The Slap leads to piracy site shut-down

The Slap leads to piracy site shut-down

Summary: The ABC TV show "The Slap" has led to the shut down of Dutch BitTorrent website, which boasted more than 40,000 users.


The ABC TV show The Slap has led to the shut down of Dutch BitTorrent website, 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 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 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 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.

Topics: Piracy, Government AU, Security


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Well thats a touch of genius from the champions of product 'rights'...they shut down a site promoting a FREE TO AIR local program from several thousand overseas fans...I'm sure the producers are delighted that you have protected their 'rights' in such a productive manner...
    • @btone: Free to air with all advertising stripped out. Yes - remove the revenue stream for the ones with the distribution rights and put it online for free. Sustainable business model there.

      They are hardly promoting the tv shows on an invite only site. Lets not bullsh*t ourselves here. The site was mostly Aus/NZ people accessing the shows. Yes - there are a number of overseas (mostly expats) accessing content which would otherwise not be available to them. But the vast majority were locals.

      So as to your last statement - the producers (Matchbox pictures) probably were delighted seeing they complained in the first place.
      • Actually the SLAP is currently showing on the ABC so no advertising during the show.
        If it is true that most people accessing the show are locals then they are crazy. ABC has all the episodes currently available for streaming on iView. I assume by the context of the story that iView is not available to viewers overseas, that is a shame as it could be a good way to later tie in digital sales to overseas viewers. Perhaps something the abc should look into to increase their revenue share. Maybe they can't as it undercuts arrangements with the BBC.

        I'd say the makers of the show would be worried about people having their own torrented copy as they would make revenue when the show is released on DVD.
        • Yep, that's right, iView is not available outside Australia.

          The ABC should really look to follow the BBC model for sharing ABC content overseas, ad-supported. Clearly there's a market for it.
          Josh Taylor
          • @JoshT. Yes, unfortunately, this not entirely a reciprocal arrangement, for ALL BBC content, only that which is agreed between ABC and BBC. there's a lot of BBC video content aired on the ABC, some of which is entirely irrelevant, and boring, except for the ex-pats. The same might be said of some of the Australian ABC content, boring and irrelevant. It's a matter of choice. Personally, I believe most of the "quality" BBC content aired on the ABC, and incidentally SBS, and sometimes commercial television, is good quality broadcast.
  • who were the asshats who went and posted links to torrent sites in a location that would be monitored by the studios? some people deserve to have their internet access removed, or be forced to use dialup or something.