Lithuania’s Media Watchdog Fines Over Two Dozen ‘Private’ Torrent Tracker Users

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Lithuania's Radio and Television Commission (LRTK) is using newly gained legal authority to penalize online pirates. This new power has resulted in several rulings already and this week the media watchdog upped the ante by issuing more than two dozen monetary fines. All targets were identified through their IP-addresses and linked to the private torrent tracker Linkomanija.

eurosThis summer, Lithuania amended its Code of Administrative Offenses, allowing media watchdog LRTK to fine pirates, without going to court.

This legislative change is the latest attempt to deter piracy in the European country. The potential fines should make pirates reconsider their habits, the idea goes.

Tracking Down Pirates

Handing out fines may sound like an effective strategy, but catching online pirates isn’t always straightforward. It’s typically not possible to know who is using pirate streaming sites or direct download portals, for example, unless the service in question is compromised.

Tracking BitTorrent pirates is easier. Torrent users broadcast their IP-addresses publicly and this activity can be monitored by outsiders. This is the main reason why pretty much all lawsuits against individual pirates are targeted at BitTorrent users.

The Lithuanian media watchdog is aware of this; the first three fines issued in August targeted BitTorrent users. The more unusual aspect here is that LRTK specifically singled out users of the private torrent tracker Linkomanija.

linkomanija is the largest torrent site in the country and a local legend. The site has been around for more than two decades and continues to thrive. While it’s officially a private community, many locals have access; that includes the media watchdog’s piracy tracking partner.

25 Private Tracker Targets

This week, LRTK announced that it had fined twenty-five additional people who reportedly shared copyright-infringing content via LinkoManija. In all cases the offenders shared pirated versions of films owned by local movie companies.

“LRTK found that audiovisual works protected by copyright – the films “Tu mano Deimantas”, “Hypnotic” and “Paradas” – were illegally reproduced and made public on the website without copyright consent from their IP addresses,” the watchdog notes.

IP-addresses don’t identify individuals so, technically speaking, the authorities don’t know whether those fined are actual users of the site. The fines simply target the people who are paying for the Internet bills, who are not necessarily the pirates.


The authorities don’t appear to be impacted by these technicalities and issued 140-euro fines to all identified subscribers, which is half of the maximum allowed penalty. If the same ‘people’ continue to pirate, potential fines can reach 850 euros.

Not Done Yet

The latest wave of fines is the largest thus far. Three people were previously penalized in August and eight more followed in September, bringing the total to thirty-six now. These offenders were all linked to the same torrent tracker.

LRTK warns all Lithuanians, and Linkomanija users in particular, that it’s not done yet. The watchdog says that it will continue to use its legal powers to monitor piracy activity and reduce the country’s piracy rate.

The private torrent tracker itself remains online, at least for now. A court previously ordered the country’s largest Internet providers to block the site, but that hasn’t stopped people from finding workarounds to access it.


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