Japanese-Music Piracy Site Hikari-no-Akari Abruptly Shuts Down After Sony Music and Bandai Namco Seek Subpoenas

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An interior shot of the San Francisco offices of Cloudflare. Photo Credit: HaeB

Days after Sony Music and Bandai Namco sought subpoenas compelling Cloudflare to disclose the identities of those behind music piracy site Hikari-no-Akari, the platform has gone dark.

The major label’s Japan division and one of the video game company’s music units urged a California federal court to sign off on the subpoena requests late last month, after DMCA takedown notices forwarded to Cloudflare earlier in June seemingly failed to bring about the desired result.

Described by TorrentFreak as “a long-established and popular pirate site that specializes in Japanese music,” Hikari-no-Akari was allegedly linking to (not itself hosting) illegal downloads of tracks including “Peacekeeper” and “Blue Days,” the DMCA notices show.

Needless to say, the rightsholders were far from thrilled and, among other things, moved to obtain the names, addresses, phone numbers, billing information, and IP addresses of the parties behind the piracy hub.

While July should reveal the court’s decision on the sought subpoenas (as well as Cloudflare’s response), related behind-the-scenes developments evidently set in motion Hikari-no-Akari’s unexpected shutdown.

At least in the U.S., the site was no longer accessible at the time of this writing – a point that’s driving a steady flow of comments on Reddit from would-be visitors.

However, according to what’s ostensibly a screenshot of a Discord post from an individual associated with Hikari-no-Akari, the cessation of operations at the prior domain name won’t necessarily mark the end of the platform altogether.

“Hi, everyone,” the mentioned Discord post reads. “I am very sorry to inform you that for certain reasons we will close the main website or any other service ralated [sic]. We’ll temporarily be hidden but will continue to update regularly as stated in the previous announcements. We apologize for this news and hope you understand that it is a measure that we would not take if it were not necessary. We will let you know how season music will be shared from now on.”

In the past, similar situations have seen shuttered illegal music sites, and particularly those attributable to parties based in nations lacking robust copyright law enforcement, resume operating under different names. But it’s unclear if that will be the case when it comes to Hikari-no-Akari, the abrupt absence of which is still spurring complaints.

Looking to the bigger picture, Cloudflare isn’t a stranger to courtroom confrontations with the major labels. Following a German court’s December of 2023 ruling, Cloudflare legal exec Patrick Nemeroff addressed the precedent’s perceived significance across an approximately 2,000-word blog post.