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Warner Bros. asked GitHub to remove a popular IPTV playlist linking portal. The Hollywood major requested the page to be removed as it referred to allegedly infringing Warner channels, including HBO and Cartoon Network. Faced with a potential takedown, the owners of the site swiftly removed all Warner Bros. content from the site. At the time of writing, it remains online.

The M3U file format has been around for more than a quarter-century. In essence, it links to a streamable media file that can be loaded through media players.

In the early days, it was predominantly used to stream Internet radio though Winamp and other media players. While the format is still used for that today, M3U files have enjoyed a resurgence as a video streaming tool in recent years.

The M3U file format is content-neutral, but many people are using it to share IPTV streams, which are often redistributed without permission. Those who look hard enough can find access to pretty much any channel imaginable.


One of the largest repositories of IPTV links is hosted through GitHub Pages. The site, iptv-org.github.io, has roughly a million monthly visits and lists more than 37,000 channels, many of which are streamable. Not all these streams are infringing, but some clearly are.

IPTV links


The maintainers of the site are aware of the potential copyright issues. However, they don’t see the links to M3U playlists as copyright infringements. Instead, they urge rightsholders to go after the providers that host these files.

“Note that linking does not directly infringe copyright because no copy is made on the site providing the link, and thus this is not a valid reason to send a DMCA notice to GitHub,” they explain.

This is an interesting take that could be worth defending in court. However, when torrent sites tried a similar defense in court, it failed, mainly because the infringing links are intentionally indexed, curated and categorized.

Warner Bros. Takedown

Warner Bros. already seems convinced that the links are infringing. A few days ago, the Hollywood studio sent a takedown notice to GitHub though its anti-piracy partner MarkScan, asking it to remove iptv-org.github.io in its entirety.

“Based on our investigation, we have determined that “iptv-org.github.io” is providing the Live TV channel of WBD illegally. This site is engaging in copyright piracy by providing unauthorized streams of digital content without the consent of the copyright owner,” the takedown notice reads.

Warner Bros. Takedown Notice


The takedown notice asks GitHub to remove or disable access to the infringing links. However, before taking any action, the developer platform nudged the maintainers of the site, allowing then resolve the matter on their own accord.

Self-Administered Takedown

GitHub allowed the developers one business day to remedy the Warner Bros. complaint. In this case, that means removing all WBD content, including HBO, Cartoon Network, and several Discovery channels.

GitHub’s Deadline

github deadline

While the developers previously suggested that these types of DMCA takedowns should not be valid, they didn’t file a counter notice. Instead, they swiftly identified all Warner Bros. and Discovery channels, to remove these from the site within the deadline.

“Successfully merging a pull request may close this issue,” an internal note reads, after which dozens of links were indeed removed.

The self-administered takedown appears to have been too broad initially, as several links – presumably unrelated to Warner Bros. – were later restored. However, the swift action appears to have saved the site.

remove add

GitHub typically publishes DMCA takedown notices after it has fully processed a matter, which often means that sites or repositories are removed. However, “iptv-org.github.io” is fully operational at the time of writing, minus the Warner Bros. content.

Warner Bros. had its takedown notice honored, as the infringing channels are no longer linked. However, instead of simply taking down the entire site, it became a ‘precision’ takedown, merely focusing on the content that it was supposed to target.

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