Popular BitTorrent Site Shuts Down
In the wake of the forced shutdown of the popular BitTorrent website MegaUpload and the aggressive prosecution of its founders some two weeks ago, another site BTJunkie has closed its digital doors amid fears of similar reprisals from federal prosecutors.
In a statement to users on its website, BTJunkie explained that the move was quasi-voluntary.
“This is the end of the line my friends. The decision does not come easy, but we’ve decided to voluntarily shut down. We’ve been fighting for years for your right to communicate, but it’s time to move on. It’s been an experience of a lifetime, we wish you all the best!”
The seven-year-old BitTorrent search engine was ranked #5 in the world in terms of web traffic last year by the file-sharing blog TorrentFreak.
While other file-sharing sites have also been scrambling to lower their profile since the MegaUpload crackdown, the decision by BTJunkie to completely shut down is the most dramatic step yet taken by a high-profile site to avoid legal prosecution. Moreover, it seems to signal the success of the reactionary, shock-and-awe intimidation tactics being adopted by federal agencies in the aftermath of collapse of the SOPA-PIPA anti-piracy legislation.
On January 20 the private New Zealand residence of Kim Dotcom, the 38-year-old founder and innovator behind Mega Upload, was raided by federal authorities. Dotcom along with several associates were arrested and are now faced with extradition to the U.S. where the Department of Justice has charged them with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and money laundering.
The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that MegaUpload and similar websites have caused more than $500 million in damages to copyright owners—an estimate that is based on the fallacious assumption that every download represents the loss of an album or film sale.
Despite the trend amongst file-sharing sites to duck for cover, the world’s most infamous BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay has till now defiantly refused to bow the knee to threats and pressure from both U.S. and international governments.
The site, which rightly describes itself as “the galaxy’s most resilient BitTorrent site,” has been the target of copyright enforcers for several years. In 2009, several men associated with the website were sentenced to a year in prison and forced to make large payouts to copyright holders.
In an interview with TorrentFreak, BTjunkie’s founder said that while his site was bowing out of the fight for now to avoid the fate of sites like MegaUpload and The Pirate Bay, he believes that history is on the side of unfettered file-sharing.
“I really do hope so, the war is far from over for sure.”
On the Net: