Tag Archives: meta-search

US Govt Brands Torrent, Streaming & Cyberlocker Sites As Notorious Markets

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/us-govt-brands-torrent-streaming-cyberlocker-sites-as-notorious-markets-180115/

In its annual “Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets” the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has listed a long list of websites said to be involved in online piracy.

The list is compiled with high-level input from various trade groups, including the MPAA and RIAA who both submitted their recommendations (1,2) during early October last year.

With the word “allegedly” used more than two dozen times in the report, the US government notes that its report does not constitute cast-iron proof of illegal activity. However, it urges the countries from where the so-called “notorious markets” operate to take action where they can, while putting owners and facilitators on notice that their activities are under the spotlight.

“A goal of the List is to motivate appropriate action by owners, operators, and service providers in the private sector of these and similar markets, as well as governments, to reduce piracy and counterfeiting,” the report reads.

“USTR highlights the following marketplaces because they exemplify global counterfeiting and piracy concerns and because the scale of infringing activity in these marketplaces can cause significant harm to U.S. intellectual property (IP) owners, consumers, legitimate online platforms, and the economy.”

The report begins with a page titled “Issue Focus: Illicit Streaming Devices”. Unsurprisingly, particularly given their place in dozens of headlines last year, the segment focus on the set-top box phenomenon. The piece doesn’t list any apps or software tools as such but highlights the general position, claiming a cost to the US entertainment industry of $4-5 billion a year.

Torrent Sites

In common with previous years, the USTR goes on to list several of the world’s top torrent sites but due to changes in circumstances, others have been delisted. ExtraTorrent, which shut down May 2017, is one such example.

As the world’s most famous torrent site, The Pirate Bay gets a prominent mention, with the USTR noting that the site is of “symbolic importance as one of the longest-running and most vocal torrent sites. The USTR underlines the site’s resilience by noting its hydra-like form while revealing an apparent secret concerning its hosting arrangements.

“The Pirate Bay has allegedly had more than a dozen domains hosted in various countries around the world, applies a reverse proxy service, and uses a hosting provider in Vietnam to evade further enforcement action,” the USTR notes.

Other torrent sites singled out for criticism include RARBG, which was nominated for the listing by the movie industry. According to the USTR, the site is hosted in Bosnia and Herzegovina and has changed hosting services to prevent shutdowns in recent years.

1337x.to and the meta-search engine Torrentz2 are also given a prime mention, with the USTR noting that they are “two of the most popular torrent sites that allegedly infringe U.S. content industry’s copyrights.” Russia’s RuTracker is also targeted for criticism, with the government noting that it’s now one of the most popular torrent sites in the world.

Streaming & Cyberlockers

While torrent sites are still important, the USTR reserves considerable space in its report for streaming portals and cyberlocker-type services.

4Shared.com, a file-hosting site that has been targeted by dozens of millions of copyright notices, is reportedly no longer able to use major US payment providers. Nevertheless, the British Virgin Islands company still collects significant sums from premium accounts, advertising, and offshore payment processors, USTR notes.

Cyberlocker Rapidgator gets another prominent mention in 2017, with the USTR noting that the Russian-hosted platform generates millions of dollars every year through premium memberships while employing rewards and affiliate schemes.

Due to its increasing popularity as a hosting and streaming operation, Openload.co (Romania) is now a big target for the USTR. “The site is used frequently in combination with add-ons in illicit streaming devices. In November 2017, users visited Openload.co a staggering 270 million times,” the USTR writes.

Owned by a Swiss company and hosted in the Netherlands, the popular site Uploaded is also criticized by the US alongside France’s 1Fichier.com, which allegedly hosts pirate games while being largely unresponsive to takedown notices. Dopefile.pk, a Pakistan-based storage outfit, is also highlighted.

On the video streaming front, it’s perhaps no surprise that the USTR focuses on sites like FMovies (Sweden), GoStream (Vietnam), Movie4K.tv (Russia) and PrimeWire. An organization collectively known as the MovShare group which encompasses Nowvideo.sx, WholeCloud.net, NowDownload.cd, MeWatchSeries.to and WatchSeries.ac, among others, is also listed.

Unauthorized music / research papers

While most of the above are either focused on video or feature it as part of their repertoire, other sites are listed for their attention to music. Convert2MP3.net is named as one of the most popular stream-ripping sites in the world and is highlighted due to the prevalence of YouTube-downloader sites and the 2017 demise of YouTube-MP3.

“Convert2MP3.net does not appear to have permission from YouTube or other sites and does not have permission from right holders for a wide variety of music represented by major U.S. labels,” the USTR notes.

Given the amount of attention the site has received in 2017 as ‘The Pirate Bay of Research’, Libgen.io and Sci-Hub.io (not to mention the endless proxy and mirror sites that facilitate access) are given a detailed mention in this year’s report.

“Together these sites make it possible to download — all without permission and without remunerating authors, publishers or researchers — millions of copyrighted books by commercial publishers and university presses; scientific, technical and medical journal articles; and publications of technological standards,” the USTR writes.

Service providers

But it’s not only sites that are being put under pressure. Following a growing list of nominations in previous years, Swiss service provider Private Layer is again singled out as a rogue player in the market for hosting 1337x.to and Torrentz2.eu, among others.

“While the exact configuration of websites changes from year to year, this is the fourth consecutive year that the List has stressed the significant international trade impact of Private Layer’s hosting services and the allegedly infringing sites it hosts,” the USTR notes.

