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Monday, February 6, 2012

Ukrainian Government Took Down Largest File-Sharing Site

Six months ago a number of tech firms, including Microsoft, Adobe, and Graphisoft, launched an investigation in Ukraine. As a result, the country’s government has finally closed down the largest file-sharing website in Ukraine – Ex.ua.

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Ex.ua was started three years ago, and since then its user base has grown to millions. In fact, the service was rated as one of the most visited online locations in Ukraine. Like other torrent trackers, the website allowed its users to share files for free, but profited from advertising. Of course, much of the shared content appeared to be infringing, and an investigation was launched against the service. Finally, after 6 months of criminal investigation, the online location was shut down the other day.

A spokesperson of the government has explained that the service was under scope. In addition, its two hundred of servers had been seized, as well as an astonishing 6.000 terabytes of data. Moreover, 16 employees had been taken in for questioning. As the Ukrainian authorities announced, the website was founded by a Latvian citizen.

Considering the latest events in the file-sharing world, one may compare the Ukrainian situation with what happened to MegaUpload, and that is because both of the services share similarities. However, Ex.ua set itself apart from other file-sharing services by allowing its users to search for content and browse categories like “MP3” and “Video”.

A couple years ago the Recording Industry Association of America reported Ex.ua to the Office of the US Trade Representatives, calling it as a “pirate haven”. They claimed that it was the largest service in the country and the vast majority of the web users in Ukraine used the portal to download music and movie content. At the same time, the RIAA pointed out that none of the content made available on the portal has been authorized by the rights holders and the website administrators were unresponsive to takedown notices over thousands of music titles available there.

At the moment it is unknown how this story might end. The website is closed and most of its users switched to its nearest neighbor – Russian RuTracker, which has also suffered from the authorities a couple years ago and had to move to another domain. If Ex.ua’s operators are found guilty, they risk a sentence of up to 5 years in jail.

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