Confessions of an Elite Pirate

Ryan Whitwam

The BitTorrent community used to think that law enforcement had better things to do than hunt them down, but that all changed in mid-2005, when US-based EliteTorrents was raided by the FBI and ICE. The site had over 130,000 users, and was run by a small number of dedicated staff, including one 19 year-old who recently spoke about the ordeal . He gives a peek inside the first big Torrent bust of what has become an ongoing war on piracy for US law enforcement.

StonyVision, as he was known online, got into the file-sharing scene around the age of 15. In early 2004, StonyVision’s massive upload bandwidth got the attention of the still-embryonic EliteTorrents. He joined the staff and began renting servers to push out hundreds of megabits per-second over BitTorrent. StonyVision eventually tired of EliteTorrents, and made his exit in April of 2005, but it was too late to escape the coming FBI dragnet.

May 25th 2005 was the day the FBI and ICE went after EliteTorrents. After shutting down the site, agents arrived at the homes of the EliteTorrent staff, StonyVision included. The 19 year-old lawyered up and started fighting back. The prosecutor had ample evidence, and was seeking a prison sentence as high as 5 years. StonyVision is the first to admit he was lucky to get a sympathetic judge, and was able to avoid jail time. He payed a $3500 fine, served 6-months house arrest, and 3-years of probation in which he was unable to touch a computer.

StonyVision has only recently been able to get back online with his own computer, and reports he was inspired by the anti-SOPA movement last month. His two felony convictions for sharing files has made job applications a little tricky, but he says his self-destructive streak is no more.

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