DuckDuckGo is getting a lot less useful for pirates. TorrentFreak has reported that the quacky search engine, which prides itself on user privacy, has removed the search results for many popular pirate sites. These include 1337x, Fmovies, and, not surprisingly, The Pirate Bay, the Swedish site that has become a poster child for digital piracy since its launch nearly two decades ago. DuckDuckGo has also removed links to numerous popular stream-rippers (e.g., 2conv.com, Flvto.bid) and even Youtube-dl, a surprising omission being that it’s simply software that allows users to rip vides and audio from Google’s popular platform—the site itself doesn’t host any actual content. DuckDuckGo’s latest moves are presumably related to copyright, judging from some of the actions that the search engine company has taken in recent years.
“We operate globally, as do bangs [search shortcuts], and products that actively facilitate interaction with illegal content can have us and our employees face significant legal liability, and jeopardizing the entire service,” a DuckDuckGo staffer explained a few years ago when the company was prompted to clean up some of its databases that included links to pirate sites.
DuckDuckGo Removes Pirate Sites and YouTube-DL from Its Search Results (TorrentFreak)
When doing some research earlier today we noticed that several popular pirate sites were no longer showing up in DuckDuckGo’s results globally. Initially, we thought that some popular pages had been removed following DMCA takedown notices, but there is clearly more going on than that.
TorrentFreak reached out to DuckDuckGo to discover why these domain names are not showing up in its search results. At the time of publication, we have yet to hear back. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the move is copyright-related, though.
A few months ago, Google also started to remove several pirate site domains from its search results. However, in Google’s case, these delistings are regional and linked to ISP blocking orders.
It’s worth pointing out that many pirate sites are still findable in DuckDuckGo. However, the search engine could certainly provide some transparency to help clear up what’s happening exactly.