Last week a court ruled that Israel’s largest ISPs should block access to HttpShare, a BitTorrent and http hyperlink site. Thanks to what the owners call “IFPI advertising”, the site is now so busy they’ve had to upgrade their hardware. TorrentFreak caught up with them as they cracked open the champagne.
Haifa District Court Judge, Gideo Ginat: “I order the respondents, that is Israeli internet service providers, to systematically block access to the illicit site, HttpShare, so that surfers cannot enter this site and utilize it in in order to impede upon the claimants’ copyrights.”
In response, the site owners state: “According to Dutch law, sites providing external links allowing surfers to download movie, music, games and program are perfectly legal. Sites cannot store these illicit files on their internet servers, and that is precisely what we do not do. The site merely provides links to file sharing sites that host BitTorrent files or http downloads.”
This fact doesn’t seem to have influenced the judge when he ordered the blocking of the site.
Unfortunately for the IFPI, this block has achieved nothing other than boosting the popularity of the site – dozens of news outlets wrote about the block and the result so far is that visitors are now up to 70,000 a day. HTTPShare even had to get new hardware to cope with the demand – “Big Thanks to IFPI Advertising” says a note on the site.
TorrentFreak caught up with admin ‘Andre’ to hear more:
TF: Please tell us a little about the history leading directly to the creation of HTTPShare.
HTTP: Before HTTPSHARE there was a warez site back in 2003 called ELICOMP.CO.IL. The site’s owner was Eli Amar. Eli had to join the army and could not continue running the site, however he met me and I agreed to fund the site and keep it running. The site indexed HTTP links on all sorts of servers, then we grew in size and developed a crawler which job was to track fast speed .torrent files. The crawler was added to the the site which made it even more popular. We created the VIP zone in which users get fast and direct links (min. 500KB/s) to cover the servers and the programmers cost.
TF: When did your legal problems with the IFPI begin?
HTTP: About 9 months ago, Eli got a package with IFPI prosecution documents, including a court order to shut down the site. Eli didn’t know what to do so he mailed the files to me and I canceled the domain and opened a new one – HTTPSHARE.COM. Then 150K of emails were sent to previous members telling them about the new site and it wasn’t long before search engines like Google and Yahoo picked us up.
TF: Obviously changing the domain name and owner didn’t persuade the IFPI to leave you alone, so what happened next?
HTTP: The IFPI kept sending sending emails demanding us to shutdown the site. I never did so because the site is legal, we do not upload illegal stuff to our server [do not host any infringing media], and what we are doing is not against the law of the country in which we are hosted [Netherlands].
TF: How did the ISP block come about?
HTTP: After the IFPI understood that they are dealing with a new owner they asked the Israeli court to order the ISPs to block the “www.httpshare.com” domain. We all know that the legal system in Israel is corrupted and driven by money and power of the share holders. How can you accept such a ruling from a judge whose son was suspended from his job as a lawyer because of counterfeiting documents and money blackmail?
TF: Why do you think you became an IFPI target?
HTTP: We were a target of the IFPI and similar organizations even at the time of Elicomp. I think we were targeted because of the huge amount of bandwidth my site used while providing Direct external links. At that time the ISPs blocked us, but were then forced to unblock as a result of complaints from their subscribers.
TF: What actions have you taken to try to counter the block?
HTTP: For now we changed the IP of the server and released a program (browser) for the members that uses a server with 10 IP ranges so that it will be a lot more difficult to block it. Since we introduced the browser, the number of visitors has doubled. Also, thanks to the huge amount of publicity we got from the IFPI and sites like yours, we have added an English language forum to the site and translated the names of the forums to make the site easy to use.
TF: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
Suing individual users doesn’t work, bullying site owners doesn’t appear to be effective and ISP bans simply create more traffic and popularity for the target site. All this on top of reduced funding for chasing copyright infringers. So where next for the IFPI?