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Two weeks ago, federal authorities seized and shuttered KickassTorrents (KAT), the world’s largest torrenting site. This week, Torrentz, the world’s largest torrent search engine, closed without notice or explanation. Two of the largest sites in piracy have blinked out—but that won’t speed piracy’s steady decline. If you’re not familiar with Torrentz, it’s easiest to think of it as the Google of the torrenting world. And if you're not familiar with torrenting, it's a file-sharing technique that spreads data across multiple computers and is often used for piracy, but not always! Torrentz didn’t host files itself; it instead acted as a search engine, directing people to sites (like KAT) hat facilitated actual peer-to-peer sharing of pirated content.
That made it a major presence not just within the torrenting community, but on the Internet at large; before it shut down, it was 186 on web-ranking service Alexa, putting it ahead of sites like Weather.com and Flickr. So what happened? WIRED's attempts to reach Torrentz's operator, who goes by the handle “Flippy” on the site, have been so far unsuccessful, though he (or she! It's unclear) did reportedly tell torrent-tracking site that he would not be commenting further. For one thing, it doesn’t seem to be the result of direct legal action. And Torrentz’s role as a search engine presumably gave it legal cover, since it did not host or directly enable the exchange of files.
And while Torrentz had received scrutiny from the MPAA and RIAA in the past it complied with DMCA takedown requests by removing links to pirated content. That’s a far different model from KAT.
When KAT founder Artem Vaulin was arrested in mid-July, the criminal complaint alleged that KAT cost copyright holders millions of dollars by not only enabling free downloads of first-run movies, but also by being unresponsive to legitimate DMCA takedown requests. KAT also profited by selling ads that netted millions of dollars of revenue per year against illicitly gained content.
Express Assist. Torrentz2.eu is a free, fast and powerful meta-search engine combining results from dozens of search engines. Indexing 61,110,582 torrents from 267,640,133 pages on 96 domains. Here are the 20 best Torrentz alternatives. Torrentz.eu and Torrentz2.eu has been shut down due to reasons unknown with its search capability disabled.
Moreover, the Torrentz.eu domain still lives, though it now describes itself to visitors in the past tense, saying “Torrentz was a free, fast and powerful meta-search engine combining results from dozens of search engines.” Attempts to search or navigate the site yield only a taut goodbye: “Torrentz will always love you. Farewell.” But if there had been a formal takedown request, you'd expect the site to be gone or perhaps even replaced by a DMCA seizure notice. Though it's unclear what drove Torrentz's operator to board up shop after 13 years, it is clearly going to leave a void in the torrenting world.
One that’s likely to fill up quickly, says Dan Deeth, spokesman for network-equipment company Sandvine. In fact, just a few hours after Torrentz’s closure, torrent fans were already comparing notes on potential replacements on sites like.
If history is any guide, the closure of two major sites in two weeks won’t put a dent in piracy. “There isn’t a big traffic swing when sites like that go down.
It’s not really a factor,” says Deeth, who points to repeated closures of popular site The Pirate Bay in years past, none of which noticeably affected the rate of piracy. Torrentz may have been a search engine for pirated content—but so is Google.
(Although please don't click random Google links promising first-run movies; you're basically begging for malware). Stylish 1 there. That resilience to individual site outages does belie the general trend of BitTorrent traffic, though, which is sharply downward. In 2011, BitTorrent accounted for nearly 23 percent of all daily traffic in North America, according to Sandvine. Five years later, its share has collapsed to less than five percent. A confluence of factors contributed to that decline, says Deeth, including more active policing of individuals by content owners, the shift from desktop to mobile, and most importantly, the availability of paid (but affordable) streaming options.
Why go through the hassle of piracy when Netflix and HBO Now have most of what you need? “Stuff is a heck of a lot easier to get legally now,” says Deeth. And, with the apparent death of Torrentz, a little bit harder to get illegally. At least, until the next Torrentz pops up. Which, by the time you're reading this story online, it almost certainly already will have.