The Crackdown On Torrent Sites Has Produced Many More Moles To Whac

from the getting-creative dept

If the ongoing battle between copyright infringers and copyright holders could be described in any simple term, that term would have to be whac-a-mole. Since the early days of piracy on the internet, the copyright industries have used their legal mallets to smack down any site or service whose head managed to rise out of obscurity. Napster was pushed into irrelevance, as were other similar apps. Then websites that hosted infringing files were slammed. At present, we are in the midst of a crackdown on torrent sites, with the copyright industries blaming them for widespread infringement.

However, those who are dedicated to sharing content illicitly are indeed dedicated. And so the game will continue into avenues of piracy that are fairly creative.

As crackdown on torrent sites continues around the world, people who are pirating TV shows and movies are having to get a little more creative. Cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Kim Dotcom’s Mega are some of the popular ones that are being used to distribute copyrighted content, according to DMCA takedown requests reviewed by Gadgets 360.

Google Drive seems most popular among such users, with nearly five thousand DMCA takedown requests filed by Hollywood studios and other copyright holders just last month. Each DMCA requests had listed a few hundred Google Drive links that the content owners wanted pulled.

But what’s notable about many of these DMCA takedown requests is that they target Google Drive links that don’t actually host any content themselves, but instead have embedded YouTube videos within them. YouTube has long been accused of hosting copyright infringing content, but few people consider it a serious vector for pirating movies or television shows. That’s because YouTube cracks down on piracy itself, and it is easily searchable, meaning that copyright holders can find their content and send takedown requests. Most infringing content is taken down quickly because of this, so what would be the point of these embedded videos?

It turns out that the pirates found a simple workaround – the videos are simply uploaded as unlisted, so they don’t turn up in search results. The links to these videos are then shared as Google Drive links through discussion forums and other channels so it’s difficult for the content owners to find the videos and get them taken down.

Popular video sites YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion are also being abused by distributing and hosting illicit content, DMCA takedown requests reveal, but the volume of such requests again implies that they are not being as widely used. Some pirates, getting creative, also turned to another streaming venue which is not used as widely – porn sites. For example, last year, news outlets reported an instance where all the songs of Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo album were uploaded as a video to the popular website PornHub. You can still find a number of movies on the site, and oddly enough, also things like game trailers and music videos that could safely be posted on other sites as well.

While nobody would want to cheer this sort of infringement on, there is a certain aspect of creativity to it. That creativity nicely demonstrates the axiom: the internet is designed to route around obstructions. So too, it seems, are the communities dedicated to sharing copyrighted content. It seems that this war on piracy is whac-a-mole by nature, but it’s actually worse than that.

What if the moles were hydras and every time you hit one on the head, two or more heads sprouted out as a result? Because it should be noted that the above strategy using Google Drive and YouTube to distribute infringing content isn’t the only creative strategy that’s sprouted out of the crackdown on torrent sites.

The most unusual service that is being abused for distributing content that we came across is My Maps. It’s a feature Google introduced in 2007 to enable users to create custom maps. Anyone can visit the My Maps website, and create a custom map by pointing to a location on the map, adding a title, and filling up a description box. Google doesn’t verify what kind of information users are sharing in description, so you can again easily share links to unlisted YouTube streams, or Google Drive files to download. What this means is that people can then share locations on maps, which lead to the pirated movies.

While Google’s services are only the most abused of many for this sort of thing, you can already hear the content industries warming up their voices to sing a tune of how Evil Google is the pirate’s tool of choice for copyright infringement. It’s worth noting that all of this, however, has emerged despite Google’s efforts at complying with copyright laws. It’s also emerged as a result of this ongoing arms race waged primarily by the content industries, who could have expended this effort in figuring out new business models on which to make money from their content. Instead, we can mark time in the modern era by what the “piracy threat vector” du jour is. It seems tomorrow it may become Google Drive. Or My Maps. More years on it will be something we haven’t even thought of yet.

