In this day an age, VPNs are becoming increasingly more popular – especially with privacy-conscious web surfers. And although VPNs and similar tools are often times associated with (sometimes illegal) file-sharing activity, there are many other legitimate uses. From staying anonymous on the web to breaking geographical content browsing restrictions, more and more people are utilizing VPNs on a regular basis.
Curiously, anti-piracy groups are also using VPNs to combat web pirates – which brings us to the events of last week. Just a few days ago, many users of various popular torrent sites discovered that they could no longer access them while using a VPN, however they had no issues visiting the site without a virtual network. After some investigating, it came to light that these sites have fallen victim to DMCA crawling on a massive scale.
One world leading torrent site (that chose to remain anonymous) told TorrentFreak that they spotted some unusual activity. In essence, the site noticed that it was receiving an unreasonable amount of requests (something to the tune of 15,000) from the same IP address over the course of the day.
It’s common practice for anti-piracy campaigners to rent servers and run their web crawler from there, but often times they will use a VPN instead – as was the case here. After noticing that the site was being bombarded with requests by the same IP, the torrent site simply blocked the range of aggressive IPs in order to stop the DMCA crawling.
Blocking aggressive IPs is something that torrent sites do on a very regular basis. Although it most often occurs in cases involving DMCA crawling, hosts may also block IPs on an individual level. While this doesn’t happen very often, unethical hosts can fake DMCA compliance by blocking the IP address of the party that filed the complaint. In essence, after receiving a DMCA notice email, the shady host can block the IP address of the sender, making it seem that the content (or the entire site) is down, should they attempt to access it again at a later date to follow up.
In this case, various torrent sites just temporarily blocked a range of IPs in order to defend themselves against DMCA crawling. That said, it appears that the restrictions have already been removed, and users can continue to visit their favourite torrent hosts while browsing safely with a VPN.