“Other listed and nominated sites may also be hosted by Private Layer but are using
reverse proxy services to obfuscate the true host from the public and from law enforcement.”

The USTR notes Switzerland’s efforts to close a legal loophole that restricts enforcement and looks forward to a positive outcome when the draft amendment is considered by parliament.

Perhaps a little surprisingly given its recent anti-piracy efforts and overtures to the US, Russia’s leading social network VK.com again gets a place on the new list. The USTR recognizes VK’s efforts but insists that more needs to be done.

Social networking and e-commerce

“In 2016, VK reached licensing agreements with major record companies, took steps to limit third-party applications dedicated to downloading infringing content from the site, and experimented with content recognition technologies,” the USTR writes.

“Despite these positive signals, VK reportedly continues to be a hub of infringing activity and the U.S. motion picture industry reports that they find thousands of infringing files on the site each month.”

Finally, in addition to traditional pirate sites, the US also lists online marketplaces that allegedly fail to meet appropriate standards. Re-added to the list in 2016 after a brief hiatus in 2015, China’s Alibaba is listed again in 2017. The development provoked an angry response from the company.

Describing his company as a “scapegoat”, Alibaba Group President Michael Evans said that his platform had achieved a 25% drop in takedown requests and has even been removing infringing listings before they make it online.

“In light of all this, it’s clear that no matter how much action we take and progress we make, the USTR is not actually interested in seeing tangible results,” Evans said in a statement.

The full list of sites in the Notorious Markets Report 2017 (pdf) can be found below.

– 1fichier.com – (cyberlocker)
– 4shared.com – (cyberlocker)
– convert2mp3.net – (stream-ripper)
– Dhgate.com (e-commerce)
– Dopefile.pl – (cyberlocker)
– Firestorm-servers.com (pirate gaming service)
– Fmovies.is, Fmovies.se, Fmovies.to – (streaming)
– Gostream.is, Gomovies.to, 123movieshd.to (streaming)
– Indiamart.com (e-commerce)
– Kinogo.club, kinogo.co (streaming host, platform)
– Libgen.io, sci-hub.io, libgen.pw, sci-hub.cc, sci-hub.bz, libgen.info, lib.rus.ec, bookfi.org, bookzz.org, booker.org, booksc.org, book4you.org, bookos-z1.org, booksee.org, b-ok.org (research downloads)
– Movshare Group – Nowvideo.sx, wholecloud.net, auroravid.to, bitvid.sx, nowdownload.ch, cloudtime.to, mewatchseries.to, watchseries.ac (streaming)
– Movie4k.tv (streaming)
– MP3VA.com (music)
– Openload.co (cyberlocker / streaming)
– 1337x.to (torrent site)
– Primewire.ag (streaming)
– Torrentz2, Torrentz2.me, Torrentz2.is (torrent site)
– Rarbg.to (torrent site)
– Rebel (domain company)
– Repelis.tv (movie and TV linking)
– RuTracker.org (torrent site)
– Rapidgator.net (cyberlocker)
– Taobao.com (e-commerce)
– The Pirate Bay (torrent site)
– TVPlus, TVBrowser, Kuaikan (streaming apps and addons, China)
– Uploaded.net (cyberlocker)
– VK.com (social networking)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

Top 10 Most Popular Torrent Sites of 2018

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-most-popular-torrent-sites-of-2018-180107/

Torrent sites have come and gone over past year. Now, at the start of 2018, we take a look to see what the most-used sites are in the current landscape.

The Pirate Bay remains the undisputed number one. The site has weathered a few storms over the years, but it looks like it will be able to celebrate its 15th anniversary, which is coming up in a few months.

The list also includes various newcomers including Idope and Zooqle. While many people are happy to see new torrent sites emerge, this often means that others have called it quits.

Last year’s runner-up Extratorrent, for example, has shut down and left a gaping hole behind. And it wasn’t the only site that went away. TorrentProject also disappeared without a trace and the same was true for isohunt.to.

The unofficial Torrentz reincarnation Torrentz2.eu, the highest newcomer last year, is somewhat of an unusual entry. A few weeks ago all links to externally hosted torrents were removed, as was the list of indexed pages.

We decided to include the site nonetheless, given its history and because it’s still possible to find hashes through the site. As Torrentz2’s future is uncertain, we added an extra site (10.1) as compensation.

Finally, RuTracker also deserves a mention. The torrent site generates enough traffic to warrant a listing, but we traditionally limit the list to sites that are targeted primarily at an English or international audience.

Below is the full list of the ten most-visited torrent sites at the start of the new year. The list is based on various traffic reports and we display the Alexa rank for each. In addition, we include last year’s ranking.

Most Popular Torrent Sites

1. The Pirate Bay

The Pirate Bay is the “king of torrents” once again and also the oldest site in this list. The past year has been relatively quiet for the notorious torrent site, which is currently operating from its original .org domain name.

Alexa Rank: 104/ Last year #1

2. RARBG

RARBG, which started out as a Bulgarian tracker, has captured the hearts and minds of many video pirates. The site was founded in 2008 and specializes in high quality video releases.

Alexa Rank: 298 / Last year #3

3. 1337x

1337x continues where it left off last year. The site gained a lot of traffic and, unlike some other sites in the list, has a dedicated group of uploaders that provide fresh content.

