While sites such as The Pirate Bay and Demonoid may spring immediately to mind when discussing BitTorrent, there are plenty of other, smaller trackers out there too.
However, as of today, there’s one less, as threats from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) have forced private torrent tracker UKNova to shutdown.
UKNova’s situation was a little different from those sites mentioned above, in that it never defiantly rallied against the authorities, or publicly flaunted any legally dubious activities.
It existed to provide those without access to UK television the chance to catchup with shows they would otherwise be unable to watch. It benefited expatriates and anglophiles alike, but crucially, it made a point not to host commercially available content.
These so-called “ethical” guidelines included an upload ban on anything available on CD, DVD/Blu-ray or content broadcast as pay-per-view.
Not that this saved them from the watchful eye of FACT, as it has issued a “cease and desist” letter to UKNova, telling them “all links or access to content provided by UKNova are infringing, unless it can be proven that explicit permission from the copyright holder for that content has been obtained.”
UKNova trackers scrapped
According to a UKNova site member, posting on Neowin’s forums, the site published a statement saying that while it believes “legally and morally” the site has done nothing wrong, it’s “not in a position to be able to risk lengthy and costly court battles to prove this.”
UKNova, which began operating in 2003, is in the process of closing down its trackers, and although the site’s forum will remain open, the pages related to torrents will be removed.
Site administrators told TorrentFreak.com that FACT mentioned a large UK satellite provider and a football production company as the big guns behind the cease and desist letter. Using the process of elimination based on FACT membership, TorrentFreak.com assumes this to be Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB and the Premier League.
Sharing content originally broadcast on television has long been considered, by the general public at least, something of a grey area; primarily due to the commercial availability of VHS and DVD recorders. Sites such as UKNova feel like a modern extension of this, particularly if no other way exists to view or purchase said content.
FACT and the MPAA obviously disagree, and UKNova’s closure proves that claims of “ethical” behavior don’t carry much weight, especially if you don’t have the resources to defend yourself in court.