In 2020, a private torrent site called Asgaard was shuttered after significant legal pressure. Now its 47-year-old co-founder has been convicted for his role in massive movie piracy. He was sentenced to three months of probation, 80 hours of community service and a fine. In addition to Asgaard, he was also involved with other pirate sites—ShareUniversity, DanishBits and NordicBits.
This is the fifth conviction in an ongoing investigation into film piracy by the National Unit for Special Crime (NSK) in Denmark, which was established at the start of 2022 to fight financial and organized crime. Two others are still awaiting possible conviction.
How Private Torrent Sites Operate
The Pirate Bay, YTS and RARBG are large public sites that bring in huge international audiences. Smaller illegal torrent sites can gain a foothold by catering to a smaller niche audience. Some may focus on a certain music genre, while others concentrate on a particular film genre, such as anime or horror. While most are in English, private sites in a local language can be very successful, which is true for those in Scandinavian regions.
The Decision to Prosecute for Copyright Infringement
For Danish copyright holders, competition is especially fierce, since only six million individuals are Danish speaking. They see private torrent sites as especially unfair competitors since it is such a small market. Partnering with the Danish anti-piracy organization Rights Alliance, these copyright owners decided to shut down illegal local torrent platforms permanently.
Shutting Down the Torrent Sites and Making Arrests
Rights Alliance, with support from Denmark’s IP Task Force of the Danish Public Prosecutor for SØIK (Special Economic and International Crime), closed down NordicBits and DanishBits. Although at first, Asgaard signed up new members, they soon worried about imminent arrests and announced that they would cease operations, but police still arrested seven associates.
Sentences for the first four men were 3-4 (conditional) months in prison and community service. With this fifth conviction, two more remain. Creators and users of Danish piracy sites should now understand that officials will continue to go after illegal piracy.