By Marcus Leach
Authorities took another step in the right direction against the illegal distribution of copyrighted material on file-sharing websites, but it remains to be seen if it is a battle they can actually win.
'Fast Pass TV' was shut down last week following the arrest of one of the site's alleged operators, even though the site itself doesn't actually host any copyrighted material.
Instead the site indexed videos that were then hosted on third-party sites. The man in question has been released on bail as the investigation continues.
UK police have, for several years now, been receiving tip-offs from the Hollywood-funded Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). The tip-offs, centred around file-sharing websites and their operators, have lead to the arrest of several site administrators, including those from TV-Links and popular BitTorrent site FileSoup.
Last week FACT information lead to the latest arrest in the war against the illegal distribution of copyrighted material, with police arresting a 26-year-old man and seizing computer equipment, as well as £83,000 in cash. The raid was carried out in Derry, Northern Ireland.
The current case is similar to most other FACT assisted investigations, with police releasing no specifics on the site in question or the alleged offences, having released the man in question on bail following questioning.
According to the website TorrentFreak the site's Twitter account, which recently got deleted, and email address both lead back to the man in question in Derry, who is widely believed to be the operator behind 'Fast Pass TV'.
“Fast Pass TV does not host, store, or distribute any of the videos listed on the site and only link to user submitted content that is freely available on the Internet,” it stated on the website.
However, despite the chain of events there is, as yet, no concrete evidence to suggest that 'Fast Pass TV' was in fact the site FACT were after. This raises the question whether or not charges will be brought against anybody.
To date UK police have failed to bring convictions against any person arrested for operating file-sharing and streaming sites. However, the case against the site TV-Links.co.uk may be a benchmark for the current case.
Following a lengthy trial the operators of TV-Links.co.uk won their case, which set a precedent, at least in the UK/European Union, that under certain conditions these website owners do not do anything illegal.
Section 17 of the European Commerce Directive states that sites such as TV-Links.co.uk was 'seen as a conduit of information' and thus was afforded a complete defense in criminal proceedings for linking to other websites.
Only time will tell if the operator of 'Fast Pass TV' will face charges, but one thing is for certain, it hasn't deterred those who run such sites, with fastpasstv.ms already up and running.