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Swedish agency continues clampdown on illegal file-sharing

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17:04 CET+01:00
Following a visit by officials from Sweden's Anti-Piracy Agency (APB), management at an IT-company agreed to shut down several servers suspected of use in illegal file-sharing.

The servers were found to have Self Organizing Map (SOM) technology.

“This shows that this type of activity is controlled and led by well-organized and well-financed groups,” said Henrik Pontén, a lawyer with APB.

Several years ago police carried out a similar search at telephone operator Bahnhof. They confiscated several computers full of copyrighted material.

The incident cost the company in both reputation and money.

According to Pontén the spread of super-high speed internet connections is a prerequisite for continued file sharing.

Such connections are often found at IT-companies where many high-level IT managers often turn a blind eye to what is going on.

“We're working on the problem from a different angle. Most often the companies we visit are happy to have information [concerning their servers' use in illegal file-sharing] and they stop the activity themselves,” said Pontén.

Last week's action wasn't a one-time occurrence; similar “home visits” take place several times a year.

The networks known as "release groups" which carry out illegal file sharing often stop the activity after pressure from the APB.

The use of such tactics last week led release groups “Innsyn” and “Highquality” to stop operations.

The groups operate by releasing films on the internet after cracking copy-protection software and putting translation texts in place.

The internet has information on the country's twenty best release groups, which films have been released, and when they were published.

According to Pontén the groups compete with one another to see which can be fastest at releasing new films, often spreading movies on the internet weeks before they are officially released.

To be first is considered an honor among the one thousand or so individuals which comprise the secret network.

One qualifies to be a member upon receiving an invitation, a password, encryption codes, and an alias.

“People within a release group don't even know each other beyond their alias,” said Pontén.

“Before it was about idealism with some purpose, but today file sharing has developed into a business with international ramifications,” he added.

Groups can earn money by selling movies to copying factories in China or by selling advertisements on their sites. They can also sell subscriptions permitting access to the films.

“Without this world…known as ‘the scene' there wouldn't be any movies, music, or computer programs on normal downloading sites like Pirate Bay,” continued Pontén.

“It's this world we want to stop and we need Swedish law to be brought in line with EU regulations in order to succeed. Then police can focus on the top of the industry and we can work to prevent ordinary file sharing,” he said.

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