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Ukraine shutters top file-sharing site

Ex.ua file sharing site

In the wake of the takedown of file-sharing site MegaUpload (and the ripple effect to sites like FileSonic and Uploaded.to), another popular file-sharing site has gone dark. Ukrainian police today shut down the country’s most popular file sharing site, Ex.ua, on grounds that it was illegally distributing copyrighted material, including music, videos, and movies.

Ex.ua was founded in 2009, and unlike many file uploading services was free to use: the site earned money from advertising, rather than subscription revenue from heavy users. Unlike many file locker services, Ex.ua enabled users to search for common file types; this, in turn, made it the subject of complaints from organizations like the RIAA.

According to a statement from the Ukrainian Interior Ministry (which is, at the moment, also mysteriously offline), officials determined that the site was run by a Latvian citizen and some 16 people who worked at the site’s offices were being questioned, although the ministry did not indicate if any had been arrested. The ministry claims that during the shutdown, police confiscated more than 200 servers and over 6 petabytes of data.

Under Ukrainian law, the site operators could face up to five years in prison if found guilty, the ministry said.

According to industry reports and statements from Ukrainian authorities, Ex.ua had millions of visitors, the vast majority of which were in the Ukraine and nearby former Soviet republics.

The takedown was apparently prompted by a six-month investigation following complaints by major tech companies like Microsoft and Adobeā€”as was the case with the shutdown of MegaUpload.