There are no shortage of sites on the Internet that promise free software downloads but few do so with no strings attached. Thousands bundle adware and worse with ‘free’ software, while others bombard visitors with ads.
FossHub, on the other hand, does things very differently.
FossHub only offers free software, with no adware, spyware or malware attached. It doesn’t bombard users with advertising either. In fact, its download pages only have a single ad at the top. Well, that’s the plan at least but when it comes to BitTorrent software, things haven’t been so straightforward recently.
The problem centered around qBitTorrent, the free and open-source torrent client developed as an alternative to µTorrent. FossHub makes the client available in its file-sharing section and as the image below shows, has racked up close to 18 million downloads.
Previously, when people viewed the qBitTorrent page, they were presented with a single advert, courtesy of Google. However, a couple of months ago the guys at FossHub contacted the people behind the client to say they’d had problems with AdSense persistently flagging the qBitTorrent page as “unauthorized file sharing.”
“The consequence was that it stopped generating revenue for that page for FossHub,” a member of the qBitTorrent team explains.
TorrentFreak spoke with Sam at FossHub who provided more details.
“FossHub has hosted qBittorrent and other free projects binaries for almost a decade. For qBitorrent, we hosted its files for at least three years by now. We provide all the necessary bandwidth and other things that the project might need,” Sam said.
“It was not a problem for the last three years to show the single Google Adsense ad until the beginning of last month (June 2017) when we noticed a Policy violation message appearing under our account.
“Since we didn’t have any major issues with our account, we thought it must be a false positive. We tried to get in touch with Google AdSense team, but unfortunately, we received some (at least that what we think) standard canned responses.”
Sam says that FossHub wrote to Google AdSense support several times but never got to the bottom of the problem. Then, something catastrophic happened.
During June, presumably due to the problems with the qBitTorrent page, the entire FossHub site was banned by AdSense for seven days, thereby stopping the site from generating any revenue on any of the software offered.
“We wrote on a daily basis and attempted to request another review, but there was no human so that we can talk and try to obtain an answer,” Sam explained.
In the absence of any feedback, FossHub then took the decision to stop placing ads on any of the software available in its file-sharing section, despite none of the tools being illegal or infringing anyone’s copyrights. In a follow-up post on Reddit this week, FossHub underlined that fact.
“qBitorrent and other similar apps are legit software. You are responsible for what you choose to download and share,” a representative from the site wrote.
“Many free projects and sites publish their files via .torrent files. Just an excellent example of how qBitorrent and other similar clients can help you download files and allow GIMP project to save bandwidth: https://www.gimp.org/downloads/.”
The qBitTorrent team say they have made this matter public out of “frustration and protest”, not only due to the legality of file-sharing software but also in support of FossHub, who have helped qBitTorrent many times over the years.
“I keep wondering why the multitude of other unofficial sites, which are very popular and place ads on their qBittorrent pages too, aren’t being flagged too?” a member of the team responded.
“In any case, I am writing this to inform our user base about Google’s shenanigans. And if any of you works at AdSense, then please help FossHub talk to a real person or treat all sites fair by allowing or not allowing BitTorrent clients.”
Whether Google will take the opportunity to clarify the situation remains to be seen but it’s abundantly clear that the qBitTorrent software is not only entirely legal, it’s also one of the most respected torrent clients around.
“Despite this unpleasant incident we will support and help free projects such as qBitorrent as much as we can,” FossHub concludes.