‘Fun’ Torrent Site Could Result in Jail, Millions in Damages

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The alleged operator of a torrent site raided by police in 2012 is facing the prospect of years in jail despite authorities acknowledging he ran the site largely for fun. The 24-year-old is accused of ignoring warnings to close down SwePiracy and is now facing damages of almost $3 million at the hands of companies including Disney.

After being founded in 2006, authorities in Sweden branded private torrent site SwePiracy as one of the most important locations for the illegal distribution of local and international films.

Following a torrent site crackdown in the wake of the “guilty” verdict in the Pirate Bay trial during April 2009, SwePiracy disappeared for a few weeks, but reappeared less than a month later.

Anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån (now Rights Alliance) said that in response to warnings for the site to close down, the operators of the tracker had taken measures to protect themselves instead.

Several years later during February 2012, authorities ran out of patience, with police in Sweden and the Netherlands taking coordinated action to shut down the site.

While Swedish police targeted the operators of the site, their Dutch counterparts took down SwePiracy’s servers in their jurisdiction. However, as is so often the case, overall downtime was relatively brief and SwePiracy laer reappeared via a new host in Canada.

Today, almost three years later, the alleged operator of the site will appear in court in Sweden. The now 24-year-old man is the alleged founder of the site and the person responsible for its resurrection after the raid.

According to District Prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson the man faces charges of violating copyright law due to unlawfully making available copyrighted movies online or assisting users to do the same. Rasmusson says that a lengthy custodial sentence is possible.

“Under the criminal scale he risks punishment ranging from fines to several years in prison,” Rasmusson says.

In addition to charges that he ran a site servicing tens of thousands of members, the prosecution claim that the man also collected around $100,000 in donations to keep the site running. However, it appears that the main motivation was not to make money, but to have fun.

“In this case, it is my assumption before the trial that the aim [for the accused] was to test the [torrent] technology and to share and make available video because it was entertaining and an interest he had,” Rasmusson notes.

But despite the absence of a financial motive, Swedish authorities have pursued this case for more than three years and the site itself for much longer, which suggests they don’t intend to go lightly on the 24-year-old.

At the time of the raid, Antipiratbyrån (Rights Alliance) said it also intended to seek damages from the site “according to The Pirate Bay model.” The case now centers around a sample 73 movies with the man being sued for more than $2.9m by local companies and international giants including Disney.

The trial is expected to run until Friday.


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