Alexa Rank: 321 / Last year #6

4. Torrentz2

Torrentz2 launched as a stand-in for the original Torrentz.eu site, which voluntarily closed its doors in 2016. At the time of writing, the site only lists torrent hashes and no longer any links to external torrent sites. While browser add-ons and plugins still make the site functional, its future is uncertain.

Alexa Rank: 349 / Last year #5

5. YTS.ag

YTS.ag is the unofficial successors of the defunct YTS or YIFY group. Not all other torrent sites were happy that the site hijacked the popuar brand and several are actively banning its releases.

Alexa Rank: 563 / Last year #4

6. EZTV.ag

The original TV-torrent distribution group EZTV shut down after a hostile takeover in 2015, with new owners claiming ownership of the brand. The new group currently operates from EZTV.ag and releases its own torrents. These releases are banned on some other torrent sites due to this controversial history.

Alexa Rank: 981 / Last year #7

7. LimeTorrents

Limetorrents has been an established torrent site for more than half a decade. The site’s operator also runs the torrent cache iTorrents, which is used by several other torrent search engines.

Alexa Rank: 2,433 / Last year #10

8. NYAA.si

NYAA.si is a popular resurrection of the anime torrent site NYAA, which shut down last year. Previously we left anime-oriented sites out of the list, but since we also include dedicated TV and movie sites, we decided that a mention is more than warranted.

Alexa Rank: 1,575 / Last year #NA

9. Torrents.me

Torrents.me is one of the torrent sites that enjoyed a meteoric rise in traffic this year. It’s a meta-search engine that links to torrent files and magnet links from other torrent sites.

Alexa Rank: 2,045 / Last year #NA

10. Zooqle

Zooqle, which boasts nearly three million verified torrents, has stayed under the radar for years but has still kept growing. The site made it into the top 10 for the first time this year.

Alexa Rank: 2,347 / Last year #NA

10.1 iDope

The special 10.1 mention goes to iDope. Launched in 2016, the site is a relative newcomer to the torrent scene. The torrent indexer has steadily increased its audience over the past year. With similar traffic numbers to Zooqle, a listing is therefore warranted.

Alexa Rank: 2,358 / Last year #NA

Disclaimer: Yes, we know that Alexa isn’t perfect, but it helps to compare sites that operate in a similar niche. We also used other traffic metrics to compile the top ten. Please keep in mind that many sites have mirrors or alternative domains, which are not taken into account here.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

Torrent Links Disappear From Torrentz2

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrent-links-disappear-from-torrentz2-171223/

Last year, Torrentz.eu decided to close its doors. Without prior warning, all torrent listings were removed from the meta-search engine.

As is often the case with torrent sites, this gap was quickly filled. Just several hours after Torrentz has thrown the proverbial towel, several ‘copies’ popped up, eager to take its place.

The most successful alternative, in terms of traffic, is the elegantly named Torrentz2.eu. Unlike many others, Torrentz2 has always been upfront with its users and never claimed to be an official resurrection.

They just wanted to do what Torrentz did, or even better. This worked, as millions of users were drawn to the site. However, since a few days Torrentz2 is no longer listing any torrent links.

People can still search for files, but the site only lists file details and no links to third-party sites where these can be downloaded.

No links?

The problems first started earlier this week and have been persistent since at least Thursday.

To the broader public it’s unclear what’s causing the issue. It could very well be a technical problem that can be addressed easily, or perhaps something more severe.

Interestingly, new torrent data is still being added to the site. The links to other torrent sites are missing, however, which makes it pretty much unusable.

TorrentFreak reached out to the operator to find out more but we haven’t heard back yet. If we received a response the article will be updated accordingly.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

Original Torrentz Domain Names Listed For Sale

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/original-torrentz-domain-names-listed-for-sale-171119/

Last year, the torrent ecosystem lost two of its biggest sites. First KickassTorrents was taken down following a criminal investigation by the FBI, resulting in indictments against the operators.

A few days later, Torrentz.eu decided to close its doors as well, albeit voluntarily. Without prior warning, all torrent listings were removed from the meta-search engine, which was the third largest torrent site at the time.

The site’s operator kept the website online, but instead of offering links to the usual torrents, its users were left with the following message: “Torrentz will always love you. Farewell.”

Today, more than a year later, not much has changed. Torrentz is still online but the torrent search engine is still not functional. This role was taken over by an unrelated site carrying the name Torrentz2, which has millions of daily visitors itself now.

However, according to a message posted on the original Torrentz site, things may change in the near future. The original Torrentz domain names, including Torrentz.eu, Torrentz.com and Torrentz.in, are for listed sale.

Torrentz for sale

Considering the history of the site and the fact that it still has quite a bit of traffic, this may pique the interest of some online entrepreneurs.

For sentimental Torrentz fans, a sale can go both ways. It could either be used for a new torrent related venture, or someone could scoop it up just to fill it with ads, or even worse.

One thing potential buyers have to be aware of is that the site is still blocked in several countries, including the UK. This, despite the fact that it hasn’t carried any links to infringing content for over a year.

TorrentFreak reached out to the owner of Torrentz to find out why he decided to sell the site now. At the time of writing we haven’t heard back yet, but it’s clear that he’s ready to move on.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN discounts, offers and coupons

Torrentz Shut Down A Year Ago, But The Name Lives On

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrentz-shut-down-a-year-ago-but-the-name-lives-on-170805/

Last summer, the torrent ecosystem lost two of its biggest stars. First, KickassTorrents was taken down following a criminal investigation by the FBI, resulting in indictments against the site’s operators.

