After Epic Battle, Anti-Piracy Lawyers Finally Get Their Man

After an epic journey through the legal system, much of it shrouded in secrecy, an anti-piracy group has finally tracked down an individual it said uploaded a first-run movie. In the end the IP address evidence didn't identify the correct person, a confession did. But were there ulterior motives behind this witch hunt?

The Norwegian movie Max Manus is the most expensive and successful Norwegian movie to date. While perhaps not an epic achievement from a global perspective, the legal battle to track down the individual who supposedly leaked it onto the Internet certainly was.

Shrouded in secrecy for most of its duration, a battle between the Simonsen anti-piracy law firm and ISP Altibox wove a tortuous route all the way to the Supreme Court. In the end the ISP was ordered to hand over the identity of the alleged pirate. Simonsen went to work straight away.

Although they ended up in roughly the right place, according to Norwegian news reports the person responsible for the Internet account in question had no idea file-sharing was taking place on his or her connection. It turns out that the uploader was actually a 20 year-old living with his parents.

When confronted by Simonsen he confessed to carrying out the ‘crime’, which was to upload the movie from his bedroom to the now-defunct Lysehubben Direct Connect hub. It is also claimed that the man was a central figure at the hub, possibly the operator.

Aside from the court order not revealing the identity of the actual uploader but the bill payer, there is another issue. Time and again the emphasis is being put on people who are claimed to put material onto the Internet first and the Max Manus case is no different. However, as we detailed in our earlier article, this 20 year-old is almost certainly not the first releaser of the movie.

The date he uploaded Max Manus to Lysehubben was 28th March 2009. However, a release group called KAMERA already uploaded the movie months earlier on 29th December 2008. Within hours the release was available on BitTorrent so thousands of others would have uploaded the movie before 28th March. The general implication has been that the 20 year-old is responsible for thousands of subsequent downloads which seems far from fair, or even true.

So, one has to question if catching the ‘first-uploader’ of Max Manus was really the target in all of this. If it was, in that sense it has failed. It looks more likely that the real aim was the closure of the Lysehubben hub along with some scary media propaganda which shows that would-be pirates can be identified.

“Without this decision copyright holders wouldn’t have the opportunity to pursue copyright violations on the Internet,” said Simonsen lawyer Rune Ljøstad earlier. “Now we have that opportunity, so the question is when to use it.”

There’s little doubt that the high profile chase through the legal system was helped hugely by the support of a big national-pride movie, its producer, and all the emotive issues that go with them. The question remains though – what punishment lies in wait for the 20 year-old after this fairly epic battle? Despite more than a year of work, no decision has been made.

“It’s a bit early to say. We do not aim to storm into boys rooms and take thirteen year olds to trial,” said Max Manus producer John M. Jacobsen. “Our goal is to stop their activities.”

Not a chance. There are currently 17 separately seeded torrents of the movie on The Pirate Bay alone.

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