Aside from occasional downtime, the world’s most famous torrent site had been sailing relatively trouble-free but, behind the scenes, movie companies Svensk Filmindustri and Nordisk Film, supported anti-piracy partner Rights Alliance, were plotting their next enforcement action.
The process began when the movie companies presented Cloudflare with a copyright infringement complaint, stating that The Pirate Bay was connected to mass infringement of their rights. In response, the CDN company revealed that on June 2, 2020, an IP address apparently operated by Swedish ISP Obenetwork was in use by the torrent site.
Movie Companies Apply For Information Injunction
With this information in hand, the companies went to court in Sweden, filing for an information injunction against Obenetwork and demanding that the ISP preserve all records relating to its business with The Pirate Bay. The companies claimed that the matter was so urgent that Obenetwork should not be heard in the matter and fined SEK 100,000 (US$10,667) in the event of non-compliance.
When reporting on the matter last week, however, we opined that it was likely that The Pirate Bay would’ve expected this kind of move and therefore been prepared for it. It now appears that was indeed the case.
The Alleged Obenetwork IP Address – Who Really Owns It?
The IP address provided by Cloudflare and said to be in use by The Pirate Bay was directly linked to Obenetwork by the studios. In comments to Tarnkappe last week, however, the ISP was crystal clear: this is not their IP address and it actually belongs to someone else.
“The IP address that The Pirate Bay uses in our network belongs to the anonymous VPN provider ‘OVPN.se’,” the company said in a statement, referring to one of its customers.
Speaking with TorrentFreak this morning, Obenetwork provided more technical details relating to the apparent confusion.
“The IP specified in the court order is from OVPN’s own PA-space [Provider Aggregatable Address Space] they have directly from RIPE. However OVPN doesn’t have its own AS-number, their space is announced by different ISPs around the world where they have servers,” Gustav from Obenetwork explained.
“I believe [the movie companies] just looked at whoever owned the AS-number and found our name. We’ve however opposed the court order with the simple explanation that the IP address does not belong to us and the injunction is invalid.”
TF asked the ISP for its opinion on why it was identified as the owner of the IP address and not OVPN? It’s a question the ISP would also like an answer to.
‘Poor Tracing’ or Ulterior Motive?
“Either they did a very poor job in tracing the IP or did it on purpose for some reason to give us bad press,” Gustav says.
“We’ve however told the court of our displeasure with the decision to give the order without even asking us any questions before. The movie companies have stated it was very important that the decision was made without our knowledge due to fear of logs being destroyed.”
In their application, the movie companies claimed that Obenetwork has “close ties” to The Pirate Bay, hence the urgency of the injunction and keeping the ISP out of the process. Gustav says that any alleged connections to the current operations of TPB “are complete nonsense” and no proof to support that claim was ever presented to the court.
“If they actually felt this urgency it would have been much better if they went for the correct company,” he added.
With the clear objections of Obenetwork now with the court, the future direction of this matter remains unclear. However, with OVPN now being pushed into the spotlight, the complexity of hunting down the location of TPB becomes even more apparent.
OVPN Also Confirms That ‘Pirate Bay’ IP Address is Theirs
Speaking with TorrentFreak this morning, OVPN’s David Wibergh confirmed that the IP address in question is indeed owned by OVPN and not Obenetwork. Whether TPB was ever a customer is a question he won’t answer though.
“As we don’t provide information regarding any potential customers, I won’t confirm if thepiratebay.org was actually using OVPN or not. I can only confirm that the IP address specified in the injunction was one that OVPN owns and not Obenetwork. I will not confirm whether or not thepiratebay.org was actually using that IP address,” Wibergh said.
In our most recent overview of VPN providers that take anonymity seriously, OVPN gained a spot for its attention to privacy.
“Our entire infrastructure and VPN service is built to ensure that no logs can be stored – anywhere. Our servers are locked in cabinets and operate without any hard drives,” the provider told us.
Wibergh confirmed today that the IP address is one that belongs to the company’s Public IPv4 add-on, which is covered by exactly the same strict no-logging policy deployed on its standard service.
“The only difference between Public IPv4 and OVPN’s standard service is that the Public IPv4 address is reserved for a specific user. We therefore advise users to purchase the add-on anonymously. It is impossible to retroactively check who had a specific Public IPv4 address at a specific date since users are free to change their assigned Public IPv4 address,” Wibergh added.
At the time of writing, OVPN has not been approached for information relating to the possible use of the IP address by The Pirate Bay. Given the above, however, it seems that The Pirate Bay – if it is a customer – chose its supplier carefully.