Not long after KAT went offline, Torrentz.eu decided to close its doors as well, albeit voluntarily. Without prior warning, all torrent listings were removed from the meta-search engine, which was the third largest torrent site at the time.

The site’s operator confirmed the shutdown to TorrentFreak. The website itself was still on air but instead of the usual torrents, its users were left with the following message: “Torrentz will always love you. Farewell.”

Torrentz.eu says farewell

torrentz-farewell

A year has passed since and Torrentz.eu is still online, but it remains torrent-less. An official explanation for the drastic action was never given, but it’s likely that legal pressure or the trouble at KAT weighed into the decision.

As we’ve seen with KAT, however, the Torrentz brand is still alive and kicking today. Soon after the original site ceased its regular operation, several ‘copies’ popped up, eager to take its place.

The most successful alternative, in terms of traffic, is the elegantly named Torrentz2.eu. Unlike many others, Torrentz2 has always been upfront with its users and never claimed to be an official resurrection. They just want to do what Torrentz did, or even better.

“We always wanted to operate a site as beautiful as the original torrentz site so recreating it was the only way to do it,” the site’s operator tells TorrentFreak.

Torrentz2 copied the look of Torrentz, but runs its own meta-search engine, indexing even more sites than its famous predecessor. At the time of writing the site covers 61,106,364 torrents from 241,559,021 pages on 80 domains.

“We want to add more sites to our index. There are 80 domains now. There is a really huge list of new torrent sites that we discover and will be added soon.
We are looking for hamsters to power up our servers, we believe that we are very close to finding them,” the operator says.

Torrentz2.eu, alive and kicking

The site hasn’t had any legal pressure yet, the operator says. In the future, they will continue down the same path, which doesn’t deviate much from the original site.

“We are trying to keep the feeling and the features of the original torrentz site. Features that are missing are the user comments and accounts but we are working
on it and will be added very soon.”

The public seems to appreciate the Torrentz alternative as well. The site has millions of active users today, which is pretty close to the original site. So for most people, not that much has changed actually.

In fact, it would not a surprise if many of the current Torrentz2 visitors have no clue that they’re not dealing with the “real” thing.

All in all, we can say that recent history has shown how flexible the torrent ecosystem can be when it comes to sudden site closures. Whether it’s KAT, Torrentz, isoHunt, EZTV, YTS or ExtraTorrents, users are quick to find an alternative and continue torrenting there, or move onto something new entirely.

While that may be a positive note for many torrent fanatics, for the sentimentalists it might be strange that those who worked hard to build certain brands for years are seemingly replaced so easily.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

New Torrent Search Engine Abuses Wikipedia to Get Traffic

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/new-torrent-search-engine-abuses-wikipedia-to-get-traffic-170503/

In the world of file-sharing, few will argue that the environment in 2017 is very, very different from that of 2007. Running sites is far from straightforward, with all kinds of roadblocks likely to appear along the way.

One of the early problems is getting new sites off the ground. Ten years ago it was easy to find mainstream technology sites touting the latest additions to the pirate landscape. These days, however, reporting is mainly restricted to innovative platforms or others with some particularly newsworthy aspect.

With those loose advertising opportunities now largely off-limits, new sites and those on the fringes are often taking more unusual approaches. Today another raised its head revealing a particularly poorly judged promotional effort.

Back in April, a new torrent site hit the scene. Called RapidTorrent, it’s a meta-search engine that by definition indexes other torrent sites. Like many others, it’s doing whatever it can to get noticed, but it’s probably the first to try and do that by using Wikipedia.

Early today, the Wikipedia pages of a whole range of defunct and live torrent sites were edited to include links to RapidTorrent. One of the first was the page for defunct meta-search engine BTDigg.

“In May 2017 BTDig (sic) staff launched rapidtorrent, a fast torrent search engine,” the page now reads, along with a link to the new torrent site.

Similar edits could also be found for Demonoid’s page, which was also defaced to note that “In May 2017 Demonoid launched rapidtorrent, a fast torrent search engine.”

In fact, links to the new torrent site were inserted in a range of other pages including The Pirate Bay, Mininova, isoHunt and ExtraTorrent.

While many people might like the opportunity to discover a new torrent site, there can be few who appreciate the defacing of Wikipedia to achieve that goal. Millions of people rely on the platform for information so when that is compromised by spam and what amount to lies, people are seriously misled.

Indeed, striking while the iron’s hot, the Wikipedia spam this morning also extended to the French language Wikipedia page of NYAA, a site that unexpectedly shut down only this week.

As shown in the image below, the site’s real domain has been completely removed only to be replaced with RapidTorrent’s URL.

While the other edits are bad enough, this one seems particularly cruel as people looking for information on the disappeared site (which is in the top 500 sites in the world) will now be led directly to a non-affiliated domain.

Those that do follow the link are greeted with another message on the site itself which claims that the search engine is being run by the original NYAA team, while at the same time soliciting bitcoin donations.

For new torrent sites looking for an early boost in traffic, times are indeed hard, so it’s no surprise that some turn to unorthodox methods. However, undermining free and valuable resources like Wikipedia is certainly not the way to do it, will not produce the required results, and is only likely to annoy when the deception is unveiled.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Torrent Site Bitsnoop Shuts Down

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrent-site-bitsnoop-shuts-down-170331/

Founded in 2008, torrent search engine Bitsnoop was one of the fastest growing torrent sites at the beginning of the decade.

