If we didn’t know better, we might conclude that ‘Cuevana’ is Spanish for ‘mole’.
The popular streaming piracy brand first appeared on the radar in 2009 and anti-piracy forces have been trying to ‘whack’ it ever since.
The original Cuevana site was founded by Tomas Escobar, at the time an engineering student in Cordoba, Argentina. By offering a Netflix-type streaming experience, with a bigger catalog and without any subscription fees, the pirate service quickly took off.
Taking Down Cuevana
It didn’t take long before rightsholders started to take notice of the millions of users flocking to the site. That marked the start of a series of enforcement campaigns that continues to this day.
Rightsholders and their anti-piracy representatives are no longer battling Escobar. The original founder moved on many years ago, and with an unrelated innovator accolade from MIT Technology Review, he now builds a career as an entrepreneur.
Escobar’s change of plans opened the doors for aspiring pirate tycoons, of which there were many. Over the past decade, many dozens of new Cuevana variants have launched, using creative domain name variations such as Cuevanahd, Cuevana2, and Cuevana3.
It is not always clear if and how these new variations are linked, but Cuevana remained a thorn in the site of Hollywood and was repeatedly featured on the U.S. Trade Representative’s list of notorious pirate sites.
“Cuevana is the most popular piracy site in the Spanish-speaking part of Latin America, offering more than 7,000 unlicensed television and movie titles,” the USTR wrote in its most recent overview.
ACE’s 2021 Breakthrough
Two years ago, the Alliance of Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) appeared to have made a breakthrough. The coalition announced that it had sent a cease and desist letter to the streaming portal’s Chilean operators, who decided to throw the towel.
This shutdown was legitimate and notable as it affected millions of users, but it didn’t shut down the Cuevana brand. In fact, Cuevana3.io, the leading domain at the time, remained online.
Earlier this year, we reported how Hollywood’s relentless pursuit of several Cuevana3 domains had failed to shut down the site. Cuevana3.io switched domains to Cuevana3.me and then Cuevana3.be. More recently, it was serving millions of monthly visits from Cuevana3.ai.
ACE Shuts Down ‘Another’ Cuevana
In an announcement yesterday, ACE said that this seemingly endless battle had come to an end. After tracking down the operator of Cuevana3.ai in the Piura District of Peru, the site was effectively pulled offline.
People who visit Cuevana3.ai, Cuevana3.me, Cuevana3.be, or any of the other domains run by this operator, are now directed to ACE’s “Watch Legally” page.
ACE informs TorrentFreak that it took control of 22 domain names in total, which were good for more than 100 million visits between March and May of this year. Some of these domains didn’t get any traffic but were kept as a backup, just in case.
“The largest Spanish-language piracy streamer in Latin America is no more, thanks to a tireless, global effort involving law enforcement and judicial authorities in several LATAM countries and ACE’s global teams in LATAM and other parts of the world,” says ACE boss Jan van Voorn.
An ACE spokesperson says that, according to their knowledge, no criminal charges will be filed against the operator. As long as the site stays offline, the main objective has been fulfilled.
There is indeed no doubt that this is a big score for ACE. However, history appears to be repeating itself once again. When the group reported that it took Cuevana offline two years ago, Cuevana3.io remained online.
Now that this Cuevana3.io threat has finally been dealt with, another Cuevana is filling the void. With over 110 million visits over the past three months, Cuevana3.ch is now in pole position, meaning that the whac-a-mole continues.