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YouTube Has An Illegal TV Streaming Problem (mashable.com) 119

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mashable: Most people turn to Netflix to binge watch full seasons of a single TV show, but there could be a much cheaper way: YouTube. You might be surprised to learn that you can watch full episodes of popular TV shows on YouTube for free, thanks to a large number of rogue accounts that are hosting illegal live streams of shows. Perhaps the most shocking thing about these free (and very illegal) TV live streams might even make their way into your suggested video queue, if you watch enough "random shit" and Bobby Hill quote compilations on the site, as Mashable business editor Jason Abbruzzese recently experienced. He first noticed the surprisingly high number of illegal TV streaming accounts on his YouTube homepage, which has tailored recommended videos based on his viewing habits. Personalized recommendations aren't exactly new -- but the number of illegal live streams broadcasting copyrighted material on a loop was a shocker. When we looked deeper into the livestreams, the number we found was mindblowing. Many of these accounts appear to exist solely to give watchers an endless loop of their favorite shows and only have a few other posts related to the live streamed content. "YouTube respects the rights of copyright holders and we've invested heavily in copyright and content management tools to give rights holders control of their content on YouTube," a YouTube spokesperson told Mashable in an email. "When copyright holders work with us to provide reference files for their content, we ensure all live broadcasts are scanned for third party content, and we either pause or terminate streams when we find matches to third party content."
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YouTube Has An Illegal TV Streaming Problem

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "(and very illegal)"

    What makes something very illegal compare to just plain old boring illegal?

    • Criminalized: illegal, but I don't want it to be illegal.
      Illegal: neutral term.
      Very illegal: illegal, and I want punishment to be worse.

    • Re:Very Illegal? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @04:32PM (#55029503) Homepage Journal
      It is that most heinous of crimes, theft of money. [youtube.com]
      • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @04:34PM (#55029517)

        Definitely I am afraid to leave my home due to all the tvshow pirates out there. I feel like every other person on the street is just waiting to walk up to me and watch GoT on their phones illegally. One day someone actually BUMPED INTO ME because he was too busy watching pirated tv shows on his phone! The world isn't safe.

        • If I had mod points to spend, would definitely mark this as Funny. People will find a way to get what they want if you don't provide a way to sell it to them in a fashion they find acceptable. This is why I still have a VCR. Try content blocking that 1985 VCR that has no macrovision (or any other DRM) built in.
      • It is that most heinous of crimes, theft of money. [youtube.com]

        Even worse: the theft of money from someone with a lot of money.

      • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

        Nope that would be killing a pregnant reigning monarch. That way you get regicide and infanticide all rolled into one. Well at least in the UK that's the most heinous crime you can commit. Opportunities to do so however have limited openings in history. Last opportunity closed 53 years ago with the birth of Prince Edwards and with a first born line being male through to Prince George, who being only 4 years old means next option unlikely to open for at least another 80 years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @04:30PM (#55029477)

    As YouTube is now overtly (i.e. actively) deciding what videos are too 'controversial' to be seen on their service even if they don't violate their Terms of Service, I think YouTube should have it's safe harbor protection in the DMCA revoked and be held liable for each and every one of the illegal videos/streams on their system.

    Once you go above and beyond the 'take down videos upon DMCA request' and start deciding which videos can stay and which should go, you've lost the justification that you cannot be held responsible for which things appear on your service.

    RIAA .. MPAA -- sic'em ;)

    • by Qwertie ( 797303 )
      How could YouTube afford what you're suggesting? 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. How many people would it take to police that? YouTube, like Google, is only able to provide the volume of free services that it does by not manually scanning content.

      YouTube has automatic content scanners, and the pirates know this. My stepson has been watching the Simpsons on YouTube (we have 8 seasons on DVD, but YouTube is more convenient) and I notice the videos use three separate measures to evad
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        You kind of miss the point. In most cases YouTube is not censoring however it seems to have developed an extreme pro-establishment bias in censorship, challenge the establishment, whether from the right of left (hmm, funny that) and you will be actively censored in way one or another for all the rest, just a filtering algorithm that favours not taking down content, else it would tend to take down all content, just the nature of fair use provisions. So based upon active politically censorship that favours th

      • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

        How could YouTube afford what you're suggesting? 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. How many people would it take to police that?

        hmm... 300 hours/1 minute, 18,000 persons?

  • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @04:30PM (#55029483)
    Actually it sounds like content producers have an untapped market problem. Here you have people wanting to consume your content but are having to turn to pirate sources to do so, so either you aren't providing a way for potential customers to pay you for your content or assuming the case where all of these people are too poor to even pay $.01, to show them a small amount of advertisement along side of your content.

    Knowing this crowd though, they'll still fid a watch to bitch and moan about demand for their product. Oh to have their problems.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Payment? Advertising?
      I'm entitled to free entertainment! Gimme gimme gimme.
      • There are probably a few people who operate that way, but I think they are a very small minority. Otherwise services like Netflix and Spotify would be failing miserably instead of increasing their subscriber count.

        At some point you'll end up spending more money trying to chase them down than you actually lose from them.
      • Depends, if they want you to watch the ads you are. The programme is only a way to try and make you watch the ads anyway.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @04:46PM (#55029579)

      I went and RTFA (sorry)

      This looks like a big 'ol nothing-burger. He found some channels with a couple dozen viewers that YouTube usually shut down within an hour or so. One made it a whole 20 hours! It even ends with "if you get lucky you might get to watch a TV show for an hour or two before shut down".

      I get that some of these making their way into your recommendation stream might be annoying, but that's a simple algorithm tweak on the backend by Google. They right now prioritize recently launched live streams a bit much in all cases. Add some extra logic there, and done.

