YIFY Torrents (later known as YTS) was a peer-to-peer release group known for distributing large numbers of movies as free downloads through BitTorrent. YIFY releases were characterised through their HD video quality in a small file size, which attracted many downloaders. The official YIFY/YTS website was shut down by the MPAA in 2015, although one website imitating the YIFY/YTS brand still gains a significant amount of traffic. The name 'YIFY' is derived from the name of the website's founder, Yiftach Swery.
YIFY Torrents was founded by Yiftach Swery in 2010, while he was studying computer science at University of Waikato. Yiftach is an app developer, web developer and archery champion from Auckland, New Zealand. The first YIFY movies were a result of Yiftach experimenting with the x264 video codec to encode HD movies in a way that took up as little hard drive space as possible, which were then uploaded to The Pirate Bay. The releases were initially encoded on a ten-year old laptop sitting in his bedroom. In August 2011, the YIFY brand was gaining enough traffic to warrant the launch of an official YIFY Torrents Website. The website was blocked by ISPs in the United Kingdom on December 14th 2013, so a mirror domain yify-torrents.im was launched.
The YIFY name continued to generate traction, to the point where in 2013, 'YIFY' was the most searched term on Kickass Torrents, along with other related search terms such as 'yify 720p', 'yify 2013' and 'yify 1080p'. This popularity was maintained through to 2015, where it was once again the most searched term on BitTorrent websites. In an interview with TorrentFreak, YIFY attributed the success of his group's releases to the consistency of the information and cover art coming with the movies, as well as the small file sizes allowing for easier accessibility.
In January 2014, Yiftach announced that he was retiring from encoding and uploading, mentioning that it was 'time for a change' in his life. The website rebranded to YTS, and moved to a new domain name at YTS.RE. Management and encoding was handed over to the existing team of staff members. The encoding and uploading job was given to OTTO, the nickname for the automated system that YTS would run on until the end of the operation. YTS is an abbreviation of YIFY Torrent Solutions.
The entire website was re-programmed at the backend and redesigned at the frontend in February 2015, as the site was dealing with an increased number of technical issues due an increasing number of visitors (approximately one million unique visitors a day, at the time).
In March 2015, The YTS staff were informed by the domain registry FRNIC that their current domain YTS.RE was frozen and would be suspended by the end of March. The cause of this suspension was unclear, although legal pressure from copyright holders was the speculated reason. By March 20th 2015, the website had been successfully moved to a new domain, YTS.TO.
In October 2015, the YIFY website went down, with no word from any of the staff or those connected with the site, and no new YIFY releases. It was confirmed on October 30th 2015 that YIFY/YTS was shut down permanently. The site was shut down due to a lawsuit coming from the MPAA. They filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the website's operator, accusing him of "facilitating and encouraging massive copyright infringement". A spokesman for the New Zealand Screen Association stated their surprise that the site was operated out of New Zealand, due to past knowledge of many pirate sites running out of Eastern Europe. Swery was able to settle out of court a month later, signing a non-disclosure agreement.
Additionally, YIFY had a registered company in the United Kingdom, titled YTS.RE LTD, incorporated on 5 February 2015. The company was based in a virtual office in London. The company was dissolved in February 2016.
Since its shutdown, the YIFY name has been used in numerous copycat websites. Some of them are claiming to be the 'new' YIFY, while various others simply use the name for purposes such as streaming sites and subtitle download repositories. The most significant one of these sites were YTS.AG, which quickly climbed in popularity when the original YTS site shut down. There has been some backlash to these imitators. Kickass Torrents stated that they would only allow YTS.AG rips if they were uploaded under a different title. ExtraTorrent and RARBG banned them altogether. In late 2017 after approximately two years of operation, YTS.AG shifted to the new domain YTS.AM, and is currently ranked by Alexa as the 213th most viewed website globally. The site, since gaining such a large userbase, has been blocked by ISPs in several countries, such as Greece, Australia and Ireland.
In July 2016, the YIFY name made a cameo in season 2 of the television series Mr. Robot, where the lead character Elliot is seen using the uTorrent client, and his Plex folder, filled with films from release groups such as RARBG and YIFY. When approached by TorrentFreak, Yiftach stated that he appreciated the 'bad ass' mention.
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