Yahoo.com Blacklisted for Hacking Due to Copyright Claim Error * TorrentFreak

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A copyright holder recently filed a complaint that resulted in a URL being added to Russia’s anti-piracy registry for alleged TV show piracy. While this is nothing fancy, the URL in question was Yahoo.com, one of the most visited domains in the world. As a result, Yahoo’s entire platform was added to Russia’s blacklist where it remained for four days.

One of the main anti-piracy tools available to rights holders in Russia is the memorandum signed by leading tech and entertainment companies in 2018.

The deal saw the creation of a centralized database of allegedly infringing content that is queried every few minutes by Internet companies. When referenced content is spotted by search engines, for example, the corresponding links in search results are automatically removed, in an effort to make pirated content more difficult to find.

Over the past few years, this system has helped remove millions of links and there is momentum for even more parties to get involved. However, the blacklisting system is not without its problems, as became evident following a mistake last week.

Yahoo.com added to anti-piracy registry

As part of its regular takedown efforts, Star Media Distribution LLC recently filed a lawsuit alleging that its rights to the “Secret Love” television series were being violated online. The problematic URL was then added to Russia’s illegal content registry on October 26, according to a Kommersant report.

This meant that companies signing the memorandum were required to remove it from the list of their platforms, but it did not come without problems. For reasons still unclear, an unspecified rights holder error resulted in the Yahoo.com domain being blacklisted. Yahoo.com is one of the most visited domains in the world with more than three billion visits per month.

Mail.ru search engine blocks Yahoo.com

As required by the memorandum, local search giant Mail.ru (operated by VK) appears to have queried the blacklist database and concluded that Yahoo.com had been identified as an offender by registry operators. It then blocked the entire domain from its search results, meaning that for search users of Mail.ru, competitor Yahoo! no longer existed.

This situation appears to have persisted for about four days until the alarm was raised. VK / Mail.ru says it informed registry operators that adding an entire domain to the blacklist was wrong and after examination, the domain was indeed deleted. However, the error has now caught the attention of other research firms and the government.

Yandex raises concerns with blacklist administrator

On October 29, search giant Yandex sent a letter to the Media Communications Union, the entity that manages Russia’s piracy blacklist. As Kommersant saw, the letter called on the organization to immediately verify the legality of adding Yahoo.com to the database.

Unlike Mail.ru, neither Yandex nor Rambler deleted Yahoo’s domain, but as Yandex points out, the terms of the memorandum require that all incoming complaints be first checked by the registry to ensure they are are valid. In this case, Yandex thinks something went wrong.

“[When the system is followed] misuse and false blocking of legal resource areas can be avoided. This should be an extreme step, because if an error occurs, site owners as well as their partners and users can suffer, ”the letter said.

Government responds to controversy

In response to the fallout from Yahoo’s erroneous blacklisting, the Russian government stressed that before any sites were added to the country’s blacklist, the owners of those sites had to be notified of what was to come. In addition, evidence must be provided that the posts are indeed illegal and this evidence must be verified, in order to ensure that such errors are avoided.

Star Media, the company that filed the complaint, declined to discuss the error in any detail other than saying the issue was “addressed.”


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