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TorrentFreak: Microsoft Gets GitHub to Remove “Infringing” Xbox Music App

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

audioticaA few weeks ago Microsoft extended its Xbox Music API, allowing third-party developers to link their apps to the music service.

This resulted in a range of new apps that provide access to Xbox Music tracks, but Microsoft is not happy with all of them.

Earlier this week the company contacted developer platform GitHub, asking the company to remove all code related to the Audiotica download tool, which they did.

In its takedown notice Microsoft explains that the app in question provides users with DRM-free music, something it is not allowed to do. Specifically, the app is said to violate the circumvention clause of the DMCA.

“This code violates [...] the DMCA in that it allows users to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to copyrighted works by facilitating the unauthorized conversion of songs streamed via Xbox Music into DRM-free MP3s that can be easily shared online,” Microsoft writes.

Microsoft explains that the application puts its licensing agreements with the major music labels in jeopardy. Under these agreements the company has to protect music tracks from being shared online without restrictions.

“As part of Microsoft’s agreements with the copyright owners of the songs included in the service, Microsoft has both authorization from and an obligation to those copyright owners to control access to their works by employing an effective DRM system,” Microsoft notes.

An interesting argument, since the tracks provided by Xbox’s Music service appear to be free of DRM.

Xbox Music API
music_api

TorrentFreak contacted Audiotica developer Harry who was unpleasantly surprised by Microsoft’s takedown notice. He notes that Microsoft itself is the one making it easy to access DRM-free music through the Xbox Music API.

“Audiotica is programmed so users with an Xbox Subscription can download directly from Xbox Music. This is what surprised me about the takedown. Microsoft claims we can’t allow users to obtain DRM free music from their service, while they’re the one providing it,” Harry says.

Microsoft most likely took offense to the fact that the application allowed users to download and store tracks. Although this might not technically be a form of “circumvention,” it does violate the API’s terms of service.

The Audiotica developer says he will ask GitHub to reinstate his project, without the Xbox Music feature. The application will still be able to access music from other sources including YouTube, VK and Soundcloud.

“Right now I will be filling a counter notice to bring it back. To avoid further problems with Microsoft I will be removing Xbox Music from the MP3 crawler engine and the downloader.”

Microsoft’s takedown request follows a new trend in which copyright holders are targeting GitHub projects. Previously the MPAA successfully requested the takedown of two popular Popcorn Time forks. While both the MPAA and Microsoft don’t own any of the code, the alleged indirect infringements were sufficient to take the code down.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Bleep… BitTorrent Unveils Serverless & Encrypted Chat Client

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

bleepEncrypted Internet traffic surged worldwide after the Snowden revelations, with several developers releasing new tools to enable people to better protect their privacy.

Today BitTorrent Inc. contributes with the release of BitTorrent Bleep, a communication tool that allows people to exchange information without the need for any central servers. Combined with state of the art end-to-end encryption, the company sees Bleep as the ideal tool to evade government snooping.

Bleep’s main advantage over some other encrypted messaging applications is the absence of central servers. This means that there are no logs stored, all metadata goes through other peers in the network.

“Many messaging apps are advertising privacy and security by offering end-to-end encryption for messages. But when it comes to handling metadata, they are still leaving their users exposed,” BitTorrent’s Farid Fadaie explains.

“We reimagined how modern messaging should work. Our platform enables us to offer features in Bleep that are unique and meaningfully different from what is currently available.”

Bleep Bleep
BleepScreen

The application’s development is still in the early stages and the current release only works on Windows 7 and 8. Support for other operating systems including popular mobile platforms will follow in the future.

Aspiring Bleep users can create an account via an email or mobile phone number, but an incognito mode without the need to provide any personal details is also supported.

The new messaging app is not the only ‘breach safe’ tool the company is currently working on. Last year BitTorrent launched its Sync application which provides a secure alternative to centralized cloud backup solutions such as Dropbox and Google Drive.

BitTorrent Inc. is inviting people to test the new Bleep application, but warns there are still some bugs.

Those who want to give BitTorrent Bleep a try can head over to BitTorrent’s experiments section to sign up for the pre-Alpha release.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Adds Apple TV Support, iOS App Coming Soon

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

popcornThe Popcorn Time phenomenon is one of the biggest piracy stories of the year thus far.

The software became an instant hit by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface.

While the original app was shut down by the developers after a few weeks, the project was quickly picked up by others. This resulted in several popular forks that have gained millions of users in recent months.

Today one of the most popular Popcorn Time forks releases a highly anticipated feature. The developers inform TorrentFreak that the latest version now has Airplay support, making it possible to stream movies directly to Apple TVs and other supported devices.

Ironically, Airplay support is currently limited to the Windows release, but a Mac version is due early next week and the Linux release will follow shortly after.

The latest feature follows the addition of Chromecast support a few weeks ago, but this is by no means the last planned development.

Popcorn Time adds Airplay support

popcorn_time_appletv_airplay

Looking ahead the developers hope to bring the Popcorn Time experience to as many operating systems and devices as possible.

“Our ultimate goal is to bring Popcorn Time to every platform, operating system and device that can play videos, so Airplay is one particle of a huge revolution we’re making to the torrents and movies world online,” the time4popcorn.eu team told us.

“This is only the beginning… You know us, we have many more surprises coming your way,” they add.

One of the “surprises” is a native iOS app. Although it probably won’t be featured in Apple’s App Store anytime soon, Popcorn Time will be available on jailbroken iPhones and iPads in the near future.

“Support for iOS devices will be ready in August. It’s already working in our development environment and it’s looking beautiful,” the team notes.

Popcorn Time’s popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hollywood. A few weeks ago the MPAA pushed back and managed to get two popular forks removed from Github claiming that the apps are hurting the major movie studios.

While this was a setback, it doesn’t seem to have hindered development much. Both Popcorn Time forks are still around and new features are being rolled out faster than ever.

Update Due to a last minute bug the release has been postponed. It will arrive later today.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme Costs 3 Million Per Year

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate-runningFebruary last year, the MPAA, RIAA and five major U.S. Internet providers started sending copyright alerts to customers who pirate movies, TV-shows and music.

Through a series of warnings suspected pirates are informed that their connections are being used to share copyrighted material without permission, and told where they can find legal alternatives.

These efforts are part of the Copyright Alert System which is headed by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI). The goal of this voluntary partnership is to educate the public and point alleged pirates to legal alternatives.

