MPA Targets Pirate App TeaTV, Asks Github to Consider Repeat Infringer Policy

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TeaTV is one of the most popular 'pirate' video apps around, providing ready access to movies and TV shows. The app received mainstream media attention in 2019 and following on from that exposure, the MPA has been trying to disrupt the application. The movie industry group is now asking code platform Github to take down three versions of the application while considering its repeat infringer policy.

Accessing regular websites in order to stream copies of the latest movies and TV shows is still popular among Internet users but the rise of set-top boxes and portable devices has fueled the uptake of app-based piracy tools.

It’s a cramped marketplace but last year TeaTV gained notable traction and was installed by hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of pirates looking to access video at zero cost. This momentum earned TeaTV a place in an October 2019 CNBC feature, something which triggered even more interest in the tool and its disappearance from the web.

In the wake of that piece, a source close to TeaTV informed TF that the software (which is available for Android, Windows and macOS) would be back, a promise that was later fulfilled. However, it now transpires that Hollywood is attempting to disrupt access to the tool via complaints filed with code development platform Github.

A notice filed by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) this week begins by referencing the CNBC article, noting that TeaTV “is an app notoriously devoted to copyright infringement.” It reveals previous correspondence with Github during October and November 2019, and January 2020, and thanks Github “for its additional guidance” offered by the Microsoft-owned platform late December 2019.

“We previously provided you links to the Github repositories that TeaTV is using and are now providing you with the attached file titled ‘GitHub-Code’ which shows code hosted on Github that provides links to pirate sites with infringing copies of motion pictures and television shows that are scraped by the TeaTV app to provide access to the infringing content users are looking for,” the complaint reads.

Four repositories listed by the MPA in previous notices have already been taken down but the MPA has now taken further action by demanding the deletion of repos carrying the three executable files for the Android, Windows, and macOS variants of TeaTV.

“Also attached is a file titled ‘GitHub-Executables’ which shows that the final version of the app is available for download from the GitHub platform. These executable files are pre-configured to infringe copyright-protected motion pictures and television shows that are owned or controlled by our Members,” the MPA writes.

Additionally, the Hollywood group says it carried out a network traffic analysis on the TeaTV app and found that its API connected to accounts on Github, located at three URLs, all of which should be removed.

After the MPA reminded Github of the 2005 MGM v. Grokster decision, noting that “the distribution of a product can itself give rise to liability where evidence shows that the distributor intended and encouraged the product to be used to infringe”, Github removed all of the URLs listed in the complaint, leaving the familiar “unavailable” notice behind.

While the MPA will be satisfied with the suspension of the pages, its takedown notice also asks Github to consider 17 U.S.C. § 512(i)(1)(A), which grants an exemption from liability for service providers when they take action against repeat infringers.

“The limitations on liability established by this section shall apply to a service provider only if the service provider…has adopted and reasonably implemented, and informs subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network of, a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network who are repeat infringers,” the code reads.

The main TeaTV account and repository are currently active but with no content available. TeaTV.net, however, is still online, as is the .XYZ domain from where the clients can be downloaded and movies and TV shows streamed, albeit in a cumbersome fashion when compared to the app.

TorrentFreak requested comment from the operators of TeaTV as to whether the MPA had been in touch directly. At the time of publishing, we were yet to receive a response.

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