To have any chance of doing that, however, early work has to be done to collect various pieces of information. This can include the owners of the platforms’ domains, the IP addresses of their servers and where that hardware is physically hosted, plus any other specifics that may help to build a case or back site operators into a corner.
As reported on a number of occasions here on TorrentFreak, one of the tools in the box of the RIAA and other rightsholders is the DMCA subpoena. Easily obtained from US courts without any oversight needed from a judge, DMCA subpoenas can be served on various companies, requiring them to hand over information on their allegedly-infringing clients.
RIAA Obtains DMCA Subpoenas Targeting More Than 40 Domains
When it comes to gaining access to information on sites and their operators, DMCA subpoenas aimed at Cloudflare are a popular choice. The company not only has access to the customer information handed over as part of the account creation and maintenance process but in some instances can also identify the true server locations/IP address of ‘pirate’ site servers.
The same can be said of domain registrar companies such as Namecheap. Information on who bought the domain, when and how, plus how it has been used since can yield valuable information for many anti-piracy investigations. The RIAA recently decided to take advantage of both possibilities.
Following two separate applications at a California court, the music industry group obtained DMCA subpoenas requiring both Cloudflare and Namecheap to hand over information on a large number of their allegedly-infringing customers. The Cloudflare subpoena contains 35 domains and the Namecheap subpoena 15 domains. However, due to a considerable overlap, when combined they target 41 domains.
Targeting YouTube-Rippers Including the Giant Y2Mate.com
Since the RIAA appears to have slowly but surely declared war on YouTube-ripping platforms and tools, it will come as no surprise that the subpoenas partially continue along that theme.
Y2Mate.com, an insanely popular YouTube-ripping platform with more than 113 million visits per month according to SimilarWeb, features in both subpoenas. A notable element here is that the RIAA went through this exact process with both Cloudflare and Namecheap last May but is now back for a second bite of the cherry.
One of the irritants here is that despite RIAA pressure, Y2Mate appears to have almost doubled its traffic, from 62 million visits per month last year to the current extraordinary levels. Like YouTube-DL recently, Y2Mate was also accused by the RIAA of circumventing YouTube’s “rolling cipher”.
Next up is Notube.net, which bills itself simply as a YouTube converter. Back in April the site was enjoying around 24 million visits per month, traffic that has now steadied to around 16 million according to SimilarWeb. YouTubeConverter.io, which claims to offer a similar service, has around three million visitors while Ontiva.com and ListentoYouTube.online are relative minnows with around 350K visits each.
Torrent Indexes and File-Hosting Platforms
While the RIAA and the music industry as a whole consider YouTube-ripping sites and tools to be the number one piracy threat, the DMCA subpoenas also include more traditional targets.
Major torrent site 1337x.to makes an appearance in the Cloudflare application which puts the RIAA in good company. As recently reported, anti-piracy group ACE has just obtained a similar subpoena requiring the Tonic domain registry to hand over details relating to the torrent site.
Both of the subpoenas obtained by the RIAA also list TorrentDownloads.me, another popular torrent site. In these instances, the site is accused of participating in the infringement of tracks released by Ed Sheeran, Drake, and One Direction.
Since music files are relatively small and can be squirreled away on file-hosting platforms, it’s no surprise that these also make the list. Anonfiles.com, which currently enjoys more than 7.5 million visits per month, is accused of hosting tracks by The Killers and Beyoncé. Ddownload.com, a site with around five million visitors and most popular in Germany, also makes an appearance along with Hexupload.net and DoUploads.net
An Interesting Addition – A Platform for Buying & Selling Leaked Music
Thesource.to appears to be something of an outlier in the RIAA’s list of targets. While most other platforms clearly offer direct access to music in the form of a download or stream, this platform claims to act as a marketplace for people to buy and sell unreleased music.
“On THE SOURCE legit sellers can sell real exclusive unreleased music and serious buyers can purchase them. Everything in a secure and verified environment. You are a serious seller and you are sick of having to be online 24/7 hours and doing everything manually? Then we can make your life easier,” its advertising reads.
“You are a serious buyer and you are sick of having to wait for every seller or middleman for hours or even for days? Then we can also make your life easier. THE SOURCE has game-changing systems which both serve sellers and buyers, just for example the integrated automated Satoshi system.”
The site is paid-entry, currently for the sum of $10, but according to the RIAA’s subpoena application, someone posted the track Warlords by Childish Gambino there. The listed URL tends to suggest that someone was only offering to sell their “vault” but nevertheless, the subpoena was granted.
The full list of all domains targeted in both subpoenas can be viewed below. Any domain marked with an asterisk appears in both subpoenas. The subpoenas themselves are also available for download.
Domains Targeted in Cloudflare Subpoena
Domains Targeted in Namecheap Subpoena
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.