World’s largest piracy website to shut down

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Online pirates have long been the scourge of artists and publishing corporations, with illegal streaming websites plundering thousands of movies, TV shows and albums for a worldwide audience to enjoy for free.

While a popular option for many, the days of the illegal streaming websites seem to be numbered, with arguably one of the most popular announcing that it is shutting down its operation.

123Movies, also known as GoMovies, has announced via its homepage that it will be going offline for good. And it’s even encouraging users to start paying for content.

“We’ve been providing links to movies and shows for years. Now it’s time to say goodbye,” states the online message. “Thank you for being our friends and thanks for staying with us that long.”

Surprisingly, the website goes on to discourage users from illegal downloading.

“P.S. Please pay for the movies/shows, that’s what we should do to show our respect to people behind the movies/shows.”

The statement comes after the website was labelled as the “most illegal site in the world” by the Motion Picture Association of America, with Executive Vice President and Chief of Global Content Production, Jan van Voorn, stating the website had over “98 million visitors a month”.

This isn’t the first time the website, based in Vietnam, has caught the attention of American officials, with the US Ambassador to Vietnam requesting the local government to criminally prosecute illegal online streaming sites.

“Vietnamese people need to understand that making a movie is not free of charge,” Mr van Voorn said. “Companies have to pay a lot to bring these works to an audience.”

No official comment has been made by the website as to why it has decided to shut down its operation.

What does this mean for Australian pirates?

Australians have a fairly negative reputation when it comes to the world of online piracy, with a 2015 government study showing that 30% of adults engaged in illegal downloading activity, with Australia also holding the title for the most downloads of popular TV show ‘Game of Thrones’.

Nowadays, however, that number has significantly dropped, with government crackdowns on popular sites and users. Usage of the most viewed pirating websites has dropped by 35% according to the latest report by INCOPRO, with illegal piracy down by 25% overall.

With strict laws coming into place that could see users fined, and even serving jail time, users are now either giving up completely, or utilising VPN technology to avoid detection.

While the allure of getting the latest TV releases for free will be too much for some, it does appear that governing bodies are getting the upper hand, with the closure of 123Movies representing a huge win for the TV, film and music industries.

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