In the world of online piracy, it seems like it’s one in, one out at the moment. While The Pirate Bay returned last week, Kickass Torrents has now been taken down via a domain name seizure.
The site, which was already blocked from direct UK access as a result of high court blocking orders, now turns up an error message when users attempt to access its Somali .so domain. A look at its Whois record shows the site listed as banned.
The Somali registry was seen as a safe haven for the site, away from copyright holders and their lawyers, but it appears the takedown was a result of a claim. Several other sites with a .so domain, including the unaffiliated scam site kickasstorrents.so, have also been taken down, which indicates a far-reaching block on any URL with “kickass” in it that is based in the country.
During the seven weeks and change that The Pirate Bay was offline, Kickass surged in popularity, becoming the number one torrent site on the internet. This higher profile may have inadvertently led to its takedown, with the higher traffic drawing attention from the authorities. However, Kickass Torrents has moved domains several times since its creation in 2008 and there’s no reason to suspect the site owners won’t do so again.
In the interim, it is actually something of a victory for the copyright industry, creating possibly the first significant hurdle for users looking to download content. The Pirate Bay isn’t what it once was since its return — fake torrents, a lack of new uploads, and no moderation has caused concern for users — and with Kickass similarly out of commission, there’s no comparable “all you can eat” torrent site easily accessible on a global basis.
Update – 09 Feb, 14:00: It appears that Kickass Torrents has reverted to its former .to domain, with no loss in functionality. Perhaps not such a hurdle, after all. Whether this is a stopgap measure remains to be seen though — the site was previously targeted for takedown requests through that URL, so further “relocation” efforts may occur.