A crack police unit dedicated to tackling organized crime in Finland has conducted a series of raids on so-called Warez-Scene Topsites, arresting three individuals and seizing equipment and an alleged 10 terabytes of files. Years in prison are threatened for those involved.
According to its website, the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) main responsibility is “to fight the most serious, professional and organized crime.” Understandably, they’re currently involved in the investigation into the terrible recent shooting at a Finnish school but apparently simple piracy demands their resources too.
Following complaints from Finland’s Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre (CIAPC) and a subsequent investigation by anti-piracy teams, Friday 16th November saw NBI police raids against Warez-Scene ‘Topsites‘ – servers where release groups first place pirate material. According to Antti Kotilainen, CIAPC Director, ‘Topsites’ are “the absolute top of internet piracy and their activity enables sharing of millions of illegal files.”
The multi-site raids in Oulu, Finland, saw the arrest of three people and the seizure of many computers and around 10 terabytes of data. An investigation in to the nature of the seized data is focused on finding copyright infringements which in this case are said to carry a penalty of up to two years in prison.
CIAPC Director Antti Kotilainen explains: “These top sites have been sharing movies, music and computer games as well as software. Each site was also specialized in sharing particular material, such as animation, Finnish movies or the newest videogames.”
Showing a united front, the many organizations involved in the raids were all quick to put their spokesperson forward for comments about how these topsites affected their particular industry. Jeremy Banks, the IFPI’s chief internet Anti-Piracy officer said: “These actions by the Finnish police send a powerful message to operators of infringing servers: contrary to what you may think, you are not anonymous – you can and you will be caught. These sites were run by highly sophisticated operators who were stealing music and damaging the legitimate music community on a very large scale.”
For the movie industry, Halli Kristinsson, Vice-President and Director of the MPA’s European, Middle East and African anti-piracy operations explained the importance of the various industry associations working together: “These raids prove that efficient co-operation between MPA, ISFE, IFPI and BSA has lead to the fact that the net around top sites and release groups is tightening all the time. These actions will not be the last of their kind.”
John Wolfe, Director of Internet Enforcement at the Business Software Alliance (BSA) applauded the “strong and visible action against internet Topsites” stressing that “Individuals like the ones operating the sites raided last Friday contribute to the staggering losses that Internet piracy causes the software industry.”
Following on from yesterday’s report about a Topsite Site-Op leaking information to the press in Finland’s neighbor, Norway, pressure seems to be building on Scene members in Scandinavia.
When countries consider piracy to be among the most serious crimes today – worthy of the precious time and resources of their most skilled investigators – it’s no wonder Scene members go to unprecedented lengths to hide their identities.