Peekvid – Links But No Hosting

Peekvid, a website that indexed television content and provided links to the videos on other sites, has disappeared from the Web overnight. But are the cited “unviable server fees” really the culprit, or did the MPAA secretly kill off Peekvid?

Peekvid was a website that never actually hosted any illegal material on its servers. Instead, it provided links to pirated material that had been uploaded to popular video sharing sites such as YouTube and DailyMotion.

MPAA Lawsuit

But this didn’t stop the site being targeted by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), which launched a lawsuit against the Australian-owned, supposedly Texas-hosted Peekvid in June 2007.

The MPAA filed the lawsuit because American law has usually concluded that linking to infringing material is illegal if you are aware (or made aware) of the infringement. So while Google and other search engines are linking to copyright-infringing material on a daily basis, it is not the purpose of their service and they will remove an infringing link once notified.

Peekvid, and sites similar to it, may not remove links, often replace removed links with similarly infringing links, and serve no other purpose than to provide access to pirated content. While law around linking to infringing content is a grey area this makes their legal position very vulnerable.

Legal Woes

Hosting the site in America was also not the brightest idea in the world, as it meant Peekvid was an easy target, unlike the founders of high profile torrent trackers such as The Pirate Bay and QuickSilverScreen who host their sites in countries more open to flouting of the law.

Peekvid was a hugely successful site and in its peek was in the Alexa top 500 websites of the world.

Peekvid was the first such site to have a lawsuit filed against it along with YouTVPC, but only because other similar sites bailed before it got to that stage by shutting or moving operations at the first sign of legal trouble.

Ignore At Your Peril

Peekvid not only ignored the legal threats, it then ignored the lawsuit itself and seemed to continue to expand the website and continue linking to copyright-infringing content. But no more.

The Peekvid.com website now shows a “Peekvid is now closed” banner and explains that it has had to shut down due to “unviable server fees”.

That may well be the case, but it seems unlikely, especially given PeekVid was heavily investing in adding new features to the site. Not the actions you’d expect from a site unable to pay its hosting bill. Peekvid was a hugely successful site and in its peek was in the Alexa top 500 websites of the world.

MPAA Victory

Much more likely would be a scenario where the MPAA managed to get the site shut down through continued legal pressure. Peekvid may not have been forced to shut down, but simply quietly retired due to the prospect of a big legal bill.

Stating the site shut down due to a big hosting bill could just be an effort to save face. Of course this is just speculation and it is unlikely we will ever know for sure what really happened with PeekVid.

The MPAA seems insistent on the fact that sites such as Peekvid that just provide links to copyrighted material are just as bad, if not worse, than those hosting the content. And it seems the MPAA can claim another victory, whether directly or indirectly, R.I.P. Peekvid.

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