During 2005, Federal Agents assisted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), first infiltrated and then shutdown EliteTorrents, a BitTorrent tracker with more than 130,000 members. In a May they took down the server and left this message, which was viewed more than 500,000 times in the week following the raid.
Daniel Dove, one of the arrested administrators of the Elitetorrents tracker initially opted for a ‘not guilty’ plea, but his gamble didn’t pay off. The jury was told that Dove was responsible for managing and recruiting the crucial ‘uploaders’ on the site (original seeders) and that he also operated a server which was used to distribute pirate material.
The jury believed this version of events and found Dove guilty on one count each of conspiracy and felony copyright infringement. Today, Dove has was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release and a $20,000 fine.
Dove is the only administrator of Elitetorrents to plead “not guilty”. In 2006, Scott McCausland pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and one count of criminal copyright infringement for his uploading of Star Wars: Episode III.
McCausland received jail time and home confinement and on his release told TorrentFreak: “After 5 months in prison, and another 5 months on home confinement, I have just one obstacle left: my 1.5 years left of probation.”
Fellow site admin Grant Stanley, then aged 23, pleaded guilty to the same offenses as Scott and received the same sentence with the addition of a $3,000 fine. Other admins and uploaders who pleaded guilty include Sam Kuonen, then aged 24, 22 year old Scott D. Harvanek and An Duc Do, aged 25.
Dove’s sentence is the eighth resulting from Operation D-Elite but this federal crackdown didn’t end up causing a decrease in overall private BitTorrent tracker availability. Instead, soon after the raids the Elitetorrents members spread out to other trackers, the major difference is that most of them are now hosted outside the US.