[RO] Most popular torrent site in Romania seized by prosecutors

IRIS 2020-8:1/18

Eugen Cojocariu

Radio Romania International, the most popular and used torrent site in Romania, which has been operating for the last 12 years, was seized by the prosecutors of the Prosecutor's Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice. The prosecutor's office announced that this domain name had been seized in accordance with the provisions of Article 249 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (General conditions for taking precautionary measures), the domain name being the subject of a criminal case.

On the site, users could find links to torrents in order to download copyrighted video games, movies and series, music, and software for applications, free of charge. The downloads were not made directly from the site, but with the help of a torrent programme.

The anonymous representatives of the torrent site stated that the protection systems of the site prevented the identification of users. Filelist stated that they cared very much about the security and anonymity of their users, and that no personal data was stored on their server anyway. Moreover, they argued that no accusations had been brought to their attention and said that they would continue to fight for the right of their users to freedom of expression and communication.

Just a few days after the seizure, the website was back online, but on the .io domain, dedicated to the British Indian Ocean Territory.

At the end of 2018, following a court ruling, eight international film production companies (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal City Studios Productions; Universal Cable Productions; Warner Bros. Entertainment; Paramount Pictures Corporation; Disney Enterprises; Columbia Pictures Industries; and Sony Pictures Television) obtained the permanent blocking of access to sites whose content violates the legislation on copyrights by the clients of the main local Internet providers. The unprecedented decision in Romania concerned two online streaming sites, and, as well as the portal, which uses torrent technology. The tribunal explained that the decision is not opposable to the actual operators of the pirate websites, only to the Internet operators, in their capacity as intermediaries.

The sentence was based on Romanian Law No. 8/1996 on Copyright and Related Rights. As the plaintiffs were American companies, the provisions of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works were also applied, however reference was also made to two European Union directives governing copyrights: Directive 2001/29/EC and Directive 2004/48/EC.


This article has been published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory.