Founded in 2011, Uptobox gained popularity by making it easy for users to upload, store, and share files with others. In April 2023 alone, Uptobox received 34 million visits, roughly a third of those from France.
News that Uptobox domains had been blocked by French ISPs emerged in May, but the service remained unfazed. Rather than panic, it offered unblocking advice instead.
Serious Technical Issues…
Roughly three hours ago, the official Uptobox account on ‘X’ tweeted that the service was experiencing issues.
“It appears that we have a technical problem, we are currently investigating, the network seems to be severely disrupted,” the platform reported.
Reports from all over Europe confirmed that Uptobox was down, accompanied by differences of opinion as to the cause. Soon after, French news outlet l’Informé broke the news that no user of the service wanted to hear.
Police Raids on Two Datacenters
According to l’Informé sources, around 20 police officers (see update below) raided Scaleway and OpCore, two cloud service providers based in Vitry-sur-Seine, an area in the southeastern suburbs of Paris.
At the time of the report, police were still on the scene, reportedly carrying out a court-ordered “counterfeit seizure” operation targeting Uptobox, which presumably utilized servers at Scaleway and OpCore.
According to l’Informé, the raids were carried out on behalf of the world’s largest entertainment companies; Columbia, Paramount, StudioCanal, Warner Bros, Disney, Apple and Amazon. All are members of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the world’s largest anti-piracy coalition.
(Update: ACE has just confirmed its involvement in the operation. Statement below)
No Uptobox domains are functional at the time of writing.
One Image Reportedly Sealed Uptobox’s Fate
A remarkable detail in l’Informé’s report suggests that an image posted to Twitter almost five years ago may have marked the beginning of the end for Uptobox. It was posted to the @Starouille account just before Christmas 2018 by an individual believed to be the chief technical officer of Uptobox.
‘Online’ is a reference to Online SAS, the cloud hosting company that rebranded as Scaleway in 2015. DC2 is a reference to datacenter 2, a 4,500 m² facility located in Vitry-sur-Seine, the same suburb targeted by police this morning. Images courtesy of Google comprehensively clear up any remaining doubts over the location.
When contacted by l’Informé for comment, representatives of the movie industry, Scaleway and OpCore all declined to answer any questions.
‘Expert’ Opinions Should Be Ignored
Some ‘experts’ posting on social media are claiming that the l’Informé article is bogus. Unfortunately, they have to overcome two massive hurdles to remain credible.
Most importantly, the news was broken by journalist Marc Rees, so we can safely bet the house it’s authentic. Secondly, the official Uptobox account on ‘X’ has just provided important updates.
“Following the incident, we lost access to the servers containing the user files, they are no longer reachable, we have not yet had any documented confirmation of the seizure of our servers by anyone,” the first tweet reads.
“The database was not affected, and for security reasons, it was relocated off-web and the servers operating the site were erased in their entirety.”
Uptobox reports that no user data is currently lost and if it can regain access to its servers, files and user accounts may be reconnected.
“In the meantime, your files remain anonymous on our servers and are unusable. As for Premium subscriptions, these are frozen and will be restored and credited with compensation as soon as we regain access to the file servers. We are not going to give up, our team is working hard to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”
ACE informs us that this was not a police action, but a civil action mandated by the court. Two police officers assisted in the operation, which was orchestrated by ACE. In addition, ACE undertook action in Dubai where the main operators allegedly reside.
Additional statement from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment:
The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), the world’s leading anti-piracy coalition, today announced it has shut down Uptobox and Uptostream, two of the digital piracy world’s most notorious illegal video hosts.
The action, conducted in France and the United Arab Emirates, puts an end to a piracy operation that was well known for a decade among distributors of infringing content. The illegal service boasted massive audiences, mainly from France, but also from Indonesia, India and Mexico, with 1.5 billion visits over the last three years. The services hosted a sizable infringing library of film and television titles affecting all ACE members and many other rightsholders, allowing users to stream and download copyright-protected content at no cost or through a paid premium subscription.
The two French nationals who ran the illegal service are based in Dubai, where they amassed illegal gains from selling advertising and premium subscriptions.
“The action we announced today demonstrates that even the most sophisticated piracy operations are not above the law,” said Jan van Voorn, Executive Vice President and Global Content Protection Chief of the Motion Picture Association and Head of ACE. “This case sends a strong message to criminal operators that their illegal actions will be put to an end eventually. They may think their operations are undercover, but ACE has the network, resources and expertise to identify them and shut them down.”
“Canal+ supports swift action when acts of piracy compromise intellectual property rights, which in turn has an impact on our business,” said Céline Boyer, Head of Content Protection at Canal+. “Our partnership with ACE is essential to ensuring that the creative marketplace continues to thrive by addressing content piracy at its source.”
“France Televisions has zero tolerance for piracy and illegal distribution of content and channels,” said Nathalie Bobineau, Senior Vice President of International Development of French public broadcaster France Televisions. “By collaborating with ACE, we reinforce our commitment to upholding the principles of copyright protection and preserving the value of original content.”