Largest ever criminal action against digital piracy in the Netherlands
BREIN refers to the press releases from the fiscal police FIOD and Europol that criminal search and seizures have been conducted by the FIOD at various cities in the Netherlands with respect to a large internationally operating illegal IPTV network that infringes copyrights and/or neighboring rights of BREIN’s participants and other rights holders. Search and seizures took place in business and residential premises, cars, computers, bank accounts and cash has been seized and four persons have been arrested. Hundreds of thousands of televisions sets in the homes of illegal subscribers went black, said the FIOD.
See the press releases here https://www.fiod.nl/illegale-iptv-aanbieder-uit-de-lucht-gehaald-honderdduizenden-tvs-op-zwart/ and https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/one-of-europes-biggest-pirate-iptv-service-taken-down-in-netherlands
“This is the largest criminal investigation by the Dutch fiscal police FIOD and the Dutch prosecution into digital piracy in the Netherlands ever. Illegal IPTV is the most serious threat to legal offerings of movies, series, television and sports broadcasts. This case concerns a criminal organization behind the large-scale sale of illegal IPTV subscriptions in the Netherlands and elsewhere. It involves tens of millions of euros in damages in the Netherlands alone,” said BREIN director Tim Kuik.
BREIN will file criminal charges for the aforementioned infringement and also coordinate that its participants and other rights holders file criminal charges independently. Several rights holders have already made statements of their intent to do so.
BREIN provides collective protection of copyright and related rights for creators, performers and the creative media industry such as producers, publishers, broadcasters, distributors and platforms. Associated with BREIN are around thirty industry and collective management organizations and their members, together several thousand companies and tens of thousands of creators relating to music, films, series, books, writings, images and games.
The organizing and sale of illegal IPTV harms the copyright and neighboring rights of broadcasters, performers and producers of TV programs, films and series, among others. BREIN itself has already cracked down on more than 350 sellers of illegal IPTV but this is the first time a network based in the Netherlands has been targeted behind such sales. Investigations concerning the internationally operating organizations behind the sellers are being referred to the criminal law enforcement authorities. Sellers usually refrain from giving information about their suppliers for fear of retribution.
“Illegal IPTV is currently one of the most threatening forms of piracy. Online supply of boxes and subscriptions have skyrocketed. Sales are made online and through electronics stores. Consumers pay on average about 5 euros per month for a subscription and around 100 euros for a box that provides access to thousands of TV channels, including premium sports and video-on-demand for movies and series. Because of BREIN’s actions and now that of the Dutch law enforcement authorities the subscribers of these illegal services can kiss goodbye to their money. It’s better to be safe and buy legal, that results in jobs and new content” said Kuik.
Research by Bournemouth University concludes that by 2021 in the Netherlands, 8.2% of the population, or more than 1 million users, subscribed to illegal IPTV at an average price of 5.35 euros per month so that a total of 68.7 million euros was spent on it instead of legal subscriptions.
Thus, legal providers are losing millions in subscription and pay-per-view revenue. Studies show, among other things, that users of illegal IPTV subscriptions cancel legal services and spend relatively less on movie theater visits.
It is settled case law that the marketing of illegal IPTV subscriptions infringes on the copyrights and related rights of the rightsholders affiliated with BREIN. It is evident that the content accessible through these types of subscriptions is accessed without the permission of the rightholders. The prices are far too low for this and legal content is also not made available through these types of IPTV packages. Moreover, legal offerings do not provide access to exclusive content from different paid platforms through a single subscription. Nor can legal offerings watch all the world’s television channels at the same time. Subscribers to illegal IPTV also infringe copyright by streaming from an illegal source.
“Illegal IPTV in the European Union,” p.97 and studies cited there.
 CJEU September 8, 2016, C-160/15, ECLI:EU:C:2016:644 (GS Media), CJEU April 26, 2017, C-527/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:300 (BREIN/Wullems; Movie Player), Vzr. Rb. Midden-Nederland October 27, 2017, ECLI:NL:RBMNE:2017:5510 (BREIN/Moviestreamer); Rb. Limburg 9 May 2018 ECLI:NL:RBLIM:2018:4395 (BREIN/Leaper) and Vzr. Rb. Midden-Nederland 1 July 2020, ECLI:NL:RBMNE:2020:2780 (BREIN/X); Rb. Limburg 16 March 2022, ECLI:NL:RBLIM:2022:2144 (BREIN/Leaper c.s.); Rb. Gelderland 14 December 2022, ECLI:NL:RBGEL:2022:6849 (BREIN/X).
 CvJEU April 26, 2017, C-527/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:300 (Brein/Wullems; Filmspeler)