Most torrent site owners prefer to operate in the background, using assumed names and hiding behind companies in exotic locations. The operator of H33t has decided to break with this tradition in an attempt to get his seized domain back. He plans to testify against Universal Music Group, who he says lied to court in order to take H33t.com offline.
Earlier this month H33t, one of the largest BitTorrent sites, mysteriously disappeared from the Internet. The nameservers had been wiped from the domain records, rendering it useless.
TorrentFreak contacted H33t’s domain registrar, the German company Key-Systems, who confirmed that they were forced to take this action following a local court order obtained by Universal Music Group.
“We have indeed been served with a court order granting a temporary injunction requiring us to ensure certain content is not made available,” Key System’s Volker Greimann previously told us.
Recognizing that the case sets a dangerous precedent, the registrar is going to fight the injunction in court. One of the issues Key System plans to raise is that the site owner himself was never contacted by the music group.
The registrar asked H33t owner Shelby whether he is willing to testify to this in court, and he agreed to do so.
“I am ready to go in person. If they don’t already know my name then they truly are disorganized. It was never a secret,” Shelby informs TorrentFreak.
H33t’s owner has previously spoken out against the commonly adopted DMCA-style takedown procedure most copyright holders expect him to comply with.
H33t will take content offline, but only if copyright holders pay an administrative fee to cover some of the costs. Shelby believes that this is ultimately the issue that has to be tested in court.
“I don’t believe my identity is the issue, but the sharing of costs for takedowns. Given the opportunity, since this is a test of a takedown procedure, I will ensure my testimony and the court record contains my solution for equitable management of takedowns. The lawyer who said my takedown procedure was not serious is now going to find out how serious it actually is,” he says.
H33t has always been one of the most pro-sharing communities, and the site’s owner sees himself as a frontrunner in the battle against an old and outdated industry.
“The enemy is not a person. There is no hive mind conspiring against us to repress us in some Orwellian nightmare,” he says.
“The enemy is a dinosaur system which might have been good enough to manage an analogue industry of vinyl records and VHS cassettes, but if the Internet has taught us anything it is that the digital revolution is full of surprises and opportunities. The last thing we need is outdated systems and laws getting in the way, holding us back from basically doing what we do best, being social, making friends and improving ourselves by learning and developing new tools.”
H33t’s owner believes that the law is on his side. The DMCA doesn’t apply in Europe where there are no clearly defined notice and take-down procedures, and H33t believes their policy is reasonable.
By showing that Universal Music Group misrepresented the facts, he eventually hopes to get his domain back.
“If I win this appeal and win back my domain then it is because anti-p2p [companies] acted illegally and dishonestly by misleading the court and telling lies. To quote Plato: ‘The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.’
“This is as good today as it was two and half thousand years ago. That is why I stand for filesharing,” Shelby concludes.
The date for the testimony is yet to be scheduled and for now H33t’s .com domain remains unavailable to the public. The site is still available on its .eu domain for the time being.