Fire in France Takes Israel’s Biggest Illegal Streaming Site Offline

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Israel’s leading illegal streaming website went offline late Wednesday night after a fire broke out in a datacenter in France saw servers it uses damaged.

Sdarot, Israel’s most prominent pirated content streaming website, which for years has faced take-down requests by authorities trying to shut down the service for hundreds of hours of copyright infringements, was unavailable on all platforms as a result of the fire. No wrongdoing is suspected.

On their official Telegram group, the Sdarot website operators wrote: “Dear users, due to a fire that broke out in one of the server centers we use, our website is temporarily unavailable. We are in direct contact with the datacenter and we will update you as soon as possible about any news we may have. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to go back online as soon as we can.”

הסרטים שלכם עולים באש

Though they did not note which data center they were talking about, the picture the website posted online of the fire as well as a review of media reports indicates it is very likely the fire that broke out shortly after midnight at a server farm in Strasbourg, France.  

The datacenter in question belongs to OVHcloud and its founder told European media that one of its five main storage systems was destroyed in the fire, while another was damaged.

OVHcloud - the largest storage company in Europe - is planning on going public in the near future. According to reports regarding the fire, some of the servers at the farm did not have backups and the information may be lost for good. The blaze raged for six hours and about a hundred firefighters were called in to quell the fire. 

Sites like Sdarot have faced a tough time in recent months, as Telegram, for example, moved to crackdown on links to pirated content posted in their private groups - considered a practical solution that allows illegal streaming sites not to use domains that can be found via Google. 

Haaretz interviewed the site’s operator last year after Sdarot, considered by Israeli police to be a criminal organization, came out in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The site even went as far as saying those critical of Netanyahu should not use their services.

In an interview over encrypted chat, the person behind the site told Haaretz why he is throwing his weight behind Netanyahu: “Bibi isn’t a thief. Bibi never asked for the support of my website. There is no funding from anyone – unlike the leftists’ protests. In my opinion, the cases against Netanyahu are fixed.

Do you feel that an illegal streaming service is political?

“A streaming site can choose to be political or have a political bent. Recently I decided to voice my political opinions because I feel there’s a real need. The website offers its services to everyone irrespective of race, religion or gender – and of course also regardless of political opinions or differences.

“But if there are people who voted Labor and they don’t want to use a website because of the political positions I express, then that’s their problem and they should look for an alternative.”

A fire rages at the OVHcloud datacenter in Strasbourg, France. Credit: SAPEURS-POMPIERS DU BAS-RHIN/Reuters
The Sderot website declaring "Netanyahu, the people are with you."Credit: Screenshot

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