HBO asked Google to take down VLC media player because of “copyright infringement”

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Copyright holders might want to take a good luck at the technology that automatically flags infringing content. HBO has reportedly sent a takedown request to Google asking to remove a link that leads to… VLC, the open-source media player.

Companies like HBO and other copyright holders send many, many DMCA takedown notices to Google. According to TorrentFreak, Google has been asked to remove 14,855,269 URLs in the past month alone. Many of the links HBO asks to be taken down probably lead to pirated copies of Game of Thrones. But for some reason, they’ve also included a link to a torrent of VLC:


While you could definitely argue that VLC does enable many pirates to enjoy their illegally downloaded content (like HBO shows), this just doesn’t make sense. It’s open-source software that’s free for anyone to download. Maybe if we mention the fact that HBO flagged for pirating HBO content, it might make a little bit of sense — the technology is flawed and the system is vulnerable to abuse.

At the end of the day, both the copyright holders and Google have some work to do. It’s understandable that with so many requests, some illegitimate requests can bypass the filters. But while it may be harmless now, the fact that the system can still be abused isn’t a good sign.

Gotta love the comment by “potat4o” on the VLC torrent download page though:

“aw yeah pirating me some vlc”


[via TorrentFreak, image via Hammad Ali]

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  • Enrique Manalang

    [@Shava Nerad] A licensed Sopranos family pasta dinner? Amazing. Thanks for sharing!

    [@Ashraf] Yeah, hopefully he sees this! Haha.

  • Ashraf

    [@Shava Nerad] Reminds me of a time a school acquaintance sold an “Xbox” — a box with an X on it — on eBay. The person filed a claim but only received 1/4, or something along those lines, of the original price as a refund.

  • Ashraf

    “aw yeah pirating me some vlc” — LOL!

    [@Enrique Manalang] Good idea… I hope Ashraf gets on it.

  • Shava Nerad

    Back in a previous lifetime HBO were my clients, and I ran for them — so if you bought a Sopranos poster or a Sex in the City corsage early in this century, online, there? That was me.

    And they did, in fact, pressure my company to patrol eBay and such for infringers and report and file takedowns as their proxy. “In our self interest.” More like a 900 lb gorilla client breathing down your neck at renewal time…

    But some of the stuff was hilarious. People would scan the videotape box from the Sopranos, just the same size as a Kraft Mac & Cheese box, and slap it on a box to sell it as a licensed Sopranos family pasta dinner. For US$14.99. And sell many units.

    And if you looked at the graphic you could tell easily it was scanned and photoshopped. I have to hope most purchases were gag gifts?

  • Enrique Manalang

    [@Seamus McSeamus] Ashraf? Can we get the ability to upvote comments here? This comment is in need of some upvotes.

  • Seamus McSeamus

    “Hello, Google? Yes, this is Fred Sidebottom calling from HBO’s legal department. We would like to request a takedown of It seems that an inordinate number of pirates are using that site as a portal to download illegal copies of our programming.”