By their very nature, it is rare for torrent sites to stay online for more than a few years.
While there are a few notable exceptions that have bucked the trend, most come and go, having wilted under significant legal or financial pressures.
After being founded in 2005, TNTVillage, which for years was Italy’s most popular torrent site, was one of the unusual ones. Hated by local anti-piracy groups but loved by fans, the site aimed to draw attention to restrictive copyright law but also attempted to act ethically by not releasing new content quickly after release.
In September 2018, the site was targeted by a lawsuit with site owner Luigi Di Liberto revealing that his home had been searched by authorities. Now, according to the Italian Publishers Association and anti-piracy group FAPAV, the Court of Milan has “ordered the cessation of TNT Village’s file sharing activities, fully endorsing the rights holders’ requests.”
According to the groups, TNTVillage made available more than 134,000 titles available to the public, including movies, TV shows, anime, software, and books.
“It is a great result,” says Ricardo Franco Levi, President of the Italian Publishers Association (AIE)
“The court fully accepts our position. One million users, through the activity and structure of TNT Village, have illegally and massively shared contents of publishers protected by Copyright: there is nothing ethical about behavior contrary to the law and damaging the rights as these.
“Was this the most famous pirate house on the Italian web? We will do everything to counter not only this but all alternative forms of piracy.”
While the ruling is a considerable win for the groups after all these years campaigning against TNTVillage, there will be no simultaneous shutdown of Italy’s largest torrent site. In fact, the site itself stole the groups’ thunder in September, when an announcement revealed it would shut itself down.
“Unfortunately due to [owner] Di Liberto’s decision, not attributable to our will and with extreme regret, we inform you that the site and the forum are closed,” the announcement read.
However, given the anti-copyright stance of the site’s now-former operator, the site’s parting shot is of particular interest. Instead of deleting everything and disappearing into the shadows, the announcement added a file for download, noting that “if you are a geek, you may be interested in downloading THIS.”
The file bears the hallmarks of a site dump, which interested parties may be able to use to resurrect the infamous but now-defunct torrent platform. This hasn’t gone unnoticed to FAPAV, which is promising action if problems arise.
While celebrating the legal victory and noting the importance of continuing the fight against piracy, FAPAV General Secretary Federico Bagnoli Rossi warns that anti-piracy groups will be on the lookout for anyone seeking to clone the platform.
“In the meantime, our Federation together with AIE is continuing to verify that the portal database is not repurposed on other sites. Otherwise we will evaluate whether to proceed by legal means also against new possible platforms,” Rossi says.
“We are pleased with how this activity is progressing and we will certainly not lower our guard.”