LokiTorrent Digs In Heels for Legal Battle

Jeff Berg
DALLAS — The first legal battle against the movie industry’s war on BitTorrent index sites has begun in Texas, led by Columbia Pictures, Disney Enterprises and Twentieth Century Fox, with a federal lawsuit filed against the owners of LokiTorrent.com.

Previously, entertainment industry giants managed to shut down large file-sharing indexes like BitTorrent site Surpnova and Ed2k sites ShareReactor and ShareConnector, typically through the consent of the sites’ owners in exchange for avoiding a costly legal battle.

LokiTorrent is the first file-sharing website to dig in its heels and begin girding itself for a protracted legal confrontation with some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

The site, whose owners expect to be served with copies of a lawsuit any day, is currently asking for donations from loyal members, hoping to draw at least $30,000 in order to fight the federal lawsuit against them. It has currently raised $21,474 since Dec. 28.

“Personally, it’s ludicrous to be suing a tracker for copyright infringement that hosts no copyrighted material,” LokiTorrent site owner Edward Webber told InternetNews.com. “It’s tantamount to suing the highway department for having roads that drug smugglers use. The random pirating of software just doesn’t add up to being able to shut down the site.”

The movie industry claims differently, though.

According to the lawsuit filed Dec. 14 in U.S. District Court, Columbia Pictures, Disney, Universal City Studios, Warner Bros. and other major studios believe that sites like LokiTorrent are effectively aiding and abetting the pirating of major industry movies.

“Absent [the site’s] active and ongoing participation in the daily acts of infringement, this widespread unauthorized copying and distribution of Plaintiff’s valuable property simply could not happen on the scale that it does,” wrote entertainment industry attorneys in the complaint. “The harm to Plaintiffs, who invest millions of dollars and enormous creative energies to produce their creative copyrighted works, is manifest and irreparable.”

The movie companies are asking for $150,000 per infringement and attorneys fees.

Internationally, threats against file-sharing websites by the entertainment industry were met with derision until a recent string of raids by international policing forces caused many to shut down.

In response to an email sent by Dreamworks’ attorneys to well-known Sweden-based file-sharing site PirateBay.org suggesting that the site was in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, site owners called into question the validity of trying to enforce U.S. laws outside of the country.

“As you may or may not be aware, Sweden is not a state in the United States of America,” they wrote. “Sweden is a country in northern Europe. Unless you figured it out by now, U.S. law does not apply here. For your information, no Swedish law is being violated.”