The sudden seizure of Megaupload left a rotund Kim Dotcom-sized hole in the internet where all the free movies used to be. For someone like me, who had been downloading films and music and games that erred on the wrong side of the law since you could grab a camcorder copy of the original Scary Movie from IRC, it was easy to be resourceful in the wake of Megaupload's death. Put more simply, at least I still had Demonoid.
If you're unsure what Demonoid is/was, Demonoid occupied a space in the internet that was shared with the still-breathing Pirate Bay. Instead of hosting tons and tons of copyrighted material on their own servers like Megaupload did, Demonoid served over 50,000 unique television torrent files and over 75,000 unique film torrent files, which pointed users to free copyrighted content distributed over thousands of different computers worldwide.
This scattershot distribution method of essentially passing the buck until the buck was untraceable seemed to be a foolproof way of evading the supreme buzzkill gavel of the US government. That all changed last week, however, when Demonoid suddenly disappeared. At first the reports were that it had suffered a DDOS attack, which essentially means hackers rang its doorbell so many times that they stopped answering the door for anybody, but then TorrentFreak jumped into the ring and blamed the USA.
I've been covering the rise of Demonoid since 2009, so when TorrentFreak reported that they were forcibly kicked off the internet, possibly courtesy of the US government, I reached out to one of their admins. I was told that anything TorrentFreak reports is "as reliable as Fox News" and that "anything from TorrentFreak should be taken with a kilo of salt." A disappointing revelation, since TorrentFreak appears to be the most dedicated news source for anything file-sharing related. But it's also called "TorrentFreak," so I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised.
The claim in the TorrentFreak article that Demonoid's management is in Mexico was also explicitly denied by our admin source, who told us, "while Demonoid staff come from all over the world, no staff are in or from Mexico."
When I asked blatantly if this shutdown has anything to do with the US Government, his response was clear: "They've been trying to shut down Demonoid since day one."
While we are certainly optimistic for the future of an entertainment distribution method that both embraces the power of a digitally connected world as well as throws artists some dollars in the process, the current battle between savvy internet folk and ultra-powerful law enforcement is discouraging. As my Demonoid admin contact told me in February of this year, "The Big Media will always try to stomp on any potential threat to their profits, even if that threat is purely imaginary. There have been a number of studies that have shown that people who download music are also among the biggest buyers of music. Big Media is like the Big Bad Wolf. They can knock down a few of the houses, but not all of them. And those houses can always be rebuilt."