Last week, 1337x.to decided to ban YTS releases when it became apparent that information from the site’s database was being used in lawsuits against file-sharers. Over the past few days, more torrent sites followed this example which, strangely enough, has made them a target as well.
Over the past week and a half, we have documented a series of events that the torrent community has never witnessed before.
It started when we were able to confirm that the supposed operator of YTS shared information from the site’s user base with Hawaiian anti-piracy lawyer Kerry Culpepper.
Culpepper had previously settled two lawsuits with YTS and the data was shared as part of, or related to, that legal action. We have since learned that this was a one-time arrangement that only involved data from users who downloaded torrents that are linked to the lawyer’s clients.
Some YTS Users Were Exposed
This means that not all YTS users were exposed. However, those who were, now risk settlement demands from the movie companies, both in- and outside of court.
When the news broke, several other torrent site operators were on high alert. Although they have nothing to do with the matter at hand, YTS releases were posted on their sites as well. This isn’t a good look, to say the least.
Torrent site 1337x was the first to take action. After internal deliberations, the staff decided to ban the YTS user account permanently. While older releases remain on the site, all new uploads are barred. The same is true for the EZTV account, which started publishing YTS torrents shortly after the YTS account was banned.
More Torrent Sites Ban YTS
This radical decision didn’t go unnoticed by other sites. Soon after 1337x took action, TorrentGalaxy and Glotorrents followed suit. And after that, KATcr and ETTV took similar measures. Since several other sites scrape content from these sources, the overall impact is even bigger.
TorrentFreak spoke to the KATcr team who report that they decided to ban YTS releases in the interests of the site’s users.
“The right to personal privacy of each visitor should not be compromised, it is our duty to prevent YTS content from being shared on our platform,” the KAT team informed us, adding that they won’t compromise the privacy of the site’s users.
GloTorrents took a similar decision and banned the accounts of both YTS and EZTV, which appear to be related.
“We don’t condone this kind of behavior so as a result, we decided to stop the movie bots from YTS and TV bots from EZTV. Since some of our visitors download their stuff, we wouldn’t want them to fall victim to these selfish and greedy acts, hence the ban on YTS,” the GloTorrents team said.
YTS itself hasn’t responded to the bans. However, it appears that the lawyer who filed lawsuits against former YTS users was triggered by these actions.
As reported earlier this week, Culpepper obtained subpoenas against the .to registry and Cloudflare in order to uncover more information about 1337x’s operator.
TorrentGalaxy and GloTorrents are Targeted as Well
And it now appears that it didn’t stop there. During the week, two new subpoenas were obtained. One targets TorrentGalaxy and the other takes aim at GloTorrents.
The subpoena in question requires the .to domain registry (Tonic) to hand over any information they have on the domain registrants.
The movie companies’ lawyer informs TorrentFreak that he decided to take action in direct response to the bans, as these actions show that the sites in question can control what appears on their sites.
“The purpose of the subpoenas is to enforce the rights of the owners,” Culpepper says, adding that it’s obvious that the sites maintain “editorial/moderating control of the content put on their sites.”
Whether Culpepper can do anything with the data has yet to be seen. Many torrent sites take precautions to hide the identities of their operators, subpoena or not.
Speaking with TorrentFreak, the GloTorrents team doesn’t appear to be impressed so far.
“Going after our registry won’t stop us from running this service nor giving up any details related to our users as well,” GloTorrents says. “Call us pirates, and remember, thieves are never rogues amongst themselves.”
A copy of the subpoena targeting TorrentGalaxy and GloTorrents can be found here (pdf). It identifies torrentgalaxy.to as well as the non-existing iglodls.to domain name.
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.