Law-enforcement agencies and movie producers are cracking down heavily on piracy, but some pirate sites continue to operate. One of the last few surviving pirate streaming sites, 123Movies, has now announced it will shut shop in a matter of just four days.
The free movie streaming site, which also goes by the names 123movieshub and GoMovies, has updated a goodbye note on its website. This move is likely to upset millions of daily visitors to the site, as it is one of the biggest pirate-streaming sites on the web.
"We've been providing links to movies and shows for years. Now it's time to say goodbye. Thank you for being our friends and thanks for staying with us that long," 123Movies' operators wrote on the site.
But that's not it. In the last few days of the site's uptime, 123Movies operators have been conveying a noble message that goes against the site's operations. The message, posted on the site, encourages visitors to "respect" filmmakers by paying for movies and TV shows.
"Please pay for the movies/shows, that's what we should do to show our respect to people behind the movies/shows," the message read.
123Movies has also started a live countdown on the site to show visitors exactly when it'll go completely offline — down to the last second. The reason behind 123Movies' demise is a mystery, but as is the case with any pirate site, it could be the legal pressure forcing the site's moderators to finally give up.
Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Executive VP Jan van Voorn, has been quoted by TorrentFreak as saying that 123Movies.to is the most popular illegal site in the world with monthly visitors of 98 million. The site is operated from Vietnam, Voorn said.
123Movies isn't new to legal pressure. It has been scrutinized by authorities quite a few times over the years. The site was also featured in the recent Notorious Markets report by the office of the US Trade Representative. But it managed to survive the scrutiny by changing the domain name several times in just the past few months.
After being shut down briefly, 123Movies was revived under the new domain name 123movieshd.to to serve millions of users. Then it was shifted to MeMovies.ru, and then to GoMovies.to.
Despite being only a few years old, 123Movies became as a dominant player in the world of piracy. It served as an alternative for giants like Kickass Torrents and The Pirate Bay.
Although its operations are ending, users will continue to search for 123Movies domains, serving up a great opportunity for copycat sites.
Is this the end of 123Movies? It certainly looks like it, but pirate sites often stage a stronger comeback every time they go offline. TPB is a notable example.