For quite a few years the Hollywood-funded Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) has been tipping-off the UK police on the activities of file-sharing websites and their operators.
This has resulted in the arrests of several site admins including those from TV-Links and BitTorrent site FileSoup.
A few days ago a FACT investigation led to another arrest. A 26-year old man was arrested Wednesday with police reportedly seizing £83,000 and computer equipment following a raid in Derry, Northern Ireland.
After being questioned the man was released on bail, a very similar situation to other FACT-assisted arrests we’ve seen over the years. Other than that, the police haven’t released any information on the site in question or the exact nature of any alleged offenses.
However, after some digging TorrentFreak can with near certainty conclude that the man in question is connected to the video streaming website “Fast Pass TV”. The site’s Twitter account – which was recently deleted – an associated email address and various other trails all point to a man (P. M.) in Derry, Northern Ireland.
Another source later confirmed that the man from Derry is indeed the operator of “Fast Pass TV.”
The website in question did not store any video material but merely linked to third party sites. “Fast Pass TV does not host, store, or distribute any of the videos listed on the site and only link to user submitted content that is freely available on the Internet,” it stated on the website.
Fastpasstv.eu went offline around the time of the arrest leaving 68,287 registered members and hundreds of thousands of daily visitors in the dark. Without official confirmation from the authorities we can’t conclude that Fastpasstv.eu was the primary site FACT was after, but all signs point in that direction.
The arrest and the involvement of FACT are interesting, since the UK police have failed to convict any of the previously arrested operators of file-sharing or streaming sites. Most relevant to this case is the previous action against TV-Links.co.uk, a site which operated a service comparable to that offered by Fastpasstv.eu.
Legal action was taken against TV-Links.co.uk but eventually its operators won their lengthy trial. This set a precedent at least in the UK/European Union that under certain conditions these website owners do not do anything illegal. According to Section 17 of the European Commerce Directive, TV-Links was seen as a conduit of information and was afforded a complete defense in criminal proceedings for linking to other websites.
Whether the police are going to walk down the same path again, or whether the site operator was arrested for an unrelated crime is something the future will tell. However, it appears that Fastpasstv.eu has already made a comeback as fastpasstv.ms, where the recent seizures are also referenced. TorrentFreak could not verify the validity of the new site.