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 popularity attracted the attention of several copyright holder groups, including the Philippine record label association PARI. In an attempt to shut down the site, PARI launched a legal procedure in which the KAT.ph domain owners are accused of facilitating copyright infringements.
This resulted in the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) issuing a temporary restraining order last week. The dotPH registry was ordered to suspend the domain name for 72 hours, a period which has now ended.
This means that once again the KickassTorrents team has full control over its KAT.ph domain.
Although the torrent site isn’t expected to revert to the .ph domain, the move is important as the KickassTorrents team are able to point the site’s users to the new Kickass.to domain. This minimizes the loss in visitors and helps Google to index the site’s new home.
At the same time the legal proceedings will continue behind the scenes.
The dotPH registry, which maintains the database of PH domain names, say that the domain owners now have the option to appeal the court’s decision. The company adds that
the domain could again be at risk if the previous order comes back into effect.
“If the restraining order is extended, we will comply and suspend the domain,” dotPH founder Emil Avancena tells TorrentFreak.
Whether this will happen is uncertain at this point. The KickassTorrents team hasn’t made any public comments on the case thus far. However, the Intellectual Property Office says that it will try to hear all sides of the story before making a final decision.
“Unless the complainant voluntarily desists from pursuing the case, it shall proceed. The IPOPHL shall decide on the matter based on the evidence presented by all parties,” IPOPHL informs TorrentFreak.
Even if the action results in a permanent domain seizure, this will achieve very little as KickassTorrents has already moved to another domain.
DotPH’s Emil Avancena agrees that domain seizures are not very useful when it comes to making websites unavailable to the public. He sees more results from ISP blockades, which have become more prevalent in European countries recently.
“It’s a simple matter to move to another domain. Getting ISPs to block the sites would be more effective but not foolproof, as the Great Firewall of China has shown,” Avancena says.
KickassTorrents, meanwhile, appears to be unfazed by all the commotion and continues business as usual at the new Kickass.to domain. It’s unknown if they intend to file an appeal and in their announcement of the domain change there is no mention of a legal case at all.
“We had to drop Kat.ph as a part of our global maintenance and move to Kickass.to. This was a hard decision, but it was necessary for the further development of KickassTorrents,” the KAT staff explain.