Music file sharing site What.cd was shut down by French authorities on Thursday.
What.cd supported a close-knit group where users could torrent music as well as other files like e-books. Membership for the private community was invite only and users were expected to upload as many files as they downloaded. Authorities have been cracking down on illegal streaming sites and the end of What.cd follows the demise of other torrenting sites like What’s predecessor Oink.
Here’s what you need to know about the end of What.cd:
1. What.cd’s Admin Posted A Goodbye Message Taking a Line From “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
What.cd’s administrator’s farewell note is all that’s left of What.cd. Here’s what the site reads:
Due to some recent events, What.CD is shutting down. 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.
The last line is the name of the fourth book of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. The music sharing site Oink’s signed off with the same line when it was shut down a decade ago, according to The Verge.
2. One User Described What.cd as the ‘Library of Alexandria’ for Music
In an interview with Motherboard, a former What.cd member bemoaned the loss of the site. With French police suspected of closing the site, the former member said, “it was just burned down by a bunch of fanatics terrified of the knowledge contained within its hallowed halls.”
Since its launch in October 2007, the site has aggregated 1 million unique “music releases”, according to its Twitter account. The site’s admin told Motherboard that What.cd had about 480,000 registered accounts, a third of whom used the sites regularly and were in good standing. Following the site’s closure, Redditors reminisced over their valuable finds on What.cd and the implications for other torrenting sites.
“A VERY dark day for the private torrenting world has dawned today,” wrote Redditor Hackerpcs. “The biggest music collection ever, a place for inspiration for a lot of people, a big community has been forever lost. Just speechless.”
3. French Law Enforcement Are Believed to Have Shut Down the Site
French police are suspected of shutting down What.cd. French tech site Zataz Magazine reported that the National Gendarmerie, one of France’s two national police forces, shut down What.cd’s operation. On Thursday, the torrenting site’s Twitter account assured users that it had deleted all user data.
Torrenting can violate copyright restrictions and content owners have been known to pursue individual torrenters. Usually, your Internet Service Provider will be the first to serve you with a warning for illegally downloading content. Redditor aaah_youu praised the company’s respect for user privacy.
“All user data has been destroyed.” Not only did they become a martyr to the PT world, but they respected user security until the very end. Good on you what.CD admins, may you go down in history as the best site for music ever made.
4. What.cd is the Successor to Oink’s Pink Palace, a Music Piracy Site that Shut Down a Decade Ago
The end of Oink’s Pink Palace in October 2007 marked the beginning of What.cd. Oink’s was closed after a joint British and Dutch raid that led to the arrest of a 24-year-old man, according to Reuters. The site allowed users to upload and download music before their release. Its user base of 180,000 could send donations using debit or credit cards.
One Redditor emily_waves, describes migrating over to What after Oink was shut down. The volume of music files in a variety of formats made What special, the Redditor said.
But only what.cd offered a massive amount of formats and qualities at the click of a button. While streaming and digital music has become convenient, they are still massively obsolete compared to what.cd.
5. Authorities Have Closed in On Torrenting Sites For Copyright Violations
The Internet has upended the music industry as users have found ways to share copyrighted content illegally. Music subscription services like Spotify have stepped in to control online music business, but plenty of alternatives exist for sharing music. What.cd used the BitTorrent protocol to facilitate the sharing of content.
However, a global crackdown on torrenting operations have scared some away from the activity. In July, the founder of BitTorrent directory KickAssTorrents, was arrested in Poland and has been charged with criminal copyright infringement in the US. At the time Assistant Attorney General Caldwell accused KickAssTorrents founder Artem Vaulin of running an operation that illegally distributed $1 billion of copyrighted content.