Last month, whatCD was shut down by anti-piracy police in France. This week, there are already three replacements. Is there any learning going on?
For those just tuning in, one of the largest Bittorrent trackers just got shut down. Prior to its sudden death, WhatCD offered nearly 3 million torrents from roughly 900,000 artists. Its user base was approaching 150,000.
Now, it’s a dead page. But instead of everyone going away, the entire BitTorrent community has been creating replicas. “Within a matter of days several new trackers appeared online,” Ernesto from Torrentfreak relayed. “Some of these alternatives already have close to 200,000 torrents in their collection, and that’s just the start.
With astonishing speed, a least three have popped up, and they’re growing fast. According to the Torrentfreak report, these are the different BitTorrent trackers filling the void:
- PTH (Pass the Headphones)
- Apollo (aka Xanax)
PTH (Pass the Headphones)
According to Torrentfreak, PTH has already reached its 200,000th tracker link. That’s as big as OiNK at its peak, just prior to its shutdown in 2007. “Pass The Headphones is a new music tracker that aims to fill the void left in the wake of what.cd shutting down,” the founders described.
At present, this is an entirely private network with massive security. But invites have been circulating from this forum since November 27th. Undoubtedly, there are other invites circulating among the torrenting community.
And it’s growing fast. Torrentfreak says the community is being capped at 10,000, with most familiar with the secret passcode. “Run by some familiar faces in the private tracker community, security is at the top of the list of priorities,” the site creators reiterated.
Apollo, originally named Xanax, also seems to be springing up quickly. And just like PTH, there’s a focus on security. Currently, the site is soliciting applications here, with posted IRC channel hashtags.
“Applications are open! Apply now and join the community!” the site invites.
Catchy title, but this looks like a tightly-closed door. Torrentfreak says the founders are being extremely careful about letting anyone in.
A visit to the site basically says as much. “You’ve stumbled upon a door where your mind is the key. There are none who will lend you guidance; these trials are yours to conquer alone. Entering here will take more than mere logic and strategy, but the criteria are just as hidden as what they reveal.”
“This is a mirage.”
More whack-a-m0ling ahead?
Whether anti-piracy police are lurking around these replacements is unclear. Ironically, many of them receive information about piracy upstarts from Digital Music News, and a few shutdowns have started with our reporting.
But DMN is also sharply critical of a non-stop whack-a-mole that never seems to skill the piracy hyrdra. Indeed, a recent research report indicated that anti-piracy enforcement has had a negligible impact on music piracy. Sure, the bigger hubs are shut down, but users are largely undeterred.
So what really kills piracy? The answer, unsurprisingly, is low-priced streaming from players like Spotify. Not because music fans feel guilty, but because it’s simply far more convenient to stream it for free. Or, shockingly, pay $9.99 a month.