By odd coincidence, we too left to begin our adventure in 2006 (1st April). I had no idea TPB started its own outing just one month after we had hit the road.
Eleven years ago today The Pirate Bay was raided by Swedish police. While the entertainment industries hoped that this would be a great victory, they inadvertently helped to develop one of the most resilient websites on the Internet. With major torrent sites shutting down left and right, TPB remains on top.
There are a handful of traditions we have at TorrentFreak, and remembering the first raid on The Pirate Bay is one of them.
Not only was it the first major story we covered, it also had a significant impact on how the piracy ecosystem evolved over the years, and the role TPB has taken on since then.
This is just as relevant today as it was a decade ago. Following a year in which KickassTorrents, Torrentz.eu and ExtraTorrent were all shut down, The Pirate Bay remains online.
While the site has had plenty of downtime issues in recent years, many people may not realize that without a few essential keystrokes in the site’s early years, The Pirate Bay may not have been here today.
This is what happened.
May 31, 2006, less than three years after The Pirate Bay was founded, 65 Swedish police officers entered a datacenter in Stockholm. The policemen had instructions to shut down the Pirate Bay’s servers, which were already seen as a major threat to the entertainment industry.
At the time The Pirate Bay wasn’t the giant it is today though. And ironically, the raid only made the site bigger, stronger, and more resilient.
As the police were about to enter the datacenter, Pirate Bay founders Gottfrid and Fredrik got wind that something was up.
In the months before the raid they were already being watched by private investigators day and night, but this time something was about to happen to their trackers.
At around 10 am in the morning Gottfrid told Fredrik that there were police officers at their office, and asked him to get down to the co-location facility and get rid of the ‘incriminating evidence,’ although none of it, whatever it was, was related to The Pirate Bay.
As Fredrik was leaving, he suddenly realized that the problems might be linked to their tracker. He therefore decided to make a full backup of the site, just in case.
When he later arrived at the co-location facility, the concerns turned out to be justified. There were dozens of policemen floating around taking away dozens of servers, most of which belonged to clients unrelated to The Pirate Bay.
Footage from The Pirate Bay raid
In the days that followed, it became clear that Fredrik’s decision to create a backup of the site was probably the most pivotal moment in the site’s history. Because of this backup, Fredrik and the rest of the Pirate Bay team managed to resurrect the site within three days.
Of course, the entire situation was handled with the mockery TPB had become known for.
Unimpressed, the site’s operators renamed the site “The Police Bay”, complete with a new logo shooting cannon balls at Hollywood. A few days later this logo was replaced by a Phoenix, a reference to the site rising from its digital ashes.
LOGOS AFTER THE RAID
Instead of shutting it down, the raid propelled The Pirate Bay into the mainstream press, not least due to its swift resurrection. All the publicity also triggered a huge traffic spike for TPB, exactly the opposite effect Hollywood had hoped for.
The site’s assets, meanwhile, were reportedly transferred to the Seychelles-based company Reservella.
Under new ownership, several major technical changes occurred. In the fall of 2009 the infamous BitTorrent tracker was taken offline, turning The Pirate Bay into a torrent indexing site.
Early 2012 The Pirate Bay went even further when it decided to cease offering torrent files for well-seeded content. The site’s operators moved to magnet links instead, allowing them to save resources while making it easier for third-party sites to run proxies.
These proxies turned out to be much-needed, as The Pirate Bay is now the most broadly censored website on the Internet. In recent years, ISPs all around the world have been ordered by courts to block subscriber access to the torrent site.
While TPB swiftly recovered from the “original” raid, it did suffer nearly two months of downtime late 2014 when another raid took place.
Initially it was believed that some of the site’s crucial servers were taken by the police, but the TPB team later said that it was barely hit and that they took the site offline as a precaution.
While the first raid made The Pirate Bay stronger, the two-month stint of downtime was a big hit. The site initially lost a lot of traffic, but after other key torrent sites were shutdown, it is now the most dominant player once again.
Although domain problems, technical issues, and outages are a regular occurance nowadays, TPB is still here. But remember, if there hadn’t been a recent backup back in 2006, things might have turned out quite differently.
The question that remains now is how long The Pirate Bay can keep going. The site has weathered several storms, but now that most other large sites are gone the pressure is growing.
To some, TPB lost its shine in recent years and several “co-founders” would rather see it gone. For now, however, that doesn’t seem to bother the current TPB-team. They do all they can to keep the site online, just like the site’s operator did on May 31, 2006.