Russian Police Make Arrests In First Ever BitTorrent Raid

Russian police have carried out what is believed to be the first raid against a BitTorrent tracker. Prompted by the MPA, police arrived at the site's Moscow office and arrested the owners and several staff. As is so often the case, the arrests failed to close the site, which is currently still operating from The Netherlands.

interfilmUp until now, Russia has been considered somewhat of a safe haven for BitTorrent sites. While the copyright climate there can be uncertain, on occasion things can happen to prompt the authorities to spring into life. In this case it is believed that the MPAA (through the MPA) were pressing for action behind the scenes.

So Tuesday last week, May 26th, the Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs Investigation Committee under the Ministry of Internal Affairs conducted a raid against the founders the Interfilm BitTorrent tracker.

During the raid on the site’s Moscow headquarters, the police arrested the founders of Interfilm, a married couple known online as ‘Ripper’ and ‘Nadezhda’ and several site staff. The authorities claim that the Interfilm tracker is a major source of cammed movies and also has an arrangement with piracy groups outside the country to exchange the latest releases.

Russian anti-piracy group RAPO (a founder member of the MPA) claims that the site carried advertising and although users had free access to the site, higher download speeds could be achieved by making a payment to the site’s owners.

Although Interfilm reportedly went down after the raid, it is now apparently fully operational, hosted by LeaseWeb in The Netherlands.

Russian media is speculating that the owners of Interfilm are facing up to six years in jail and a fine of 500,000 rubles (approx $16,200) if convicted under Part 3 of Article 146 of the Criminal Code.

According to lawyer Victor Naumov, a legal loophole which saved the owners of AllofMP3 is unlikely to help the operators of Interfilm. “In the past there were different interpretations of legislation in the field of copyright, but now if a distributor of films or music is not in a licensing agreement with the rights holders, the violation is right there,” he said.

Following the arrests, the Producers Guild of Russia says it intends to push for changes in the law which would force ISPs to prevent illegal file-sharing.

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