NEWS

Sharing websites closing down

At least 11 video- and music-sharing websites have stopped operating voluntarily over the past month following the arrest of 11 people in connection with the popular www.gamato.info.gr site for violating intellectual property laws, a police spokesperson has told Kathimerini. According to the source, the managers of the websites decided to go offline to avoid the same fate as those charged over the Gamato.info.gr site, which had attracted millions of users seeking to illegally download films, music and video games. The same police source told Kathimerini that at least 30 legal suits by companies and organizations are pending against these and other sites. One organization, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, has taken much of this action. «We have lodged legal suits against another 15 websites and are waiting to see the outcome,» said Nikos Stefanakis, the organization’s technical director. «Other organizations involved in the protection of intellectual property rights have taken similar action,» he said. According to Stefanakis, the police operation that led to the arrest of 11 suspected founders or managers of the Gamato.info.gr site has led to a drastic reduction in the illegal trade of goods over the Internet. «We have several examples of websites that have closed down voluntarily or deactivated parts of their sites that violate intellectual property laws,» Stefanakis said. Officers from the Thessaloniki police force’s electronic crimes squad yesterday arrested the 25-year-old owner of a video-sharing website. The raid followed a complaint lodged by a local company that protects the copyright of audiovisual work. According to police, Gamato.info.gr had 850,000 registered members and millions of visitors. Countless illegal downloads from the site resulted in inestimable losses in revenue to firms supplying the products and in lost value-added tax, police said.