When the site first came online it indexed roughly a million torrents, and it continued to expand in the years that followed.

Earlier this week the site still served a healthy 23,862,834 torrents, but a few hours ago it stopped. According to a message posted on the site’s homepage, Bitsnoop decided to shut down.

“It’s been a nice ride, but all things eventually come to an end,” the message reads.

TorrentFreak contacted the operator of the site to find out more, but he preferred not to comment. On the site we read, however, that not all of the site’s content has been lost for good.

Bitsnoop has shared its data with their friends at fellow torrent search engine Zooqle, who may add it to their database later on.

“For now check out Zooqle – these guys seem to know their stuff. They took our data and said they will index it eventually,” Bitsnoop’s operator writes.

Bitsnoop’s farewell

With Bitsnoop’s shutdown the torrent community loses another familiar name. Over the years the site has been featured in our top ten of most-visited torrent sites a few times, but in recent years traffic dropped.

Like many other sites, BitSnoop is blocked by ISPs in several countries including the UK and Italy, and it was close to being blocked in Australia as well.

As for Zooqle, this site is a relative newcomer. It first appeared online last year and had been steadily expanding since, thanks to traffic from other sites including meta-search engine Torrentz2.

Note: The “farewell” message was first posted on March 31, which is close to April 1st, but we couldn’t see any hints suggesting that it’s a prank.

Zooqle

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Top 10 Most Popular Torrent Sites of 2017

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-most-popular-torrent-sites-of-2017-170107/

2017At the beginning of 2017 the torrent landscape looks quite different from a year ago.

With the shutdown of KickassTorrents and Torrentz.eu, two of the largest players in the scene disappeared.

However, their places were quickly filled by established sites and a few new faces. The Pirate Bay is in the lead once again, closely followed by ExtraTorrent and RARBG, which gained many new visitors in recent months.

The unofficial Torrentz reincarnation Torrentz2.eu is the highest newcomer in fifth place. This meta-search engine copied the look and feel of the defunct meta-search engine and covers dozens of extra sites compared to its predecessor.

TorrentProject is also doing well. The site has been around for quite a few years already but never made it into the top ten before.

Finally, Nyaa.se and Rutracker also deserve a mention. Both have enough traffic to warrant a listing, but we chose to limit the list to sites that are targeted at mainstream content for an English or international audience.

Below is the full list of the ten most-visited torrent sites at the start of the new year. The list is based on various traffic reports and we display the Alexa rank for each. In addition, we include last year’s ranking.

Most Popular Torrent Sites

1. The Pirate Bay

The Pirate Bay is the “king of torrents” once again and also the oldest site in this list. The past year has been relatively quiet for the notorious torrent site, which is currently operating from its original .org domain name.

Alexa Rank: 116 / Compete Rank: NA / Last year #2

2. ExtraTorrent

ExtraTorrent has steadily grown its userbase over the past several years and this trend continues. According to the site’s founder, ET’s active community is one of the main reason for this success. The site is also the home of the popular ETTV and ETRG release groups.

Alexa Rank: 244 / Last year #3

3. RARBG

RARBG, which started out as a Bulgarian tracker, has gained the hearts and minds of many video pirates. Movies and TV-shows with a RARBG tag are a common sight on other torrent indexes as well. The site was founded in 2008 but only made its first appearance in the top ten in 2015.

Alexa Rank: 282 / Last year #5

4. YTS.ag

YTS.ag is in no way affiliated with the original YTS or YIFY group, but succesfully took its place late last year. Not all other torrent sites are happy with the ‘brand hijack’ and several are actively banning its releases.

Alexa Rank: 335 / Last year #9

5. Torrentz2

Torrentz2 is a stand-in for the original Torrentz.eu site, which voluntarily closed its doors last summer. The meta-search engine is open about the fact that it’s not related to the “real” Torrentz and positions itself as a new and improved version, searching over 60 other torrent sites.

Alexa Rank: 415 / Last year #NA

6. 1337x

1337x had some issues a year ago, when several of the admins and moderators protested over security concerns. However, much progress has been made since. The site improved, kept growing in traffic, and recently rolled out a new design as well.

Alexa Rank: 819 / Last year #6

7. TorrentProject

TorrentProject is a familiar name in the torrent scene but appears in the top ten for the first time. The site uses DHT to find content and currently has more than 10 million torrents in its database.

Alexa Rank: 872 / Last year #NA

8. EZTV.ag

The original TV-torrent distribution group EZTV shut down after a hostile takeover in 2015, with new owners claiming ownership of the brand. The new group currently operates from EZTV.ag and releases its own torrents. These releases are banned on some other torrent sites due to this controversial history.

Alexa Rank: 1,472 / Last year #7

9. TorrentDownloads

TorrentDownloads has been around for several years. Like many other sites it is actively blocked by ISPs in several countries. The site offers a no-nonsense index that provides torrents to millions of users each month.

Alexa Rank: 1,946 / Last year #10

10. LimeTorrents

Limetorrents.cc regained a spot in the top ten this year. The site’s operator also launched the torrent cache iTorrents a few months ago, which is used by several other torrent search engines.

Alexa Rank: 2,433 / Last year #NA

Disclaimer: Yes, we know that Alexa isn’t perfect and that Compete has plenty of flaws, but when combined both do a pretty good job at comparing sites that operate in a similar niche.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Five ‘Fantastic’ File-Sharing Forecasts for 2017

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/five-fantastic-file-sharing-forecasts-for-2017-170101/

2017Following the latest trends is one of the main tasks at the TorrentFreak newsroom and this job continues in the New Year.

