When you shut down popular torrent sites like KickAssTorrents, you’re bound to have to deal with clones. But Australia’s new court order probably won’t work at all. Here’s why.
Last year, the US Department of Justice shut down popular torrent search indexing site, KickAssTorrents. The site was long chased after by top music labels. However, following the main site’s closing, music labels have focused on dozens of clone sites in Australia. Now, backed up by a federal court order, they may not have succeeded in taking down the torrent search indexing giant. In fact, they may have fueled users’ efforts to circumvent upcoming ISP blocks.
KickAssTorrents’ Community Doesn’t Go Down Without a Fight
Once US authorities shut down the main site last year, loyal followers created a GoFundMe page. In it, user johnno23 wished for a more “Utopian society.” He raged against big companies and government organizations. johnno23 saw KAT’s closing as merely a casualty between “civilians and governments.” Speaking about the community KAT created, he said,
“[At KAT] we can debate without going to War. We can discuss without making political alliances where group A signs an accord with Group B to subjugate or ridicule Group C. This is our community and the powers that be had a momentary period where this community was set adrift.”
johnno23, along with other KAT administrators and moderators, promised not to recreate the website. KAT originally posted links to illegally distributed content, such as movies, music, TV shows, and pornography. Instead, with the funds, johnno23 promised to rebuild the KAT community.
The campaign quickly raised $1,116. However, GoFundMe shut down after reports that an unknown organizer (possibly johnno23) committed fraud. KAT administrators and moderators said,
“We’ve received reports of a ‘campaign organizer that was committing fraud’. For some reason, some envious people just live for the sole purpose of seeing others fail.”
But what about Australia?
Following the site’s closing, music labels focused on various spinoff websites in Australia. According to them, KickAssTorrents (KAT) showed a “complete disrespect for music creators and the value of music.” They filed a motion to have the site blocked in May 2016. Labels supporting this motion included Sony Music, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music.
The Australian Federal Court ruled in favor of music labels. The Court ordered over 20 Australian ISPs to block KickAssTorrents across various domain names. This includes KAT’s ‘unofficial’ clone, Katcr.co, and The Pirate Bay mockup, Kickass.cd. The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Justice Burley.
“The large number of monthly visits to the KAT website indicate that the infringement facilitated by the KAT website can be described as flagrant and reflect an open disregard for copyright on the part of the operators of the KAT website.”
ISPs in Australia now have two weeks to implement measures to block all KAT domains across the country.
Why this measure probably won’t work
Earlier this year, the Australian Federal Court ordered over fifty ISPs to block access to select pirating sites. These include ISOHunt, Torrentz, streaming service SolarMovie, and The Pirate Bay. However, ISPs relied on the easiest blocking method ordered by the Federal Court. By configuring their connections to Google’s DNS, users quickly circumvented the federal blocking order.
Following the order to block KickAssTorrents, ISPs will most likely rely on the same method ordered by the court. Thus, using the same method, as well as easy access to VPNs, users may easily circumvent this court order.