Running a pirate site is a dangerous endeavor. Those who get caught can face serious claims for damages or even prison time.
Apparently, this is a risk some are willing to take. There are thousands of pirate sites and services online today, some more public than others.
WishFlix is one of those sites that clearly stands out. The French streaming portal was initially hosted on GitHub and like other sites of this nature, appears to use a pre-coded script and a third-party content library to serve embedded movies and TV shows to the public.
In order to build an audience, the operators used social media as a promo tool. This paid off as the site gathered a large audience on TikTok, where one of its videos hit well over a million views.
But the success came with a downside. A few weeks ago the French media company StudioCanal sent a DMCA takedown notice targeting WishFlix. Unlike other streaming portals that use bulletproof hosting providers, WishFlix was hosted on the developer platform GitHub.
GitHub takes copyright infringement rather seriously and it certainly isn’t a safe haven for pirate sites. However, after making some changes, the site largely remained accessible on GitHub. For a short while at least.
ALPA Increases the Pressure
Two weeks after StudioCanal sent its notice, the French anti-piracy organization ALPA stepped up. Representing a broad range of entertainment companies, including the major Hollywood studios, ALPA demanded GitHub to remove the entire repository from its platform.
In its DMCA notice, ALPA provided several examples of infringing videos while stressing that there are many more.
“This entire repository is dedicated to sharing illegal movies and TV Shows from our member and should be taken down as is. These are just a tiny fraction of the repository’s content,” the notice reads.
Adding some more weight to its warning, ALPA also stressed that under French law repeat copyright infringements have serious consequences. These include hefty damages and multi-year prison sentences.
“If the infringement is repeated, it is then punishable by 6 years imprisonment and a fine of €1,000,000, with application of the minimum one year prison sentence,” the group wrote.
Following this notice, the operators seem to have realized that GitHub isn’t the ideal hosting partner for their venture. Instead, they registered the dedicated domain name “wishflix.fr” to set up shop elsewhere.
At the time of writing, the site uses the French hosting provider OVH where the domain is also registered. This is all public information that anyone can access in a few keystrokes.
The good news for WishFlix is that it still seems to control the GitHub repository. There’s no infringing content hosted there anymore, but a 404 error notice now redirects visitors to the new domain.
Thus far the site’s comeback isn’t yet complete. There are no movies embedded on the new domain and some other things have to be sorted out as well.
WishFlix appears to be a typical example of a site that uses “piracy as a service” providers. It’s not hosting any of the videos itself, but pulls them from external sources while presenting everything through a pre-coded script.
How long the site will survive with this new setup is yet to be seen, but it looks like rightsholders are pretty determined to take it offline.
In addition to the GitHub removal, WishFlix’s popular TikTok account has been taken down as well. A new TikTok account surfaced soon after but the streaming portal has chosen Telegram as its main communication channel for the time being.