The story started with a huge global piracy website that appeared to be run from Auckland. According to the MPAA, the operator of YTS and the associated outfit YIFY was the subject of a multi-million lawsuit lodged with the High Court on October 12. To the surprise of many, it turned out that Kim Dotcom is not the only copyright infringer of a huge scale in New Zealand. The Mt Wellington house reportedly was the base for one of the world's most prolific groups involved in the illegal replication of copyrighted content distributing more than 4 500 infringing movie titles on the Internet.
The MPAA claimed that YTS existed for distributing movies on a massive scale online for a profit which was received by the operator of the website. The movie group also estimated that there were 3.4 million unique visitors for the New Zealand website per month and 43 million views. Aside from Hollywood blockbusters, many New Zealand titles were also distributed online via BitTorrent technology. It is known that the movie studio started investigations on the New Zealand operation a year and a half ago, and initially it believed that the operation was being run out of Eastern Europe.
It was not revealed how much the Mt Wellington operation would earn from sharing these movies. So, after so many years of YTS/YIFY being the Hollywood's arch-rival, the two sides finally reached an unprecedented agreement. Instead of suing the service over the alleged widespread piracy, the movie group reached settlement with its operator, thus avoiding a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
Mystery surrounding the silent shutdown of YTS.to and YIFY finally got some explanation, though not all the questions of the industry observers were answered.
The alleged mastermind behind the operation, who appeared to be a New Zealand citizen, settled before the multi-million lawsuit got properly underway. The MPAA officially announced that the two sides reached a private agreement. Although its terms were not disclosed, judging from previous deals they are likely to involve a damages payment along with some type of data sharing.
Actually, this deal came as a surprise for many industry watchers, because the movie industry previously sent a strong and deterring message. Apparently, in this particular case, other factors may have weighed stronger. Some believe that it could be that the website operator had very valuable information to trade, or Hollywood was fed up with MegaUpload case in New Zealand, which has already incurred huge legal fees without any clear outcome.
Anyway, one should agree that this case with a settlement is unprecedented when compared to other copyright cases that dragged on for many years – you can recall the ones against isoHunt, Hotfile and TorrentSpy as an example. The case also stands in sharp contrast to MegaUpload, NinjaVideo and the IMAGiNE cases launched by the MPAA.
Taking into account that YTS/YIFY was both a release group and a major torrent service, it could be regarded at least as big of a target as the aforementioned services. According to the recent news, the YTS.to domain was signed over to the MPAA, which also explains some things.
But this is not the end of the story. It turned out that the MPAA action against YTS/YIFY was also linked to the closure of the Popcorn Time website in Canada. However, the status of this lawsuit is unclear at the moment, though the rumors are that several of the accused are working on an agreement to minimize their harm, perhaps in exchange for information. It is also known that visits were carried out at the premises of at least two key suspects in Canada and New Zealand as part of the latest MPAA move.
As for the Canadian case, the main Popcorn Time fork (PopcornTime.io) shut down on October 23 due to “internal issues”. The MPAA has sued 3 Popcorn Time developers in the country and obtained a court injunction on October 16 to seize the domain name, accusing the developers of copyright violation, along with the VPN provider operated by them as well.
Meanwhile, the outcome of these two cases seems to have an even larger impact on the torrent ecosystem, as it also triggered a closure of the largest public tracker, Demonii. While the YIFY downfall is a loss to many file-sharers, they may be even more upset as it also signals the end for Demonii.
The matter is that in recent years Demonii was run by YIFY’s operator. So it would be natural that the operator’s legal troubles and settlement with the movie studios will also have impact on Demonii tracker. At the moment, Demonii is reported to be the largest torrent tracker, with more than 40 million people connected at any given time. In the meantime, Demonii still serves torrents to over 41 million peers, which makes up more than a billion connections per day. All this is going to end quite soon.
Even if Demonii goes offline, most torrents will still work fine through DHT and PEX, but the problem is that the initial connections will take more time. In addition, trackers are also very important for people using anonymous VPNs and proxies, because they often have DHT and PEX disabled to hide their real IP-addresses.
It should be said that YTS was one of the world’s most popular torrent indexes not without a reason – it was simple to find, publicly accessible, user-friendly and bulging with movies in an easily digestible, convenient format.
So, with Demonii, YTS, YIFY and Popcorn Time, the torrent ecosystem has lost several big players. The industry watchers believe that it may also be hard for other trackers to pick up Demonii’s load due to the limited capacity. Fortunately, there are many alternatives out there that can fill the gap, and the closure of these services will definitely cause others to emerge.
In the meantime, many people can be misled by the news that YTS and YIFY are making a comeback, which is not true. Although such “revived” services look like the real deal, they are all fakes – even the people who carried out a hostile takeover of EZTV created their own replica, with the only goal to take advantage of the surge in traffic.