Popular torrent website RARBG has announced its closure, citing the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Ukraine conflict on its staff as the primary reasons for the decision. Launched in 2008, RARBG started as a Bulgarian BitTorrent tracker and quickly gained international popularity. It was renowned for offering the latest and most popular movies and TV series in English to its global audience. However, the unforeseen adversities of the past couple of years have forced the company to cease all operations, including the release of new content.
The announcement came via a heartfelt message on the site from the owners, in which they detailed the reasons behind the shutdown. The message revealed that some of the team members had succumbed to COVID-19 complications, while others were still grappling with the disease’s debilitating after-effects. Furthermore, some staff members were engaged on both sides of the Ukraine war. The company also cited the escalating costs of maintaining data centers in Europe as a significant financial strain.
One more thing to note here is that it was mostly thought of that BG in RARBG stands for Bulgaria, which is where the site was operated from. In April Bulgaria passed a law criminalizing operating pirate websites with up to 6 years imprisonment and a fine of up to the equivalent of $5600. Bulgaria has targeted RARBG since at least 2020, with it having a criminal prosecution in the works since at least 2021. Who knows, maybe COVID-19 deaths, the war in Ukraine, and increasing hosting costs in Europe contributed, but the timing of the shutdown and the severity of that newly passed law makes some strongly believe that the reasons RARBG stated are not only why they shut down, or at least not the main reasons behind the shutdown. In the end what got to them was the continuous pressure of Hollywood and many politicians and governments who pressured Bulgarian authorities to pass this law and take action against RARBG.
The message on RARBG website read, “Hello, guys. We would like to inform you that we have decided to shut down our site. The past 2 years have been very difficult for us – some of the people in our team died due to COVID complications, others still suffer the side effects of it – not being able to work at all. Some are also fighting the war in Europe – ON BOTH SIDES. Also, the power price increase in data centers in Europe hit us pretty hard. Inflation makes our daily expenses impossible to bear. Therefore, we can no longer run this site without massive expenses that we can no longer cover out of pocket. After a unanimous vote, we’ve decided that we can no longer do it. We are sorry. Bye”.
The shutdown of RARBG will, however, not impact Indian users, as the site was already banned in the country. In 2019, the Delhi High Court cracked down on piracy and banned numerous torrent websites, including RARBG. These sites were found to be providing content that infringed upon the copyrights of several film production companies. The closure of RARBG underscores the far-reaching effects of global events on the digital world. It serves as a stark reminder that even the most popular digital platforms can be vulnerable to the real-world crises unfolding around us.