Reddit Bans ‘/r/PiratedGames’ for Excessive Copyright Claims *TorrentFreak
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Reddit’s /r/PiratedGames, a thriving community of over 300,000 members, was banned yesterday for excessive copyright infringement. The subreddit did not condone links to infringing content, but some posts and comments escaped anyway. Reddit notes that the ban is justified under its recidivism policy, but the sub’s moderators say they were never notified.
Reddit is undoubtedly one of the most popular user-submitted content sites that exist on the internet.
The community platform has “subreddits” dedicated to almost every topic you can think of. These generate a steady stream of discussions and links, some more useful than others.
Moderators play a vital role in bringing order to this chaos. They remove spam, remove off-topic content, and ensure that “unauthorized” content is promptly removed. This last category includes links to copyright infringing material.
Despite these moderation efforts, problematic links may remain online longer than the rights holders wish. This can lead to Reddit receiving DMCA takedown notices, which over the past year has led to 920,672 pieces of content being removed from the platform. Subreddits that are repeatedly targeted in takedown notices risk a permanent ban.
The popular /r/PiratedGames was banned for this very reason yesterday, with Reddit saying the community was being targeted for too many copyright removals.
The decision may seem logical given the name of the subreddit, but posting fake links to /r/PiratedGames was strictly prohibited. Instead, users were asked to limit their contributions to the discussion of pirated games and cracks.
With over 300,000 members, it’s not always easy to spot all the problematic content. Keeping tabs on submitted posts isn’t that hard, but user comments are the real problem because they’re harder to track.
No warning or advance notice?
TorrentFreak spoke to PiratedGames moderator GrowAsguard, who said the team was not given advance notice of the ban. In fact, he says Reddit never notified them of any of the takedown notices. The ban appeared out of the blue.
“None of us on the moderating team were made aware of the upcoming ban or the various pieces of content that Reddit had removed from the sub due to copyright infringement,” said GrowAsguard.
Moderators heard from Reddit when the ban was put in place. They received a message in their inboxes containing, among other things, the following statement from the administrators.
A subreddit you moderate has been banned for excessive copyright infringement. Note that community replenishment under an alternate subreddit will be considered under our ban evasion policy – Reddit
GrowAsguard says the moderators plan to file an appeal. If this does not succeed, they will look for another place to host the community. There are no plans to create a new subreddit.
“I hope the decision will be on our side and the community. But if not, we could move the subreddit to Raddle, Saidit, or Lemmy. Another submarine will not be created because it will be banned again.
“Anonymity is important to us, so our options are now limited to further the community,” GrowAsguard added.
PiratedGames is one of the biggest communities to get banned by Reddit but it’s not the only one. Last year, 2,625 subreddits were permanently deleted as part of the platform’s “repeat offenders” policy. This included the popular mmastreams subreddit. In addition, 283 users were banned for repeat offenses.
Previously, /r/Piracy, another popular piracy-related subreddit, received an advance warning from Reddit that it was about to be banned. The moderators managed to avoid this fate but it required the deletion of more than 10 years of history.
The DMCA Minefield
The PiratedGames ban is not unexpected given Reddit’s strict policy, but the implementation raises questions. If moderators aren’t made aware of DMCA notices, they may not even be aware there’s a problem.
Reddit is required by the DMCA to adopt and reasonably implement a policy that permits termination of repeat infringers. But is it “reasonable” to shut down a community of 300,000 members without warning?
It’s essentially a DMCA minefield that can make it particularly difficult for communities to survive, even when they have good intentions.
We don’t know what the ban threshold is for subreddits, and the moderators we spoke with don’t know either. We requested more information from Reddit, but the company did not immediately respond to our request.
For the PiratedGames community, these questions and considerations are no longer relevant now, as the damage has already been done.
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