BTJunkie owner shuts down site, says it’s the ‘end of the line’

Three weeks after cyberlocker Megaupload was seized by the U.S. Justice Department, the folks behind popular torrent site BTJunkie have opted to voluntarily pull the plug in the hopes they won’t also be dragged through the legal system.

Surprising long-time visitors, the site was abruptly shuttered on Sunday, its content rendered inaccessible. The only information provided to users was a short goodbye message posted at the now otherwise blank homepage:

This is the end of the line my friends. The decision does not come easy, but we’ve decided to voluntarily shut down. We’ve been fighting for years for your right to communicate, but it’s time to move on. It’s been an experience of a lifetime, we wish you all the best!

The site’s founder told Torrent Freak that recent court-ordered blocks aimed at The Pirate Bay and Megaupload’s seizure by the DoJ last month pushed him to close it down. BTJunkie launched in 2005.

Over the past few months, courts in Finland, Belgium and The Netherlands have ordered local ISPs to prevent their customers from accessing The Pirate Bay. Megaupload founder and cyber mogul Kim Schmitz (AKA Dotcom) was arrested in January along with three others for operating a global copyright infringement business. The U.S. government is pushing for Schmitz to be extradited from New Zealand, where he is currently being held. Schmitz’s request for bail was denied.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released last December an updated “Notorious Markets” report, which named global websites believed to be involved in piracy and counterfeiting. BTjunkie made the list, alongside The Pirate Bay and isoHunt. In 2007, isoHunt was temporarily shut down in the U.S. following an aggressive MPAA lawsuit. Its operators quickly relaunched on Canadian servers. The site was sued last year by 26 record labels.

Though BTJunkie caved in to pressure, The Pirate Bay remained defiant, moving to a new domain hosted by Sweden. That country’s Supreme Court denied further legal appeals from TPB founders early this month, leaving previously ordered jail sentences and fines intact. (via Torrent Freak)