The UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) hasn’t been around very long, having only been formed in September 2013, but it’s been making waves since its arrival, shutting down torrent and streaming search sites by the bucket load. It doesn’t do it with legal precedent mind you, it just sends emails and letters to domain registrars and gets them to do it. In its latest round of takedown requests, it asks the registrar of Torrentz.eu to dump it and it did.
This means that one of the most popular torrent search sites in the world is now impossible to reach via its main domain. Its Torrentz.ch and Torrentz.me domains are still up, leaving the site easily accessible, but the main domain is completely unreachable at the time of writing.
As TorrentFreak points out, Torrentz.eu is an odd choice for police to go after, since it doesn’t provide links to any content itself or host anything on its site, it simply provides links to other torrent sites, which in turn link you to the actual trackers. Despite this long link chain between it and any copyright infringement, Torrentz is down.
What’s perhaps more curious though, is why the domain registrars comply with the request from the IP Police unit. Said organisation has no court order for the takedown and no legal precedent for that sort of power and yet the domain group did it anyway. Not all of them of course, as Canadian firm easyDNS refused when the same was asked of it, with the owner pointing out that his company would comply with a court order and not just “some guy on the internet sending emails.”
Torrentz staff hope that they will be able to overturn the removal by its domain registrar, but if not, it should just be able to move to one that is more accommodating. While registrars are at their own discretion as to who they allow to use their service, they aren’t legally allowed to hold a name hostage because of police interest. If the Torrentz owners want to jump ship, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them.
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KitGuru Says: I’d love to read the letter from the PIPCU. Surely the language must have been unnecessarily threatening to get a domain registrar to suspend one of its customers without a court order.