The popular file-hosting service Mediafire is proactively scanning users’ publicly shared files for possible copyright infringements. When the company spots links that shouldn’t be shared in the open, it replaces the download page with a “buy now” link to Amazon where the content can be bought legally. According to Mediafire this policy is meant to protect both users and Mediafire itself.
When Megaupload was shut down last year the actions of competing file-hosting services were watched closely by the press and copyright holders.
Some concluded that other services were guilty by association, and Hollywood went as far as naming several other cyberlockers that should be shutdown next, including Mediafire.
U.S. based Mediafire was shocked by this characterization and emphasized that it has always cooperated with rights holders. On top of that the company has also implemented several measures to ensure that its users play by the rules.
A good example of this policy is Mediafire’s proactive monitoring of unauthorized sharing. With help from Audible Magic‘s digital fingerprinting technology Mediafire checks user’s compliance with the site’s Terms of Service by identifying copyrighted audio and video files.
If Mediafire notices that copyrighted files are being shared in public, the links are disabled.
“In the interest of protecting our users, as well as MediaFire, we use AudibleMagic to prevent the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted audio and video. MediaFire is committed to protecting our users, and this system allows us to do that,” MediaFire co-founder Tom Langridge tells TorrentFreak.
Since users are allowed to backup and store copyrighted material on Mediafire for their own use, the files themselves remain accessible to the user.
“We do not remove any files from anyone’s accounts, but there is a difference between accessing your own files and sharing them with a 3rd party. We do not allow sharing of copyrighted materials. When a user attempts to perform that action, we show an error message,” Langridge adds.
Mediafire doesn’t stop at simply removing links though. When the company noticed that the standard “permission denied” error message was confusing users, it added “buy now” links to retailers where the music or video files can be bought legally.
“That error has historically been a text message which was confusing to users. We replaced it with a clear message that provides a path for the user to continue. We do that as a convenience to the user,” Langridge tells TorrentFreak.
The process is entirely transparent and users whose files are flagged get a notice explaining what’s going on, Mediafire tells us. No further action is taken against the users, who can still access the files through their private Mediafire account.
The file-hoster further stresses that the feature, which was first implemented a few months ago, effects a very small portion of its userbase. Like any other cloud backup service there are some people who share copyrighted files, but there are also millions who use it for legitimate purposes.
“MediaFire is used every day by millions of people to legitimately store, access, backup, collaborate and share their files, and we are committed to providing these individuals with the most reliable and affordable online storage service on the market,” Langridge says.