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Copyright holders go after Telegram over piracy

Telegram, IM platforms, WhatsApp alternatives,, video calls

A lot of people agree that Telegram is the Betamax of chat apps while WhatsApp is the VHS. It’s better in a number of ways despite it being about half as popular as its more ubiquitous and widely accepted green-themed rival. One popular use for Telegram these days is to share and download TV Shows and Movies. Thanks to Telegram’s generous file limits this is very easy to do. Copyright holders are starting to take notice and are coming after Telegram.

Thriving piracy communities abound on Telegram

As already noted Telegram has pretty generous file limits and other features that make it the perfect piracy hub. Currently, you can share files of up to 2GB in size. Not only can you do that but you can share files of any type including MKV (Matroska container files) that are very popular among online pirates.

There is also the fact that you can form public channels (there is no WhatsApp equivalent) and you can have up to 200 000 members in one group compared to WhatsApp’s rather paltry 256 members limit. These groups can be searched for publicly. So all you need to do is search for the name of a movie and add something like mkv at the end to get started.

Then there is the fact that Telegram’s API is pretty much open to everyone. Online pirates can actually automate the uploading of movie files to the Telegram platform. Various groups have taken advantage of this fact and created bots and tools that automatically upload to Telegram and other platforms at the click of a button.

For users of the platform, there are many advantages. Not least of them is the fact that you don’t have to dodge and duck the many pop up ads that are typical of online pirate sites. You just search for a movie and download it. Most release groups also post small HEVC (x265) files that are compact but have high resolutions. This makes downloading faster. Add to that the fact that blocking Telegram is not an easy feat for ISPs and you have the perfect piracy tool.

Popular copyright holder’s groups are taking notice. They are not amused by this rise in piracy on Telegram. Groups such as the RIAA and MPAA have started criticising Telegram for not doing enough to combat piracy on its platform. Telegram, thanks to these groups, has also now had the distinguished honour of appearing on the European Union’s piracy watchlist.

The threats against Telegram have now gone beyond the verbal criticism threshold, however. A rights holders group from Russia known as Eksmo-AST has now filed lawsuits against Telegram. They allege that they contact Telegram over pirated content on their platform but Telegram did not respond or delete the infringing content. The content includes two books one by Stephen King and another by an author known as Dmitry Glukhovsky.

The group wants Telegram to introduce fingerprinting technology which will then be used to police pirate content on the platform. The tech will be used to create hashes of popular pirated content files. Telegram will then use these hashes to make sure that these files are not found on its platform. The rights holders also want Telegram to use fingerprinting technology to create upload filters that will prevent these files from being uploaded once identified.

Telegram is under intense pressure to implement these measures or face liability for the actions of its users.


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