      • In many cases these channels are the only source of Japanese anime videos with Japanese audio and English subtitles.

      • For sure most movie / ep vids that survive on youtube are just phishing showing a URL to some sketchy external site.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      I think it is less likely that all of these people are all genuinely too poor to afford the content (because let's face it, Netflix is pretty damn cheap, considering...) and more likely the case that they simply just don't want to be bothered paying for it when they've found they can get it for free.
      • People just watch it on YouTube for free because you end up with too many subscription services. Got to have Netflix, then o another show is only Available on Amazon, another series on Hulu but Hulu is Yank only so you need a VPN. People say screw it and YouTube for free
  • by thegreatbob ( 693104 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @04:33PM (#55029509) Journal
    A balance must be struck between the masses that want the entertainment as cheaply as possible vs. the content providers who would love to be able to charge you extra for letting house guests watch your TV with you.
  • I usually want to watch a specific episode or episodes in order and that's just not usually something you can do with live streamed pirate marathons.

  • Because enforcing copyright law with 100% accuracy on a video sharing website is basically impossible. Doing it with even 80% accuracy is highly improbable.

    The government does not maintain an infallible list of all content that is copyrighted and who the copyright owners are. Therefore there is no such 'list' that a program can reference to identify copyrighted (and more importantly, non-copyrighted or public domain) works with 100% accuracy. Compound that with the fact that there is no program, deep le
    • Doing it with even 80% accuracy is highly improbable.

      A deep convolutional NN should be able to do it. Someone should sponsor a Kaggle competition.

      Or, even easier, just do speech-to-text on the audio component and try to match it to a DB of movie scripts.

      • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

        This is not easy because pirates will deliberately try to trick your AI.
        It also has to run in reasonable time with few false positives. The speech-to-text approach for example could trigger if someone is just quoting some lines from a movie.

    • Besides everyone should reread the laws currently on the books and they might be pleasantly surprised to discover that their particular activity is actually a civil matter and not a criminal one.
  • It's not a problem at all.
  • YouTube's popularity up until it hit a critical mass was built on content that didn't belong to them.

    This is just the latest variation.

  • that boy ain't right!

  • I am way more worried about the Trump and rising hate and people getting killed problem this country is having right now. I think this piracy might actually be a good thing, as it it telling the suits that people don't like to be controlled, and don't want to be nickled and dimed to death. The moment the suits think people will accept being controlled, they will put the clamps on, and on HARD, and tighten them until your appendages fall off. This is sort of how streets, prison or even the schoolyard wor
  • Anyway, I've wondered if content providers ever thought of dealing with piracy in a different way. Maybe include a big "This show is provided courtesy of Kraft Foods", or something like that, at the beginning, and only really go after the pirates who edit that out. Product placement has at times gotten extensive enough at times to be considered being an embedded commercial. I saw a Warehouse 13 episode where they basically stopped the show so Claudia could walk people through the virtues of her new Toyota
    • These 1 minute spots are shit. Microsoft and a car did it on Royal Pains and totally took me out of interest. I watched the show Room 104 and they had a cherry 7-up spot. Given brands are usually not shown, this stood out without taking me out of the story. I don't mind product placement, but a fucking demo likely kills the actors shilling for it (unless they get bonus money...).
  • Twitch.tv has an illegal... wait ... /me watches c-net on ustream... wait

  • by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @08:26PM (#55031055) Homepage

    ...these free (and very illegal) TV live streams...

    Was this article written by a copyright troll?

    • Maybe he's from North Korea, and watching them carries a death sentence? Don't always just assume the worst and that it is a troll.

      --
      "Whatever the problem: solve it with fire!" -- Magical Kyoko

  • I actually think YouTube is policing some of this stuff fairly aggressively.

    Once I discovered that Maddow is comprehensible at x2 speed (though not always her guests), I find her show worth watching in full (in my entire life, I once had an "introductory" cable subscription for a whole 30 days that they foolishly offered one year where my sad-sack sports team actually made the playoffs—after that it was back to the local pub if I cared enough to watch a game).

    I start by watching Maddow's official feed

  • First you tell me the amazing news that there is free television in the air all around us, I just need this "antenna" thing. Now, I was pleasantly 'surprised to learn that' there is sometimes free television on this youtube thing as well. Golly!

    Now I'm all excited for the next 'but wait, there's more!' article. Don't disappoint me /., and please tell me where to send a self addressed and stamped envelope to receive a free brochure and dvd.

  • I have a VERY hard time believing they dont know. I am constantly pushed family guy streams even tho i have no interest and never search for family guy or anything like it.
  • Many copyright holders will not force a takedown but instead select the option to "receive the revenue" instead and leave the video up.

    Having many shows generate revenue on youtube can be a very lucrative business instead of having them just sit on a shelf somewhere.

    The fact is if you are not streaming your content somewhere now, your content is worth less than a rock out back. if people can not find your stuff they just move on to one of the other countless options they have.

  • They put ads on obviously copyright protected music and make money with that. I'm not talking about pop music, I'm talking about stuff from small labels that don't bother to send out copyright strikes. I mean you could argue that "well, they didn't flag it!", but if it's obviously copyrighted nonetheless then don't talk about "we care about blablablabla" No you don't. All you fuckers care about is money. Google was a mistake.
  • Bullshit... if they did they would allow somebody other than the copyright holder to report the violation... but they don't. In fact they have made it nearly impossible for non-copyright holders to report such violations directly to YouTube...

    Why? To keep their views, and thus ad revenue, as high as possible... because they're only in it for the money...

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