‘No Evidence’ Anti-Piracy Group Hacked FTP Server

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As soon as Sweden's IPRED legislation was passed, Antipiratbyrån working on behalf of several book publishers somehow managed to gain access to a private FTP server containing audio books. That copyright case involving ISP ePhone is with the Supreme Court but allegations that the anti-piracy group illegally hacked into the server to gather evidence persist in the background.

ephoneThe very first court case to test Sweden’s fledgling IPRED anti-piracy legislation has not progressed as smoothly as entertainment companies might have hoped.

Soon after IPRED became law in 2009, five book publishers aided by anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån handed a request to a local court for information on the owner of an FTP-server that allegedly stored more than 2000 audio books, a couple of dozen of which breached their copyrights.

There was a problem though. The FTP-server was private and password protected so the audio books it contained could never been made available to the general public. Nevertheless, in June 2009 the court ordered ISP ePhone to hand over the details of the person behind the server.

ePhone protested that the publishers who filed the lawsuit had not been able to prove that anyone other than Antipiratbyrån had ever accessed the server which contained 27 allegedly infringing audio books. The court of appeal agreed with ePhone that there was no proof the books had been made available to the public or anyone else for that matter.

That case is now with Sweden’s Supreme Court which has asked the two sides to consider whether it might be necessary to request that the European Court issue a preliminary ruling, but in the meantime something else needed to be cleared up.

If the FTP-server was private, how did Antipiratbyrån ever gain access to it in order to gather the evidence to put its case together? For many onlookers the answer to that question was simple – Antipiratbyrån must have illegally hacked into the server.

However much those in the file-sharing community would love for this to be proven true and Antipiratbyrån’s name dragged through the mud, it seems those hopes are over. Prosecutor Björn Ericson has announced that there will be no investigation into the notorious anti-piracy group despite many allegations made about them to the police.

“We have received reports of intruders. They were unclear so we supplemented them with interviews with those who notified us. But there are ways to get the data and they need not be criminal in nature. There is not enough concrete information about a specific crime,” said Ericson.

So how did Antipiratbyrån get access to the server? In all probability we’ll never know. In arriving at his decision to drop the case, the prosecutor did not ask the anti-piracy group how they gained access. Of course, they had no incentive to tell.


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