Turns Out, Willy-Nilly Blocking Of URLs Doesn’t Stop Film Piracy

Turns Out, Willy-Nilly Blocking Of URLs Doesn’t Stop Film Piracy

The most expensive film ever made in India is out around the globe, and its producers are very serious about shutting down piracy of the film.

So serious that they were able to obtain a court order forcing local internet providers to block 12,564 domain names — many of which aren’t even registered. It appears this brute-force approach to piracy didn’t even work.

On November 28, a court ruled in favour of Lyca Productions, makers of over-the-top sci-fi flick 2.0, and ordered 37 companies to block a huge list of domain names at the ISP level—over 12,000 of them.

TorrentFreak labelled it “one of the most aggressive site-blocking orders granted anywhere in the world.” What makes this case stand out is the fact that the production company is not only targeting known torrent hubs but also making guesses at other sites they could be operating or could potentially begin operating at some point in the future.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the full copy of the court orders details and reports that Lyca only targeted 16 piracy outlets but loaded the list with variations of the domain names they operate under. According to the report, the list of targeted torrent providers consists of:

Tamilrockers, Movierulz, Tamilmv, 1337x, Worldfree4u, Tamildbox, Tamilgun, Tamilrage, Isaimini, Filmlinks4u, Madrasrockers, Tamilyogi, Thiruttumovies, Mtamilrockers, Hiidude, and Mymoviesda.

Tamilrockers has been a pivotal player in the world of Indian piracy, and its admins have been the subject of numerous police prosecutions, the most recent of which came last week.

According to the Indian Express, that deluge of blocked domain names did not prevent the Tamilrockers from leaking a full copy of 2.0 a day after the court order was issued.

In fact, it appears the list of potential variations on domain names wasn’t comprehensive enough. From TorrentFreak:

Take the site Hiidude for example. They previously operated from Hiidide.biz and Hiidude.in. These are covered by the court order and so are other unregistered domain options, such as Hidude.lgbt, Hiidude.wtf, and even Hiidude.fail.

However, the site is not without additional options. Whether it’s in direct response to this court order or not, today Hiidude is operating from Hiidude1.in. It only took a single character to circumvent the entire court order.

We’ve seen tactics like this used in private piracy moderation as well. Last year, Google complained that copyright holders are overwhelming its moderating system for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices by spamming copyright claims and guessing associated URLs.

For instance, a site called mp3toys.xyz was targeted with 49 million notices despite the fact that it gets very little traffic. In that case, the URL-guessing got wrapped up in a feedback loop. An anti-piracy group called APDIF was using an algorithm to guess potential URLs that would attach to the domain for individually copyrighted works.

It would then search the site for its guesses. But mp3toys automatically creates a page when a user searches for something that isn’t on the site. So, APDIF would guess a URL, search for it, mp3toys would create it, then APDIF would later find it and report the dummy page for Google to remove from search results.

Lyca Productions may have failed to prevent the torrent genie from getting out of its bottle for 2.0, but the film is still raking in cash at the box office. It managed to make around $114 million worldwide and has a shot at becoming the most successful film from India ever.

The producers of 2.0 also found themselves in legal trouble two weeks ago when the Cellular Operators Association of India sued the company, claiming that the film’s depiction of mobile phone technology is “defamatory” and could cause paranoia among the public.

That dispute appears to have been cleared up after a disclaimer was added to the film identifying it as a “work of fiction.” Check out a trailer for the film that needed to be explicitly labelled as fiction below: