Having been in founded way back in 2004, Swebits was one of the longest established torrent sites in Sweden, if not the world. With its predominantly Swedish userbase, the site maintained a membership of between 35-40,000.
At the end of February 2011 the site announced its shock closure. The official line was that the site had suffered a DDoS attack and hardware disaster from which it could not recover, but behind the scenes something more sinister was afoot.
Around a week before the site’s closure an investigation carried out by anti-piracy outfit Antipiratbyran reached a climax when authorities arrested man at his home in Sweden. The 25-year-old was reportedly a moderator on Swebits and between April 2008 and November 2011 had shared huge quantities of content with the site’s users.
According to reports at the time the man uploaded as many as 1,000 movies and TV shows after obtaining the video from so-called ‘topsites’ affiliated with the lively warez scene.
“Previously, we have focused us on The Scene, but now we have directed our focus to individual BitTorrent users,” said Henrik Ponten of Antipiratbyran.
Traditionally ‘Scene’ members have proven harder to catch, but apparently the capture of this individual came about much more easily. Friction between the man and members of The Scene led to his identity being made public online, but prosecutor Henrik Rassmusson has since revealed that the uploader’s static IP address was easily traced back to an ISP.
This relaxed attitude to security has now lead to the man becoming the most prolific BitTorrent uploader ever to be arrested and charged, anywhere in the world. That’s despite prosecutors downgrading their original estimates by 50% to ‘just’ 500 movies and TV shows in the charges just announced.
“It is the largest legal case in which an individual has uploaded movies. There is a precedent, but it is only about 60 films,” says Rassmusson.
There’s no doubt that there have been more prolific uploaders in the BitTorrent scene, but most continue their activities without repercussion. That seems unlikely to be the case here.
“My understanding is that the damages can be expected to be very large for this type of activity, in terms of volume of uploaded material,” Rasmusson adds.
“I think it’s about prison level, and I will likely push for a prison sentence.”