BitTorrent Survival: The Way of the Hydra

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As more and more people hear about BitTorrent, each day the major sites get bigger, with more and more visitors, members, seeds and peers. Mainstream awareness of P2P is driving this new surge but with copyright and law enforcement agencies clamping down hard, some are considering tactics for survival.


The BitTorrent community is growing at an almost alarming rate, its popularity is surging and more people than ever before are discovering its wonders. The mighty Suprnova captured the imagination of millions around the world, giving huge momentum to this file-sharing phenomenon, collecting millions of daily hits before its demise.

Today, sites like Mininova and The Pirate Bay are enjoying unprecedented levels of interest. Mininova served up 1 billion torrents in their first 2 years of operations, then stormed to 2 billion in just a further 6 months whilst capturing almost double the daily traffic of Suprnova in its prime.

The Pirate Bay almost needs no introduction, such is its size and comparable infamy. A jaw-dropping BitTorrent behemoth, gathering thousands of visitors each day who between them download 4 million torrents. Its vistors make 86 searches per second, its servers handle 1150 requests in the same timeframe and it tracks 50% of the world’s torrents.

That’s 50% of ALL public torrents. That is a dangerously high number of eggs in a basket that’s frequently coming under an attack of one form or another.

With the authorities always looking to take the biggest scalps to grab the headlines, sites such as LokiTorrent and EliteTorrents stood no chance, especially considering the huge financial implications of residing in the USA. Major BitTorrent site admins realized this and mainly moved their operations to the Netherlands, a location which is now looking less of a safe haven. The Dutch situation is of particular concern – there are dozens of strategically important torrent sites hosted there.

So what is the solution? brokep of The Pirate Bay has some thoughts that I happen to completely agree with.

“There are too few sites and trackers right now” he said, “things have been to concentrated to the big sites and that really sucks!”

Although it’s great initially for the mainstream to have visible big ‘brands’ such as The Pirate Bay, Mininova and TorrentSpy, it’s a precarious situation to have such a top heavy structure to the BitTorrent community. It’s great having a ‘multi-headed hydra’ but not so great when just one of those heads carries half of all the public torrents. This situation must be addressed. Resources need to be spread around in a manner which ensures that a few ‘big bombs’ are unable to dismantle major parts of the infrastructure.

There is a solution, as brokep says, “I really love the small specialized sites, I hope to see more of them. I would love to help out with starting up more, but it’s also important that we who already run sites do not start more of them.”

He’s right. The more sites like The Pirate Bay provide what the BitTorrent community want, the less likely it is that people will venture out on their own to create their own sites. In the current environment, the hydra needs thousands of heads which are resource-hungry to target, not just a dozen juicy fat ones which stay nice and still, with the authorities just waiting for a subtle change in, or interpretation of, the law. A change which is inevitable, in both Sweden and the Netherlands.

TorrentFreak asked the admin of a US-based tracker how they manage to stay alive, despite having 20,000 members. “People are too hung up on MPAA and RIAA content. There’s an enormous library of material out there which you can track and no-one bothers you. We’ve got over 4000 torrents and we’ve had just two or three informal takedown requests in the last couple of years. If people want to start a tracker, indexing non-RIAA/MPAA content and specializing in something else is a great way to start building a community, even when you’re hosted in the States”

brokep gets the last words. Very wise words;

“So public message to people – start up your own torrent sites, make the internet the hydra it is and needs to be. If there’s hundreds of sites, they can’t all be shut down. And well, if they shut down the few that are today, there will be hundreds of sites, I’m sure, but let’s start them before so we can spread the word of them easier.”


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