For many years Ukraine has been considered somewhat of a safe haven for Internet pirates. The Pirate Bay, ExtraTorrent, Demonoid and others have all been hosted in the country at various times, but now times are changing.
Earlier this week, news broke that following a complaint from the MPAA, local piracy giant FS.to was raided by police, with more than 60 servers seized and 19 people arrested. That investigation is still ongoing but now an even bigger target has folded in its wake.
Founded in 2009, EX.UA is Ukraine’s largest cyberlocker and one of the largest sites in the country, period. With millions of visitors each day the site is a much-loved resource but very shortly the platform will close its doors for good.
In an announcement to users, EX.UA’s owners said that it was time to throw in the towel after 12 months of trouble for the site and potential legal trouble ahead.
“Over the past year EX.UA has had a chance to feel the direct threats, blackmail (including at the international level), and DDOS attacks. These actions jeopardize the personal information and personal files stored by users on the service,” the site announced.
EX.UA’s operators say they have always tried to operate with respect for the laws of Ukraine, including dealing with takedowns quickly. However, the site does not approve of the system of distribution and rights management in place in the country and says it was one of the site’s goals to raise this issue in Ukrainian society.
Just recently, Ukraine passed a law which will allow copyright holders to block allegedly infringing sites without obtaining a court order. This, EX.UA says, is a sign of “uncivilized lobbying” and will only result in less respect for copyright.
“Only foreign companies will benefit from this. Ukrainian rights holders will not receive more money. The Ukrainian budget will not receive any money at all. For the Ukrainian consumer, there will be less freedom of choice.”
Faced with a change in the law and a desire to respect it, EX.UA’s operators say that they will shut down the site. Users have just under two weeks to save their files.
“We ask all users to delete files from the archives on EX.UA by 30/11/2016. Users of the EX.UA email service should also be advised that this service will soon be moved to a new domain,” the site said.
In closing, the site’s operators say that while EX.UA is shutting down, the landscape in Ukraine could be subjected to more change.
“The darkest night comes just before dawn,” the site said. “Perhaps our market should again return to uncontrolled torrent piracy to make rightsholders realize that without giving viewers the opportunity to legally acquire content, piracy can not be stopped.”
The closure of the site will be welcomed not only by the RIAA and MPAA but also the USTR, who previously placed the file-hosting platform on the notorious markets list. EX.UA was first shut down in 2012 but days later made a miraculous comeback. It seems unlikely there will be a repeat performance this time around.