With plans to become a pay site soon, The Pirate Bay is viewed by many as a BitTorrent tracker that’s about to die. Surely, the world’s largest BitTorrent tracker becoming pay-to-leech would not do any good to file sharing. Or would it? (there are alternatives of course but it IS the largest tracker). As I see it, over reliance on a single tracker is never good for BitTorrent if it’s to survive on the long term. However this has already occurred (to a certain extent) with TPB’s tracker which tracks nearly half of world’s BitTorrent downloads. So what’s the silver lining in TPB’s demise (yet to happen)?. I for one think it’ll trigger the launch many smaller BitTorrent trackers, making it a nightmare for Anti piracy groups to take them down.
If you still aren’t aware of them, several such sites have already been launched; OpenBitTorrent (OBT), PublicBitTorrent (PBT) and Hidden Tracker. In contrast to most existing trackers, both OBT and PBT are not accompanied by a torrent index or a torrent search feature – they are stand alone trackers, free for anyone to use when creating a .torrent file (it doesn’t matter where the .torrent file will be hosted). This of course means it’d be a lot harder to challenge OpenBitTorrent/PublicBitTorrent’s legality in courts. Why? An explanation is given in OpenBitTorrent homepage:
Just to make it clear so people sending DMCA takedown notices understand:
- We do not have any content.
- We are not a bittorrent site, we are just a tracker, we can not see what content is behind an info_hash.
- We don't have any torrent files.
- We can't give you any IP addresses in any other way than normal tracker usage.
- We can't verify any claims when we have no data other than the info_hash.
- We can't block info_hash keys from being registered with the tracker.
- We don't have any logs or ways to trace previous connections, It's not technically possible to trace connection history due to the sheer volume of connections. The only information that is possible to keep is the current torrent swarm.
Then of course there is the new Hidden Tracker – a public BitTotrrent tracker that uses Tor anonymization network to conceal its location. Don’t get into a false sense of security because of the word ‘Anonymisation’. What really gets concealed from spies is the location of the tracker itself, not the peers connected to it. However this is an innovative concept and would surely give anti piracy agencies a hard time determining the tracker location (For more info on HT refer to this TorrentFreak article).
If whois information is correct, one of these trackers is hosted in Sweden and the other in Netherlands. The striking similarity between the user interface and homepages would suggest that both are run by the same folks – but this is not true. An interesting fact (observed before whoise information was masked) is that , OpenBitTorrent’s domain is registered under Fredrik Neij (aka TiAMO), a co-founder of TPB. Additionally, every single torrent on TPB is currently being tracked by OpenBitTorrent as well. PublicBT tracker on the other hand is run by folks behind BTJunkie. This is veteran BitTorrent admins setting an example for the rest of the world to follow – create more standalone trackers, grow more heads for the hydra.
In addition, if open trackers are combined with a 3rd party torrent storage service such as Torrage, it would be even harder to take them down. Here is a quote from Torrage’s Legal page”
We DO NOT have or track any information about what type of content the torrents point to.
We DO NOT have any type of search or listing system.
We DO NOT run our own trackers.
The original filename of the torrent is NOT saved.
We DO NOT log any IP adresses of uploaders.
You can ONLY download torrents if you ALREADY KNOW the INFO_HASH of the torrent file.
Torrent files are cached on disk in gzip format making it extremely time consuming to search for any data contained within the torrent files.
As you can see, even rumors of TPB’s demise has already created some much needed innovation in the BitTorrent community :)
How to create a torrent using OpenBitTorrent/PublicBT:
If you add any of the following trackers to your torrent during creation, it’ll be tracked by OPT/PBT/HT:
- http://z6gw6skubmo2pj43.onion:8080/announce (HiddenTracker – with Tor installed)
- http://z6gw6skubmo2pj43.tor2web.com:8080/announce (HiddenTracker – without Tor installed)
(UDP versions too were included as they will now be used more with uTorrent’s support for UDP)
[Click Here] to visit OpenBitTorrent homepage
[Click Here] to visit PublicBitTorrent homepage