Scandinavian telecoms operator Telia has revealed how rightsholders are bombarding the company with demands to identify alleged pirates. During the past year alone, Telia has been ordered to hand over personal details relating to more than 82,000 IP addresses, a large proportion of which will go to known copyright trolls.
It was once a region where people could share files without fear of reprisal, but over the years Scandinavia has become a hotbed of ‘pirate’ prosecutions.
Sweden, in particular, has seen many sites shut down and their operators sentenced, notably those behind The Pirate Bay but also more recent cases such as those against DreamFilm and Swefilmer.
To this backdrop, members of the public have continued to share files, albeit in decreasing numbers. However, at the same time copyright trolls have hit countries like Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, hoping to scare alleged file-sharers into cash settlements.
This week regional ISP Telia revealed that the activity has already reached epidemic proportions.
Under the EU IPR Enforcement Directive (IPRED), Internet service providers are required to hand over the personal details of suspected pirates to copyright holders, if local courts deem that appropriate. Telia says it is now being bombarded with such demands.
“Telia must adhere to court decisions. At the same time we have a commitment to respect the privacy of our customers and therefore to be transparent,” the company says.
“While in previous years Telia has normally received less than ten such [disclosure] requests per market, per year, lately the number of requests has increased significantly.”
The scale is huge. The company reports that in Sweden during the past year alone, it has been ordered to hand over the identities of subscribers behind more than 45,000 IP addresses.
In Finland during the same period, court orders covered almost 37,000 IP addresses. Four court orders in Denmark currently require the surrendering of data on “hundreds” of customers.
Telia says that a Danish law firm known as Njord Law is behind many of the demands. The company is connected to international copyright trolls operating out of the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere.
“A Danish law firm (NJORD Law firm), representing the London-based copyright holder Copyright Management Services Ltd, was recently (2017-01-31) granted a court order forcing Telia Sweden to disclose to the law firm the subscriber identities behind 25,000 IP-addresses,” the company notes.
Copyright Management Services Ltd was incorporated in the UK during October 2014. Its sole director is Patrick Achache, who also operates German-based BitTorrent tracking company MaverickEye. Both are part of the notorious international trolling operation Guardaley.
Copyright Management Services, which is based at the same London address as fellow UK copyright-trolling partner Hatton and Berkeley, filed accounts in June 2016 claiming to be a dormant company. Other than that, it has never filed any financial information.
Copyright Management Services will be legally required to publish more detailed accounts next time around, since the company is now clearly trading, but its role in this operation is far from clear. For its part, Telia hopes the court has done the necessary checking when handing information over to partner firm, Njord Law.
“Telia assumes that the courts perform adequate assessments of the evidence provided by the above law firm, and also that the courts conduct a sufficient assessment of proportionality between copyright and privacy,” the company says.
“Telia does not know what the above law firm intends to do with the large amount of customer data which they are now collecting.”
While that statement from Telia is arguably correct, it doesn’t take a genius to work out where this is going. Every time that these companies can match an IP address to an account holder, they will receive a letter in the mail demanding a cash settlement. Anything that substantially deviates from this outcome would be a very surprising development indeed.
In the meantime, Jon Karlung, the outspoken boss of ISP Bahnhof, has pointed out that if Telia didn’t store customer IP addresses in the first place, it wouldn’t have anything to hand out to copyright trolls.
“Bahnhof does not store this data – and we can’t give out something we do not have. The same logic should apply to Telia,” he said.
Bahnhof says it stores customer data including IP addresses for 24 hours, just long enough to troubleshoot technical issues but nowhere near long enough to be useful to trolls.