Torrent Site Switched Domains 39 Times This Year to Evade ISP Blocks

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Spanish torrent site DonTorrent has taken the domain name whack-a-mole game to a new level. Responding to local site blocking measures, the site has used 40 domain names this year. Anti-piracy forces are also trying to frustrate the site in other ways but, thus far, without much result.

dontorrentWebsite blocking is the entertainment industry’s preferred anti-piracy strategy in dozens of countries.

Targeting domain names of pirate sites can be an effective way to deter casual pirates. When a site can no longer be easily located, some users may give up, especially since Google now deindexes blocked domains as well.

Popular pirate sites have been familiar with these measures for years now. While some simply ignore the issue, hoping that users will find a way around it, others are actively pushing back. Spanish torrent site DonTorrent falls in the latter category.

With millions of monthly visitors, DonTorrent is a force to be reckoned with. The site is particularly popular in Spain and offers links to a curated selection of torrents.

Following complaints from rightsholders, the torrent site is blocked by Spanish Internet providers. While this is a nuisance for the site’s operator and users, it hasn’t exactly decimated DonTorrent’s traffic or tempered its attitude.

Traffic Unchanged

Instead of laying low, DonTorrent typically chooses a more offensive route. The site’s operators are openly playing with the likeness of Jan van Voorn, the head of the influential anti-piracy alliance ACE, for example.

In addition, the site does all it can to fight back against the blocking efforts. DonTorrent shared several unblocking tips with its users, and also added a .onion domain to make the site accessible on the Tor network.

A DonTorrent spokesperson informs us that these efforts paid off as traffic remains stable. There are seasonal variations, but those are not blocking-related. If anything, the torrent site sees traffic boosts when streaming services raise their prices.

We can’t independently verify these traffic trends but it’s clear that the site still has a sizable community. The official Telegram channel currently has nearly 80,000 users, who are regularly updated about domain name changes.

Domain Name Whack-a-Mole

The communication channel is much needed as the torrent site doesn’t exactly have a stable home. Spanish ISPs are regularly instructed to block new DonTorrent domains, which has already happened 39 times this year.


Every time a new domain is blocked, DonTorrent quickly registers and launches an alternative, so its users can get around these measures for a while.

“We don’t have any domain names parked and ready to use, what we do is register it that same day when we see the block,” DonTorrent informs us, explaining that this is a conscious strategy.

“In the past, we did reserve some domain names and pointed these to our Cloudflare account, but we discovered that [Jan van Voorn] or one of his henchmen were checking the new ‘dontorrent’ TLD registrations.”

Whether ACE was checking the domains or another rightsholder representative isn’t clear, but someone was keeping a close eye on the backup domains. They were blocked before becoming active, rendering preparations futile.

The last domain name change took place earlier this week, typically at a rate of one domain per week. In some cases, there’s a slightly longer delay, which often coincides with public holidays.

Scammers Galore

Besides ISP blockades, the torrent site also has trouble with some anti-virus companies that block its new domains, seemingly without reason.

“The funny thing is that they apologize when we complain about these false positives, but they can’t explain what happened. They remove the blocks, but only if we notify them,” DonTorrent says.

It’s possible that a sudden surge in traffic for newly registered domains may set off some algorithmic alarm bells. Ironically, however, copycat pirate sites that scam people by requesting their credit card details, can often operate freely.

These scam websites typically use the brands of popular pirate sites to exploit the fact that these sites are regularly blocked or shut down. The more effective anti-piracy efforts are, the bigger this problem gets.

DonTorrent says it wouldn’t be surprised if anti-piracy forces were behind these dodgy schemes. While there is no evidence for that at all, rightsholders certainly use the phenomenon in their messaging.

In recent months, various anti-piracy campaigns and lobbying efforts have highlighted the potential for scams and credit card fraud. These campaigns effectively bring things full circle.

Scammers or not, DonTorrent doesn’t seem intent on stopping anytime soon. The site’s deviant actions have turned it into a big anti-piracy trophy, but one that seems out of reach, at least for the time being.


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