While it’s known that the costs of the program are split between the copyright holders and Internet providers, CCI has been reluctant to share any financial details. Luckily the IRS provides some insight on this front.

TorrentFreak obtained the most recent tax filing of the six-strikes outfit which covers the company’s operations between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. The document reveals that the program cost nearly $3 million during that period.

To put this figure in perspective, the CCI previously reported that 1.3 million notices were sent out during the first 10 months. This means that the cost per notice translates to roughly $2, which is rather high.

Center for Copyright Information’s Form 990
cci

Looking at how the money is spent we see that the only paid employee, CCI Executive Director Jill Lesser, received $320,000 in compensation. Another $350,000 went to Lesser’s consulting firm, JAL Consulting, which was hired as an independent contractor.

The RIAA’s former lobbying firm Stroz Friedberg received $420,000 for the independent expert analysis of the evidence gathering technology behind the project. After we uncovered the RIAA ties CCI later hired a second independent expert, but the results of this do-over have yet to be published.

The largest independent contractor is the Glover Park Group, who handle CCI’s communication. They received more than $680,000 over the reported period. American Arbitration, who handle the appeals of people who claim to be wrongly accused, was paid $245,000 for its services.

It’s worth noting that the costs for the Internet providers are higher than the amount they pay to the CCI. The ISPs also spend money on the technical setup that’s required to handle the Copyright Alerts as well as extra customer support.

It will be interesting to see how these costs develop over the years. CCI previously announced that more Copyright Alerts would be sent out this year, so it’s expected that the average of $2 per warning will eventually reduce.

Whether the copyright holders will ever be able to recoup their investments remains to be seen.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Ford and General Motors Sued Over ‘CD Ripping Cars’

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

ford-jukeA quarter century ago the music industry was confronted with a new threat – cassette tape recorders.

These devices were able to make “near perfect” copies of any audio recording and the RIAA and others feared this would be the end of the recorded music industry.

The record labels took their fears to Congress, which eventually resulted in the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) of 1992. Under this law importers and manufacturers have to pay royalties on “digital audio recording devices,” among other things.

The legislation also applies to some newer recording devices common today, which is now causing trouble for Ford and General Motors. Both companies ship cars with the ability to rip CDs onto internal hard drives and according to a coalition of artists and record companies this violates copyright law.

The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC), which lists major record labels and 300,000 artists among its members, filed a class action lawsuit on Friday in which they demand millions of dollars in compensation.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the complaint (pdf) which states that Ford’s “Jukebox” device and General Motor’s “Hard Drive Device” allow consumers to rip CDs onto an internal hard drive. According to the music group these devices fall under the Audio Home Recording Act and the car companies are therefore required to pay royalties.

Thus far, neither Ford nor General Motors has complied with any requirements of the Act. Both companies have sold cars with these devices for several years on a variety of models including the Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus, Ford Explorer, Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Volt, and GMC Terrain.

In addition to the two car companies, the lawsuit also targets their technology partners Denso and Clarion. Commenting on the dispute the AARC notes that a class action lawsuit was unavoidable.

“Twenty-two years ago, cooperation between music creators and device manufacturers resulted in legislation that led to a digital electronics revolution. But having reaped the benefits of this bargain, Ford, GM, Denso, and Clarion have now decided to ignore their obligations to music creators and declare themselves above the law,” AARC Executive Director Linda Bocchi comments

“While no one likes litigation, Ford, GM, Denso, and Clarion have stonewalled long enough, and we are determined to collect the royalties our members – and all artists and music creators with rights under the AHRA – are owed,” Bocchi adds.

The artists and record labels are looking for both actual and statutory damages, which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, they want to prevent the manufacturers from selling these unauthorized devices in their cars.

The case will prove to be an interesting test of the legality of “recording” devices in car entertainment systems. As is usually true, the law is not as black and white as AARC’s complaint states.

For example, the lawsuit doesn’t mention that the Audio Home Recording Act includes various exemptions for personal use and for recording equipment that’s part of a larger device, such as CD-burners in computers.

It’s now up to the court to decide how cars fit into this picture.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/28/14

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

expendablesThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

The Expendables 3, which leaked several weeks before the official premiere, is the most downloaded movie this week.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (…) The Expendables 3 (DVDscr) ?.? / trailer
2 (…) Divergent 7.2 / trailer
3 (2) The Other Woman 6.5 / trailer
4 (1) Need For Speed 7.1 / trailer
5 (8) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 7.4 / trailer
6 (5) Transformers: Age of Extinction (HDTS) 6.3 / trailer
7 (4) Noah 6.3 / trailer
8 (…) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (TS) 8.3 / trailer
9 (3) Transcendence 6.4 / trailer
10 (…) Hercules Reborn 3.4 / trailer

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: TorrenTV Instantly Streams Movie Torrents to Apple TV

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

appletvEarlier this year Popcorn Time made headlines all over the Internet as one of the first apps to combine a simple and stylish user interface with an effective way to stream torrents.

The application also inspired dozens of developers to start their own spinoffs. While most of these apps mimicked the looks and functionality of the original application, TorrenTV offers something completely different.

Instead of providing a Netflix-style index of movies, TorrenTV allows people to add their own torrents and stream these directly to an Apple TV.

“Popcorn Time is beautiful in code and in looks but I wanted to do two things that PopcornTime didn’t allow me, watch movies directly on my TV and add new torrents which Popcorn Time doesn’t have yet,” TorrenTV developer Carlos tells TorrentFreak.

Carlos started coding and a few weeks later TorrenTV was born. The application works by simply dropping a torrent or magnet link into it. The video file starts downloading and via Airplay it can be streamed directly to an Apple TV.

TorrenTV for Linux, Mac and Windows
torrentv-apps

TorrenTV uses Popcorn Time code and is built on the same Peerflix and torrent-stream libraries. There are plans to extend its functionality by adding Chromecast and Roku support in the future, but its simplicity will remain.

One of the main differences compared to Popcorn time is that TorrenTV doesn’t offer an index of movies. This may be a downside for some, but according to Carlos this is an advantage.

With no index of pirated content it can’t be taken down by the MPAA, which happened to Popcorn Time a few weeks ago.

