At the end of August 2008, the Araditracker BitTorrent tracker disappeared. At the time, sources close to the case said that legal action had been taken against the site, but the exact events were surrounded in mystery. Here is the inside story of the police raids in August and another just three weeks ago.
On August 29th, we reported that Araditracker, one of the longest standing private trackers, had been closed after four years of operation. After surviving ISP troubles in 2007, fresh legal action against the site gave the administrators no choice but to close down the site. Other details were scarce, even though TorrentFreak had established contact with a source close to the case. Today we can fill in a few of the gaps.
Carried out by several police officers and representatives of anti-piracy group FACT, at the end of August the owner of Araditracker was subjected to simultaneous raids at both his home and work addresses in Northern Ireland.
In addition to being arrested, all IT related equipment was removed from the Araditracker owner’s home and place of work. The police left no stone unturned, taking away desktop computers, laptops, monitors, media, cameras and video tapes containing footage from family events. They even took the UPS.
The owner was taken to the station and questioned by police, with FACT officers present. Bearing a striking similarity to the TV-Links case, it appears the police were led to believe that Araditracker was a commercial business venture and that pirate material was being sold for cash. The overall impression was that the police were expecting a full-scale duplicating operation when they conducted the raids. They found no such thing, even on a small-scale.
Had FACT led the police up the garden path – again?
Undeterred, police and Trading Standards officers raided a second person at his home in North Wales, just 3 weeks ago. The police seized desktop PCs and laptops, in addition to digital cameras and sundry media. The search warrant stated the following:
Section 93(2) of the Trade Marks Act 1994 to enter and search the premise and search computer equipment, invoices, books and documents associated with the selling of films in convention of Section 107 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 & Section 92A of the Trade Marks Act 1994
After the initial arrest, the subsequent interview wasn’t carried out by the police, but by Trading Standards on their own.
Up to now the site owner hasn’t been charged with anything and has been bailed to appear at the end of January 2009. The second arrested person has also not been charged, but is ordered to answer his bail in mid-January 2009.
Yet again in the UK we are witnessing the police getting involved in areas which were previously believed to be an issue for civil law. Faced with copyright laws which don’t ‘fit’ their aims, there appears to be a concerted effort on the part of anti-piracy groups such as FACT to dress up civil issues as being a matter for the police. And make no mistake, they are succeeding. Not a good time to be a UK tracker admin, unless tracks have been particularly well covered.
Ex-members of the Araditracker community have a new home at NeverStrangers.net.