In a relatively unusual action, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN says it has forced three unlicensed Internet radio broadcasters to obtain licensing. A fourth has shut down. Other stations targeted by BREIN state that they’re owned by their streaming platform, a matter that is complicated by its status as a so-called bullet-proof host set up to protect its customers’ privacy.
While millions of the world’s pirates are focused on sites offering movies, TV shows, music, videogames and software, many are enjoying unlicensed content without even knowing it.
There are tens of thousands of radio stations on the Internet, most of which require licensing to operate legally. However, many operate on a hobbyist basis, with official paperwork and sanctioning left as a mere afterthought.
For many, there are zero consequences for taking this approach but for several Netherlands-based Internet stations, that didn’t turn out to be the case.
Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN informs TorrentFreak that following information provided by one of its members SENA, it successfully targeted four Dutch radio stations, or webcasters as they’re sometimes known.
SENA helps artists and producers exploit neighboring rights and part of that effort involves webcasters/stations paying the group a license fee to operate. Once paid, stations are able to display the SENA logo to indicate they are above board. The four stations in question, all Netherlands-based according to BREIN, hadn’t paid the necessary fee.
“The radio streams of the channels are provided by a hosting provider based abroad that is not affiliated with Stichting Webcasting Nederland and does not otherwise have the required licenses,” BREIN said in a statement.
Following BREIN’s approach, three paid up. A fourth took the nuclear option and shut down. However, BREIN had other stations on its radar too, but they indicated their streaming host is the formal owner of their channels.
The host, which BREIN says operates under the IDFNV and Microglo brands, offers Shoutcast and IceCast server hosting, among other things. The anti-piracy outfit says that the company failed to respond to a demand for it to obtaining licensing for the stations or shut them down. That probably didn’t come as a surprise.
“A complicating factor is that host profiles itself as a ‘bullet-proof host’ and is based in the Seychelles,” BREIN explains.
“In other words, the host will never provide data and states that it has nothing to do with Dutch or EU regulations. The host wants to make himself and his customers invulnerable to enforcement actions.”
However, both sales portals for the host offer servers inside the EU and indeed the Netherlands, a “vulnerability” that BREIN may yet exploit. BREIN adds that licensors could also play a part, by refusing to do business with webcasters and stations that utilize such companies.
“Licensors could make it a condition that licensees do not use hosts that deliberately also host unauthorized channels. After all, such hosts earn money from illegality and should not be supported by the legal providers,” BREIN says.
This type of action is rarely publicized but BREIN chief Tim Kuik says his company has carried out this type of enforcement before.
“It is not our job to license but we will enforce on the request of our participating right holders,” Kuik concludes.
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.