The owner of a website called cinema-world.biz is now facing multiple years in prison for linking to copyrighted material. According to Czech anti-piracy outfit, it’s the first time an administrator has been charged, but the owner says that the numbers used as evidence against him are inflated.
A press release (Czech, original) by the Czech Anti-Piracy Union was released early on this month about the accusations leveled against the owner of Cinima-world.biz. The press release contained the following:
Liberec, January 4, 2011: A sixteen year old boy from Liberec was yesterday accused of committing the crime of copyright infringement, rights related to copyright and database rights in accordance with § 152 of the Penal Code. According to police, the crime committed by that ran the website, which after almost two years to allow the public online via links movies and serials. Given his young age he is at only half the prison sentence than an adult, so if found guilty of unlawful interference with copyright to a large extent up to 2.5 years, and monetary measures up to 500,000 crowns. Even if the crime committed until April 2010, police accused him under the Criminal Code in force until the end of 2009, it is favorable to the offender. Under the new Criminal Code, an offense is a breach of copyright, rights related to copyright and database rights can store up to eight-year prison sentence.
So, in short, the website owner offered links to copyrighted material and was subsequently busted. Since he is a youth, his sentence would be automatically reduced. While the press release provides some of the evidence they have against him, a more recent interview reveals that the owner believes the numbers shown were inflated. The interview is on Pirate Newspaper (Google translated, original) He had some interesting interesting things to say about the incident including the following:
(when asked if there was any copyrighted material located on his servers)
I did not load anything anywhere, everything was copied from similar sites.
(on the profitability of such a site)
Well, it was about two months after starting full operation the second site, it was a text ad. The reason was simple: The site has been increasingly difficult for hosting and I could not afford such a pay hosting alone. I went mainly to finance the operation itself, from the beginning I was not profitable.
(when asked about having 15.5 million visitors to the site)
Absolutely not. Visitors to the site indicated was obviously biased to increase the prestige of the site. There are sites with the same content and a lot more visitors. The daily average was about 7,000 people a few times that I managed to get 15 000 people per day was an exception and not the rule, visitors are also quite varied, last month it was only a few thousand people per day.
Some additional news coverage (Google translated, a href=http://liberec.idnes.cz/student-daval-na-web-odkazy-na-stazeni-filmu-hrozi-mu-vezeni-pl5-/liberec-zpravy.aspx?c=A110621_171113_liberec-zpravy_alh target=_blank>original) suggests that the youth caused 122 million CZK in damages (about $7,050,394.77 USD). Of course, if these numbers are derived from inflated numbers (and if it relies on the deeply flawed methodology of one download = one lost sale) then the numbers presented are highly inflated to begin with. There appears to be a conflict between the media report and the press release on whether the youth faces 2.5 years or 4 years in prison.
What’s most interesting is the interview. It seems that the youth was mainly linking to sites like MegaVideo for the content. It also seems that he was operating a dime-a-dozen operation to begin with. The fact that such a low-key website was targeted might suggest that anti-piracy operations are focusing on the lowest levels of the piracy pyramid for now.
The case has a number of similarities to the TVShack operator. What’s particularly interesting is the fact that the TVShack operator is facing extradition to the US while the owner of cinema-world is being prosecuted within his own country.
I think that if the anti-piracy outfits are targeting websites that are merely linking to copyrighted material, they have a long way to go before they even come close to knocking out a small portion of them. These types of sites are always springing up and knocking out two would barely even be considered a drop in the bucket. Some might suggest that this is a sign of desperation for anti-piracy outfits to get a high profile conviction into the media. Outside of being able to write a few press releases, I really don’t see how taking down a tiny site like cinema-world.biz will really have an effect on what they perceive as piracy operations around the world.