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Torrent Search Engine Developer Has Personal PayPal Account Frozen on MPAA Orders

Posted by: , 18:13 AEST, Tue May 19, 2015

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MPAA gets PayPal to freeze account of open source developer who has long since removed the PayPal donation button from his torrent search engine website
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Image/Photo Credit: Geoff Livingston @ Flickr, CC

PayPal has put a 180 day hold on the account of an open source developer based on a complaint from the MPAA.

Andrew Sampson created the torrent search engine Strike, available both as a website as well as an Android app. With the project primarily a labor of love, Andrew did not pursue ads or other means to make money off of Strike. Instead, Andrew decided to only put up a PayPal donation button for anyone who wanted to support him and his various open source projects.

Soon after Andrew added the button, worried about the what rights-holders may think about his very basic way to support the project, he promptly removed the PayPal button. Little did Andrew realize then that his fears were correct and that a month later, he would receive an email from PayPal notifying him that his account has been "permanently limited".

Despite only $200 of the $2,500 in his personal PayPal account being in any way associated with Strike, the entire account has been frozen for up to 180 days - and during this time, Andrew has no way to receive further donations for his other non torrent related open source projects.

PayPal's notice makes clear who reported the Strike website as being in violation of PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy - the Motion Picture Association of America. Hollywood's copyright enforcers apparently found Andrew's email details from this legitimate open source projects, and used this to find and have banned his PayPal account.

The MPAA may also have been behind Strike's Google Play store banning back in February.

Samson says this whole ordeal has already taken a toll on his mental state.

"I've allowed someone else to manage the site for the time being. It will operate as it normally does but I need a bit to clear my head and don't want anything to do with it as it's become quite stressful," Sampson told torrent news website TorrentFreak.

"I think the MPAA is playing low ball tactics against a developer who just wanted a better search engine. I don’t condone piracy, but I sure as hell understand why it happens."


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