The chief of Lithuania’s main anti-piracy outfit has a mountain to climb in dealing with piracy – online penetration is at almost 100% and closing torrent sites is no cakewalk. After announcing plans for a crackdown, people suggested collecting money to have him killed but this hatred is nothing new. An earlier plot aimed to blow him up.
If you think that the likes of the RIAA, MPAA and IFPI have a huge task in front of them in tackling online piracy, spare a thought for Lithuanian Anti-Piracy Association (LANVA) President Vytas Simanavicius. His organization has to tackle an unprecedented level of media piracy which online has reached 99%. To add insult to injury they also have to deal with the embarrassment of being pwned at the hands of BitTorrent site admins.
In an interview last year, Simanavicius revealed that one of his biggest problems comes from BitTorrent sites. Pointing to the efficiency of online pirates, Simanavicius spoke of popular Lithuanian artist Vilnius Andrius Mamontovas holding a press conference where he gave out a handful of promo CDs to gathered journalists. Within thirty minutes the album was already available for download on the country’s torrent sites, a situation Simanavicius hopes to do something about.
Simanavicius went on to explain that these days torrent sites have become “private”, i.e to gain access potential members need to be invited by existing members. Once on the site his team can begin tracking users and gathering evidence but this has its problems too, since their IP addresses can be identified by the site owners. Simanavicius says his staff counter this by using their home connections instead, which are much harder to identify.
There are around ten larger torrent sites but Lithuania also has a smaller problem in the shape of Direct Connect hubs, which number around eight. Simanavicius explains that they are doing everything they can to shut them down but says that the most prominent of Lithuania’s sites have moved to hosting outside the country. He says they have many difficulties with one particular Netherlands-based host but more recently the problems are coming from Ukrainian hosts who seem less inclined to take down sites and are very hard to even make contact with. Indeed, Demonoid seems to operate perfectly well from its Ukraine-based hosting. Nevertheless, Simanavicius says he has sent all his evidence to the Ukrainian Anti-Piracy Association and is now waiting for results. He’s been waiting 6 months so far, and nothing has happened.
Linkomanija is one of Lithuania’s biggest private trackers and a thorn in the side of the Lithuanian Anti-Piracy Association. Even though Simanavicius says they know who the owner is (his name is Kestas Ermanas) and have ordered him to close the site via email and standard post, the site remains open. Although Simanavicius seems determined to have the site closed, it is by no means clear that the site is even breaking any of Lithuania’s laws.
Of course, like many anti-piracy bosses, Simanavicius is making more than his fair share of enemies with his activities, even though his job seems almost impossible and his results limited at best. After the interview with Lithuanian publication lrytas.lt, a campaign was started to encourage donations to a fund which would be spent on having Simanavicius killed. Just a few weeks ago the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau tracked down the people allegedly responsible and made several arrests.
Unfortunately death threats are nothing new for Simanavicius. After taking apart a commercial physical piracy operation in recent years and seriously motivating the individuals behind it, it was discovered that he was being followed by people determined to blow up his car – with him inside it. The police foiled the plot.
Getting rid of Lithuanian BitTorrent sites might be a huge task for Simanavicius but unlike the physical pirates he upset previously, it’s doubtful that uTorrent users will try to kill him for closing their torrent site. In fact his job is so tough and results so low, they just might end up feeling sorry for him.
Then again, maybe not.