Pornhub’s Upload Filter Blocked Over 100K ‘Pirated’ Videos in 2020

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Popular adult video site Pornhub has released a transparency report showing how it responds to problematic content. Last year, more than half a million pieces of content were taken down following DMCA notices. In addition, Pornhub also deployed an automatic upload filter that caught more than 100,000 videos before they went online

pornhubPornhub is without a doubt one of the most visited adult entertainment outlets on the Internet.

The company, which is owned by the Mindgeek conglomerate, is loved by many but it’s certainly not without controversy.

Illegal Content

A few months ago, a New York Times article linked the site to child exploitation and abuse. This prompted Pornhub to organize a massive review of the content on its site, resulting in a mass removal of videos.

This isn’t the first time that Pornhub has been criticized. While on a different level, there have been plenty of copyright complaints from within the adult entertainment industry as well. Retired porn icon Jenna Haze, for example, previously warned against PornHub while citing it as a reason to quit her directing work.

“Please don’t support sites like porn hub,” Haze wrote at the time. “They are a tube site that pirates content that other adult companies produce. It’s like Napster!”

Some have argued that at least in part, Pornhub and other Mindgeek-owned tube sites built their business on pirated content. However, the scope of the alleged infringing activity of Pornhub users wasn’t entirely clear. This changed a few days ago when the site released its first transparency report.

More Than 500,000 DMCA Takedowns

The report shows that hundreds of thousands of videos were removed for violations of its terms of service and Pornhub gives further insight into its DMCA takedown efforts. Last year, the site says it removed 544,021 pieces of content following DMCA takedowns.

As the figure below shows, the takedowns peaked in April at the height of the first coronavirus lockdowns. The volume dropped significantly in December, when the site purged its content library following abuse and exploitation allegations.


More than half a million DMCA takedowns is a substantial number and it shows that pirated content is not just an incidental problem. It will be interesting to see how this will change over time, now that Pornhub is actively verifying uploaders.

Pornhub Upload Filter

There is another element from Pornhub’s transparency report that’s worth highlighting too. The platform is not just responding to takedown notices, it also uses Vobile’s MediaWise system to filter uploads.

“In addition to DMCA requests, we prevented an additional 106,841 pieces of copyright-protected content from being published by scanning our uploads against content which was previously fingerprinted,” Pornhub writes.

With this upload filter, the site may be in part responding to the obligation that was set forth in the EU Copyright Directive. This requires online platforms to ensure that infringing content is taken down and not re-uploaded to their services.

The transparency report shows that Pornhub takes copyright infringement and other illegal content seriously. This is to be expected, especially since its parent company Mindgeek is known to take a very aggressive stance toward copyright infringers.

In recent years, Mindgeek has repeatedly used the DMCA to uncover the identities of the operators of copyright-infringing sites. In addition, it has filed lawsuits against people who downloaded pirated copies of its work via torrent sites.

Criticism Remains

That said, plenty of Pornhub criticism remains. Just last weekend, CTV News reported on a woman who had to go to extreme lengths to have non-consensual footage removed from the site. While the video was swiftly removed, the thumbnails initially remained available.

This resulted in a heated discussion between the two parties. Among other things, the woman pointed out that Pornhub offers a service to help ‘its own’ models take down content from third-party sites while caring little about her problem.

“It is interesting how capable and diligent you are when it comes to your monetized ‘exclusive’ content, while caring absolutely nothing about the non-consensual content you (illegally) choose to host,” the woman wrote to the site.

Double Role

Aside from documenting a terrible personal situation, the article also highlights that Pornhub has somewhat of a double role when it comes to the DMCA. On the one hand it receives DMCA notices but on the other, it also sends DMCA takedowns to third-party sites to protect its exclusive models.

“You can now opt in to be exclusive to the Pornhub Network in order to help protect your content from being uploaded to other websites,” the site writes, advertising its own takedown service.

“Nothing is worse than seeing your content on other sites if you’re not getting paid for it,” Pornhub notes.

Given all of the recent outrage, the latter statement is rather unfortunate. It’s not hard to imagine a situation where videos uploaded to Tube sites could do much more than financial damage.


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