YTS Breaks Unique Settlement Agreement by Uploading Pirated Films (Updated)

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With millions of users, YTS is arguably the most visited torrent site. The site owes its popularity to the constant stream of pirate movies it makes available. For several years, this excluded titles from Millennium Media, Voltage Pictures, and other independent film companies, due to a settlement agreement with the site's operator. However, somewhere along the line, YTS decided to disobey this agreement. logoTraditionally, when copyright holders go after pirate sites, their main mission is to shut them down permanently.

This strategy has resulted in the demise of thousands of websites over the past two decades.

In some cases these shutdowns are easy, only requiring a cease and desist order to be delivered to the owner’s home address. In others, disputes can escalate into prolonged legal battles where judges or juries have the final say.

YTS Lawsuits and Settlements

As one of the most iconic piracy brands, has also been targeted in court. In 2019, the popular torrent site and its operator were accused of facilitating mass copyright infringement in multiple U.S. lawsuits, filed by independent movie companies, including Millennium Media and Voltage Pictures.

While lawsuits against torrent sites are not new, these cases stood out due to the manner in which they were resolved. Instead of shutting the site down, the film companies reached settlement agreements with the operator in 2020, which allowed the site to continue operating.

In order to survive, YTS had to hand over some user details, while promising to pay over $1 million in piracy damages, on paper. In addition, the notorious torrent site agreed to remove torrents linking to the movie companies’ content and prevent them from being reuploaded.

This unprecedented deal caused quite the stir when YTS user data was put to work in other lawsuits against individual file sharers and Internet providers. In a very pragmatic sense, the settlement was a great deal for the movie companies. At least, for as long as it lasted.

YTS Uploads ‘Prohibited’ Films

Today, YTS no longer appears restricted by the terms of the agreement. While older Millennium Media and Voltage Pictures titles, such as The Hitman’s Bodyguard and The Expendables, are still not listed on the site, many newer releases are.

A simple search reveals that YTS distributes pirated copies of more recent films, including “Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife”, “The Offering”, “The Protege”, “Shut In” and “Last Seen Alive.”


The settlement agreement requires YTS to keep these films off the site, but that didn’t happen here. The filmmakers’ attorney, Kerry Culpepper, informs TorrentFreak that YTS complied with follow-up takedowns in the past, but he adds that recent requests were ineffective.

“It is unfortunate and disappointing that YTS is not complying with the permanent injunction/agreement of the 2020 Hawaii lawsuits requiring it to keep my clients’ movies removed from the website. We will consider the next steps,” Culpepper says.

What these ‘next steps’ are is not clear. In any case, the filmmakers can’t rely on the Hawaii court to enforce the settlement agreement, as the court’s jurisdiction over the matter expired at the end of 2021.

The most likely option appears to be to reinvigorate the legal battle in some way or another. Whether the filmmakers are open to another settlement is doubtful though, as there are some trust issues now.

Update: YTS has removed the films. We asked for a comment and will update this article accordingly if it comes in.


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