By Adam Pasick
LONDON (Reuters) - SuprNova.org, one of the Internet's most popular
sites for finding links to download pirated movies, has been taken
offline by its creator amid a legal crackdown by Hollywood's copyright
Slovenia-based SuprNova offered thousands of special files that
enabled users to download movies, TV shows, music and other content
using the BitTorrent file-transfer network.
Earlier this month, the Motion Picture Association of America launched
a barrage of lawsuits against people that operate the so-called
"torrent" files, as well as servers on the eDonkey and Direct Connect
SuprNova's creator, who goes by the name Sloncek, took the site down
over the weekend, citing the increased legal pressure on those hosting
torrent files. In addition to MPAA's civil lawsuits in the United
States and Britain, criminal charges were filed in France, the
Netherlands and Finland.
"SuprNova.org was more like a hobby that took most of my free time
away. And now with current situation, there's too much pressure and I
don't have the time for it," Sloncek told the file-sharing Web site
Slyck (http://www.slyck.com). He did not respond to an emailed
interview request from Reuters.
In a message on SuprNova, Sloncek said: "We are sorry to inform you
all, that SuprNova is closing down for good in the way that we all
know it. We do not know if SuprNova is going to return, but it is
certainly not going to be hosting any more torrent links."
BitTorrent has quietly grown into a file-sharing behemoth, devouring
up to one-third of the Internet's bandwidth by one research firm's
account. Bram Cohen, the programer that created BitTorrent, has warned
against using the software for illicit purposes.
BitTorrent's "file-swarming" software breaks a digital file into many
pieces, shares the pieces among all users who have downloaded the
torrent file, then stitches them back together. It is also used for
many non-illicit purposes, such as sharing non-copyrighted music and
distributing video game demos.
The shutdown of the premier source for movies and TV downloads through
BitTorrent was welcomed by MPAA anti-piracy chief John Malcolm, who
has railed against "parasites leeching off the creative activity of
"I'm pleased. It was the most popular torrent site," he said. "They
took that action voluntarily, so obviously they were concerned about
their conduct. It was something we were studying, so I can understand
why they were concerned."
Hollywood is desperate to avoid the fate of its corporate cousins in
the music industry, who have yet to recover from the illicit MP3
downloading boom that began with Napster. The large size of video
content has prevented movie and TV downloads from catching on as
quickly, but higher bandwidth and improving compression technology
means that it may not be safe for long.
"We are a little bit ahead of the curve in the sense that the movie
industry is still making money. Downloading and uploading video has
not become, thankfully, mainstream activity the way that downloading
and uploading music became," Malcolm said. "We've also gotten out
ahead because our industry has not been decimated -- yet."
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