After years of doing comparatively little to protect copyright, in recent months authorities in Bulgaria came down hard on file-sharing sites. While two of the country’s biggest BitTorrent sites continue to function, the previous owner of one – Zamunda.net – will face court this year charged with crimes against copyright. The authorities are hoping for Pirate Bay-style levels of punishment.
Yavor Kolev, the head of Bulgaria’s Computer Crimes Department, has been an unusually busy man during the last few months. After announcing a copyright crackdown against BitTorrent and file-sharing sites in general, authorities were quick to act.
Last month the Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs targeted what it described as a “criminal network” of file-hosting services which allegedly generated more than $3 million. The raids were described as the country’s biggest ever action against file-sharing sites.
These one-click hosters had loose links to one of Bulgaria’s biggest torrent sites, ArenaBG. Another giant is the internationally known tracker, Zamunda.net. Both sites have been the target of previous legal action and threats but remain operational today.
For previous high-ranking staff at Zamunda, however, the torrent experience is far from over. This September, ex-owner Martin Pavlov and ex-admin Dimitar Tzankov will appear before the Sofia District Court charged with crimes against copyright and intellectual property.
The investigation against Zamunda began in 2006 following a complaint from multimedia streaming company, Amotera BG. In a letter to GDBOP – the Unit for Combating Organized Crime – Amotera director Adrian Tzenov said that films were uploaded to Zamunda without his company’s consent.
However, shortly after the investigation began, Pavlov allegedly sold Zamunda to an unknown individual in Amsterdam and the site’s domain was transferred to the United States. Rumors suggest that the site is now owned by a Syrian.
“We cannot stop the website, since it isn’t the property of the two defendants any more,” prosecutor Detelina Iotova told Trud.bg.
“It is now evident that all institutions and not only the Ministry of Interior are realizing their role in the battle against piracy and are taking actions against it,” said Computer Crimes Department chief Yavor Kolev. “We hope that there will be sentences for Zamunda and Arenabg as there were in Sweden for ThePirateBay.”
Not all of the targets in the crackdown have been big ones though. At the end of June the Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs announced that following complaints from the Bulgarian publishing industry, a raid had been carried out against Chitanka, an online book library which was deemed “damaging to culture”. Despite the upheaval, that site quickly bounced back and remains online.