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Taiwan police shut down website for movie piracy

Goodbye, HeyMovie.com

Taiwanese police have shut down a website in Taiwan suspected of pirating movies by uploading them to its servers and making them available to users of a P2P (peer-to-peer) filesharing network.

Authorities confiscated servers and arrested the site administrator of Heymovie.com and one user in a series of raids, the MPA (Motion Picture Association) said late yesterday, alleging that the site facilitated the illegal distribution of pirated movies.

But the raid failed to nab a Taiwanese P2P website that the MPA has been after for years, EZpeer.com, despite claims in an MPA news release (click here to read it as a PDF) that the company's website was shut down. The industry organisation did not return calls seeking comment on the apparent error.

In fact, Ezpeer.com remains open. The company declined to comment on what action police took in their visit to its offices, but spokesman Robin Chen said its music file sharing software service remains open. A quick tour of the Ezpeer site revealed users could still download its filesharing software.

The software has been downloaded more than 2.5 million times, according to Ezpeer.

The company has been the target of music and movie industry wrath since a Taiwanese court found it not guilty of violating copyrights in a highly publicised P2P case last year. Ezpeer successfully argued that it simply sold a service to users, charging NT$100 (about £1.60) per month for use of the filesharing software, and that it did not reproduce or publicly distribute the works of copyright holders. The court agreed, and added that Taiwan law did not specifically prohibit or limit filesharing activities.

Despite the victory, Ezpeer started working with the music industry to gain legal rights to operate its service, and successfully signed on a number of companies, Chen said. The company's website lists a host of signatories, including BMG, Universal, Warner Taiwan and Sony. Ezpeer currently charges users NT$149 (£2.40) per month to use its service, and shares 52 percent of revenues with rights holders, Chen said.

The MPA said an ongoing investigation of Ezpeer and Heymovie.com led to the raids on the offices of the websites and several users. The investigation also allegedly linked Ezpeer to Heymovie.com and said the site administrator at Heymovie.com was actually an Ezpeer employee. Robin Chen said his company has no relationship with Heymovie.com.

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