In a surprise move the popular BitTorrent site KickassTorrents moved to a new domain today. The immediate effect of the switch is that after the ISP blockade last week, some UK users are once again able to access the site. This is the second domain change in two years for the infamous torrent site. Previously, KickassTorrents traded its .com domain to prevent it from being seized by U.S. authorities.
With millions of visitors a day KickassTorrents (KAT) is one of the largest torrent sites on the Internet, trailing only behind The Pirate Bay.
This status has put the site on the radar of the U.S. Government and a wide variety of anti-piracy groups.
Last year this unwanted attention resulted in a nationwide ISP blockade in Italy and a week ago several UK ISPs were ordered by the High Court to follow suit.
Today, however, estranged KAT users on some ISPs in Britain can access the site again just fine. A few hours ago KickassTorrents moved from the Kat.ph domain to Ka.tt, rendering the blockades useless, at least for the time being.
On several ISPs users are unable to access the new site, which suggests these block KAT’s IP-addresses as well so the domain change does very little.
“Yes, it’s official and it was kind of unexpected. We changed our domain name from kat.ph to ka.tt [...]. Kat.ph will still be redirecting visitors to ka.tt, so your bookmarks will be fine,” KAT announces.
The statement made by the site doesn’t specify whether recent UK blockades have anything to do with the move to Trinidad and Tobago’s TLD. There are of course other reasons why the torrent site might want to switch domains (see update below).
Earlier this month KAT had its homepage removed from Google. In addition, more than a million KAT pages have been delisted from the search engine following DMCA takedown requests from copyright holders. These pages are no longer blocked on the new domain.
Or perhaps it’s a more pressing matter. It’s not unthinkable that the previous .ph registrar kindly asked KAT to find a new home, perhaps following behind the scenes lobbying efforts from copyright holders.
This is not the first time that KAT has dumped a domain to avoid being censored. Two years ago when domain seizures where in fashion KAT moved its site to the non-U.S. controlled .PH domain as a precaution.
Whatever the reason for the current change, the hundreds of thousands of KAT users who were unable to access the site directly due to the ISP blockades are happy for now.
Update: KAT informs TorrentFreak that the change was indeed made in response to the ISP blockades. Aside from Italy and the UK KAT is also blocked in the United Arab Emirates, and they want to find out how long it takes before the new domain is blocked. For now most UK readers still can’t access the new domain because the IP-addresses used by the site haven’t changed.
Update: KAT moved back to Kat.ph due to technical issues.