 per illegal IPTV package or day (part) with a maximum of €500,000, if he did not cease and desist within 24 hours of the December decision.

In addition, the offender must provide information about the numbers of packages sold and their purchase and sales prices. Co-claimants RTL, Talpa and Fox can claim compensation from him.  That compensation has yet to be announced.

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He must also send his customers an email to draw their attention to the infringement, with a copy to the lawyers of BREIN, the Dutch anti-piracy organization. Finally, he has to pay 25,312 euros in costs to BREIN.

Background of the case

In 2018, in support of the three media companies, BREIN approached the owner of one of the largest illegal IPTV providers in the Netherlands. The man had since moved to the Dominican Republic. At the end of 2019, an interim judgment was issued against him, to which he still wanted to respond. Due to COVID restrictions, that witness hearing did not take place until June 2021.

When asked in April 2022 to say whether he had been involved in the sale of illegal IPTV packages, the defendant was evasive, saying that he was simply a reseller who had nothing to do with the content and didn’t know who his customers were or what they were doing.  When asked whether he maintained  cash flow records, he said that such record keeping was not mandatory in the Dominican Republic.  He also claimed “that it was practically impossible for me to sell IPTV packages in the Netherlands due to the distance and time difference.”  (We are talking about the Internet here, a 24/7/365 operation that is not bound by location.)

Plea rejected

The judge in Arnhem rejected the man’s defense because it added nothing to what he had already argued before the 2019 interlocutory judgment and, despite the passage of time, has not supported his story in any way with evidence. BREIN had traced the man to the Dominican Republic and then the US where he had been arrested in yet another case, and back to the Dominican Republic where he finally succeeded in being served.

Read the BREIN news release: Perdeverance wins, illegal provider of IPTV liable and has to pay 25,000 euros in costs (Auto-translated to English from Dutch by Google Translate)

Read the Court pronunciation: In the case of BREIN Foundation, Talpa TV BV, RTL Nederland BV, Fox Networks Group Netherlands BV. ECLI: NL:RBGEL:2022:6849.  Court of Geiderland, NL. (Auto-translated to English from Dutch by Google Translate)

Why it matters

“It is common practice that illegal providers of IPTV deny their involvement and trade, but the evidence ultimately kills them,” said BREIN Director Tim Kuik.  “This time it took a bit more time and effort than usual, but we suspect that his interest in illegal IPTV has cooled considerably.”

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