It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. At least that is what the novel “A Tale Of Two Cities” would tell you. But for torrent site owners and founders, these are indeed the worst of times.
A torrent site founder is expected to endure barbaric damage claims. Or so says his lawyer.
The lawyer in question has previously represented Julian Assange and also was involved in The Pirate Bay legal proceedings.
This lawyer strongly believes that one of his file-sharing cases has the most arbitrary and absurd damage claims he has ever seen during his time as a lawyer.
Per E. Samuelson, as mentioned before has represented Julian Assange in the past, recently said that the case against the person behind the establishment of a torrent site SwePiracy included damage claims that were in excess of $3 million and that too for a single movie.
SwePiracy is a torrent sharing site and was brought into existence back in 2006. It quickly climbed up the popularity ranks and became on the most visited torrent sites as far as Swedish torrent scene was concerned.
And of course, as happens with all torrent sites that grow too big for their own good, it started to garner attention from anti-piracy organizations and groups along with local authorities.
Another popular torrent sharing website The Pirate Bay recently had its own share of trials and came out with the verdict of “guilty” in case that took place in April 2009.
It was around this time that SwePiracy also went underground. In other words, the torrent site went offline.
However, the torrent site quickly resurfaced a few weeks later when the atmosphere had calmed down.
Rights Alliance, which is an anti-piracy group and was previously known by the name of Antipiratbyran, recently stated that during SwePiracy’s downtime, the administration behind the torrent side took advanced measures to enhance their security systems.
Of course, after a period of more than three years those security improvements have proven to be fruitless.
Back in February 2012, the police departments in Sweden and Netherlands came together and coordinated with each other in an attempt to shut down the torrent site.
Their operation was somewhat successful and the torrent site’s primary operator, who was 24 years old at the time, was forced to appear in a court for the first time and actually faced, potentially, a long time in prison.
This happened earlier this year.
However, earlier this week the same guy, who has turned 25 now, was present before the court again and, again, faced charges of assisting other in the illegal dissemination of a large number of movies.
And as has happened in so many cases before this one, the prosecuting party in this criminal case has cleverly concentrated its efforts on a much lesser sample of movies. The movie sample presented in the court contains just 27 movies. This sample is expected to be used as evidence against the 25-year-old operator of the torrent site.
Henrik Ponten, who works for Rights Alliance and is representing Nordisk Films (which is just one of the parties who has brought the case against the torrent site in the court of law), recently said that the torrent site owners and operators earned a lot of money through their torrent site.
He also said that these same people spread a huge amount of pirated content on the web and the 25-year-old man in question was one of the key players behind the whole operation.
Ponten further added that as a result of the degree of involvement, it was important that the people involved with the torrent site in question were sentenced to harsh punishment.
It should also be mentioned that Nordisk is just one of the five media companies that is seeking justice in the court of law against the torrent site SwePiracy. But of all the plaintiffs, Nordisk is clearly being the most combative.
Nordisk Film and the company’s distributors are pressing for damage claims that exceed $3m (20 million kronor). These damage claims include just one movie which, it has been revealed, is a relatively low-budget one.
Per E.Samuelsson, who is defending SwePiracy in this case (who also represents Julian Assange as mentioned before and had participated in The Pirate Bay trial some time back) is adamant that the damage claims being demanded by Nordisk Films are the most absurdly overestimated damage claims he has ever witnessed as a lawyer in his 35 year career.
He said that he thought this was the most unreasonable claim for damages that he had ever been through. He further added that the idea that a film of the type that was brought as evidence in the court, could cause 20-25 million kronor in damages on an illegal file-sharing torrent website was totally ludicrous from every point of view.
In an exchange in court between Ponten and Samuelsson, which was reported by Swedish news outlet SVT, the latter contend that his client should be treated differently because he had started the file-sharing torrent site when he was just a child and he did it for fun.
Samuelsson stated that his client started SwePiracy when he was 14 years old and it was intended to be purely as a prank.
However, Ponten objected and said that the claims being made by Samuelsson were not true. Ponten explained that the 25-year-old operator behind SwePiracy was not fourteen years old when he committed these acts.
He further added that “At some point, he has certainly been fourteen, but when he did this he was criminally responsible and earned lots of money.”
For now, the legal proceedings will continue and the verdict will be announced afterwards.
But this isn’t the only case where torrent site founders and owners have been handed the shorter end of the stick.
