Kickass Torrents, the world's biggest torrent-downloading website in terms of traffic, briefly went dark on Monday, Feb. 9, following the seizure of its Somalian domain, kickass.so. The shutdown, however, wasn't for long as Kickass quickly found a way back to its old domain.
As of Tuesday 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, Kickass is back online on its Tongan web address at kickass.to, with all the most recently uploaded torrents and comments remaining intact. Meanwhile, the Somalian address remains unresolvable, and Kickass might yet move to another domain as a result of the ongoing crackdown against torrent websites.
A look at the domain's lookup records shows the status of the domain as "banned," which confirms that the .SO registry has blacklisted the domain. Interestingly, the fake website kickasstorrents.so remains untouched, which means the seizure was targeted specifically at the real Kickass website. This implies the domain was blocked at the request of copyright holders who may have requested the Somalian registry to seize the domain.
Founded in 2008, Kickass is one of the most popular websites in the world, with an Alexa rank of 68. Like Pirate Bay, which recently resurrected from the dead late last month, Kickass is no stranger to moving from one domain to another. In 2011, following the American government's crackdown on major torrent sites such as Demonoid and Torrentz, Kickass quickly moved to a Philippine web address, kat.ph, to avoid seizure by the U.S. Department of Justice.
However, while previous domain transfers were proactive in nature, Kickass' latest switch back to kickass.to is more of a reaction to the Somalian registry's move to ban the domain. With the Somalian web address unavailable to Kickass, it cannot redirect its users to kickass.to. Users will simply have to find out on their own, which can be frustrating for some, but it is an inconvenience that proves just how tenacious websites like Kickass and The Pirate Bay can be.
It is unclear whether the seizure of kickass.so is part of a coordinated effort to go after online piracy websites and if it has any relation to The Pirate Bay raid conducted by Swedish authorities last year.
On Dec. 9, Swedish police carried out a raid in The Pirate Bay's Nacka data center near Stockholm, seizing the website's servers and other equipment and effectively shutting it down for nearly two months. This led to the proliferation of fake websites masquerading as The Pirate Bay.
Like Kickass, however, The Pirate Bay is one tough cookie to beat. On Jan. 31, a day before the expected schedule of its return, The Pirate Bay came back online on its official domain, thepiratebay.se, brandishing a phoenix as its temporary logo to signify its return back from the dead.