The ABC TV show The Slap has led to the shut down of Dutch BitTorrent website Diwana.org, which boasted more than 40,000 users.
The website, which had supplied Australian and New Zealand content to users for the past five years, was shut down by the owner following legal threats from Dutch anti-piracy foundation BREIN to the owner's internet service provider LeaseWeb.
BREIN claimed that Matchbox, the production company behind The Slap, had approached BREIN to have content removed.
According to a post on the website, the owner — going by the pseudonym of fr3ak — decided to shut down the website, saying he would be unable to afford to defend himself against legal action from BREIN.
"It is galling and personally unsatisfying to give up so easily but the fact remains, I always said, if it came to jeopardising my personal security for the site I would give up the site in an instant. I do not have the resources to fight any legal action and that is the only way I would have been able to continue this particular battle," the owner said.
The owner stated that Diwana.org was not a commercial venture, but merely seeking to make Australian content available in a timely manner overseas.
"Far from detracting from the attractiveness of said content, we actively promoted the creative industries of our countries and we believe that some of these shows would never have had such commercial availability if they had not first been available on Diwana.org or indeed countless other sites around the internet."
Fr3ak believes that other sites would pop up to fulfil this perceived desire for Australian content overseas.
Australian TV blog TV Tonight, which first revealed the news, has said that the consortium of film and TV studios, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), is behind the action. The blog also said the consortium caused the shut down of another website sharing The Slap online after users posted links to the website on The Slap's Facebook fan page.
AFACT told ZDNet Australia in a statement that The Slap was made available overseas through the BBC iPlayer and said Diwana.org made no attempts to contact the producers of The Slap to ask to share it via BitTorrent.
"The legal onus is on those who want to broadcast content to contact the producers and seek the necessary licensing permission, not the other way around," AFACT said.
Updated at 9:25pm, 14 November 2011: added comment from AFACT.