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Ukraine: Authorities Shut Down BitTorrent Tracker Demonoid

Categories: Eastern & Central Europe, North America, Russia, U.S.A., Ukraine, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Economics & Business, Elections, Freedom of Speech, Governance, International Relations, Law, Politics, Protest, Technology

On August 6, the Ukrainian authorities shut down Demonoid [1], one of the world's largest BitTorrent tracker sites, whose servers were hosted by a data center in Kyiv (all Ukrainian IP addresses had been blocked from accessing Demonoid, however, to avoid violating Ukraine‚Äôs copyright laws). The shutdown [2] was allegedly connected with first deputy PM Valery Khoroshkovsky [3]‘s recent [4] visit [5] to the United States: a number of online news outlets and bloggers described [6] it as an attempt to show Ukraine's tough stance on copyright infringements.

Anonymous [7], a “hacktivist” group, launched DDoS attacks [8] against a number of Ukrainian government agencies in response, targeting the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council [9], the Agency for Copyright [10], and the Anti-Piracy Association [11] (the latter two are still down). AnonPR [12] blog (“Where the Media Can't Twist our Words”) and Anonymous World Wide News [13] blog carried the group's video and text [en] statements about the launch of #OpDemonoid.

On Watcher.com.ua blog, reader Myroslav Holyak expressed doubts [14] [uk] about the efficiency of Anonymous’ response:

[…] All these government entities that have been attacked couldn't care less that their crappy sites are being DDoS-ed, trust me…

On the Russian collaborative blog Habrahabr.ru, user pazzive shared this insight [15] [ru] about the timing of the shutdown:

Three years ago, I interviewed Demonoid's Ukrainian hosts [the interview with ColoCall data center [16], ru], and they said on-the-record that the situation would change only when the copyright holders buy themselves an MP [in the Ukrainian Parliament] who would lobby for the needed law. Because at the time no one saw the fight against pirate trackers as worthwhile, and they [ColoCall] were just providing hosting and weren't violating a single Ukrainian law. It was interesting to re-read that old interview in light of the recent events.

My impression is that someone is trying to score some points ahead of the [Oct. 28 parliamentary election [17] in Ukraine].

Earlier this year, in February, when Ukraine's biggest file-sharing site Ex.ua (accessible to Ukrainian users, unlike Demonoid) was temporarily shut down due to repeated copyright violations, netizens protested by launching DDoS attacks on various governmental websites, including those of the Ukrainian President and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Tetyana Bohdanova's text on it is here [18]). Ex.ua has been back online for months now – and some Habrahabr.ru users mentioned this in their conversation:


again, the idiocy of the situation is that they've shut down Demonoid, but ex.ua continues to work.


[The shutdown of Demonoid] is a great opportunity to bootlick the West, without upsetting the local voters ;) [the way the situation with ex.ua did]

Andriy Tsykholyas wrote this [19] [uk] on his blog on August 7:

[First deputy PM] Valery Khoroshkovsky has done a good job of bootlicking the United States. That is, not even the States, but their film and music gangs. In order to please them, [Khoroshkovsky] shut down Demonoid, which was hosted in Ukraine.

It does not matter to [him] that there were no legal grounds to shut down this tracker (because it was not violating any local laws). But now he has a warm welcome across the ocean.

Well, Valery Khoroshkovsky truly deserves an honorable spot at http://www.political-prostitution.com. I hope this portal will not neglect [Khoroshkovsky] and place him next to the “heroes” already featured there.

On Demonoid's Facebook page [20] (31,245 ‘likes’), some users sounded quite desperate on learning about the site's shutdown. Thomas Poterek wrote [21]:

Someone turn on the Bat signal ..errr I mean Anon Signal!!

Patrick James McGoran wrote [22]:

now i know what junkies go through in detox

While the Ukrainian authorities’ actions caused some to experience withdrawal symptoms, they also sparked anti-Americanism in those who considered Demonoid's shutdown a “gift” to the United States. On TorrentFreak.com, for example, an anonymous user posted this comment [23]:

sooner or later shit will hit fan for the entertainment industries and for the US. this dictatorship will backfire on them. what the hell does the Ukraine think it is going to get from the US in return for doing this sort of thing? whatever it is, they need to think again! now they have gone down this road once, the US will just keep them on a string to do what they want as and when. what a price to pay. the guy needs to be ousted asap and told exactly why!

what pisses me off so much is, the US doesn't rule the world, has no right to rule the world and hasn't the sense to rule the world, so why the fuck does the world keep chucking itself at it's feet? why let itself be ruled by the US? unbelievable!!

The article [24] on TorrentFreak.com has generated nearly 900 comments. At some point, when users were discussing possible host country alternatives for Demonoid (“a country like iran where they don't bend over to the US”), Russia was brought up – and quickly discarded:

Water is cool:

Russia is having its own censorship bill being concidered at the moment. Not sure on whether they rejected it or not but I do know it's been signed and was awaiting for putin to write his signature last I heard (If anyone knows the news on that,do speak).


Out of the frying pan and into the fire.