This week saw the end of the world’s biggest torrent meta-search engine torrentz.eu. The mega torrents search engine has mysteriously announced “farewell” to its millions of users. Torrentz.eu hosted no torrents of its own, but only linked to other sites hosting torrents such as The Pirate Bay. Even though torrentz.eu is dead once and for all, torrents as such will continue to live on. Torrenting as a file-sharing technique may not see an immediate death. In fact, if history is anything to go by, time and again several torrent websites have been taken down and still torrents continue to live on.
Even since it was founded in 2003, Torrentz.eu has been the most favorite search engine for the torrent community for over 13 years straight. The reason for shutting down torrentz.eu remains unknown. It has been about sixteen days since the arrest of Artem Vaulin by the US Department of Justice. In what came as a shocker to the online community, the chief was arrested in Poland and is wanted by the United States for copyright infringement, money laundering, and other charges.
Torrentz.eu was ranked 186 on web ranking service Alexa. That’s clearly ahead of websites like Weather.com and Flickr. Torrent community just loved torrentz.eu. It was the “Google” of the torrenting universe. The reason for the mysterious shutdown continues to remain unknown. As reported by Wired, Wired’s attempts to reach Torrentz’s operator – who goes by the handle “Flippy” – have been unsuccessful, though TorrentFreak has been told by the operator that no further comments will be made. Whether the arrest of Artem Vaulin and the subsequent shutdown of KickAss Torrents led to the sudden death of torrentz.eu is not established. In fact, this doesn’t seem to be the result of a direct legal action. Because, torrentz.eu never hosted the pirated files themselves, it only displayed the links. And it has promptly complied with DMCA takedown requests by removing links to pirated content. But KickAss Torrents, on the other hand, continued to host the pirated content even after several DMCA requests and remained unresponsive. KickAss Torrents continued to profit by selling ads that brought in millions of dollars of revenues against illegal content.
It’s worth noting that torrentz.eu domain continues to exist. If you visit the site and try to search, you will only be greeted with a sweet message – “Torrentz will always love you. Farewell.” If it had been shutdown owing to a legal action, the domain wouldn’t exist. As reported by Wired, Dan Deeth, spokesman for network-equipment company Sandvine says – “The next site will pop up pretty quickly. The technical sophistication of someone who uses BitTorrent in modern times usually surpasses the ability to find [torrents] by other means.”
As soon as the news of torrentz.eu shutdown spread like wildfire on the internet, several posts already sprang to life about the replacement for torrentz.eu. It’s clear that the closure of two major torrent sites in a span of two weeks hasn’t put any dent in the world of online piracy. “There isn’t a big traffic swing when sites like that go down. It’s not really a factor,” said Deeth, pointing to repeated closures of popular site The Pirate Bay in the past, none of which significantly affected the existence of online piracy.
As for the decline of BitTorrent traffic, it can be best attributed to a number of factors. Legal content is much easier to get now, through Netflix and HBO. The shift from desktop to mobile and active policing of individuals by content owners has also contributed to the dip in traffic. What remains to be seen however is when the next Torrentz will spring to life. And even as you continue to read this, we’re very sure, somewhere someplace out there it already has!