What's replacing P2P, BitTorrent as pirate hangouts?

RapidShare, others provide 'essentially your own private FTP server'

Driven by increased crackdowns on BitTorrent sites such as The Pirate Bay, software pirates are fast-moving their warez to file-hosting Web sites.

Sites such as RapidShare, Megaupload, and Hotfile let anonymous users upload large files such as cracked software for free.

Hyperlinks to the software can then be distributed by pirates via Web sites, instant messages, or social media sites such as Twitter, said Vic DeMarines, CEO of anti-piracy software vendor V.I. Labs.

"It's incredibly easy to use. And what you get is essentially your own private FTP server," DeMarines said.

While sites such as RapidShare allow free downloads, they make their money by charging heavy downloaders for premium memberships. These memberships, such as the 30-day premium access for $US6.99 Euros at Rapidshare, let users download files immediately and without any caps on bandwidth.

Trade in pirated digital goods , whether it is movies, music or e-books or software, is what drives the popularity and business model of firms like RapidShare. The site told The New York Times earlier this year that it hosted 10 petabytes of data and up to 3 million downloaders at a time .

The Association of American Publishers estimates that half of the pirated books found by its members were linked to Rapidshare.

"There's a lot of money being made," said DeMarines. "Without hosting pirated goods, I'm not sure what their revenue model would be."

According to a recent investigation by V.I. Labs into the availability of pirated software from a sample of 43 vendors, 100 per cent were on RapidShare.

A spokeswoman for Cham, Switzerland-based Rapidshare declined to comment on the V.I. Labs report, saying she would need more information.

The site is already among the top twenty most popular in the world, according to Alexa. Uploads and downloads to Rapidshare account for 5 per cent of all Internet traffic globally, says German networking vendor Ipoque.

Though Rapidshare has faced lawsuits related to piracy, DeMarines says it and other file-hosting sites are tricky to prosecute legally becuase uploaders are not required to register or identify themselves. Also, Rapidshare tries to distance itself from any knowledge of the pirated goods by not filtering or monitoring the content on its servers.

"For us, everything is just a file, no matter what," a spokeswoman told The Times in March. DeMarines said Rapidshare does comply with the Safe Harbor Provisions of the U.S.' Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by quickly taking down pirated files when notified by the copyright holders.

The company even grants certain organizations direct access into their service, so that they can go ahead and delete the hyperlinks and pirated files themselves, DeMarines said.

Peer-to-peer networking (P2P) does still remain the largest channel for distributing pirated software, movies and other digital content. Ipoque said it enables between 43 per cent to 70 per cent of piracy, depending on the region of the world.

The most popular network remains BitTorrent , which is used by six out of 10 P22 users, V.I. Labs said.

eDonkey is a distant second, with 20 per cent share, despite hosting almost 900,000 users and 77 million files at any given time. Once-popular Gnutella is ranked third, with a market-share in the single digits.

But file-hosting is growing much faster, Ipoque said, already enabling between 15 per cent to 35 per cent of digital piracy, depending on the region of the world.

DeMarines said he expects file-hosting sites to eventually supplant P2P. "P2P is on its way down. They're too visible, and so the copyright organizations are going to take these BitTorrent tracker sites out," he said.

Other long-running methods for distributing warez are either stagnant or shrinking. Usenet newsgroups, for instance, have lost popularity due to the large amount of pornography and malware mingled in with the warez, DeMarines said.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is "not favored" as a way to transmit files, though announcements and links on IRC to warez hosted on file-hosting sites is growing, DeMarines said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags file sharingP2Pbittorrentthe pirate bay

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments



Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?