The piracy ecosystem is more structured than most people assume. While anyone can upload a file online, the most popular content is distributed publicly by a small number of uploaders.
This was also the case at ETTV, which started out as a TV-torrent distribution group on the public torrent site ExtraTorrent.
After its original home was shut down, ETTV decided to launch its own website, allowing a select group of uploaders to share content there. These types of distribution groups feed the majority of all pirated videos to the masses. However, they are not the source.
Many Torrent Groups Rely on The Scene
Groups like ETTV often get their content from the top of the piracy pyramid, also known as The Scene. While there is no active cooperation between Scene groups and torrent uploaders, those who know where to look can get access to Scene content. That is, until a major bust changes the game.
As reported in great detail over the past days, a criminal investigation by the US authorities shook up The Scene. Three alleged members with ties to the group SPARKS were arrested and raids across the world toppled dozens of topsites where Scene content was shared.
This was not just a major blow to The Scene. It affects the entire piracy ecosystem, as became apparent from a recent decision made by ETTV.
ETTV just moved to a new domain at ETTVcentral.com as its previous one was heavily downranked and blocked by Google. However, what’s even more significant is that the site now allows all members to upload torrents, instead of just the small group of uploaders that it previously worked with.
SPARKS Was ETTV’s Prime Source
Torrents from known uploaders will now be listed as ‘verified’ but, other than that, everyone can add content. While this change was already in the planning, the SPARKS bust sped up the process. As it turns out, SPARKS was ETTV’s prime source.
“All ETTV torrents were coming from them,” ETTV administrator ‘sidekickbob’ tells us. “With exception of a couple of movies here and there, we don’t upload anything anymore at the moment because we’re not getting any new content.”
This is an example of how the investigation into a few Scene members affected the entire piracy ecosystem, including Jane Doe in Sydney, who suddenly couldn’t download her favorite TV-shows.
“There was a significant reduction in available content after the bust. We need ‘independent’ uploaders to fill in the blanks. If they do a good job, they will get a more prominent appearance on the ETTV site by being upgraded to ‘Uploader’,” sidekickbob says.
The Future Remains Uncertain
It’s not as if piracy has come to a complete standstill. Those who look hard enough can still find pretty much all they need. However, ETTV was impacted severely, according to sidekickbob, who mentions that they are mostly looking for consistent TV show uploaders.
By opening the site up to the public ETTV also hopes to increase content variety. On the other side, it will also require more moderation as spammers and scammers are always lurking.
ETTV has had quite a lot of trouble over the past few months. The site’s main operator disappeared without a trace last December after which sidekickbob stepped up. However, several domains and resources were lost. For now, the site is hanging in there but its future remains uncertain.
“After losing four domains, the image host, and being blocked on Google, it’s a wonder we’re still alive. This latest domain change is the last effort to remain alive, and I think we will, but I will know for sure by the end of the year,” sidekickbob says.