The RIAA has obtained a subpoena from a court in the United States ordering Cloudflare to reveal the personal details of the operator of a large file-hosting site. In its native Poland, Chomikuj (hamster) is a hugely popular platform but according to Google the site is also ranked fifth in the world when it comes to DMCA complaints.
In English-speaking countries, file-hosting sites such as the defunct Megaupload and its successor MEGA need little introduction.
These platforms allow(ed) users to upload files into a digital storage locker, to be shared with others as they so choose.
In Poland, Chomikuj is a similar household name. Translated roughly as “hamster”, the platform has been around since 2006 and is very popular. It’s currently receiving around 17 million visits per month, placing it just outside the top 50 most-popular sites in the country.
Like many platforms operating in the same niche, Chomikuj has to deal with users uploading content to which they don’t own the rights. It’s unclear how much infringing content is present on the platform but according to Google’s Transparency Report, with close to 27 million URLs targeted only four domains in the world are listed with more complaints against them.
After issuing takedowns for more than 7.7 million URLs, the BPI is the most active sender. In second place is the RIAA, having sent in excess of 4.2 million, which may be why the music industry group has gone to court in the United States to find out more about the platform.
In common with several other actions in recent weeks, the RIAA filed for a subpoena at a Columbia federal court ordering Cloudflare to hand over whatever personal information it holds on the operators of Chomikuj.
Citing the DMCA (17 U.S.C § 512(h)), the RIAA stated its case by declaring that it needs the information to protect its members’ copyrights.
“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identities of the individuals assigned to these websites who have reproduced and have offered for distribution our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization.
“This information will only be used for the purposes of protecting the rights granted to our members, the sound recording copyright owner, under Title II of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” the RIAA told the Court.
The music group then listed three musical works – Karma Kameleon by Culture Club, Chains of Love by Erasure, and Edge of Heaven by Wham! – stating that these titles had not been authorized for use on Chomikuj.
As was the case in several previous applications, the Court clerk was happy to sign off on the request and a letter was sent to Cloudflare demanding IP and email addresses and all other identifying information. What happens next remains unclear.
The letter to Cloudflare can be found here (pdf)
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.