Police in Finland have raided the operations of a popular BitTorrent file download site, seizing equipment and at the houses four people who ran the site. Police also raided the houses of 30 volunteers who helped moderate the site.
According to our early translation of a report of the raids, the 34 people had been arrested, but several readers from Finland have emailed us to say that this is incorrect.
Police say the site had 10,000 users, all Finnish, who downloaded illegally-copied content worth millions of euros. The site featured 6000 torrents, including film, videos, music and games.
If convicted, the site operators face jail of up to two years and are liable for claims for damages from content owners.
According to Finnish newspaper reports (English), the police liaised with Interpol and Elisa, a local ISP, in their investigations.
The Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) today announced (PDF) that it is pursuing civil actions against hundreds of server operators of BitTorrent, eDonkey and DirectConnect P2P file-swapping networks, in its war on internet movie piracy.
In addition, the MPAA is co-operating in criminal investigations with police in Finland, the Netherlands and France, so it is reasonable to infer that reports of raids in more European countries are likely to surface shortly.
BitTorrent speeds file transfers by segmenting content and downloading parts from multiple users rather than a single server. As you receive a file, so other BitTorrent users are able to grab it from you in the same way. The idea is to ensure a more even sharing of bandwidth between participants. BitTorrent is not a classic P2P application as it's about improving download performance rather than sharing files per se. Files are found through links on websites, rather than the application itself. The MPAA and co. are gunning for operators of servers which carry these links. ®
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