Underage Finnish BitTorrent admins fined $60,000 each

Four out of eight administrators of the Finnish BitTorrent tracker “Finreactor” have been declared guilty in court and have to pay damages totalling 60,000 dollars each.

The lawsuit against Finreactor has just come to a close (Finnish report). This is believed to be only the first of many filed against the site.

Three of the four administrators found guilty are under the age of 18. It is unclear how they are going to scrape together enough money to pay their fines.

Teosto LogoWith a little help from Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (Keskusrikospoliisi), the Finnish equivalent of the RIAA (Teosto) shut down Finreactor in late 2004. It was, at the time, possibly the largest Finnish BitTorrent tracker with more than 37,000 registered members.

The Keskusrikospoliisi, after getting the go-ahead from Teosto, raided the administrators’ homes and seized computers and hard drives. The evidence they found was condemning.

Niko adds that at least one admin avoided the lawsuit because his hard drive was encrypted, and that there were more people on trial:

Alltogether 32 people were on trial. 21 of these 32 were declared guilty by the court. The eight admins mentioned here were probably only the ones represented by Turre Legal. The others were represented by another law firm.

Update: The IFPI just released a press-release which confirms that 21 admins were convicted. They have to pay compensation, damages and expenses of approximately $700,000 (in total) to the copyright holders.

21 operators of the Finreactor peer-to-peer-network were convicted yesterday by the district court of Turku in Finland. Finreactor was a BitTorrent network that had 10,000 registered users. Fourteen operators were convicted for copyright offences and seven for aiding for copyright offences. The operators were in charge of the technical operation of the system as well as the user control.

It is sad to see under-age BitTorrent fans get sentenced in court. The reality is that the content industries have decided that they are going to sue to compete with illegal filesharing. However, if a phenomenon like filehsaring is taking place at such an extraordinarily large scale, maybe there’s something to it. Maybe we need to find a new business model. Either that, or soon fans aren’t going to have enough money to legally buy the content they normally would, let alone the stuff they’re “pirating.”

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