Torrentz.eu, the largest torrent search engine on the Internet, has been suspended in the United Kingdom. The domain name was taken down following a request from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, a division that has made headlines everywhere after sending letters to ISPs regarding several torrent sites, asking for them to be blocked despite there not being any court order.
The City of London Police has been working with copyright holders for many months now, looking for ways to shut down torrent sites or any links to pirated content.
First, there were the warning letters sent to site owners, asking them to shut down or start eliminating pirated content.
Last week, cyberlocker search engine FileCrop was targeted by the police, and today Torrentz.eu has ended up on the same list. The sites aren’t just inaccessible in the UK, but in the entire world after the registrar suspended the main domain names following the request received from the British police.
According to TorrentFreak, which quotes members of the Torrentz team, there’s hope that the suspension will be lifted soon, or another domain name will be searched for. The site can still be accessed via the Torrentz.ch and Torrentz.me domains.
Torrentz is one of the biggest sites to lose control over the domain due to actions of the British police. It has millions of visitors each day.
Unlike sites such as The Pirate Bay, this one doesn’t actually host any torrents, which makes it a rather odd target. Instead, Torrentz is a mere meta-search engine, displaying only a search box on the homepage.
Last year, the same City of London Police unit sent out some messages to registrars around the world, demanding that they shut down a few sites. EasyDNS, from Canada, resisted the demand, saying that such orders needed to come from a court of law and not “some guy on the Internet.”
Even ICANN’s rules indicate that registrars can’t hold domains hostage because law enforcement agencies believe they may be infringing, mentioning that a more definitive order from the courts is needed.
It looks like in the case of Torrentz this wasn’t really necessary, which opens up the door to a lot of problems. However, since the rules haven’t exactly been followed by the authorities, it looks like Torrentz may still get its domain back and resume business as usual.
Suspending the domain of Torrentz is like doing the same thing to Google just because some of the links they return in the search results pages don’t lead to legal content.