Pirate Sites Worldwide Face Emerging, Perpetual Threat of Domain Seizures

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Pirate sites are facing an emerging and potentially global threat of domain name seizures that goes way beyond anything seen before. A pirate site blocking order obtained by the studios of the MPA in India encapsulates the incremental steps taken in recent years. The end result is so expansive that almost any site offering the studios' content, even that yet to be made, could face perpetual domain name suspensions. No matter where they are in the world.

warningOver the past several years and especially over the past several months, major rightsholders’ interest in India appears to have risen.

India’s piracy rates provide the most obvious explanation but seemingly sudden and escalating use of India-based anti-piracy outfits is more difficult to quantify. Maybe they’re simply cheaper than the alternatives, or perhaps the jurisdiction has benefits. Certainly, Indian courts might already be providing access to one of the most powerful anti-piracy tools seen in years.

Cautious Approach Disappears Into History

Last May, the High Court in Delhi issued an injunction that among other things, required ISPs to block domain names that hadn’t even been registered. That was just another example of what can be obtained relatively easily from an Indian court today that would’ve been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Guided by the experience of courts in other jurisdictions, in April 2019 the High Court of Delhi issued the country’s first dynamic injunction, carefully crafted to deal with pirate site countermeasures such as domain hopping and mirror sites.

The Court acknowledged the “wide ramifications” of permanent site-wide blocking orders, the need to mitigate risk of over-blocking, and the corresponding need for judicial scrutiny. Justice Manmohan’s order also considered the importance of balancing the interests of rightsholders, ISPs, and the public, with a strictly proportionate response to online piracy.

Supercharging Site-Blocking

Having brought India right up to date, courts seemed happy to press ahead. Within months, a court ordered the preemptive blocking of over 1,100 websites, to protect a movie that hadn’t been released yet, while injunctions issued previously were updated to tackle the hydras.

In September 2022, the High Court of Delhi issued a site-blocking injunction that required domain registrars in the United States to immediately suspend a list of site domain names. The stated aim was to prevent an unreleased movie from appearing on those domains, at an unknown date sometime in the future. A month later another court handed down an order to block over 13,400 sites to protect another unreleased movie.

Major U.S. rightsholders could ask a court in the United States for something similar but for obvious reasons, have not. However, Indian courts are much more predictable and, when it comes to site-blocking injunctions, now seem receptive to new mechanisms being included to ensure compliance.

Suspending Domains Under Dynamic+ Injunctions

What we’re able to show today is that at least one domain registrar in the United States has suspended domain names under the instructions of the High Court of Delhi. The suspensions are part of a dynamic+ injunction issued in India last year, to protect the rights of several Hollywood studios and Netflix, ostensibly in India.

There are more than 70 domains in the injunction and orders for domain registrars to suspend them all have already been issued.

fztvseries.mobi, mobiletvshows.net, www.stagatv.com, vexmovies.uno, coolmoviez.cloud, coolmoviez.com.de, coolmoviez.com.co, fztvseries.mobi, mobiletvshows.net, www.stagatv.com, vexmovies.uno, www.coolmoviez.cloud, www.coolmoviez.com.de, www.coolmoviez.com.co, aniwave.to, aniwave.bz, aniwave.ws, aniwave.tv, www.animehana.in, www.animesenpai4u.com, gogoanime.is, w7.123animes.mobi, anix.to, freemovies2021.com, freemovieswatch.tv, freemovieswatch.net, medeberiyaa.com, medeberiyaa.com, kinogo.biz, ridomovies.pw, lmoviestv.com, moviehax.me, ripcrabbyanime.in, moviehunt.us, mlwbd.rent, mlwbd.digital, mlwbd.love, mlwbd.me, mlwbdofficial.com, mlwbd.photos, www.mov.onl, nyafilmer.gg, 02tvseries2.com, projectfreetv.one, raretoons.me, raretoonsindia.in.net, uflix.cc, waatchmoviess.top, waatchmovies.top, watchmoviiess.top, yifymovies.xyz, kickassanime.am, kaas.am, kickass.onl, wwI.kickass.help, hindimoviesonline.to, www.hindimovies.to, freedrivemovie.lol, freeseries.watch, hdmp4mania2.com, hdmp4mania I .net, genvideos.org, hdflixtor.com, www.24-hd.com, 123serieshd.ru, anihdplay.com, nocensor.cloud, nocensor.click, www2.showbox-movies.net, moviestowatch.tv, moviestowatch.cc, torrentbay.net

The most striking domain in the list is Aniwave.to, a site dedicated to anime that currently receives 317 million visits per month; roughly 40% from the U.S., 9% from the United Kingdom, 8% from Canada, 3.5% Australia, and 2.5% Philippines.

