Officials for the Crown Prosecution Service have dropped all conspiracy to infringe copyright charges against two administrators of the FileSoup BitTorrent tracker.
Charges were initially filed against the two men, Steve Lanning from Somerset and George Cartledge from Glasgow, after police officers raided their homes in the summer of 2009. The police operation was launched based on evidence provided to authorities by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), an industry body set up to crack down on counterfeiting and copyright infringement.
In the summer of 2010, the two men were charged with conspiracy to defraud, through hosting potentially copyright infringing files on their site’s BitTorrent tracker. A tracker acts as a central server, through which ‘swarms’ of filesharing machines can coordinate their uploads and downloads. FileSoup users were able to upload their own .torrent files to the tracker, enabling others to download their data without intervention by the site admins.
After a lengthy court process before a judge at Bristol Crown Court, the prosecutor acting for the CPS in the matter dropped all charges against both men. According to the BBC, CPS lawyers decided that it was "neither necessary nor appropriate to continue to pursue the matter in a criminal court".
The CPS had not responded to our request for comment at the time of publication.
Speaking to filesharing news website TorrentFreak, Cartledge expressed his relief at the news.
“It has been a long and stressful 18 months but I am happy to finally have the weight lifted from me,” he said. “During this time my solicitors, Burrows Bussin and David Cook in particular have kept me sane. Nothing was too much for them.”
Solicitors from the firm of Morgan Rose, which acted for the defence, released a statement criticising the use of public funds to bring prosecutions to protect the interests of rights holders.
“We commend the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service to stop the case proceeding any further,” said Mark Rostron, a lawyer at the firm. “... [the CPS] appears to have accepted the sensible view that the place for such argument is in the civil courts and that rights holders should fund their cases themselves.”
Lanning, posting on the FileSoup forum under his pseudonym of ‘Geeker’, was less circumspect in his criticism.
“Of course, it absolutely goes without saying... from my personal perspective at least... from the moment they threatened to break down my front door, barged into my home and then arrested me 18 months ago, all of the procedures they've just ignored, all the crap they've done and put me through, continuingly and consistently until today... in no way does this end here!”
The law firms acting for Cartledge and Lanning were also involved in the acquittal of Alan Ellis, owner of the music sharing website OiNK, after a court case lasting more than two years.