Two weeks ago the largest BitTorrent tracker on the Internet vanished. The hosting company of the tracker was ordered to take it offline after Hollywood managed to get a court decision in their favor. Today, OpenBitTorrent returns to the web from a new home, managing torrent connections as if nothing happened.
In the last year or two the entertainment industries have targeted many BitTorrent sites. The majority of the verdicts against these sites have thus far ruled in favor of the copyright holders. Only in Spain have BitTorrent sites been repeatedly found to operate within the boundaries of the law.
Of all the BitTorrent related websites OpenBitTorrent has been one of the most surprising targets. The tracker, which doesn’t link to or host any torrent files and is not linked to any torrent search engine, merely serves as a facilitator of the communication between torrent users, much like BitTorrent clients do.
Despite this neutral and apparent non-infringing setup, the Swedish Court of Appeals ruled against the site two weeks ago. In a surprising verdict in a case started by Hollywood movie companies, the Court handed out an injunction to OpenBitTorrent’s hosting provider Portlane, ordering it to cease to provide Internet access to the tracker.
The OpenBitTorrent site and tracker returned a few hours ago
Following this decision OpenBitTorrent was pulled offline. TorrentFreak contacted the operators of the site who told us that they would be looking for a new hosting provider to bring back their tracker, so it could continue to coordinate the communications between the millions of people that were using it daily.
Today, we were informed that OpenBitTorrent has finally found a new hosting company, interestingly enough one that is run by a Spanish company. Just hours after the tracker and its website returned, some 20 million peers spread over 200,000 torrents were already connected to the tracker and business continued as usual.
OpenBitTorrent is currently battling for the title of the worlds largest BitTorrent tracker with PublicBitTorrent, another standalone tracker that runs on the Opentracker software. Both trackers handle the communications of between 20 and 30 million BitTorrent users at any given time of the day.
Although it’s good to see that OpenBitTorrent has been resurrected, it’s worth noting that the majority of all BitTorrent users probably never noticed that it had disappeared. Most torrents today come with several backup trackers that are used in case one goes down, and even without trackers at all DHT ensures that downloads continue to work.
Update: Site and tracker seem to be down again, no word on what’s causing the downtime but we assume that it will be resolved quickly.