Most BitTorrent sites operate in the shadows, with operators who rarely speak in public and guard their identities closely. Mininova is not one of those sites and in a new interview, company directors Erik Dubbelboer and Niek van der Maas reveal a little more about running one of the world’s biggest BitTorrent sites. Most visitors to Mininova will be completely unaware that this is not your regular torrent site. Unlike many private torrent sites – operating on the fringes of legality and trying to keep a fairly low profile (whilst gathering donations in order to stay alive) – Mininova is a very successful and fully-fledged tax-paying business with a revenue of well over a million dollar a year.
Operating out of its new offices in Utrecht, The Netherlands, Mininova and its five company directors go about their daily business with unparalleled openness. In a new interview with ORF.at, they further peel away the mystique usually associated with running a huge torrent site. Erik Dubbelboer, President of Mininova told ORF that although some people believe that The Pirate Bay is the largest torrent site, in truth Mininova is quite bigger in terms of page views. The site is commercially-driven now, however, it hasn’t always been that way. Erik explained that in the beginning there was no plan to have Mininova operate as a company. “We wanted to make a cool website and experiment with the exciting Bittorrent technology,” he told ORF But of course, the site was a huge success and now receives a staggering number of visitors. Managing Director Niek van der Maas explained that this substantial traffic is used to drive the site’s main source of revenue – advertising, including deals with companies like Yahoo.
The increased popularity of the site has allowed the Mininova team to grow. “We have turned Mininova from our hobby into a profession,” said Erik. Indeed, the site now has five young employees (average age of 24) who are all studying computer science.
While other torrent site admins choose to stay in the shadows, Mininova’s owners operate openly as they believe that under current law in The Netherlands their operations are entirely legal. Unlike other large ‘open’ sites, such as The Pirate Bay, Mininova does not operate a public tracker, and unlike their Swedish counterparts they operate a proper copyright takedown request system. If a copyright holder wants a torrent removed, they can write to the site and the necessary action is taken promptly.
Unfortunately, even this isn’t enough to keep anti-piracy outfits at arms length and like The Pirate Bay before them, Mininova also faces legal action. BREIN, the prominent Dutch anti-piracy group (which has already run many torrent sites out of The Netherlands) had been in secret talks with Mininova for over a year, ostensibly trying to reach a negotiated settlement.
But it wasn’t to be. BREIN wanted Mininova to proactively filter their search engine, something the site was not prepared to do. At the time, Erik told TorrentFreak that Mininova will not cave in to pressure from BREIN.
“We will proceed to court with full confidence. We operate within the law, as we maintain our ‘notice and take down’ policy. That is, we remove search results if a copyright holder asks us to.” The court showdown with BREIN will take place May 20th. Mininova is being defended by lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, who is known for his legal victory while representing KaZaA in The Netherlands.