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China Shutters BitTorrent Sites Over Porn, Copyrighted Material

China Shutters BitTorrent Sites Over Porn, Copyrighted Material

Follows last year’s announcement by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) that websites must have a license to offer audio and video downloads, and that the only companies eligible for licenses must be owned or controlled by Chinese authorities.

The war on illegal file-sharing is heating up in China and I think it has everything to do with the control of information and little to do with copyright infringement.

For according to the China Business Network (CBN), BTChina.net and the Garden of Eden (ydy.com) have been shutdown by from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) as part of an effort to limit the spread of copyrighted and pornographic content, and to crackdown on unlicensed sites.

This latest crackdown, which follows a follow an announcement from SARFT last year that websites offering audio and video downloads must be licensed, and that the only companies eligible for licenses would be govt owned or controlled, began in earnest this past September and by November 30th had already resulted in the closing of some 414 sites.

Some were obviously upset over BTChina’s sudden demise, which Alexa claims had 80,000 daily users.

“It was so popular and I can’t believe it has disappeared from my life overnight,” said 27yo Liu Pei, a regular user of the site.

The China Internet Network Information Center says that illegal file-sharing sites account for some 65.8% of their total 222.4 million online population, surely raising concerns that many are able to access content that authorities don’t want people to see or hear, that BitTorrent sites by in large exist outside of and free from the govt’s filtering mechanisms.

Others see much to do about nothing.

“I’m not worried about our operations,” said Liu Qiqi, a spokeswoman for Youku.com, a leading online video-sharing website in China. “Only small online video websites, especially those incapable of doing a better job on copyrights, will be the worst hit by the move.”

Either way, I still think the real motive behind the effort is to pull BitTorrent sites back into the fold of content regulation, and that copyright infringement and porn are being used as guises to mask their true intention – censorship.

Stay tuned.

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Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus


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