In 2004 during some of the early days of the Swedish BitTorrent scene, a new private tracker appeared online. Swebits maintained a membership of up to 40,000 and was very popular with locals.
Seven years later in February 2011 the site announced it would close. News from the site suggested it had been targeted by a DDoS attack and alongside had suffered a catastrophic hardware disaster. Perhaps coincidentally, just a week before the site’s closure a Swebits user was arrested at his home following an investigation carried out by anti-piracy outfit Antipiratbyran (now Rights Alliance).
It transpired that the then 25-year-old was a moderator on Swebits and between April 2008 and November 2011 had allegedly shared huge quantities of content with the site’s users. The prosecution in the case insisted that he had uploaded many thousands of movies and TV shows after obtaining them from so-called ‘topsites’ affiliated with the warez scene.
The final case, which involved the uploading of 518 titles, concluded yesterday afternoon in the Västmanlands District Court after being reduced to ‘just’ 517 titles on a technicality.
“A film was dropped [from the case] because the statute of limitations expired,” explained prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson.
However, out of the significant remainder the defendant confessed to just 13 of the charges, the number of titles Antipiratbyran / Rights Alliance said they downloaded directly from the man and later tested. As more than 500 titles remained untested, the former Swebits moderator believes he is innocent of those charges.
Despite the reduction and counterclaim, Rasmusson said that never before had a court dealt with someone who had uploaded so many movies and TV shows online. In what is generally seen as an aggravating factor, the court heard that many of the uploads took place before the products were officially available on DVD.
Although more than 500 titles were involved in the trial, it appears only one producer is seeking damages from the now 28-year-old. Nevertheless, they are substantial.
Represented by infamous pirate-hunter Henrik Pontén of Rights Alliance, Nordisk Film AS are trying to recover more than a million dollars in damages after their title “Buried Alive” was released onto the Internet two days before its official DVD release.
According to the prosecutor, a request for a custodial sentence will be the likely outcome.
“I will probably insist on imprisonment,” he concludes.