Mininova, one of the biggest torrent file-sharing websites in the world, has removed links to all copyrighted content that it does not have official agreements for.
Thursday's move is a win for the entertainment industry as users of the site are now cut off from a major source of torrent files, which link to downloads of television shows, music, movies and other copyrighted content. The victory is likely to be short-lived, though, as peer-to-peer file sharers move on to other torrent sites and new technology.
Mininova, which was founded in 2005 in the Netherlands by five students, made the concession as the result of a court case brought forward by BREIN, a Dutch anti-piracy group. In June, a judge ruled that Mininova was not directly responsible for copyright infringement but ordered the website to remove links to such torrents within three months or face a fine of up to 5 million euros.
The site's founders are still considering appealing the ruling, but in the meantime are allowing only uploads from approved partners.
"It's very unfortunate that we're forced to take this action, but we saw no other option," co-founder Niek van der Maas told the TorrentFreak website.
Mininova has operated as a legitimate business and according to financial records filed in the Netherlands, it pulled in revenue of more than one million euros in 2007. The site's founders said much of that revenue came from advertising on the site, affiliate partnerships and some toolbar offerings, and that after taxes and expenses, it didn't account for much profit.
The website also made efforts to remove links to copyrighted material, unlike The Pirate Bay, another big torrent site, which has taunted entertainment companies by posting their takedown requests and mocking them.
The Pirate Bay itself recently removed its tracker links, replacing with them with a more decentralized kind of peer-to-peer network that will be harder for copyright holders to pin down. The Pirate Bay's founders were found guilty of promoting copyright infringement earlier this year by a Swedish court.
Peer-to-peer users are expected to migrate to the new technology, which uses magnet links to find files, and to other torrent sites that will inevitably spring up as the big ones gradually shut down.