YTS.to, one of the most popular movie torrenting websites, has shut down following the threat of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit from the MPAA. The operator of YTS reached a settlement with the MPAA, possibly in exchange for information. Users were devastated when MovieTube was permanently shut down earlier this year following a lawsuit by the MPAA. Now the YTS website and its release group, YIFY, are following in MovieTube’s footsteps. The website only shows a blank page and the domain has been signed over to the MPAA.
A Facebook page claiming to be from YTS told a different story at first and promised that the service, which allows users to download copyrighted movies, would be back up soon. However, TorrentFreak confirmed with Heavy that this page is fake. Many other fake sites are popping up, claiming to be new versions of YTS.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Website, YTS.to, & YIFY Are Shut Down Forever After Facing a Lawsuit From the MPAA
According to TorrentFreak, YTS.to and YIFY are shut down forever. “That site/release group is never coming back,” Andy from TorrentFreak told Heavy. For over a week, the YTS site was down without any warning or explanation, and YIFY stopped issuing any new releases. At first, it was thought to just be a DDOS attack or internal server errors. But now it’s known that YIFY has been completely dismantled and will not release any more torrents. Neither the site nor its operator have made an official statement.
Now it’s been revealed that YIFY and YTS were shut down because of a lawsuit from the MPAA. The MPAA studios filed a suit against YTS in New Zealand on October 12, Variety reported. The MPAA then obtained an interim injunction that ordered the YTS operator to shut down the site and not promote it in any fashion. The MPAA released a statement detailing the shutdown of YTS and Popcorn Time, which you can read in full here.
Many users liked YTS because it allowed movie downloading at smaller sizes, with decent quality that could play on almost any device. Visitors also liked how user friendly the website was. However, critics complained that the encodes weren’t that great because they were actually second transcodes. Some said that YIFY was deceptive because the bitrates dropped on the second half of the encoding for many movies.
2. A YTS Facebook Page Claimed the Shutdown Was Temporary, But That Page Is Fake
A YTS Facebook page that has been around since 2012 is claiming that the shutdown is temporary. On October 28, the page posted a graphic celebrating getting 10,000 likes. On October 24, it posted a message saying the site got “dosed” (denial of service attacked) and would be back up in a few days, possibly a week. A similar message was posted on Reddit by a user claiming to be with YTS, who later apologized and said the site was gone forever. That user was later shown to be fake.
TorrentFreak confirmed with Heavy that the YTS Facebook page is fake and has nothing to do with the service. The Facebook page has been quite diligent since 2012, posting updates about YTS and hosting design contests purportedly for the page.
3. The YTS Admin Disappeared Without Explanation And Has Reached a Settlement With the MPAA, Possibly in Exchange for Information
The operator of YTS, who is a New Zealand resident from Mt Wellington, has not made any official announcements about the MPAA’s crackdown. As HackedNews pointed out, the YTS servers aren’t down yet and the domain name still works, but all you see when you visit is a blank, white page Since the initial report, YTS has signed its domain over to the MPAA, TorrentFreak reported.
TorrentFreak reported that the operator of YTS had reached a settlement with the MPAA, but the exact terms haven’t been released. TorrentFreak has posited that based on the terms of other similar settlements, YTS’ agreement could include exchanging information for lesser charges or fines.
The last time anything major happened with YTS was when the site switched to a new domain name in March, from YTS.re to YTS.to. The switch occurred because the French domain registry suspended YTS.re due to copyright infringement pressure. At that time, the admin posted a note on the YTS blog (which you can read at the Internet archive here) explaining the change.
4. There Aren’t Many Alternatives Left, & Fake Sites Are Trying to Take Advantage of the Shutdown
According to people who used the service, there aren’t a lot of alternatives left. On a related Reddit thread, some people suggested CouchPotato, Shaanig.com, bird-hd.info, KAT, and Scene releases. These sites all have copyrighted movies, which is why many are being shut down. Sites like Hulu, Amazon Instant, and Netflix offer subscription services for legally accessing copyrighted movies.
Meanwhile, many fake sites are popping up, trying to trick people into thinking that YTS moved to a new domain. These are fake websites with similar names designed to draw people in, along with fake Facebook pages, TorrentFreak reported. These fake sites include yify-torrent.org and yify-movie.com. Andy from TorrentFreak shared with Heavy: “In fact, anything that currently claims to be YIFY or YTS is fake and should be avoided.”
5. Around the Same Time, the MPAA Also Shut Down Popcorn Time
Around the same time that YTS shut down with no warning, Popcorn Time and its related social media accounts also disappeared. This happened around the same time that BrowserPopcorn was taken down. At first, it was reported that Popcorn Time suffered internal strife from its team, which shut down Popcorntime.io, the most popular fork of the service. But now it’s been revealed that all these shutdowns are related to a coordinated effort by the MPAA to bring down pirating sites and services. On October 9, the MPAA filed a suit in Canada against three operators of Popcorntime.io and obtained an injunction on October 16 to shut down the site, Variety reported.
Chris Dodd, MPAA chairman, said in a statement:
This coordinated legal action is part of a larger comprehensive approach being taken by the MPAA and its international affiliates to combat content theft.”
The MPAA’s complete statement can be read here.
The developer team for Popcorn Time split and one side is now developing “Butter,” an open source project that says it will only work with legal movies.