As part of its relentless campaign to shut down as many pirate sites as possible, on Wednesday the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment reported yet another big win.
The anti-piracy coalition’s latest victim is Streamzz, a stream hosting platform that reportedly supplied over 75,000 movies and 15,000 TV episodes, which helped to fuel more than 60 pirate streaming sites.
ACE says that a third of the site’s seven million monthly visits can be attributed to users in Germany, where Streamzz itself was based. Germany is also the home of ACE member Constantin Film, a film production and distribution company that worked with the coalition to take Streamzz down.
ACE Celebrates Win, Streamzz Infuriates Users
In an announcement Wednesday, ACE chief Jan van Voorn said that the closure of Streamzz shows that the coalition is capable of targeting pirates no matter where they exist in the chain of supply.
“The shutdown of Streamzz is fresh proof that no one in the content piracy ecosystem – whether they’re a streaming service, video streaming host or anything in between – is above the law. We will target piracy services of various kinds in order to protect the global creative economy,” he said.
Some users of Streamzz, meanwhile, have concerns about their own economies.
How it Started….
Streamzz (or simply Streamz) has been around since 2019, operating from several different domains. In a 2020 interview with Tarnkappe, one of the site’s operators declined to comment on future successes leading to the sipping of cocktails on a tropical beach. “We just let ourselves be surprised,” he said.
On March 14, three of the site’s domains – streamz.vg, streamz.cc and streamz.tw – had their records updated to reveal their new owner: Motion Picture Association, Inc. Domains still to be taken over currently deliver a message: “We currently have server problems. Please understand.”
Today’s situation is a far cry from the optimism and business drive of Streamz back in 2020. In order to build a popular service, Streamz needed two things; people to upload movies and TV shows to Streamz, and people to watch them on third-party streaming sites where they would be embedded.
Building Up, Building Trust
The image below shows that people were incentivized to upload popular content and generate traffic for the platform. For a considerable time, everything seemed to go broadly as planned.
With uploaders getting paid to upload movies and TV shows to Streamz, and streaming sites placing links to that content in their own indexes, everyone in the mini-ecosystem had the ability to generate traffic and make money.
To show that Streamz was indeed paying out earnings as promised, bonuses were paid to uploaders who posted screenshots of their payouts on a public forum. There appeared to be no shortage of people prepared to further compromise their security for a few extra dollars.
Still, these public records of payouts tend to suggest that up until the first or second week of February, Streamzz may have been operating normally.
Mass Deletions Begin
When reports began to surface that Streamzz had begun mass deleting movies and TV shows, that was a sure sign of major underlying problems. A message on BS.to, a large Germany-focused streaming platform, reported that Streamzz was “having a massive deletion wave” but the reasons for that were currently unknown.
The manner in which those deletions became apparent to the site’s uploaders and partners caused widespread confusion before spilling over into anger. It appears that when Streamzz deleted user-uploaded videos, they replaced them with random wildlife videos instead.
Some uploaders got a little bit upset. Others operating in more specialist niches catering to more specific tastes, were absolutely furious.
While zebra videos might have pleased David Attenborough, Naomi Foxx fans probably prefer videos that at least stay on topic. According to Streamzz, hardware issues were to blame.
“We are currently having a problem with the delivery of the videos as we are still waiting for a new raid controller. We will fix the problem as soon as possible and of course compensate for the downtime of the last days,” a spokesperson explained. Some weren’t convinced.
“I find instead of my links I get videos about nature or clickbait videos for Telegram or Instagram. Almost all my links are gone with this shit, no support, no response,” one user complained.
“I think it is appropriate not to utilize anymore, my site is not a Savannah Zoo, fuck.”
Animal Problems Disappear
As one observer wondered if the wildlife videos had appeared because Streamzz had servers “far from civilization,” suddenly there were no more animal videos. Or anything else for that matter.
Sometime late February, Streamzz ceased to exist beyond a handful of domains. As reported earlier, three of those domains are now controlled by the MPA and currently link to the ACE anti-piracy portal.
It’s possible that others will join them in the days to come.