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Blocking pirate sites is a common practice in many countries and India is no exception. The language used in Indian courts, however, tends to be more colorful. This is illustrated by a blocking extension that several major Hollywood studios have requested recently. According to the Delhi High Court, it targets an alphanumeric variant of a rogue hydra-headed website.
The last few weeks of 2021 have been filled with new orders to block pirate sites around the world.
From Australia to the United Kingdom to Spain, several courts have granted new blocking orders to make it more difficult for the general public to access pirate sites.
In India, the local hacking block list is also growing. This week, we looked at a decision from the Delhi High Court, which targets the popular torrent site RARBG.
The underlying case was originally filed by several major Hollywood studios, including Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. The court granted the blocking order in 2019, but, as new domains continue to emerge, it was updated this month to add “Rarbggo.org” and two IP addresses.
The threat of the Hollywood hydra head
This tracking order is not particularly newsworthy as these types of extensions are quite common. However, the language used by the Indian court is quite unique and colorful, which is worth highlighting.
Instead of just mentioning that RARBG is accessible via a new domain and a new IP address, the court is talking about “Hydra Headed Rogue websites” which are mythically multiplying and resurfacing elsewhere. Emphasis added below.
“It is submitted that, this Honorable Court has been pleased to record that these websites are Hydra Headed Rogue Websites who by being blocked, in fact multiply and resurface as redirect or mirror or alphanumeric websites. “
The language is cited from an earlier ruling that also adds a bit more background to the mythological hydra, which in and of itself has nothing to do with piracy.
“It is relevant to mention that in Greek mythology, the hydra, also called the hydra of Lerna, is a serpent-like monster. The hydra is a serpent with nine heads similar to a serpent. It was said that if you cut off a hydra head, two more would grow back.
At this point, the average reader of the command, which isn’t really up to date on hacking lingo, can be quite confused. What does this nine-headed serpent have to do with piracy? And what are these alphanumeric sites?
The second question is easy to answer. The term “alphanumeric websites” is how the Indian court refers to an alternative URL or IP address. And indeed, these usually consist of alphanumeric characters.
The roots of hydra piracy
The reference “hydra” also deserves a little more context. In the hacking scene, the term was first popularized by The Pirate Bay in 2007. Peter Sunde, the site’s spokesperson at the time, encouraged people to create their own torrent sites to make it look more resilient file-sharing ecosystem.
“Start your own torrent sites, make the Internet the hydra it is and should be. If there are hundreds of sites, they can’t all be closed, ”Sunde said at the time.
Later, when more and more domain names were seized and blocked, the Hydra was also used to explain the phenomenon where hack sites would keep adding new hosting locations or new domain names.
These powers of attorney and mirrors have become the new hydra heads. Once again, it was The Pirate Bay that explicitly established this link in 2013 and 2015, incorporating it into the site’s new temporary logo.
Apparently, this term is now in common use at the Delhi High Court in formal restraint orders. We have to admit that it sounds pretty scary and the colorful language certainly makes a pretty boring blocking expansion sound more special than it really is.