Last month we published an article on Strike, a new torrent site with a fresh approach.
In addition to a less-is-more philosophy when displaying results, Strike obtains torrent data not only from all public trackers but also BitTorrent’s Distributed Hash Table (DHT), a first in the torrent world as far as we’re aware.
But since that piece a couple of weeks ago, Strike has been under attack from multiple directions.
“The first major one was a DDOS attack, I’m still not sure who or why did it, but at 300gb/s they took half of my servers offline; some are still off and will probably never come back on because of my hosting provider not wanting to deal with it,” site operator Andrew Sampson informs TF.
But that was just the beginning. Rightsholders quickly began contacting not only Sampson, but also Cloudflare and the site’s host, complaining that Strike was infringing their copyrights. Additionally, “tons of morons” threatened to sue Strike if it didn’t stop “hosting their content”, the bemused dev explains.
Eventually German host Hetzner said it didn’t want to deal with any more DMCA notices. Sampson said the provider null-routed the non-commercial Strike which took down another of Sampson’s projects, NetflixRoulette, at the same time.
“I can’t begin to tell you how badly that hurt my revenue stream. A company in Germany adhering to a US law and not even taking the time to investigate. Note to public: Avoid Hetzner,” Sampson says.
The developer says that the majority of complaints against his site were filed by anti-piracy company Entura International. Sampson says he tried to explain that his site carries no content and no torrents but simply extracts these from DHT upon user request but the company wasn’t particularly interested.
“I have a technical background and implement many of Strike’s technologies within the toolset of my organization, so I believe that I have a good understanding of how Strike operates,” an Entura contact told Sampson.
“Our copyright infringement notifications are not requesting the removal of a hash from the BitTorrent/DHT network, we know this is not possible. We are simply requesting the de-indexing or de-listing of results from your site that allow for the downloading of copyrighted content via the magnet link that you provide or .torrent files via your API/RSS.”
In response to the DMCA issues, Sampson says he has now taken things a step further. During the past few days the dev took the decision to stop storing any data whatsoever on Strike’s servers “except for search phrases for learning purposes.”
This presents an intriguing situation. Aside from some disk caching, Sampson says that Strike now operates purely on demand. When a user types in a search the site pulls the results from its usual sources and presents them in the browser window. When that browser is closed the data effectively disappears, meaning that there is nothing for anti-piracy companies to take down because it’s already gone.
Whether that will be enough for Entura remains to be seen. An email shared with TF suggests that the company feels that Sampson’s responsibilities go beyond compliance with the law.
“I understand that the listing pages might not be served via local storage on your infrastructure, that does not detract from the matter that you are providing the platform or portal for which these remote browser requests are made,” Entura told the dev.
“Your compliance in this matter should not be reliant on me creating a compelling case, it should instead be reliant on your good will, desire to support creative industries and comply with the law.”
Nevertheless, the following message now appears on the front page on Strike.
“If you are visiting this site for anti piracy means, just know a few things. Any content you see is because you requested it. We do not provide or offer any files. You cannot download from us. We do not store any data, all content is dynamic and on demand requested via YOUR browser. So leave us alone,” the notice reads.
After moving to yet another new host, Sampson thought that things might improve but during our email exchange he received more bad news. His hosting had been terminated once again.
“Dumb media companies, bad hosting, lack of funding, lots of development. Take your pick, Strike has been a big undertaking, one I’m not sure I really want to continue, but I know I have to for the greater good,” Sampson concludes.
At the time of publication Entura had not responded to TF’s requests for comment.