The Pirate Bay has been around for nearly two decades, which is quite an achievement considering the immense legal pressure it has faced over the years.
Swedish police tried to shut the site down, twice, raiding dozens of servers. This ultimate goal failed but local authorities did prosecute the site’s three co-founders, who all served time in prison for their involvement.
The notorious torrent site stood tall in the midst of this turmoil and continues to operate from thepiratebay.org until this day. While it is no longer the largest piracy site online, anti-piracy forces haven’t forgotten about it.
Pirate Bay Targeted in New Subpoena Wave
This week, we spotted yet another attempt to uncover the current operators. Through the Motion Picture Association, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) requested a DMCA subpoena at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
These subpoenas are not uncommon and are typically directed at third-party intermediaries, Cloudflare in this case. The Pirate Bay is a Cloudflare customer and through the court, ACE requests all useful information the California company has on its illustrious client.
“The subpoena requires that you provide information concerning the individuals offering infringing material described in the attached notice,” ACE informs Cloudflare.
“[Y]ou are required to disclose […] information sufficient to identify the infringers. This would include the individuals’ names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, payment information, account updates and account history.”
These DMCA subpoenas don’t require any judicial oversight. In most cases, they are swiftly signed off by a court clerk. The legal paperwork is then sent to Cloudflare, which typically replies with all relevant information it has on file.
Whether this will result in any useful information for ACE is hard to tell. The Pirate Bay knows all too well that these subpoenas exist so likely anticipated this request. After all, ACE targeted the site with a similar request three years ago.
In addition to The Pirate Bay, ACE subpoenas target a variety of other domain names as well. These include thesoap2day.com, cuevana2.biz, seriesflix.is, and more than a dozen others.
The domain tor.cat appears to be an odd entry, as that’s merely a redirect to a .onion domain on the dark web. The .onion domain belongs to DonTorrent, which previously taunted ACE by listing the anti-piracy coalition’s boss Jan Van Voorn as the site’s owner.
Van Voorn and his team hope that their new subpoena requests will help to pinpoint the owners of the listed sites. While results are not guaranteed, this strategy has proven to be effective in the past, at least in some cases.
“Disclosure requests have been a very effective way for ACE to expand its investigations,” Van Voorn previously told us.
“Through these processes we target all relevant intermediaries that have customer information that can help us identify the operator of a pirate site or service, including hosting providers, payment processors, advertising networks, etcetera.”
The information in Cloudflare’s administration isn’t always useful. Many operators of pirate sites and services use fabricated or inaccurate details to sign up, but ACE says that it often gets something useful out of it.
“While the information obtained does not always instantly identify the individual running a pirate operation, there are almost always leads we can follow that either give us investigative insights or that help confirm prior suspicions.”
Even if the information turns out to be useless for direct enforcement purposes, it can still prove helpful. After all, it can help ACE to argue that online intermediaries should have stricter Know Your Business Customer (KYBC) requirements.