Several of the major Hollywood studios have petitioned Google to remove sites that make copyrighted movies available for streaming from its search results. The requests come after Google announced it would start publishing DMCA requests at the bottom of a results page stemming from a search for a less-than-legitimate site.
It’s common for copyright holders to contact shady streaming and torrent sites, but the timing of the requests -- combined with the number of studios suddenly on the offensive -- is a bit of a surprise to some.
TorrentFreak reported that Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, BBC Films, Walt Disney, Summit Entertainment and Sony Pictures have all issued DMCA requests to Google in an attempt to filter WatchOnlineFreeTV.com, TV-Links.eu and dozens more of that ilk.
Along with criminalizing copyright infringement, the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) also aims to halt agents that circumvent the hosting of copyrighted material. Sites like the aforementioned sell advertising space while listing a number of links to click in order to watch a movie via stream. It’s more difficult for copyright enforcers to halt this type of piracy -- and thus less risky for viewers -- because they aren’t able to plant torrent files or track an Internet subscriber’s bandwidth usage while they’re downloading.
In their most recent attack on illegal streaming, the studios were targeting hosts of the movies “The Other Guys,” “Cinderella,” “50/50,” “Prometheus,” “Cabin in the Woods,” and TV shows including “Family Guy” and “How I Met Your Mother,” among others, according to TorrentFreak. The movie studios also appeared to accidentally request each films’ Wikipedia entry and promotional Facebook page be stripped from search results, although it’s unclear how that would have happened.
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This story comes after the news that the launch of the Six Strike program, aimed at illegal downloading and heavily lobbied for by the MPAA and RIAA, will be delayed until early 2013. That plan will attempt to work in conjunction with the major Internet service providers to monitor a suspested pirate’s bandwidth use online.
On the eve of the 2012 Super Bowl, federal authorities shut 16 illegal streaming sites after New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady admitted he watched the prior year’s game on an illegal site, according to USA Today. His confession may have given copyright enforcers, who have been slow to react to technological shifts, an insight into how widespread their problem was.