When The Entertainment Industry Takes Down Linking Sites, It Makes It Harder To Take Down Actual Infringing Content

from the is-it-worth-it? dept

We've never really understood the desire to go after middlemen, rather than those actually responsible for things -- but for some reason, many, many people tend to focus on them. We talk about the importance of Section 230 or the DMCA's 512 safe harbors in protecting middlemen from liability over actions of their users. Or we talk about how law enforcement freaks out about illegal activity advertised on Craigslist and Backpage, rather than using those tools to actually track down the law breakers.

And yet... it continues. TorrentFreak has been covering how the latest copyright laws in Spain (which have been updated repeatedly over the past few years at the demands of Hollywood) mean that linking sites -- which, in the past, had been declared perfectly legal -- may now face tremendous liability. As a result of this, a few of those sites have decided to shut down. That's not surprising, and I'm sure that the legacy copyright players are excited about this result, high-fiving each other around the office, saying "job well done." Except, of course, it's not. In another post, where TorrentFreak spoke to the folks behind Wiziwig, a sports linking site that has shut down, there's an aside where it becomes clear that because Wiziwig has shut down, actual streams of sporting events may be more available than in the past:
“What we noticed Thursday [the day the site went down], and that’s what we’ve always been thinking, is that the Premier League has only been focusing on Wiziwig lately to take down streams, like those from [P2P streaming service] Sopcast for example,” Wiziwig told us.

“If we added a Sopcast link for a game in the Premier League, then quickly that link was made inaccessible. On Thursday all Sopcast channels kept working all day, without any been taking down during the early kickoff, 3pm game and late game. Coincidence?”

The idea that the soccer league had been using Wiziwig to find streams and have them taken down at source was confirmed when matches streamed from other sources also remained up.

“Same applied with Veetle links, as when those previously appeared on Wiziwig they were quickly taken down. If we didn’t add them they were working all game long, while people could find them easily in Veetle. That also applied to several other links.”
Now, I'm sure some copyright system defenders will argue that this is an okay tradeoff -- that in taking down the middleman linking site, they also made it harder for people to find those other streams that remain up. But... that's unlikely to be that true. The folks who really want to watch these kinds of things are generally members of communities of folks who are equally interested, and the links to new sources can get passed around quite quickly. So the people who are watching the infringing content still get to do so.

All that's really happened is that the copyright holders who are rushing around trying to take down everything now have made their own job more difficult by going after a tool that helps them find the actual infringement. That's why it's really dumb to focus on the middlemen rather than the actual end users who are streaming the infringing content.

Filed Under: copyright, infringement, linking sites, spain, sports streaming, streaming, takedowns
Companies: wiziwig


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:02am

    To go after each source of the infringing content they'd have to go through many lawsuits and the onus of providing evidence of wrongdoing was going to be theirs. You know, due process and so on. In their minds when the middleman is down most people will have a harder time to find the content so they'll pay.

    Except this is not true for most cases as we have seen from many takedowns and new laws passed. In fact the power users are the ones that would pay if there was greater accessibility and sane pricing and those are exactly the ones that are engaged and will still find their sources anyway. But as you said, stupidity...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:43am

      Re:

      As you say, going after individual infringers requires actual research and legal evidence. Much more easy, for the companies whom the copyright holders have hired to patrol the internet, is to provide lazy metrics - 'we sent out X million of notices to search engines', 'we threatened Y number of linking sites', and 'we [will take the credit regardless of the reason] shut down Z number of sites.'

      These 'results' soothe boardroom tantrums and keep the checks rolling in to the enforcement companies whose sloppy techniques - deliberately vague search terms, copy-and-paste threats and outright law purchasing - have proven to be an excellent business model.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:17am

    We've never really understood the desire to go after middlemen,

    Being middlemen themselves, they think that the middlemen control what is published.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:28am

    "Except, of course, it's not."

