As we’ve highlighted in several previous articles, release groups from the warez scene use high speed FTP servers known as topsites to store movies, music, software, games and all sorts of other pirated material in digital form. These topsites are scattered across the world and operate in utmost secrecy in fear of legal action by authorities. ‘Sunnydale’ was one such topsite which was based in Sweden. Despite all attempts by the scene to conceal its existence, Swedish authorities have raided the servers and made one arrest.
Sunnydale was a ring of around 10 FTP servers – one of these was busted by the police and the rest were take down by the OP to prevent further compromise. What’s worrying about this development is that it’s not everyday topsites get busted. We frequently hear about P2L (Pay-To-Leech) sites such as TV-Land and BitTorrent trackers get shut down but topsites are generally considered to be safe from prying eyes. Anyway Sunnydale was just one of the many topsites in existence - it getting busted is unlikely to have a lasting impact on the scene, although the site’s affiliated release groups may be affected in the short term.
Some history – Is Sunnydale the first topsite to get raided?
The simple answer is no. Comparing to what the scene went through during Operation Fastlink (2004), Operation Site Down (2005) and Operation Buccaneer (2001), Sunnydale bust seems like nothing. These were major international anti piracy operations launched simultaneously across multiple countries by law enforcement agencies such as the FBI. A large number of scene members were arrested and several topsites were taken down, all at the same time. The following NFO released by Fairlight (FLT) few days after Operation Fast Link hit them sums up the grim picture that surrounded the scene back in those days (note the text in bold):
Legends never die!
You all read the news - Operation Fastlink struck hard to the heart of the scene and hit the FairLight ISO section, but mind that the demo activities on the PC and C64 are still naturally untouched, as there is nothing to complain about from a legal point of view on what they are doing.
So, let me underline it for you again: FairLight's ISO section is lethally wounded, but the group as such is still alive and kicking! FairLight is built stronger to last longer. FairLight is bigger than one and even all of the sections. FairLight is and you can rely on the fact that FairLight will continue to be!
Respects to the Fastlink people for finding the core of the scene, which is not an easy thing to do. They are doing their job and we're not whining! In war, people take bullets - we are aware of this! If you can't stand the sight of body bags, then stand back and let the real men do the work for you.
We attack, adapt, improvise and survive! We are FairLight and will continue to be FairLight. FairLight IS the delight of ETERNAL might!
And it was not only FLT who suffered – members from many other well known groups such as DEViANCE, CLASS, Razor1911, DoD, PWZ were arrested. In addition to the arrests, operation site down busted around 11 topsites including RM1, RM2 (operated by group RiSCiSO), SC, VS, TNA, BB. TEN, TWH, LW, etc. Although these operations brought the scene to a standstill for a few days (there were very few or no scene release for several days following the raids), it wasn’t the end. Some of the groups who were raided back then (FLT and RZR included) are still in operation and several new groups have been formed as well. The scene did not die as expected and instead, it’s very much alive several years later even in 2009.