The legal campaign sent a clear signal to the gaming public that people who try to scam the system can get caught.
Today, these lawsuits have disappeared from the radar and it’s unknown whether the intended goal was achieved. What we do know, however, is that Epic Games is currently dealing with a new ‘scammer’ problem; one that has a copyright angle as well.
Epic Piracy Scam
Over the past several weeks, the developer community at the Epic Games website was overwhelmed with piracy-related scams. The spammers use the forum’s profiles to link to what appear to be pirated movies.
There are thousands of these profiles, promoting the latest blockbusters and music. The example below leverages the movie Napoleon but there are many more besides. Most promote recent titles that are in high demand.
People who click on the links are often disappointed though. They typically point to a page where people can supposedly stream content instantly but after a generic intro, there is a mandatory requirement to sign-up for a “free account” and supply credit card details for ‘validation’ purposes.
Needless to say, sharing credit card details with dodgy sites isn’t a good idea. Aside from the obvious copyright issues, these services rarely offer what they promise. After all, many of the pirated films they advertise are not yet available in high-quality formats.
Need Music? Download This .ZIP File…
The scams aren’t limited to movies either. There are also dodgy profiles that promote music, such as this one which claims to offer access to Jay-Z’s The Black Album.
Following the link brings us to a page that looks somewhat promising. However, the .zip file that people are encouraged to download likely leads to all sorts of trouble.
The goal of these SEO hack strategies is to have these links show up high in search results. A site like Epic Games has a good reputation in search engines, and as a result, the articles promoting these scams are more visible in search results than the average pirate site.
This appears to be an effective strategy, especially since Google began pushing down results from known pirate platforms.
Old Trick, New Target
Before publishing we alerted Epic Games to the issue and the company is currently investigating the matter and it will respond where needed.
“We are investigating this issue and will take action on accounts that violate the rules of the Epic Developer Community, as well those outlined in our Terms of Service which include requirements for User Contributions,” the company informs us.
These types of scams aren’t a major problem for copyright holders, as they will mostly result in disappointed and frustrated pirates. However, prospective pirates who fall for them may run into malware or get charged for something they didn’t want.
For Epic Games, this scam practice could lead to unexpected problems in the future. Google received several DMCA takedown notices for epicgames.com URLs over the past several weeks which, in theory, makes it a candidate for a downranking penalty.