When Bill Liang realized that popular video download and streaming service Renren Yingshi might be gone for good, his heart sank. The website was how the 24-year-old film school student was able to watch hundreds of pirated American TV shows when he was growing up in northern China.
But the site — one of China’s largest, longest-running and last-remaining destinations for pirated, subtitled foreign content — was shuttered on February 3 as part of a sweeping police clampdown on piracy. While the website is still live, none of its services work anymore.
Liang said, “I feel like there is one place fewer in China through which we can expand our horizons.”
Police in Shanghai arrested 14 people they claim ran the website and app after a three-month investigation into suspected intellectual property infringement.
At the time of its closure, Renren Yingshi had over eight million users and was home to over 20,000 pirated TV shows and movies.