When anti-counterfeiting laws have teeth: historic piracy bust arrests 13 in four countries.
In an historic, multi-country operation, thirteen persons were arrested for their part in the extremely popular German movie portal kino.to according to the web site torrentfreak.com. More than 250 police and seventeen computer technicians descended on residences and data centers supporting the kino.to site, which attracts four million visitors a day.
Kino.to does not host or stream movies itself, but acts as a “yellow pages” for other sites that do. In Germany the site is fully as popular as Netflix is in the U.S. In Germany it has a traffic rank of 90 as rated by the widely accepted site Alexis By comparison, the movie site Netflix has an Alexis rating of 94.
The site itself was shut down. Users who reach its url are greeted with this message:
“The domain of the site you are trying to access was closed on suspicion of forming a criminal organization to commit professional copyright infringement.”
“Several operators of KINO.TO were arrested.”
“Internet users who illegally pirated or distributed copies of films may be subjected to a criminal prosecution.”
In a statement on the raids the German Federation Against Copyright Theft (GVU) asserted that Kino.to generated “significant revenue” through a “parasitic business model.” The GVU says that kino.to worked closely with the sites it indexed and made available to users.
In the U.S. the move has great importance as a model for the PROTECT IP Act, which recently cleared the Senate Judiciary committee. The bill is strongly supported by movie industry association Motion Picture Association of America, who say the bill will fight “foreign based rogue websites that are stealing America’s creative works and selling them for profit…”
The arrests also differ from recent moves against digital piracy here, which are almost always targeted at closing down pirate websites, but rarely result in arrests. They demonstrate the teeth in EU anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy laws, teeth which are largely lacking in the U.s.