After the U.S. Government took action against several sites connected to movie streaming recently, nerves are jangling over the possibility that this is just the beginning of a wider crackdown. Now it appears that a free blogging platform has been taken down by its hosting provider on orders from the U.S. authorities on grounds of “a history of abuse”. More than 73,000 blogs are out of action as a result.
Hot on the heels of recent threats from Vice President Joe Biden and Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel directed at sites offering unauthorized movies and music, last month U.S. authorities targeted several sites they claimed were connected to the streaming of infringing video material.
‘Operation In Our Sites‘ targeted several sites including TVShack.net, Movies-Links.TV, FilesPump.com, Now-Movies.com, PlanetMoviez.com, ThePirateCity.org, ZML.com, NinjaVideo.net and NinjaThis.net. In almost unprecedented action, the domain names of 7 sites were seized and indications are that others – The Pirate Bay and MegaUpload – narrowly avoided the same fate.
Fears remain, however, that this action is only the beginning, and that more sites will be targeted as the months roll on. Indeed, TorrentFreak has already received information that other sites, so far unnamed in the media, are being monitored by the authorities on copyright grounds.
Now, according to the owner of a free WordPress platform which hosts more than 73,000 blogs, his network of sites has been completely shut down on the orders of the authorities.
Blogetery.com has been with host BurstNet for 7 months but on Friday July 9th the site disappeared. The following Monday the owner received an email from BurstNet:
Due to the history of abuse and on going abuse on this ‘bn.***********’ server.
We have opted to terminate this server, effective immediately. This termination applies to: bn.affiliateplex.com
BurstNET Technologies, Inc
Further correspondence received the following response:
Bn.xx*********** was terminated by request of law enforcement officials, due to material hosted on the server.
We are limited as to the details we can provide to you, but note that this was a critical matter and the only available option to us was to immediately deactivate the server.
…and a later clarification:
Please note that this was not a typical case, in which suspension and notification would be the norm. This was a critical matter brought to our attention by law enforcement officials. We had to immediately remove the server.
“We notified him [the Blogetery owner] when we terminated it [the server], and we refunded him his money to his account, because he has other servers with us If he wants the refund to his card, we can easily do that. However, it should be the least of his concerns,” A BurstNet representative later confirmed.
“Simply put: We cannot give him his data nor can we provide any other details. By stating this, most would recognize that something serious is afoot.”
Due to the fact that the authorities aren’t sharing information and BurstNet are sworn to secrecy, it is proving almost impossible to confirm the exact reason why Blogetery has been completely taken down. The owner does, however, admit to handling many copyright-related cease and desists in the past, albeit in a timely manner as the DMCA requires.
Nevertheless, a couple of quick Google searches which are likely to turn up blogs which link to copyright material appear to do just that – here, here and here. That said, on any network this large this type of activity is bound to happen. Many thousands of blogs on the same platform would have been perfectly legal.
“All of the users are without service just like when the Pirate Bay raids happened and all the people who were on the host sites were also taken down,” pointed out an annoyed Blogetery user who contacted TorrentFreak. “I have lost my personal site also and I don’t have any way to contact the owner since his contact info was on the blogetery.com site & that was the only way to contact him.”
Indeed, 73,000 blogs is a significant number to take down in one swoop, regardless of what some users of the site may or may not have been doing. Time will tell if it was indeed a copyright complaint that took down the service but the signs are certainly there. Not so long ago the conclusion that this type of action could be taken on copyright grounds would have been dismissed out of hand, but the current atmosphere seems to be changing.
Update: Apparently there was “terrorist material” hosted on one of the blogs.