For those who are interested in taking it for a spin, TorrenTV is available for Mac, Windows and Linux and can be downloaded from the official site.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: American ISPs Receive 1.1 Million Piracy Settlements per Week

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate-runningFebruary last year, five U.S. Internet providers started sending copyright alerts to customers who allegedly pirate movies, TV-shows and music.

During the first year they sent out 1.3 million educational notices, warning account holders that their connection was used to share pirated content. However, its scope pales in comparison to what others are doing.

TorrentFreak spoke with anti-piracy outfit CEG TEK, who also send out warning letters on behalf of copyright holders. However, their version comes with a sting.

In addition to the traditional slap on the wrist their notices also include a settlement proposal, which can reach hundreds of dollars. These emails are sent as regular DMCA notices which the ISPs then forward to their customers.

Little has been revealed about the scope of this program, but CEG TEK’s Kyle Reed now informs us that in 2013 they sent out 26 million notices to U.S. based Internet providers. The volume is expected to double this year as the company currently sends out 1.1 million notices per week.

It’s an impressive number, but since not all ISPs are happy with the process only a small fraction of their customers receive the settlement offer to the respective account holder.

CEG TEK currently sends out requests to 3,493 Internet providers and 342 of these forward the settlement offer, which is roughly 10%. This includes many small ISPs as well as companies and universities.

Some providers forward the notice but without the request for a settlement. Comcast, for example, is known to do this. While CEG TEK prefers it if providers forward the entire notice, the stripped ones are also of value to their clients.

“There are various levels of cooperation. Success doesn’t always mean getting a settlement from an account holder. Rightsholders are also happy when they can get their anti-piracy message out there,” CEG TEK’s Kyle Reed tells TorrentFreak.

Interestingly, there are also various ISPs who don’t forward anything. According to their interpretation of the DMCA they are not obliged to send the notices to their customers.

“Several Internet providers don’t comply at all. They simply ignore our notices,” Reed says.

CEG TEK is not the only company to send these settlement requests as a DMCA takedown notice, Rightscorp does the same. Both companies have increased their output in recent years and major rightsholders such as Warner Bros. are in on the scheme.

It’s an interesting trend, one that goes above and beyond the official Copyright Alert System. According to CEG TEK the approach is effective. The company has gathered data on how their notices influence piracy rates, which it plans to publish in the future.

Whether that will be enough to make a dent in piracy rates remains to be seen though.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: US Wants to Criminalize Movie and Music Streaming

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

streamingYesterday the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on punishments for and remedies against online copyright infringement. One of the speakers was David Bitkower, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General, who laid out the wishes of the Obama administration.

After praising previous successes, such as the shutdown of Megaupload and the prosecution of several IMAGiNE members, Bitkower explained the evolving challenges copyright holders are dealing with.

From illegal piano rolls in the early 1900s to floppy disks a century later, new technologies have presented new threats, he argued. With the rise of broadband access this process has worsened and the most recent challenge is combating illegal streaming services.

“One new challenge confronting copyright owners and law enforcement authorities is the rise of Internet ‘streaming’ as the dominant means of disseminating many types of copyrighted content online. This activity also derives from advances in technology: in this case, the growth in availability of high-speed Internet to the average consumer,” Bitkower said.

The problem for the Department of Justice and copyright holders is that these services are harder to prosecute. Technically, streaming doesn’t count as distribution but as a public performance, which can only be charged as a misdemeanor.

The administration tried to remedy this in 2012, by implementing the SOPA and PIPA bills, but these were shelved after public outrage. Many people feared that uploading copyrighted YouTube videos could possibly land them in jail and took their concerns to the streets.

However, fast forward a few years and the same plan is back on the table.

“The Administration recommends that Congress amend the law to create a felony penalty for unauthorized Internet streaming. Specifically, we recommend the creation of legislation to establish a felony charge for infringement through unauthorized public performances conducted for commercial advantage or private financial gain,” Bitkower explained.

“It would emphasize the seriousness of the threat that unauthorized streaming poses to legitimate copyright holders, clarify the scope of conduct deemed to be illegal in order to deter potential infringers, and provide the Department with an important tool to prosecute and deter illicit Internet streaming.”

In addition to criminalizing illicit streaming, Bitkower also called for persistent funds to support its international operations. In recent years the DoJ has educated police forces abroad to deal with copyright infringement. This apparently includes training on very basic skills, such as how to connect to the Internet in the first place.

“The program has realized numerous successes, including a Ukrainian police officer who, after receiving training, was able to use a dial-up Internet connection from his home computer to bring down the largest illegal file sharing service in his country,” Bitkower said.

The international program helped to shut down Megaupload, but could also target The Pirate Bay through tools such as “diplomatic and trade-based pressure.” Worryingly, the United States has trouble getting the facts rights, as it believes that the political Pirate Party is connected to The Pirate Bay.

“In addition to the Mega Conspiracy described above, we have seen The Pirate Bay start as a file sharing site for unauthorized copies of works in Sweden, expand to other countries, and even develop its own political party in Europe,” Bitkower noted.

Mistakes aside, it’s clear that the Obama administration hasn’t lost its focus on copyright infringement.

All recommendations are aimed at more prosecutions, more international pressure and tougher punishments for pirates. Time will tell whether they can get Congress to agree this time around.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Online Store Can Sell ‘Used’ Ebooks, Court Rules

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

tomskabinetPeople who buy an MP3, digital movie or an eBook assume that they have the right to do whatever they want with it, but copyright holders see things differently.

Platforms that allow people to resell digital goods are meeting fierce resistance from the entertainment industries, who view them as a threat to their online business models.

For example, the major record labels previously pointed out that MP3s are simply too good to resell, as they don’t deteriorate in quality. Similarly, movie studios complained that the ability to sell “used” videos would kill innovation.

The book industry is also concerned and in an attempt to counter this threat several publishers launched a lawsuit against Tom Kabinet, an online marketplace for used eBooks based in the Netherlands.

The publishers fear that the site will negatively impact their business, and that it can’t prevent people from reselling pirated copies. The companies asked the Amsterdam Court for a preliminary injunction against Tom Kabinet, but the request was denied this week.

The Amsterdam Court concluded that selling used eBooks is a legal grey area and not by definition illegal in Europe.

Previously the EU Court of Justice previously ruled that consumers are free to resell games and software, even when there’s no physical copy. That case applied to licensed content, which is different from the Tom Kabinet case, so further investigation is needed to arrive at a final verdict.

