RARBG: Over 267,000 Movie & TV Show Magnet Links Appear Online

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A few hours ago the team behind veteran torrent site RARBG announced that after 15 years online, the curtain had come down for the final time. The effect on the public torrent site scene will become apparent in the coming days but for those more interested in historical record keeping, all is not lost. A few hours ago an archive of RARBG magnet links, spanning over 267,000 movie and TV show releases, suddenly appeared online.

rarbgThe shock closure yesterday of one of the world’s oldest and most reliable torrent sites ranks as one of the biggest surprises in recent years.

Founded in 2008, RARBG had a reputation for taking the fundamentals seriously. The site offered the usual spread of movies and TV shows, available in various qualities and numerous file sizes. The site didn’t cover every single release but when trawling the archives, it certainly felt like it might.

Consistent, Organized, Predictable

RARBG also became known for consistently offering subtitles for most movie and TV show releases. Long before legal streaming services made any serious attempt, RARBG’s curation of subtitles helped the deaf enjoy films again, without any of the frustrations associated with mislabeled files and out of sync releases.

In common with other torrent sites operating publicly, most RARBG users downloaded their files and headed for the hills. For the majority, seeding was either a dirty word, one they’d never heard before, or perhaps didn’t understand. Hit-and-run rates of 98%+ showed the scale of the problem but on RARBG, a lack of public seeders rarely presented a problem.

As if by magic, a single seed would often pop up when people needed one most, meaning that incomplete torrents were a rare occurrence. At least until yesterday.

Torrented Back to Life?

With RARBG’s indexes gone and trackers offline, the file-sharing scene may never be the same again. It will continue, of course, but filling that type of gap at scale, with the same level of accessible reliability, won’t be easy to pull off.

And then there’s the not insignificant loss of RARBG’s content indexes. With releases meticulously labeled and then tagged by genre, actor, director and more, replacing something like that in the public torrent scene would take considerable effort, if anyone could summon up the motivation to even try.

In short, an otherwise ordinary Wednesday offered nothing when it began, yet still took everything away from RARBG users in the space of a few hours. Whether the middle of the week had second thoughts is unclear but a few hours ago, the keys to much of the RARBG torrent network suddenly reappeared online in an unexpected format.

Yo! Magnets!

While RARBG supplied users with .torrent files to download content via BitTorrent clients, the site also offered magnet links, accessible by clicking the magnet-shaped icons next to each release.

For those with torrent clients configured to accept magnet links, transfers took place much like regular torrents, largely because magnet links provided by RARBG received help from RARBG’s regular BitTorrent trackers.

The beauty of magnet links is that the lack of trackers when a site disappears doesn’t stop users from downloading content. Furthermore, .torrent files are bulky, unlike magnet links which are easily represented in a line of plain text. In short, regular text files can contain thousands of magnet links in a just a few kilobytes. As such, they are easily shared online.

A few hours ago two repositories appeared on GitHub with zero fanfare. Created by user ‘2004content’, the first repo labeled ‘rarbg’ contains nothing. The same can’t be said about the other.

Three Ordinary .TXT Files

The three files of interest are basic .txt files. When loaded into a capable text editor, the first file (moviesrarbg.txt) appears to contain magnet links related to RARBG movie releases; a staggering 117,233 releases overall.

The remaining pair (showsrarbg.txt and showsothers.txt) appear to contain magnet links related to TV shows and series previously released on RARBG. The first contains 12,969 magnet links but the second contains considerably more – 137,669 magnet links collectively referencing the same number of releases.

Random Text or The Real Deal?

Verifying that these magnet links are indeed what they claim to be presents two key problems. The first is the huge number of links versus sensibly available resources. The second comes with a standard reminder; downloading and sharing copyrighted content, even using a magnet link, is illegal almost everywhere.

As a result, we don’t recommend the use of the magnet links listed in the text archives, and certainly not for infringement purposes. However, through the use of a small number of specialist tools, it is possible to obtain detailed metadata from a magnet link, without downloading or sharing any of the referenced content, infringing or otherwise. For a general idea of how someone might go about that, the TorrentParts project on GitHub may be of interest, although other techniques do exist.

We can’t confirm that the text file data references the entire RARBG movie/TV show collection but with some magnet links now confirmed as referencing the material they claim to reference, it’s certainly possible that a large part of RARBG’s video indexes appear in this three file collection on GitHub.

Update: RARBG Shutdown is a Major Blow to the Pirate Ecosystem

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