4shared’s Piracy ‘Fingerprint’ Tool Helps to Reduce Takedown Notices

4shared, one of the largest file-hosting services on the Internet, is building its own 'fingerprint' database of pirated music. Since the major rightholder groups are unwilling to participate, 4shared has taken the matter into its own hands. According to the site, this has helped to significantly reduce the number of takedown requests it receives.

4sharedWith millions of regular visitors, both via the web and through mobile apps, 4shared is one of the largest file-sharing services.

As with many other sites in this niche, copyright holders often complain about the pirated files that are available on the site. Interestingly, however, most complaints are sent to Google.

Over the past several years the search engine has received a massive 50 million takedown requests for 4shared URLs alone. 4shared itself, which has a DMCA takedown procedure in place, receives only a fraction of this number.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, 4shared says that it is trying to do its best to keep rightsholders happy. They have provided several with a direct-delete account, so they can take infringing files offline as quickly as possible.

In addition, 4shared is using the fingerprinting software Echoprint to detect and remove pirated files from its service. This helped the file-hosting site to reduce the number of takedown requests they receive significantly.

“This is our latest and the most efficient system for taking down copyrighted audio files,” 4shared’s Mike tells us.

“We can see that the volume of removal requests keeps reducing from month to month. It has already reached approximately 6,000 per month, which is fifteen times less that the 90,000 monthly requests we received at the beginning of 2015.”

Takedown requests 4shared received

4sharedtakedown

While 4shared has been using the content recognition software for quite a while already, not all copyright holders are eager to use it. Several large industry groups such as IFPI refuse to provide 4shared with fingerprint data.

As a result, the file-hosting service decided to build its own database based on the takedown notices they receive.

“We are gathering the data this way, because IFPI declines our request to provide ‘fingerprints’ upfront,” Mike says.

“Currently we are building the database for the audio content recognition system from direct ban link submissions and the DMCA notices that IFPI and several other major organizations send.”

When a takedown noticed arrives, 4shared “fingerprints” the audio file which is then added to the database. If someone then tries to upload the same file again, an error message occurs.

4shared doesn’t understand why rightsholders are unwilling to submit the data themselves. There is no need to share actual audio files, they stress, as the fingerprinting data can be easily extracted using a standalone software tool.

The file-hosting service hopes that copyright holders will realize the potential of the system. Not only is it more accurate than the current takedown efforts, but it can also save them a lot of time and money.

“In my opinion, the amount of effort for creating ‘fingerprints’ and uploading to 4shared’s audio recognition database is comparable, or even less, than the amount of effort and the cost of maintaining numerous agents and developing robots that collect lists of links for the direct ban requests or complaints they send,” Mike concludes.

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