For those of you who still depend on the Chilling Effects (now Lumen)* search to find your pirated content, don’t worry, the DMCA database is still alive and well, ready to offer you a streamlined way to find illegal content online. Earlier this month Torrent Freak headlines claimed that the archive had “censored itself” and warned that the move was “a telling example of how pressure from rightsholders causes a chilling effect on free speech.” Hyperbole much? Here’s the truth.
Chilling Effects has, for the time being, de-indexed “individual notice pages” from search engines results. In a blog post, the move was explained this way:
Given increased public attention on the project, the wide variety of notices and types of claims that we catalog, and the sheer number of notices included in Chilling Effects’ database, we decided to take the interim step of de-indexing the site’s individual notice pages from search engines’ search results. Now that we have taken this step, we are hard at work building new tools and workflows that will allow us to better achieve the balance we are constantly seeking to strike between our dual missions of transparency and educating the public (on the one hand) and the strongly-felt concerns of those who send takedown notices (on the other).
Sounds nice, but the real impact of this move on creators’ rights is minor. Neither Torrent Freak nor Chilling Effects mentioned that the “balance” the folks at Chilling Effects are trying to strike includes continuing to operate a search engine that provides a direct line to illegal content.
Chilling Effects is a Where to Watch for pirated movies
In fact, it’s so easy to use that Chilling Effects’ search engine should be called a “Where to Watch” for pirate movies. I’ve written about this fact before, but given the recent hyperbolic hullabaloo I’d thought I’d take another look to see if anything has really changed? The answer is NO.
Not only does the Chilling Effects database search engine make it easy to find pirated movies, its benefactor Google, still includes referral links to when its search results are removed due to DMCA notices. For both sites it’s business as usual.
- Search for a free (pirated) movie
- Review results and find one removed due to a DMCA notice, the link replaced by this statement:
- Click the link “read the DMCA complaint.”
- Arrive at a list that includes the missing pirate link along with a bunch of others infringing links (courtesy of Chilling Effects)
- Click one of the listed pirate links and go directly to (free) movie
Chilling Effects own search provides users with an uncluttered path to piracy.
Finding pirated music and movies via Google search requires persistence since one has to comb through various types of results to find actual live links. In contrast, hop over to Chilling Effects and voilà , most every result is a stripped down list of URLs reported for piracy. It’s a simple and direct path to pirate URLs that, in fact, are vetted by rightholders (via their DMCA notices).
After the Torrent Freak headlines hit the web I went to Chilling Effects and did a search for the recently released “Boyhood.” Using Chilling Effects’ search results, it only took me a couple of minutes to find a streaming version of the film online. Google and Chilling Effects remain partners in piracy, having perfected a shell game that makes a mockery of creators’ rights and the DMCA.
For now, Chilling Effects remains what it has long been–a site where pirate links are eternal.