Large Pirate Topsite Raided in Sweden
March 06, 2009
Swedish police have busted one of the largest topsites in the country. Over 65 terabytes of pirated material was seized, spread across more than 10 servers. Several well known ’scene’ groups used the site. The Swedish anti-piracy bureau assisted in the investigation and says that their war on piracy will continue.
The raids were carried out two weeks ago but were only announced today. The site, which goes by the name ‘Sunnydale’, was a so-called topsite that hosted pirated movies, software and TV-shows spread out over a dozen servers. Topsites are FTP servers where ’scene’ releases are stored and archived.
There are several large topsites hosted in Sweden, some of which host hundreds of terabytes of pirated material. However, according to ’scene’ etiquette, the files on these are not supposed to leak to other (more public) file-sharing networks but eventually they all do, with most of the big releases managing this in mere minutes.
This puts these servers close to the top of the ‘Piracy Pyramid‘ and one of the priority targets of anti-piracy outfits. Two weeks ago, Pirate Bay co-founder Anakata told the court that these scene members “hate The Pirate Bay” because they prefer to keep their releases within a select group.
Henrik Pontén from Antipiratbyrån - the Swedish anti-piracy office - applauded the police and said that this was one of the largest busts ever, and the largest in Sweden. According to one of our own sources, several well known scene groups were using the servers, which means that they may have been compromised.
For now, the investigation focuses on the person who operated the server. “A person suspected of running the server has been identified and it is now up to the police to investigate this. Now, we will continue to look for similar pirate servers,” Pontén told Aftonbladet.
Pontén also claimed that the Sunnydale topsite was the source of all pirated material available on The Pirate Bay, but this was denied by Peter Sunde. “More than 800,000 people have uploaded to The Pirate Bay, so I don’t believe it’s the source of everything. But it is possible that it’s a major source,” he said.
Antipiratbyrån’s involvement in this raid is questionable. In 2005 the police conducted an similar raid at Swedish ISP Bahnhof, only to be presented with evidence that Antipiratbyrån themselves had hired someone to plant copyright material. It turned out that the infiltrator was far from a passive observer. The infiltrator had transferred 68,000 files and went as far as buying hardware for the server to increase its storage capacity.
Antipiratbyrån was later sued for illegal trespassing and harassment because of these entrapment practices which are illegal in Sweden. Now, four years on and they are again involved in a similar raid, but whether they had any help from an insider this time is unknown. The exact role Antipiratbyrån played in this raid remains unclear, but it is likely that they tipped off the police about the location and existence of ‘Sunnydale.’
Pontén said that his organization will continue its “war on piracy.”
Update: Not all Sunnydale’s servers were seized, since they are spread across Europe.