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Police raid file-sharing websites

ISPs and end users targeted across Europe

British police have joined their counterparts across Europe to conduct raids against ISPs and private individuals to collect evidence against several websites suspected of offering content to file-sharing networks without permission of the copyright holder.

"The action is still ongoing," said Jean-Marc Meilleur, spokesman for the Belgian Prosecutor's Office. "We are planning to give some information tomorrow morning."

At the request of Belgian authorities, Swedish police conducted a total of seven raids on Tuesday, including ones in Malmo, Eslöv, Umeå and at two places in Eskilstuna and around Stockholm, said Fredrik Ingblad, senior public prosecutor for the Swedish Prosecution Authority. Other raids were conducted in Britain, Norway, Belgium, Germany and Italy, according to a press release from Swedish prosecutors.

The raids were in connection with several websites, or Warez sites, that enable file sharing of material without proper permission, Ingblad said. Four suspects in Sweden were interrogated but later released, he said.

The action comes just shortly after Swedish authorities conducted a series of raids over the last two weeks related to file sharing using the Direct Connect protocol. At least 20 other cases related to file sharing are under investigation. Sweden has stepped up its efforts to stop file sharing, including prosecuting four men related to the Pirate Bay search engine, which enabled users to find content shared using the BitTorrent protocol.

Computer equipment was confiscated at some sites, including at Umeå University and several private residences, Ingblad said. Police also visited the ISPs Phomera and PRQ.

"The sole purpose of the raids is to get information about IP addresses," he said.

Internet Protocol addresses can be used to find out the general area a server is located and what hosting provider provides the connectivity to that machine. ISPs can connect that address with the actual person who holds an account on the ISP network, which is not necessarily the same person when the illegal activity occurred on the computer.

Entertainment companies have often turned to the courts in order to force ISPs to reveal the subscriber information and file lawsuits against them.

Ingblad said Swedish authorities have no plans to start an investigation and the seized equipment will be turned over to Belgium authorities.

The raids were first reported on Tuesday by TorrentFreak, a blog that tracks file-sharing issues.


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