The court therefore dismissed the publishers’ claims and ordered them to pay €23.469,56 in legal fees. Tom Kabinet, meanwhile, is still allowed to facilitate the sale of used eBooks.

It’s clear that the publishers didn’t get the result they hoped for. In fact, things have gotten worse, as Tom Kabinet’s visitor numbers have exploded. Shortly after the verdict was announced the site went offline because it couldn’t handle the surge in traffic.

These connectivity issues have been fixed now, and the site’s owner is happy with the outcome thus far.

“There is still a long way to go before legislation is clear on eBooks, but we’ve made a pretty good start,” Tom Kabinet informed TorrentFreak.

The publishers on the other hand are considering further steps, and it’s likely that the case will head to a full trial in the future.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Launches Mobile Site, Teases More Expansions

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate bayOne of The Pirate Bay’s strengths has been its resilience. No matter how hard the movie and music industries try, the site remains operational.

Over the years the Pirate Bay site has undergone many changes to make it harder to shut down. The tracker was put into retirement, torrents were traded in for magnet links, and the site moved its servers to the cloud.

What remained the same, however, was the site’s general appearance and its lack of support for mobile devices. That changes today.

The Pirate Bay has just debuted a new site for mobile devices. The Mobile Bay offers a much more usable interface to browse the torrent site on mobile devices.

Previously mobile users were simply presented with a smaller version of the regular Pirate Bay site, which was coded long before smartphones and tablets became popular. With banners on both sides it was rather hard to navigate on smaller devices.

The mobile version doesn’t change the overall appearance much, but it’s definitely more readable and easier to navigate.

The new vs. old mobile look
tpb-mob-oldnew

Users on mobile devices are now redirected to the new Mobile Bay domain, which will exist next to the regular site. People have the option to continue using the old layout if they prefer, but The Pirate Bay team doesn’t see any reason why people would.

“The normal version of the site renders like crap on mobile devices,” the TPB team told us.

The Mobile Bay is one of the largest visible updates to the site in years, but according to The Pirate Bay it’s only the beginning. Behind the scenes the TPB team is working on a series of new niche sites that will provide extra features and make it easier to find content.

The TV, movie and music sections on The Pirate Bay will each get their own dedicated sites. The TV site, for example, will allow users to see a complete overview of all episodes per show, download season packs, and more.

Another new project in the pipeline is the RSSbay which will support personalized RSS feeds enabling people to launch torrents remotely.

“We will add more features later on, such as personal RSS feeds so users can browse torrents at work or school, and start the downloads at home,” the TPB team tells us.

Aside from improving the user experience, the other advantage of these separate domain names is that TPB can’t be taken out as easily.

“We’re trying to separate the site into different domain names to make it more resilient. In the event one domain get taken down, there will be plenty others left,” the TPB team says.

As always with the Pirate Bay, it will be hard to predict how long it will take before these new sites will see the light of day, but the mobile edition is live now.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Director Wants His Film on The Pirate Bay, Pirates Deliver…

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

suzyDutch movie director Martin Koolhoven sent out an unusual request on Twitter a few days ago.

While many filmmakers fear The Pirate Bay, Koolhoven asked his followers to upload a copy of his 1999 film “Suzy Q” to the site.

“Can someone just upload Suzy Q to The Pirate Bay?” Koolhoven asked.

The director doesn’t own all copyrights to the movie himself, but grew frustrated by the fact that his film is not available through legal channels.

The TV-film, which also features the film debut of Game of Thrones actress Carice Van Houten, was paid for with public money but after the music rights expired nobody was able to see it anymore.

The main problem is with the film’s music, which includes tracks from popular artists such as The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. This prevented the film from being released in movie theaters and on DVD, and the TV-network also chose not to extend the licenses for the TV rights.

Since the music was no longer licensed it couldn’t be shown anymore, not even on the websites of the public broadcasters.

“To me, it felt like the movie had died,” Koolhoven tells TorrentFreak.

Hoping to bring it back to life, Koolhoven tweeted his upload request, and it didn’t take long before the pirates delivered. Within a few hours the first copy of the film was uploaded, and several more were added in the days that followed.

“I had no idea the media would pick it up the way they did. That generated more media attention. At first I hesitated because I didn’t want to become the poster boy for the download-movement. All I wanted was for people to be able to see my film,” Koolhoven says.

Unfortunately the first upload of the movie that appeared on The Pirate Bay was in very bad quality. So the director decided to go all the way and upload a better version to YouTube himself.

“I figured it would probably be thrown off after a few days, due to the music rights issue, but at least people could see a half decent version instead of watching the horrible copy that was available on The Pirate Bay,” Koolhoven tells us.

Interestingly, YouTube didn’t remove the film but asked the director whether he had the right to use the songs. Since this is not the case the money made through the advertisements on YouTube will go to the proper rightsholders.

“We’re a few days later now and the movie is still on YouTube. And people have started to put higher quality torrents of Suzy Q on Pirate Bay. Even 720p can be found, I’ve heard,” Koolhoven notes.

While the director is not the exclusive rightsholder, he does see himself as the moral owner of the title. Also, he isn’t shying away from encouraging others to download and share the film.

In essence, he believes that all movies should be available online, as long as it’s commercially viable. It shouldn’t hurt movie theater attendance either, as that remains the main source of income for most films and the best viewing experience.

“I know not everybody cares about that, but I do. The cinema is the best place to see movies. If you haven’t seen ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ on the big screen, you just haven’t seen it,” Koolhoven says.

In the case of Suzy Q, however, people are free to grab a pirated copy.

“Everyone can go to The Pirate Bay and grab a copy. People are actually not supposed to, but they have my permission to download Susy Q,” Koolhoven said in an interview with Geenstijl.

“If other people download the movie and help with seeding then the download time will be even more reasonable,” Koolhoven adds.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Vuze Releases Leap, a Simple and Lightweight Torrent Client

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Vuze_bw_logoVuze is one of the most recognized BitTorrent brands. Their client is used by millions of people each day and has a steadily growing user-base.

In recent years Vuze’s core BitTorrent client has evolved into an advanced download solution with every complex feature heavy BitTorrent users could wish for.

The downside of being so complete is that the application can be quite overwhelming to newcomers. In addition the application is somewhat of a resource hog. The Vuze team has taken these complaints to heart and coded “Vuze Leap,” a brand new client that is both simple and lightweight.

