NordicBits was also taken down after its 69-year-old owner was arrested in Spain. He sadly passed away after an illness but other sites were also in the spotlight. Asgaard quickly opened its doors to new members but then shut down to avoid legal trouble.
ShareUniversity also seized the opportunity to expand but last December announced that it would shut down too. However, it appears that Rights Alliance referrals to law enforcement may now have resulted in the arrest of one or more of its members.
Law Enforcement Announce Raids
In an announcement Wednesday, the Public Prosecutor for Special Economic and International Crime (SØIK) revealed that several people have been arrested following criminal referrals by Rights Alliance relating to torrent sites including ShareUniversity and DanishBytes.
DanishBytes is a new site that appeared in early January 2021. Even in the early days it had a reported database of 3,600 well-seeded torrents covering movies and TV shows, with an emphasis on locally subtitled content.
According to SØIK, searches were carried out at the homes of six men – a 41-year-old from Hedensted, a 27-year-old from Tjele, a 24-year-old from Vojens, a 22-year-old from Silkeborg, plus a 33-year-old and a 34-year-old, both from Aalborg. All were arrested under suspicion of serious copyright infringement offenses and will be released following interrogation.
The searches were carried out by SØIK assisted by IT specialists from the National Police’s National Cyber Crime Center (NC3). In addition to seizing computers, phones and other IT equipment, officers also seized DKK300,000 (US$46,700).
According to the authorities, the money seized thus far is believed to represent the profits from the sale of seedboxes, a BitTorrent-related term for specially-configured servers that allow people to share content remotely.
One of the arrested men is said to have sold access to the servers which were used by a currently unknown number of users to share around 3,800 copyright works on the torrent sites, a number that is very close to the number of torrents on the DanishBytes tracker.
Alleged ‘Ringleaders’, Central Staff and Users
According to Michael Lichtenstein, acting police inspector at SØIK, the arrested men are believed to be key players at the sites referred by Rights Alliance.
“It is very satisfying that, on the basis of a thorough investigation, we can hold the six detainees, who we believe are the responsible ringleaders or centrally located staff members, to account for their illegal operation of the file-sharing services,” Lichtenstein says.
Also of interest is the mention of site users and the possibility that they too could be swept up in the investigation and, at least potentially, face some form of action.
“On the basis of this effective effort, we must review the seized material – and in this respect it can not be ruled out that users can also be held accountable for using the illegal file-sharing services,” Lichtenstein adds.
While using a torrent site can leave information behind such as IP and email addresses, users who purchased a seedbox for use on the site may be more exposed. It’s unclear how those users paid for their seedbox subscriptions but if straightforward credit card or PayPal payments were used, it may be fairly trivial for the police to map these back to real-life identities.
At the time of writing the DanishBytes site appears to be operational. Whether the same can be said for the tracker and seedboxes is currently unknown.