An ISP must hand over the identity of the operator behind a major BitTorrent tracker, a court in Sweden ruled today. OpenBitTorrent, probably the world’s largest public tracker, is currently hosted by Portlane. The ISP must now reveal the identity of its customer to Hollywood movie companies or face a hefty fine.
Yesterday we reported how a Swedish appeals court had upheld an earlier ruling which ordered an ISP to hand over the details of a torrent site operator. If it fails to supply several movie companies with the name of the customer behind the SweTorrents site, ISP TeliaSonera faces a 750,000 kronor ($96,500) fine.
Although TeliaSonera may yet appeal the decision and potentially win, today brings news of a new IPRED case on an altogether bigger scale.
Just as The Pirate Bay has relocated and obfuscated its real location to avoid detection, it has also changed its structure and modus operandi in order to stay alive. A major part of this strategy became apparent last year when it shut down its tracker, instead relying on DHT, PEX and trackers operated by 3rd parties, in particular OpenBitTorrent. Hollywood didn’t take long to react.
“OpenBitTorrent is used for file sharing, and we suspect that it is the Pirate Bay tracker with a new name. It is added by default on all of the torrent tracker files on Pirate Bay,” Hollywood lawyer Monique Wadsted said in an earlier comment.
In November last year Hollywood announced they would sue OpenBitTorrent host Portlane in an attempt to force the closure of the tracker.
In December the Stockholm District Court rejected calls to close down the tracker, a decision that is currently under appeal with the studios claiming that Portlane should take responsibility for the infringements being facilitated by OpenBitTorrent.
While that game of legal-tennis continues, the studios have today won another significant battle, this time in a Stockholm court. While there has been speculation about the identities of those behind OpenBitTorrent, that information has been impossible to verify. All that could be about to change.
“The Court orders Portlane under pain of a fine of SEK 500,000 ($63,633) to provide the Studios with the name and e-mail address information [of those behind OBT],” said movie industry lawyer Monique Wadsted as she provided TorrentFreak with a translation of a decision announced in the Stockholm City Court today.
The ruling covers the customer behind the IP addresses 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 and/or any other IP addresses in Portlane’s entire range (184.108.40.206 – 220.127.116.11) which have been allocated to tracker.openbittorrent.com since August 28, 2009.
The Court also ruled that Portlane should state whether or not the customer is situated inside the EU. The operators of OBT say they first got together in Lima, Peru, although their nationalities and current locations are unknown.
Portlane has 14 days to hand over the information to the studios but may yet still appeal this decision. At the time of publication Portlane has yet to respond with comments.
OpenBitTorrent has never portrayed the ‘jolly roger’ style of The Pirate Bay and even has a DMCA-style notice and takedown procedure to stop the tracking of torrents. Even so, it would be surprising if they hadn’t anticipated the possibility of a court ruling like this and taken the necessary steps to hide their identities from Portlane.
What gives the Hollywood cartels the right to force companies, that in the true sense of the word are innocent of any crime, divulging it's customers details? I can't understand why they don't also try suing the power company supplying the electricity on the basis that they are also aiding and abetting file sharing. That would be just about as ridiculous. This sort of ruling is entering very dangerous areas regarding the protection of normal customer privacy.