Torrent Site Shuts Down But Will that Affect Box Office Numbers?

The more anti-piracy measures Hollywood takes, the more pirates pirate.

Copyright holders have seen a lot of success in the year 2016 and 2017 promises to be even better.

A private torrent tracker which had been hounded by lawyers hired by anti-piracy groups, finally gave up and came down because of the intense pressure from copyright holders.

The worst part about any legal trouble is that it costs a lot of money to both sides. In the end, the ruling from the court doesn’t help either of the parties as both are forced to spend exorbitant amounts on hiring the best legal team possible.

Well, at least, one of the torrent sites among thousands wouldn’t have to worry about any legal troubles anymore. Because it has been shut down.

The ten-year-old torrent site we’re talking about here is known by the name of The Internationals. The Internationals’ owner was arrested four years ago. However, the site was able to stay online.

But now, after a barrage of lawsuits, the site has finally shut down and has been forced to remove all the torrents that are hosted on its servers.

The entity which caused the shutdown of the torrent site, The Internationals, is Rights Alliance. Rights Alliance is one of the biggest and most efficient anti-piracy group in Sweden. Previously, Right Alliance was known by the name of Anti Piratbyran.

Being one of the biggest anti-piracy groups means that Rights Alliance can take on multiple foes at any given time. Recent reports published in the media have revealed that Right Alliance has been in the midst of copyright battles with torrent and other piracy websites for the past many years.

In fact, it was one of its battles against people who served other people by allowing free downloads of copyrighted content on the internet, that lead to the jailing of the people who founded the world’s most visited torrent site Thepiratebay.

With that said, there is hardly a soul out there who doesn’t know that The Pirate Bay is still going strong and still allowing online users to download copyrighted content from the internet without any payment or prior permission from the creators of that copyrighted content.

In fact, if you go to the homepage of The Pirate Bay (we do not endorse downloading anything from therefore the obvious reasons), you can easily see that the site’s administrators have made no efforts whatsoever to hide the fact that they offer copyrighted content for download without any charge.

If one searches for the terms “The Pirate Bay” on Google, it can be clearly seen that this torrent site isn’t worried about law enforcement agencies coming to shut it down. The site says, rather boasts, in its introductory paragraph that “The Pirate Bay is the galaxy’s most resilient BitTorrent site.”

Of course, no one can really verify that fact since we can’t even land on Mars yet.

That doesn’t mean that The Pirate Bay isn’t on the radar of anti-piracy groups like Rights Alliance anymore.

This time the torrent site has died for good.

But maybe that is irrelevant as far as Rights Alliance is concerned because it seems to be keeping itself pretty busy taking down other torrent sites.

The Internationals was formed by a group of enthusiasts back in 2005 and it was considered one of the most useful, for pirates that is, and tightly knit private tracker. Many torrent users reported having found the quality and availability of content on The Internationals as exceptional.

And there is no need to mention what happens to a website, especially a website that is related to activities such as torrenting and file sharing.

Just for clarity’s sake, sites like The Internationals get noticed pretty quickly. Usually by anti-piracy groups. And once these torrent sites achieve a prominent position on the radars of copyright holders, they start their investigations.

What Does The Shutting Down Of The Internationals Have To Do With The Pirate Bay?

Well, The Pirate Bay and the people who operated the main torrent site were charged as guilty by the relevant courts in 2009.

After the convictions, Anti Piratbyran specifically sent out more notification in the form of warning to other piracy websites as well. Most of these torrent and other piracy websites were hosted in Sweden.

The notification, or rather the warning, was clear and simple. Anti Piratbyran wanted all other torrent and piracy websites to either shut down or face the consequences of illegally uploading and distributing copyrighted content on the internet with prior permission from the creators of the content.

The interesting part of the notification sent by Anti Piratbyran was that The Internationals actually heeded the advice put out by the anti-piracy group and shut down its operations almost immediately after the warning was sent out in batches.

But as with all other pirate sites, it tried to come back and was soon going full steam ahead as far as its operations were concerned.

In 2011, however, law enforcement agencies, mainly the police, conducted the raid in two specified locations in Sweden. As a result of the operation carried out by the police, the torrent site’s tracker and data servers were seized.

Moreover, the police were also able to arrest two men who were involved with the operations and administration of the torrent site. One of the men was Joel Larsson, the chief operator of the site.

Although the arrest took place sometime in 2011, it was only in 2015 that Joel Larsson was found guilty of crimes related to copyright infringement. He was also sentenced to a lengthy community service of 90 hours.

Anti-piracy groups block torrent sites to reduce piracy. However, stats say otherwise.

As mentioned earlier in the article as well, torrent sites along with other piracy sites are not the kind of sites that lay down and just die. During the conviction and even for a short period of time after it, The Internationals was already reborn and started its operations using a new domain name.

Not to be outdone, Rights Alliance announced to the world of piracy that it doesn’t just delete its case closed files. The anti-piracy group got right into the thick of the action and shut down the site a few days ago.

