Legal video streaming services such as Amazon, Disney, and Netflix are booming. At the same time, there’s a flourishing dark market of pirate streaming tools.
These unauthorized alternatives increasingly use slick designs and easy-to-use apps to appeal to a broad audience. And unlike the legal options, they offer all popular titles under the same roof, without charging a penny.
Cloudstream is one of the apps that made its mark in recent years. The Android-based software can aggregate pirated content from several third-party sources and is fully customizable through open-source extensions.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by rightsholders. Sky UK targeted the software last year and across the pond, Cloudstream also appeared on the radar of the MPA, Hollywood’s anti-piracy group.
MPA Targets Cloudstream
This week, the MPA decided to take action. The organization, which represents the major Hollywood studios and Netflix, sent a DMCA notice to GitHub, asking the developer platform to remove several Cloustream-related files.
“We […] request your assistance in addressing, the extensive copyright infringement of motion pictures and television shows that is occurring by virtue of the operation of the domain cloudstream.cf, which is hosted on and available for download from your repository GitHub Inc.
“Specifically, at the URL, the Repository hosts and offers for download the APK CloudStream, which in turn is used to engage in massive infringement of copyrighted motion pictures and television shows,” the notice adds.
When GitHub receives DMCA notices it typically informs developers of the targeted content, allowing them to address the problem on their own. That also happened in this instance and led to a drastic decision.
Cloudstream Takes Voluntary Action
Yesterday, Cloudstream developer “Lag” informed the app’s Discord followers that they had received a “very serious DMCA notice” that simply can’t be ignored. For that reason, the team will voluntarily remove the contested files from GitHub.
According to “Lag”, complying with the takedown request was the only viable option. The developer didn’t wait for GitHub to respond and decided to pull the plug, hoping to avoid legal repercussions.
“Having the absolute worst anti-piracy coalition on our asses is not preferable. They will undoubtedly fuck us legally if they have to. Think what you want but I do not want all of Hollywood after me because of some hobby project,” Lag wrote.
“At least they will never be able to shut down torrents :)”
The MPA’s DMCA notice also mentioned the Cloudstream.cf domain, which has gone offline too, and remains unreachable for the foreseeable future.
Speaking with TorrentFreak, “Lag” explains that the site linked to the reported repositories and was taken down for that reason. The developer is still waiting to hear from GitHub to see if his removal actions are sufficient, before making choosing how to go forward. However, challenging the MPA isn’t on the table.
A Prime Enforcement Target
The MPA’s head of Global Content Protection and Enforcement Operations, Jan van Voorn, confirmed the legitimacy of the takedown request, adding that it hasn’t contacted the developer directly, yet.
“The popularity of Cloudstream’s website, which received millions of visits in the last few months alone, and its Discord channel, with over 46,000 members, naturally made it appear on our radar as a prime target for enforcement,” Van Voorn says.
As we publish this article, all of the reported GitHub URLs are unreachable. Most return a 404 error, indicating that the developer removed the content voluntarily. In addition, a repo from ‘third-party’ developer “Eddy976” displays a DMCA removal notice, so GitHub likely intervened there.
Given the immediate response of developer “Lag”, it seems unlikely that they will stage a comeback under the same team. However, the door remains open for an external restart, according to the Discord message.
“The project may be handed off to another development team within a couple of days so I would refrain from calling it over yet,” Lag wrote.
That will likely ensure the MPA’s continued interest.
A copy of the MPA’s DMCA notice to GitHub is available here. Below is a list of all the targeted URLs.