“We sought to deliver a simpler experience as a counterpart to the powerful, full-featured core Vuze BitTorrent Client that has pleased millions of users for years. Even with file-sharing being a part of internet usage for years, we continued to hear, from some users a desire to have a simpler experience that was less resource intensive,” Vuze’s Claude Tolbert tells TorrentFreak.

Today the first Vuze Leap beta is unveiled to the public. The torrent client works out of the box. Users are presented with a big search box which they can use to search for torrents without having to leave the application.

leap_beta_home_screen-s

When a search term is entered, Vuze Leap will automatically search for matching content on Google, the Internet Archive and elsewhere. This can then be downloaded with a single click.

After a download is completed users can play media files directly from the client, or navigate to the download folder as they would do with other torrent clients. Vuze Leap automatically categorizes files into various categories to keep the library organized.

leap_beta_find_screen-s

Vuze’s new BitTorrent client is best suited to less tech-savvy users who don’t necessarily need all the advanced features the core Vuze client has to offer. Through its simpler interface Vuze Leap should make BitTorrent more accessible to people who are new to torrents.

“We believe that Vuze Leap extends usability to users who may be new to filesharing or don’t require the power and functionality that the core Vuze BitTorrent Client provides. However, both provide an outstanding experience to users,” Tolbert says.

TorrentFreak tested the application and it works as advertised. It certainly feels much lighter and faster than the core Vuze client. The built-in search is handy as well, although users may have to scroll down to get the best search results, which often come from Google.

The application is currently only available for Windows but support for other operating systems is expected to follow in the future.

Those who are interested in taking Vuze Leap for a spin can download the latest beta release after signing up for the beta test. The download link comes with the confirmation email.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Wants to Freeze MPAA and RIAA Lawsuits Until 2015

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

megauploadWell over two years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, but there is still little progress in the criminal proceedings against its founders.

The United States want New Zealand to extradite Kim Dotcom and his colleagues but this process has been delayed several times already. Earlier this month the extradition hearing was postponed again until February next year.

In addition to the U.S. Government, Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were also sued by the major record labels and Hollywood’s top movie studios a few months ago.

Fearing that these cases might influence the criminal case, Megaupload’s legal team successfully obtained a freeze on them until this summer, when the extradition hearing was originally scheduled for. Now that this has been delayed until next year, Megaupload wants to place the MPAA and RIAA cases on hold until April 2015.

In a new motion for a stay, the lawyers ask the court to freeze both civil cases because the accused may otherwise be forced to implicate themselves, which would violate their rights.

“The individual Defendants still face extradition, and therefore still have an interest in preserving the Fifth Amendment rights that arise from the prosecution of the Criminal Action,” the motion reads.

There’s also a more practical concern. Since the U.S. Government refuses to provide access to the raided servers, it may be difficult to access evidence that’s crucial to build a proper defense.

“Relevant evidence that is electronically stored on servers, which would be needed to defend the civil cases, is not reasonably accessible. As a result of the Criminal Action, the Megaupload cloud-storage servers have been taken offline and are housed in a locked third-party warehouse in Virginia,” Megaupload’s lawyers write.

“The Department of Justice has opposed Megaupload’s efforts to gain access to those servers and data. Standard civil e-discovery protocols would typically include accessing and “mirroring” the original servers so that the resultant copies may used to analyze the data contained therein. At present, that cannot be done,” they add.

If the court grants the request then it will take another year before there’s any progress in the civil cases against Megaupload. The movie and music studios didn’t object to the previous freezing request, but they may be running out of patience soon.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Google Targets ‘Pirate’ Searches to Promote Legal Content

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

googlepirateadOver the past few years the entertainment industries have repeatedly asked Google to step up its anti-piracy efforts.

One of the most often heard complaints is that pirated content sometimes ranks better than legal alternatives. Copyright holders want Google to remedy this situation by promoting legal content through higher placement in search results.

“Search engines should address the distortive search practices that result in listings and rankings that favor substantially infringing sites,” the MPAA complained earlier.

While it seemed that Google had rejected the boosting of legal offerings in results, it appears that the company is now taking measures to address copyright holder concerns.

Google has quietly rolled out an update that places banner ads for Google Play and other content platforms above the regular search results if people search for piracy related terms. The banners in question show up on searches for a title of a movie or TV-show in combination with keywords such as “torrent,” “BitTorrent,” or “DVDrip.”

As shown below, the first organic result is still a “pirate” site, but the legal options are now clearly visible through the inserted banner.

“Breaking Bad Torrent”
breakingtorrent

Initially these new ads were displayed in most of the US and UK. The availability was limited after TorrentFreak reached out to Google before the weekend, but they are still visible to us from a California IP-address.

It’s unknown how Google picks the keywords but the banner is also shown when searching for the video format “avi” and even “putlocker,” a popular file-hosting service.

The ads do not appear when searching for the movie or TV-show titles alone. They are specifically triggered by the extra ‘piracy’ keyword. For example, the banner shows up when searching for “Noah DVDrip” but not for “Noah DVD,” “Noah rent“, “Noah buy” or Noah paired with a random word.

Noah DVDrip
noahdvdrip1

In addition to piracy related keywords the ads also appear for more generic searches where pirate sites traditionally rank very high. These include words such as “download,” “watch,” “online” and “view” which often have unauthorized sites in the top results.

The “Noah watch” search below is a good example where a banner is placed above the first result, which in this case links to infringing material.

Noah Watch
noahwatch

TorrentFreak contacted Google but the company couldn’t say why the ads are displayed for these piracy related keywords. A spokesman did confirm that the ads appear for “various searches” and that they are the same format as the Knowledge Graph ads that were rolled out late last year.

“These ads will appear after various searches that include specific movie, TV, and music titles,” a Google spokesman told us.

Since the availability of the banners was limited overnight the company may still be experimenting with the setup. Unfortunately, Google couldn’t comment further on our findings.

Promoting legal content through ads would make sense for Google, as that would satisfy some of the copyright holders’ demands without changing the actual search results. On top of that, it can be quite useful to users as well.