After the shutdown, The Internationals operator “Hachiko” published a report which was based on the communication letter the torrent site had received from the anti-piracy group (Rights Alliance).

The gist of the letter was a simple instruction to the operators of the site: Shut down now.

Hachiko revealed the contents of the correspondence to the users of the torrent site and said “Hi all. As of now, all torrents on The Internationals has been removed. Download, upload, offers and requests have been deactivated,”

“Why? We’ve been informed on Dec. 29, -16, by a representative, Anders Nilsson, from something called ‘Rättighetsalliansen’, that it’s illegal according to local laws in their country, Sweden.”

Former policeman and a Rights Alliance investigator, Anders Nilsson has been involved with the aforementioned anti-piracy group for several years now.

Hachiko also revealed that due to the fact that his torrent site was furnished with the warning, they had no other option than to disable all torrents and deactivate all possibilities to engage in what the law enforcement agencies called illegal file-sharing.

As pointed out earlier in the article as well, almost all torrents have been deleted from the now-defunct torrent site The Internationals.

However, that hasn’t shut down the torrent site in its entirety. According to various published reports in the media, the site will be open for the members of the community so that they can hang out together and communicate.

Whether this situation will remain the same in the future as well is something that has not been confirmed by either party yet.

If the history of torrent and other piracy websites is anything to go by then it is strong possibility that the site will lose the bulk of its users because more torrent sites along with other piracy websites primarily get tons of traffic because of the copyrighted content they host.

Pirates continue to download copyrighted content even with all the take-downs and warnings.

Without that copyrighted content, it seems an insurmountable task for the operators of the torrent site to maintain the kind of numbers, as far as traffic is concerned, as before.

The Internationals is just a handful of torrent sites that will long be remembered for the way it battled anti-piracy groups and copyright holders.

It will also be remembered for the way it dragged its web host into the court and had it get prosecuted as well for the part it played in distributing copyrighted content on the internet without approval from concerned authorities.

Most of the readers who have followed this news in the previous years as well would do well to recall that The International was raided in 2011 and while the torrent site did lose a lot because of the raid, ParkWeb, the owner of the web hosting company that provided online services to The Internationals was also taken into custody by the police.

It should also be pointed out there that Patrik Lagerman had been warned and instructed by the Right Alliance to cease all operations and administrative tasks related to his torrent website The International.

But all those previous warnings and orders were without a court order and as any law abiding citizen would do when asked to give up information by a law enforcement agency without a proper court order, he had consistently refused to comply.

He did get dragged into court for all his troubles but he showed fortitude during the trials and eventually was cleared of the levied charges.

Does Taking Down Torrent Sites Affect Box Office Revenue?

Law enforcement agencies along with anti-piracy groups backed by Hollywood go after piracy websites for one reason and one reason only: to stop pirates and piracy websites from stealing their revenue in the form of movies and other copyrighted content.

But now researchers have come up with a new academic study that suggests strict policies to act against file sharing websites along with other kinds of piracy websites does not boost box office revenues. The strict policies researchers are talking about include piracy warnings which pop up, usually, in the beginning of a movie in a cinema or a DVD or even a Blu-ray.

Other reports in the media say that the research was actually verifiable by observation in the sense that researchers looked at the average effects of new anti-piracy measures in several countries which included the United States of America.

The research showed that anti-piracy measures did not prove to be as effective as big film studios had anticipated.

It is no secret that the entertainment industry groups have labored (rather lobbied) hard to bring in, what they along with law enforcement agencies call graduated response systems. Now, know that graduated response systems is a fancy term for the situation where suspected pirates are first warned about the consequences of piracy and then fined some small fees for their illegal activities before any real legal action is taken.

The research paper read that evaluation across all control counties, all treatment countries, and all countries together, no evidence of an increase in the box office was observed after the test data.

It also said that in fact, as observed by Peukert et al. (2015), there was actually a slight evidence of a decline in box office revenue after the test date.

In other words, one of the authors of the paper named Mckenzie, is of the view that pirates of the modern web are a sophisticated lot of people. That is, pirates can move from one online service to another if the need arises and that makes it very difficult for law enforcement agencies to catch them and then put a stop to their activities.

In a simple example, if a torrent site gets shut down, its users usually find other torrent sites to access the copyrighted content that they want. That was exactly the case when many torrent users moved to other popular torrent sites like ExtraTorrents and The Pirate Bay after KickassTorrents was shut down in the summer of 2016.

With that said, it also has to be mentioned that the research paper does have its own set of limitation.

Firstly, the scope of the study carried out for the research is restricted to the effect of piracy on the movie industry. Even within that, all the focus has been put into measuring the impact on box office revenues.

Of course, more research needs to be carried out if more concrete conclusions are to be drawn about the possible effects of piracy in different countries and industries.

The one thing this research paper considerably cleared up is the fact that anti-piracy measures such as graduated response systems have very little effect on pirates and piracy websites.

Zohair A. Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
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