Labour representative Martijn van Dam is asking questions of the Justice Secretary about the intentions and actions of the Brein foundation. This Dutch RIAA wants to do the same thing as its American counterpart and sue individual file sharers.
Van Dam is rightly concerned about in how far a private organization is allowed to perform actions that typically belong to the mandate of the government, although I don’t think he will achieve much this time. So far, Brein does not seem to do much more in the areas of privacy and law enforcement than, say, a detective agency does.
Quite frankly, I would be interested to see how far Brein gets. Not because I want to see honest citizens sued (far from it), but because I don’t think Brein will get anywhere.
AFAIK (but IANAL), there is no such thing as statutory damages for copyright infringement in Dutch law. The RIAA had a huge club to swing, because the American file-sharers could be fined 250,000 US dollar for every file they uploaded or offered; with RIAA only going after people that shared around a 1,000 files or more, the potential damages ran into millions of dollars. American teenagers may have more pocket money to spend than ever before, but I doubt most of them could pay a fine like that.
A Dutch judge will very likely only look at actual damages. Brein will have to convince the court that such damages exist. As such, they will have to argue points that have already been argued in the public arena a thousand times. A defense attorney should have little trouble convincing the court that the actual damages in most cases are negligible.
All this, in my opinion, would make it much more likely that file-sharers will actually let it come to court cases, instead of settling out of court.
Since Brein should know this in advance, any threats of legal action seem little more than a form of harrasment of people that just happen not to share your viewpoint. Isn’t there a law against this? Would the lawyers that work for Brein be open to criminal charges of barratry?