The downfall of BitTorrent giant Demonoid last month is just the latest blow to Internet users looking for high-quality, seemingly safe websites to illegally download content from. The Demonoid shutdown also comes in the wake of Megaupload's demise, which was preceded by a widespread voluntary shutdown of illegal sites after Congress considered the SOPA/PIPA legislation. Despite failing to remain online, Demonoid and the file sharing sites that have come before it have proven that there is certainly a market for private peer-to-peer services.
The Ukrainian government's shutdown of Demonoid is notable because it was the first major pirate site that afforded its users a level of privacy they hadn't been accustomed to when Napster, Limewire and the like existed. Unlike major BitTorrent sites like Kick Ass Torrents or Sweden's The Pirate Bay, Demonoid was a fairly exclusive site that was only accessible through a private invitation or one of its infrequent signup periods. The problem was, as Lifehacker.com reported, Demonoid wasn't all that safe to begin with.
"They had few rules on who was allowed to participate, what kind of quality was allowed, and they'd even sometimes list torrents from other trackers," wrote Lifehacker's Whitson Gordon. "All of these things together gave a false sense of security, when in reality anyone could come on in and seed viruses, leech without seeding, or -- in the cases of those pirating content -- track what you were downloading (potentially resulting in a letter to your ISP)."
The fact is that "private" torrent trackers really only mean that the site hosting the files has a screening process of some kind that regulates the users who share files. In the case of Demonoid, the file downloads weren't necessarily anonymous because of the relatively loose site guidelines. Demonoid was attractive to online software pirates because mainstream BitTorrent sites like The Pirate Bay don't have any parameters at all, according to Lifehacker.
The Pirate Bay, in particular, has become the bane of the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America.
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The good news for peer-to-peer file sharers is that Demonoid will almost certainly spawn imitation sites to replace it. The false rumor (which IBTimes reported on here) that Demonoid's domain names were for sale proved that there is certainly a market -- and money to be made -- from illegal file sharing sites. Famous hacking collective Anonymous even vowed to restore Demonoid, according to Yahoo! News.
Based on the evolution of file sharing since the Stone Age of file sharing sites that spawned Napster, users can probably expect to see a flurry of Demonoid-like sites launched in the now-defunct file sharing service's place. Demonoid's capitalization on the demand for privacy among users almost guarantees that future sites, while not always acknowledging the risk pirating presents, will increase security in an effort to address anonymity concerns.