Share-Online.biz was popular in many regions as a platform where users could upload all kinds of media. It was particularly popular in Germany, with around 72% of its users coming from the country, according to SimilarWeb stats.
Unregistered users could upload files up to a gigabyte but those paying for a premium account were given double the allocation. Yesterday, however, the site suddenly disappeared from the web, leading to the usual speculation about potential legal troubles.
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This morning those fears were confirmed. According to local anti-piracy outfit GVU, at 14:00 Wednesday afternoon, the platform was raided and shut down following a joint investigation with the prosecutor’s office in Cologne and police 38 miles away in the city of Aachen.
“This unprecedented procedure was initiated by the GVU, whose employees filed a criminal complaint against the service providers in 2017 and have been supporting the authorities ever since,” GVU explains.
“Where previously all criminal and civil law approaches by various actors seemed to be going nowhere, the GVU was now able to achieve a groundbreaking success for its members and the creative industries as a whole.”
In Germany, both residential and business properties were raided in several regions. In France and the Netherlands, officers targeted data centers connected to the file-hosting platform. Precisely how many servers were seized isn’t clear but Share-Online.biz was a considerable operation, with GVU stating that it served up to 10 million visitors a month with millions of files stored across “hundreds” of servers.
Three individuals aged 40, 48, and 54 are currently under investigation for copyright infringement offenses.
According to GVU, just one of its anti-piracy partners sent in excess of eight million takedown notices to Share-Online in 2017 but the allegedly-infringing content reappeared shortly after it was apparently “deleted” by the platform.
This prompted GVU to file a complaint with the prosecutor’s office. Government investigators subsequently supported GVU’s investigation by carrying out their own analysis along with documented test downloads to substantiate claims that the site’s operators “aided and abetted” copyright infringement.
GVU says that infringing files stored on Share-Online were accessed via links posted to various file sharing forums which to a greater or lesser extent, collaborated with the platform.
“For the first time, file-hoster operators are the focus of a criminal copyright procedure because they use portal pages and forums such as DDL-Warez, Boerse, Movie-Blog and MyGully, supported by affiliate programs and commission payments,” says Evelyn Ruttke, Managing Director of GVU.
At the time of writing, Share-Online.biz is completely down, as is DDL-Warez. Two other sites cited by GVU as prominent users of Share-Online – Serienjunkies.org and Canna.to – remain operational.