Torrent sites have long been a thorn in the side of the entertainment industry.
This also applies to the popular anime site NYAA.si, which has millions of regular visitors from all over the world.
A few weeks ago, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) tried to shut the project down by going after several people who are allegedly linked to the site. Framing NYAA as an “Anime Cartel“, the movie group demanded a total shutdown and tens of thousands of dollars in settlements.
‘Infringing’ NYAA Code
Thus far those efforts haven’t prevented the site from staying online. However, a few days ago the MPA tried to target NYAA through another route. The group sent a DMCA takedown notice to GitHub, demanding that the developer platform should remove the site’s code repository.
“The Project blatantly infringes the MPA Member Studios’ copyrights and countless other copyrights. Indeed, copyright infringement is so prevalent within the Project that infringement plainly is its predominant use and purpose,” the MPA wrote.
This was an unusual request because the site’s backend code isn’t directly infringing any copyrights. Instead, the code is merely linked to the NYAA website. Only when it’s deployed does it have the ability to facilitate piracy, but even then it doesn’t have to.
For the MPA this potential for abuse was reason enough to take it offline. This removal would hinder further development of the site and also prevent others from using the code to launch NYAA clones.
GitHub Reconsidered Its Takedown
This takedown request initially succeeded as GitHub disabled the repository earlier this week. Before doing so, the platform reached out to the developers and gave them the option to respond or make changes, but that request went unanswered.
Without a response from the developers, this is usually where things end. In this case, however, GitHub decided to carry out another review after the project was taken down, perhaps in part motivated by the news coverage.
“While we didn’t hear back from the maintainers, we chose to do another review ourselves to proactively see how we could resolve the issue,” a GitHub spokesperson informs TorrentFreak.
Not Preconfigured to Infringe?
This review resulted in a different outcome. After taking a good look at the MPA’s claims and the NYAA code, GitHub concluded that there’s insufficient evidence to determine that the code is “preconfigured to infringe.”
“After further review, GitHub has determined that the notice does not meet the requirements of our DMCA Takedown Policy because it does not establish that the code is preconfigured to infringe,” Github informs us.
“Accordingly, we have decided to reject the notice and restore content previously disabled due to the notice.”
GitHub Restores NYAA Repository
And indeed, at the time of writing the NYAA repository is up and running again. The MPA still has the option to provide additional information about the allegedly-infringing nature of the code, which would then trigger another review.
GitHub stresses that it’s their purpose to make sure that developers can host code within the boundaries of the law. Unless the entire repository is infringing, it’s standard policy to allow developers to respond to DMCA claims before any content is removed.
“GitHub’s whole purpose is to help developers, and we will do so in any way we can and ensure their projects are as broadly available as possible, under the law,” GitHub informs TorrentFreak.