Reddit is one of the most popular sites on the Internet, ranking 19th in the world and 8th in the United States according to Alexa data.
The social sharing website is built around users submitting text, images, and videos, allowing users to vote on content and pushing the most popular items to the top. While much of Reddit’s content is hosted externally, millions of items of multimedia content are hosted locally – unless users make use of services designed to help them download it to their own machines.
Video Saving Bots Are Popular
When locally-hosted videos appear on Reddit, users can call on help from so-called ‘downloader bots’. These automated tools allow people to download videos and similar content to their own machines, meaning that they can be viewed without the use of Reddit. Once liberated, this content can also be uploaded to other platforms, if the user desires.
According to an announcement yesterday, Reddit appears to be running out of patience with these tools. The operator of a bot called ‘SaveVideo‘ said that they had been contacted by Reddit who advised that if the service isn’t shut down, serious trouble could lie ahead.
Massively Popular ‘SaveVideo’ Ordered to Close
‘SaveVideo’ (which operates from the RedditSave.com domain) is a decently sized operation by any standards. SimilarWeb stats indicate that since the start of the year, RedditSave.com has attracted a steady 10 million visitors per month. But now, however, the show is over.
“It has been a great pleasure to serve you all in the past few months. However, as they say, All good things must come to an end,” its operator writes.
“The gods of reddit have reached out to us. They do not want us to continue this service any longer.”
The operator of the bot service says they have complied and as a result, the SaveVideo and RedditSave bots have been shut down. What is more surprising is that this doesn’t appear to have been a simple request from Reddit but one that was supported by the threat of legal action.
“The gods of reddit have decided and I am obliged to obey or risk a lawsuit,” the bots’ operator explains.
Additional Information is Sparce
TorrentFreak contacted the bots’ operator yesterday but at the time of writing we have yet to hear back. Reddit hasn’t yet responded to our inquiries either so in the meantime, questions remain as to what the bots did wrong. (Update: Reddit and SaveVideo have now both commented, see important updates below)
The Reddit voting system generates ‘karma’ points for successful/popular submissions to the site and in this respect, SaveVideo certainly isn’t lacking. At the time of writing it has 354,677 comment karma and 7,479 post karma, so its popularity isn’t question. However, as we have seen with last year’s attack on YouTube-DL, tools that allow people to download content from sites aren’t always popular with rightsholders.
In this case, no external rightsholders are cited as the cause by the bots’ operator but from the information supplied, that cannot be ruled out. Most Reddit users commenting on the shutdown are taking the stance that it is Reddit’s admins who have threatened legal action but the announcement certainly leaves room for other scenarios too, including repeated complaints from copyright holders.
SaveVideo Has Been Suspended Before
Five months ago, the SaveVideo bot went down unexpectedly only to return 72 hours later with a brief message.
“I am back from a 3-day ban,” SaveVideo wrote, without providing additional details.
A month ago the bot service went down again, this time for a whole week.
“Hey, I got wrongfully suspended for 7 days. Good to be back. You can continue downloading now,” the associated account informed users.
Again, no information was provided as to why a suspension was warranted but with two suspensions already on the books, it’s open to question why Reddit indicated that legal action could be the next step rather than an outright ban. The bots appear to be run on a semi-commercial basis, soliciting donations from the page found here, but whether that played any part in Reddit’s ultimatum is unknown.
Reddit Has Been Cracking Down On Other Downloader Bots
While SaveVideo appears to have been given the opportunity to cease-and-desist, other Reddit downloader bots haven’t been so lucky.
Around a month ago, VRedditShare was also suspended, although that decision was later reversed.
However, VRedditDownloader, was previously suspended for unspecified reasons and the same applies to SaveThisVideo, which appears to be the same underlying service as RedditSave.
That account was reportedly banned following repeat DMCA infringement complaints from OnlyFans, which flagged the original posts as infringement along with the RedditSave links, which also infringed copyright.
As things stand, this type of scenario seems like the most likely candidate for the threats against SaveVideo but when its operator and Reddit respond, we will update this article.
Update: Reddit has no official comment at this stage but has informed TorrentFreak that it was “not responsible for whatever notice or litigation threat” received by SaveVideo.
Update2: The operator of SaveVideo says that his service was taken down by an elaborate yet bogus DMCA notice that purported to be from Reddit but was actually sent by a malicious third party.
“Apparently, a third-party with malicious intent impersonated Reddit and issued a fake take-down notice to my hosting provider,” SaveVideo’s creator says.
“Citing a list of violations, the fake take-down notice instructed that I take down my services within 3-4 days or face a lawsuit. It also threatened $1M USD compensation for bandwidth consumption. I informed users of the new development and proceeded to halt the services.”
A copy of the fake DMCA notice can be found here (pdf)
SaveVideo is now back online