While we can’t predict the future, we are in a good position to take some wild guesses as to what 2017 has in store.

As always, The Pirate Bay is on top of the list. The site is once again the most-used torrent site on the Internet which brings along responsibilities as well as various threats.

The Pirate Bay Gets Asylum, in The Caribbean

The Pirate Bay has had its fair share of problems over the years. While the past months have been relatively quiet, our crystal ball says that it’s going to change soon.

After nearly 14 years The Pirate Bay will lose its beloved .org domain name. A few months from now copyright holders will launch a court case and obtain a subpoena against the U.S-based Public Interest Registry (PIR). PIR previously resisted a voluntary suspension but will be forced to seize the domain by court order.

With the Swedish .SE domain also at risk, The Pirate Bay is going to send a special envoy to Antigua and Barbuda, requesting virtual asylum in the Caribbean.

pirate bay

This proves to be an excellent match, as Antigua and Barbuda is still engaged in a long-running dispute with the U.S. The Caribbean nation has already threatened to lift the protection of US intellectual property rights in 2017. In addition, it toyed with the idea of starting its own pirate site.

So, it’s a no-brainer that at the and of 2017 The Pirate Bay will be operating ‘carefree’ from a brand new .AG domain name.

Google Bans Torrent Sites and starts a Torrent Search Engine

2017 will also be the year that Google finally runs out of patience with all the ‘copyright bullying’ that it’s endured in recent years. While the search giant initially showed good will, it will soon go rogue.

After realizing that copyright holders always come back for more, no matter what anti-piracy measures they take, Google rolls out an evil plan that has been in the pipeline for a while.

The MPAA and RIAA will have their way as Google will remove all torrent sites from its search results. Not before launching their own torrent meta-search engine, however.

Perhaps the company secretly put the founder of Torrentz.eu at the helm of this project a few months ago, which explains the site’s sudden disappearance last summer.

The torrent search engine launch won’t come as a complete surprise though. Google has had this service in beta for well over a decade, and it’s ready to stand on it own two feet now.

filetypetorrent

Pirate Site Blockades Come to America

For several years, U.S-backed copyright holder groups have obtained site blocking orders in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. However, in 2017 they will realize that they’ve forgotten something.

All these years they have been pointing their fingers at other countries, while pirate sites are still readily available on their home turf.

Admitting this gross oversight, MPAA and RIAA will team up to sue the country’s largest Internet providers. With billions of dollars at stake, they’ll demand immediate action.

After a short but intense legal fight, the U.S. federal court will surprisingly rule that broad website blocking goes too far. Then, copyright holders will suddenly remember why they didn’t start a case earlier.

uTorrent’s Comeback

Remember uTorrent?

With hundreds of millions of installs worldwide the torrent client is still one of the most popular pieces of software in history. However, in recent years its development has ground to a halt.

In a few weeks’ time it will be three years since uTorrent 3.4 was released and today it still hasn’t managed to make another 0.1 leap.

Initially, we wanted to predict the release of uTorrent 3.5 in 2017, but that would be rather wild. So let’s keep it realistic with just a 3.5 beta.

utorrentsocial

The new beta will introduce a revolutionary feature though. Building on several other successful products BitTorrent Inc. has launched over the years, such as their chat client, a browser and live streaming, it will augment the torrent client with a social layer.

The new Beta will allow users to follow or spy on other downloaders to see what their interests are, complete with hashtags, status updates, and a news feed.

Kim Dotcom Announces Megaupload+1 (aka M+1)

In a few weeks from now, Kim Dotcom is going to unveil his plans for Megaupload 2.0 (MU2) and we expect that it will be awesome.

The new Megaupload promises to be better than its predecessor MEGA, which Dotcom launched four years ago as Megaupload’s first reincarnation, but eventually had to abandon.

However, despite the positive reception of Megaupload 2 there are going to be legal and political issues that will force the New Zealand-based entrepreneur to leave the ship once again. For a good reason though.

Our prediction engine shows that the U.S. Department of Justice will drop the Megaupload case after being exposed by Wikileaks. Soon after, Dotcom will switch his focus to politics with the already announced revival of the Internet Party.

Towards the end of 2017, Kim Dotcom will announce the fourth iteration of Megaupload, called Megaupload+1 (M+1). As expected, it will be better, bolder and braver than the earlier versions.

Happy new year everyone!

Don’t believe in any of the above? Look how accurate we were last year! Don’t forget the salt…

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

2016 Was The Year Torrent Giants Fell

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/2016-was-the-year-torrent-giants-fell-161228/

2016overAt TorrentFreak we have been keeping a close eye on the torrent ecosystem for more than a decade.

During this time, many sites have closed their doors, either voluntarily or after being forced by a court order.

However, 2016 has been a particularly ‘bad’ year for torrents, after two icons were pushed offline in a matter of weeks last summer. In total, three sites that were among the top ten most popular sites at the start of the year are now gone.

Perhaps just as importantly, with the demise of What.cd one of the largest private torrent trackers vanished as well.

KickassTorrents

The trouble started in July when Polish law enforcement officers arrested Artem Vaulin, the alleged founder of KickassTorrents (KAT). The arrest was part of a U.S. criminal case which also listed two other men as key players.

At the time, KAT was the most-used torrent site around, so the authorities couldn’t have hit a more prominent target.

