Website blocking is without a doubt one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries.
India is no stranger to this measure either. Over the years, local courts have issued a variety of blocking orders, often to protect films upon their initial release.
This also happened last week. Following a request by Lyca Productions, the company behind the film “2.0,” the Madras High Court ordered 37 local ISPs to block access to a list of 12,564 domain names, should that be necessary to stop the film from being pirated.
When the news broke it was unknown whether this number referred to separate sites or domains. Local reports only indicated that 2,000 of the ‘websites’ are operated by notorious Tamil movie website TamilRockers.
This didn’t help, as we’re not aware of that many sites being operated by TamilRockers. Luckily, however, we managed to obtain a copy of the court order that explains what’s really going on here.
As it turns out, the Madras High Court didn’t list more than 12,000 separate websites. The order really only targets 16 prime targets, which we can easily list in a single paragraph.
These are Tamilrockers, Movierulz, Tamilmv, 1337x, Worldfree4u, Tamildbox, Tamilgun, Tamilrage, Isaimini, Filmlinks4u, Madrasrockers, Tamilyogi, Thiruttumovies, Mtamilrockers, Hiidude, and Mymoviesda.
So how did the court order get to 12,564 domain names? As it turns out, for each of the targeted ‘sites’ it lists hundreds of domain names. Quite exotic ones too, as can be seen below.
The person who came up with this idea must have thought that this was a great way to prevent pirate sites from simply registering a new domain. The majority of the domains are not even registered yet, which is something we’ve never seen before.
While the makers of 2.0 probably saw this as an ingenious plan, the reality is quite different.
Take the site Hiidude for example. They previously operated from Hiidide.biz and Hiidude.in. These are covered by the court order and so are other unregistered domain options, such as Hidude.lgbt, Hiidude.wtf, and even Hiidude.fail.
However, the site is not without additional options. Whether it’s in direct response to this court order or not, today Hiidude is operating from Hiidude1.in. It only took a single character to circumvent the entire court order.
In addition, it’s worth mentioning that the court order is not permanent. Instead, it only lasts until December 13, noting that the companies should block the domain names if that becomes necessary.
Perhaps more importantly, the order didn’t prevent the movie “2.0” from being leaked. Last weekend, Venkat informed TorrentFreak that a high-quality copy had leaked online. It reportedly came out first on the site TamilRockers, but it spread to other sites soon after.
This prompted Lyca Productions to retain the anti-piracy outfit “BLOCK X” to issue strongly-worded takedown requests to a variety of sites where “2.0” appeared.
“We demand that you expeditiously remove or disable access to the material in question. In the event of your non-compliance you will no longer be protected by the veil of safe harbor,” it reads, referencing the US DMCA.
Meanwhile, it appears that Indian law enforcement is also continuing to put pressure on Tamilrockers. Local news sites report that “a few” admins were arrested last week, while others state it was just one. The site remains operational though.
Interestingly this isn’t the first time that TamilRockers admins or members have been arrested. The same ‘reportedly’ happened early November, in July, in March, September 2017, and even years earlier.
Apparently, the site not only has a lot of domain names, but also plenty of admins.
A copy of the court order, obtained by TorrentFreak, is available here (pdf).