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Pirate Bay Assumes Ethereal Form to Dodge Raids

Pirate Bay Assumes Ethereal Form to Dodge Raids

A cloud-based presence means The Pirate Bay can move around at will to stay online, said Eric Chiu, president of HyTrust. "Pirate Bay can technically keep ahead of the legal process by spinning itself up at a new cloud provider if it gets shut down. This is the technical equivalent of a game of whack-a-mole across the cloud."

By Rachelle Dragani TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
10/18/12 2:57 PM PT

The Pirate Bay is ditching its servers and heading to the cloud in a move the popular file-sharing website says can help prevent raids by authorities.

The site will no longer reside at a single physical location, the company said. It called the move to the cloud "getting rid of our earthly form" and "ascending into the next stage."

The Pirate Bay, which is hounded by the entertainment industry for enabling users to download free content, constantly operates under the threat of a shutdown by authorities looking to crack down on the illegal sharing.

Going forward, though, any attack will be one on "everything and nothing," now that its content exists in the cloud, the company said.

Moves to the cloud also can lower costs, reduce outages due to power failures or other circumstances, and make it easier to operate worldwide, making it a popular choice for companies in every industry.

The Pirate Bay did not respond to our request for further details.

Buffer Zone

The switch to the cloud is far from The Pirate Bay's first attempt to shield itself from law-enforcement agencies. In 2006, Swedish police raided The Pirate Bay, acting under the orders of a judge based on a complaint from the Motion Picture Association of America. That led to a high-profile trial that concluded in 2009, resulting in prison sentences and more than US$3 million in fines for four defendants. Officials succeeded in shutting down the site at that time.

It eventually bounced back, but has since added protections to prevent future shutdowns. Early this year, the site started using magnet links that allow users to download from other users rather than from The Pirate Bay's servers.

Those moves weren't enough, however. Last March, the company revealed it had received leaked information about a second investigation. Swedish officials asked at least one hosting company, Binero, to reveal personal details about the customer who registered the site's domain name.

Earlier this month, Stockholm police forces raided Web host PRQ, notorious for hosting file-sharing and a slew of unsavory sites, and took four of its servers. PRQ had previously hosted The Pirate Bay.

Raid Repellent

That kind of raid probably wouldn't have been possible if The Pirate Bay had already made the move to the cloud, said Benjamin Woo, managing director of Neuralytix.

Once a site is hosted in the cloud, "no longer is its content sitting in one physical location," Woo told TechNewsWorld. "So, it is arguable that it is impossible to physically raid a company."

By using multiple cloud sites, The Pirate Bay can jump around and avoid legal intervention, said Eric Chiu, president and founder of HyTrust.

"By distributing the service across multiple public cloud sites, Pirate Bay can technically keep ahead of the legal process by spinning itself up at a new cloud provider if it gets shut down. This is the technical equivalent of a game of whack-a-mole across the cloud," he told TechNewsWorld.

For all its advantages, cloud technology also can provide a buffer for operations like The Pirate Bay, making it more difficult for law enforcement to keep up with illegal file-sharers, Lowenstein Sandler attorney Matthew Savare told TechNewsWorld. The global scale of file-sharing sites such as The Pirate Bay, combined with the rapid advances in Internet storage technology, make chasing these sites a tough gig.

"The rogue sites dissolve and reconstitute themselves continuously, like a virus," Savare said. "Unfortunately, there is no cure -- only things we can do to slow them down."

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