Censoring the Internet on behalf of the entertainment industries appears to be a growing trend. Talks about Internet blocklists, domain seizures of alleged pirate sites, and Google’s proactive filter of “infringing” searches are just a few examples. Today it appears that Yahoo! has hopped on the bandwagon with its censoring of links to FilesTube, one of the largest media search engines.
Imagine that you found this great new TV-show “Pioneer One,” which the makers decided to give away for free. You’re actually so excited about it that you want to share it with a friend by pasting them a FilesTube link in Yahoo! Messenger.
Although this might sound like a good idea to some, Yahoo! appears to disagree. Those who try to paste a FilesTube link to their contacts in the Messenger app will notice that it never reaches its destination. The link goes directly into Yahoo’s dark hole and neither end of the conversation is alerted to this “feature”.
For those not familiar with the site, FilesTube is arguably the largest meta-search engine for content hosted on cyberlockers. Founded in 2007, the Polish-operated search engine serves millions of users every day, and this number is on the up.
The big question of course is why Yahoo! Messenger users are prohibited from sending their contacts links to the site. FilesTube is merely a meta-search engine and does not host any content on its servers. It even abides by the U.S. DMCA by honoring takedown requests from copyright holders.
TorrentFreak contacted Yahoo! to try and shed some light on the issue, but since we haven’t heard back yet all we can do at this point is speculate. Theoretically there could be a non-copyright related reason for the blocking, but we have failed to come up with one. On the other hand, in tests where we sent our contacts links to similar sites did not produce the same results, which is odd.
Although not very logical, such a selective censorship attempt would not be entirely new. Just a few months ago Google decided to arbitrarily block a few piracy related keywords from their “instant” and “suggest” features while leaving direct and just as popular alternatives unharmed.
Whatever the reason is for Yahoo! monitoring private conversations and then swallowing FilesTube links, censorship is an up and coming tool that will be used increasingly to protect the interests of the entertainment industries. It complements other indirect but effective anti-piracy strategies, and despite the constitutional issues that may arise, the anti-piracy lobby will not rest before their goals are completed.
Update: Arkadiusz Senko, CEO of Red – Sky, the owner FilesTube got back to us with the following message:
“I was surprised to have adopted information about blocking FilesTube.com by Yahoo Messenger. FilesTube.com is a legal search engine, meets all the legal requirements of both European and American. We are shocked by Yahoo Messenger to censor the Internet, and thus the actions of our users who use FilesTube.com for legal media. We would like to point out that we also have a video section, where the aggregated videos from YouTube or Dailymotion are placed. It seems to us that Yahoo has taken action to block links to competing sites. In such a situation it lefts us nothing but to recommend users to use other instant messengers, respectful of freedom of the Internet. You can find the alternatives for Yahoo Messenger on our new search engine alternative.to.”