There’s no denying the many victories of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) over the past few years.
The anti-piracy group, which represents the major Hollywood studios and other prominent rightsholders such as Apple, BBC, and Netflix, systematically hunts down key piracy players.
A few weeks ago, ACE claimed one of the most significant successes this year by shutting down 2Embed following negotiations with its Hanoi, Vietnam-based operator.
2Embed was one of the key services that took the pirate streaming world by storm. The site offered access to a catalog of pirate streaming links for 300,000 movies and TV shows, which could easily be embedded in any website by simply using an IMDb ID for reference.
Zoro’s Last Minute Acquisition
Right around the time 2Embed went offline, Zoro.to came out with some surprising news. With over 200 million visits the anime streaming portal was one of the largest pirate sites until last June, when it was suddenly acquired by a new team, who redirected it to Aniwatch.to.
This sudden takeover likely wasn’t a coincidence. 2Embed and Zoro.to were reportedly operated by the same person who, after ACE paid a visit to Vietnam, struck a deal with the anti-piracy alliance. And indeed, both 2Embed and Zoro.to now redirect to ACE’s ‘Watch Legally’ page.
This major success was tainted, however, as Zoro’s earlier redirect to Aniwatch.to was rather effective. This new streaming portal came out of nowhere and is now one of the largest piracy portals online with 277 million monthly visits in August.
ACE Goes After Aniwatch
With this new site pupping up right under the noses of MPA and ACE, it is no surprise that Aniwatch is now a priority target. And indeed, through two recent subpoenas, rightsholders are attempting try to discover who’s in charge.
Late last week, MPA requested several DMCA subpoenas at a federal court in California. These subpoenas are directed at Cloudflare and the Tonic domain registry, listing a variety of targets including Aniwatch.to.
The subpoenas were requested on behalf of ACE members with the aim of obtaining the personal details of the people who operate Aniwatch.to, Gogoanimehd.to, Myflixerz.to and several other domains.
Specifically, ACE seeks “names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, payment information, account updates and account histories of the users” who operate the allegedly infringing websites.
More High Traffic Sites
Aniwatch is without a doubt the biggest target, but the other sites have massive traffic levels too. Gogoanimehd.to, for example, logged more than 90 million visits last month, while Myflixerz.to came close to 60 million.
In addition to the .to domain registry, ACE also seeks the same information from Cloudflare through a DMCA subpoena. These recent subpoena requests are part of a bigger push that targets dozens of domain names, which are listed at the bottom of this article.
All in all, it’s clear that, despite the major enforcement efforts this year, ACE still has plenty of ground to cover. While it sometimes seems like a perpetual game of whack-a-mole, rightsholders hope that their perseverance will eventually pay off.