Mininova Disables Over a Million Torrents to Meet Court Order

UTRECHT, NL—Determined file sharers are already scrambling to fill the void in the wake of this week's decision by Netherlands-based Mininova to disable over a million torrents. The extreme action came after a court, in August, ordered the BitTorrent site to prevent uploads of torrents that refer to certain titles or to similar-looking titles.

"We’ve been testing some filtering systems the last couple of months, but we found that it’s neither technically nor operationally possible to implement a 100 percent working filter system," read a Thursday post on the Mininova blog. "Therefore, we decided that the only option is to limit Mininova to Content Distribution torrents from now on. We are still considering an appeal at this moment."

Mininova was founded in early 2005 by five Dutch students, barely a month after another legendary BitTorrent site, Suprnova, closed its doors shortly after Slovenion police took its servers into custody. Like Suprnova, Mininova started as a hobby that grew into a business that generated millions of dollars in revenue.

"With increased popularity also came numerous complaints from copyright holders, who saw their intellectual property being shared by users of the site," writes Ernesto on TorrentFreak. "For years Mininova has complied with these takedown requests, but earlier this year the Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN decided to take the torrent site to court nonetheless, demanding that the operators proactively filter torrents pointing to copyrighted material."

In August, the court in Utrecht ruled that while Mininova was not directly responsible for any copyright infringement, it needed to remove all torrents that linked to copyrighted material within three months, or face a penalty of up to 5 million euros. This was despite the fact that Mininova had developed a content filter for Brein in an attempt to meet the needs of copyright holders.

“We are obviously not satisfied with this ruling," Mininova co-founder Erik Dubbelboer said at the time. "The result of this ruling for Mininova is that we have to reevaluate our business operations. At this time, we cannot determine what this will actually entail or imply. We will have to examine the verdict thoroughly first."

Thursday, exactly three months after the Utrecht ruling, Mininova posted to its blog the announcement that it would henceforth limit its service. 

"We launched our Content Distribution service in 2007," reads the entry. "This service allows producers and artists to easily publish and distribute their content for free through Mininova. The launch of Content Distribution has proven to be a success. Countless content owners have used Content Distribution to distribute their content (e.g. albums and documentaries) for free to millions of users."

Also on Thursday, TorrentFreak posted up a list of 10 alternatives to Mininova, including one torrent site whose owner "told TorrentFreak that he has reserved all Mininova usernames for people who want to make the switch to his site."

The war rages on.