Every year, TorrentFreak compiles a list of the most popular torrent sites in the world. The vast majority are general purpose sites that link to a wide variety of content, meaning they are of interest to most people.
However, a major outlier is Nyaa, a site focused on anime and other East Asian media. That makes its position among the top five torrent sites in the whole world even more impressive since it derives large volumes of traffic from a relative niche audience
Located at Nyaa.si, the platform is a reincarnation of the now-defunct Nyaa.se and like its predecessor has had its fair share of copyright-related issues. In 2018, Nyaa.si was kicked out by Cloudflare for alleged abuse of its copyright systems, a claim denied by the site. Now, however, things have become much more personal.
MPA Targets Individuals Allegedly in Power at Nyaa
Documents obtained by TorrentFreak dated September reveal the MPA, acting through legal representatives, attempting to pressure individuals who they believe are important at Nyaa and could have the ability to shut the site down.
Information suggests that several people in North America, Europe, and Australia have all received similar correspondence. The letters allege massive copyright infringement via the Nyaa site and include a sample of copyrighted works, to which the MPA’s members hold the rights, that were allegedly infringed via the platform.
The MPA clearly states that none of its cited members (Disney, Paramount, Universal, Columbia, Warner Bros, and Netflix, in addition to Amazon) have granted their permission for the works to be made available via Nyaa or the BitTorrent network(s) that underpin it. As a result, “significant, irreparable damage” has already been caused to the copyright owners by the site’s activities.
The Targets and the Demands of the MPA
While emailed threats are still a common anti-piracy strategy, we are informed that at least two of the individuals were personally served with legal documents at their homes. Others were served with similar documents via regular mail.
We are currently unable to determine exactly how many people were served in total. At the moment the suggestion is around five but that may not be the full picture. What we do know is that some or all stand accused of being part of the mysterious ‘Anime Cartel’ supposedly behind Nyaa.
TorrentFreak has no way to confirm whether those who received letters are in any position of power at Nyaa but we are told that some – if not all – were at some point involved in fansubbing – i.e creating subtitles for anime releases that appeared on Nyaa. Nevertheless, the MPA appears to be operating from the position that these individuals are key to the running of Nyaa so, as a result, are making several demands.
With immediate effect, recipients have been told to take all necessary steps to ensure that Nyaa is completely shut down. The MPA also wants to take control of the site’s domain – Nyaa.si – a common tactic in other anti-piracy actions. Overall, recipients are warned that they must cease-and-desist any and all of their activities related to the site, including making available the copyrighted works of the MPA’s members.
Demands for Cash Settlements
Documentation seen by TorrentFreak indicates that the MPA’s outreach represents an opportunity to bring the allegedly-infringing activities to an early conclusion, thereby avoiding what could develop into costly legal action. Perhaps unsurprisingly, at least some of the individuals are being given an opportunity to pay a financial settlement to help that along.
We understand that when combined, these settlements (payable in local currency) amount to many tens of thousands of dollars but based on current information, it is unclear whether any of the letter recipients have taken the movie group up on its offer.
In addition to receiving settlements, it appears that the MPA also wants information on the Nyaa service and its operations. The MPA also wants the rights to the Nyaa site and any technologies connected to it, wherever the recipient has the ability to transfer those rights. The MPA also demands that those entering into a settlement agreement should never infringe its members’ rights again.
MPA Demands Silence in Respect of the Settlement Agreement
It is common for the MPA and associated Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment to demand confidentiality from their targets. On the other hand, it’s also common for them to insist that when they want to publicize a settlement, they may do so.
The settlement offers currently on the table don’t deviate from this standard, noting that while the agreement must remain confidential, the MPA reserves the right to publicize its achievements in the event Nyaa is shut down.
Nyaa is Still Online
TorrentFreak isn’t able to confirm whether the individuals approached have anything to do with the running of Nyaa or whether any are negotiating with the MPA in some way, either along the lines of their settlement offers or perhaps outside of those less formally.
What we can confirm is that the MPA demanded that the torrent site should be quickly shut down in September and that has clearly not happened. For the site’s tens of millions of monthly visitors that will come as a relief, particularly considering the untimely demise of HorribleSubs, a group dedicated to official stream-ripping, just over a month ago.