Russian Police Raid BitTorrent Site

MOSCOW, Russia – Russian police raided the office of a BitTorrent site in Moscow last week, making what is believed to be the country's first arrests for torrent-related copyright violations.

TorrentFreak reports that on May 26, the Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs Investigation Committee under the Ministry of Internal Affairs raided Interfilm, arresting site founders. But the tracker, which went dark temporarily, wasn't shut down because it operates out of the Netherlands, hosted by Dutch Internet service provider Leaseweb.

Russian copyright laws have been murky and as a result, BitTorrent sites have thrived in the country, though it's believed, global film companies and rights groups were pushing for a response to thousands of pirated torrents for movies as well as TV shows, music and games.

Police charged Interfilm founders "Ripper" and "Nadezhda" -- said to be married -- and other staff member of the site's Moscow office.

Law enforcement officials claim Interfilm's tracker is a major source of bootleg films shot in theaters on personal cams and then pirated worldwide. Russian anti-piracy group RAPO took part in coordinating the raid.

The site owners face as many as six years in jail and a fine of 500,000 rubles (roughly $16,200) if convicted under Part 3 of Article 146 of Russia's Criminal Code regarding copyright violations.

According to ZeroPaid, the Producers Guild of Russia stated it will press for updating the law in order to force ISPs to curtail illegal file sharing.