Fdzone.org, an unlicensed music forum that is believed to have netted its operators US$1.5 million in profits, has been closed by Macau and Hong Kong customs officials.
Fdzone.org, also known as P2PZone, has been running since 2003 and had almost 900,000 users. The site is alleged to have made substantial revenues from subscription and advertising, providing unfair competition to legitimate music services developing their businesses in the region.
Music consumers in the region can access music from a growing number of legitimate music services such as 3Music and KKBOX. Unlike fdzone.org, these sites respect and remunerate artists and producers but face widespread unfair competition from digital piracy.
Officers from the Macau Customs Service and Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department raided premises associated with the fdzone on 7th June, following a complaint from IFPI.
The suspected operator of the service was arrested, along with three other people who are believed to have handled illegal proceeds generated by the forum. Customs officials also seized computers, servers, cash, credit cards and documentation in the raids.
The operator of fdzone.org is believed to have begun charging users for access to the site from 2009. The fee was recently increased, despite the implementation of the newly-revised copyright law in Macau that toughened penalties on those making a profit from copyright infringement. The operator is also believed to have made around US$650 daily from advertising fees.
The interface of fdzone.org was in traditional Chinese script, which led to the majority of its users being based in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, although others were located as far afield as Malaysia and the US.
The unlicensed forum contained thousands of infringing links to Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Western repertoire. Some of these links were to files containing large compilations of work by different artists.
Leong Mayseey, regional director, IFPI Asia, said: “We are delighted that Macau and Hong Kong Customs officials have acted promptly on our complaints and taken action to close this lucrative unlicensed business down. Copyright-infringing sites such as fdzone.org are a huge problem for legal music services in the region which offer consumers a great service while respecting artists and songwriters. Actions such as these are great help in boosting that legitimate business.”Music Business Worldwide