YouTube Redesigned, Still a BitTorrent Site if You Dig Deep

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If you visited YouTube in the past 24 hours, you probably felt that you landed on the wrong site. More like TV, and less cluttered, this is the new YouTube, or, at least, Google’s declared intention behind the redesign. The site is so clean, and clutter-free… it’s almost boring. But a good boring.

YouTube redesigned

The redesign will help users subscribe and watch channels on YouTube with ease, a move that should convey casual lurkers into diehard users. The redesign also enables users to bring their own subscription-filled YouTube Guide across the online version of the site, but also across all other devices (game consoles, smart mobile devices, tablets and television).

Another important feature is that every time you visit YouTube on any device, you will see the latest videos from the channels to which you subscribe. As you watch a movie, your playlists are at the right of the video and you can browse through while you watch. Subscribe button, social actions and video information are all combined directly below the player – the focus is now on the video. Overall… a better user experience.

Redesign Doesn’t Solve the Main Problem

The FBI shut down a number of BitTorrent sites in the past, for criminal copyright infringement. While YouTube is not a BitTorrent site, the amount of copyrighted material is beyond control. Google seems to care more about keeping cool and trendy, than about taking proactive steps to fix the problem. On one side, they hammer website owners for duplicate content and copyright infringement, while on the other side they keep their own content above the laws they impose on others.

In August, this year, Google rolled out the Pirate Penalty, with the purpose to penalize sites repeatedly accused of copyright infringement:

“Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results.”

YouTube is the target of many DMCA requests, and removes content all the time. However, as a Google product, YouTube remains above the Pirate Penalty.

You will not find YouTube on the Google Transparency Report site showing domains threatened by the Pirate Penalty, but you will find a few torrent sites like,,, and so on.

Some Google and YouTube fans will argue that Google has the right to protect its own sites. It does, but then, if YouTube is guilty of distributing copyrighted material without permission, and gets away with it, then Google shouldn’t take any action against sites guilty of the same sin.


If you want, you can watch Nicolas Cage in Knowing in HD…

Poirot on YouTube

Or you could watch countless episodes of Poirot, obviously without ITV’s blessing…

the crow

The Crow is also there…

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of copyrighted movies available free of charge on YouTube, including Hollywood blockbusters, foreign movies, series and cult classics. All uploaded by YouTube users, random people from different countries, and not by their copyright holders. And while we welcome the change – YouTube does look much better, and is more functional, redesigned, we hope to see a positive change concerning the content too.

Mihaela Lica Butler
Mihaela Lica Butler is senior partner at Pamil Visions PR and editor at Everything PR. She is a widely cited authority on search engine optimization... Read Full Bio
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  • Henk Poley

    You are aware that “bittorrent” is a file transfer protocol. The way you it is a bit like saying that writing a blog like emailing someone (uhmm? no..)

    You might have meant that it’s still a video piracy site. You are not going to find many .torrent files or magnet: links on YouTube.

  • Mihaela Lica Butler

    Henk, I just used that as a metaphor (title hook). You did notice I specified in the article that YouTube is not a bittorrent site, right?

    • Maikeru Sazushima

      And your hook is EFFECTIVE love the analysis/insight here… and am in the process of ‘reacquiring’ those links you’ve shown *wink*

  • Lewis Mead

    There’s a part of this article I take issue with, mainly this:

    “Some Google and YouTube fans will argue that Google has the right to protect its own sites. It does, but then, if YouTube is guilty of distributing copyrighted material without permission, and gets away with it, then Google shouldn’t take any action against sites guilty of the same sin.”

    Is YouTube really guilty of ‘distributing copyrighted material’? I don’t think YouTube should be held responsible for content that is uploaded to it. The people doing the uploading, by all means, should be held responsible; but I don’t think YouTube is at fault here. There is nothing Google can do to stop this outside of what they are already doing; whenever a complaint is filed, the offending video is taken down. Outside of that, Google can’t really do anything more; and I don’t see what you want them to do about it.

    As far as the Pirate Penalty goes, in a way, it DOES effect YouTube. The Pirate Penalty aims to take sites that have received DMCA complaints, and put them lower in the search rankings. Forgive me if this is a misinterpretation, but the way I understood it, you wanted Google to put YouTube lower in search rankings as well because of the multitude of complaints it receives; however, if Google automatically removes offending videos when they receive complaints, why would they need to lower it in the rankings? Pirated material that hasn’t been complained about is fair game on YouTube just as it is fair game on any other site under the Pirate Penalty.

    So, forgive me if I fail to see how Google is protecting their own sites.