Them moles keep coming, after all.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “The Crackdown On Torrent Sites Has Produced Many More Moles To Whac”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: ROI on the War on Drugs

Agencies are getting tons of money from the war on drugs and are making sure the guys who approve their budget increases are getting a cut. This isn’t an ROI situation, it’s a moral hazard.

In the case of Big Media’s campaign against piracy, it’s a matter of possessiveness. Piracy typically results in more sales, not fewer, but once they’ve invested labor and capital into a thing, they become overdetermined to make sure no-one else benefits without paying them first, even if by the end result they make less money.

The Game of Thrones new season is front page news, and this correlates with it being the most pirated show ever.

tp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: ROI on piracy

but once they’ve invested labor and capital into a thing, > they become overdetermined to make sure no-one else
> benefits without paying them first

The big amount of work is getting the product popular among the target group. If your product is aimed at teenagers, how can you find those people and sell the product to them? Any idiot can create the actual consumable product, but getting millions of people to glance at the product is more effort. Every glance will cost tons of money, and thus there needs to be mechanism how to get that effort back — i.e. those green pieces of paper are still needed..

Any idea that the money is unnecessary because it cannot be copied freely, is not going to fly, as long as you don’t have a product worthy of millions of users.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Why do you think the copyright holding companies are constantly trying to get the tech companies to foot the bill for the war? It’s easy to not worry about a return on investment when you’re using cheat bots to generate take down requests to spam out, while folks like Google or Microsoft are the ones putting in the money and effort to actually verify the take down requests, and developing tools to locate potential infringement. It’s easy to not worry about ROI when the legislative “solutions” pushed require additional vigilance and liability out of the tech companies, and require the copyright holders to do nothing additional.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, but while it makes sense for the lawyers to keep pushing this it seems like the film companies would finally go “Wait a freaking second, what are we paying these lawyers for?”

After all, they could fire the lawyers and pocket all that money, the people paying for movies will keep on paying so no reduction in income.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It depends on what the goal is.

If you look at it through the lens of ‘stopping piracy’ it was doomed from the get-go, with the vast majority of money and effort wasted when they could have been better spent offering competing services. Under that view it’s always been a losing proposition and they should have given it up long ago.

Look at it through the lens of ‘stopping competition‘ on the other hand and it makes a lot more sense, and is more of an investment than outright lost costs. The VCR, cassette player, even youtube, none of these would have existed had they managed to get their way in court, which would have left them in the position of sole avenue for publishing/content.

Look at their actions under that view and they make perfect sense, such that they’re never going to stop until they are driven under completely.

tp (profile) says:

Re: Re: That one guy

they could have been better spent offering competing services.

Now that I’ve written good working competing service, how can I get these people to start using it?

Check my service at it offers free (since pirates wont pay anything anyway) service.

Problem is that illegal means of doing it is always coming earlier since they don’t need to follow the rules, and this service that I built is “too late”, or “you just can’t get it popular since you’re not youtube”, or “pirates already have the same service available, so no need to use YOUR service”. I.e. their illegal means are taking MY market.

tp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 That one guy

I don’t wish to support or pirate the works of someone
> who thinks that the expiry of copyright equates to
> permission to permanently burn and remove every copy

You’re in the waiting business? So waiting 70 years is somehow useful activity? Maybe I want some users for the service long before that.

tp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 That one guy

It’s what copyright people tell me every time if I don’t like the terms.

You can always ask for better terms.

This feature that the author can change the terms for individual people is not guaranteed in the system, but instead it takes a little bit effort to implement. While creating the work, you just refuse to use anyone elses work, and you automatically receive the right to change the terms for individual users.

To detect which authors actually have right to change the terms, just evaluate the work, determine which part of the work was authored by that author. This is useful if you don’t want to get rejections for your requests to change the terms.

If the author takes shortcuts for saving time, and uses someone elses effort in the product, then this ability to change the distribution/performance terms is not available, and asking for custom terms is useless – the author didnt have legal right to change the terms, since someone else decides under which conditions the work can be distributed.

But for many products, terms can be changed – this is why we explicitly mention who is the copyright owner, and there’s contact information/email address available. It just takes a little bit of effort to detect if the author actually created the product himself and then contacting the author for better distribution terms.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 That one guy

“You can always ask for better terms.”

