Pirate sites come in all shapes and sizes but streaming site KinoX is perhaps one of the most controversial.
Born as a replacement to Kino.to, a site that was targeted as part of a massive EU-wide raid in 2011, KinoX quickly grew to become a streaming giant in its own right. As recently as July 2018, the site was pulling in around 13 million visits per month, according to SimilarWeb stats.
Since then, traffic has tanked, to the point in December where the site’s main domain had less than three million visits per month, up from ‘just’ a million a month earlier. That being said, the site does have a huge number of alternative domains, so it’s certainly possible much more traffic is being diverted through those.
This week, in a surprise turn of events, KinoX was put up for sale on eBay. The sale, spotted by Tarnkappe on the auction platform’s German-facing page, indicated that the seller was trying to offload the project due to time constraints.
“I am selling my project (Kinox.to) + website, server & other domains. Since I have no time left for the project,” the auction listing read.
“The project will be sent by e-mail with all access data to the web space, login panel, server, domains etc.”
The attempted sale raises a number of important questions, not least whether the seller is actually the owner of KinoX and does indeed have access to the ‘goods’ he claimed to be selling.
The listing indicated that potential buyers can complete the transaction “anonymously via Bitcoins” but interestingly the seller also said he would accept PayPal.
While the crypto option might sound attractive, buyers wouldn’t get the same protections offered by PayPal. Whether the US-based payment processor would be keen to mediate a dispute over an incorrectly described/supplied ‘pirate’ site is seriously open to debate, however.
While the listing now appears to have been removed from eBay, possibly following an industry complaint, it wouldn’t be a stretch to state that KinoX has one of the most controversial histories of any ‘pirate’ site.
In October 2014, police in Germany announced they had launched a manhunt for two brothers said to be responsible for founding the site, accusing them of being potentially armed and dangerous.
In 2015, a former operator of the platform was sentenced to 40 months in prison but more recently, the site – which is still functioning – has been targeted in other ways.
Following a complaint from a German movie distribution company, in 2018 Internet provider Vodafone was ordered to block its subscribers from accessing Kinox.to. This was the first pirate site blocking order of its kind in Germany and will have affected direct traffic to the streaming portal.