IMDb Struggles with Persistent Movie ‘Piracy’ Problem

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Copyright holders are repeatedly flagging IMDb URLs for alleged copyright infringement. Historically, these DMCA notices were mostly sent in error, flagging legitimate IMDb listings. More recently, however, the takedowns are being triggered by a persistent 'piracy' spam problem that tricks both rightsholders and opportunistic pirates alike.

imdb logoFounded in 1990, the Internet Movie Database, commonly known as IMDb, is one of the oldest online repositories.

The service predates the World Wide Web and was initially launched as the Usenet group “rec.arts.movies”. Three years later, it moved to the web in the form of the now widely known

Ever since, the site has served multiple generations of video fans. Today, it is owned by Amazon and despite the many alternatives that currently exist, millions of people continue to use it regularly.

IMDB’s Piracy Problem

As an information resource, IMDb is broadly used by film and TV fans of all ilks. The site often ranks among the top search results for film titles which ensures a steady stream of users. However, this good track record on search engines also attracts shady figures.

We recently noticed that rightsholders had targeted several IMDb links with takedown notices and initially assumed that these were sent in error. After all, we have seen movie companies targeting their own works on IMDb before.

In this case, however, the takedown notices made more sense. It appears that scammers and spammers are abusing IMDb to promote what appears to be pirated content. The example below shows a user-curated IMDb list that advertises a pirated copy of Dune 2.

Dune 2 on IMDb


“Still Now Here Option’s to Downloading or watching ‘Dune’ Part 2 streaming the Full Movie online for free on 124movies, Reddit, Amazon Prime, Peacock, HBO Max or Netflix! [sic]” the message starts.

Prospective pirates should be warned; these apparent piracy advertisements typically don’t originate from the marketing departments of regular pirate sites. Instead, they are intentionally placed to lure in naive users.

Most people will immediately recognize the spammy nature of this message, discarding it in the process. However, some may still be inclined to click on the ☛☛ ~CLICK HERE TO WATCH NOW~ link.

People who fall for these scams are in for a huge disappointment. Instead of gaining access to pirated movies, they are redirected to shady sites that often promise ‘free’ content in exchange for the visitor’s credit card details.

IMDb is aware of this type of abuse. The site has removed many listings in the past and continues to do so, but new ones continue to plague the platform. Below is an overview of listings created by IMDb user ‘oqedqs’.

IMDb Lists

The problem isn’t unique to IMDb. In the past, we have reported that the European Commission suffered similar problems. The same applies to GitHub, Epic Games, Universities, and many others. In fact, the problem isn’t entirely new for IMDb either.

Simple Keyword Filter?

It would be naive to think that these companies can find a bulletproof solution to prevent the posting of these scams. By nature, spammers adapt to countermeasures. That said, there are options to explore.

Google Searches


Most websites maintain lists of ‘forbidden’ keywords that flag posts for closer inspection. These typically include excessive swearing, offensive terminology, or terms related to illegal activity.

A quick glance at the lists we published above, should provide some filter options. This could include “FullMovie”, “123movies”, as well as “CLICK HERE TO WATCH NOW”. But that’s just an idea.


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