The arrests meant the end of the torrent site and up until this day Artem remains in custody at a local hospital. While several KAT copies and mirrors appeared over the past several months, including one operated by original staffers, the original site is still dearly missed by many.

Torrentz

Not long after KickassTorrents went offline, Torrentz.eu decided to close its doors voluntarity. Without prior warning, all torrent listings were removed from the meta-search engine, which was the third largest torrent site at the time.

The site’s operator confirmed the shutdown to TorrentFreak and left its users with the following message: “Torrentz will always love you. Farewell.”

Torrentz.eu says farewell

torrentz-farewell

An official explanation for the drastic action was never given, but it’s likely that the trouble at KAT weighed into the decision.

Now, several months later, several copies and proxies have taken over the Torrentz brand. While these have nothing to do with the original site they are serving millions of pageviews a day, with Torrentz2.eu as the clear leader.

TorrentHound

TorrentHound is the third site out of last year’s top ten that shut its doors unexpectedly. The site was significantly smaller than the other two, but a home to many regular torrenters.

Initially, the site’s operator gave no official explanation. After a while, however, he confirmed to TorrentFreak that the closure was due to a combination of less revenue and constant pressure from anti-piracy groups.

“It’s a combination of less traffic, less revenue and our bills piling up. Then add on constantly getting bugged by anti-piracy agents, just wasn’t worth the headache anymore,” he said.

What.cd

The torrent troubles weren’t limited to public sites only. In fact, one of the biggest stories of the year is the shutdown of the world’s most comprehensive library of digital music, the private music tracker What.cd.

The site went offline after several of its servers were raided by the French military police. The local music industry group SACEM confirmed that the law enforcement efforts were part of a criminal investigation which is ongoing.

What.cd’s initial farewell message

whatcddown

Soon after the first reports came out, What.cd’s operators shut down the site and deleted crucial data to keep its users safe. In addition, they released a detailed farewell message on Twitter.

“What.CD has completed its shutdown. We are confident that our staff and users are safe. It is with enormous sorrow in our hearts that we must now move on with our lives,” the site’s operators said.

However, music aficionados aren’t easily defeated. Within a matter of days several new trackers appeared online, growing harder than What.cd or its predecessor OiNK ever did.

—–

The above are just a few examples of major sites that have fallen, but it shows that 2016 was a year to remember. At the end of the week we’ll be heading into 2017 and the big question is; where will things go from here?

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Torrent Site 1337x Hopes New Design Will Prevent Search Engine Bans

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrent-site-1337x-hopes-new-design-will-prevent-search-engine-bans-161030/

1337xlogoFor many veteran BitTorrent users, 1337x is a familiar name. The site has been around for many years and was generally known for its lively community.

While 1337x hasn’t been at the center of attention much, the past year has been quite an eventful one for the torrent index.

After weathering a revolt of its moderators last December, this summer 1337x suddenly had to deal with a massive spike in traffic after KickassTorrents was shut down by the Us.S Government.

Most new visitors came in through Torrentz, and these disappeared just as quickly when the torrent meta-search engine called it quits in August. However, traffic has been steadily increasing since, as the graph below nicely illustrates.

1337xalexa

“To be honest, it has been a rollercoaster with traffic,” the site’s operator tells TorrentFreak in a comment

The end result is that 1337x.to now has a steady place among the most-visited torrent sites, currently ranked in the top five. Still, the site is not always easy to find for newcomers as the homepage has been taken out of Google’s search results due to a takedown notice.

Traditionally, the homepage listed a variety of popular torrents, so Google has no other option than to remove the URL when Feelgood Entertainment reported it last year.

To address this issue and prevent similar problems in the future, the site recently released a new design. Aside from various layout changes and using a responsive design, the homepage now only features a search box, no torrents.

“Due to our old index being blocked by search engines, new users were having issues finding the website. We developed a new index page that contains only search, so we don’t get blocked by search engines in the future,” a notice on the site explains.

1337xnewdesign

TorrentFreak spoke to the 1337x operator who doubts that Google will reinstate their homepage right away. However, the new design should prevent similar problems in the future.

The new design has been in the planning for a very long time already and spiraled a bit out of control. Initially, the plan was to only update the homepage, but it didn’t stop there.

“Seeing how cool a responsive layout could look we decided to make a whole new frontend. That literally took months to develop, and we changed backend code as well, which fixed several bugs and issues that were in the old version,” 1337x’s operator tells us.

And the work is not done yet. The next step is to release the new forums which people will be able to use with their existing 1337x account. If there are no major issues, this will go live in a month or so.

In moderator ‘relations’, progress has been made as well. While some have left the site for good, others came back and continue to remove spam and fake torrents with some new and improved tools.

The 1337x.to operator is mostly looking ahead at the moment. Work on the site and moderator features is far from completed, but the team is trying hard to move a few steps closer every week.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Top Torrent Sites See Traffic Surge After ‘Shutdowns’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-torrent-sites-see-traffic-surge-shutdowns-160903/

boatssailAt TorrentFreak we have been keeping a close eye on the torrent ecosystem for more than a decade.

During this time, many torrent sites have shut down, either voluntarily or after being forced to by a court order.

However, never before have we witnessed events like those of recent weeks.

On July 20, KickassTorrents (KAT), the largest torrent site at the time, was shut down after its alleged owner was arrested. A few days later Torrentz said farewell, leaving many more without access to their torrent search engine of choice.

