FileSonic cyberlocker offline after piracy complaints

FileSonic screenshot FileSonic marketed itself as a storage, rather than file-sharing site, after a change in strategy in January

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FileSonic has become the latest cyberlocker service to go offline.

The service used to be one of the most popular file-sharing sites, but had restricted its members' ability to access other's uploads after the Megaupload arrests.

TorrentFreak, which first reported the news, said FileSonic's pages had become unreachable on Wednesday.

It follows the closure of Oron, another file-sharing site. Both services were being sued by a pornography company.

Miami-based Flava Works had accused the two products of profiting from piracy and acting to "induce and assist" their members to infringe copyrighted materials.

Neither FileSonic nor the current owner of the domain name, Renovatio Management, could be reached for comment at this time.

Copyright complaints

FileSonic's logo used to boast it was "the world's best file-sharing site" and at its peak was in the top 10 most visited services of its kind.

Google's Transparency Report shows the search giant alone had received requests to remove more than 151,000 search result links to alleged pirated material hosted by FileSonic since May 2011.

Warner Bros, NBC Universal, Microsoft and the BPI - which represents UK music publishers - were among those to have sent in complaints.

Flava Works filed its lawsuit in July complaining about FileSonic's "reward program" which paid users if their uploads proved popular with its premium-rate members.

By that point FileSonic had already discontinued the scheme. It took the action shortly after the US seized its rival Megaupload's equipment in January.

It also added a notice to its home page saying: "All sharing functionality on FileSonic is now disabled. Our service can only be used to upload and retrieve files that you have uploaded personally."

Kim Dotcom Twitter feed Kim Dotcom has said he plans to create a new music service called Megabox later this year

The move effectively made links to FileSonic-hosted files useless and precipitated a sharp drop in the number of people using the site.

File-sharing crackdown

FileSonic's apparent closure adds to a list of other file-sharing sites that have been shut down or restricted over recent months.

They include BitTorrent tracker Demonoid going offline; UKNova removing its torrent links; the closure of Surfthechannel.com and imprisonment of its owner; and court orders forcing ISPs (internet service providers) to block access to The Pirate Bay and Newzbin.

"It's becoming more difficult for file-sharing sites to operate without getting into trouble both from the authorities and also lawsuits from copyright owners," Ernesto Van Der Sar, editor of TorrentFreak told the BBC.

"Anyone looking to find a particular pirated blockbuster movie or other popular file online can still do so, but some of the e-books and more obscure content are becoming harder to find, and reward programs - offering uploaders cash for their activity - are less common."

Despite this trend Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload, has recently said he intends to create a new service despite the US's continued efforts to extradite him and his former co-workers from New Zealand.

"We are building a massive global network," he wrote on Twitter earlier this week.

"All non-US hosters will be able to connect servers & bandwidth. Get ready."

For its part, the BPI has said that it would oppose any service that heavily relied on copyright infringement, but would be willing to help sites shift away from "illegal downloading".

"File hosting services need to be more proactive in ensuring they are not hosting illegal content," said its chief executive Geoff Taylor.

"We can help them do this. Moreover, if they are ready to implement business models that fairly reward musicians and labels, then we are willing to partner with them so they can host and distribute music legally."

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