A wearing a Vendetta mask using a laptop / Rex

Two of the most popular file-sharing sites have been taken offline in recent weeks — and both have come emerged again

KickAssTorrents, the world’s most popular file sharing site, was briefly seized last week but came straight back up at another address. It is the latest site to be briefly taken offline but pop straight back up again — demonstrating the weakness of the approach, which is often used but rarely works.

It’s one that hasn’t worked with The Pirate Bay, either. That has been repeatedly taken down, but the biggest recent seizure was by Swedish police in December. At the beginning of February, it was back up at the same address.

The takedowns usually come as a result of takedown requests from people acting on behalf of rights holders, asking for the site’s to be removed because they are sharing copyrighted media. The administrators of the domain names then remove the sites in order to keep themselves from legal trouble.

The sites are able to return largely because their administrators can simply move them to a different, non-seized address. In the case of KickAssTorrents, for instance, its moderators were kicked off its Somalian KickAss.so address and moved to the Tongan KickAss.to.


Other sites simply change their URL, rather than moving off the top level domains, such as .so.

They are able to do so because what is being seized is not the site itself, but its address. Like a real address, the site’s moderators can just pack up their things and move — before opening up shop elsewhere.

The move often takes some time — KickAssTorrents was down for a short period as it moved between sites — but they ultimately come back before rights holders can stop them fully. As a result, the approach is likely to keep sites down for some time, but never stop them entirely.