Excellent traffic levels a few years ago were measured in tens of millions of visits per month, but when Soap2Day suddenly threw in the towel around June 12/13, the site was receiving at least 108 million visits. Given that traffic levels were trending up and the site had no obvious technical issues, a zero-notice termination of a hugely successful platform prompts a single question: why now?
Legal Action in Canada
Dozens of reasons lie behind the closure of hundreds of sites over the years, but it’s extremely rare for highly successful sites to throw in the towel for minor reasons. A catastrophic team issue was a possible explanation when Soap2Day shut itself down, but the safer money was always on legal problems.
We can’t confirm the reasons from a direct source, but the following facts appear to leave very little doubt that Soap2Day shut down under massive legal pressure.
On May 31, 2023, major entertainment companies Bell Media, Netflix, Disney, Columbia, Universal, Warner, and Paramount, plus Get Er Done Productions and Spinner Productions, launched legal action at the Federal Court in Canada. The named parties were Soap2Day and a presumed operator of the platform listed only as ‘John Doe’.
The plaintiffs immediately sought an interim confidentiality order and on June 7, the Court obliged. The studios requested an interlocutory injunction pursuant to section 44 of the Federal Court Act and Rule 373 of the Federal Court Rules; the latter allows the Court to issue an injunction where there is a strong case to support copyright infringement and the plaintiffs face irreparable harm.
In short, the Court ordered the site to shut down and that’s exactly what it did.
Plaintiffs Seek Norwich Order
In Canada and the United Kingdom, the Norwich Pharmacal Order is often the discovery weapon of choice in cases involving online copyright infringement. First acquired in a case back in 1973/74, Norwich orders allow plaintiffs to obtain information regarding infringements from parties who may not themselves be involved in the alleged infringement. In this case, two service providers.
Court documents reveal that on June 12, 2023, Exclusive Technologies Inc. (doing business as domain registrar Register.to) was served with the statement of claim, letters from the plaintiffs, a confidential version of the plaintiffs’ motion, and a court order. OVH Hosting Inc. was served on the same day.
Soap2Day operated a .to domain and was known to utilize OVH servers. The Norwich order, which hasn’t been made public, will require the companies to hand over any information held on Soap2Day and its operator(s).
Shutdown Coincided With Operator(s) Being Served
Along with the site’s domain registrar and hosting company, Soap2Day’s ‘John Doe’ was served with various documents and a court order on June 12, via email.
The image below shows how Soap2Day’s landing page appeared on June 11, the day before Soap2Day was served.
This second image shows the site’s appearance on June 13, the day after ‘John Doe’ was electronically served and ordered to shut down the streaming platform.
How the case will progress from here is unknown. Whether Soap2Day’s operators have any direct connections to Canada other than retaining a domain with Register.to and server hosting with OVH is unclear.
A Zoom conference is scheduled for Tuesday and the defendants were instructed to file their response by June 29, but that doesn’t appear to have happened.