MovieX, a very large BitTorrent site which made the headlines last year for its controversial tracker policy, has been shut down by Australian police. The site, thought to have as many as 400,000 users, is being blamed for the ‘transfer’ of 14 million movies and TV shows. So far, two people have been arrested.
Last year, semi-private BitTorrent site MovieX hit the headlines after it was accused of diverting upload bandwidth from users of The Pirate Bay, to its own tracker. Non-members of MovieX were allowed to upload to MovieX members but were not allowed to download from them. This move wasn’t appreciated by a large proportion of the BitTorrent community.
Today, the site has bigger things to worry about. A press release from AFACT, (Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) has proclaimed the death of a huge site, but stopped short of naming it.
TorrentFreak can now exclusively reveal that the site in question was MovieX, with one of the founders being Rama from Brisbane. The domain currently displays this message and is still operational:
We are temporarily offline.
Currently there is NO ETA AVAILABLE
@ADMINISTRATORS: PLEASE CONTACT DEV0 ASAP! ASK AROUND OTHER ADMINS IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET IN TOUCH WITH ME.
According to Australian Federal Police who shut down the site following an AFACT investigation, two Brisbane men from the same family – a 21 year-old and a 27 year-old (thought to be brothers) were arrested yesterday.
A bank account containing around AUS$54,000 (US $35,000) was frozen after the police alleged the money was proceeds from the site. Investigators close to the inquiry claim the site generated around AUS$10,000 (US $6,450) each month, with many users donating $10 a month for VIP access to direct-download material, which was separate from the site’s BitTorrent tracker. Other bank accounts connected to the site are currently under investigation. Computer equipment was also seized with a storage capacity of 2 terabytes.
“BitTorrent is a legitimate and efficient software for sharing files but, like any tool, it can be misused,” noted Neil Gane, AFACT’s Director of Operations.
Andrew Traucki who directed the Aussie movie Black Water has been getting in on the action, “applauding” the closure of the site. “Being a low budget film I didn’t get paid much and hoped to make some money for all my effort from the films’ sales. The fact that Black Water had been pirated and was online within days of being finished is upsetting. How are Australian film producers like me meant to make a living from our films if people pirate the film and watch it for free?”
However, although the movie was available for download via MovieX, things probably aren’t as bad as Traucki is now making out. As recently as August this year, Traucki said that he was delighted with the success of the movie, telling DVDindustry, “We wanted to make a film with international appeal and obviously we’ve succeeded,” going on to note that the movie had enjoyed “a remarkable sales ride”.
Penalties for commercial copyright crimes in Australia can amount to $60,000 and 5 years in jail for each offense.
More on this story as we get it.
Update: MovieX has opened a temporary forum. It is claimed there that the arrests have nothing to do with MovieX, but we have sufficient information showing that the opposite is true.