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US industry welcomes takedown of “largest file-sharing service”

By | Published on Tuesday 15 September 2015

Share Beast

What the US Department Of Justice is calling the “largest US-based file-sharing service” was taken offline this weekend after the DoJ and the feds seized the various domain names via which it operated.

According to the Recording Industry Association Of America, the Sharebeast network of sites – which had at its heart – was “responsible for the distribution of a massive library of popular albums and tracks and has been particularly problematic in its distribution of pre-release leaks of thousands of songs”. The record industry trade group adds that it alone had reported more than 100,000 copyright infringing files that were available via the file-sharing platform.

Welcoming the FBI’s move to take the Sharebeast sites offline, RIAA CEO Cary Sherman told reporters: “This is a huge win for the music community and legitimate music services. Sharebeast operated with flagrant disregard for the rights of artists and labels while undermining the legal marketplace”.

He continued: “Millions of users accessed songs from Sharebeast each month without one penny of compensation going to countless artists, songwriters, labels and others who created the music. We are grateful to the FBI and the Department Of Justice for its strong stand against Sharebeast and for recognising that these types of illicit sites wreak major damage on the music community and hinder fans’ legitimate listening options”.

As previously reported, whereas in the early days of file-sharing the music and movie industries tended to pursue civil litigation against companies and individuals providing software, databases or hubs that facilitated online piracy, increasingly rights owners are seeking web-block injunctions against infringing sites (where local copyright laws allow such a thing) and are going after the domain names of piracy operations, often in partnership with the authorities.

Though, as we noted last week, one by-product of this is that many piracy sites now operate at multiple domains, hoping not all can be grabbed by rights owners and the feds, which in turn means content firms issuing takedown notices to Google to have links to infringing files removed from the search engine now often have to file numerous takedowns for one bit of content (ie one for each URL manifestation).

Whether any elements of Sharebeast will reappear elsewhere online remains to be seen. But in the meantime, the boss of America’s Music Business Association, which counts many legit digital music services amongst its membership, also welcomed this weekend’s action.

Its President, James Donio, told reporters: “[We are] heartened to see the US Department Of Justice taking decisive action against illegal file-sharing, with the recent shutdown of Sharebeast and its related sites dealing a strong blow in the fight against piracy”.

He went on: “This action will have enormously positive implications for our diverse membership, which includes not only labels and distributors whose artists are not paid by sites like these, but also physical and digital retailers who cannot compete with this type of illegal access. We applaud this decision and vow to continue fighting against piracy on behalf of rightsholders throughout the US”.