MediaFire asks Mozilla to take down SkipScreen: EDITED

Popular file hosting service, MediaFire, has asked Mozilla to take down the SkipScreen Firefox extension.

Like other file sharing systems, MediaFire download links take you to a web page where the download link is displayed along several ads which generate its revenue. For an ad free experience, users can upgrade to a Pro account for $6.97/month or less depending on the length of the subscription.

SkipScreen circumvents the download page, navigating to the download link immediately. So users don’t get to see the served ads, so they won’t click on them, or feel inclined to get a Pro account, effectively hurting MediaFire’s revenue and business model.

It remains to be seen what Mozilla will do with the request: SkipScreen definitely harms MediaFire’s business but it’s also about the user experience and how she interacts with a public resource like MediaFire’s hosted content.

In the meantime, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has sided with Worcester, LLC, the maker of SkipScreen, and has taken them as clients and sent a letter to Mozilla making the case for the continued hosting of the extension:

MediaFire probably would prefer that we all sit, transfixed, while they display ads for us, just like certain Hollywood executives wish we would never leave the couch or hit FFWD when commercials run during our favorite TV shows, and certain websites wish they could ban Firefox ad-blockers. Fortunately, there’s nothing in the law that says that by simply visiting a website, I give up the right to control my desktop.

EDIT: This post originally stated that MediaFire forced a 45 seconds delay before making the actual download link available. This was incorrect due to a confusion on my side: Media Fire download links are available as soon as a user reaches the file download page.  My deepest apologies to readers and MediaFire.

19 thoughts on “MediaFire asks Mozilla to take down SkipScreen: EDITED”

  1. Here’s a shout-out to EFF!

    MediaFire needs to understand they have no guarantee anywhere in the world to “easy” business success. They need to just get over it and figure out another way to get people to check their ads out in non-user-annoying ways, plain and simple.

    1. I didn’t expect Mediafire’s complaint to work either. People are never gonna give up on the free side and even if Mozzila did remove SkipScreen from their site the owner of the Add-On can just post it elsewhere. Since Firefox is Open Source Mozzila can’t do anything to stop it.

      Megaupload(Another File Hosting Service) tried another tactic by making it so that their download links don’t work until the specified Time Limit is up but people just made it so that their Scripts or Add-ons just wait 30 seconds or so and then download the link. Megaupload gave up and resorted now resorted to a Download Limit so that you can only download a certain amount every few hours per IP address unless you Pay.

  2. I’ve never seen one countdown on mediafire and have been using it since it same on the scene. Thats why most people like them.

  3. I agree with the EFF. The user has the right to control his or her browser the way they see fit. If that means blocking annoying and intrusive ad models, which these days may or may not contain malicious data, then so be it.

    MediaFire needs a better ad strategy.

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  5. There are some inaccuracies in this article.

    “Like other file sharing systems, MediaFire will allow you to download a file only after waiting 45 seconds during which you are presented a few ads so you are most likely to click on them and get the revenue, or, even better, you get annoyed enough to pay for its premium services.”

    MediaFire has no wait times, download limits, or any other delays. You can download as many files as you want at anytime. So the discussion regarding delays, gimmicks, or hoops to download is moot.

    These automation scripts have been around in the community for a while via greasemonkey and I’ve never heard of any complaints about them before.

    What Skipscreen does is clicks the instantly available link for you and then shows you a full page advertisement for SkipScreen including their own ad. Its pretty misleading to users who think it does something magical for them with MediaFire when in reality it does very little but generate ad revenue for SkipScreen.

    1. Tom, I’m very sorry I confused MediaFire with other file sharing sites. I’ve updated the article to describe the actual process, and noted the original wrong description.

      My apologies for the confusion.

  6. It is MediaFire’s natural right to free association (or rather, the right of those who own MediaFire) to choose who may or may not view their website. If they find a way to block those with the extension, they can do that. What they cannot do is say that because it does something they do not like, it should not exist. Thus, I side with EFF.

