Kickass Torrents is a website which is similar to Pirate Bay and mainly differs by the fact that it was the #2 most popular torrent site in the world. Both sites facilitate the search for torrent files, a format that is designed to be shared over peer to peer networks in increase bandwidth efficiency and that is often used to share big pirated content files. You have probably heard of all the trouble that the Pirate Bay went through (it has just been blocked in Ireland by local ISPs) and it looks like authorities worldwide are going down the list after being petitioned by the media industry to do so.
In this case, the music labels from the Philippines have asked the local authorities to take down KAT.ph since they believe that the site is infringing on their intellectual property (IP). To act upon this, the government has effectively seized the domain with the help of the local registar (dotPH) which originally asked for a court order before carrying the transfer of control. This is now done and with all the paperwork in order, the domain is firmly under the control of the local government.
It is a local affair between the Philipino music industry and this particular .ph website, but many people suspect that the US government has been applying pressure behind the scenes because it has placed the Philippines on its copyrights watch list. The phrase “The United States looks to the Philippines to take important steps to address piracy over the Internet, in particular with respect to notorious online markets,” from this report (PDF link) would be the main indication that the US is expecting local authorities to act.
Now what? It looks like Kickass Torrents has to find a new home, and it is now done with a move to Kickass.to which is the domain extension for Tonga, a small Polynesian sovereign state made up of 176 islands. It is clear that this will buy some time to Kickass Torrents since a new round of paperwork would be required to shut them down, but with time and money on the side of the music industry it is hard to believe that this haven will last forever.
Now, the question is: who’s next?
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