Torrentz.eu Back Online After Defying UK Police

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Polish domain name registrar complies with the takedown request, then changes its mind

Popular torrent tracker Torrentz.eu has returned online, a day after the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) got its domain name suspended.

According to TorrentFreak, the Polish registrar ‘Nazwa’ revoked the domain name after receiving a strongly worded letter from the British authorities, delivered as part of Operation Creative. It restored access after the website’s legal team explained that the request to suspend the domain was unlawful.

Nazwa is not the first registrar to resist orders from London: last year Mark Jeftovic, CEO of the Canadian hosting company EasyDNS, vocally refused to comply with a request from PIPCU. He suggested that registrars who complied with such requests may have actually violated ICANN’s domain transfer policies. This viewpoint was later confirmed by ICANN itself.

Legal basis

PIPCU, which was established in September 2013, claims to have helped close down at least 40 websites accused of facilitating copyright infringement.  The unit works closely with the media industry and international colleagues like the Department of Homeland Security in the US to tackle issues ranging from trade in counterfeit merchandise to illegal sharing on torrent websites.

logCityPoliceThe unit has been criticised for threatening domain name registrars into suspending websites suspected of infringement, without any legal basis to do so.

On Monday morning, such fate befell Torrentz.eu, one of the most popular torrent trackers in the world. Upon being contacted by PIPCU, Nazwa promptly suspended the domain – after all, the letters are sent by the City of London Police.

The registrar was then contacted by the website’s lawyer, who explained that Nazwa was under no obligation to follow directions from a third party without a court order. Several hours later, Torrentz.eu was back online.

When contacted by TorrentFreak, PIPCU declined to provide comment on this particular case. Instead, the unit once again outlined the principles of Operation Creative. It said that websites were given the chance to “correct their behaviour” before PIPCU attempted to disrupt their revenue by contacting advertisers and informing them of the nature of the site.

PIPCU added that seeking suspension of the domain name was only used as the last available option. It did not elaborate on the fact that this tactic seems to conflict with ICANN guidelines for registrars.

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