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China Takes Down Two Major Movie Piracy Websites, Makes Arrests

China closes movie piracy sites

Chinese authorities have shut down two notorious movie pirating websites today in a strengthening clampdown on both online and offline piracy. YYeTs.com suddenly closed itself down at 12 noon today, but a notice on the site’s official Sina Weibo account says that it’s only temporary. The other site, Siluhd.com (Silu HD) suffered a harsher blow, with the site forcibly taken down and CEO Zhou Mou and eight other employees reportedly arrested.

Silu HD is said to be China’s biggest piracy site of high-definition movies, and has been online in plain sight for a decade. It claims to have 1.4 million registered users (Update: Corrected that number), making it larger than some social networks in the country, like dating website Jiayuan (73 million registered members). Chinese media reports today that the Silu HD site was very subtle, hiding its movies behind a paywall.

But “subtle” certainly isn’t a word that could be used to decribe YYeTs (pictured below), which has also been online for quite a while. A blatant movie download site, the service hasn’t gone down without a fight, and its semi-deactivated homepage today directs users towards some other, fully working URLs where they can download pirated content.

China movie piracy sites shut

Click to enlarge

YYeTs’ Weibo page, I notice, also continues to link to pirated movies and TV shows, and just posted a link to the newest episode of The Vampire Diaries which it has uploaded to Baidu’s Dropbox-like cloud storage service.

Today is World Intellectual Property Day, so there might be an element of authorities wanting to be seen doing something. Given YYeTs’ claim of being down temporarily, there’s a chance it will be back soon. And it has its other URLs anyway.

A reader tells me that Beijing authorities also held an anti-piracy roadshow on the streets of the capital earlier today, starting in the Zhongguancun tech district. Plus, earlier this week, the country’s biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba, was called upon to use its ‘big data’ abilities to help law enforcement crack down on both online and offline piracy.

It’s relatively easy for Chinese web users to view legal and licensed movies and TV shows online, using sites like Youku, iQiyi (owned by Baidu), Tencent Video, Sohu TV, and many more. In fact, it’s easier to do so legally and for free in China than it is in countries like the US.

(Sources: Techweb (1) and (2) – articles in Chinese)



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