Some of the Internet’s largest torrent trackers have been taken offline or severely cut back this month.
For those of you who don’t know what a torrent tracker is, it’s a server which helps BitTorrent users to locate peers for a download via the BitTorrent protocol. Once users have established a connection, the tracker is no longer required although it can be checked from time to time in order to find new peers. BitTorrent is one of the most popular peer-to-peer platforms used for distributing files over the Internet. While there are many legitimate users of BitTorrent, a large amount of the material in distribution is illegal; this can be anything from movies to pirate software. Obviously copyright infringement is putting increasing legal pressure on tracker sites. The way in which BitTorrent helps users to share data puts it in a difficult position; while the tracker and index files hosted by the tracker do not contain any copyrighted material (which makes them legal) they are facilitating the illegal distribution of it.
Last month TorentSpy announced that following legal pressure from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) they would be barring all users in the US from making torrent searches. This move was made after a Federal judge ordered them to start logging visitors IP addresses so that they could be turned over to the MPAA. This month ISOHUNT made similar move which would stop users in the US from connecting to trackers hosted by them but not those hosted by third parties. The statement says, “This is due to the US’s hostility towards P2P technologies, and we feel with our current lawsuit brought by the MPAA, we can no longer ensure your security and privacy in the US.”
As if the loss of these two trackers wasn’t enough of a hit, it seems that Demonoid has also been taken offline. Demonoid is the second largest torrent tracker after The Pirate Bay. Hosted in Canada after fleeing the Netherlands in June, Demonoid tracked over a million torrents at any time. A report on torrentfreak.com suggests that Demonoid may have been taken offline by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). Thus far there has been no comment by the CRIA or Demonoid’s ISP. The administrators of Demonoid apparently have no idea what’s happened.
What does the future hold for BitTorrent? Can the owners of these tracker sites keep relocating or will the law eventually get a hold of the situation?