Danish Torrent Tracker Crackdown Leads to Another ‘Mild’ Sentence * TorrentFreak

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As part of a widespread campaign against torrent trackers in Denmark, the National Special Crimes Unit investigated and prosecuted more than two dozen suspects. The most recent defendant, a 48-year-old man from east Jutland, pleaded guilty to his involvement in the Asgaard tracker and was given a suspended prison sentence. According to local anti-piracy group Rights Alliance, the punishment should have been much harsher.

Private torrent trackers with Danish roots have long been the go-to place for file sharers in Denmark. Not anymore.

Starting in the fall 2020Danish law enforcement shot down several thriving torrent communities.

With the help of the local anti-piracy group Rights AllianceDanishBits, NordicBits, ShareUniversity, Asgaard and others were systematically dismantled.

Sting operation

When the first trackers fell, preparations for the operation had already been underway for years. It all started when a former lawyer working for the Rights Alliance infiltrated the private tracker DanishBits in 2016. As a silent user, the infiltrator mapped the site's internal relationships and identified key people in the broader Danish tracker ecosystem.

The details of this covert operation read like a movie script but for many involved, it became a real-life drama. Not only were several trackers subsequently shut down, but several community members were also prosecuted. More than two dozen people, from prolific users to ringleaders, had their day in court.

After the tracker's domino fell, more than two dozen suspects were investigated and brought to court. This resulted in a wide range of sentences, with most tracker administrators receiving suspended prison sentences of a few months. Some were ordered to perform community service.

Conditional prison sentence

This week, the National Special Crimes Unit (NSK) Announced the final phrase related to the 'Asgaard' tracker. Horsens Court sentenced a 48-year-old man from East Jutland, who pleaded guilty to copyright infringement, to a 60-day suspended prison sentence.

The defendant was the last of the seven administrators of the Asgaard tracker to appear in court. The man helped get the torrent site off the ground in 2019 and before that he served as an administrator for NordicBits; Both crimes were counted in the sentence.

Asgaard became immensely popular in Denmark in late 2020, after the closure of DanishBits and NordicBits. The site had approximately 1.5 million monthly visits at its peak, making it the largest pirate site in the country for a time.

A more severe punishment is sought

The guilty verdict is good news for Rights Alliance, but a bittersweet victory. While the crackdown effectively decimated the torrent tracker problem, the sentences handed down have been relatively "light." The tracker operator and many other “ringleaders” do not have to serve prison sentences, as the sentences are conditional.

Rights Alliance director Maria Fredenslund points out that copyright and intellectual property crimes are historically not considered serious crimes in Denmark, adding that a harsher sentence would be more effective.

“Sentences for intellectual property crimes are generally too low in Denmark to have a sufficient deterrent effect. We believe that in many cases the sentences should have been much harsher,” Fredenslund informs TF.

“The reality is that intellectual property crimes have not historically been considered a serious crime in Denmark, so we are starting from a low point and building from there to obtain appropriate sentences that deter others from committing similar crimes.”

However, NSK prosecutor Hans Bohn Sørensen is happy with the verdict, which marks the end of the proceedings against Asgaard.

"I am pleased with the verdict, which now puts an end to the proceedings against the founders and administrators behind one of the largest illegal file-sharing services we have had in Denmark," says Sørensen.

Threat neutralized?

The recent sentence and those handed down previously are not the harshest in the world and are unlikely to scare away hardened criminals. However, deterrence is is not determined solely by the harshness of a punishment.

Another factor that plays a key role is the probability of being caught. With a multi-year crackdown on various trackers, Danish police and NSK have shown that this risk is perhaps greater than ever.

Commenting on this aspect, Fredenslund praises the invaluable efforts of the authorities, which helped ensure that Danish file-sharing services no longer pose a significant threat to Danish rights holders.

Of course, new trackers will always emerge, but the Rights Alliance sees them as marginal problems in the larger scheme.

“The current trackers only host very hardcore illegal users in Denmark. They do not represent a threat comparable to Asgaard, ShareUniversity, DanishBits, etc.,” says Fredenslund.

With the final conviction of Asgaard's last administrator, all cases related to the tracker are closed. However, cases against other trackers are still pending. Meanwhile, Rights Alliance maintains its focus on emerging threats, including those related to Artificial Intelligence.

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