Throughout the past few decades, there have been multiple torrent sites that have come and gone. It seems that as soon as a pirate site would launch, authorities would discover that illegal downloading activities were taking place and it would be shut down. The administrators of these sites became savvier and would create alternate gateways or proxy sites that would once again give browsers access to yet more illegal downloads until they were discovered. One of the more recent torrent sites is YIFY, but is it legal?
What is YIFY?
YIFY is the name for a part of a digital file. It's like MP4, AVI and so on. YIFY is a torrent website which later modified its name to YTS. The site allows users to upload high-quality movie files that other users can download and save to their devices so they can avoid paying to watch it at the theaters. YIFY has been a thorn in the side of Hollywood for many years because it distributes both new and old releases and deprives the legitimate businesses of the profits they would make from theater ticket sales or DVD sales. The real meaning of YIFY is associated with the name of the YIFY torrent's owner, Yiftach. It's a derivative.
Is it legal?
When Hollywood stakeholders were eventually able to track down the founder of YIFY, it became a big deal. They brought suit against him and he was summoned to court in New Zealand. They were poised to go to court, but instead, all parties involved decided to settle the matter outside of the courts. As a part of the agreement, the ringleader for YIFY was allowed to maintain confidentiality. Is it legal or not? Before we make this call there are a few considerations to be made.
The argument for YIFY's legality
The founder of YIFY brought up a good point. He directed the question of legality to what Netflix is currently doing with their streaming service. People who use the service are allowed to view as many movies as they want. One could counter this argument because it is a subscription service that people pay for monthly and it is perfectly legal to use. The counterargument is that often, people share their Netflix account login information with friends and family who have not paid for the subscription service. Is this legal? As long as there is free internet available and people are willing to pass on their account information, people are going to access it illegally. For some, this is a strong argument, but do two wrongs really make a right in any scenario? Another argument is the fact that it takes a lot of work to prepare a movie for a torrent. The people involved in this stand to gain nothing and they are doing it as a public service. It's another way of rationalizing the moral grounds for committing piracy though.
The answer to the question is simple
There are three kinds of people in the world today. There are those who download content illegally and feel okay about it. There are others who do it even though they don't think it's legal, moral or ethical, and there are those who refuse to download illegally because they are law abiding citizens. There is no assignment of moral values here, just a statement of the facts. As far as the law is concerned, if you download protected content without the express written permission of the owners, then you're pirating the content and it's illegal to do so.
What happened to YIFY?
YIFY has officially been shut down because of its illegality. It has suffered the same fate as LimeWire and Pirate Bay. When you think about it, offering protected content in data form isn't a lot different than taking someone's manuscript and making your own book that is an exact replica and giving it away for free. It's depriving the person(s) or entities that own the resale rights of profits that they would otherwise make from the sale and distribution of their own property. As far as the law is concerned, it's stealing and it is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. There are several cases on the court records that show how serious the punishments for piracy can be. Whether it's right or wrong to download torrents is a question that each individual must ask for themselves, but it is breaking the law.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker