Over the past several years, many countries in mainly Western Europe have responded to pressure from US-based companies to act against Internet piracy.
In some cases, this has involved passing new legislation to make life harder for pirates but largely it has been left to national courts and informal industry-led stakeholders groups to decide how to deal with unauthorized distribution.
In Eastern Europe, anti-piracy activity is much more limited but now it appears that tough measures can be taken when the authorities see fit. According to reports coming out of Romania, the government has seized the domain of one of the country’s most popular streaming portals.
990.ro was among Romania’s top 100 most popular sites overall and looked like this before being shut down by the state.
A TorrentFreak reader familiar with the site confirmed that 990.ro was one of the most popular locations for streaming video, TV shows in particular.
“Game of Thrones episodes were live within just a few hours after airing, complete with new (local) translations. This site was huge, you could almost watch any TV show on the planet and about 90% of the latest movies,” he explained.
For now, however, the show(s) won’t go on. Following action by the government, 990.ro’s domain is now under the control of the Ministry of Justice and displays the following message.
While no notice was given of this seizure, the action didn’t entirely come out of the blue. In 2012, Romania’s Audiovisual Council (CNA) reported more than 40 ‘pirate’ movie and TV show websites to the police, demanding action to shut them down.
990.ro was among those reported. The list also included Vplay.ro, the largest site of its type at the time. That domain is also under the control of the Ministry of Justice. Many of the others mentioned have since shut down, moved to new domains and/or had old ones seized.
The action against 990.ro follows a similar crackdown carried out in June 2015 which received assistance from the FBI. Three sites were shut down then and several people were arrested.
Thus far there has been no reports of arrests following the latest domain seizure. However, more serious breaches of Romanian copyright law can be punishable by fines and jail sentences of up to four years.
Since 990.ro carried a lot of advertising, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear that tax evasion and money laundering offenses are being investigated, just as they were following last year’s raids.
Local media initially reported that 990.ro is owned by Romanian news and entertainment portal Romania Online but the company is now denying the allegations.
“The 990.ro site does not belong and has never belonged to the company ROL ONLINE NETWORK SA or any other companies in the group ROL.ro,” the company said in a statement.
“990.ro site was one of the 145,232 customers of the FASTUPLOAD.ro free service that lets you store, transfer and viewing files. FASTUPLOAD.ro site is the largest Romanian storage services and file transfer and operates under Romanian law.”
According to ROL.ro’s Linkedin page, ROL.ro is indeed affiliated with FASTUPLOAD but says that any liability lies with that company, not them.
A direct IP address for 990.ro has since ceased to function and there is no news of any return for the site.