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 streaming sources and is fully customizable through open-source extensions.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by rightsholders. Sky UK targeted the software last year, and a few months ago, Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association (MPA) took action against the app.
MPA Targets Cloudstream
The MPA represents the major Hollywood studios and Netflix, and the weight of these massive corporations had the required effect. Following a takedown notice in March, Cloudstream developer “Lag” took the Cloudstream.cf website and some code offline voluntarily.
“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.
In addition to the website, MPA’s initial notice also listed various files from third-party Cloudstream code repositories, most of which related to extensions. These files were taken offline by GitHub but the repositories all stayed online.
A screenshot from the main repository shows that the bare app code doesn’t include any extensions. This means that by default, it can’t be used to stream pirated content. This is likely why the repository is still on GitHub today and actively being developed.
MPA Fires Another Round
The MPA hasn’t completely forgotten about Cloudstream though. This week, it sent another takedown notice to GitHub asking the developer platform to take down two code repositories, in their entirety.
“We are writing to notify you of, and 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 APK software, CloudStream.
“[T]he Repository hosts and offers for download the APK, which in turn is used to engage in massive infringement of copyrighted motion pictures and television shows,” MPA adds in its notice.
The reported “CloudStream-2” repositories, including one from developer “Lag”, have been removed by GitHub. People who try to access the respective URLs will see a “Repository unavailable due to DMCA takedown” notice instead.
The Extension Escape
Interestingly, the CloudStream-2 code is far from new. It’s an older release that has been on GitHub for several years and was no longer actively supported. Unlike the newer versions, it didn’t rely on extensions, which means that it likely still worked as a pirate streaming app out of the box.
Also, the repository included screenshots that displayed how the APK could be used to stream pirated content. This likely didn’t work in their favor either.
The difference between the ‘fully-loaded’ and ‘bare’ versions of Cloudstream is worth highlighting. As mentioned earlier, MPA’s earlier takedown notice targeted extension files, not the entire Cloudstream repository.
We don’t want to draw strong conclusions based on these actions, but the MPA appears willing to leave the extension-based app untouched on GitHub for a reason. At least for now; there are certainly no guarantees that this won’t change in the future.