Most large torrent sites are published in the English language, with sites like The Pirate Bay and RARBG attracting massive international audiences. However, others can also build significant userbases by concentrating on local audiences.
Published entirely in French, YggTorrent provides a prime example of a site that has achieved remarkable success, despite not catering to the masses in the United States and Europe where English is broadly spoken. The site has in excess of 3.5 million registered members but that also ensures it’s a target for copyright holders.
Domain-Hopping During 2020
Earlier this year the site’s then-main domain, YggTorrent.ws, was suddenly disabled by its registrar Tucows without any advance warning, leaving the ominous ‘serverHold’ message behind. Given the levels of traffic to this domain, the suspension would’ve proven an irritant to the site, despite it having many other domains in backup to cater for this kind of action.
What followed was a switch to its Sweden-based YggTorrent.se domain, which was subsequently promoted as the main way to access the site. However, after just a few months since this change, that domain is also being targeted by copyright holder action.
Switch to a Brand New Slovenian Domain – YggTorrent.si
According to an announcement by Ygg, several ISPs in France recently began blocking the .se domain so rather than watch traffic levels fall, the site’s operators decided to take evasive action. With a switch to yet another new domain – the Slovenia-based YggTorrent.si – the site hopes it can mitigate blocking attempts, at least for a while.
The full list of ISPs now blocking the .se domain (which remains in use and acts as a redirect) isn’t clear but one of YggTorrent’s other domains, the Iceland-based YggTorrent.is, is reportedly on the blacklists of several providers including Free, VOO, Telenet, Brutélé, and Proximus.
The site’s Swiss-based domain is also affected by blocking. In 2019, following a complaint from local anti-piracy group SCPP, a Paris court ordered five French ISPs to block access to more than a dozen websites that link to pirated content. Included in that blocking order was YggTorrent.ch, a domain that is still being used by the site but only for redirection purposes.
Overall it appears that YggTorrent is getting used to the domain name whac-a-mole game it’s now engaged in. In addition to the .si domain now being touted as its primary access point, the site has many alternatives up its sleeve including the previously mentioned .se, .is and .ch domains, plus .gg and .to variants.
The site first experienced domain issues in 2018 when it was forced to abandon its .com domain following a complaint from French anti-piracy outfit SACEM. Considering what has happened since, it seems likely that the latest switch won’t be the last.
Finally, another big player in the French-language piracy scene has also announced a domain change. Previously known simply as Zone-Telechargement and rebranded as Zone-Annuaire earlier this year, this month the file-sharing giant consolidated under the ZT-ZA banner.
“We are aware that the fact of changing domain name ‘every four mornings’ is starting to weigh heavily BUT Google and the [copyright holders] are not the only ones to put obstacles in our wheels and therefore for the survival of your / our site, it is again with a powerful aversion that we are going to have, once again, to change the domain name: ZT-ZA.COM,” an announcement from the site reads.