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Swedish Court Rules ISP Must Reveal OpenBitTorrent Operator's Identity 230

2phar writes "An ISP must hand over the identity of the operator behind OpenBitTorrent, a court in Sweden ruled [Wednesday]. The ISP must now reveal the identity of its customer, operator of probably the world's largest torrent tracker, to Hollywood movie companies or face a hefty fine. '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. The ruling covers the customer behind the IP addresses and and/or any other IP addresses in Portlane's entire range ( – which have been allocated to tracker.openbittorrent.com since August 28, 2009."
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Swedish Court Rules ISP Must Reveal OpenBitTorrent Operator's Identity

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  • by Andorin ( 1624303 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:07AM (#32303674)

    OpenBitTorrent is just a tracker. That's all; not a torrent indexer like TPB. They are not responsible for whatever people choose to use their service to download or distribute. I'd also imagine they can't do anything about what people move through their service.

    They don't condone piracy; in fact, their website asks that users not illegally distribute copyrighted material with the tracker. This, combined with the fact that OBT is non-profit (as far as I know) means that they aren't profiting from infringement and they aren't condoning or aiding infringement.

    Finally, even if it gets shut down, the project is open-source. It won't take long at all for one or two or a dozen clones to pop up.

    I pray the Swedish judge has an ounce of sense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:25AM (#32303766)

    They got hit by MAFIA bribes big time. Cannot really explain the "strange coincidences" surrounding all those cases otherwise. Another country ruined by corporations.

  • by xerent_sweden ( 1010825 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:26AM (#32303774)
    While I wouldn't share the harsh language of the hating parent, the spirit of it I can agree with. The IPRED law (which this ruling is about) essentially bypasses the fundamental rights of citizens to please the lobbyists. The law was frowned upon by civil rights groups and several relevant parts of the Swedish government protested publically. The law was proposed anyway by the Reinfeldt government after explicitly promising that "Vi tycker att upphovsrätten ska värnas, men vi vill inte kriminalisera en hel ungdomsgeneration." or "We think copyright should be protected, but we don't want to make the entire youth generation criminals." and passed by the Riksdag and went into effect on April 1, 2009 (what a joke). This law essentially turned the Hollywood lawyers play police on their own (what could possibly go wrong?). I had the opportunity recently to have a question relayed to Mr. Reinfeldt and the question I posed was essentially "Why did you say one thing and then do the opposite after the election?". The answer was another lie; equivalent to "The original statement was that swedish police should not hunt these criminals. We have other methods for that." which essentially means that it's okay to pass laws that lets the Hollywood lawyers play police. I have a recording of that answer here [pienet.org] (Swedish, MP3) as proof of these deceptions. Of course, the ISP:s didn't want to play along and this went to court over the privacy of their customers, citing fundamental laws of the European Union. But that's vapor to Hollywood. I'm sure we havn't seen the last of this yet. Oh, and by the way, the opposition in Sweden is playing on this. They've stated that they would like to remove the IPRED law. What they fail to mention is that they also would like to implement something even more hideous.
  • by snowgirl ( 978879 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:35AM (#32303798) Journal

    The answer was another lie; equivalent to "The original statement was that swedish police should not hunt these criminals. We have other methods for that." which essentially means that it's okay to pass laws that lets the Hollywood lawyers play police.

    There is a difference between criminal and civil law. Police enforce criminal law, and private citizens enforce civil law.

    Are you claiming that private citizens play police when they enforce defamation law? or other delicts (torts in Common Law traditions)? No.

    Decriminalizing something like copyright law does not automagically make it ok to do no matter what. When OJ was found innocent of murder, he was still found civilly liable for her "wrongful death". Doing harm to others still results in a responsibility... just not necessarily under criminal penal law.

    Individuals are entirely responsible for enforcing their rights, and claims in civil court. So far, nothing you've attributed to the politician is a lie... it may be misleading if you don't understand the intricacies of law...

  • by Stephan Schulz ( 948 ) <schulz@eprover.org> on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:47AM (#32303840) Homepage

    In other contexts, similar actions would definitely be illegal.

    I agree, but your example is somewhat off. OBT is only providing infrastructure in a content-agnostic way. They are more like an ISP, or the phone directory, or Google Maps - or even the city that builds a street through a high-crime area. The question is if such a "don't ask, don't tell" policy is acceptable.

  • by Andorin ( 1624303 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:47AM (#32303844)

    Usually, a content provider (Youtube for example) is obligated to take down infringing content on request, or otherwise to make a counter-argument against the take-down notices. They can't just say "we aren't responsible for the content." Now, you may argue that because it's just a tracker, they aren't trafficking in infringing content. But in reality, there isn't that much separation. They are facilitating the downloading of that content.

    I think the distinction between YouTube and a BitTorrent tracker is fairly substantial. YouTube actually hosts the infringing content on its website. With BT, it's the users that are doing the hosting. The tracker can't take down any content, nor can they remove infringing torrents (as you later said), because it's not a hosting service. They can't tell what's copyrighted and what's not any more than other software can; all they have are file names and hash values.

