The homepage of the popular torrent search engine Torrentz disappeared from Google this week after Hollywood studio Paramount sent a peculiar DMCA takedown request. Paramount claims in the notice that the URL links to infringing content, but there are no links to torrents or even other torrent sites on Torrentz’ homepage. The meta-search engine has filed a counterclaim and is waiting for Google to respond.
Every week copyright holders send millions of DMCA takedown notices to Google, hoping to make pirated movies and music harder to find.
Unfortunately not all of these notices are correct.
Because of the high number of often automated notices, neither the copyright holder nor the recipient can check the validity of all requests, leading to questionable take-downs.
This problem is illustrated by a recent DMCA notice sent to Google on behalf of movie studio Paramount.
The notice in question alerts Google to the existence of alleged pirated versions of “Jack Reacher” and “Rise of the Guardians” listed on the homepage of BitTorrent search engine Torrentz.eu. Interestingly, however, Torrentz doesn’t list any links to torrent files on its homepage.
Paramount’s DMCA notice
The only thing Torrentz users see on the homepage is a search box and a tag cloud of popular searches. While it is possible that the movie titles were listed in the tag cloud at one point, it would take at least three clicks before someone could reach an actual link to a torrent file.
The proper way to ask for a takedown would be to list the torrent detail page, which lists the hash of the torrent and links to websites where these files can be found online. An example would be this page for the documentary TPB-AFK.
In other words, Paramount’s request appears to be a bit broad, to say the least.
Torrentz informs TorrentFreak that they’ve sent Google a counter-notice, and they are waiting to hear back. The torrent meta-search engine further stresses that it adheres to the DMCA and takes down links when they’re asked to.
It will be interesting to see how Google responds to the counter-notice. Previously the search engine refused to put back the homepage of movie streaming site Movie2K even though the original infringing links were no longer present.
Sending DMCA notices for homepages seems to be a trend. Many movie streaming sites have seen their main URLs targeted recently. BitTorrent site Kat.ph was also targeted last week.
That said, the above examples are different from Torrentz as these sites feature specific links (to links) to many other copyrighted works.