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It took nearly 10 years, but authorities have finally targeted and taken down What.cd, which had risen to become the Internet’s largest invite-only, music-trading torrent site.
The news was confirmed by the tracker’s official Twitter account on Thursday via two posts: “We are not likely to return any time soon in our current form. All site and user data has been destroyed.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.”
French authorities appear to have seized all servers related to What.cd, a major invite-only music-tracker site.
Those posts, whose text was duplicated on the site’s official front page, noted “recent events,” which is a mild way of describing French authorities apparently seizing the site’s full load of servers.
French technology news site Zataz reported on Thursday that the nation’s National Gendarmerie office nabbed the servers that hosted the site’s database, IRC, and trackers.
That could mean that the official Twitter account’s promise of “destroyed” data is inaccurate (although none of the official statements explain exactly how what.cd continues to exist as an accessible site).
Though Zataz doesn’t list an exact day of seizure, a cursory Twitter search shows user complaints of What.cd “tracker outages” beginning yesterday, November 16.
What.cd launched in 2007 within weeks of another major music-tracker site, oink.cd, being famously busted and shut down by British and Dutch police forces.
The site launched around the same time as another splinter site, waffles.fm, and both largely resembled “OiNK’s Pink Palace,” particularly when it came to enforcing rules about the quality of any music shared through its trackers. Public numbers didn’t confirm which splinter site picked up a larger number of users and shared torrents, but what.cd appears to have lasted longer, with waffles.fm switching to a new domain that currently does not ping publicly. Reddit users at the site’s r/trackers subdomain have complained that waffles.cd has appeared to have gone dark as well, but no major reports about that site’s closure or seizure have appeared just yet.
“We loved what What.cd was”
Update, 11:59 p.m.
Eastern: Ars has received a response from the operator of What.cd’s Twitter account.
The respondent would only identify him or herself as “an administrator” of the former site, but the person alleges that the torrent site’s operation was shut down by its administrators, not a police or government force.
“The facts are pretty skimpy right now,” What.cd’s representative says. “We have no official confirmation that servers were seized, but all available evidence does support that, so we are operating as if it is true.” That being said, what.cd’s administrators are confident that its major database of user information was not seized by French authorities: “The site was operational until we shut it down.”
That shutdown decision was made by What.cd’s operators out of heightened precaution, as opposed to being forced by an authority to do so, the representative tells Ars.
That person also noted that issues with the site’s IRC server match up with information gleaned from today’s Zataz report.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see some other site try to fill the void, but for now, we have no plans to try to return,” the What.cd administrator says.
What.cd’s representative declined to answer specific questions about the site’s legality but offered a personal statement about his or her role as an administrator: “We’ve never profited at all from this; all the funds [donated by users] were used for servers or services.
That might not be very ethically convincing to some, but it was personally important for me. You can find all kinds of torrent sites that are run for profit, and that’s something none of us would be comfortable with.
Collectively, we invested quite a lot of time in the site, and it’s safe to say we all did that because we loved what What.cd was.”
Listing image by Sam Machkovech