- The BitTorrent Database has had its main domain, ‘BTDB.io,’ taken offline by the registrar.
- The torrent site was most likely dealing with a legal dispute relating to its piracy activities.
- Now, the platform is restoring its massive database on ‘BTDB.eu,’ which is its secondary domain.
The operators of the BitTorrent Database were surprised to see their main domain, ‘BTDB.io,’ placed on a “serverHold” status by the registrar. At first, they investigated the possibility of an ISP block, but this was quickly proven not to be the case. Then, they checked the WHOIS entry, and the source of the problem became apparent. The “serverHold” status is a rare occurrence that is only seen in cases where the domain is subject to deletion, where the holder hasn’t paid for renewal or for the cases where there are legal disputes around the particular domain.
‘BTDB.io’ was registered through the “Njalla” domain service that keeps the owner anonymous. The “io” extension is assigned to British Indian Ocean Territory, so that part was set up for piracy as well. Long story short, the operators of BTDB wanted to stay anonymous and far from court jurisdictions since the platform was offering visitors roughly 27.6 million torrents, many of which were pointing to pirated content. It may not be the biggest and most popular torrent indexer out there, but BTDB is one of the big players that was following a quick-growth trajectory. With the main domain taken offline now, more than 90% of its regular traffic went poof.
Now, the domain that remains up and operational for the BitTorrent Database and its community is the ‘BTDB.eu,’ and the owners are in the process of restoring the database there. Not many users know of this domain and its “official” status, so it will take a while for the community to move there. With the uncertainty taking over, though, this domain too could be slashed in the same way any moment. However, “.io” domains are controlled by the Internet Computer Bureau, while “.eu” is backed by the EURid consortium.
Selecting who controls the top-level domain is key in how a platform can fend off DMCA notices and stay online no matter what. According to Google reports, the BTDB.io was the subject of a total of 1,387 DMCA notices that included 235,806 URLs on the torrent site. These notices were sent by BREIN, the RIAA, Disney, CBS, BPI, and other rights holders and copyright protection coalitions. In this case, neither the operators of the torrent site, nor the Njalla service received any notices from copyright holders, so the exact cause of the action remains unclear.