Just like that, two of the largest torrent sites had disappeared, causing much confusion and uncertainty among former users. Both sites had millions of daily visitors who needed to find a new home.

Now that the dust has settled a bit we take a look at the massive migration that took place.

First off, the search for alternative torrent sites is nicely illustrated by Google Trends. Immediately after KAT shut down, searches for “torrent sites” shot through the roof, as seen below.

“Torrent sites” searches (90 days)

torrentsitestrned

While many sites across the board are ‘profiting’ from the shutdowns, most traffic appears to be going to the big players. The Pirate Bay, for example, which recently became the largest torrent site again, as well as runner-up ExtraTorrent.

To get a representative picture of changes we asked Similarweb for an overview of the traffic that flowed to the top five torrent sites over the past months, plus Torrentz. The data is taken from a sample of over 200 million devices measuring desktop visits only.

The graph below shows that traffic to all sites went up after Kat.cr was taken offline. Torrentz initially saw a sharp rise as well, but traffic tanked after its farewell message early August.

Traffic to the top 5 torrent sites (large)

torrentsitesurge

In absolute terms The Pirate Bay benefited the most, adding several million daily visitors, with a relative increase of 67%. ExtraTorrent, however, doubled its numbers with a 101% increase, welcoming a lot of new users after the Torrentz shutdown.

The three other sites in the top five, RARBG, 1337x.to and YTS.ag, saw their visitor numbers go up by 45%, 53% and 44% respectively. Still good hundreds of thousands of extra visitors per day, according to the reported data.

The Pirate Bay team previously told us that they are happy to welcome these new users, which made it the king of torrents once again. Similarly, ExtraTorrent is also motivated to keep expanding.

“We always think and dream of growing and we indeed plan to keep growing,” ExtraTorrent’s SaM tells TorrentFreak, adding that the members of the site make it a success.

Aside from the big players, several smaller sites also saw their traffic rise. Initially, a lot of interest went out to ‘mirrors’ and copies of KAT and Torrentz, some of which are still doing very well traffic-wise.

Torrentz2, for example, greatly benefited from coverage in the Indian press. While the site is not that popular in the West, in India it quickly became one of the largest sites in the country with Alexa ranking it in 127th place locally.

Interestingly, however, there are also several torrent sites that have been ‘hurt’ by the recent takedown of Torrentz. As thelargest torrent meta-search, Torrentz sent traffic to a lot of ‘smaller’ sites, traffic that has now disappeared.

Torlock, for example, initially saw an increase when KAT went offline but after Torrentz folded their traffic tanked. The site currently has half the users it had two months ago.

“After KAT we saw a massive increase but I assume that was because Torrentz received much more traffic when KAT went down,” Torlock’s operator tells TF.

“Because we were very reliant on Torrentz when it shut down, it basically halved our traffic. So currently we are half of where we were before KAT and Torrentz shut down.”

With millions of people moving to new sites, it’s safe to say that the torrent ‘community’ is in turmoil, trying to find a new status quo. Whether the shutdowns will actually lead to fewer people using torrents is unclear though. Thus far we have not seen any evidence that this is the case.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

The Growing Importance of Torrents Meta-Search

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-growing-importance-of-torrents-meta-search-160814/

network-roundAsk any half-interested user to name the best public torrent sites and many will fall back on those inhabiting the top ten most popular online today.

While there’s much glory to be had, being one of the world’s most-visited torrent indexes has its downsides.

Two huge sites previously in the top ten of 2016 – KickassTorrents and Torrentz – have now disappeared, with at least one falling victim to enforcement action. It’s possible, if not likely, that more will fall in the months and years to come.

But what about sites outside the top ten? What about those in the top 50, top 100 or top 250? What happens to those on a day to day basis?

Well, each endures its own unique set of problems associated with running a torrent site but due to their size, most don’t have high-powered law enforcement agencies breathing down their necks. That often means they’re able to provide a steady service to users without too many headaches.

But while small is sometimes cool, obscurity is often the enemy of growth, both in terms of users and availability of content, with the former being the provider of the latter. That’s where meta and/or multi-site search engines step in.

A meta-search engine is a search engine that searches other search engines, in this case other torrent sites and indexes. Without doubt, the most famous meta-search engine was Torrentz, but that shut down last week.

Torrentz be sorely missed. While it was always possible to visit The Pirate Bay or KickassTorrents to get a popular torrent, if that content was a little more rare, time-consuming visits to multiple sites might be necessary. Torrentz alleviated that problem by searching multiple sites at once and displaying the results in one location.

torrentz-meta

As the image above shows, most sites that were listed by Torrentz are very successful in their own right but the concept of meta-search doesn’t have to stop at the biggest players.

There’s no insurmountable reason why meta and multi-site search engines of the future won’t index hundreds of diverse torrent sites, sites that might usually fly under the radar due to their small size and low public profile.

Of course, once these sites become more visible (and searchable) they will naturally grow in size, with the higher quality platforms securing a larger share of the traffic. For some, this could mean the loss of their quiet life status and for others, it might mean breaking into the top 10.

Whether these changes in status will turn out to be a help or hindrance is a matter for each site operator, but for the user it will mean greater access to a broader range of sites that are less likely to be taken down.

The authorities are reasonably happy to play whac-a-mole at the top, but doing so with hundreds of targets lower down the food chain becomes an expensive, chaotic, and ultimately unwinnable game.

Giants might be doomed to fall but the era of the thousand little men might be just around the corner – if people can find them.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.