France. Land of romance, cheese and fine wines – and administrative base for one of the world’s biggest semi-private BitTorrent trackers. Born in 2005, SnowTigers offered all the usual BitTorrent site content but being French, also carried links to home grown music and movies, a situation the authorities moved to end this week.
On Tuesday, police backed up by members of ALPA (Association Against Audiovisual Piracy) moved to close down SnowTigers, making 10 arrests in the Paris and Toulouse areas. According to Zataz, 21 servers were also seized.
France is becoming known as a country engaging in an increasingly aggressive fight against piracy and their enthusiasm seems to have gone through the roof in this case, with an ALPA spokesperson confirming that they had “worked very closely with the military” to locate the staff of the semi-private site.
Snowtigers fell prey to the military
The police and anti-piracy groups seem to be focused on the revenue generated by SnowTigers which they claim should have gone to the rights holders. ALPA president Frédéric Delacroix insisted that SnowTigers was a criminal organization. “The site has garnered several hundred thousand euros,” he claimed.
As rumors persist that SnowTigers invitations were available to buy via various sources for around 30 euros each, while other users simply donated money to the site, Frédéric Delacroix of ALPA was keen to sow the seeds of doubt in their direction. “All people who have paid money [to the site] can now be questioned,” he said.
Attacking the other major lifelines for any BitTorrent tracker – the releasers and heavy users – Delacroix hinted that there may be prosecutions around the corner for them too. “We are dealing with a truly international network,” he said, adding “the investigation is not complete, it exceeds our French borders.”
Indeed, according to Zataz, SnowTigers had other servers located outside France, namely at LeaseWeb in The Netherlands and Netelligent in Canada. The status of those servers is unclear.