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Aftermath of The Pirate Raids
June 1, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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In the morning hours of May 31, 2006, approximately 50 officers from the Swedish National Criminal Police raided the data centers for Internet Service Provider Rix|Port80 in 10 different locations. Presenting a search warrant, the officers then prompted to carry out their primary objective: seize ThePirateBay.org.

The Swedish National Criminal Police were successful in their mission. ThePirateBay.org was knocked offline, the culmination of considerable investigative efforts aided by Antipiratbyrån (Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau), the IFPI (International Federation and Phonographic Industry), and the MPA (Motion Picture Association.)

ThePirateBay.org’s seizure was a welcomed turn of events for the entertainment industry. For three years, attempts to force ThePirateBay.org to comply with international copyright standards were met with mockery, contempt, and ridicule. With ThePirateBay.org offline, the various entertainment industries that assisted expressed their satisfaction. The entertainment industry, specifically the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) claims that over 2.3 billion US dollars were lost to Internet piracy in 2005. In their estimation, including the IFPIA and Antipiratbyrån, the elimination of ThePirateBay.org went a long way in rectifying piracy losses.

“The bottom line is that the operators of the Pirate Bay and others like them are criminals who profit handsomely by facilitating the distribution of millions of copyrighted creative works and files protected under the law,” said John G. Malcolm, Executive Vice President and Director of Worldwide Anti-Piracy Operations for the MPAA. “We applaud Swedish law enforcement for their effort to stop egregious copyright infringement on The Pirate Bay.”

Rix|Port80 is a hosting and connectivity supplier (Internet Service Provider) for ThePirateBay.org’s web host, PRQ. During the raid, each and every server that was hosted by PRQ was seized, despite the proper labeling of each domain. Not only did the Swedish National Police succeed in removing ThePirateBay.org, but every other domain hosted by PRQ.

The seizure of these domains, which total between 200 and 300, affected a wide range of websites. While some were smaller, personal websites, many were business oriented websites that depend on advertising for the owner’s personal livelihood. Either way, virtually all servers confiscated had absolutely nothing to do with piracy, ThePirateBay.org, or the online copyright wars.

"Our hardware was severed from the internet at approximately 12 noon Swedish time today without noticeor explanation and currently is believed to be in the possession of Stockholm Police,’ GameSwitch Director, Christopher Adams said in a press release. GameSwitch.co.uk provides hosting services for multi-player online games. With the considerable downtime, the economic impact on his site is considerable.

"GameSwitch has been given a massive blow today that could, depending on the further unfolding of events, take years to recover from, also shared by many other companies firmly based in New Technology principles in the same building. This is the kind of industry that governments should be seeking to promote and encourage rather than wipe out in the fallout what some might suggest as an unfounded display of desultory, ill-considered foreign appeasement, and we sincerely hope that those affected, ourselves included, and thus our customers, will be compensated accordingly.”

Fragbite.se, hosted by PRQ, also found itself without a home. FragBite.se is a large community of over 150,000 members which discusses the popular online game CounterStrike.

"We've been online since 2002 and have over half a million page views each day,” site administrator Tomas Hansson told Slyck.com. “We have approximately 150,000 registered users.”

"This is the longest downtime we've ever had. It's affecting us economically both short term since our immediate advertising revenues are halted, and long term since this causes us to lose visitors, which can take from several months all the way up to a year to come back from.

"I'm absolutely appalled by the way the Swedish police handled this raid. According to my info approximately 200-300 customers that have nothing to do with The Pirate Bay have been affected and their servers have been apprehended. All our servers are branded with our logo and contact information. The police simply took the "easy" way when they raided the data center and grabbed everything they could get their hands on and decided to worry about all the companies and persons they'd damage afterwards... The whole situation is absurd.”

The Swedish social community Anstalten.se is also finding times difficult since the raids. Like FragBite.se, there are both short term and long term economic consequences.

"Anstalten (Swedish for Institution) is a community with a jail-theme,” site administrator Fabian Mossberg explained to Slyck.com. “We have more than 120,000 members, most of them between 18 and 25. On Anstalten.nu you could register a profile, meet new friends and keep contacts with old friends. The community has a forum where you could discuss various topics, and the website was full of life. There was never any connection between us and ThePirateBay.”

"For us it’s critical to not be online. Every day we have between 100 and 500 new members - which we won’t have for every day we are down. Also our members need to find somewhere else to spend their time online, and we might loose members because of this. We are also depending on paying members. It’s free to be a member, but for VIP (Photo album and some other extra functions) many members pay [a few dollars per] month.

"But the biggest loss for us is advertisements/banners. Companies who have paid for one week banner need to be compensated. It’s not always possible to just give them a free week because of bookings; and campaigns have a time limit. Every hour we are offline is tough for us, but the Swedish police doesn’t give any answers. They promised to call me today if I sent them a fax, but they still haven’t called, more then 5 hours after the fax was sent.”

Humor site “istheshit.net” was additionally maligned during the raid. “Istheshit.net”, also in no way aligned with ThePirateBay, offers their visitor a unique way to express “that something is the shit!” The site is interactive in nature, allowing people to upload pictures and discuss the merits of earning an “istheshit” designation.

While the economic impact of the raids is visible, PiratByrån is also concerned about the political implications. PiratByrån is a Swedish organization designed to lobby and educate the populace on liberalizing copyright reform. The organization has acquired a degree of quantitative success, as the issues surrounding piracy, copyright reform, and file-sharing are at the forefront of Swedish politics. The organization’s name, “PiratByrån” or “The Pirate Bureau”, is a play on the Swedish copyright organization and polar opposite, “Antipiratbyrån” (Anti-Piracy Bureau.)

Like the above mentioned websites, PiratByrån’s server was also confiscated. Although PiratByrån was the founding organization of ThePirateBay.org, it has no role in the facilitation of indexing or tracking .torrent files. Its role is limited to defending and lobbying on behalf of ThePirateBay.org.

"Antipiratbyrån has obviously mislead the police in this case” said Tobias Andersson from PiratByrån. ”They seem to have told the incompetent police that the servers in question is filled with copyright protected material, this is a huge misuse of the tax payers money.”

Tobias continues, “Antipiratbyrån” has apparently tricked the police to simultaneously close down the site “PitratByrån.”

It’s interesting to note the motivation behind the raid was to secure the economic interests of the entertainment industry. Yet to this day, no clear connection has been established between downloading a copyrighted work and a dollar lost. With ThePirateBay.org preparing for its return, it appears the work of the MPA, IFPI, Antipiratbyrån and the Swedish National Criminal Police have only made the economic conditions worse. Carl Lundström, president of Rix|Port80 expresses this anomaly with Slyck.com.

“The tragic circumstance, (probably typical of illegal actions by legal authorities), is that the most damage is done to people and companies who have nothing whatsoever to do with the matter at hand. I am thinking of the customers of PRQ. The least damage was done to TPB. As I take it, they have bought new servers, installed back-ups and are already up and running tests in at least one foreign server centre. Perhaps their down time is shorter than any of the other PRQ customers affected.”

Antipiratbyrån, the IFPI and the Swedish National Police did not immediately respond to our request for comment at time of publication.


This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Legal/Courtroom :: BitTorrent Lawsuits
BitTorrent :: Trackers/Indexers
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: International

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