Earlier this year, cyber-security company Group-IB shared an interesting report with TorrentFreak.
The company told us that “large monopolists” were supplying huge amounts of content to thousands of websites via dedicated ‘pirate’ Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).
Group-IB provided specific details on a CDN called ‘Moonwalk’ which reportedly began operating in 2013. According to the company, at the time the system carried 33,490 movies and TV shows, paying out $0.60 per 1000 views.
Group-IB complained that since most of Moonwalk’s servers were outside Russia, the Netherlands in particular, enforcement by local rightsholders was proving difficult. Several months later, it now transpires that Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has stepped up in an effort to deal with the problem.
BREIN chief Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak that on Friday, bailiffs acting on its behalf served ex parte court orders on five hosting providers requiring them to disconnect streaming servers and preserve evidence in relation to Moonwalk.
Three court orders targeted Dutch companies and two “ostensibly foreign companies” whose servers are located in the Netherlands. While the action is being headed up by BREIN, the anti-piracy group is working with both the Motion Picture Association and the global Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.
BREIN describes Moonwalk as a “video load balancer” which provides both the back-end and also huge volumes of pirated content to around 80% of known Russian streaming sites.
“The top 50 of these websites entertain 395 million visits from 89.9 million unique visitors per month causing hundreds of millions of euros/dollars in losses,” BREIN says.
BREIN’s estimates of the amount of content being provided by Moonwalk exceed the figures provided by Group-IB earlier this year. Overall, the Dutch anti-piracy outfit says that the system was recently providing more than 26,000 movies and 10,000 TV shows. That’s around 2,500 additional pieces of video entertainment which suggests growth over recent months.
The ex parte court orders were obtained by BREIN following a joint investigation with ACE, which counts almost three dozen of the world’s leading content and broadcasting companies as members. It’s clear the orders were intended to cause the shutdown of Moonwalk while providing evidence on its operations and presumably, its operators.
“The fight against piracy is global and we are going after operators of these services and their hosting infrastructure as well as other intermediaries supporting these illegal services”, says BREIN chief Tim Kuik.
Jan Van Voorn, Executive Vice President and Chief of Global Content Protection at the Motion Picture Association, stressed that cooperating internationally is crucial to dealing with today’s piracy issues.
“Effectively fighting piracy today requires strong partnerships at global and local level,” he says.
“This action coordinated between BREIN, ACE and the MPA is a significant win and another step towards preserving a healthy and vibrant ecosystem in which the creative community can produce, distribute and protect their content so that audiences can enjoy them.”
What happens next in the investigation isn’t clear but a website associated with Moonwalk currently states that due to this action, the service is not only down, but down for good.