Following a key arrest on Monday, authorities say they have charged three individuals said to be the administrators of a very large file-sharing site. The Greek forum, which carried links to material hosted on cyberlocker sites including Megaupload, had more than half a million members. According to the police the suspects generated substantial revenue from donations and gambling ads and cost copyright holders more than $85 million.
In the not-so distant past, every other week there would be news about either BitTorrent sites or their users falling foul of the law. While they still have their share of problems, the rise of so-called cyberlockers and sites that index them means that at least for now the focus has been shifted.
In recent months its been all about the file-hosters themselves, the Megaupload raid in January and the fall out ever since. Today we bring news of action against a site that supplied links to films, music and games hosted on file-hosters all around the world.
On Monday, Greek police swooped on addresses in the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki and arrested a woman said to be 40 years-old and one of the operators of GreekDDL.
The site, which is hosted in the United States and remains partially online but with “major upgrades” underway, was a significant player. Authorities claim that it had in excess of 500,000 members.
To get an idea of the gravity local police are putting on the case, we can compare some recent stats. According to US authorities Megaupload, one of the world’s largest websites at the time, cost rightsholders $500m. GreekDDL (according to Alexa Greece’s 63rd largest site) allegedly cost rightsholders $85.4m (65m euros).
The amounts quoted are, as always, up for debate. It is being claimed that GreekDDL had to shut down for a while in January (traffic stats do indeed show a nosedive) since much of its indexed content had been stored on Megaupload. If that was the case, presumably the ‘losses’ to rightsholders would have been counted twice in two separate cases.
Authorities add that GreekDDL charged its members a subscription for access, although it’s not currently clear if these are simply donations by another name. GreekDDL did have a so-called ‘premium’ VIP section but what went on there is unclear. Nevertheless, police say that in January alone the site received 220,000 euros.
It’s also claimed that the admins of the site generated “substantial amounts” of revenue both from advertising and directing site members to online gambling sites located abroad, earning “commissions of up to 40%” on the latter.
Police say they want to detain two other site admins, one of whom is reportedly being tracked with the help of Swedish authorities and Interpol.