Microsoft Fails to Close Major BitTorrent Tracker

Earlier this year software giant Microsoft launched a lawsuit against Lithuania's largest BitTorrent tracker for its role in the unauthorized distribution of Office 2003 and 2007. Microsoft successfully obtained an injunction against the site and the operator's assets were seized, but these requests have now been overturned by the appeal court.

windowsMost legal cases related to copyright infringement on BitTorrent are initiated by the movie and music industries. Microsoft has recently joined this group, although they have done so with a relatively low profile in Lithuania.

With approval from their United States headquarters, Microsoft went after the largest BitTorrent site in Lithuania, LinkoManija. Microsoft accused the site and its operator of assisting in the illegal distribution of Office 2003 and 2007 and filed a lawsuit in January.

Hoping to recoup some of the claimed losses, Microsoft demanded $45 million from LinkoManija’s alleged operator Kestas Ermanas and his company. Microsoft further asked the court to close the tracker and seize the assets of Kestas.

Both requests were granted and the assets of the site’s operator and his company were seized and associated bank accounts frozen. The site, however, remained online as Kestas and his company said that they were no longer operating LinkoManija. Kestas told TorrentFreak that he handed the operation over to a third party early 2009.

The decisions were immediately appealed by Kestas and his legal team, who have now informed us that the Appeal Court overturned both. According to the ruling the site should not be closed before there is a verdict in the full trial, and Kestas has also regained access to his personal bank accounts.

This is not the only setback for Microsoft in Lithuania. It previously lost its court case against a user of LinkoManija who they claimed had shared Windows 7 Ultimate illegally. The man was on trial in March and walked free due to a lack of evidence.

The main trial against LinkoManija’s operator and his company is expected to start in the near future although no official date has yet been set.

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