With millions of visitors, YTS.am is the most visited torrent site on the Internet, beating even the legendary Pirate Bay.
The site ‘unofficially’ took over the YTS brand when the original group threw the towel in 2015. It is one of the many sites out there today that keep the YTS and the related YIFY brands alive and well.
The popularity of these sites is a thorn in the side of filmmakers and a select group of them is now taking action through a complaint filed at a federal court in Hawaii.
The companies behind the movies Singularity, Once Upon a Time in
Venice, Mechanic: Resurrection, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, I Feel Pretty, Boyka: Undisputed and Hunter Killer, accuse the alleged operators of YIFYMovies.is and YTS.am of inducing and contributing to massive piracy.
“Plaintiffs bring this action to stop the massive piracy of their motion pictures brought on by websites under the collective names YIFY and YTS and their users,” it reads.
The case was filed last month but has thus far remained under the radar. The names of the alleged site operators are not known. They are referred to as Doe 1 and Doe 2 respectively.
“Defendants DOE 1 and DOE 2 cause harm to Plaintiffs’ business within this District by diverting customers in this District to unauthorized Internet based content distribution services through, at least, the websites yifymovies.is and yts.ag .”
Both sites operate differently. YTS.ag, which now uses the YTS.am domain name, is a torrent site and by far the most popular of the two. YIFYMovies.is, on the other hand, allows users to stream content directly on the site.
The movie companies accuse both site operators of intentional inducement of copyright infringement as well as contributory copyright infringement.
Among other things, they are believed to have helped many of the site’s users to download or stream movies without permission, while making money through advertisements.
While there are no known connections that we’re aware of, the filmmakers allege that both sites “act in concert” as they use the same type of logo. These are derived from the original YTS and YIFY logos, although these are used by many other copycat sites as well.
Through the lawsuit the filmmakers demand damages, which can reach up to $150,000 per pirated film.
In addition, the companies request an injunction to prevent third-party intermediaries such as hosting companies, domain registrars, and search engines, form facilitating access to the YIFYMovies.is, YTS.ag, and YTS.am domains.
While no injunction has yet been issued, YIFYMovies.is did suddenly disappear a few days ago. This may in part be due to the legal action and a related DMCA subpoena that was issued against Cloudflare, in an attempt to identify the site’s operator.
Besides the two site operators, the complaint also names two individuals who’re accused of downloading and distributing copyrighted films, in part through YTS.am or a related site. These have all been dismissed after signing a consent judgment.
The paperwork doesn’t indicate that a settlement was made, but the users in question do state that the deceptive and misleading language on the YTS and YIFY sites led them to believe that they were legal platforms. This will likely help the filmmakers’ claims against the site operators.
YTS.am, the largest target in this lawsuit, remains online at the time of writing.
A copy of the complaint as well as the exhibits is available here (pdf).