Over the past several months a series of domain name seizures by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has resulted in a mild panic among the owners of file-sharing related sites.
Knowing that they could lose their domain name without warning or due process, many have already secured several alternative domains. Others have taken it a step further and decided to move their sites to non-US controlled domains as a precaution. This example has not been followed by one of the most visited torrent sites.
KickassTorrents has been feeling the heat recently. It was one of the sites reported to the US Government last November by the MPAA, who said that it had a “commercial look and feel that could deceive users into thinking it is legitimate.” The United States Trade Representative (USTR) later copied this description in its overview of sites that are “notorious for infringing activities.”
Paired with the domain seizures, the increasing pressure from the entertainment industry lobby prompted the KickassTorrents team to look out for a new home. Soon the site will no longer be accessible on the .com domain, but on the Philippine extension .ph.
KickassTorrent’s founder told TorrentFreak that the move is mostly a precaution and that it is not related to a direct threat. Currently it is possible to access the site through both extensions, but we were informed that the site will move to the new domain entirely in the next two weeks.
“It is not a secret that today everything related to torrents gets a lot of heat from various organizations. So for the safety of our users and to secure the work of KickassTorrents we will in time lose the .com address,” the KickassTorrents team further informed its users in a recent announcement.
Earlier this week members of the US Congress pledged to pass a new bill which would further legitimize domain seizures as an anti-piracy tool. Several representatives, both Democratic and Republican, spoke out against online piracy in support of tougher measures.
The question is, however, how effective this type of measure is in the first place. As illustrated earlier, the costs in the form of constitutional issues and censorship concerns could outweigh the marginal results. KickassTorrents’ decision to move to a new domain is another example of how easily it can be to avoid a seizure.