In early June, police across Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands coordinated to carry out the largest anti-piracy operation of its type to date. The main focus was movie streaming portal Kino.to, which was shut down following more than a dozen arrests.
Kino.to hosted no illicit content itself but indexed material stored on file-hosters and other streaming services. While it carried thousands of links to the latest English language blockbusters, Kino.to was most popular among German visitors due to its vast indexes of local language movies.
Not long after the site disappeared, another site – Kinox.to – appeared claiming to be Kino.to resurrected, but although it did have some striking graphical similarities, it wasn’t necessarily the official “real deal” replacement for the downed site.
What we didn’t know at the time was that an ambitious plan to properly bring back Kino.to was already in the making.
According to a document obtained by TorrentFreak titled “übernahmevertrag” (“acquisition agreement”) and dated nearly 3 months ago, the Kino.to “Internet Project” has been sold to a company called Kinoo GmbH.
The purchase included “…the Kino.to domain and all the programs and databases to the project” plus servers and hardware located at a datacenter in Russia.
The document indicates that the handover took place on 27th July 2011 and the databases were transferred via a USB stick and two CDs.
“The purchase price amounts to € 1.5 million, the money will be transferred in two parts of € 750,000 each into the seller’s account,” the signed acquisition papers conclude.
The new owners of the site have informed TorrentFreak that within a week the Kino.to domain will be operating in tandem with Kinoo.to (note the double ‘o’), the URL of the new site that is already in operation.
Because the police took control of Kino.to’s DNS during the raids, the original domain still currently points to a notice saying the site has been seized, but it won’t stay that way for long. A domain transfer to the new owner is currently underway and should be complete in a matter of days.
The resurrection of Kino.to will probably come as quite a surprise to the German Federation Against Copyright Theft (GVU) and MPAA who previously listed Kino.to as a leading “notorious pirate market” in their submission to the U.S. Government.
However, according to Alexander Baumgärtner from Kinoo GmbH iG, the German-based company that acquired Kino.to, the site’s rebirth will also signal a new approach to its operations.
“Our goal is to provide a serious and legitimate streaming project,” Baumgärtner told TorrentFreak, adding that a limited company in the Cologne area has been established and new offices acquired. Offshore companies, it seems, are off the agenda.
“We understand that Kino.to has a very questionable reputation due to the events of the last years, particularly in June 2011, but we believe that the basic framework of Kino.to is by far the best platform in the market currently and we are convinced that € 1.5 million is a perfectly justifiable price, since many users have the domain ‘Kino.to’ in their bookmarks.”
With a claim that “Kinoo.to will revolutionize the entire German market,” Baumgärtner notes that there are no plans to expand to other countries yet since licenses are not in place.
These developments are intriguing on a number of fronts, so it will be interesting to see how this one plays out in the weeks to come, particularly given the long list of Hollywood blockbusters on the Kinoo.to front page….