Updated at 11:20 p.m. PDT with comment from target of attack.
Correction at 9:30 a.m. PDT, May 13: This post initially mischaracterized Radiotjanst, which is a state-owned company responsible for collecting licensing fees for Swedish public service television. And it misnamed a team leader at the enforcement authority Kronofogdemyndigheten. His name is Fredrik Eriksson.
High bank fees and a considerable amount of extra bookkeeping work. That's the potential burden facing Peter Danowsky, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers in the landmark Pirate Bay case, due to a scheme to deplete his law firm's bank account.
Danowsky represented the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and several record companies in the trial, and he now seems to be the target of some kind of revenge plan.
The plan surfaced on the Web site internetavgift.se recently and has already been dubbed "DDo$" for Distributed Denial of Dollars. That's a reference to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which deluge a Web server with simultaneous requests from multiple computers.
In this case, Danowsky's law firm's account at the Nordea bank is being targeted. The site internetavgift.se--it's unclear who runs it--is challenging people to send 1 Swedish krona (about 13 cents) to the account. The site instructs participants to cite "purchase of media" as a payment reference, and the plan is making its way around Twitter and blogs.
The scheme may turn out to be expensive for Danowsky's firm--or at least that's what the tricksters hope. According to the bank's rules (PDF in Swedish) companies can receive up to 1,000 payments a year for free. Further incoming payments will be charged 1.70 kronor (about 21 cents) each.
However, according to the law, each transaction, free or not, has to be entered in the law firm's books, which implies a lot of manpower.
In addition, Danowsky theoretically might end up having to refund every single payment. According to internetavgift.se, Swedish law requires the immediate refund of payments that have been made inaccurately, which each person having sent money can later claim. The site suggests that participants go that route, presumably to create even more work for Danowsky's firm.
Danowsky told CNET News he thinks harassment is the likely intention.
"A number of small amounts have been deposited in our account and the names of those who have made the deposits appear on the payment notice. We still haven't taken any action, but a police report...is possible," Danowsky said.
The Web site points out that the money has nothing to do with the $3.8 million in damages the four defendants have been sentenced to pay. It says instead that it's a new fee to be paid by anyone who uses the Internet--"internetavgift" means Internet fee, though no such fee exists.
Probably not coincidentally, the design of the internetavgift.se Web site copies that of Radiotjanst, a state-owned company responsible for collecting licensing fees for Swedish public service television. Radiotjanst was not a party in the Pirate Bay litigation.
Though it is unknown who is behind the so-called DDo$, the domain name internetavgift.se is registered by "svarth3024-00001" suggesting that one of the four defendants sentenced, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, might be responsible.
It's not clear how many people, if any, have followed the instructions and sent money to the firm.
Meanwhile, Swedish authorities are now moving to collect the damages from the four defendants. The sentence has been appealed by all four defendants but until the Swedish High Court of Justice has made its decision, the damages are to be paid.
"We will start to look for assets on Wednesday if no money has been paid by then. Money in a bank account is an asset, and if we find it we will seize it," Fredrik Eriksson, a team leader at the enforcement authority Kronofogdemyndigheten, told Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.
According to the newspaper, defendant Peter Sunde, spokesman for The Pirate Bay, has already put his payment form for damages in the shredder, saying "I don't have this money."
The only defendant who seems to have any considerable assets is Carl Lundström, who has offered technical services and infrastructure to The Pirate Bay. According to Per E. Samuelsson, Lundström's defense lawyer, he might end up having to pay the whole amount as the damages are to be paid in "solidarity."