A Dutch court this week found that hosting company XS Networks is liable for the activity of SumoTorrent, a torrent site it hosted.
The case was filed by the BREIN Foundation, an anti-piracy group. BREIN said it contacted XS Networks on several occasions and asked that it block access to SumoTorrent and turn over information on the site's owner. XS Networks refused and, according to BREIN, helped SumoTorrent evade the authorities, prompting the suit.
XS Networks, which shut down in February, "knowingly and willingly kept the site online during which time it continued to cause damage to rightholders who are making their works available against payment online and offline," BREIN said in a statement. "Even after it received a writ of summons by BREIN, it afforded the site ample time to relocate to another hosting provider in the Ukraine. After that the provider disclosed identity details that clearly were falsified and held back other identifying details."
The Hague this week sided with BREIN. In its ruling (in Dutch), the court said XS Networks should have pulled the plug on SumoTorrent after BREIN informed it about the copyright violations.
"The unlawful characteristics of the (activities on) SumoTorrent were evident. Moreover they were obvious to XS Networks, or should have been obvious to XS Networks," the court said, according to a translation posted by TorrentFreak, which first reported the story.
According to BREIN, XS Networks is liable for the damages that arose while it kept SumoTorrent online. XS must also turn over all information it has about SumoTorrent. If it doesn't, it could face fines of 10,000 euros (£8,000) per day, or a maximum of 500,000 euros (£400,000).
TorrentFreak said the decision sets a "dangerous precedent."
"With this ruling in hand BREIN can ask for the shutdown of any site they deem to be infringing, as well asking for the personal details of the site owner," the site said. "Providers who refuse to cooperate will make themselves liable for damages caused by the website in question."
In recent months, international courts have ordered Dutch and UK ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay, which is also accused of hosting copyrighted material.