And when I’ve asked and been refused, why the fuck can I still not choose to do without? Why do I still need to sponsor you?

“While creating the work, you just refuse to use anyone elses work”

Oh, this old shit again. When you were asked about what permissions Disney got to reuse public domain work and charge for it, you insisted that Disney must have asked permissions, and used the works in good faith, even with presented with references to prove they didn’t. This supposed yardstick of refusing to use anyone else’s work is a bullshit standard you modify whenever you like.

“just evaluate the work”

Evaluate the work? You know even your publishers find that’s a bitch, right? Hell, there’s plenty of paperwork specifically to make it nigh impossible to find the attributable author.

“If the author takes shortcuts for saving time, and uses someone elses effort in the product, then this ability to change the distribution/performance terms is not available”

Wow, no shit! Yet somehow you still think the author who misappropriates still has the right to use the work as he sees fit and refuse to have the terms altered.

Let me clarify this for you – I don’t wish to use, pirate, download, purchase, or have anything to do with works you had a hand in. No discussion of terms is going to convince me otherwise, because you’re just that distasteful of an individual. I’m “doing without” as you ordered, and now you even want to piss and moan about that choice, so you can demand compensation for something I don’t want?

Go jump in a lake.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Well Then.

Consider the recent Techdirt story "The FCC Insists It Can’t Stop Impostors From Lying About My Views On Net Neutrality"

Once filed in the FCC’s rulemaking record, there are limits on the agency’s ability to delete, change, or otherwise remove comments from the record. Doing so could undermine the FCC’s ability to carry out its legal obligation, which is which is to respond to all significant issues raised in the proceeding.

If those comments on Net Neutrality can’t be taken down, then neither can any comments that include links to pirated content. Heck, the same probably goes for any government site where citizens’ submissions become public record.

Let’s hope no-one gives the pirates that idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

Goal is only drive into hiding, not openly posted under real titles.

Moles are minor: open piracy can’t be tolerated by morality, laws, or needs of producers.

You’ve admitted main use of Napster to Megaupload was for piracy.

Google will soon have a fix for the Maps misappropriated movie messaging. Google is your tracker now, has all the info needed for warrants.

Again, you pirates are simply LOSING on all fronts. Yet you’re cheering the again hidden piracy as if it’s a win!

There is NO “revolution in content delivery” via free platforms. There is NO “better business model” than directly paying for entertainments.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Goal is only drive into hiding, not openly posted under real titles.

You posted your comment for free. Without the advertising and product placement that has kept the free no-directly-paying-for-entertainment platform “television” running for 70 years.

Oh, wait; you’re pushing a specific agenda. The other thing that has paid for television.

That’s not an endorsement of piracy. My point is that non-direct-payment models work too.

BTW, how would you describe the business model of the site you’re reading and commenting on right now?

Eustace the Monk says:

Re: Goal is only drive into hiding, not openly posted under real titles.

I’ll tell you how it works when you “save” the internet from “piracy,” It’ll get done the old fashioned way. Sharing can be accomplished as it was when I was a whippersnapper; friends and libraries provide the raw material and the rest is up to you, easy peasy. As it was it always shall be.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Goal is only drive into hiding, not openly posted under real titles.

hmm… “no ‘revolution in content delivery’ via free platforms”; try telling that to all the let’s players, reviewers, bloggers, webcomic artists, and even game designers to some extent.

Oh, I’m sorry. You meant all content approved by the RIAA and MPAA overlords, didn’t you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Goal is only drive into hiding, not openly posted under real titles.

There is NO "revolution in content delivery" via free platforms.

A lot of content creators would disagree with you, but then they do not count as far as your masters are concerned, because while they make money for themselves, they do not make any for your masters.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let’s be honest…the internet vision of the legacy entertainment industries is one where prior approval from them is required for everything to be posted.

This is why they complain the DMCA process it to much of a burden, this is why they are now complaining about Google Drive despite the fact they managed to find links to include in their take down notices.

Their view can simply be summed up as everything infringes until they say it doesn’t.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...