Whatever percentage visit from India, it’s less than 2.5% of the site’s traffic according to SimilarWeb stats. A domain suspension, meanwhile, has global repercussions.

MPA Requests Blocking Injunction

“In a continued effort to curb dissemination of pirated content and its availability on internet, the Plaintiffs who are well established Hollywood Studios have approached this Court seeking blocking and removal of their copyrighted content, from the internet, accessed through rogue websites,” an order handed down by the High Court of Delhi explains.


“The suit is filed against a number of rogue websites who are unlawfully disseminating and communicating a large quantum of copyrighted content of the Plaintiffs,” the order continues, adding that the content “can be accessed and viewed on a variety of devices including Televisions, Personal Computers, Laptops, Tablets, Mobile Phones, etc.”

The order notes that the “rogue websites” offer “illegal viewing almost on a real-time basis” of the studios’ content including Stranger Things, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman, Spider Man: No Way Home, Top Gun: Maverick, and The Jungle Book.

Court Issues Dynamic+ Injnction

In light of the claims, the Court says it’s necessary to restrain the sites from streaming, reproducing, distributing, making available to the public and/or communicating to the public, in any manner, any copyrighted content owned by the Plaintiffs including any content they may own in the future.

The scope of the injunction includes all domains listed above, plus any mirror/redirect websites or alphanumeric websites or any variations thereof. At this point the scope of the injunction starts to become apparent.

“….websites identified in the present suit or any mirror/redirect websites or alphanumeric websites, or any variations thereof including those websites which are associated with the Defendants’ websites either based on the name, branding, identity of its operator, or discovered to provide additional means of accessing the Defendant’s website, and other domains/ domain along with their sub-domains and sub-directories, owners, website operators/ entities or even sources of content.”

Assumed association due to “sources of content” could be significant. The vast majority of movie and TV show piracy sites use the same pool of movie and TV show content by default. Arguing these sources of content are effectively the same wouldn’t be difficult in this type of court procedure, especially when arguing otherwise would require a pirate site operator to explain to the contrary.

Block Domains But Also Suspend Them

The order instructs local ISPs to block the domains listed above and as explained, any and all domains (plus “associated” domains) that subsequently appear to facilitate access to them, in perpetuity. However, it also goes further still by ordering domain name registrars to “lock and suspend” all affected domains while handing over domain owners’ details to the Hollywood studios.

“The Domain Name Registrars (DNRs) of the rogue websites’ domain names, upon being intimated by the Plaintiffs shall lock and suspend the said domain names. In addition, any details relating to the registrants of the said domain names including KYC, credit card, mobile number, etc. be also provided to the Plaintiffs,” the order reads.

Whether all registrars will comply remains to be seen but if they want to continue doing business in India, they appear to have little choice. Non-compliance could mean that registrars themselves will be blocked by ISPs.

TorrentFreak can confirm that at least two domains were suspended recently due to this action; fztvseries.mobi and mobiletvshows.net

“In the month of December, Namecheap suspended our domains based on the order from an Indian court,” the former owner of the domains informed us this week.

“The suspension was done without any warning or any sort of communication from either Namecheap or the plaintiff. It was only after noticing the suspension that we reached out to Namecheap. It took approximately five days for Namecheap to reply with an explanation for the suspension.”

Communication between the domain owner and Namecheap is included below.

Follow-up request for informationdomain-comms

Eventual response from Namecheapdomains suspended

“Indian courts have a reputation of issuing broad orders that encompass thousands of websites in a single directive, often without thorough verification. Such practices could potentially cause significant global disruption, especially if domain registrars begin to comply with orders from various countries,” the former domain owner concludes.

The sites in question have moved to new domains (fztvseries.live and mobiletvshows.site) and claim that traffic levels have returned to 80% of the levels seen before the suspensions.

Given the nature of the injunction, those domains are vulnerable to being blocked at bare minimum or even seized again. The bigger question is whether Indian courts are now being viewed as the preferred option for enforcement moving forward.

The order issued by the High Court of Delhi can be found here (pdf)

The domains affected by the initial order are listed below but according to the Court’s instructions, any domains that can be linked to these sites or their operators in future must also be blocked and suspended

hdmp4mania I .net


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