Whether the banners will be able to steer people away from pirate sites has yet to be seen though.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/21/14

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Need-for-SpeedThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Need For Speed is the most downloaded movie this week.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (3) Need For Speed 7.1 / trailer
2 (5) The Other Woman 6.5 / trailer
3 (1) Transcendence 6.4 / trailer
4 (2) Noah 6.3 / trailer
5 (…) Transformers: Age of Extinction (HDTS) 6.3 / trailer
6 (…) Brick Mansions 5.9 / trailer
7 (4) Sabotage 6.0 / trailer
8 (…) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Webrip) 7.4 / trailer
9 (7) Rio 2 6.7 / trailer
10 (10) X-Men: Days of Future Past (HDCAM) 8.5 / trailer

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: UK ISPs and Copyright Holders Praise New Piracy Warning System

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate-cardIn an effort to curb online piracy, earlier this year the movie and music industries reached agreement with the UK’s leading ISPs to send warnings to alleged copyright infringers.

As we previously revealed, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) will only apply to P2P file-sharing and will mainly focus on repeat infringers.

The monitoring will be carried out by a third-party company and unlike other warning systems there won’t be any punishments. The main purpose of the warnings is to alert and educate copyright infringers, in the hope they will move over to legal alternatives.

The program was officially announced today and received support from all parties involved, including the UK Government which is financially backing the measures. Without exception they all praise the warning system and the accompanying educational campaign.

“It is fantastic that the UK creative community and ISPs have come together in partnership to address online copyright infringement and raise awareness about the multitude of legitimate online services available to consumers. We are also grateful to the UK Government for backing this important new initiative,” the MPA’s Chris Marcich comments.

Thus far BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have agreed to send warnings to customers whose connections are being used for unauthorized file-sharing. Commenting on the collaboration, all four ISPs praised the educational nature of the VCAP program.

“BT is committed to supporting the creative industries by helping to tackle the problem of online piracy while ensuring the best possible experience for its customers. That’s why we’ve worked very hard with rights-holders and other leading ISPs to develop a voluntary programme based on consumer education and awareness which promotes the use of legal online content.” BT Consumer CEO John Petter says.

Lyssa McGowan, Director of Sky Broadband, is equally delighted by the anti-piracy agreement.

“As both a content creator and ISP, we understand how vital it is to tackle online copyright infringement in order to protect future investment in content. As a result, we’re pleased [...] to help make consumers aware of illegal downloading and point them towards the wide range of legitimate sites where they can enjoy great content,” she notes.

The comments from the other ISPs, copyright holder groups, and the Government, are all variations on the same theme. The parties praise the new awareness campaign and note that the main goal is to convert consumers to legal alternatives through education.

The question that remains, however, is how genuine all this positivity really is.

While the scheme is being overwhelmed with praise, the parties also announced that the first warning emails will not be sent out before next summer, possibly even later. These delays are a thorn in the side of both copyright holders and the Government, suggesting that negotiations behind the scenes are less uplifting.

This also shows in earlier comments from the Prime Minister’s IP advisor Mike Weatherly who said that it’s already time to think about VCAP’s potential failure. He suggested that the program needs to be followed by something more enforceable, including disconnections, fines and jail sentences.

More background and details on the planned piracy warning are available in our previous VCAP overview article.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Dotcom’s MEGA Blocked in Italy Over Piracy Concerns

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

mega Italian authorities and the local entertainment industry are continuing their war on piracy with yet another round of broad website blockades.

This week Court of Rome Judge Constantino De Robbio ordered all local Internet providers to restrict access to 24 websites including Kim Dotcom’s Mega.co.nz. The list further includes several other cloud storage sites such as Firedrive (formerly known as Putlocker) and even Russia’s largest email provider Mail.ru.

The broad anti-piracy measures were requested by a small independent Italian movie distributor Eyemoon Pictures. The company complained that the sites in question distributed two films, “The Congress” and “Fruitvale Station,” before they were released in Italian cinemas.

It appears that the injunction was issued without a very careful investigation of the true nature of the sites. Kim Dotcom’s Mega.co.nz is known to be very responsive to takedown notices, and the targeting of Russia’s largest email providers is even more baffling.

In a comment Mega CEO Stephen Hall tells TorrentFreak that Mega views the blockade as disproportionate and illegal. The company operates an EU and DMCA compliant takedown process which allows copyright holder to remove infringing files swiftly.

“We believe that the blockade adopted by the Italian Prosecutor is illegal. The blocking order was placed on the basis of a complaint by a small distributor for two films and the effect of the total block is obviously disproportionate,” Hall says.

Hall further points out that the measures are easily circumvented by using Google DNS or any other non-ISP DNS provider. However, the company hopes that it can have the blockade reversed via soon-to-be-filed appeal.

“Mega is taking steps to ensure that our Italian customers regain access to their files without first having to fiddle with their nameserver settings by filing an appeal next week,” Hall adds.

TorrentFreak contacted Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer specialized in Internet and copyright disputes, who told us that the scope of the preliminary injunction is rather broad.

“This is the second-largest website blocking order in Italy, but certainly the most important one considering the names involved,” Sarzana says.

The lawyer is opposed to the measures and welcomes site owners who want to appeal the blockades.

“I see website blocking through DNS and IP-address as a form of censorship. The block can not distinguish between licit and illicit files. It’s like using a bomb broad-spectrum to hit only one person, the collateral damage is very obvious,” Sarzana notes.

The sites affected in today’s actions have an option to appeal the Court’s decision, which has been done before with success.

Earlier this year Rome’s Court of Appeals recalled a blocking order against the video streaming site Filmakerz.org, arguing that it was too broad. In its order the Court specified that partial blocking of a specific URL is preferred over site-wide bans, and that copyright-infringing sites must have a for-profit angle.

The full list of blocked domain names is as follows:

cineblog01.net, cineblog01.tv, ddlstorage.com, divxstage.eu, easybytez.com, filminstreaming.eu, filmstream.info, firedrive.com, mail.ru, mega.co.nz, movshare.sx, nowdownload.ag, nowdownload.sx, nowvideo.sx, piratestreaming.net, primeshare.tv, putlocker.com, rapidvideo.tv, sockshare.com, uploadable.ch, uploadinc.com, video.tt , videopremium.me and youwatch.org

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Firm Wants to Fine Aussie and Canadian File-Sharers

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate-runningFor more than a decade copyright holders have been monitoring pirated downloads of their work on various file-sharing networks.

Traditionally these efforts have focused on the United States where ISPs are required to forward takedown notices to their account holders.

A recent trend has seen these notices become more than mere warnings. Companies such as CEG TEK and Rightscorp also tag on settlement requests, hoping to recoup some of the damages allegedly caused by file-sharers.

