A new file sharing client may make websites like The Pirate Bay obsolete, and would make it almost impossible for authorities to stop file sharing
With content holders suing file sharers, and websites that enable file sharing, a new file sharing software client has been released that could spell an end to any measures designed to stop file sharing online.
The new software, called Tribler, has been developed by researchers Delft University of Technology and it aims to remove the few centralised areas that existing client, such as BitTorrent, still rely on.
For BitTorrent based downloads, a dedicated "indexer" website to host the .torrent files, as well as centralised trackers, may needed to allow downloads. These two targets have long been easy prey for anti-piracy firms, although despite efforts around the world, the largest torrent indexer currently existing, The Pirate Bay, still remains fully operational.
In recent years, the use of centralised trackers has also diminished, with decentralised DHT (distributed hash table) replacing them as a way for file sharers to communicate with each other. Even the use of .torrent file has decreased thanks to the introduction of magnet links which gather the information needed to start downloads from other peers. These have been technical responses to law enforcement actions take against websites such as Mininova, and well known trackers.
Tribler aims to take this a step further, by removing any need for a centralised service or website, and still allow file sharers to share files even if all trackers, torrents and the websites that allows users to search for torrents, have been removed or shut down.
Even the need for torrent search engines have been replaced with a Wikipedia like system, that allows users to weed out bad downloads, and to provide real descriptions, comments and reviews for downloads, all within the Tribler client.
This, in effect, makes Tribler unstoppable by law enforcement agencies, or via any technical means. "The only way to take it down is to take The Internet down," said the head of the Tribler project, Dr. Pouwelse.
And to make Tribler itself difficult to take down, the software carries an open source license, so even if the original Tribler gets taken down, new versions based on the source code can still be developed.
But for file sharers, the danger remains that anti-piracy firms can still extract IP addresses from leechers, and use it to sue individuals or to extract pre-trial settlement fees. Only through the use of a VPN, or other encryption methods, can the user hide his or her IP address and still be able to download. A totally anonymous, and free, file sharing client remains the next, and possibly the last, hurdle to making piracy truly unstoppable.
Tribler is available to download for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, here.