I recently came across a question asking how the backend of torrent sites worked

Included is both links to torrent sites, and direct links to "torrent download pages" for copyrighted content.

I took the liberty of turning them into non-links. So people wanting to answer the question could see the link structure, without SO actually linking to the pages in question.

The OP has since gone in and reinstated the links.

I feel I was correct, doing my bit to help clean up SO. I'm not a mod, so I can't enforce anything, and I don't want to start some sort of ping-pong editing battle removing these links just to have him put them back.

So what's the policy on links to links to pirate content? Should I be flagging this post for mod attention?

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    Unless you're one of the rightsholders for the content or the operator of the site linked, you could not aware of either the presence or absence of any licensing which the rightsholders and site operators have entered into regarding said content.
    – user7116
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 14:00
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    FWIW, I find the answers to this question disappointing. It's one thing to have an official policy disavowing responsibility for pirated content; obviously SE can't be responsible for what users post and cannot prevent piracy. But that doesn't mean that piracy can't be discouraged by editing/locking posts, or ultimately by banning users, the same way that (for example) pornography isn't tolerated. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 15:37

3 Answers 3


It's not our job to police pirated content.

You changed the link back to text but someone could just as easily copy-paste the link and have access to the pirated content. Your heart was in the right place but it is not our job as Stack Exchange users to uphold someone else's copyright laws. No need to flag here...

If the OP so desperately wanted those links to still be clickable then so-be-it.

You were 100% right not to start an edit war over something so trivial.

Not directly related - Should moderators enforce NDAs for software vendors? - but still relevant here as it talks about the responsibility of Stack Exchange and its users with regard to agreements made outside the network.


The first two links are not to pirated content, they are to sites that may or may not point to pirated content. You were incorrect in removing the link from those.

The second set of links is obviously to specific content on these sites that may or may not be pirated.

Assuming it is pirated, it is not the place of Stack Exchange employees or moderators to take down those links unless a takedown notice is issued (see section 15 of the Stack Exchange Terms of Service). And even then, that operation is performed by a Stack Exchange employee, not by a moderator or user.

That said, I believe you are violating the author's intent by removing the second set of links. He wants links to serve as examples, and he's trying to address a real problem he's facing (at least, in the way that it's presented).

With that, and given that you are not responsible for enforcing the copyrights of others, I believe that you should keep the links as they are.

Granted, this is just advice; the community usually acts on good moral grounds, and we don't want to discourage that. However, if it leads to something like an edit war, in a case like this, the moderators would side with the original author and allow the links (of course, if the links break, the automated process would remove the dead links anyways).


I can't say that I fully agree with @casperOne's and @Lix's existing answers.

I agree that it's not the community's nor the moderaters' job to browse through SO searching for links to pirated content, but I do think we should deal with it somehow if we encounter it. Simply put: It makes the site look bad.

The links



are in no way problematic, as there's many legal content on these two sites you can download. It's probably a small percentage, but it's there.

However, the two specific torrents the OP links to are clearly pirated content.

If you can edit those out without hurting the question, I'd do it.

In this case, you could replace






which are images of two Ubuntu releases.

The question now holds the exact same information as before, and there are no links to anything morally or legally gray.

So what's the policy on links to links to pirate content? Should I be flagging this post for mod attention?

I have flagged a number of posts like this one. The usual outcome was an extra helpful flag, but no action taken.

Mods are busy people. If you can deal with the post without involving a mod, do it. Flags should be used only for things that require their intervention.

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    If you flagged the content for review, based on the presence of (allegedly) infringing material but no action was taken, does that not simply suggest that content should not be edited/removed/flagged? Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 18:20
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    If the links should not be edited, removed and (especially) flagged, the flags would have been dismissed as invalid. My take was that it is a valid concern, but it's not required to take action.
    – Dennis
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 18:25

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