the The Motion Picture Association (MPA) has issued a DMCA notice to the GitHub repo which has a playlist that allows viewers to watch Pluto TV streams on their own apps, such as VLC, MPV, and Tvheadend. This was the move The first thing I noticed torrentfreak, and GitHub complied and removed the repo, which ultimately did nothing. If you still have a small text file, you can still do exactly what MPA tried to stop.
Pluto TV, for those who don’t watch it, is a Paramount-owned service that allows users to legally stream movies and TV shows for free on a multitude of devices. They have a mobile app and apps for Xbox, PlayStation, smart TVs, and dongles. Users don’t even need to register to use it. In turn, Pluto’s business model is based on serving ads and User behavior tracking. It’s part of a new breed of streaming products called Free Ad-supported TV, or FAST.
The GitHub repo in question has M3U playlists for watching Pluto TV content via an app like VLC. The repo basically took the links that were already available and collected them in one place. It should be noted that M3U files are not torrent files; It’s just a simple playlist file that can point to local files and web resources. If you’re old as sin, like me, you may have used one in the past to create an MP3 playlist on your iPod. In this case, M3U Playlist allowed users to watch Pluto on a simple video player rather than tethering it to Pluto.
While this kind of complaint makes sense if you’re not thinking about it at all, once you get down to it, it’s a little confusing. First, and most importantly, ads continue to be served via streaming; It was just happening via whatever 3rd party client the user was using. The main difference here is the app used, and honestly, is that really that bad?
Second and most hilarious, Pluto himself did not encrypt any of his streams. These were publicly available via their API and did not involve any kind of DRM. This raises the question: How does that make a problem for GitHub user Mart1nho, a random guy who posted an M3U playlist? How do you watch a stream with ads, albeit on VLC instead of the Pluto app, piracy? Also, does removing the GitHub repo actually address the issue at hand?
The answer is, well, no. Were you, in theory, able to find a way to pull the publicly available Pluto Channel URLs and compile them into an XML file and another file called playlist.m3u? maybe. Were you then able to load these files into your chosen video player and then stream the Pluto content via both VLC and mpv.net? maybe. Was it a more enjoyable experience as a result? Again, maybe!
Honestly, I don’t see the problem here. I’m more inclined to watch Pluto TV if I have a way to do it flexibly on my video player. Watching Pluto TV did not require a login to get started. And to be clear: I still get ads from Pluto TV. They were baked in the stream. And I’m fine with that!
said Katherine Trendacosta, associate director for policy and activism at Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) about this removal. “The MPA simply doesn’t like the information out there that you can view on an app they have nothing to do with. As long as DRM isn’t bypassed (and even then, I would argue the fact that you can’t do that even if you have the right to use the material, is illegal) it is not illegal.”
While nowhere near as important, this reminds me of a case of DMCA bypass, a case of Youtube-dl. For those who don’t go through the YouTube downloader drama the way I do, youtube-dl was and still is an important piece of software for downloading videos from YouTube used in many open source software. I don’t just use youtube-dl; I personally recommend a fork of it, YT-DLP, in a previous article.
GitHub got a takedown notice, complied, and people rightfully complained because it was rubbish. With the help of EFF, It was eventually overturned. And while I don’t see it happening in this case, it does raise some questions about the increasing influx of copyright holders as it relates to publicly available streams. What exactly is the definition of hacking? And who ends up being the target when copyright holders try to shift their weight?
Also, and more importantly, what if this was a better way to watch TV?