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Why did massive pirate site Animeflix shut itself down?

  • Despite millions of monthly users, Animeflix has shut down seemingly without explanation.
  • Called the “Netflix of Anime,” Animeflix pirated content from other sites and offered it for free.
  • The team behind Animeflix likely killed the service after a long battle against court orders and copyright strikes.

With the availability of anime content out of Japan dependent on myriad localisers and publishers – meaning multiple subscriptions – millions of watchers end up getting their fix on pirate streaming sites, now one of the biggest and easiest to use in Animeflix has suddenly shut down.

The site was often described as the “Netflix of Anime” despite it being free to use, and despite it stealing content from other official sources.

Without prior warning Animeflix suddenly shut itself down, leaving “dozens of millions of monthly visitors” without their preferred place to watch free anime. According to TorrentFreak, Animeflix first sent out a notice to the 35 thousand members of its Discord before suddenly shutting down.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of Animeflix,” the pirate operators said. “After careful consideration, we have decided to shut down our service effective immediately. We deeply appreciate your support and enthusiasm over the years.”

“We hope the joy and excitement of anime continue to brighten your days through other wonderful platforms,” they added.

The team behind the site did not provide a reason, but it could have followed a long, bitter battle over copyrights. The operators were apparently based in India, where they faced pressure from the Indian High Court earlier this year, which saw its main domain Animeflix.live suspended.

The likes of Netflix, Disney, Universal and other major Hollywood firms were behind the broad anti-piracy order that was initially brought to the High Court.

This is not something that often kills pirate sites, as they simply move to other domains, in this case Animeflix.gg and Animelix.li. However now in July, none of the domains are working as the team itself decided to cut its service.

Despite enormous support online, it is likely that the Animeflix team was under pressure from multiple sources looking to bring the site down. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) placed Animeflix on its list of pirate sites that should be shut down in 2023, and the Animeflix team was likely dealing with several Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) strikes.

Between copyright strikes and court orders taking down domains, it may have just become too costly or too stressful for the operators of Animeflix to simply keep working through the pressure. The reaction from the wider community has been one of sadness, as millions are now without their preferred source of anime.

Many took to Reddit to ask what happened to the websites, with threads like “Will Animeflix be gone forever?” popping up. It is notable that the communities that operate the vast amounts of anime pirate sites are often interconnected, and from the ashes of one site, another may arise.

For example, Animeflix was shut down several years ago but ended up coming back. Sometimes new pirates take over the branding of old, dead pirates, capitalising on the interest and ad revenues they bring.

Sites like Animeflix and others are wildly popular in Africa. MultiChoice-owned anti-piracy firm Irdeto said that just five major African territories made 17.4 million visits to the top 10 piracy sites in under one month in 2021. This number is likely more in 2024.

MultiChoice has been leading the battle against streaming pirates in South Africa, working with local law enforcement to aid with a spate of arrests of operators behind the popular platform Waka TV in June.

[Image – Netflix Anime on X]

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