The Pirate Bay Goes More Distributed, Shuts Down Tracker

from the legal-issues? dept

So this is interesting. The folks at The Pirate Bay have shut down its tracker for good, and switched entirely to a distributed, decentralized system, called DHT. As others are noting, this is quite a milestone, but I actually wonder if it will also have legal implications. Basically, using such a distributed system takes The Pirate Bay even further out of the equation in terms of its role in the sharing of content, and in theory could impact the ruling against The Pirate Bay. Of course, the entertainment industry will say it doesn't matter, and the courts (who don't seem to understand these things very well) might not realize the difference, but it is meaningful in terms of how involved The Pirate Bay actually is in the activity that's happening.

But, of course, even if this makes no difference in how the courts view The Pirate Bay (as expected), it does show the inevitable trend of these things: making them ever more and more decentralized and harder to shut down. When the RIAA shut down Napster, what came out of it was even more decentralized and harder to stop. Now the same thing is happening with the attempted shut down of The Pirate Bay. Even if you don't like what sites like The Pirate Bay do, at some point you have to wonder what good it does to keep shutting down these offerings when all it does is drive people to the "next" offering that's even more difficult to stop? At some point, someone is going to get the message that you can't stop this stuff. So why not figure out a way to use it to your advantage?

Filed Under: bittorent, distributed hash tag, tracker
Companies: the pirate bay


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  1. identicon
    BobHansen, 18 Nov 2009 @ 4:19am

    DHT

    <Appeal to authority>My day job is engineering DHTs.</ata>

    It's interesting that TBP has thrown their weight behind the DHT and PEX implementations. The DHTs defined by bittorrent.org in BEP 5 are fairly insecure. TBP's tracker acted as a trusted source to introduce peers to each other, making the critical first link between peers. If the user base were to rely primarily on the DHT for initial peer introduction, it would change the value proposition for an adversary to attach the DHT and insert themselves as the authoritative node for any content they wanted to protect. They could then either provide lists of bogus peers, tainted peers that produce bogus data, or honeypot peers from their favorite law firm.

    Of course, the cat and mouse goes on. Bram Cohen is very good at understanding the game theory and attack profiles of the P2P world; that's why bittorrent is the dominant protocol. If attackers start corrupting the DHT, there's a lively corpus of research in preventing Byzantine attacks on DHTs. They're not fun to implement, but I think there's a rich enough set of client implementations to make it happen.

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