MPAA Trying to Take Down A Great Resource for Free (Legal) Movies

By  · Published on January 19th, 2015

Open Source

If you like watching free movies online, you’re probably already a fan of Open Culture. More than film, the site has been curated with education in mind – audiobooks, online courses, curiosities. Its movies are free not because they’re pirated, but because they are in the public domain or directly designed to be free/educational. If you’re not already a fan of Open Culture, you should become one as soon as possible because, according to Torrent Freak, the MPAA has submitted a takedown notice for Open Culture to Google.

To be fair, that probably won’t result in anything happening, but to understand why it’s strange, you have to realize that Open Culture vets its offerings carefully and, although they often write brief information about the movies, the majority of what they feature is all on YouTube. Thus, if the MPAA wants Open Culture shut down due to copyright infringement, they’d also need to slap YouTube on the wrist. Except they can’t, because the movies are all legally shared.

It’s also quite possible that this request is part of some automated mistake that red flagged “/freemoviesonline,” so it’s not a cause for alarm quite yet – except to say that the MPAA should be more conscientious of what they’re submitting for review. As of posting time, a request for a quote from the MPAA has gone unanswered.

To understand why this isn’t strange, Torrent Freak points out that the MPAA (representing the Big Six studios) has regularly requested broad-based takedowns via Google for entire websites instead of playing Whac-A-Mole with (what must be) millions of individual URLs hosting pirated content. There really is no winner here without drastic, fundamental shifts, but Open Culture’s inclusion in the takedown roster (which is extensive) is simply bizarre.

It’s also another decent excuse to sing Open Culture’s praises and to use it to watch free movies online.

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector [email protected] | Writing short stories at Adventitious.