Swiss, Belgians close eDonkey server

Authorities in Belgium and Switzerland on Wednesday arrested the operator of a heavily trafficked server for the eDonkey P-to-P (peer-to-peer) network, seizing its hardware, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) said.

The server, known as Razorback2 , indexed 170 million files, “millions” of which were copyright movies, software and music, the MPAA said. Belgium authorities confiscated the site’s servers at an Internet hosting center near Brussels.

Like other P-to-P networks, eDonkey lets files be traded among users. The MPAA estimated that Razorback2 accommodated up to 1.3 million users simultaneously. Razorback2’s operator was arrested at his home in Switzerland, the MPAA said.

In a statement, the MPAA said the action will slow access to illegal material online while stemming “offensive” content including child pornography, bomb-making instructions and terrorist training videos.

But traffic on the eDonkey network appeared to be the same Monday evening without Razorback2, said Andrew Parker, chief technical officer for CacheLogic Ltd., a P-to-P technology company based in Cambridge, England. CacheLogic monitors activity on P-to-P networks.

Razorback2 did not actually store content, but instead maintained an index of the shared files of computers on the network, he said.

The actions taken by authorities may temporarily affect searches by those using eDonkey clients such as eMule, Parker said. But as the client programs are restarted, the index server list will be refreshed, he said. A count on Monday showed around 337 index servers.

“There is an inherent demand for content,” Parker said.

In September 2005, the president of the company that created eDonkey software, Sam Yagan, predicted that legal pressures will force P-to-P networks to change their service to models similar to iTunes and Napster, which sell content online in accordance with copyright laws. Yagan’s company is MetaMachine Inc.

A survey by CacheLogic released in August 2005 found eDonkey surpassed BitTorrent Inc. as the largest P-to-P file-trading network. The application consumed more bandwidth than any other on the Internet, the survey said.