ZeroPaid Interviews Peerates on Razorback Shutdown

Late last week, we reported that the last of the Razorback servers were forced offline by BREIN, a Dutch anti-piracy outfit.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Today, we spoke with Peerates to discuss what this all really means for the eDonkey2000 network.

There’s plenty of servers located in the Netherlands and BREIN is working hard to remove them. Obviously, when they managed to convince the ISPs to disconnect the Razorback 3.* servers, they championed it as a major victory. Is it really a major victory for them to removing less then half a dozen ED2K servers? We spoke to Peerates on the matter given that they have kept a good eye on the network.

ZeroPaid: Near as I can tell, Peerates have kept close tabs with the eDonkey2000 community – particularly with the servers. BREIN, no doubt, would say that the shutdown of the Razorback 3.* servers was a huge victory against the eDonkey2000 community. From where you are sitting, would you view this as a major loss to the eDonkey2000 community? Also, what does the loss of the Razorback servers mean to the community at large?

Peerates: It’s true these servers contributed a lot to the operation of the network, but it is not necessary. No server is really needed since the KAD protocol is functional in most eDonkey clients. Also, in Europe, [the servers] disappearance does not cause the same emotion like when the real razorback was cut, in 2006. The fact is we are moving towards a situation where there is really no more valid online server, on the network.

The BREIN welcomes these actions, but one wonders if the objective is really the fight against the exchanges of numeric counterfeits, because it seems to us that despite the gradual disappearance of servers, it has never been so easy and fast to get an illicit copy of recent commercial content. Maybe, it can be necessary to consider another approach to solve this problem, because the servers themselves do not seem to be more dangerous for the audiovisual industry than Google can be… and even if there are no more servers, the Kad protocol provides everything the users need to connect to the network. it is possible to close few servers, but how does one, at least, close 10 million of edk/kad users?

We feel that certain EU countries, such as Spain, Italy or France, are very committed to the use of edonkey network. Most of these users disappear from statistics related to servers, but continue to connect to the network with KAD. the disappearance of the last big servers represent perhaps the disappearance of an emblem, but surely not the end of the edonkey network.

ZeroPaid: What about the number of servers? There was a large number of servers before the Big Bang servers were shut down. During the time, there was the major initiative by TV Underground to revitalize the network with new servers with hopes that others would follow suit. With the Razorback servers currently out of commission, how have the number of servers done these days compared to before?

Peerates: Most servers are currently offline and those who try to remain may also disappear very quickly. it seem to us it’s very difficult to maintain an edk server (not limited) online today. this situation was predictable, it was unrealistic to think that the eDonkey network can be maintained freely while the audiovisual industry spent a lot of money to fight against the network, but this is not the first time that the network is seriously disturbed. So, it is probably that, once again, it [eDonkey2000] will be reborn from its ashes one way or another.

At this time, only 6 or 7 servers are already online and the Peerates servers list is already updated daily. Unfortunately, these servers are not the most powerful, and we don’t know how much time they could stay in the scene. The website also gives some fresh news about the edonkey servers. Peerates will continue to issue information on this subject and we currently adapting our stat’s processes with the goal to integrate the KAD data. But the users should no longer use the servers uless they know exactly what they are doing, and the best thing to do for most users is to use only the kad network, at least for a time. (Indeed: it is always possible to see some new server(s), again in the future.)

ZeroPaid: With the rise of Kademlia, some might suggest that the eDonkey2000 servers would eventually fade away leaving only Kad. First of all, do you agree with this assessment? What would happen if all the eDonkey2000 servers really did go away eventually? Is there a future for eDonkey2000 servers the way things are going?

Peerates: It seems to us that the ed2k network is being reassigned to total decentralization by using the Kad protocol only and this process began a while ago now. So, the future of the files exchanged on the eDonkey network seems now to go only through KAD. But the main problem with KAD is that we have no overall vision of its users and content exchanged. It’s very easy to consider the servers disappearance as a victory [for BREIN], but even if the servers are down, the users are already online …and files already downloadable.

But we can consider another way for the eDonkey servers [to stay online].

The only way to maintain an online server, is to ensure that it respects the law and which doesn’t index the illicit copies of commercial content. It’s not very easy to do that, but the Peerates team are trying to build a model that allows people to run a eDonkey server while respecting the law. Because we believe since a long time in the uses of eDonkey under strictly lawful, without negative judgment on the illicit use which can be done with this p2p network. What we are interested in is exploiting the free and open-source based technologies, with free contents. Edonkey gives the power to distribute content to millions of people, for a ridiculously low cost and in total freedom. Lots of people are not ready to do without and it’s a real opportunity to continue to develop the ‘free’ offering on this p2p network. And a good way to impose a free p2p to the industry is that the quality of the free content available on p2p becomes better than the quality of commercial content. We can observe a change of this kind in action, when we compare windows vista with some linux distributions, for example. This is true too for a lot of software like mysql or apache. We just have to make it equally true for music and movies, and in a context of legal exchanges of free content, server operators could find again their interest in operating an ED2K server. Peerates is trying to work in this direction.

We would like to thank Peerates for taking the time to answer a few questions about the eDonkey2000 story.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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