June 5th 2020
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Plex has become the latest neutral technology to get slammed for not doing enough to prevent movie and TV show piracy. According to pro-copyright lobby group CreativeFuture, which represents more than 560 companies and organizations, Plex – like Kodi – is a “dangerous digital media player” that has joined the ranks of “internet heavyweights who refuse to take responsibility for the criminal behavior on their platforms.”
recorded at home, these copies would need to be waded through, to find whatever content the owner fancied watching that day.
With the rise of digital technology, however, such physical collections have largely disappeared, replaced by copies that occupy virtually zero space, with thousands of movies, TV shows, music tracks, and photographs effortlessly stored on relatively cheap hard drives.
According to CreativeFuture, a pro-copyright coalition of more than 560 companies and organizations, Plex – which is basically a pretty media player – is helping to fan the flames of piracy. While there are some exceptions which we’ll come to shortly, people generally need to be in physical possession of movies or TV shows to watch them using Plex, with torrents providing the necessary material.
“[T]he problem now finds itself on a dangerous precipice where it could easily slip right back into becoming a crisis again, as it was in the mid-2000s – before streaming was all the rage,”
Creative Future writes.
“Thanks to a rapidly growing media application called Plex, torrent-based piracy is back in vogue, and better than ever (for criminals who have no problem with profiting from content that doesn’t belong to them, that is).”
To set the scene, that Plex is some kind of ‘rogue’ application, CreativeFuture (CF) aligns the media player with another piece of software, one that has also suffered reputational damage as a result of its users’ activities. The choice of adjective to describe both is particularly interesting.
“To understand what Plex is and how it functions, it is helpful to look at Kodi – another dangerous digital media player that we have written about repeatedly here at CreativeFuture,”
In this respect, CF claims that like “most” tech platforms, Plex is doing what it can to avoid accountability.
“In turning a blind eye to its piracy problem, Plex has joined the ranks of internet heavyweights who refuse to take responsibility for the criminal behavior on their platforms,”
the copyright coalition notes.
“With heightened scrutiny on the biggest platforms, lawmakers across the country, and abroad, have increasingly demonstrated less tolerance for tech companies that sidestep law and order in their relentless quest for user growth.”
Quite what CF believes Plex should do isn’t covered. If we take current industry strategies as a benchmark, we might guess that the organization would encourage the use of some kind of pro-active filtering mechanism, which would prevent Plex users from adding potentially infringing material to their own computers.
Of course, that would mean massive implications for end-user privacy, almost impossible calculations to determine who is allowed to add content to a library within the law in multiple jurisdictions, plus an inevitable backlash and migration to other platforms that reject such intrusions. It would also require the company behind Plex to get deeply involved and therefore acquire ‘knowledge’ of infringing user behavior, something that raises all kinds of red flags.
“Over time, we’ll be adding more stuff from different studios and creators — from Oscar-winning Hollywood movies to the latest from India, Russia, China, Japan, Africa, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe to really cool independent movies fresh off the festival circuit,”
the company said.
That Plex now finds itself in the firing line isn’t really a surprise – if Reddit is a “notorious” enabler of piracy, then any company with end users could find itself tarred with the same brush. TorrentFreak contacted the software developer for its opinion on the latest set of claims but at the time of publication, Plex chose to remain silent.