Peer-to-peer technologies such as Napster, Gnutella, FastTrack, and BitTorrent, revolutionized file-sharing but without the support of dozens of thriving forum-based communities, where people shared P2P tutorials, tips, news, and each other’s company, things may have gone quite differently.
Still, having served their purpose, many forums found themselves deserted too, their members lured away by the temptations of social media. Others were just getting started.
19+ Years Ago, FileWarez Was Born
As far as we know, Brazil-based file-sharing forum FileWarez.com first appeared in August 2004, its domain name having been registered the previous month. The default language was naturally Portuguese and according to this image from the Wayback Machine, potential members needed a basic grip of the language to sign up. After all, Google Translate wouldn’t exist for another two years.
At some point in the years that followed, FileWarez shifted to a Netherlands .NL domain supported by filewarez.no-ip.biz, which may suggest a site regularly on the move. In 2008, unspecified problems saw the .NL domain dumped in favor of a new one.
Riding out problems, various issues, and bouts of downtime, FileWarez.tv stayed in place for the next 15.5 years. Then two weeks ago, after establishing itself as Brazil’s oldest file-sharing forum, FileWarez suddenly vanished.
Left in the Dark
When the main forum went down, other discussion platforms linked to FileWarez went down too. With its Discord and Telegram channels consigned to history, coupled with earlier news of a staff member passing away, not even the site’s moderators were able to provide solid information.
On Facebook, however, a post indicated that the site had been taken down by its operator. Sooner or later, the post predicted, the site would be targeted by law enforcement so in anticipation, all site data had already been deleted, to protect staff and users.
“Thank you very much for all these years of sharing, a big hug and may this message find you well.”
IFPI Announces Demise of FileWarez
In a press release Wednesday, global music industry group IFPI announced that “prominent illegal file-sharing forum, FileWarez,” was shut down following co-ordinated action by record companies, anti-piracy body APDIF, and local cybercrime unit, Cyber Gaeco.
“IFPI, the organization that represents the recorded music industry worldwide, alongside its Brazilian national group Pro-Musica, have welcomed the successful action against FileWarez.tv – one of the most prominent illegal file sharing sites in Brazil – by the Brazilian special cybercrime unit of prosecutor’s office of São Paulo, Cyber Gaeco,” the announcement reads.
“FileWarez was the most established illegal filesharing forum in Brazil, dedicated to sharing illegal music content. While active, the site had more than 118,000 registered users with at least 24,000 monthly active users.”
Celebrations and Disappointment
“We congratulate Cyber Gaeco on their action,” added Melissa Morgia, IFPI’s Director of Global Content Protection and Enforcement.
“The site operated with no regard for the rights of music creators and has undermined the legal marketplace in Brazil. This is an important action in the continuing fight against piracy in the country.”
For former members with fond memories, both the community and what the site offered will be sorely missed.
“I joined FW in mid-2013, I couldn’t believe it when I saw the organization, the care and especially the safety. Something truly done by the community for the community,” a former member wrote on Reddit.
“Being able to consume films, series, games and software that I could not afford to access at the time through official means in such a simple and safe way was magical. I fell in love with [FileWarez] from the first access. If it’s gone for good, it will be greatly missed, I hope not, but still, thank you very much for everything FileWarez and your amazing community!”
Replacements or Opportunists?
Links to alleged FileWarez clones and similar replacements present a dilemma for former users, especially those who can’t accept it’s all over. The temptation to check out similar-sounding domains might be strong, those listed below, for example.
Demonstrating perfectly that anyone can buy a lookalike domain, all of the above were registered on October 17 by APDIF, one of the anti-piracy groups responsible for taking FileWarez down.
It could’ve been worse.