Will our generation see the end of torrent sites? | Quantumrun
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Will our generation see the end of torrent sites?

All it takes is one click. One click separates you from any movie, book, album, or video game you’ve ever wanted. No hidden fees, no fine print, nothing. One click and it’s yours, for free.

Downloading torrents, or pirating, is the act participating in a peer-to-peer transfer of large quantities of data over the internet. In most cases this data comes in the form of the latest video game, feature film, or album. This data is often uploaded without the proper owners consent and without any price. You can get any album you want for free and the producer gets zero profits.

It’s a process which has garnered a lot of criticism over the years by musicians, artists, and producers. I mean, wouldn’t you be mad if you spent time and money producing a movie only to have everyone download it online for free?

Over the years there have been innumerable lawsuits and trails due to copyright infringement and the issue of intellectual property. Some sites have been seized, others have survived.

As the government continues to crackdown on these websites, will our generation see the end of piracy?

The world of piracy in 2013

On September 1st, 2013, TheBox, a British based torrent website, made the decision to shutdown. TheBox was a site with over 90,000 users and over 110,000 torrents. These torrents ranged from movies to books and were freely accessible to anybody who wanted them.

TheBox shutdown due to increasingly hostile policies put in place by the British government and their new Intellectual Property Crime Unit under the London police.

Although TheBox fell victim to the policies of the government, there are still innumerable torrent websites out there.

Ebizmba.com shows that ISOhunt.com, a torrent based website, has an estimated 12,000,000 unique monthly visitors and over 13 million active torrents at any one time. 

ThePirateBay (suitably named) has an estimated 11.5 million monthly users and 5.5 million active torrents at any one time. 

These two websites are merely two examples of the many torrent websites available on the world wide web.

As you can see, TheBox is incredibly small compared to that of ISOhunt or ThePirateBay. Yet this could be the reason they could no avoid the threat of persecution.

The real question that arises is, how have these websites gotten away with this for so long and is government pressure slowly closing in on them?

The legal battles involved with running a torrent website 

TheBox is one of many websites which have felt the wrath of federal persecution. In 2009, ThePirateBay came under persecution for copyright infringed. Due to the site being registered as a .org site at the time, the trail gained momentum and eventually led to the four operators being fined and facing one year of jail time. However, the site was never shut down for seized. Instead, they merely changed the domain of the site to .se, a Swedish domain. In doing so, the site avoid seizure and has been able to flourish since. Although, it wasn’t as easy as that.

Swedish officials began to crack down on ThePirateBay in early 2013 and forced the site to relocate. The site is now “safe” on .sx, the domain in Sint Maarten. The case of ThePirateBay shows it’s not easy running a torrent website. However, the site has stayed alive for 10 years now and has become one of the largest piracy websites in the world.

Is this the beginning of the end for torrent sites? 

Within the past few years governments around the world have began cracking down on torrent sites. In 2012, the United States Government attempted to pass two different bills which were aimed towards the banning of sites which violated copyright infringement.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) were both produced in efforts to stop sites like ThePirateBay and ISOhunt from gaining popularity, yet both failed on their way through Congress.

Since the failure of the two bills, the “six strikes” Copyright Alert System has been put in place to thwart traffic from sites such as ISOhunt and ThePirateBay. 

However, the policy was deemed a failure as a report by bgr.com touted that “traffic [to ThePirateBay] has been trending even higher than last year, with an especially spiteful spike in March, right after the Copyright Alert System was first implemented.”

Not only is it a tough job running these websites, it’s a tough job trying to dismantle them. Even with the constant pressure by governments, traffic to torrent websites has yet to slow down.

A recent study done by NetNames revealed that “In January close to 14 billion page views were recorded on websites focused on piracy in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific - up almost 10% from November 2011.” 

The report continues to say that “Despite some discrete instances of success in limiting infringement, the piracy universe not only persists in attracting more users year on year but hungrily consumes increasing amounts of bandwidth.”

It almost seems that as government increases pressure on these sites, they merely become more popular.

Moving forward

As torrent sites become increasingly popular there is no doubt that governments will continue to try and ban the use of them. TheBox is merely the most recent victim of these increasingly hostile policies. However, TheBox still remains small in size compared to that of ISOhunt and ThePirateBay. So although governments may pass policies which seize small sites, it seems as though the larger and more utilized sites will continue to evade persecution. Sites like ThePirateBay have survived for 10 years and seem to be growing in size, despite the hostile environment.

Moving forward it looks as though these sites will not be seeing their end for quite a while. Until then, any book, movie, or album you want is merely one click away and at the discount price of zero dollars.

Impact 

As torrent sites become increasingly popular there is no doubt that governments will continue to try and ban the use of them. The Box is merely the most recent victim of these increasingly hostile policies. However, TheBox still remains small in size compared to that of ISOhunt and ThePirateBay. So although governments may pass policies which seize small sites, it seems as though the larger and more utilized sites will continue to evade persecution. Sites like ThePirateBay have survived for 10 years and seem to be growing in size, despite the hostile environment.

Moving forward it looks as though these sites will not be seeing their end for quite a while. Until then, any book, movie, or album you want is merely one click away and at the discount price of zero dollars.

Forecasted start year: 
2020 to 2025

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