French authoring rights society SACEM has acknowledged playing an "important role" in the demise of music torrent site What.CD, which shut down on Thursday following a nine-year run as one the web's most sophisticated sources of music piracy.
SACEM confirms with Billboard that on Thursday (Nov. 17), a French cybercrime police unit confiscated 12 servers from the popular torrent tracker. "The police action follows investigative work carried out by SACEM over the course of more than two years, as part of its anti-piracy activities," the group says.
According to the rights group, What.CD's closure "puts an ends to activities estimated to cost music creators €41 million," or roughly $43 million.
What.CD cited "recent events" when it announced its closure on Thursday, and made sure to mention that "all site and user data" had been destroyed in the process. The invite-only torrent site had built a reputation over the years as a primo spot for audiophiles looking for high-res digital files of imports and hard-to-find rarities.
The site recently surpassed 1 million unique music releases in its pirated catalog, and drew some unwanted attention when hated pharmaceutical exec Martin Shkreli asked his Twitter followers for a coveted invite.
"SACEM is pleased to have played an important role in stopping the activities of this sophisticated group, which have been unprecedented in scope and international reach," the group adds. "SACEM will keep fight relentlessly to combat online piracy and defend music creators and publishers."
Richard Smirke contributed reporting.