First Jail Sentence For Romanian BitTorrent Site Operator

The owner of a Romanian BitTorrent tracker has been the first person in the country to receive a jail sentence for his actions. Following complaints from the Business Software Alliance, Kartel.ro was closed in 2007 but it has taken three years for the case to come to a conclusion. The outcome is a 6 month suspended sentence and an unspecified fine.

romania flagThe Romanian division of the Business Software Alliance has been trumpeting various successes from its work cracking down on the use of unauthorized software.

Amongst various sundry cases of commercial piracy is a landmark case that has just come to its conclusion.

In 2007, the Kartel.ro BitTorrent tracker was shut down following complaints from the BSA that it was assisting in the distribution of material to which its members own the copyrights.

Rather than the BSA pursuing the case through the civil courts, the Romanian state brought a criminal action against the owner of Kartel.ro. The resulting trial concluded in June 2010 which ended in his conviction.

The appeal of that case was heard last month. Romania’s Court of Appeal upheld the earlier decision and a 6 month suspended jail sentence was handed down to the site. He will also be forced to pay compensation to rightsholders, currently estimated to be no more than 10,000 euros.

“Providing the public with works protected by copyright is a crime. Software piracy is a scourge that affects the state as much as the rights holders,” said Monica Pop, Chief Prosecutor from the government’s Intellectual Property Department.

“The law gives protection to these works, although it is often perceived as an exclusive protection of authors. It is an important factor for economic growth and information technology is of fundamental importance for society.”

The comments of Monica Pop are very interesting, particularly when displayed side by side with the words of Romanian President Basescu.

“Piracy helped the young generation discover computers,” Basescu told Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in 2007, just before Kartel.ro was closed down.

“It helped Romanians improve their creative capacity in the IT industry, which has become famous around the world. Ten years ago, it was an investment in Romania’s friendship with Microsoft and with Bill Gates.”

It appears that the widespread use of cheap or free pirated software is one of the main reasons behind Romania’s flourishing IT sector. Funny old world.

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