Research reiterates what many already know, that shutting down one BitTorrent tracker site has little effect as former users simply choose an alternative.
It’s been a little over 4 months now that MiniNova, once among the most popular BitTorrent tracker sites around, was forced by a Dutch court to remove all torrent trackers that link to copyrighted material or face fines of €1000 euro ($1,422 USD) per link up to a maximum of 5 million euro (7.13m USD).
At first, Mininova tried testing out several filtering systems, but “found that it’s neither technically nor operationally possible to implement a 100% working filter system.”
So it went legit.
It should be pretty obvious to everyone that users simply switched to one of the other thousands of alternative BitTorrent tracker sites to choose from, but the Future of Copyright, an copyright discussion blog, points us to a study that where researchers went so far as to monitored traffic on Mininova before and after its removal of infringing contend to see by how much and perhaps where to.
On November 26th, 2009, the day MiniNova removed all infringing torrent trackers site searches dropped from 8-9m to 2m p/day, and downloaded torrent trackers fell from over 10m to a mere 500,000 p/day.
So where did they go?
According to their research, by the first week of January visitors to the top twenty bittorrent tracker sites was up 3.75% compared to the four weeks prior to Mininova’s torrent removal. Of the top four sites, The Pirate Bay and BTJunkie each saw a traffic increase of some 46% while IsoHunt and Torrentz each saw an increase of 29%.
“ThePirateBay is now more used than it has ever been according to these statistics and is, on this data, by far the most used torrent portal with nearly twice as many visits as the next most visited site, Torrentz,” says the report.
However, it also concludes that the loss of MiniNova has had a profound effect on the BitTorrent community because it was such a “reliable” tracker site with a relative “lack of fake content, the ease of use, and the high levels of user engagement.”
It thinks that its loss has now forced former users to spend more of their time trying to find content in general, and even more so in order to find stuff that isn’t fake or filled with malware.
I guess nobody’s emphasized the importance of private tracker sites.
Either way, though the report doesn’t tell us anything more than what regular BitTorrent users already know, it is interesting to see perhaps where former MiniNova traffic went and to be reminded of the fact that one torrent tracker site gets shut down several others take its place (OiNK anyone?).