    You assume that their only intent is to stop infringement. That's a lie. They want to stop all competition and so anything that makes it harder for independents and user generated content to survive is a good thing for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:44am

    Next evolution -- p2p link distribution

    The article is of course spot on, and the next step is the rapid evolution of fully decentalized, encrypted and anonymous systems for link distribution.

    You could design a system in such a way that the secret is split into three parts, one part constitutes the url, the second constitutes the encryption key for deciphering the url, and the third a description of the contents.

    Now distribute the secret to all your friends, and if they know the decryption key, they can download the latest movie.

    And the link of course refers to some place at some obscure cloud provider and will never be taken down because the mafia nevers knows where to send the takedown notice.

    This is already possible with Bitmessage, OTR over Tor and Torchat, but imagine how many headakes the copyright holders get when everyone can anonymously run an index like Filestube or warez-bb from their home.

    Most search engines also go above the law in taking down suspected CP, but if every link distribution is anonymous and decentralized, these constraints no longer apply.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:57am

      Re: Next evolution -- p2p link distribution

      Why not just list streams as comments on a bitcoin-like blockchain? Heck you could use Dogecoin for this...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:50am

    Working as intended

    Given the real focus isn't on stopping piracy, but competition, odds are they actually prefer outcomes like this, as it gives them an excuse to whine about how they need more laws passed in their favor.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Geno0wl (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:58am

    It is harder

    It is harder to track down streams because when you take out middle men that means you take out Google's search results...sometimes.
    But if you really want to watch the steams or find content all it takes is just a little bit more work(AKA finding communities of people).
    They are so short slightest they think that "not on first page of Google = no real impact"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 10:05am

    "copyright system defenders"

    haha, you're such a funny guy, Mike Masnick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 10:30am

    Re: Next evolution -- p2p link distribution

    The blockchain so far Bitcoin is concerned is stored forever and it was not designed to offer strong anonymity.

    Also making a transaction costs money.

    Bitmessage is better and in fact there are already social networks and subscription mailing lists based on the BM infrastructure.


    The drawback is that every participant in the network gets everything, and it poses some issues for growth of t he network.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 12:45pm

    wHO HERE?

    Who here has seen those 30-60 minute PAID commercial TV shows?
    Have you heard at the beginning that..

    "This show contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing".
    "Viewer discretion advised."
    "Intended for mature audiences only." (Mature takes on a double meaning.)
    "Contains scenes of a sexual nature." (Namely, explicit, bare-breasted sex on a kitchen table, to give but one example)
    "This programme contains strong language."
    "This programme contains language." Or "mild language," even. This video, before a show on The BBC is a notable (and hilarious) example of a program using the "language" variant.
    "Strong, bloody violence."
    "Mild peril."
    "The opinions expressed in this show do not necessarily reflect the views of (the network or production company)"

    ABC Family has one just before The 700 Club that deletes the "necessarily".

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ContentWarnings

    THE SEARCH engine is the broadcast Channel selection. thats ALL it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nasty American Hero, 9 Jan 2015 @ 5:22pm

    Another one up...

    It is impossible to take down any content. TPB or Wiziwig. Not just one wiziwig will appear, but more. Like with atdhe, like with firstrow, like with myp2p...

    Wiziwig guys were tired. One could feel it at the forum. One of main admins died. They could have continued... but were tired IMO. Spanish law is jst excuse for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AgentSmith, 9 Jan 2015 @ 5:36pm

      Re: Another one up...

      I don't understand why they just didn't move to other domain or something. Some sites are changing domain every few months at least, I mean why Wiziwig HAS to be in Spain? He doesn't imo, so they were just too stupid not to move that site somewhere or what?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SupremeCow, 9 Jan 2015 @ 5:33pm

    Well I agree, if Wiziwig guys just back out, someone else just takes their place and nothing really happens. Someone who is not a chicken and won't shut down great site. I am only wondering how many more websites will now do same as Wiziwig did... :-/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2016 @ 6:24am

    Stumble great site to see any sport live streaming and more ... http://streaming-italiano.net

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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