Dutch MP3 search engine wins court case

By EDRi · May 19, 2004

The Dutch MP3 search engine zoekmp3.nl has won a clear victory in an full civil proceedings case they instigated against Brein, a Dutch representative body of both the recording industry and the music rights collecting societies. Zoekmp3 asked and got a clear confirmation that their activities as a search engine do not constitute a copyright infringement.

The website only provides information to its users where they can find mp3-files, the court said, and the users do not infringe on any third party rights. The court also explicitly refers to a recent debate in the Lower House about the new Copyright Act. The Dutch minister of Justice confirmed in this debate that downloading music for private use is perfectly legal, even if the source might be illegal. Different from a P2P-application like Kazaa, the users of the search engine do not make any files available to others. Just downloading files with the facilities of the search engine ‘is therefore in principle nor infringing nor unlawful’.

The lawyer of the search engine, Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, in 2002 successfully defended Kazaa in an appeal procedure against Brein’s demands to prevent the exchange of unauthorised music files. Thijm comments: “We are very excited about the verdict. If Brein wishes to do something against unlawful music on the internet, they should go after the distributors.”

MP3 search engine http://www.zoekmp3.nl/

Verdict Haarlem court (in Dutch, 12.05.2004) http://www.rechtspraak.nl/uitspraak/show_detail.asp?ui_id=60435

Translation into English http://www.solv.nl/index.php?blz=6&lang=en