Piracy

Njalla Succumbs to Legal Pressure and Takes Down Multiple Pirate Domains

By Bill Toulas / May 21, 2021

According to multiple reports over the past couple of days, pirate websites using the Njalla domain registration service have gone offline. Examples include “1337x.is”, “Flixtor.is”, “Getpopcorntime.is”, and also “stream2watch.is”, all being down right now without having published anything in relation to the outage beforehand.

Njalla is a privacy-aware domain service that accepts crypto payments for the registration of a domain, buys it for the client, and then lets them have full control of it. So, it works like an in-betweener needed for the operator of a website to remain anonymous.

However, the DMCA notices for various violations are still reaching Njalla, not the operator, and as such, any legal pressure is applied on the service. As expected, a lot is going on on platforms whose owners don’t want their names known, and Njalla isn’t promising to protect the entire spectrum of it. Take this recent tweet from the service founder as an example, where a DMCA takedown on a phishing site mimicking NordVPN was handled appropriately - with the site being taken down immediately.

https://twitter.com/brokep/status/1389918156039282688

However, when it comes to piracy, that’s a different story altogether. Njalla’s founder is one of Pirate Bay’s co-founders after all, and the man has made his position on copyright infringement crystal clear. Simply put, he does not believe that copies of content should have any value, let alone price. As such, Njalla was considered to be a safe place to register your pirate site, and such services flocked in quickly.

Last November, RIAA and the MPA proposed to the USTR to add Njalla to its yearly “naughty list,” attempting to create multiple practical problems for the business entity. Clearly, copyright holders and their representing coalitions weren’t happy about how Njalla handled the piracy matter. Soon, ISNIC, Iceland’s registry, warned Njalla with suspension, which eventually resulted in the first cracks.

Obviously, the particular platforms affected by this operate multiple domains and are very used to jumping around to others when they lose one. The blocking actions are still hurting them due to the time needed to recuperate and promote a new “main” URL, but it’s not enough to shut them completely. The interesting aspect of the story is that Njalla is obliged to change stance now, and people wonder about how far it could go.

Already, there’s an ongoing legal case in Iceland which attempts to unmask the operators of several Njalla domains, so we’ll soon get to see if the service keeps any kind of logs, the cryptocurrency transaction details, or anything that could be used to trace the identity of these users.



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