The UKNova website has stopped letting users share links to copies of UK TV shows, apparently after legal threats from the copyright enforcement body FACT.
UKNova users — many of whom live outside the country and used the service to catch up on television they were otherwise unable to see — reported on Monday that they had been messaged by the UKNova administrators about the threat from the Federation Against Copyright Theft.
"UKNova is being forced to change. We have been issued with a 'cease and desist' order by FACT," the message began.
"Despite our efforts to cooperate with the UK media companies, FACT have stated: 'ALL links or access to content provided by UKNova are infringing, unless it can be proven that explicit permission from the copyright holder for that content has been obtained'."
ZDNet UK has been unable to get verification of this claim from FACT itself, as Monday is a public holiday in the UK.
UKNova had a strict policy against the sharing of pay-TV content and "television or radio programme [content] that is available for purchase worldwide from retailers, on CD, DVD or video".
The site was in some ways similar to the doomed SurfTheChannel, in that it directed users to content rather than hosting the content itself. SurfTheChannel proprietor Anton Vickerman was jailed for four years earlier this month, after a private prosecution brought about by FACT.
Vickerman's sentence was for conspiracy to defraud, not for copyright infringement. UKNova asserted that it was not a money-making operation, soliciting donations only to keep its servers going, but it seems such precedents were enough to convince UKNova to back down.
"Whilst we believe that they are wrong both legally and morally on account of the strong 'no commercial content' stance that we have always taken, we are not in a position to be able to risk lengthy and costly court battles to prove this," the proprietors wrote.
"Therefore we have no other option but to close down the trackers. It has not been an easy decision to take, but it is apparently our only option. The forums will remain open for business as usual. Torrents and their associated pages will disappear over the next few hours."
A report on UKNova's scaling-back on TorrentFreak suggested that FACT's missive was adorned with the names of BSkyB and the Premier League, which helped the site's proprietors decide to back down.