BitTorrent Index BTjunkie Bites the Dust

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  • Read Later, a popular site that indexed BitTorrent files for all kinds of legal and illegal content, is waving a white flag.

“This is the end of the line my friends,” the site now reads. “The decision does not come easy, but we’ve decided to voluntarily shut down. We’ve been fighting for years for your right to communicate, but it’s time to move on.”

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BitTorrent is a file-sharing protocol that allows users to upload and download files directly from one another. Sites like BTjunkie don’t host infringing content, but they track and index the torrent files that allow users to connect and share content. This, of course, riles copyright holders, who claim that BitTorrent sites enable copyright infringement.

BTjunkie’s site doesn’t explain why it’s shutting down, but in an interview with TorrentFreak, BTjunkie’s founder — who goes unnamed — said recent legal actions against Megaupload and The Pirate Bay played a role in his decision. Last month, U.S. authorities shut down Megaupload, while charging its founder and several other associates with criminal copyright infringement. The Pirate Bay’s founders lost their final appeal last week in a lengthy copyright fight, and now face jail time and a collective $6.7 million in fines.

The closure of BTjunkie seems to validate the argument that heavy-handed anti-piracy laws, such as SOPA and PIPA, are unnecessary. After all, rights holders are getting results by working with the U.S. government and overseas agencies to arrest site operators. This, in turn, intimidates other sites into shutting down. (After the feds shuttered Megaupload, another service, FileSonic, voluntarily disabled all sharing functionality.)

On the other hand, BitTorrent file-sharing remains alive and well despite the closure of BTjunkie. Sites that have faced legal troubles, including The Pirate Bay and IsoHunt, continue to operate alongside Torrentz, ExtraTorrent, Demonoid and others. The entertainment industry will no doubt point to these sites as evidence that Congress still needs to pass some kind of anti-piracy legislation.

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