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  1. BitTorrent trackers point torrent clients to other clients so that they can share content, but how does one go about finding trackers that actually work? NewTrackon is a site which indexes BitTorrent trackers and checks them all to ensure they're up and ready to track your content. A BitTorrent tracker is a piece of software that usually sits on an Internet server. The tracker knows the IP addresses of torrent clients that have a particular piece of content so when a user connects to it (with uTorrent, for example), it’s able to put those users in touch with each other. The BitTorrent system is robust and can rely on DHT and PEX to provide peers if dedicated trackers aren’t available. However, having a working tracker is always nice but sadly they aren’t always readily available. The reason is often that stand-alone trackers cost money to run but generate no revenue. They’re also targets for copyright holders. Finding trackers isn’t always easy, so seven years ago TorrentFreak was pleased to report on TrackOn, a site that tracked public torrent trackers. It was a great resource for people who wanted to find a stable tracker to add to their own torrents. Sadly, after its owner reportedly passed away, the project disappeared. Now, however, newTrackon has been born to pick up where TrackOn left off. It’s the creation of student Miguel Ángel who informs TF that an interest in torrents from his teenage years inspired him to put something back into the community. “I’ve been using torrents since I was 15 when some friends introduced me to private Spanish trackers. Lately, however, I’ve been more interested in public sites,” he says. “The Bittorrent protocol really interests me from the technical side; it is one of the most complex, resilient and decentralized file sharing systems.” Miguel took a keen interest in the original Trackon when it was created and even exchanged emails with its creator, Uriel. “Now that I’m in college and have acquired some basic skills, I thought it would be a great side project to revive it, improve it, and put it online again,” he explains. One of the main problems is that the original Trackon used Google App Engine which can only process HTTP communications. Most public trackers these days use UDP, so a rewrite was necessary to make newTrackon run on a Linux or Windows machine in Python. “I think newTrackon is really useful for providing info about the trackers; not only their stability but the countries where they are hosted and also the networks, for privacy concerns. All the info displayed in newTrackon is public, anyone with minimal networks knowledge can get it, so I’m not exposing anything,” Miguel says. NewTrackon provides a list of trackers with more than 95% uptime so anyone with a desire to make a torrent and add a working tracker can find one up to the job. But how does newTrackon find and test them? “The program is just a bunch of Python scripts that manage a simple SQLite database which contains all info of the trackers. Every 30 seconds, all trackers that are outdated (the last time updated is bigger than the update interval) are checked with a random hash. “The update interval is a time set by the tracker about how frequently the client can connect to it looking for more peers. The response is then parsed and all info of the trackers is updated (IP, country, etc.),” he adds. One of the great things about newTrackon is that users (or indeed operators) of public trackers can add them to the site’s database. “When you upload new tracker(s), the program first checks that it is not in the list or resolves to an IP already in the list. Then, it puts it in the incoming list and starts checking all the trackers submitted. It takes around 15 seconds for each tracker to be accepted or discarded from the list.” Looking ahead, Miguel has plans to improve the project. “In the to-do list there are already some things like IPv6 tracker support and comparison of tracker features. Anyone is welcome to contribute in GitHub, with new ideas, code improvements or bug reports,” he concludes. newTrackon can be found here. Source: TorrentFreak
  2. Coppersurfer, one of the largest BitTorrent trackers on the Internet, has been taken offline after it refused to block 'infringing' hashes. Hosting provider LeaseWeb pulled the plug on the site after a tip-off from Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, who also demanded that the site operator should step out of anonymity. In recent years Coppersurfer.tk has quickly become one of the most used BitTorrent trackers. Running on the beerware-licensed Opentracker software, the standalone tracker offers a non-commercial service which doesn’t host or link to torrent files themselves. The free service coordinates the downloads of 10 million people at any given point in time, processing roughly billions of connections per month. However, since last weekend Coppersurfer.tk has been offline. Responding to a complaint from Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, hosting provider LeaseWeb suddenly pulled the plug. According to a LeaseWeb rep “torrents are illegal” and the company had no other option than to shut down the tracker. This came as quite a surprise to the operator, since his service doesn’t link to or host torrent files. In fact, Coppersurfer doesn’t know what titles are tracked or where all the corresponding torrents are stored. Hoping to resolve the matter the tracker operator reached out to BREIN, pointing out that he provided a content neutral service. However, the Hollywood-funded anti-piracy group disagreed. One of the problems for BREIN is that The Pirate Bay uses Coppersurfer as a default tracker. This means that all torrents shared through the site are automatically tracked by the service. “Your claim that a tracker can be compared to a neutral internet service provider is not correct. The Coppersurfer tracker is far from neutral. You are aware that your tracker is used for torrents of illegal websites like ThePiratebay,” BREIN’s Pieter Haringsma replied. “There is no question about the fact that ThePirateBay is an illegal website, which is being blocked in numerous countries and, whose founders have been sentenced to jail. You know that your tracker is added automatically to all the torrents that are uploaded to that website,” he added. Interestingly, BREIN is willing to make a deal with the tracker owner if he agrees to blocklist infringing hashes. In addition, BREIN demands that the owner identifies himself claiming that all commercial services are required to so under the European e-commerce directive. “That is why you have the obligation to check [The Pirate Bay] and blacklist all illegal titles of that site, because you know that your tracker is added automatically to all the torrents that are uploaded to that website,” Haringsma wrote. “Once you have stepped out of anonymity and have implemented measures to avoid illegal use of your tracker by blacklisting illegal torrents from ThePiratebay, BREIN is prepared to discuss the terms of a proper [takedown] procedure that Coppersurfer should put in place, including e.g. enforceable penalties,” he added. The Coppersurfer operator is surprised by the broad demands and has chosen not to comply. If a standalone tracker should ban hashes, should browsers and torrent clients do the same? He also fails to see how a non-profit service that doesn’t even require a website, can be seen as online commerce. While LeaseWeb is no longer an option, the tracker operator hopes to put the service back online at another hosting company. Another option would be to donate it to an organization that’s dedicated to protecting free speech digital rights. “My plans now are to seek a new home. I’m searching for a cheap server with 100Mbps/unmetered connection,” he informs TF. “I could also give the tracker for free to any organization related to free speech and human progress,” he adds. TF contacted LeaseWeb for a clarification on the “torrents are illegal” but at the time of publication we hadn’t heard back. The above example suggests, however, that hosting torrent related services in the Netherlands is getting more difficult. Source: TorrentFreak