The PayPal versus BitTorrent battle always plays out in my mind like a Wild West showdown: “We don’t want your kind in our town,” PayPal says as he raises his gun. BitTorrent grits his teeth and spits out some tobacco juice, cocking his weapon’s revolver. Women scream, men hide, and children crawl under the bed.
Without going into too much detail, BitTorrent is a basic peer to peer sharing platform that many sites like MediaFire, TorGuard, Depositfiles, PutLocker, and TorrentBytes are affiliated with. As expected, material that often violates copyright laws are shared using BitTorrent, and since these sites are BitTorrent trackers – servers that help with communication using the BitTorrent protocol – a great deal of content can be illegally passed through them.
After MegaUpload was shut down by the MPAA for hosting these types of materials in 2012, PayPal eventually required that these types of sites allow it to have free access to monitor user activity.
Practically speaking, PayPal is a private business, and since these sites voluntarily make use of it, this is technically fair. However, if the site does not allow access or is allowing for the transfer of illegal materials, PayPal can block it with no questions asked. Below are all of the hefty demands of these sites that PayPal requires – lest they be blocked by PayPal:
To the average user, this blockage may not be much of a problem, but for these sites, it’s a huge deal. As aforementioned, here are five sites that have been blocked by PayPal for being associated with BitTorrent.
MediaFire was part of PayPal’s massive 2012 BitTorrent round-up that included too many Pong-like negotiation sessions to count. However, unlike the others, it wasn’t technically blocked. In fact, it voluntarily opted out after it couldn’t reach an agreement with PayPal (with being blocked as the only other viable option). Because of its decision to prepare throughout the negotiations, the service was able to make a smooth transition without loss of sales.
However, MediaFire was quick to point the blame at the Hollywood-enacted MegaUpload shutdown of last year. As yet another BitTorrent supporter, the site’s team believed that PayPal’s file-sharing anxiety was a direct result of this event (like anyone ever questioned it). Users who want to make use of MediaFire’s upgraded services can utilize all major credit cards.
TorGuard is an anonymous VPN and proxy service that caters to those with privacy on their minds. For individuals trafficking copyrighted material, the chance to hide their IP address is a godsend. Unfortunately for them, PayPal gave TorGuard the boot without warning in June 2012 simply because of its promotion of BitTorrent.
As expected, getting blocked by PayPal was a nightmare for the team behind the service since it froze accounts and canceled various automatic payments in the process, rendering refunds and transfers impossible. However, unlike other friends of BitTorrent, TorGuard was back up and running with PayPal after three weeks. Even after the fiasco PayPal is still usable on the site, but more wary users can make use of their credit card, Google Checkout, or Bitcoin.
UK-based PutLocker was a wild and rebellious leader in the fight against PayPal’s invasion of privacy, and it refused to heed the service’s demands. After not letting up, PayPal eventually blocked the BitTorrent-based service, and PutLocker never returned. Presenting itself as a file hosting service, users who would like to take advantage of PutLocker can still do so.
However, the only other payment options are via credit card, a bank transfer, Bitcoin, Paymentwall, Paysafe Card, or Fortumo. As you can tell, PutLocker has done everything it possibly can to get away from PayPal.
After being blocked for the same reasons as its BitTorrent brethren in 2012, TorrentBytes expressed its disapproval of PayPal with a single Tweet. As a veteran private tracker, TorrentBytes is a relatively old site compared to the others, so when PayPal blocked its account, its problem was not so much receiving money from users. Instead, it just couldn’t spend it.
TorrentBytes typically received donations to pay for its servers, and when PayPal brought the hammer down, the site was unable to pay its bills. Only one of its servers allowed for payment via Bitcoin, and TorrentBytes predicted its demise to occur in January 2013. As of right now, it’s still kicking, but it’s hard to imagine what it went through.
Depositfiles was another casualty in the Paypal war, but it appears to be one of the more silent victims. The service is a cloud-based sharing platform that provides access to BitTorrent sharing, and it was shut down by Paypal shortly after the MegaUpload collapse.
Users who would still like to use Depositfiles can still pay, but they will have to do so using a credit card, a bank transfer, Paysafe Card, or Paymentwall.
That’s that, ladies and gentlemen. All of these services have been blocked by PayPal, and only one still gives the company a second look. Some believe that we need a different, more open way to make transactions. Others believe PayPal is entirely justified. With that said, I’d like to know what you think.
Do you believe PayPal was justified in blocking these services? What other payment alternatives are out there? Let’s see what you have to say in the comments below.