BREIN Announced Taking Down Several Pirating ‘Open Directories’

By Bill Toulas / November 16, 2020

BREIN announced that it took down several pirating ‘open directories.’ These are directories hosted on servers that don’t need a password to access, and thus they are open to anyone with a web browser and the URL. Apparently, there are many directories of this kind that host copyright-infringing content and which internet users visit to download stuff for free.

BREIN is an active Dutch anti-piracy group that targets pirate sites, torrent users, piracy intermediaries, hosting service providers, content distribution network platforms, and even Plex users.

These are a lot different from pirate websites that are actively promoted via social media platforms, malvertising, or pirate-focused forums, as they don’t have eye-catching and comfortable to use interface, streaming capabilities, or anything like that. They are just directories, so it’s like browsing files on a file manager, but on the web browser.

Open directories don’t have advertisements like pirate sites, and they don’t require a subscription. This makes them free, and as such, not great sources of income for those maintaining them. So why are there pirating open directories in the first place? The answer could be either for solidarity among pirates or for the distribution of malware. Remember, no one guarantees anything in these places, and the files found on these directories could be anything.

So, how do people - or BREIN, for that matter - find these open directories anyway? One can search them on internet search engines like Google, using the search term “index.of\” followed by the filetype. Those who are looking for pirated stuff could use a media filetype like “mkv,” for example, and they would find something like the following:

Of course, digging on Google search results isn’t the only way. There are specialized tools like the “Open Directory Search Tool,” which can help users find what they’re looking for a lot quicker and easier. There are many tools of this kind, and almost all of them make it feel like using a flashlight in the dark, so this is why people are sharing their findings with others. There’s just so much going on in the open directories space, and it’s constantly changing.

BREIN may have taken action against some directories that were more widely used and shared on social media, but it will be hard to keep up with all the new ones that open up every day. It’s yet another example of a cat and mouse game, and maybe the most futile of all.

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