Arrested File-Sharing Admins Face Jail, $700,000 Fines

The alleged operators of one of France's most popular file-sharing links forums have been arrested. The site, known as Liberty Land, had been in operation since 2009 and had 800,000 members. It provided links to a wide variety of material including movies, music and software. Three men, aged between 25 and 30, now face jail sentences of up to 5 years and fines of $700,000.

Due to the way copyright law is structured in Canada, it has become the preferred home for dozens of file-sharing sites. Indeed, because of this tolerance and favorable legal status, some hosts happily play home to dozens of BitTorrent sites, a situation mirrored in few other places on the planet.

One site which utilized Canadian hosting was the French site Liberty Land (LL). Listed among France’s top 200 sites, Liberty Land carried estimated 30,000 links to albums and 100,000 links to movies and TV shows. This material was not hosted by the site, but made available from services such as MegaUpload and RapidShare.

However, despite the perceived legality of mere links – even when coupled with friendly Canadian hosting – in May 2010 rightsholder groups SACEM and ALPA filed a complaint against Liberty Land with the French authorities.

Liberty Land

Last week, police described the subsequent investigation as “difficult” due to a combination of Canadian hosting and measures put in place by the site’s operators to remain anonymous. Nevertheless, an operation against Liberty Land went ahead.

According to a report, its alleged operators have now been arrested. It is being suggested that an investigation into one of the site’s major link uploaders led police to the men.

Jean-Philippe Vidal, the chief police officer leading the operation, said three men aged between 25 and 30 were arrested in Marseille, near Le Havre and in the Paris suburb of Montreuil.

Some reports are indicating the trio generated up to $285,300 in revenue from banner advertising on the site, an accusation which has led to them being charged with organised counterfeiting.

The men have been released pending a trial, where they face a possible five years in jail and fines of up to $700,000.

Liberty Land is currently down and there are no indications it is set to return.

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