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ShareConnector Shuts Down
November 14, 2007
Thomas Mennecke
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Slyck has been following the events surrounding ShareConnector's plight against the copyright industry for the last several years. Bred during a time when eDonkey2000 was the king of the file-sharing world, ShareConnector was one of the last remaining links to yesterday's P2P community. That link was severed on Monday as ShareConnector closed its doors.

ShareConnector was first mentioned on Slyck as a top alternative to ShareReactor in April of 2004. As many will remember, ShareReactor was the premier eDonkey2000 indexing site - few other sites compared to its size or power. The loss of ShareReactor was comparable to the temporary shutdown of ThePirateBay, forcing millions of file-sharers to find to a new site to call home.

ShareConnector filled that void. However, its rise to prominence would be hampered by the Dutch copyright authority, BREIN. Only a few months after Slyck's initial article, BREIN sent a legal demand to ShareConnector. The demand stipulated that ShareConnector remove all links to copyrighted material on the eDonkey2000 network. ShareConnector is of the contention that it doesn't link to copyrighted material, nor does it store copyrighted material on its servers.

The differing philosophies on copyright intellectualism led to a time consuming criminal trial, led by the FIOD-ECD (Dutch Fiscal and Economic Police) and the Public Prosecutor. The criminal copyright infringement trial didn't conclude until July of this year. At stake was BREIN's assertion that meta-linking to content on the eDonkey2000 network was copyright infringement. If they lost, it would derail their enforcement campaign against similar sites. If ShareConnector won, it would give a de facto legality, in at least the Netherlands, to BitTorrent and eDonkey2000 indexing sites.

So who won? No one. After a disappointingly long legal process, none of the legal questions on linking were settled. Instead, the administrator of ShareConnector was cleared of all charges only because BREIN lacked enough evidence for a conviction. However the Judge found that ShareConnector could be held responsible for copyright infringement. And as it turns out, the legal claim against ShareConnector didn’t die with the lack of a conviction. BREIN instead turned to the civil court process, where it appears they have enough leverage to force ShareConnector offline.

Last Monday, “Adi”, the owner and administrator of ShareConnector, was greeted by a representative of BREIN at his home. According to Adi, the BREIN representative demanded that his site be taken offline. Not looking to spend time or money on another lengthy trial, Adi pulled the plug on ShareConnector.

“They wanted me to sign an agreement which states that I will close down the "illegal" site and if I don’t, they will claim 5000 Euros for each day the site is online,” Adi told “Of course I did not sign anything because I don’t agree.”

If Adi were to resist BREIN further, it would push the case into civil court, where the standards of proof against a defendant are much lower than criminal court. And with the criminal judge already saying ShareConnector could be held responsible, without the necessary legal or financial backing Adi felt his effort against BREIN would be the equivalent of P2P suicide.

“The problem with this civil case is that I would love to go with it, it's just that the risk is too high that we might lose it and that would be the saddest ending for SC and others. It's all because without any [proof] the judge is gonna say, ‘it points to illegal content so that’s damaging the industry so your site is illegal’ and I would be forced to stop.”

As with all things in the file-sharing world, some networks come while others depart. Some come back with the intention of resurrecting the spirit of the past. ShareConnector has had its share of difficult times in the past, often coming online only to be forced off several months later. Adi still owns the domain, and thoughtfully didn’t sign the agreement with BREIN. Is this the last chapter in the book of ShareConnector?

“I would love to see some other site win such case so we all will be free. Actually I was planning to keep the blog/discussion forums for the time being but to be on the safe side I put it all down. So you never know, I even ask myself, is this the end?!”

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
eDonkey2000 :: ed2k Indexing Sites

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