Friday, December 11, 2009

CHINA: Internet Crackdown on BitTorrent

Chinese netizens are scrambling to grab downloads from BitTorrent (BT) websites following speculation that authorities will completely shut them down.

About 530 BitTorrent websites in China like BTCHINA, VeryCD and the Garden of Eden have been closed down or ordered to delete all links to downloaded films or TV series in the past week. According to Cao Yunxia, a representative from the Internet audio-visual program management department of the State Administration of Radio Film and Television, illegal audio-visual service websites have brought great harm to the media industry and the administration will continue to seek and destroy illegal Internet audio-visual program providers.
BitTorrent is a popular transmission protocol on the Internet. Video websites provide the download services of movie and TV series by publishing "seeds" and users only need to install the free BT software and find the "seeds" to download the programs. During recent years, BT websites have become important channels for the spread of infringing and pirated audio-visual products.
SARFT said BTCHINA did not have a licence to distribute audio and video content. “SARFT has deleted our site's registration and shut down our site,” a notice on the BTCHINA site said. From Danwei, according to ChinaDaily BTChina’s plug was pulled because of copyright crackdown on BitTorrent websites.
UUbird.com, a similar website, said in a notice it would delete all links for downloading TV series and films “to firmly support and comply with the state's laws and regulations”.

It is said VeryCD went offline on Dec. 9 due to a technical failure. Rumors say Huang Xiwei, head of the website, got arrested a few days ago. A notice that appeared earlier this week on the website log-on page read service may resume Thursday noon. But users haven't got access to that site up to now.

By now, authorities have shut down 414 video and audio websites for operating without a licence or for containing pornography, copyright-violating content or other “harmful” information. However, Chinese netizens say that often acts as cover for detecting and blocking sensitive political content.

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