Court Orders Cloudflare to Name "Pirate" Website Operators

Published: October 30, 2016 10:45 AM /



A New York federal court judge has ordered Cloudflare to identify the operators of two websites alleged to be hosting pirated content as reported by TorrentFreak.

Cloudflare is a U.S. based company that provides a variety of services to online businesses including CDN (Content Distribution Network) functionality, load balancing, and more. Arguably, Cloudflare is most visible to an end user when they encounter a DDOS check run by the company or a mirrored web page when a website is down.

One of the core issues is that Cloudflare's DDOS protection obscures the actual location of a website by the nature of the service. Academic literature publisher Elsevier attempted to gather information on multiple websites alleged to be hosting copyrighted content by contacting Cloudflare but the company responded that they could not share information on websites that are no longer a part of their network. As a result, the publisher filed a court case looking to track down the parties alleged to have been pirating their material.

Judge Robert W. Sweet has ordered that Cloudflare hand over any and all information they may have on the operators of and, two websites which have been allegedly distributing copyrighted material. Evidence presented to the court was sufficient to justify the order. Judge Sweet feels that the publisher will be unable to move forward with its case without the hosting information for the two websites. Whether or not Judge Sweet's order will discover any useful information is dependent on what data Cloudflare retains about past customers and how long they retain it for.

This recent order to Cloudflare is part of an ongoing case by Elsevier. Late last year, the same judge ordered the two sites as well as Sci-Hub to be shut down for distributing Elsevier's intellectual property. They later lost their domain names but have subsequently shifted to new ones and continued operations.

What do you think of the judge's order to Cloudflare? Do you feel that academic literature should be more freely available or do you think the current system is necessary to maintain the quality standards demanded of academic literature? Let us know in the comments below!

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