There’s no denying that the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) has been rather successful over the past few years.
The anti-piracy group, which represents prominent rightsholders such as Apple, the BBC, Canal+, Disney, Sky, Netflix, and Warner Bros, systematically hunts down key piracy players and works to shut them down.
ACE expanded its reach once again this week when it added sports streaming service DAZN to its roster. This new member increases the group’s focus on sites and services that offer pirated live sports.
Millions of Views
The expansion will likely lead to more shutdowns and domain name seizures going forward. ACE typically redirects these domains to its dedicated “Watch Legally” page, which advises visitors where they can access licensed services.
This redirect strategy is quite successful as the ACE website enjoys millions of visits per month. A large percentage of this audience consists of people who were expecting to visit a pirate site, but were redirected to ACE instead.
In addition to the free traffic, Google has also rewarded the alliance with a top ranking in search results, meaning that the ‘Watch Legally’ page would show up in the top results for relevant search queries.
As things stand today, that’s no longer the case. After the “Watch Legally” page was removed from Google search, visitors see the following note at the bottom of the results.
In response to a recent takedown notice, Google removed ACE’s “Watch Legally” page for alleged copyright infringement. This action was taken at the behest of Indian anti-piracy outfit AiPlex.
The ACE page was repeatedly flagged by AiPlex in recent weeks. In this notice, for example, it’s accused of distributing a pirated copy of the film ‘Virgin Bhanupriya,’ together with sites such as foumovies.pw, afilmyhit.cafe, and yomovies.bid.
Why AiPlex flagged a page that’s designed to drive traffic to legal services is unclear. The company didn’t immediately reply to our request for comment but we have a hunch that might explain the series of inaccurate takedown notices.
As we mentioned earlier, ACE has a habit of redirecting seized pirate domain names to its own website. If AiPlex found an older piracy link that redirected to ACE, and then reported the ACE site to Google without carrying out any checks, that could explain the erroneous removal.
Whatever the reason, AiPlex may want to update its systems to prevent similar trouble going forward. At the same time, ACE could send a DMCA counternotice to Google if it wants to be relisted.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that legal streaming options have been flagged as infringing; it happens more often than you’d think. For example, justwatch.com has been flagged more than 53,000 times. Luckily, Google identified most of these inaccurate notices.