T411, Zone-Téléchargeement… after the closure of two of the largest illegal French-language download sites, others soon followed. This raises the question of the effectiveness of these closures on the piracy of copyrighted content. Hadopi, however, defends its record in a study.
Almost a year ago, Zone Téléchargement was definitively closed by the gendarmerie. After a long investigation of 2 years, the authorities managed to arrest the administrators of the platform. Soon, clones of the site were put online. These new versions were all intended to take over the Download Zone.
A few months later, it was T411’s turn to suffer the same fate. But soon other sites emerged in their wake. T411 became T411.si and YggTorrent, while Zone-Download became Zone-Download.ws. And all three sites now cumulate impressive traffic.
The High Authority has looked into the success of Zone-Telechargement.ws: a large majority of pirate content is put online there by a small team of people. These 14 uploaders are responsible for 90% of the content on the Download Area.
From December 2016 to February 2017, these individuals massively expanded the site’s offering by publishing up to 1,230 files per week. Once this new Download Area was filled up, additions became less frequent. So it only took a few months for these hackers to set up the site’s successor.
However, according to Hadopi, it is still essential to attack the download platforms: the sites recreated by pirates never manage to make as much traffic as the original versions. An argument that can make you smile: only one year after its creation the site is actually approaching the traffic of its predecessor.
Probably in order not to hurt itself too much, the Hadopi avoids in its study to talk about the case of T411. Soon after its closure, T411.si emerged, which very quickly rebuilt a community and a catalog provided. So is YggTorrent. Both sites are now in the top 200 most visited sites in France according to Alexa. And we’re only a few months after T411 closed!
Today YggTorrent is 14.64 million unique visitors in September, and T411.si, 11.56 million unique visitors over the same period (SimilarWeb figures). That’s two more than 26 million unique visitors. Zone-Telechargement.ws represents no less than 58.40 million unique visitors in September. This represents a cumulative traffic of almost 85 million unique monthly visitors.
To get a good idea of the enormity of this figure, we compared it with the public figures of the newspaper Le Monde, which boasts 101 million unique visitors in September. So it’s not that far! And the new T411s and Download Zones continue to grow… So obviously, yes, there is reason to doubt the effectiveness of these closures in the Hadopi mission.
However, the HALDE believes it can act on other levers to prevent sites from taking over a closed platform. The organization also advises to multiply agreements with search engines, such as Google, in order to derefer the incriminated addresses.
La Hadopi would also like to block the advertising boards of the famous link shorteners, used en masse by the new Download Zone. In any case, the war between rights holders and pirates is far from over, despite a recent report stating that piracy has no impact on legal sales figures. In the meantime, nothing has changed, or almost, except for a few teams and domain names.