Piracy

ACE’s Next Target Is the ‘Watched’ Streaming App

By Bill Toulas / February 18, 2021

ACE (Alliance for Creativity) has picked its next big target, and it’s the popular streaming app ‘Watched.’ The powerful anti-piracy group is planning to take highly-tailored action that will systematically undermine the user experience on the target platform, eventually resulting in the demise of the streaming app. They will track down the operators of the sites that offer infrastructural and service support to ‘Watched,’ launching a war against it and leaving them no margin to move around and breathe.

The reason why ‘Watched’ won the attention of ACE is first and foremost because it’s so popular. A huge number of users love the streaming app because it gives free access to a large collection of movies and TV shows, but also live sports. But those are things offered by other platforms too. Where Watched is unique is the fact that it taps on huge user pools, the Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.

The app is available through the two official mobile OS stores but is stripped from any download functionality. This is to evade removal from the stores, as in its distributed form, there’s nothing wrong with the software. The users get the functionality they seek through a side-loaded patch, but they’ll have to do it themselves using a third-party URL. Again, that’s because of app store policy limitations.

One of the domains that host the shady patch is “oha.to,” which is supported by Cloudflare. ACE has filed a DMCA subpoena against Cloudflare to unmask the identity of the owner of the domain, and they will do the same will every URL that’s hosting similar patches. The only detail that may prove to be key for ACE is that oha.to doesn’t contain any infringing content, but only a piece of code. The U.S. District Court of California judge may see this as a problem, but it’s unlikely.

ACE has the financial resources, political support, and connections to bring down anyone, and they have proven it again and again. Thus, in reality, Watched is already done for. The platform operators may spend some time considering their options and the possible circumvention paths to the obstacles that ACE will throw at them, or they may give up in the following days, intimidated.



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