Soto had been in the computer business since he was 16 and had created several file-sharing applications including Blubster, the so-called “Spanish Napster”. The labels claimed that Soto’s creations were designed to profit from infringements of their copyrights, something which amounted to unfair competition. In trying to prove their case the labels went as far as spying on Soto with a hidden camera.
In 2011, Madrid Commercial Court No. 4 rejected the compensation demands of the labels and ruled in favor of the developer, declaring that his technology was “totally neutral.”
Things quickly improved for Soto. In December 2011 he received a 1.6 million euros grant from the Spanish Government to develop a new search engine called Foofind, a project described by the Government as having “enormous potential for the future of our country.”
Now Soto is back – and ready to cause the biggest file-sharing stir in recent memory by not only launching his own BitTorrent client, but by launching a Foofind-powered (and by default Spanish Government-funded) torrent site.
Add in the fact that Soto is releasing all the code as Free Software to “ensure the open Internet” along with a promise not to infringe on users’ privacy and we have a very potent mix indeed.
“Lately we’ve seen more and more proof that what just a few ‘conspiranoids’ like myself were alerting years ago is now unfortunately becoming true: the war to control the Internet is being won by corrupt governments and corporations,” Soto tells TorrentFreak.
“We believe that the most powerful weapon we have in this important battlefield is Free Software. Constructing search engines, P2P servants, robots and what not, and releasing them all under a free license that lets everybody read the code, modify it, and replicate it, is a way to give control back to the people.”
The end result is two products. The first, called Torrents Downloader, is a no-nonsense torrent client with built-in search and freely available source code. It has no adware, no third-party software ‘additions’, and at v0.1 is just beginning its life.
“We are trying to make the most streamlined Bittorrent client, one that everybody would feel comfortable with. We realized that too often, we engineers tend to build software that we love to use but our moms would hate, and we want to change that!” Soto explains.
The second product in the Spaniard’s offering is almost certainly going to cause chaos. Soto and friends have secured one of the most desirable domain names (torrents.com) to launch possibly the most important torrent site (torrents.fm) in recent memory. The team have not only created a great product, but unlike the vast majority of other torrent site operators they are not hiding away. They are proud of their product and ready to stand by it – no matter what.
Torrents.fm – 30 million torrents so far and looking good
“We’ve been fighting for what we believe is right for almost 15 years. I received my first multi-million lawsuit from the majors six years ago. We will keep defending ourselves, and so far we’ve won on every court decision,” Soto says.
“When dealing with those organizations, you can’t avoid being harassed, but you can avoid losing the legal fight. Moreover, we’re open to sustainable partnerships with content companies but not to being controlled by copyright conglomerates that are merely protecting dying, legacy business models.”
The indications are, however, that Soto will indeed find himself in a head-on collision with Hollywood and the major labels. His torrent site is not only beautifully presented (Soto says his team comprises the most talented designers and coders he’s ever met), but also indexes tens of millions of torrents linking to every kind of content imaginable.
Indexing every type of content available, courtesy of the Spanish Government
“Our robots are crawling everything, they discover new torrent sites on a daily basis. Some have a small number of magnets, others have vast amounts of torrent files. Either way, we work to make everything easily findable. We just surpassed the 30 million files mark and we are rapidly growing,” Soto explains.
So how will Soto and his team make themselves less of a target? Most importantly the site will remove links to unauthorized content within the parameters of applicable law but Soto says that being tough is equally important.
“In the past we have found that by doing the right thing, and fighting every legal attack, not surrendering to injustice, are the only ways to endure. Sooner or later, every industry that believes they can make a living from litigation ends up eaten by their own business model,” he explains.
For the entertainment industries, learning from the lessons of the past would be a good place to start, the Spaniard says.
“History repeats itself. In the past, some of today’s biggest money makers for Hollywood were enemies but they put down their weapons and subsequently made money together, like the infamous fight between broadcasters and cable companies, who now make billions of dollars together. We’re open to talks but we will continue to defend the open internet for society’s sake,” he concludes.