In December 2004, the demise of the mighty Suprnova left a meteor crater in the fledgling BitTorrent landscape.
This gaping hole was soon filled by the dozens of new sites that emerged to fulfill the public’s increasing demands for torrents. Mininova soon became the most successful of them all.
Mininova was founded by five Dutch students just a month after Suprnova closed its doors. The site initially began as a hobby project, but in the years that followed the site’s founders managed to turn it into a successful business that generated millions of dollars in revenue.
With this success also came legal pressure. Even though the site complied with takedown requests, copyright holders were not amused. In 2009 this eventually resulted in a lawsuit filed by local anti-piracy outfit BREIN, which Mininova lost.
As a result, the site had to remove all infringing torrents, a move which ended its reign. The site remained online but instead of allowing everyone to upload content, Mininova permitted only pre-approved publishers to submit files.
Now, more than seven years after “going legal” the site will shut down for good. A notice published on the website urges uploaders to back up their files before April 4th, when the plug will be pulled.
The decision doesn’t mean that the legal contribution platform was a total failure. In fact, over 950 million ‘legal’ torrents were downloaded from Mininova in recent years. However, the site’s income couldn’t make up for the costs.
“All goods things come to an end, and after more than 12 years we think it’s a good time to shut down the site which has been running at a loss for some years,” Mininova co-founder Niek tells TorrentFreak.
Looking back, Mininova has many great memories. The site’s users have always been very grateful, for example, and there were also several artists who thanked the site’s operators for offering them a great promotional tool.
“The support from our users was especially amazing to experience, millions of people used the site on a daily basis and we got many emails each day – ranging from a simple ‘thank you’ to some extensive story how a specific upload made their day,” Niek says.
“The feedback from artists was great to see as well, many thanked us for promoting their content, as some of them broke through and signed with labels as a result,” he adds.
The file-sharing and piracy ecosystem has changed quite a bit since Mininova’s dominance. File-hosting services became more popular first, and nowadays streaming sites and tools with slick user interfaces are the new standard.
Torrent sites, on the other hand, show little progress according to Mininova’s founder, who believes that the growth of legal services could make them less relevant in the future.
“We haven’t seen many changes in the last decade – the current torrent sites look very similar to what Mininova did twelve years ago,” Niek says.
“With content-specific distribution platforms such as Spotify and Netflix becoming more and more widespread and bandwidth becoming cheaper, there might be less of a need for torrent sites in the future.”
The original founders of Mininova have moved on as well. They’re no longer students and have parted ways, moving on to different projects and ventures. Now and then, however, they look back at how their lives looked ten years ago, with a smile.
“Overall we’re happy that we have been a part of the history of the Internet,” Niek concludes.
“We want to thank everybody who has been around and supported us through the times! Without our users, there would have been no Mininova. So THANK YOU!”