    In other contexts, similar actions would definitely be illegal. For example, one person walks up to another person and says "Hey, I want to murder Bob Jones, but I don't know where he lives, can you help me?" and the second person says "Yeah, he lives at 123 Fake Street, here's copy of his house key. By the way, here's where you can get a really nice shotgun which would be a really effective murder instrument to use."

    Then the second person is knowingly aiding and abetting a crime. A tracker doesn't do this when it connects peers, because again, it doesn't know what is legal and what isn't.

    That's pretty unconvincing. They all say that. Words are cheap, actions matter more. If they were actively removing infringing torrents, that would be another matter.

    Regardless of how cheap the words are, I would imagine the notice would give them some protection against the "aiding & abetting" accusation. But you're right; actions do matter more. And they're not taking steps to block infringing torrents (because I'm sure we both understand that such steps would take an ungodly amount of the owners' time, and would ultimately be futile anyway), but they're also not encouraging infringement or profiting from it. This makes me see OBT as a "dumb" tracker, sort of like how BitTorrent itself is a "dumb" protocol for file transfer. Its purpose is to move the files, not to care about what the files are.

  • Re:Come on (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Securityemo ( 1407943 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:52AM (#32303870) Journal
    You don't realize how, well "Lawful" (for a lack of a better word) Swedish society is. This is both a blessing and a curse.
  • by daveime ( 1253762 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @05:09AM (#32303946)

    Mod parent up.

    You might as well accuse any node on the series of hops between your computer and the "dirty file-sharing bastard" who is actually seeding the file, of copyright infringement.

    Request = I am looking for X. Response = X is located here, here and here.

    It's a protocol router, nothing more or less than say the DNS system, or an indexing service like Google.

    This nonsense that "they know they are infringing because they can read the filenames" is just that ... nonsense.

    The next version of popular torrent software should think about hashing the file names also ... then the only request / response passing through the tracker will be "Hash 0x345fed017 is located at IP".

    Try proving that a one-way hash of a filename is "infringing", and that the tracker can do anything about "taking it down".

  • by lacoronus ( 1418813 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @06:15AM (#32304134)

    I think the reason for the subpoena is that the Hollywood gang thinks that the people behind Open Bittorrent and The Pirate Bay are the same.

    Right after the PB trial there was a lot of discussion regarding whether TPB would have been illegal if it hadn't done so much. For example, TPB was convicted because they were actually hosting torrent files, which caused them to fall under a different law than, for example, and ISP. But what if the illegal parts were dropped? Why, you'd be untouchable. The problem is then, is there a way to distribute the functionality of TPB so that the constituent websites are all legal, but taken together, they provide exactly the same service as TPB?

    A little while later, Open Bittorrent opened up.

    So when the next lawsuit comes up, it will not be Hollywood vs. one site that in itself isn't illegal, but Hollywood vs. a bunch of sites that taken together are claimed to be illegal. However, in order for this to work, there must be proof that the websites are really connected. That's what they're going for.

    My prediction: OpenBittorrent will be convicted. TPB was found guilty because they received and hosted torrent files, which in turn triggered liability. You don't have to actually host illegal copies, as long as you receive, store information for a longer period of time than (roughly) the actual transmission of the information, and then send it to one or more consumers, you do not have "common carrier" immunity under Swedish law, and must not only not host illegal content - you must not host anything connected with any illegal acts. Such as a torrent file that is used for illegal purposes.

    Now OpenBittorrent doesn't host torrent files. But it does host something else - the list of peers. It is a tracker, after all.

    So I think any OBT trial will be pretty much like TPB trial. The TPB verdict showed that it is very easy (almost too easy) to become an accessory to a crime in Sweden.

  • Re:Come on (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @06:15AM (#32304136)

    This is not sense, logic, reason or "what's good".

    This is Spar... I mean, this is the law!

  • Re:Come on (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 22, 2010 @07:33AM (#32304420)

    I think its more about half the budget being for one actor then anything else.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Saturday May 22, 2010 @08:28AM (#32304644) Journal

    about blowing up the White House

    So far, we've had hosting a bittorrent tracker compared to murder and blowing up the White House.

    Can we have a little perspective please? We're talking about sharing pop music and shitty hollywood movies, for god's sake. It's the equivalent of a kid sneaking into the circus, not capital crimes.

    The fact that countries are being bullied into giving up their sovereignty by a bunch of greasy lawyers for the entertainment industry is a travesty.

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @09:16AM (#32304902) Homepage

    Do torrent sites publish the hash in the HTML page? I've never saw it. If they don't, you'd have to download every torrent file, index them and then search the hashes, which is way more effort than "not looking away".

  • shredding? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zmollusc ( 763634 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @09:34AM (#32305028)

    Can't they just do what governments and big companies do? Say 'golly gosh, all that got accidentally shredded, we have launched an internal inquiry whose results will remain secret' ?

  • Re:will appeal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JackSpratts ( 660957 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @10:55AM (#32305560) Homepage

    warning: nuances ahead

    they may be convinced that casual personal copyright infringing, even when nearly everyone's doing it, doesn't present a threat to society so grave the "remedy" requires eroding personal civil liberties.

    end of nuances

    - js.

  • Re:Come on (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @07:49PM (#32309834) Journal
    And what was the defence doing all this time?

    Suggesting that Hollywood were bribing judges is a serious allegation. I submit that TPB simply had incompetent representation.

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