Over the years, we have reported on the demise of hundreds of torrent sites. Many of them folded due to legal pressure.
This week yet another site bites the dust; one that has been around since 2005, when the likes of TorrentSpy and Mininova ruled the scene.
While those two giants would eventually succumb to legal pressure, Legit Torrents kept on going. Unlike most others, this site specifically focused on content that would not cause any trouble with rightsholders.
RIP Legit Torrents (2005 – 2023)
Legit Torrents managed to flourish in its small niche for roughly 17 years but has now decided to shut down. According to its founder and operator, Dustin Montgomery, recent technical issues proved to be too much of a challenge.
The trouble started when the server’s IP address was null-routed for sending spam or hosting malware. The action was the result of a larger IP address being blocked, which made it impossible for the site’s hosting provider to restore the server remotely.
Technically, it would have been possible to rebuild the server and site, but after spending most of his life maintaining Legit Torrents, Dustin decided that the time had come to shut it down.
“I started Legit Torrents in the fall of 2005. I was still in high school and back then there was no 100% legal torrent tracker that anyone could easily submit to,” he recalls in a farewell message posted on the site.
Millions of Views
Like many others at the time, Legit Torrents began as a hobby project with minimal resources. Dustin recalls that it initially started out with a free dyndns.org subdomain. When traffic eventually started to come in, he made the site’s first investment by picking up the legittorrents.info name for $0.99.
In the years that followed the site signed up roughly 50,000 users and hosted 5,500 torrents. With a few thousand pageviews a day, it certainly wasn’t the most popular torrent site around, but unlike many others, Legit Torrents survived, eventually reaching 22 million pageviews.
The site ran Adsense ads for a while to cover the bills. This worked well until it got banned, not because of copyright issues, but because Legit Torrents signed up for an offer that later turned out to generate fraudulent clicks.
Speaking with TorrentFreak, Dustin notes that at its height in 2010, the site generated over $1,000 for a few months. Admittedly, however, that was in part due to the release of the Pontiac Torrent car and some decent SEO skills.
Running a legal torrent site doesn’t mean an absence of legal challenges. Over the years, several rightsholders mistakenly accused the site of sharing copyright-infringing material without permission.
In 2007, for example, the infamous Web Sheriff accused the site of sharing a pirated copy of the movie The Warlords, confusing it with the free MMORPG kung fu game Warlords in the torrent site’s archive.
Dustin challenged several of these takedowns and he also spent quite a few hours keeping spammers off the site, which wasn’t always straightforward.
“I had spammers uploading torrents en masse for a good while. With auto approval of torrents, I spent a lot of time logging in to fight them,” Dustin says.
Auto-approval could also be a problem when users inadvertently uploaded pirated content. In the end, Legit Torrents chose to manually approve users for posting, to avoid potential trouble.
Looking back, Dustin is quite proud of what he achieved. Offering a site that helped people get a copy of Linux, indie film releases, game updates, or other software was quite rewarding.
“My best memories of the site are just having it be of use,” Dustin tells us, adding that he would get excited when he saw random strangers adding links to the index.
While working on the site, Dustin also helped himself move forward in life. Today, he works as an SEO consultant and Legit Torrents was an informal education that turned out to be quite valuable. Interestingly, even The Pirate Bay played a small part in this process.
“I cannot state enough how much I learned from running this site and others. Way better than a degree in my opinion. It was one of my first exposures to implementing SEO, which funny enough was mostly copied tags from The Pirate Bay and modified to be about legal torrents instead.”
With the shutdown of Legit Torrents, Dustin closes the book on an important chapter of his life. While these goodbyes are never easy, it’s quite refreshing to see a positive ending.
Legit Torrent’s founder is blessed with a happy, healthy, growing family, which is also one of the reasons why he can do without a time-consuming project. That said, letting go is easier than it sounds.
“It’s not an easy thing to say goodbye to this silly site. It has been a part of my entire adult life. For ~17 years it was always there for me to check on, moderate, and take care of,” Dustin notes.
“If you ever used Legit Torrents, I sincerely hope it helped you. My mission in life is love Jesus and love others, and I think Legit Torrents did that in some weird techy way.”