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PrimeWire Replacement HydraWire Sacrifices Hollywood *TorrentFreak

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A lawsuit filed last year by multiple Hollywood studios and Netflix targeting illegal streaming veteran PrimeWire now looks like a war of attrition. As efforts to gather intelligence and seize domains continue, the studios have also been faced with PrimeWire’s replacement, “HydraWire”. But despite the many hurdles, all signs point to the plaintiffs enduring the case for as long as it takes.

ampIn April 2022, several Hollywood studios and Netflix secured an injunction to shut down PrimeWire, a longtime illegal streaming site and a continuing thorn in the side of the MPA.

The injunction was granted after studios filed a massive copyright infringement lawsuit against PrimeWire in 2021. It sought to shut down the platform for good after nearly a decade of disruptive activity against the site produced somewhat limited results. This time around, the studios have the upper hand, but not without some complications.

PrimeWire inactive but domains mostly intact

After the injunction was issued in the United States, PrimeWire initially took no action, but eventually changed its operations and pledged to offer a legitimate service.

The studios didn’t believe a single word and decided to seize the new PrimeWire.tf domain, hoping to add it to a list of other PrimeWire domains already subject to deactivation and seizure. On this front, PrimeWire.ag and .vc are not operational, but PrimeWire.li and PrimeWireStatus.org remain in use.

As of this writing, the same goes for PrimeWire.tf, but last month a new domain entered the mix.

The Rapid Rise and Fall of HydraWire

At the end of May, the MPA’s anti-piracy team set up a new site called HydraWire. Its .tv domain had been registered a day after the MPA had obtained its preliminary injunction in April and as far as the studios were concerned, it was just PrimeWire under another name.

The evidence presented in court made this claim difficult to dispute, but with the site’s traffic, it had to be stopped as soon as possible. Studios decided to add HydraWire.tv to the now permanent injunction, but may not have anticipated what’s next.

On July 19 and on behalf of the studios, an attorney from the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP submitted a message via HydraWire’s contact form informing them of their next query.

Like the people behind PrimeWire, who did not appear in court but communicated with the plaintiffs anonymously, HydraWire’s alleged owner also responded anonymously two days later. The message was that the HydraWire operator’s intentions had been misunderstood by the plaintiffs.

“The sender of this email claims to have started HydraWire. They say they did so because they saw an opportunity to have a website with a lot[s] visitors’ and ‘wanted to continue [PrimeWires] legacy,’ studios told the court this week.

“The email then stated that he had ‘closed hydrawire for good’ and offered to ‘transfer the domain’ to the complainants.”

HydraWire throws in the towel

Quick fixes have not figured prominently in the case so far, so the MPA anti-piracy team wasted no time in seizing the opportunity.

“In an effort to bring this latest violation of their rights to a temporary end, the plaintiffs have accepted the transfer of the domain and have taken control of the domain, which is now offline,” the studios reveal.

Jan Van Voorn, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Content Protection, reveals that the process started quickly and was completed within a week.

“On or about July 23, 2022, GCP investigators used the authorization code provided in correspondence from [email address] to initiate a transfer of the hydrawire.tv domain to MPA control. On or about August 1, 2022, GCP investigators confirmed that hydrawire.tv had been transferred to MPA,” its statement read.

MPA still wants to add HydraWire.tv to the injunction

While this domain takeover was relatively easy, the studios are still taking time to update the court on every new detail. They also build a pretty solid image of plaintiffs doing everything right and defendants failing in every possible way.

Besides PrimeWire’s general failure to appear, the studios strongly suspect that by following PrimeWire’s “playbook” of apparent capitulation in the face of an injunction, those behind HydraWire betrayed their relationships. The MPA anti-piracy team seems unable to prove that they spoke to the same people, but for now at least, it doesn’t matter.

Plaintiffs say HydraWire was inspired by PrimeWire and was designed to continue its legacy. Text from PrimeWire was duplicated on HydraWire and there was a feature for PrimeWire users to migrate their libraries. The very appearance of HydraWire showed disrespect for the court injunction and at any moment it could reappear under a new domain to be rinsed and repeated, they add.

“For these reasons, as well as those set out in plaintiffs’ motion, plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court grant their motion to vary the permanent injunction and extend the time given to defendants to make a discovery at the support of their claims for damages,” the motion concludes.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this and previous motions is the MPA’s determination to punish any move aimed at breathing new life into PrimeWire. It’s certainly possible that other companies under different brands are already making progress but, given the pressure, the original PrimeWire seems unlikely to have a future in any obviously recognizable form.

The motion and supporting documents can be found here (1,2,3, pdf)

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://torrentfreak.com/primewire-replacement-hydrawire-sacrifices-itself-to-hollywood-220809/

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