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UKNova drops torrents after threats from FACT

Pressure group claims another scalp

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UKNova, a torrent indexing site for British TV and radio, has announced it is shutting up shop after threats of legal action from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

The site, which is much beloved by expatriates, overseas members of the UK's armed forces, and certain El Reg hacks as a source of media from back home, steered clear of carrying any material that is available for sale. Nevertheless it attracted the attention of FACT's legal eagles.

"Our main concern always was to take an ethical stance and to do no harm to any revenue streams of programme makers or broadcasters," site organizer Roger Evans told the BBC. "To ensure that happened we always had a strict policy that nothing available on DVD or premium TV channels would be available."

Nevertheless, Evans said that the site had been contacted by FACT and ordered to take down not only material belonging to its members, but also every other torrent as well. This comes after the site has been operating successfully and without complaint for nearly a decade.

FACT declined to comment on the case to the BBC, other than to confirm it had been in contact with UKNova.

"In nine years of operation we had never received a complaint from any TV channel. We do not believe Fact would have been able to bring a successful prosecution against us – but at this stage we have no money or resources to defend our case in court," Evans said.

He explained that the site does not carry advertisements, charges no fees, and so is run on a shoestring from voluntary contributions of time and money. Under the circumstances, no further members are being accepted by UKNova, all the torrents are gone, and only the chatroom and forums remain.

It's another win for the pressure group, which is funded by the entertainment industry to clamp down on copyright infringement. Earlier this month it successfully prosecuted SurfTheChannel.com and got a four-year jail term for its operator, Anton Vickerman. The group's Australian sister organization is taking on local ISPs, with mixed results. ®

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