August 7, 2012

Ukrainian Authorities Raid BitTorrent Tracker Demonoid Ahead Of U.S. Talks

Rebecca Darrah for - Your Universe Online

Authorities in the Ukraine have raided the company that hosts Demonoid, one of the world´s largest BitTorrent tracker sites, in an apparent attempt to show the United States the country is serious about cracking down on intellectual property rights violators, TorrentFreak reported on Monday.

The report cited a story by the Ukrainian newspaper Kommersant, which quoted a source from Ukraine´s Interior Ministry as saying the move was timed to coincide with Deputy Prime Minister Valery Khoroshkovsky´s meeting last week with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to discuss a number of free-trade topics, including copyright protection.

Indeed, on July 27, the night before Khoroshkovsky arrived in the U.S., Ukraine's Interior Ministry announced that Demonoid had been taken down.

Last December, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) issued its Notorious Markets List, which identified selected markets, including some on the Internet, that are reportedly engaged in piracy and counterfeiting. The report specifically called out Demonoid, along with other BitTorrent trackers, as examples of sites allegedly being used for unlawful purposes.

The USTR also noted that Demonoid´s administrator had been recently arrested on the authority of the Mexican attorney general.

The Ukrainian raid of Demonoid´s host company was conducted by investigators of the Anti-Cyber Research Affairs in the capital city of Kiev.

“Investigators have copied all the information from the servers Demonoid and sealed them,” Kommersant quoted an anonymous source from ColoCall, Demonoid´s Ukrainian host, as saying.

“Some equipment was not seized, but now it does not work, and we were forced to terminate the agreement with the site.”

The raid came just days after a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on Demonoid that had taken the service down. Shortly after the attack, ColoCall noticed a “hacker break-in” on Demonoid´s servers.

The ColoCall source said that Demonoid has “multiple backup servers,” and that the site´s administrator could restore it “in 15 minutes.”

"However, judging by the fact that the management of the site [hasn´t done so,] most likely the tracker [has been] closed forever.”

Demonoid has long sought to avoid prosecution by Ukrainian authorities, and had even blocked all access from Ukrainian IP addresses.  However, it is believed that Ukrainian authorities may have started looking into the torrent site at the behest of the United States.

In a statement to arsTechnica, U.S. Trade Representative spokeswoman Carol Guthrie denied that Demonoid was discussed during last week´s meeting with Ukrainian officials.

"My understanding is that neither Demonoid nor the Notorious Markets List was raised at last week´s U.S.-Ukraine Trade and Investment Cooperation Council meeting."

A joint statement on the United States-Ukraine trade and investment relationship released last week made no specific mention of Demonoid, but did refer to stepping up efforts aimed at cracking down on matters of intellectual property rights.

“At today´s Trade and Investment Council meeting, we reviewed a wide range of issues, including intellectual property rights, the investment climate, bilateral trade irritants, taxation, agriculture, customs, aviation, and space,” the statement read.

“We discussed the importance to each country of greater progress on the 2010 IPR Action Plan for protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).”

“The United States supported Ukraine´s commitment to redouble efforts, especially those identified in the Action Plan, to implement protections that benefit both Ukrainian and American inventors and creators.”

“The United States also hailed Ukraine´s planned increase in intellectual property inspectors, as called for in the 2010 IPR Action Plan, as well as its adoption of a new Customs Code intended to improve customs valuation procedures.”