On February 1st, Sweden’s Supreme Court announced that it would not be granting leave to appeal in the long-running Pirate Bay case. This means that the prison sentences and millions of dollars in fines previously handed out to the four defendants will stand.
Quickly, prominent copyright enforcers for the entertainment industries – Hollywood lawyer Monique Wadsted and Antipiratbyrån lawyer Henrik Pontén – announced that the decision would signal a new crackdown on file-sharing sites in Sweden.
Although there was no immediate news of site closures, now there is a significant development. Tankafetast, Sweden’s second largest torrent site behind The Pirate Bay, has announced that it has ceased its operations with immediate effect.
“After many ifs and buts, we have decided to close down TankaFetast,” the site’s operators said in a statement.
“Maybe we can one day see an end to the fascist tendencies that comfortable businessmen in the film industry and corrupt politicians have turned to something common in recent years.”
While Tankafetast may not be hugely popular overseas, its importance in Sweden was reflected by its inclusion in Google’s 2010 Zeitgeist report. At the time the site claimed 39 million page views per month.
“As long as we allow the reality of facing fossils bribe away our rights, they will do it. We will never agree that copying is theft, and will always consider the distribution of culture as something positive,” the site’s operators conclude.
At the start of the month the entertainment industry lawyers said that more than 150 file-sharing sites with Swedish connections would be pressured to close. According to Henrik Pontén of Antipiratbyrån, Tankafetast’s closure is a result of their action.
“We can confirm that we have acted against Tankafetast and many other similar sites,” he told TorrentFreak this morning. The bitterness in the site’s shutdown statement certainly appears to confirm that.
However, the Swedish Pirate Party are claiming that Tankafetast’s loss is their gain. The site encouraged outgoing users to join up to Piratpartiet to assist with the fight against over zealous copyright enforcement, a push which resulted in 250 new members for the Party overnight.
“Tankafetast gave the party the best parting gift you can imagine,” says Party leader Anna Troberg. “By helping the party to get more activists we have strengthened the Party’s capacity to work for a reform of copyright which is in line with the times and can not be used to tighten the thumbscrews on ordinary culture lovers.”
Significant copyright enforcement actions in Sweden have resulted in membership boosts for the Pirate Party not only locally but worldwide. Following the first Pirate Bay trial in 2009, the Party added record-breaking numbers of new members but administrative issues meant they couldn’t maintain all of them longer term.
“We learned a lot from the huge influx of members after the first Pirate Bay trial. Then we weren’t able to take care of all new members,” says Troberg. “We will this time.”
To the south-west of Sweden in the Netherlands, local anti-piracy outfit BREIN is reporting that during 2011 they managed to shut down 383 BitTorrent sites, 83 streaming sites, 71 cyberlocker link sites and 52 Usenet indexers.
The news would of course be even more dramatic if we could back up these claims with some site names and other details, but BREIN are traditionally tight-lipped on providing extra information to accompany their annual reports.