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FinReactor and EliteTorrents
October 27, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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The BitTorrent community has made the world a lot smaller. No matter what part of the world a BitTorrent user resides, millions are connected by a virtually identical protocol. This not only applies to the end user, but the tracker administrators that help make the community possible.

The exact number of the BitTorrent population has been difficult to zero in; however it’s generally agreed by examining the DHT (Distributed Hash Table) that at least 5-6 million individuals are regularly swarming files. A file request in North America may gather pieces from just about anywhere in the world; and likewise a file request from Australia may swarm with dozens of global locations.

In order to facilitate this massive transfer of files, a centralized index or tracker must coordinate the transfer of torrent files. These torrent files then tell the client which locations, based on the IP address, the file segments are located. From there, the client begins the swarm and within hours, or days, the requested file will trickle its way home.

There’ve been plenty of efforts designed to disrupt this flow of information. Most notably, indexing and tracking sites such as SuprNova, LokiTorrent, and ThePirateBay were forced offline. All but ThePirateBay were permanently eradicated.

In the United States, the renowned BitTorrent tracker was raided by the FBI and US Customs in May of 2005. It was the last BitTorrent tracker operating in the United States. Although not as widely traveled as ThePirateBay or Suprnova, news surrounding this event was just as impressive.

On October 17, 2006, EliteTorrents administrator Grant Stanley plead guilty to a “two count felony information charging conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and criminal copyright infringement in violation of the Family Entertainment Copyright Act.”

This is the first conviction in the United States directly related to P2P and file-sharing. As part of his punishment, Mr. Stanley is to spend the next 5 months incarcerated, followed by an additional 5 months of home detention. On top of that, he is to spend an additional 3 years of supervised release, and in all likelihood stay far away from anything to do with BitTorrent. Finally, Mr. Stanley is to pay a $3,000.00 fine.

Yesterday, another substantial BitTorrent verdict was rendered. This time, the decision was against 21 operators and administrators of the Finnish BitTorrent tracker, Finreactor.

“21 operators of the Finreactor peer-to-peer-network were convicted yesterday by the district court of Turku in Finland,” an IFPI press release reads. “Fourteen operators were convicted for copyright offences and seven for aiding for copyright offences. The operators were in charge of the technical operation of the system as well as the user control.”

Although technologically very similar, if not identical, in every aspect to EliteTorrents, the punishment rendered is worlds apart. Unlike Mr. Grant who has a very bleak outlook for the next five months, those convicted in Finland have a considerably more optimistic, albeit more expensive, prospect.

The 21 individuals convicted have been ordered to pay a €566,000, or $720,630. (US) fine - divided by 21 individuals, that’s still $34,000 each. Compared to Mr. Stanley, the Finish crew got off light.

The BitTorrent network may bond very different peoples and cultures; however the laws of the outside world hold no such similarities. Mr. Stanley will pay a significantly less fine than his Finish BitTorrent brethren; however at the very least the convicted Finreactor administrators and operators won’t have to spend any time in prison.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
BitTorrent :: Trackers/Indexers
Legal/Courtroom :: BitTorrent Lawsuits

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