Pirate movie streaming sites and services continue to gain popularity, with 123movies at the forefront of this trend.
However, growth doesn’t always come easy. Over the past week the site has been suffering significant downtime, for unknown reasons. The site eventually returned during the weekend on the domain 123movieshd.to, but that wasn’t the end of the upheaval.
Yesterday the site switched to a new home, first renaming itself to Memovies, only to switch to Gomovies a few hours later.
While the site’s operators are staying quiet on the exact reason for the downtime, a site representative told TorrentFreak that GoMovies.to will be the site’s official domain, at least for the time being.
When asked about the reason for the name change, the representative said that it is in part to set itself apart from the many fake sites and proxies that appeared online recently.
The operators grew tired of the many fake sites that ranked very high in search engines with the 123movies brand. With the change, GoMovies will try to regain momentum.
The old 123movies.is and 123movies.to domain names are now linking to the new GoMovies one, and the site also confirmed the surprising brand change on its official Twitter account.
While GoMovies has a new domain name and logo, the rest of the site is pretty much intact. In fact, most of the references to 123movies are still present on the site, even in the site title and the FAQ section.
Although the turbulent week with several days of downtime remains largely unexplained, the site representative hopes that they will remain on the new domain for a while. However, we were told that it’s possible that they will have to change again in the future.
In addition to the site’s millions of users, 123movies / GoMovies developments are also being closely watched by copyright holders, who see the site as one of their main targets.
Hollywood previously reported the site to the U.S. Government’s Trade Representative, labeling it one of the most “notorious” pirate markets, and the site is blocked by UK ISPs as well. Last week, the US Ambassador to Vietnam turned up the pressure by urging a local minister to prosecute the site’s operators, who allegedly reside there.
Update: Perhaps unsurprisingly, at least one of the fake sites has switched to Gomovies already… Beating fake sites might not be as easy as expected.
Update 2: The 123movies representative now says he was informed by one of the operators of the site that the 123Movies domain was sold to a new group. That’s why it was rebranded to GoMovies.