Type of site
|Alexa rank||11,689 (5 March 2016[update])|
|Launched||27 October 2007|
|Current status||Defunct as of 17 November 2016|
What.CD was a private, invite-only music BitTorrent tracker and community launched in 2007. The site was shut down on 17 November 2016 after a report that its servers had been seized by French authorities.
What.CD was founded on the day of Oink's Pink Palace's closure in October 2007. In November 2007, many site users received a hoax email purporting to be from the Recording Industry Association of America threatening to press charges for illegal downloads.
In 2008, the Canadian Recording Industry Association asked now-defunct Moxie Colo, then What.CD's host, to take down a number of tracker sites including What.CD. The company refused, saying "We will not be following the request and will be fighting for the rights of our clients as--to date--laws in Canada protect them." In October the site released "The What CD Volume 2", a compilation album of artists that contribute to the site. Earlier in the year they released Volume One.
In 2010, CNET.com reported that a teenage boy had gained access to playMPE.com (an industry website used by music labels to share music with radio stations) by posing as an Australian music critic. He subsequently uploaded a number of unreleased albums to the What.CD tracker.
In September 2010, What.CD debuted the new lightweight and highly efficient tracker called "Ocelot". The lightweight tracker used only 3GB of RAM to power over five million peers.
In December 2010, What.CD's collection was reported to have reached one million torrents, a record for a private BitTorrent tracker.
On 17 November 2016, 12 servers were seized from the internet service provider OVH in the north of France. Shortly afterwards, the site announced their closure on both the index page and Twitter, saying "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," a reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The site's Twitter account later posted the tweet "Reports of our database being seized are not factual".
On 18 November 2016, What.CD issued a statement regarding its shutdown, stating that its users and staff were safe, thanking all contributors, and recommending that donations go to Internet Archive, Electronic Frontier Foundation, La Quadrature du Net and Initiative für Netzfreiheit.
In October 2017, for What.CD's ten year anniversary, former What.CD staff released a torrent containing the last backup of all non-user data from the site, also saying that this message would 'likely be the last'.
The Radiohead song "These Are My Twisted Words" was added to the tracker on 12 August 2009. Fans speculated that the song had been leaked by the band itself and contained hints to an upcoming EP entitled "Wall of Ice." The song was freely released on 17 August 2009 on the band's website, similar to their release of In Rainbows.
In 2009, Microsoft's COFEE forensic tool was leaked on the site. The software was later removed by administrators. The What.CD staff said of the removal: "Suddenly, we were forced to take a real look at the program, its source, and the potential impact on the site and security of our users and staff. And when we did, we didn't like what came of it. So, a decision was made. The torrent was removed (and it is not to be uploaded here again)." The leaked program is now available through several torrent sites, and can be found on Wikileaks or via Google.
On 28 November 2013 a user of What.CD uploaded scans of three unpublished stories by American author J. D. Salinger. Similar to the response to the COFEE upload, an administrator removed the torrent. It is not clear how the unpublished material was obtained, as the original sources came from two different locations (the University of Texas and Princeton), suggesting that the works were obtained on separate occasions and then combined. These stories quickly spread over to open BitTorrent sites like The Pirate Bay and image sharing sites such as Imgur. What.CD Staff said of the removal: "Due to this case’s rare and unlikely circumstances, due to the unnecessary and unwanted attention the Salinger leak has brought, and due to our desire to comply with the desires of the Salinger estate or other involved parties in this matter, the content has been removed from What.CD. It is not to be re-uploaded under any circumstances, and anyone found doing so will have their account disabled."
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- Ernesto (6 January 2014). "DDOS ATTACKS TAKE DOWN WHAT.CD, BTN AND PTP BITTORRENT TRACKERS". Torrentfreak. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
- Welch, Chris (17 November 2016). "Music torrent site What.cd has been shut down". The Verge. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
- @whatcd (17 November 2016). "Reports of our database being seized are not factual" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @whatcd (18 November 2016). "Goodbye <3 [...]" (Tweet). Retrieved 19 November 2016 – via Twitter.
- "What.CD 10-year anniversary mixtape • r/trackers". reddit. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- What.CD (2017-10-27). "10-year anniversary mixtape". @whatcd. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- What.CD (2017-10-27). "What.CD". @whatcd. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- Sean Michaels (14 August 2009). "Was the new Radiohead song leaked by the band?". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 August 2009.
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- "Unpublished Salinger Books Leaked to Private File-Sharing Site". TorrentFreak. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
- Kennedy, Maev (23 December 2013). "JD Salinger's unpublished stories leaked online". Retrieved 13 January 2015.