Sweden, Isle of Man Move to Revoke Domain Names in Battle Against File-Sharing Sites

The Isle of Man has knocked filesharing site KickassTorrents off its Internet registry, and Sweden could soon do the same for The Pirate Bay.

On Friday, the Isle of Man took action against the world's leading online file-sharing site, KickassTorrents, revoking the .IM domain name from the site less than 24 hours after KickassTorrents moved its online location to the small island in the Irish sea. 

It was the latest in what has become a cat-and-mouse game between filesharing sites and the copyright protection groups that accuse them of online piracy.

Anti-piracy groups continue to find new technical or legal ways to shut down people trying to illegally share films and TV series online and as soon as they do, the pirates find a new way around them.

Revoking a domain name – the lettered code at the end of an Internet address that denotes under which legal authority the site operates – is one method of disrupting file-sharers. Popular torrent site often see a drop in traffic after a domain is pulled. Most, however, quickly set up a new domain. KickassTorrents, for one, announced it is moving its site to the Costa Rica-based domain .cr.

Sweden is also looking to revoke the official online status of The Pirate Bay, another popular, and notorious, sharing site. A Swedish court will decide next week if The Pirate Bay should be stripped of its .se domain, an address it has had for the past two years. The Swedish case is unique because, for the first time, the country is directly suing the nation's Internet domain registry - Punkt SE, accusing it of "abetting criminal activity or breaching copyright law.”

If the case succeeds, Punkt SE will be forced to prevent anyone from registering the Pirate Bay domain names, a ruling that copyright holders could use as a precedent to get more alleged piracy sites yanked off registries across Europe. 

It's questionable, however, how effective that would be in fighting piracy. Copyright holders have enjoyed some positive press in recent months. In April, British police arrested a 26-year-old man alleged to be behind the illegal leak of Expendables 3. Late last year, Swedish authorities managed to shut down The Pirate Bay for nearly a month.

But while traffic to shuttered sites drops, it tends to shift elsewhere. KickassTorrents and other filesharers noted an uptick after The Pirate Bay shutdown. The overall impact on online piracy appears, so far, to have been negligible.  

Twitter: @scottroxborough

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