TorrentFreak recently published the Top 25 Most Popular Torrent Sites of 2009, which charts the most-trafficked public, English-language sites. A CRIA lobbyist wasted little time in claiming that the list shows that Canada is "the number one location for unauthorized BitTorrent sites." Notably, the list only includes English-language sites so the exclusion of Chinese, Russian, and other language sites means that global claims aren't possible based on the list.
Even within the limited English language world, the piece toyed with funny math, however, sometimes relying on hosting to determine location, other times using site registration and then combining the two metrics to inflate the Canadian position. If hosting is indeed the correct metric, the Netherlands was actually ranked first, followed by Canada, Sweden, and the United States. The full list:
- Netherlands (Mininova, Torrent Reactor, SumoTorrent, TorrentPump, Zoozle, SandPeer, Search-Torrent)
- Canada (Torrentz, isoHunt, Monova, BTMon, Fenopy, TorrentZap)
- Sweden (Pirate Bay, BTJunkie, EZTV.It, Torrent Hound)
- United States (Vertor, TorrentPortal, YourBittorent)
- Czech Republic (TorrentDownloads.net, AliveTorrents)
- Ukraine (ExtraTorrent, Demonoid)
- France (KickAssTorrents)
While the CRIA lobbyist attributes the presence of Canadian-hosted torrent sites to Canadian copyright law, the rankings actually demonstrate how little digital copyright reform seems to matter. Do the three sites hosted in the United States or the site hosted in France mean that they have weak copyright laws? Does anti-circumvention legislation, such as that promoted by CRIA, have any impact on BitTorrent sites given that the Netherlands has such laws on the books?
CRIA has targeted several BitTorrent sites in Canada (Demonoid, QuebecTorrent) who shut down or moved in the face of such action. In the one case where a site fought back (isoHunt), CRIA will undoubtedly argue the site is not operating lawfully in Canada during a forthcoming legal battle. If CRIA is concerned with the remaining Canadian-based BitTorrent sites, the legal process is available to them. The reality is that BitTorrent sites are found in many countries. Some have implemented the WIPO Internet treaties, others have not. There is no evidence, however, to suggest that Bill C-61 style copyright reform is a decisive factor in the choice of location.