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by Mike Zazaian October 27, 2006 - 1:15pm, 2 Comments

Screen posted by the FBI after confiscating the Elitetorrents domain

23-year-old Grant Stanley was sentenced to five months in prison today due to his role in administrating popular BitTorrent tracker Elitetorrents.org.

US District Court Judge James P. Jones, who presided over the case, also handed Stanley a $3,000 fine and five months of house arrest to be followed by three years supervised release. In 2005 a government task force dubbed Operation D-Elite seized torrent tracker site Elitetorrents.org, an outfit for which Stanley was an administrator. Stanley was charged shortly after with separate counts of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and criminal copyright infringement, both of which he plead guilty to. Said US Attorney John Brownlee:

This is the first criminal enforcement action against copyright infringement on a P2P network using BitTorrent technology. We hope this case sends the message that cyberspace will not provide a shield of anonymity for those who choose to break our copyright laws.

Operation D-Elite is a joint task force comprised of agents from the FBI and U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. On May 25, 2005, authorities from Operation D-Elite obtained ten search warrants to shutdown and confiscate the Elitetorrents domain, and obtained sever logs of users who had accessed the Elitetorrents tracker. The FBI then posted the above warning screen under the Elitetorrents.org domain, but was forced to take it down after the site was attacked by hackers multiple times.

While Elitetorrents.org was one of the larger torrent sites at its apex with over 133,000 daily visitors, its size alone was not the primary cause for the legal backlash. The key factor seems to have been a workprint of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith that was uploaded to Elitetorrents.org trackers several hours before the theatrical release of the film. The workprint caught the attention of the ever-vigilant MPAA, who alerted the FBI and pressured them to take action against Elitetorrents and its administrators. Elitetorrents also proved an easy target for the FBI as its operators lived within the United States, despite the fact that its server was hosted in the Netherlands.

Another Elitetorrents administrator, Scott McCausland, is set to be sentenced on December 12, 2006. McCausland has been charged with and plead guilty to the same copyright infringement crimes that Stanley faced. McCausland has invited everyone who sympathizes with him to write a letter to the judge on his behalf.

Press release from the US Attorney’s Office
Via torrentfreak
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