Coordinated effort in 14 countries carried out at the request of Belgian authorities. The investigation is two years in the making and is targeting individuals involved in “The Scene” file-sharing network as well as the servers copyrighted material was illegally uploaded to.
P2P is taking a big hit today with news that police across Europe are conducting one of the largest crackdown against illegal file-sharing ever to have taken place. This morning police in 14 European countries, including Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Britain, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Italy, raided the homes of a number of individuals suspected of involvement as well as the ISPs that hosted servers where copyrighted material had been illegally uploaded to.
“I have not heard of any major crackdown in Europe in violation of copyright law,” said Paul Pinter, Sweden’s national coordinator for intellectual property crimes. “This is a huge crackdown.”
The raids were conducted at the behest of Belgian authorities who spent two years infiltrating a warez group known as “The Scene” which is composed of many layers. At the top are groups who compete with one another to obtain and upload copyrighted material to the Internet. The next layer of the network are so-called “Top-sites,” data severs where the copyrighted material is uploaded to made available.
A bulk of the raids appear to have been carried out in Sweden, long considered a file-sharing safe haven, and according to Swedish prosecutors, the raids there have mainly targeted “Top-sites.”
The Swedish Pirate Party “highly critical” of the raids being that one targeted the ISP hosting the servers of Wikileaks, the site currently embroiled in an international freedom of the press controversy.
“If it is found that the police have shut down Wikileaks newsroom,” says Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge, “the situation will go to a whole new level. When the Swedish authorities have gone all over the constitutional limits and the weight of American pressure to get rid of an uncomfortable newsroom. The situation is now very, very serious.”
Swedish Prosecutor Frederick Ingblad insists the raids have nothing to do about Wikileaks. He also notes the “special” nature of the investigation being that it involves “no investigation in Sweden, but it is a request for legal assistance from Belgium.”
“The seized material will probably be transferred to Belgium for investigation there,” added Ingblad. “We will then have to see what comes out of that, crimes could also have been committed in Sweden.”
Caught up in the mix seems to be Swedish BitTorrent tracker site The Pirate Bay which is hosted by the same ISP as Wikileaks. As of now The Pirate Bay is down.