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Cuevana: The End?

It was good while it lasted, fans of Cuevana might soon find themselves lamenting.

A judge in Argentina has finally ordered the blocking of Latin America's most popular online video streaming site, which was even forced offline for a few hours yesterday.

It was truly a black Tuesday for Cuevana, the over-the-top (OTT) company that boasts over 12 million unique monthly users. First, during the morning, it was revealed that – following a similar threat from Telefe a few days earlier, which has not yet materialised – the first real lawsuit was filed against the site.

It came from none other than HBO, one of the trickiest legal adversaries that Cuevana could have hoped for in its crusade against the payment of content rights and its stance in favour of the free distribution of copyrighted video. HBO is, after all, one the world's premiere players in the premium television business, with its multiple channels – among the most expensive in the region – featuring not only the network's own productions but also most Hollywood blockbusters from all the main studios.

In a district court in Argentina, HBO formally accused Cuevana of violating the country's Intellectual Property Law (11.723). The lawsuit was filed against both Tomás Escobar (the OTT's young Argentine creator) and "Cuevana.com" (an inexistent website as the lawyers surely meant cuevana.tv).

Still, by midnight yesterday, cuevana.tv had also ceased to exist – albeit temporarily. This was after Cuevana's miserable Tuesday continued with the OTT being dealt a second successive legal blow – which could trigger a series of new lawsuits that can ultimately lead to the definitive closure of the site.

In the afternoon, District Court Judge Gustavo Caramelo Díaz issued an interim injunction ordering the Secretary of Communications and the National Communications Commission to block "access by any Internet user to the resources of the website known as Cuevana".

The injunction was in response to a separate lawsuit, this time filed by Turner Argentina. The production company had complained about the unauthorised distribution by Cuevana of three TV series: Falling Skies, BRIC and 26 personas para salvar al mundo. The programmes are shown on the TNT and iSat pay-TV channels, both owned by Turner.

The injunction only asked for the blocking of access to these particular series. However, for over two hours between 22.00 and past midnight Argentine time, the entire Cuevana site remained inaccessible. Then, in the early hours of today, the controversial site slowly began to resume normal services.

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