Owner of the website which has been online since 2014 and generating ฿5 million a month in advertising revenue is a Thai national living abroad.
The boss of Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation has announced the closure of the kingdom’s biggest pirate movie website and is pursuing those involved in the racket with a criminal investigation for economic crimes linked breach of copyright laws and tax evasion.
The site was reported to have been among the world’s biggest. The website is believed to have been taken down on November 3rd after police located the operational centre of the website in Thailand.
The website was disabled after the arrest of its local administrator who controlled the servers.
Arrest of 22-year-old administrator in northern Thailand took place in recent days
On Thursday, the Director-General of the DSI, Paisit Wongmuang, revealed that his officers had, at the beginning of November, raided the home of a 22-year-old man in the north of Thailand who was working as the administrator of the website in the kingdom.
He revealed that police have discovered that the actual owner of the site is a 30-year-old Thai man living outside the country.
Website currently running a charity announcement
The website known as Movie2free.com is currently running a page advertising a charity appeal.
Experts at the DSI’s Bureau of Technology had been having difficulty tracking the source of the site although they confirmed that the site has been operating from servers outside Thailand.
They were unable to identify the location of these servers as the website deployed sophisticated equipment to create fake decoys.
Arrested man and the owner not yet named
The DSI boss explained the details of the arrest to reporters. ‘The DSI has found that the Thai man who was running the pirated movie website was living abroad,’ he revealed. ‘We have already arrested the administrator early November and shut down the website.’
The police, at this point, have not given out the details of the man arrested but say that they are preparing to file charges against what they described as a network of individuals in connection with the website which breached international copyright.
They are also examining the tax reporting of the substantial income generated by the enterprise.
Police are viewing the matter as an economic crime exploiting copyright infringements on a grand scale. They also are linking it with the promotion of online gambling which is illegal in Thailand.
One of the biggest movie websites in the world
It is understood that the move against the movie website extensively used by people in Thailand, comes after pressure from US authorities after urgent representations were made from the US Motion Picture Association as well copyright representatives in the United States and the major Hollywood studios.
Movies could be viewed and copied online
The movie website was distributing up to 3,000 movie titles which could be viewed online but was also used extensively by retail outlets and traders selling pirate DVDs throughout the country supplying the latest movies as well as popular movies from extensive backlists.
While many such traders have been shut down by a government crackdown on copyright infringement, many have been using social media networks to sell this sort of merchandising taking orders and displaying catalogues using social media sites such as LINE and Facebook.
Hollywood releases ahead of local cinemas
The website was able to provide users with the latest movies as they reached cinemas in the United States and outside Thailand often in advance of their availability on Thai cinema screens
The website was launched in 2014 and is reported to have had 10 million page views per day with up a million different IP addresses connected daily to the site.
This generated up to ฿5 million per month in advertising income for the owner of what had become a highly profitable media outlet.