After reporting on thousands of file-sharing related stories around the globe for almost ten years, the folks here at TF have a ‘feel’ for how certain scenarios play out. With that in mind, something doesn’t feel right with the ongoing drama involving YTS / YIFY.
When sites as big as YTS get taken down by the MPAA, RIAA, or their partners around the world, these organizations usually order their PR departments to repeatedly bash the big button marked “CONGRATULATIONS TO US”. Yet for weeks following the YTS shut down there was complete silence.
Details of the multi-million dollar lawsuit supposedly filed in New Zealand are nowhere to be found either. And if one was expecting the usual “Shut down by ICE/FBI/DELTA FORCE” banner to appear on YTS.to instead of the usual YIFY movie rips, then there’s only disappointment there too.
Ok, the MPAA have this week admitted they’re behind the shutdown, but the way it’s being handled is extremely puzzling. The announcement from MPAA chief Chris Dodd was muted to say the least and the somewhat compulsory gloating at having taken down one of the world’s most important piracy sites is almost non-existent.
This is odd for a number of reasons, not least when one considers the nature and scale of the operation. YIFY / YTS released as many as five thousand copies of mainstream movies onto the Internet. Between them they were shared dozens of millions of times, at least. Over the past decade those kinds of numbers – and a lot less – have seen people jailed for up to five years in the United States and elsewhere.
Yet according to credible sources the operator of YTS – a 21-year-old who for unknown reasons isn’t even being named – has already settled his beef with the MPAA. This, despite running a site that has been repeatedly listed as a worldwide notorious market in the USTR’s Special 301 Report.
Of course, the operator of YTS isn’t in the United States, he’s in New Zealand, but geographical boundaries are rarely an issue for Hollywood. Take the drama surrounding Kim Dotcom and his former site Megaupload, for example.
Like the operator of YTS, Dotcom also lives in New Zealand. Importantly, it’s never been claimed that Dotcom uploaded anything illegal to the Internet (let alone thousands of movies) yet he was subjected to a commando-like raid on his home by dozens of armed police. He’s also facing extradition to the United States where he faces decades in jail.
Now, think of the flamboyant Dotcom what you will. Then feel relieved for the admin of YTS, who by many accounts is a thoroughly nice guy and has somehow managed to save his own skin, despite providing much of the content for global phenomenon Popcorn Time.
But then try to get a handle on how differently these two people are being treated after allegedly committing roughly the same offenses in exactly the same country. One case is still dragging on after almost four years, with tens of millions spent on lawyers and no end in sight. The other was a done deal inside four weeks.
Earlier this week TorrentFreak spoke with Kim Dotcom who told us he’d been following the YTS story in the media. Intrigued, we wanted to know – how does it feel to be raked over the coals for close to four years, have all your property seized, face extradition and decades in jail, while someone just up the road can walk away relatively unscathed from what would’ve been a slam-dunk case for the MPAA?
“It’s a double standard isn’t it?” Dotcom told TF.
“I think our case has chilled law enforcement and Hollywood against pursuing the criminal route in cases such as this. Quick civil settlements seem to be the new way to go.”
Dotcom may well be right and the fact that New Zealand already has a massive headache because of his case may well have been a factor in the decision not to make a huge example of the YTS operator. At the moment no one is talking though, and it’s entirely possible that no one ever will.
That makes a case like this all the more unsettling. Are we witnessing Hollywood’s ability to switch on a massive overseas law enforcement response in one case and then reel in the United States government in another? It’s worth saying again – YTS was a ‘notorious market’ in the eyes of the USTR yet apparently that be dealt with privately these days.
But with all that being said, it is quite possible that the U.S. government has learned lessons from its heavy-handed actions in 2012 and doesn’t want to repeat them again, least of all in New Zealand, a country whose judges must be growing tired of the Dotcom debacle.
“As the DOJ admitted the Megaupload case is a test case. The test isn’t going well for them,” Dotcom concludes.
And for that the guy behind YTS must be thanking his lucky stars.