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Movie download sites go offline

By Xu Chi (Shanghai Daily)

10:16, April 27, 2013

A number of Chinese websites offering movie downloads went offline yesterday after Beijing police closed the country's biggest high-definition movie site and detained eight of its top officials.

Websites including,,, which offer free downloads of popular movies or TV series, said yesterday they were temporarily offline for maintenance and updates. Others gave no reason why they were offline.

The moves closely followed the shutdown of, a website which claims to be China's top HD movie downloading site with tens of thousands of blu-ray movies, music and games and over 1.4 million members.

The website, established 10 years ago, was targeted by police in Beijing on Wednesday in an anti-piracy campaign, and its eight senior officials, including the CEO, identified by his surname Zhou, were apprehended for violating intellectual property laws, the Beijing Times reported. Another 30 workers at the website are also facing charges for publishing pirated movies, the newspaper said.

Law enforcement officials in Beijing told the newspaper that whistleblowers reported that the website was offering pirated movie downloading services.

The website was found to be charging a monthly fee from members for access to blu-ray movies.

The officials said the website looked like a normal movie site offering news about movies. But after signing up and paying a 50 yuan monthly fee, a visitor could access pirated movies and TV series.

Zhou, 45, was caught at his home by police. They said they found more than 190 hard disks with over 10,000 pirated movies.

Police said that over the past 10 years the website become a major illegal source of HD movies.

Police said the website purchased legal copies in foreign countries or asked movie fans to upload movies. Zhou and his company made money by charging monthly fees and by selling hard disks full of movies.

After news of the police action was released yesterday - World Intellectual Property Day - many similar websites went offline.

One of them,, said it was shutting down temporarily and would be stopping offering free downloads.

"The age of free meals is about to come to an end. Movie websites should get back on track, back to legal copies," Cai Jiwan, deputy director of the Shanghai Copyright Office, told reporters at a news conference yesterday.

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