With millions of visitors every 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 entertainment industry groups around the world.
Yesterday the torrent site ran into trouble with its KAT.ph domain, and there were signs suggesting the domain was no longer in control of the original owners. Over the past few hours more details have emerged, and the Government of the Philippines has now confirmed that the domain name has been seized on copyright grounds.
The seizure is the result of a complaint filed by the Philippine Association of the Recording Industry and several individual music labels. The complaint stated that KickassTorrents was causing “irreparable damages” to the music industry, and a local court agreed to suspend the site’s domain.
“The complaint alleges that the registrant of KAT.ph is violating intellectual property rights by making copyrighted music available for download to its users,” the dotPH registry informed TorrentFreak.
Early this week the Philippine Intellectual Property Office issued a temporary restraining Order directing the dotPH registry to suspend the KAT.ph domain for 72 hours. The order, signed by the IPO Bureau of Legal Affairs, will become final if the domain owners don’t appeal.
According to dotPH, the company that maintains the database of PH domain names, the music industry first complained about KickassTorrents in 2011. However, the company said at the time that it would only take action following a court order.
“dotPH was initially contacted by the complainants’ lawyers in December of 2011 with a demand to take down the domain, and dotPH agreed to cooperate if provided with an order from a court or appropriate authority,” TorrentFreak was informed.
“dotPH received the restraining order earlier this week and subsequently suspended kat.ph in compliance with IPO’s directive,” the registry adds.
While the case is presented as a local action aimed at preventing piracy of original Filipino music, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if U.S. forces have also been applying pressure. In its latest Special 301 Report the U.S. Government listed the Philippines on its copyright “watch list,” demanding further action against so-called rogue sites.
“The United States looks to the Philippines to take important steps to address piracy over the Internet, in particular with respect to notorious online markets,” the Office of the United States Trade Representative wrote in its report.
TorrentFreak reached out to the KickassTorrents team for a comment on the domain seizure, but we have yet to hear back.
Whether the seizure will have much of an effect has yet to be seen. After the domain name was taken away KickassTorrents quickly moved to a new one, and the site continues to operate under the new Kickass.to domain.