YNOT – In the wake of the evolving criminal case against online file locker MegaUpload, one of the five largest BitTorrent indexes on the web voluntarily closed on Monday.
A statement on the website’s hompage reads, “This is the end of the line my friends. The decision does not come easy, but we’ve decided to voluntarily shut down. We’ve been fighting for years for your right to communicate, but it’s time to move on. It’s been an experience of a lifetime, we wish you all the best!”
In January, New Zealand authorities, acting on a U.S. warrant, arrested the founders of MegaUpload and confiscated the website and millions of dollars in personal property alleged to be ill-gotten gains. Kim Dotcom and three others are charged with racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering for their roles in enabling end-users to trade what is said to be a $500 million cache of illegally copied films, music and other digital goods. The four men remain in a new Zealand jail awaiting a Feb. 22 extradition hearing. Each faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
BTJunkie’s founder said MegaUpload’s trouble and the prison sentences and fines recently handed to founders of The Pirate Bay played a role in his decision to shutter the site after more than five years of popularity — especially since BTJunkie began experiencing increased scrutiny last year. Although BTJunkie has not been the subject of specific legal action, in November, the U.S. Trade Representative received an official complaint about the site, which is listed as a “rogue” by both the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. Google has censored search results for BTJunkie and other popular file-sharing destinations including The Pirate Bay, RapidShare and uTorrent.
In addition, BTJunkie’s founder said he has other projects that require a lot of his time.
BTJunkie is the latest in a string of file-sharing-haven shutdowns or scale-backs that began with a raid on The Pirate Bay in 2006. Although the site’s founders were convicted of internet piracy-related charges in their native Sweden, the website returned to the web in a somewhat altered form and with a URL ending in the dot-se country code. The latter move will prevent U.S. authorities from seizing the unrepentant pirate site, its founders believe.
Since then, a number of other sites, including TorrentSpy and Mininova, have disappeared from the internet voluntarily. Others, notably FileSonic and FileServe, cut off users’ abilities to download any files except their own. Uploaded.to blocked visitors with IP addresses inside the U.S.