Pirate movie streaming sites and services continue to gain popularity, with 123movies at the forefront of this movement.
Hollywood is not happy with this trend and reported the site to the U.S. Government’s Trade Representative last month, labeling it one of the most “notorious” pirate markets.
“123movies is a very popular streaming website that embeds popular movie and series content from third-party cyberlockers,” the MPAA wrote.
In addition, the movie industry group applied to have 123movies blocked by UK ISPs. In response, the High Court ordered the website to be blocked, alongside a dozen other streaming portals.
The people behind 123movies, who prefer to remain anonymous, fear that the blockade will hurt their visitor numbers so have decided to take counteraction. A few hours ago they started redirecting UK and Indian visitors to 123movies.gs, using a TLD from the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
The reason for the sudden move is clear, according to a site representative. “To give UK users a place to stream movies after the ban on 123movies.to,” we were told.
The .GS domain is not an arbitrary choice. The 123movies team believes that this is a relatively safe option. However, it’s worth noting that The Pirate Bay lost its .GS domain fairly quickly last year after the registry suspended it over copyright infringement issues.
With the switch, 123movies hopes to be safe for a while but they may have to relocate UK and Indian traffic again in the future.
The site’s operators say they don’t have a larger goal in mind for the site. Their main motivation is to provide free video content to the public at large, and with millions of visitors per day they are doing just that.
“We have no goal, we just want to provide free movies to users all around the world,” a 123movies representative told TorrentFreak.
“In some countries, it’s really expensive to buy a ticket at the cinema, and not all people can afford it. 123movies will help them to be able to enjoy their favorite movies at no cost.”
The Hollywood studios will cringe at 123movies’ deviant stance and are likely to take countermeasures of their own. In the UK they can request the new domain name to be blocked as well, which they are bound to do.
However, 123movies is not planning to give up anytime soon. They are thinking about starting a network of proxy sites, like The Pirate Bay has, to ensure that people will always be able to access the site.
And so it appears that Hollywood has another cat and mouse game on their hands…