Another purported torrent site owner, this time, the torrent site is KickassTorrents which was shut down sometime in July, is reported to have been refused access to US legal representation.
Earlier this week the United States of America sent a notice to authorities in Poland and indicated that it intended to extradite Artem Vaulin.
Artem Vaulin has been labeled as the alleged owner of KickassTorrents since the torrent site was shut down a couple of months back.
Though Vaulin’s legal team has reviewed the request, it has warned that the case might turn into an international due process dispute if their client is further disallowed to meet his US counsel.
As mentioned before, it was in July when Artem Vaulin was arrested by law enforcement agencies in Poland.
The purported founder of and the key player behind the torrent site KickassTorrents has been detained in a local prison ever since the arrest took place back in July.
The Polish law enforcement authorities had received several complaints from the US Government with regards to KickassTorrents (and the people behind it) and decided to act swiftly in an attempt to comply with US government’s demands.
The US government had implicated Artem Vaulin of criminal activities such as copyright infringement and money laundering.
Artem Vaulin, who is a 30-year-old Ukranian, was prosecuted last month along with his two co-conspirators. All three of the men had connection that tied them back to Ukraine.
It is difficult to predict what destiny holds for the rest of the conspirators but it has been confirmed that the US Government officially demanded Artem Vaulin’s extradition a couple of days ago.
In an interview given to TorrentFreak, Ira Rothken who is Artem Vaulin’s US legal representative informed the torrent news site that the United States government had indeed sent an official notice in the form of an request for the extradition of Artem Vaulin to Poland earlier this week.
Moreover, Artem’s legal team has got its hands full with work related to the translation of all the paperwork into English so that they are able to respond to the request.
However, along with the paperwork, the legal team is also focusing its efforts to highlight another critical issue in the case.
Artem Vaulin has been denied a meeting with his US legal defense team members and has been kept in captivity for nearly two months. During these two months, the purported KickassTorrents owner has been treated harshly according to Rothken.
Rothken also told TorrentFreak that there was a definite due process violation on part of the US government.
He said that they still had not been presented with an opportunity, not had been granted access to meet with their client, Artem Vaulin, in prison in Poland. He further added that now they believed that the case had ripened into an international due process problem.
Rothken also spoke to TorrentFreak about how they believed that Artem’s rights were now being impacted with his inability to communicate with his US legal defense team.
With that said, it is also true that Artem Vaulin, while being denied access to his US legal team, was allowed to convene with his lawyer in Poland.
But Rothken believes that Atem’s meeting with the Polish lawyer is simply not enough since the case dealt with a US accusation.
He told TorrentFreak that under US law, the case came into being due to a US indictment and the relevant evidence that was collected by the United States of America.
Rothken also told TorrentFreak that there was no way that there could be a fair trial for Artem Vaulin in the United States or a fair extradition process without his client being able to have access to his US legal defense team.
He further added that Artem must be provided the opportunity to lean his rights, to be able to galvanize the evidence and to do so is a robust and expedient manner.
The extradition process and legal proceedings have just begun but Rothken is adamant that the issue doesn’t only apply to the United States government’s case but is also relevant to the extradition and legal process.
It has been revealed that Vaulin’s legal defense team have looked at and studied every option in recent weeks to try and set up a meeting with their client’s US legal team.
So far, all requests related to the issue have gone unanswered.
Rothken told TorrentFreak that they (Artem’s legal team) had gone through all the hurdles that they could possibly go through with the Polish authorities and, right now, there was simply no proper basis for them to not give access to to their client other than the fact that they’re involved in a procedural gamesmanship.
With that said, it seemly highly likely that Artem’s legal team will now be forced to bring up the issue in the court since there is no other viable option left. It has also been revealed that Artem’s legal team will not make plans to present the issue in court in the very near future.
By bringing the issue in court, the legal team hopes that the court will dismiss the case because of massive due process problems and violations.
During the end of his talk with TorrentFreak, Rothken explained, “ right now we think the only remedy can be that when you go ahead and interfere with a U.S. defendant having access to his U.S. counsel, the entire case should be dismissed in the interest of justice.”
As was the case with SwePiracy, more information related to the due process problems in Artem’s case and the extradition request status is expected to be released some time in the future as the case progresses to the finish line.
Do you think that Artem is being denied his rights in this trial? What about SwePiracy’s underage torrent site operator?
Do let us know your comments and thoughts by using the comments section below.
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