In the wake of a police raid in Sweden that shut down the Pirate Bay as we know it, a number of opportunistic torrent sites have created clones. We've said before, Pirate Bay clones are potentially problematic. Nevertheless, Isohunt just launched a tool that makes it confusingly easy to set up your very own open source clone. I tried it—it works.
Before I get into the technical stuff, let's tackle an obvious question: Why on Earth would you want to create your own Pirate Bay clone? Well, one big reason is because the Pirate Bay crew wants you to. Earlier this week, a member of the team that calls himself "Mr 10100100000" explained that he wasn't sure when—if ever—the Pirate Bay was going to go back online. However, the clone trend was something he and his crew could get behind, so long as it's safe.
"Copycats are to be seen as a higher form of the proxies. If [Pirate Bay's] code wouldn't be so shitty we would make it public for everyone to use, so that everyone could start their own bay," Mr 10100100000 told Torrent Freak. "Of course there is a problem if sites like [thepiratebay].ee try to scam people. But overall, we'd love to see a thousand Pirate Bays."
You heard the skipper! Or rather, Isohunt did. The popular torrent search engine created a database with the "top content" from the Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents, and its own site along with a tool that made it relatively straight forward to build your own, personal Pirate Bay "with minimal knowledge of how internet and websites work and some server basic equipment."
Isohunt is calling the whole project the Open Bay, and all of the code is indeed out there in the open on Github. All things told, it's only 30-megabytes worth of data.
It's honestly a little bit more difficult than it sounds, but it's possible. After talking to Isohunt's team ahead of the Open Bay launch, I decided to try my hand at creating a Pirate Bay clone. I've built a couple websites and know some code, but I'm definitely no developer. The process was no harder than setting up a Wordpress site, though. It involved purchasing a new domain and hosting services, though you could surely repurpose existing domain and hosting services.
I downloaded some code, I uploaded some code and that was pretty much it. Once the files were on the server, I visited my domain where a very simple, six-step installation wizard helped me adjust some settings. Ten seconds later, I was looking at my very own Open Bay Search. It looks like this:
If you've been following the clone saga, you'll immediately notice that this looks just like the Old Pirate Bay, a clone that Isohunt launched a week ago. And in effect, it works a lot like the Old Pirate Bay, too. However, you can customize it with your own logo by swapping the jpeg files in the source code, and then tell all your friends that you're the captain of your very own pirate ship.
Or don't, because this is almost definitely super duper illegal. After all, the founders of the real Pirate Bay are all in jail now. So if you're thinking of launching your own clone, you should keep that questionable legality in mind. That said, if you're pissed off about the Pirate Bay sinking, there will no doubt be a flood of knockoffs coming soon. [Open Bay]
Top art by Michael Hession