In the wake of the music industry’s destruction of Napster, hopes of a file-sharing vacuum were overwhelmed by a laundry list of protocols and software clients, some pre-existing, some new.
DCC, Gnutella, Freenet, eDonkey2000, Kazaa/FastTrack, WinMX, Bearshare, Grokster, Morpheus – the list went on and on – but with no social media, various news and discussion forums took off. Sites like Slyck, Unite the Cows, and Zeropaid became the subreddits of the day, but even 20+ years ago, these platforms were hardly a piracy free-for-all, far from it.
Unlike today, where users happily post direct links to infringing content on social media in their own name, two decades ago – in a legal environment far less developed than it is today – that was generally forbidden and respected as such.
Reddit’s /r/piracy, which celebrated its one-millionth member this week, has an exponentially larger task on its hands but, considering its scale, does a remarkably good job of stifling users intent on breaking its rules and ultimately getting the community banned by Reddit’s administrators. Other piracy subs haven’t been so lucky.
Reddit Bans For Excessive Infringment
During the first half of 2022 alone, Reddit banned 1,543 subreddits for excessive copyright infringement. Many of those went down in flames after failing to self-censor, but that’s not the only way to break up a community.
Reddit’s /r/iptv subredditt was created on Mar 6, 2011, and with 123,000+ members, ranks in the top 1% of subreddits according to data in its sidebar.
For those starting out in the world of pirate IPTV services or those already established, /r/iptv was a thriving community to learn about IPTV, discuss services and the pros and cons of software, solve technical issues, and much more. Today the community is almost completely silent.
The reasons for this have two key components. Firstly, /r/iptv’s moderators have a history of ensuring that the subreddit stays within Reddit’s global rules. That’s obviously important given its connections to related (but not necessarily affiliated) subreddits.
Generated using Anvaka’s SayIt, the image above reveals the names of subreddits related to /r/iptv, of which many have already been banned:
/r/RedditbayPro, /r/TheSellSpot, /r/IPTVresell, /r/IPTV_Services, /r/iptv4us, /r/Goodieiptvsolutions, /r/RedditBay_Official, /r/iptvsellers, /r/shoppingbay
How the IPTV Subreddit Avoided the Ban Hammer
Using the Wayback Machine we can see that in 2015, when the subreddit gained enough traction to boast 431 subscribers, the rules were simple: “There are none. As long as it’s related to IPTV its good to go.” That uncomplicated approach continued in 2016 and 2017.
In 2018, most likely due to IPTV providers continually advertising their services, there were no rules “Except for spam. You will get banned immediately.”
By 2019, there were rules. No link spamming, no posting IPTV service reviews, and no asking for service recommendations.
New Rules to Prevent Breaches of Reddit’s Rules
2020 was a big year for new rules. In addition to the three new rules introduced earlier, another nine were added to the list.
In summary, don’t post links any links to IPTV services or anything related to them, don’t post ‘sensitive info’, don’t solicit IPTV business in public or via message, don’t ask or provide trials, don’t post ads, don’t even name IPTV services, and don’t mention other subreddits Discord/Telegram channels involved in IPTV.
The following year saw a few new restrictions including “don’t mention you have customers” or link to YouTube channels mentioning IPTV. Certain rules came with a warning that Reddit could issue a community-wide ban if they were breached – asking to buy or offering to sell IPTV subscriptions, for example.
15 Rules Essentially Banned Everything
By the end of 2022, submitters on /r/iptv had to ensure that 15 rules hadn’t been broken. That triggered a moderator pre-approval process and a wait for their post to appear. Some may believe this was an unnecessary response but it was obvious the climate had changed and backs were pressed firmly to the wall.
According to the sub’s moderators, every day people requested IPTV service recommendations, people named them, and people tried to sell them. Scammers were also attempting to extract money from the less experienced members. Something else was causing issues too.
“[T]he providers are at risk of getting shut down when you talk about them on Reddit. This seems like a simple concept to grasp, but many don’t understand that you can be talking to anyone on Reddit,” an announcement from the moderators explained.
“Do not respond to DMs asking what service you use. You think you’re being helpful but you have no idea who that person is and what they are doing with the info. 3 years ago things were much different.”
The announcement went on to warn IPTV resellers that doing business on Reddit and social media in general, meant they were exposing themselves to “potential legal settlements, lawsuits and even prison time.”
Overreaction or Common Sense?
Opinions will vary but facts tend to speak for themselves. As multiplying arrests and other action showed, the warnings were valid. By selling subscriptions on social media, Reddit in particular, people were indeed exposing themselves to unnecessary risks. For some, those risks turned into a real-life crisis.
Make no mistake, Reddit is a goldmine of information that has been used in anti-piracy investigations in the past and is currently being used to obtain information on services today. Perhaps not from /r/iptv though.
When filtering by ‘new’ posts on /r/iptv today, the most recent are six months old. It appears that some posts have been ‘cleared up’ but as things stand, new public posts on the subreddit are more or less a thing of the past.
But as the moderators pointed out, few other choices were available to them, short of shutting the entire subreddit down. Or have Reddit do it for them.