If taking down The Pirate Bay in December was last year’s big signature win against copyright infringement, the mark of 2015 is shaping up to be the curbing of smaller torrent and piracy sites.

This week has been particularly tough on torrents, with a number of less publicized but nonetheless meaningful take downs.

The week kicked off, literally, with Kickass Torrents being booted offline after authorities pushed its Somalian domain registrar to remove the site. Dubiously dubbed the “pirate site that would be king” by overenthusiastic reporters, the site is far from a high-profile player in the world of piracy, but its removal represents an increasingly aggressive approach by authorities to run illicit sites into the ground.

As if to underline this point, hot on the heels of that announcement came the news that Swedish police had shut down two further torrent sites and arrested five people in connection with illegal file-sharing. 

Swedish Police Service

Swedish Police Service (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again, the names are not familiar, but the likes of DreamFilm, Tankafetast Play, and the less-than-subtly named PirateHub have all been targeted by Swedish authorities this month. With the severity of the claims increasing and the country’s police appearing to run out of patience with sites that skirt the law, the pressure is on for those who operate illicit sites to decide just how much risk their unlicensed revenues can bear.

One final casualty in an extraordinarily busy week of anti-piracy activity comes in the form of Rapidshare, a big name in the file-sharing space that has long been dogged by claims of copyright infringement.

Rather than any dramatic take down raids, though, Rapidshare simply lost a lengthy war of attrition with critics and has announced that it will close the company doors on March 31st, 2015. As many suspected, when forced to adopt more ethical forms of file-sharing and clamp down on illegal activity, Rapidshare simply had no legitimate business model to fall back on and began to hemorrhage customers.

Although we always want to see technology triumph when applied by small business owners, the news backs up the allegations against many file-sharing sites: when their unlicensed use of content is removed they have no real service to offer their users. They thrive only when taking something from others and failing to compensate creators for that privilege.

Despite this flurry of activity, it’s important to keep a sense of perspective on these creative wins.

Yes, sites are being pursued to the point of take down and, in many cases, their owners being prosecuted. But all too often the sites themselves are able to pop back up, spread the world and start to share unlicensed content within weeks. The disruption is welcome, but the individual battles remain a part of the wider war on content theft.

Even so, these are heartening events for creators and cast a pessimistic future for piracy sites. More positive still is that the news breaks alongside other positive signs in Scandinavia that piracy is losing out to the popularity and convenience of streaming sites.

We’ve long predicted that a combination of legal action and easier access to entertainment will be the key to unlocking piracy’s choke hold on creative rights. The signs at the start of the year are positive that 2015 could be a banner year for turning back the tide of piracy.