Since these requests are sent as DMCA notices, copyright holders do not have to involve the courts. Nonetheless, the ‘fines’ can be as high as several hundred dollars per shared file. Thus far these “automated fines” have been limited to the United States, but soon they will expand to Japan, with Australia and Canada next on the list.

TorrentFreak spoke with CEG TEK’s Kyle Reed who confirmed that they will soon start their piracy monetization service in Japan. At the same time the company will run various tests to see how Aussie and Canadian Internet providers respond to their notices.

“Increased coverage for our monetization clients in additional countries has always been top of mind. We have a base of international clients, some of which call these countries home,” Reed tells TorrentFreak

“Canada and Australia are both hot topics with rights owners and the market conditions afford us the opportunity to initiate ISP compliance testing,” Reed adds.

If the notice forwarding goes well with the ISPs, and there are decent response rates, the company will also begin sending out settlement requests in Australia and Canada.

Internet providers have to be tested in advance, because the settlement scheme fails if ISPs ignore or modify the notices. For example, in the U.S. many of the larger ISPs forward the notice without the actual settlement offer.

CEG TEK is not the only piracy monetization service to consider international expansion. Previously Rightscorp announced that it was interested in offering its services in Canada.

Whether Internet providers in Australia and Canada are willing to cooperate has yet to be seen. In Canada there is currently no legal obligation for ISPs to cooperate, although this will change soon. Australia has a notice and takedown policy but this doesn’t require ISPs to forward the settlement requests.

According to CEG TEK their settlement services are superior to traditional anti-piracy warnings since they stop more unauthorized transfers while making money in the process.

“In the United States and around the world, traditional peer-to-peer anti-piracy methods have proved to be largely ineffective. We have the only peer-to-peer solution shown to decrease infringements and repeat offenders, as well as return monetary settlements to rightful copyright owners,” Reed says.

The irony is of course that these companies will render themselves obsolete if they become too effective, but for now there are still plenty of pirates around.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Traffic Doubles Despite ISP Blockades

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

tpb-logoThe Pirate Bay is without doubt one of the most censored websites on the Internet.

Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site and this list continues to expand.

Denmark was one of the first countries to block The Pirate Bay, but the biggest impact came in 2012 when major ISPs in the UK and the Netherlands were ordered to deny their users access to the site.

The entertainment industries have characterized these blockades as a major victory and claim they’re an efficient tool to deter piracy. The question that has thus far remained unanswered, however, is how Pirate Bay’s traffic numbers are being affected. Is the site on the verge of collapsing?

As it turns out, The Pirate Bay hasn’t stopped growing at all. On the contrary, The Pirate Bay informs TorrentFreak that visitor numbers have doubled since 2011.

The graph below shows the growth in unique visitors and pageviews over the past three years. The Pirate Bay chose not to share actual visitor numbers, but monthly pageviews are believed to run into the hundreds of millions.

Pirate Bay traffic
tpbblockedtraffic

These numbers reveal that the torrent site is still doing quite well, but that doesn’t mean that the blockades are not working. After all, the additional traffic could simply come from other countries.

A better indication for the effectiveness of the blockades are the number of visitors that access the site through proxies. The Pirate Bay told TorrentFreak that roughly 9% of all visitors use proxies. This percentage doesn’t include sites that cache pages.

In other words, a significant percentage of users who don’t have direct access to the site are bypassing court-ordered blockades though proxies.

Interestingly, the United States is by far the biggest traffic source for the notorious torrent site. This is somewhat ironic, as American record labels and movie studios are the driving force behind the blockades in other countries.

All in all it is safe to conclude that censorship is not the silver bullet to stop The Pirate Bay. While it certainly has some impact, there are still millions of people who simply route around the blockades and continue downloading as usual.

Photo

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Solarmovie Domain Gets Stolen by Mysterious Hacker

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

solarmovieWith millions of visitors per week Solarmovie is a thorn in the side of the major movie studios. The site indexes links to pirated copies of movies and TV-shows, which can be streamed directly through third party sites.

Apart from the ISP blockade in the UK, Solarmovie hasn’t run into any significant trouble. However, that changed yesterday when the site’s owner found out that someone had stolen the Solarmovie.tl domain name.

An unknown ‘hacker’ gained access to the name.com registrar where the domain was held and quickly transferred it to another registrar. How this could have happened is a mystery to Solarmovie admin Chris, who notes that they used a secure password.

“We have no idea how the registrar was accessed. The account had a 10 character long randomly generated password,” Chris informs TorrentFreak.

“I wonder why the name.com registrar didn’t send a confirmation link to the account’s primary email when it was changed. Registrars shouldn’t allow changes to login details in such an easy way without triple checking against swindlers,” he adds.

The Solarmovie.tl domain was transferred to EuroDNS and the registrant name changed to Gabriel Vasilica of HAVARD THABO LLP. The stolen domain now redirects to Solarmovie.ag, which initially displayed a “coming soon” landing page, but is now hosting a copy of the Solarmovie website.

The ‘fake’ Solarmovie has put up a notification informing visitors that the .AG domain is the site’s new home.

The “fake” Solarmovie.ag
solarhijack

The ‘real’ Solarmovie, meanwhile, has reverted back to its old Solarmovie.so domain where it remains accessible as usual. They hope that the registrar can help them get the old domain back. Time will tell whether that’s possible.

“Currently we are talking to our registrar about possible measures we can take to have the domain returned. As for now, we revert back to solarmovie.so domain,” Chris says.

While it’s unclear who’s behind the domain hijack there are several signs that it’s the same person who stole the 1Channel.ch domain, which later became Vodly.to. For example, both vodly.to and solarmovie.ag use the same IDs for the Newrelic stats service.

Whoever’s behind the stolen domains and however they pulled it off, other streaming sites should be warned.

Update: Solarmovie’s Twitter account was hijacked briefly as well, but has been restored an hour ago.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Chrome Blocks uTorrent as Malicious and Harmful Software

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

maliciousutorrWith millions of new downloads per month uTorrent is without a doubt the most used BitTorrent client around.

However, since this weekend the number of installs must have dropped quite a bit after Google Chrome began warning users away from the software. According to Chrome the BitTorrent client poses a serious risk.

“uTorrent.exe is malicious and Chrome has blocked it,” the browser informs those who attempt to download the latest stable release.

