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Rogue BitTorrent tracker plays whack-a-mole with the authorities

The Demonoid BitTorrent tracker is back online, following a shutdown in November 2007 when the Canadian Recording Industry Association threatened the tracker’s server host.

Demonoid’s resurrection is only the latest chapter in a storied, troubled history: attempts to block Canadian users failed to prevent its takedown in November, and the site’s BitTorrent tracker reappeared briefly in Malaysia around January before disappearing once more. Last March, Demonoid’s tracker popped up again, this time hosted in by Ukraine-based Colocall Ltd. According to TorrentFreak, the site’s web interface is hosted in the United States, and a number of the site’s features returned to operation earlier Friday afternoon.

News of Demonoid’s return almost immediately followed a change in management, with owner and administrator “Deimos” handing the reigns to “Umlauf,” citing undisclosed “real-life” distractions.

Anecdotal user reports indicate Demonoid.com to be fully operational, with user accounts and upload ratios preserved at the time the site went down last November.

Last January, the Pirate Bay offered Demonoid a pair of servers at its Sweden-based hosting facility. “We tried to contact the guys behind Demonoid and we’ve set up a tracker for them,” said Pirate Bay administrator Peter “Brokep” Sunde, “but they haven’t responded … we have two servers running for them if they want to set it up.” The site did not take up Sunde’s offer.

While only time can tell if Demonoid’s popularity – not to mention its semi-public nature – will prove to be its undoing yet again, the site’s future is uncertain as the Ukranian government represents an untested legal climate for BitTorrent copyright enforcement.

A July report from file-sharing site Slyck.com found Demonoid to be the second most popular tracker named in cease-and-desist letters sent to file-sharers – the first being the Pirate Bay – with 12 Demonoid users caught in the industry’s dragnet out of a random sampling of 100 letters. “Watch your back, Jack,” reads the report, “chances are the prying eyes of copyright enforcement aren’t too far behind.”

Update April 14, 2008: In a report dated March 16, TorrentFreak indicated that Demonoid's frontend was hosted in the United States, which was repeated in this article. Traceroute currently reveals, however, that both demonoid.com and www.demonoid.com route through a Kiev, Ukraine based gateway before crossing Colocall's servers, indicating that all aspects of the site are now operated from Ukraine.





“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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