McAfee: Number of Illegal File-Sharing Sites Up 300%

Third quarter Threats Report says the number of new file-sharing sites illegally hosting copyrighted material has skyrocketed since a Swedish judge ordered an ISP to cut off bandwidth to BitTorrent tracker site The Pirate Bay 3 months ago.

McAfee, Inc., the world’s largest dedicated security technology company, just published its third quarter Threats Report (.pdf) which claims the “Internet seas awash with pirated content after Pirate Bay shutdown.”

“Our researchers noticed 300 percent growth this quarter in websites that distribute pirated movies and software,” reads the report. “Is this increase due to the economic downturn, or is technology at a point where it is easier to download feature-length movies on the day they become available in theaters?”

I’d have to say a little of both. The magic of BitTorrent and a decent broadband connection can deliver a 700MB XVID movie to your desktop in less than twenty minutes. It also doesn’t help that ticket prices are well above ten dollars these days. Put the two together and you have a situation where people will go to the theater only when a movie is well worth the cost.

McAfee reports that the number of new file-sharing sites illegally hosting copyrighted material has skyrocketed over the last three months, in particular since a Swedish judge ordered ISP Black Internet to cut off bandwidth service to BitTorrent tracker site The Pirate Bay until it exhausts the remaining appeals of its conviction for copyright infringement (it suffered a mere 3hrs of partial downtime and found a new ISP).

It continues:

In the days prior to the shutdown anonymizers indexed and relayed the data to users who might be blocked. Open-source code was available to anyone who wanted to help with redistribution of the bit torrents. This was a true “cloud computing” effort, as the masses stepped up to make this database of torrents (legal, infringed, and malicious) available to others. This poses certain vital questions regarding risk—as the Pirate Bay database of about two million torrents is freely redistributed across the web. What is being done to ensure the security and safety of the torrents that are available? How easy will it be to employ SEO to move a mirrored site with rogue torrents to the top of the results list?

It notes that what happened with The Pirate Bay proves just how difficult it is to remove copyrighted material from the Internet once it’s already out there. It didn’t help that a week prior to its being forced to a find a new ISP that an anonymous BitTorrent user created a searchable backup copy of the site using the OpenBitTorrent tracker. So even if The Pirate Bay magically closed this very second it’s database of content would live on in perpetuity on the HDD’s of BitTorrent users around the globe.

“The Pirate Bay example shows how difficult it is to “stop” data once it is on the web,” adds the report. “Although a website can be shut down, anyone who has accessed the content (pictures, games, text, movies, etc.) may still have some and be able to redistribute it. Plus, once traffic was shut down, the site quickly relocated and was operational again reportedly within 24 hours.”

Exactly. Copyright holders are fighting a losing battle against file-sharing sites. For each that it painstakingly manages to shutdown two or more appear in its place (OiNK anyone?).

If only they’d use all their resources to give consumers what they want.

Stay tuned.

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