security, Security / Security News

Patreon Still Has No Answer for the Yiff.Party Porn Pirates

Last fall, a prolific photographer who asked not to be named noticed a sharp, unexplained drop-off in earnings on his Patreon page, where fans shell out cash for tiered subscriptions to his photos of well-lit nude models. Then, in December, he received an anonymous email with a link to a website called Yiff.Party. When he clicked, he balked. Thousands of his photos were laid out on the open web for free.

For five years, the libidinous pirates of Yiff.Party have siphoned masses of paywalled Patreon porn off of the platform and shared it for free. Two years ago, Patreon was determined to shut them down. Instead, the platform has effectively given up, despite desperate protests from affected creators.

Yiff.Party doesn’t look like much: a basic, blocky, white and lavender website with a changelog documenting the latest free art dumps and their respective creators. There might be eight new posts an hour, as well as calls for patrons to help fill out incomplete collections. A lot of it is furry porn—“yiff” is a term in the furry community referencing sexual activity—but Yiff.Party hosts anything that falls under the category of “lewds.” That includes smutty cosplays, vanilla softcore, hentai comics, 3-D sci-fi sex stills, plus whatever Patreon-hosted artstuff pirates dump there. (Patreon’s guidelines on adult content prohibit “real people engaging in sexual acts such as masturbation or sexual intercourse on camera.”)

“I am an artist, I live off my work, and sometimes Patreon is the only income I have,” the photographer whose work had been stolen tells WIRED. In bold, capital-lettered text on his Patreon page, he warned “WHOEVER IS DOING THIS” to “PLEASE STOP FUCKING ME OVER.” In the meantime, he can only hope that whichever fox has been gifting him cash with one hand and pirating his works with the other grows a conscience. Because one thing’s for sure: Patreon isn’t helping him, despite a 2018 pledge in Kotaku that it would fight Yiff.Party “vigorously” and “on behalf of our creators.”

This month, the owner of Yiff.Party, who goes by Dozes, sent WIRED a screenshot that he says contains the only two messages in his inbox from the domain @patreon.com: one “Notice of Infringing Material” on July 18, 2018, and a polite follow-up on September 26, 2018. “Patreon has definitely been aware of yiff.party since 2015, but that’s the only instance of them directly contacting me,” Dozes says.

Dozes says Yiff.Party receives about unique 95,000 visitors daily and that it’s only growing. He started it, he says, “to archive content,” in part, for fans whose favorite artwork disappears once a creator leaves Patreon or gets banned. In a 2018 interview, Dozes provided a different rationale—“simply to make paid Patreon content available for free”—but said both then and now that he’s not out to get creators or cost them income. Despite this, those whose work has ended up on the site have described reactions ranging from existential sadness to financial anxiety.

Patrons scrape huge amounts of premium Patreon posts and import them onto Yiff.Party, where they are accessible to anyone in, minimum, one click. Dozes says that the site currently stores over 20 terabytes of data, and accepts donations that go toward server upkeep.

Despite its gung-ho statement to Kotaku two years ago, Patreon now says its terms of service effectively tie its hands. “We can’t do anything,” says Colin Sullivan, Patreon’s head of legal. “We don’t enforce [copyright] because we don’t have a license to the content.”

Sullivan didn’t hear back from Yiff.Party after those two cease and desist notices. He still hasn’t. Patreon says it also appealed to the company that hosts Yiff.Party, which, Sullivan says, was based in France. “International hosting companies often turn a blind eye to a lot of things,” he says.

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