Plex Asks GitHub to Take Down ‘Reshare’ Repository Over Piracy Fears

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Plex is a multi-functional streaming platform that allows users to watch, organize, and curate their favorite media entertainment. Sharing Plex libraries is also an option; one that comes with piracy concerns. In an effort to "avoid the growth of piracy", Plex asked GitHub to remove a repository that allows people to reshare libraries that were not originally theirs.

plex logoPlex is a multifunctional media software and service that allows users to easily access all of their entertainment in one place.

The company was founded in 2009 and today boasts more than 25 million users globally, making Plex a serious player in the streaming market.

Plex Pirates

Most people use the service to access streaming content legitimately. On the fringes, however, some users abuse the software to share pirate libraries publicly, a considerable thorn in the side for rightsholders.

Plex is not oblivious to the ‘piracy’ threat. The company is actively working with rightsholders to offer legal entertainment and abuse of its platform only stands in the way. To address this problem, it’s taking countermeasures.

Last summer Plex surprised users by actively blocking media servers hosted at the large German company Hetzner. These were, purportedly, often used to share pirated material and an outright ban would end this unauthorized activity.

Plex Takes Down “Plex-reshare” Repo

This week, Plex took another step to deter potential copyright infringement. The Swiss company, which is headquartered in the U.S., asked GitHub to remove a “Plex Reshare” repository, alleging that it may contribute to its piracy problem.

“Plex Reshare” doesn’t host any copyright-infringing material and, as far as we’ve seen, it doesn’t reference any either. Its main purpose is to allow Plex users to make shared Plex directories browsable on the web, which allows people to “reshare” them without being the original owner.

“The reason behind this project is to make available your PLEX shares to other friends unrelated to the person who owns the original library,” Plex Reshare developer Peter explains.

Plex-reshare (now taken down)

plex reshare

While the repository doesn’t host or link to copyright-infringing material, Plex argues that it can be used to ‘grow’ piracy.

“We have found infringing material in your website which indeed is OTHER ‘Plex Server’. The material that is claimed to be infringing is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled immediately and avoid the growth of piracy,” the takedown notice reads.

The first part of the sentence is somewhat confusing. Plex-reshare is not a Plex server but the company may use “OTHER Plex Server” as an internal classification category. In any case, Plex alleges that the repository can contribute to the growth of piracy on its platform.

Liability for?

Citing the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, Plex urges GitHub to take immediate action, or else it may be held liable. It’s not clear what this liability claim rests on, as there are no actual copyright infringements mentioned in the takedown notice.

Plex Takedown Request

plex github

Despite the broad nature of this claim, GitHub has indeed taken the repository offline, replacing it with a DMCA takedown reference. This likely wasn’t a straightforward decision as GitHub is known to put developers first with these types of issues.

In this case, it took more than three weeks before GitHub took action, which is much longer than usual. This suggests that GitHub allowed the developer to respond and may have sought legal advice from in-house lawyers, to ensure that the rights of all parties are properly considered.

GitHub doesn’t provide any context on its takedown decision, so it remains guesswork as to what grounds GitHub complied. The end result, however, is the removal of the repository from GitHub.

Plex might not be done yet though. The Plex-reshare code isn’t just available on GitHub, the same project is listed on Docker Hub as well, where it remains available at the time of writing.


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