A site specializing in creating video subtitling for the benefit of foreign and deaf Internet users has been closed due to the threat of legal action. WikiSubtitles received a cease and desist from the Anti-Piracy Federation (FAP) and is now offline pending legal advice.
Yesterday the collaborative subtitle creation site WikiSubtitles received a cease and desist letter from a Spanish anti-piracy outfit, as explained by the admin, Smalley:
“Today I received a beautiful copy and paste notification from the Anti-Piracy Federation (FAP), which warns me that if we do not close the site, they will take legal action against me. I will engage a lawyer to advise me, but we may close Wikisubtitles temporarily as we clarify the matter. I hope from my heart that this is not the end of Wikisubtitles.”
Initially it appeared that the site’s host, BlueHost closed the site after the complaint, but that closure seems to have been lifted after some legal issues were addressed. However, the site is now voluntarily closed pending a proper legal evaluation by WikiSubtitles’ lawyer.
Although there are many cases of subtitle files that are ripped from DVD, the communities at sites like WikiSubtitles have their own translators who create custom subtitles for tv programming and movies. The subtitles are created by enthusiasts from scratch using tools provided by the site, for the benefit of those who don’t understand the original language and for the deaf. A user at WikiSubtitles hopes that no data has been lost as a result of the shutdown as along with friends, they were right in the middle of manually subtitling some Dr Who episodes.
WikiSubtitles is not on its own in receiving such threats. Alexe1, the admin of SoloSubtitulos has also been on the end of similar treatment, and he advises Smalley to “simply ignore these emails.” Alexe1 maintains his site is entirely non-commercial, doesn’t distribute copyrighted works, and falls short every month when it comes to raising enough cash to pay the hosting bills.
Like many, Alexe1′s motivation for creating his own subtitles was so that a disabled family member could enjoy what he was enjoying: “I personally write subtitles because my grandmother was born deaf and with those subtitles she is now able to enjoy current TV series and movies.”
“How do you think this fact would look in a trial?”