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Network center fire puts world pirating temporarily on hold

Call it what you want: God, Mother Nature, chance, poor maintenance – whatever the source, an electrical fire at Swedish webhost PRQ dealt a huge, if short, blow to the BitTorrent world last Saturday.

While The Pirate Bay was unaffected – its administrators plainly state that The Pirate Bay’s servers are distributed throughout the world, in secret – a number of lesser sites hosted at PRQ’s datacenter were knocked offline, some of which have yet to recover. According to Torrentfreak, affected sites include SuprNova.org, The Pirate Bay forums at SuprBay, and a number of other private trackers – many of which are now back online.

Owned by two of The Pirate Bay’s cofounders, PRQ became famous for hosting a number of different web sites that serve the controversial BitTorrent scene in different ways. Housed in copyright-liberal Sweden, PRQ maintains a policy of offering hosting for anyone, regardless of how controversial they may be.

Later on Saturday, The Pirate Bay’s/PRQ’s Gottfrid Svartholm posted a message on the PRQ web site that attributed the fire to “a serious electrical problem,” noting that “one of the UPS feeds literally caught fire!” In an interview with TorrentFreak, Svartholm added that no servers were damaged, even though he had to shut down power at the entire facility to make repairs.

Administrators charged with maintaining some of the affected sites blasted PRQ for the downtime: “[This is] ridiculous. Second time this month we’ve had more than six hours downtime,” said an admin for Waffles.us, speaking to TorrentFreak.

“We noticed the downtime seven hours ago, and only found out via someone else outside of PRQ,” said another, unnamed admin.

Meanwhile, spectators on Digg had a field day with news, offering their own tongue-in-cheek commentary: “First they cut the tubes, then they burn some servers. It’s a war against the Internet!” said one user.  “Terrorists don’t want me to download music!” said another.

The entertainment industry has, thus far, offered no response to the happenings at PRQ.

One could surmise, however, that news of the fire brought a smile to Hollywood’s collective face, even if only for a short while – but that smile might switch to a frown of envy when it realizes that a single fire did more to disrupt piracy than the entertainment industry’s long-running, expensive litigation campaign.

It appears that PRQ has nearly recovered, as a majority of the sites affected are once again responding to requests. As of the time of this writing, the only sites not online are Suprnova.org and Suprbay.





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