Police in two countries have coordinated to close down a 30,000 torrent private BitTorrent tracker. The operation, which spanned Sweden and Germany, closed down XNT.nu, a site which had risen through the ashes of other sites shut down by authorities in 2009. Police have arrested two suspected administrators and seized the site’s server.
In the wake of first Pirate Bay trial in 2009, emboldened anti-piracy groups – “guilty” verdict in hand – started to apply pressure on torrent sites hosted in Sweden. Antipiratbyrån wrote to several sites with warnings for them to discontinue any and all copyright-infringing operations.
One such site was SweDVDR, which was considered one of the most coveted private trackers of 2008. Initially they announced they would close down, although along with another site, SoftMP3, they decided to release their source code to the public, enabling other sites to spring up in their place.
A pair of new sites – TVSource and DVDRSource – seized that opportunity but despite having code on a plate, failed to make it to the big time alone. Instead, the staff of the sites (which were actually owned by the same person) decided to pool their resources and merge their databases to create a new site – XNT.nu – known to its users simply as ‘eXcelleNT’.
By January 2010, eXcelleNT had more than 13,000 users but just 600 torrents. By early May 2011, the position was quite different. Although the userbase had remained steady, topping out at just under 17,000 members, torrent count had increased dramatically to between 28,000 and 30,000. But that would be the end of their good times.
Following an investigation conducted by anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån, police in Borlänge, Sweden, moved Tuesday to arrest a suspected admin of XNT.nu.
Based on new information discovered in this raid, they proceeded to arrest a second man in the Stockholm area on Wednesday.
“We believe that the men have been administering and managing the site together,” said prosecutor Frederick Ingblad, a veteran of anti-filesharing operations.
While computers were seized at the houses of the suspects in Sweden, the site itself was hosted on a server in Germany. That too has now been seized.
Both men, who are in their 20′s, are said to have made some level of confession. They were then released pending further enquiries.
From being quite a safe haven for file-sharing, the heat in Sweden against both users and sites is certainly rising. However, a large number of sites – some of them of significant size – still operate from the country including the largest of them all.