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article imageTorrentz, one of the world's largest torrent sites, shuts down

By James Walker     Aug 6, 2016 in Technology
One of the world's largest torrent sites has closed down without warning. Torrentz announced it is ceasing its operations in a message on its homepage, making it significantly harder for people to find torrents and pirate content illegally.
Torrentz was a meta-search engine for torrents. Rather than host torrents itself, it acted as a search engine that checked other torrent sites to find what users were looking for. Acting in a similar manner to Google, it would display a list of matching results from all the torrent sites in its directory.
Its far-reaching scope quickly made it popular. Until its abrupt closure yesterday, it was one of the world's largest torrent sites with millions of users. It ranked 186 on Alexa's list of the biggest websites on the Internet, ahead of services including Flickr.
The shutdown of the 13-year-old site therefore came as a surprise. Without any warning from administrators, Torrentz's search facility was suddenly disabled, preventing users from accessing the service. The site is said to be gone for good, the second torrent service to close in a matter of three weeks. Last month, KickassTorrents was forced to suspend its operations after its owner was arrested and its domain seized by the U.S. Government.
Torrentz s homepage after its sudden closure announcement
Torrentz's homepage after its sudden closure announcement
Torrentz
The search bar on the Torrentz homepage has now been disabled. While the page looks much the same as it did yesterday, the about text at the bottom has been modified. It now refers to the site in the past tense, reading "Torrentz was a free, fast and powerful meta-search engine combining results from dozens of search engines."
The membership area has also been disabled, preventing registered users from logging in. A message in its place says "Torrentz will always love you. Farewell." The site is no longer active with all possible input elements either turned off or removed from the homepage. One of the most prominent torrent search engines of the past decade is no more.
The motivation for the closure is not currently known. News site TorrentFreak was contacted by one of Torrentz's operators who would not comment on the abrupt disabling of the website, leaving it up to speculation.
The site may have been forced to close due to legal proceedings. Despite operating a system that allowed copyright holders to request links be removed, it has been reported to the U.S. Government by rights holders discontent with its operations.
Legal action seems unlikely though. Unlike KickassTorrents, Torrentz did its best to stay within the remit of the law. The fact that its domain is still active indicates it hasn’t been seized by the government, suggesting its operator has voluntarily shut the site down. Without further comment, users will be left to debate the reasoning behind the move.
People who make frequent use of torrents, whether legally or otherwise, will now need to look elsewhere to find downloads. Smaller sites are likely to find themselves quickly growing as Torrentz users search for replacement services. The closure is unlikely to impact the proliferation of content piracy as new websites will quickly appear to take Torrentz's place.
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