  7. Why would any company EVER comply with a request like that?
    And if, for some crazy reason, Firefox were to comply, wouldn’t we all just change browsers? Or not update to the new one?

  8. Thanks for pointing this out Mediafire, I am going to go download skipscreen now. Never heard about it plugins. This is viral marketing?

  9. Somewhat disappointing comments. MediaFire is completely free and still people feel the need to evade ads as well. The reason they have ads is because the advertisers pay for your download, so -to my standards- they have the right to show their ads in return for a free download, whether I click on them is another story, but they do hold that right for providing that service. Be glad that they don’t use timers, or IP limits like others do.

    But let’s turn the tables around, start a hosting service yourself, let’s see how long you can keep that ad free. Someone has to pick up the bandwidth bill, and if it was you, you probably reacted in the same way that MediaFire did. In the end, they have to earn a living as well, just like everyone else; no-one works for free.

    If you feel this is in error, please start a totally free file server, I’d be happy to up & down load from you. Until then, I concur with MediaFire.

    1. I agree that it is MediaFire’s right to show ads to those using their service, especially an expensive one like file hosting. I feel they also have the right to redirect users based on what’s installed on their browsers (i.e. ad blocking and screen skipping services) to pages that ask them to disable those addons before attempting to view their site. These things are fine to me.

      What is not fine is for them to attempt to shut down SkipScreen because they don’t agree with its business model. Personally, I don’t believe anyone has a right to any particular business model. If people like they way MediaFire is doing things, and they want to help them keep doing that, then by all means view their ads, pay for their service. If you think the ads are troublesome or intrusive, then by all means skip them.

      If so many people skip the ads that MediaFire goes out of business, then it was not a good business model. I’m sorry. It’s not SkipScreen’s fault that the average user feels like these services are trying to weasel the ads in there.

  10. After looking at MediaFire’s website and what the free uploading features are vs “paid plan” features I have to believe that a great deal of MediaFire’s income comes from paid subscriptions. And the act of viewing ads in itself does not generate income. I wonder why they’re not complaining about add-ons like AdBlock Plus, FlashBlock or NoScript. They do a lot more for blocking ads than that rather worthless SkipScreen does.

    Every website owner, professional or personal has the right to put up advertisements-absolutely. On the other hand, viewers have the right not to view them. And since Firefox does not have the majority of the browser market (yet) I really can’t believe that MediaFire is suffering all that much.

    Either way, the point is moot. If you read what Tom said in his comment above, SkipScreen actually does very little except substitute it’s own advertisements for MediaFire’s. This is the real reason MediaFire should be complaining and their complaint should be taken to the Worcester LLC, not Mozilla.

    By the way, one of the 5 links Worcester LLC’s rather sparse website invokes Firefox’s phishing filter stating that the link leads to an attack page (Link is called “Open Source Windows”). Another link leads to a domain that’s for sale (plastered with text ads).

    Anarchy at it’s finest, friends and neighbors. 😉

  11. I recently uploaded a preview movie to send to my friend to evaluate. I’ve been spreading the word about Skipscreen and Ad Block Plus to some of my friends and upon attempting to download, I received this message.

    I’m fully aware a free file uploading website does depend on some ad revenue, but I suddenly decided I’ll take my file uploading needs to Sharebee, which I think works faster with Skipscreen. Just go on and keep giving me reasons to not use their service please.

  12. High Velocity Raptor lol

    You use skipscreen to bypass the ads on a free service then complain that they blocked you when they finally got around to it. lol Next thing you’ll be suing Microsoft for blocking you from their services for pirating games on XBox.

  13. Holy!! i didn’t agree if SkipScreen is continued, I love Mediafire, we love Mediafire, It doesn’t metter about the pop up ads, as long as mediafire keep running, if all user use SkipScreen, what the hell is mediafire keep free services, dammit u SkipScreen!!

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