France: A decade later, ZoneTelechargement pirates sentenced, but may appeal

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Justice has come slowly for the two founders of, which provides free downloads for video, games and audio content. Established in 2012, the defendants reportedly earned more than €600,000 each between 2014 and 2016.

Wilfrid Duval and Thibault Ferreira were sentenced to 18 months in prison and a fine of €50,000, after being tried by the Tolouse Criminal Court in March 2023.  The prison sentence was suspended because after their November 2016 arrest and subsequent indictment for counterfeiting and several other offenses, they were jailed for three months and subsequently wore electronic tracking devices.

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At its peak, ZoneTelechargement received an average of 3.7 million visits per month, and 11,000 downloads per day, according to reports.  The site was closed by police in late 2016, who seized more than 450,000 media assets.

ZoneTelechargement site. (Source: Screenshot taken April, 2023)

The site was investigated in 2014 by police and the French Expert Center Against Cybercrime (CyCYF).  A complaint was filed in 2016 by the French Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (SACEM) and the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Association (AAPA).

A download linking site that uses the same branding and logo design as remains available as

Further reading

Illegal downloads: suspended prison for the two inventors of the platform. Article. April 5, 2023. France TV 3.

The founders of judged in Toulouse. Article. April 3, 2023. Deborah Roques. Mediacités

Download area: a possible administrator of the site in pre-trial detention.  Article. December 5, 2016. Le Parisien

Why it matters

This case is not over yet, and it’s unclear whether or not the outcome is satisfactory for anyone involved.

The defense has taken the position that “We have condemned the link but not the database itself,” according to the operators’ lawyer.  In other words, because it was a linking site and not a host, the defendants can avoid liability.  An appeal may be filed during April.

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