Chrome does give users the option to restore the file but not without another warning. The browser is convinced that the file is harmful and suggests that the uTorrent website may have been hacked.

“This file will harm your computer. Even if you have downloaded files from this website before, the website may have been hacked. Instead of recovering this file you can retry the download later.”

Blocked
malic-blocked

The first reports of Chrome’s block came in three days ago and at the time of writing the problems persist. The warnings appear for the latest stable release (3.4.2.32354) and no other releases appear to be affected.

Currently there is no indication why the software has been flagged, but a scan by more than 50 of the most popular anti-virus services reveals no active threats.

Google’s safe browsing diagnostic page claims that the uTorrent website was involved in malware distribution in recent months, but no further details on the nature of the supposed malware are provided.

“This site has hosted malicious software over the past 90 days. It infected 4 domain(s), including kioskea.net/, ziggi.uol.com.br/, majorgeeks.com/,” the diagnostics page reads.

This isn’t the first time that uTorrent has reported problems with Chrome. The same happened late last year when the malware blocking feature was still in beta. At the time uTorrent parent company BitTorrent Inc. managed to resolve the issues after several days.

Thus far, none of the developers have responded to user complaints in the uTorrent forums.

Update We discovered that uTorrent occasionally serves other versions as well, these are not blocked. The vast majority of the downloads are still blocked though.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: File-Sharing Doesn’t Hurt Box Office Revenue, Research Finds

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

piracy-progressResearch into online piracy comes in all shapes and sizes, often with equally mixed results. Often the main question is whether piracy is hurting sales.

A new study conducted by economist Koleman Strumpf is one of the most comprehensive on the subject so far.

Drawing on data from a popular BitTorrent tracker and revenue projections from the Hollywood Stock Exchange he researches how the release of a pirated movie affects expected box office income.

The research covers 150 of the most popular films that were released over a period of seven years, and the findings reveal that the release of pirated films on file-sharing sites doesn’t directly hurt box office revenue.

“There is no evidence in my empirical results of file-sharing having a significant impact on theatrical revenue,” Strumpf tells TorrentFreak in a comment.

“My best guess estimate is that file sharing reduced the first month box office by $200 million over 2003-2009, which is only three tenths of a percent of what movies actually earned. I am unable to reject the hypothesis that there is no impact at all of file-sharing on revenues.”

So while there is a small negative effect, this is limited to three tenth of a percent and not statistically significant.

Interestingly, the data also reveals that movie leaks shortly before the premiere have a small positive impact on expected revenues. This suggests that file-sharing may serve as a form of promotion.

“One consistent result is that file-sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue. One explanation is that such releases create greater awareness of the film. This is also the period of heaviest advertising,” Strumpf notes.

One of the advantages of this study compared to previous research is that it measures the direct effect of a movie leak on projected box office revenues. Previous studies mostly compared early versus late leaks, which is less accurate and may be influenced by other factors.

“For example, suppose studios added extra security to big budget movies which then have a delayed arrival to file-sharing networks. Then even if file-sharing has no impact at all, one would find that delayed arrival on file-sharing leads to higher revenues,” Strumpf tells us.

Another upside of the research lies in the statistical precision. The data includes thousands of daily observations and relatively precise estimates, something lacking in most previous studies.

The downside, on the other hand, is that the expected box office impact is estimated from the Hollywood Stock Exchange. While this has shown to be a good predictor for actual revenues, it’s not a direct measurement.

In any case, the paper suggests that file-sharing might not be the biggest threat the movie industry is facing.

Even if the negative effects were twice as big as the data suggests, it would still be less than the $500 million Hollywood spent on the MPAA’s anti-piracy efforts during the same period.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent to Crowdfund TV-Show Through New Paywall

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

bundleFollowing in the footsteps of FrostWire and VODO, BitTorrent Inc. launched an artist promotion program a few years ago.

The idea was to let artists share their work for free, exposing it to millions of BitTorrent users all around the world.

Helped by a massive user base of more than 170 million the program has been very successful. But, aside from promotion some artists would also like to see some hard cash in return. This is now an option thanks to the “paygate” uTorrent’s parent company will launch this September.

The walled content can only be accessed and shared after a user pays a fixed fee to the creator. To prevent users from sharing it without permission there will be some restrictions in place.

The paywall idea was initially announced last year and film producer Marco Weber will be one of the first to try it in the wild. Through BitTorrent, Weber will release a pilot of the new TV-series “Children of the Machine” and those who like it can pay $9.95 to buy the entire series.

“If viewers fall in love with the show, they can purchase the entire series in advance via Bundle paygates. Once the funding threshold is reached — 250K subscribers — the first season will be produced, and delivered back to the fans who kicked in to support the project,” BitTorrent announces.

The filmmaker chose the crowdfunding format, which means that if the project is not funded the series will never see the light of day. This is a serious possibility as no artists have ever raised more than a few thousand dollars, even though many have tried.

The film producer is nevertheless confident that the the project will turn into a success.

“With over 170 million users, BitTorrent is a powerhouse. Add in paygates, and you have a fantastic tool to distribute content to a growing, influential youth audience,” Weber says.

The good news is that many of these millions of BitTorrent users are already familiar with downloading TV-shows, be it without permission. However, an often heard excuse for this deviant behavior is that it takes too long before an episode becomes available through legal channels, so whether these people will be patient enough to prepay a series months in advance will remain to be seen.

Both Weber and BitTorrent Inc. have to be applauded for giving it a try and it will be interesting to see the results.

BitTorrent isn’t the first to experiment with these new models though. The VODO platform has used a similar paywall system for quite some time, and together with The Pirate Bay and several other torrent sites they helped to crowdfund the TV-series Pioneer One.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/14/14

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

transcenThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Transcendence is the most downloaded movie this week.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (2) Transcendence 6.4 / trailer
2 (1) Noah 6.3 / trailer
3 (…) Need For Speed 7.1 / trailer
4 (…) Sabotage 6.0 / trailer
5 (5) The Other Woman 6.5 / trailer
6 (…) Muppets Most Wanted 6.8 / trailer
7 (3) Rio 2 6.7 / trailer
8 (4) A Million Ways to Die in the West (Webrip) 6.4 / trailer
9 (7) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (HDTS) 8.2 / trailer
10 (6) X-Men: Days of Future Past (HDCAM) 8.5 / trailer

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.