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Australian BitTorrent sites have started to shut down in an attempt to protect themselves from increasingly aggressive tactics employed by the Australian music industry anti-piracy operation.

Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), which was instrumental in the local music business' legal action against Kazaa owner Sharman Networks, last week raided Perth-based ISP People Telecom, formerly known as Swiftel, in a bid to seize information it hopes will help it identify file-sharers offering music illegally. It has said it has more such raids planned.

Since then several P2P hubs in Western Australia have closed down, local news site Whirlpool reports, along with a number of others on the Eastern side of the country.

"Due to the increasing number of raids on P2P sites which seem to be getting closer and closer to home, we've decided to call it a day," one posted on its now otherwise-empty homepage. "This is to protect ourselves, as well as you users." Likewise, Victoria-based BitTorrent site VIXBit has "decided it was time... to call it a day".

MIPI's investigation into People Telecom centred on two P2P hubs, Torrent Web Pages and Archie's Hub. The latter is believed to have been configured to only serve content to the ISP's customers, which led MIPI to allege the ISP had "adopted BitTorrent technology for the purpose of generating a commercial benefit".

At the time, People Telecom distanced itself from the actions of its users, and pledged to "assist" MIPI efforts to stamp out illegal content sharing.

The two companies have been ordered to appear before an Australian magistrate's court next week. ®

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