Police Raid 9-Year-Old Pirate Bay Girl, Confiscate Winnie The Pooh Laptop (TorrentFreak)
Friday November 23rd, 2012
An anti-piracy company has found itself in the middle of a huge controversy. CIAPC, the company that had The Pirate Bay blocked by ISPs in Finland, tracked an alleged file-sharer and demanded a cash settlement. However, the Internet account holder refused to pay which escalated things to an unprecedented level. In response, this week police raided the home of the 9-year-old suspect and confiscated her Winnie the Pooh laptop.
Very soon in the United States, letters will be sent out to Internet account holders informing them that they should stop sharing copyrighted material on BitTorrent.
The message in the US from mainstream rightsholders is designed to be educational, but more aggressive companies carry out the same process but with a sting in the tail – a request for cash-settlement to make potential lawsuits go away.
One such request for cash landed on the doorstep of an Internet account holder in Finland during the spring. Known locally as TTVK, Finnish anti-piracy group CIAPC sent the man a letter informing him that his account had been traced back to an incidence of online file-sharing.
To stop matters progressing further the man was advised to pay a settlement of 600 euros, sign a non-disclosure document, and move on with his life. He chose not to give in to the demands of CIAPC and this week things escalated as promised.
Tuesday morning the doorbell of the family home rang around 8am and the man, who works in the hospitality sector, had quite a shock. Police were at his door with a search warrant authorizing the hunt for evidence connected to illicit file-sharing.
Surprisingly, the man isn’t a previously unknown Kim Dotcom-related “co-conspirator”, nor does he run a warez site or BitTorrent tracker. He is, however, guilty of having a 9-year-old daughter with a taste for pop music.
Having failed in her quest to put enough money in her piggy bank to buy the latest album from local multi-platinum-selling songstress Chisu, in 2011 she turned to the Internet, first via Google and then The Pirate Bay.
The girl’s father said the resulting downloads didn’t work so the following day they went to the store to buy music. Nevertheless, this week’s police visit shows that CIAPC mean business, no matter how young the targets or whether or not they also buy music.
In concluding their search, the police confiscated the girl’s file-sharing weapon of choice – her Winnie The Pooh laptop – and according to her father offered some final words.
“It would have been easier for all concerned if you had paid the compensation,” the police advised
“I got the feeling that there had been people from the MAFIA demanding money at the door,” the girl’s father explained.
“At that point my jaw hit the floor and I wasn’t sure if I was awake or dreaming. So the investigator suggested, between the lines, that I empty my wallet and keep my family in hunger for the next two weeks so that they could get rid of the case? What the f----… is this how it goes? I could evade justice murder by skipping Christmas this year?”
“We have not done anything wrong with my daughter. If adults do not always know how to use a computer and the web, how can you assume that children or the elderly – or a 9-year-old girl – knows what they are doing at any given time online?
“This is the pinnacle of absurdity. I can see artists are in a position, but this requires education and information, not resource-consuming lawsuits,” he added.
Electronic Frontier Finland say that this week’s developments are an indication of just how far copyright enforcements issues have progressed in Finland.
“It is not in anyone’s interest, that in the name of the copyright, little girls are being harassed. This shows poor judgment, and consideration from TTVK and from the police,” vice chairman Ville Oksanen said in a statement.
However, there are signs that support might come from an unexpected corner. In a statement the artist in question – Chisu – said that she doesn’t want to sue anyone and that no artist needs this kind of media attention. Indeed, the criticism of the move on her Facebook page is fierce.
“I hope that the matter will be resolved soon and sorry to my 9-year-old girls,” Chisu wrote, pointing them to this free link to her music on Spotify.
Joonas Mäkinen of Finland's Pirate Party welcomes Chisu’s comments but bemoans artists’ apparent lack of power to get anything done.
“It is sad to see how even the big artists have no idea what CIAPC / TTVK is doing in their name. And the worst part is that even after learning about this, like Chisu did just now and took part in the discussion on Facebook, they can’t stop it since all copyright protection and monitoring is centralized,” Mäkinen told TorrentFreak.
“I hope all musicians realize that the fan hunt that involves confiscating laptops and signing deals that require you to be silent about the payments are severely hurting the image of copyright and creators. Authors of works should actively rise up to say NO to what CIAPC/TTVK is doing if they wish to keep their fans,” he concludes.
CIAPC confirmed that the case against the 9-year-old is only the latest in a line of attempted settlements. Last fall a total of 28 Internet account holders settled with CIAPC, but of course we haven’t heard of the cases due to the confidentiality agreements recipients are required to sign.