Torrentz.eu, the popular site where users can search for seeded films is back online following a suspension from UK Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit yesterday.
The site, one of the largest of its kind, allows users to search for a torrent file that is seeded by users from across the world. Although providing films for users to download is illegal, offering a search engine to seed meta-data, which is then pieced together by software owned by a user, is not.
Users were greeted with a City of London police banner when navigating through the site, Torrentfreak.com reported. The notice read: "You have tried to access a site that is under investigation by the UK. This sight is being investigating for online copyright infringement".
PIPCU told ComputerworldUK that they contact domain registrars following a copyright complaint from someone in the film industry. While they open an investigation, the site is contacted and asked to remove any illegal material. If a site fails to engage with the police they contact the registrar, which in Torrentz.eu case was based in Poland, and request a site suspension. If the site remains uncooperative, PIPCU places it on the Infringing Website List - a database that is sent around digital advertising organisations in attempt to stifle the site's revenues.
Following the day-long suspension, the site is now online, but many UK users will be unable to access it due to former legislation that ensured most ISPs blocked file-sharing sites in the UK.
PIPCU has succesfully wiped out a few European file-sharing sites lately. The London police unit also shut down FileCrop, as part of their "Operation Creative" crackdown.
Further, in April, one of the largest sports file-sharing sites Sports Torrents Networks shut following threats of 10-year jail terms from police. The site, used by a reported 20,000 UK and international seeders offered links to download European football matches, international hockey, Formula 1 races and sports documentaries.
It has not yet been announced whether PIPCU's file-sharing investigations will be a permanent feature, with government yet to make an announcement on the future of its funding.
A spokesperson for the City of London Police said: "The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has recently contacted a number of domain registrars hosting copyright infringing as part of Operation Creative, and as a result several major copyright infringing website have closed down.
"Operation Creative is a ground-breaking initiative is designed to disrupt and prevent websites from providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content, in partnership with the creative and advertising industries."