File-hosting service Nofile.io suffered some downtime recently. The outage coincided with a subpoena obtained by the RIAA a few days ago, which requires Namecheap to expose the domain registrant. The reason for the RIAA’s inquiry is a recent leak of a track from rapper ‘Tyler, the Creator.’
There are hundreds of file-hosting services on the Internet, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Nofile is generally known as a no-nonsense service that’s free to everyone. The site launched two years ago and has been building a steady userbase ever since.
Recently, however, the site suddenly stopped working (it came back just hours ago). Checking the domain records revealed that the NS records had been removed, which made it impossible to access the site. The question was, why?
A search through U.S. court records provided some possibly relevant context. It revealed that the music industry group RIAA targeted the site through a DMCA subpoena, directed at Nofile’s domain name registrar Namecheap.
The RIAA requested the subpoena at a federal court in Columbia, which was swiftly signed off by a clerk. The paperwork includes a letter addressed to Namecheap, in which the music group demands detailed information on the customer associated with the file-hosting service’s domain.
“We have determined that a user of your system or network has infringed our member record companies’ copyrighted sound recordings,” the RIAA’s letter reads.
“The website associated with this domain name offers files containing sound recordings which are owned by one or more of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind of use, including without limitation those referenced at the URL below.”
The URL in question is not just some random piece of music. It points to the upload of a leaked track by rapper ‘Tyler, the Creator,’ titled ‘Earfquake.’
The track has been circulating online for roughly a week. It was uploaded to hosting services such as Nofile.io and shared online through Leakth.is, 4Chan, Reddit, and other platforms. Whether Nofile.io played a significant role in the distribution is unknown, but it could be the site where it first appeared.
In any case, the RIAA would like to find out who’s running the site. The music group requests all electronic information that may help to identify the account holder, including IP-addresses, email, and payment information.
“As is stated in the attached subpoena, you are required to disclose to the RIAA information sufficient to identify the infringer. This would include the individual’s name, physical address, IP address, telephone number, e-mail address, payment information, account updates and account history,” the RIAA writes.
Shortly after the subpoena was granted Nofile.io became unreachable. When we started writing this article it was still offline but just before publication, it returned. The leaked file the RIAA referenced is still hosted there as well.
Interestingly, this is the second DMCA subpoena the RIAA has obtained in a short period of time. Little over a week ago we reported that the group is also going after several ‘pirate’ sites that use Cloudflare.
Both requests use boilerplate language and only require a clerk’s signature to become enforceable. This makes it a rather cheap and effective option to find out more about site owners so it would be no surprise if we see these more often going forward.
Whether it’s the RIAA’s main goal to shut down the site is questionable though. In this case, the music group will likely be more interested in finding out who uploaded the leaked file, if that’s the source.
A copy of the RIAA’s letter to Namecheap is available here (pdf).
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.