We still remember those days as if they were yesterday… As young high school students, we explored the increasingly vast internet world for music, many of us journeying on the back of the infamous BitTorrent tracker OiNK. But in 2007, British and Dutch police agencies finally succeeded in getting the illegal torrenting site shut down, sending hundreds of thousands scrambling for a new source to pirate music.
That’s when What.cd, another invitation-only torrent site that eventually grew into one of the biggest exclusive torrent platforms ever, came in to save the day. Operating for nearly a decade without being shut down by the music industry, the torrent supergiant was finally defeated by a relentless raid of their servers by French authorities. In a farewell message to their users, What.cd echoed sentiment of predecessor OiNK with a quote from A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe.
"Due to some recent events, What.CD is shutting down. We are not likely to return anytime soon in our current form. All site and user data has been destroyed. So long, and thanks for all the fish," the site posted Thursday.
Just a few days after OiNK was shut down in 2007, What.cd emerged as the most extensive music torrent site on the entire internet. With nearly 1 million unique torrents and a close-knit community, the seizure by French authorities has made headlines across the world. The torrent site was home to an endless amount of artists and extensive high quality audio formats, from MP3 to lossless FLAC.
Unlike the situation with OiNK, which resulted in the arrest of the site’s founder and six users, no arrests have been made in the case of What.cd. The 12 servers that powered What were reportedly taken down by France's cybercrime division in association with French music industry group SACEM. The raid on What's servers took place on Thursday after a reported two-year investigation, but all user data is said to have been destroyed, making further prosecution of users highly unlikely.
As music streaming platforms have already taken a fair amount of former torrent users to switch to a more legal landscape, the shutdown of What.cd is monumental nonetheless. Whether you’ve ever used the torrent site or not, this is still a considerably historical event that will likely mark the official end of the “Torrent Era”.