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Germany Launches Massive eDonkey2000 Offensive
May 23, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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Germany is well known as an eDonkey2000 safe-haven. By many accounts it’s the most popular method of sharing information online; exceeding even the mighty BitTorrent protocol. Some of the most coveted file-sharing software has its origins from Germany, namely the highly popular and open source eDonkey2000 client, eMule.

Recent enforcement actions against the eDonkey2000 network has come in the form of several raids against the largest indexing servers. Perhaps the most significant action taken was the February 21, 2006, seizure of RazorBack2. At its height, RazorBack2 was the indexing home to over 1.2 million users – sharing over 170 million files. After the raid, there was a noticeable dip in the total eDonkey2000 population; falling from approximately 3.5 million users to 3.0 million.

But like all things file-sharing, these numbers were soon replenished. Within days, the amount of users and files traversing the eDonkey2000 network was restored to their pre-RazorBack2 levels. In the face of never ending replenishment, the entertainment industry finally resorted to an old tactic: getting personal.

In an announcement made today by the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), German authorities searched over 130 premises this morning of alleged eDonkey2000 pirates in Cologne and Bergheim. According to the IFPI, the alleged pirates were sharing up to 8,000 copyrighted works.

The searches were part of a larger effort against a total of 3,500 individuals. Presumably, the 130 individual searches were against the most egregious of pirates. Evidence in the form of their personal computers, along with all the information contained on the alleged pirate’s hard drive, was confiscated during the raid. The raids were coordinated by the Public Prosecution Service of Cologne and the Police Authority of Bergheim, who had been investigating these alleged activities with the assistance of the IFPI for several months.

"I am pleased that the German authorities recognise the serious impact of copyright crime and are taking action against it,” said John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of IFPI. “Internet piracy has hurt the whole music community in Germany, with legitimate sales falling by a third in just five years. The victims are investment in music and everyone who makes a livelihood out of the music industry.

According to the IFPI, each of the 3,500 individuals faces both criminal and civil prosecution for distributing unauthorized material online. However considering the scale of the enforcement, many of the 3,500 individuals will likely settle for “several thousand Euros” instead of going to full trial.

This action against the eDonkey2000 network is likely the most intense enforcement effort to date against individuals. At worst the most prolific of sharers, at least in the United States, face the threat of a lawsuit. Taking the unusual step to actually search the premises of alleged pirates is a step usually reserved for indexing server operators or warez scene distributors, not for individual sharers. It’s a considerable escalation in the war against online piracy; the repercussions of which will only be realized in due time.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
eDonkey2000 :: ed2k Community
Legal/Courtroom :: Other Lawsuits

You can read the press release here.

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