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TorrentFreak: UK Piracy Blocklist Expands With Demonoid, Isohunt, IPTorrents and More

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

stop-blockedThe list of websites that are blocked in the UK for facilitating copyright infringement is getting longer and longer.

This week a new High Court ruling orders Sky, BT, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, Telefonica UK and Virgin to block access to 32 piracy related sites.

The newly blocked sites include Demonoid, Watchseries, IPTorrents, TorrentDay, IceFilms, Rarbg and have millions of visitors a day combined.

BT already started adding the new sites to its blocklist yesterday, which caused some confusion among subscribers. The other ISPs are expected to follow suit within the days to come.

This is the first time that private torrent sites are blocked in the UK. This is noteworthy, because sites such as IPTorrents.com, BitSoup.me and TorrentDay.com have no pirated files listed in public. Instead, these are only available to members of the sites in question.

IPTorrents (IPT)
iptorrents

The latest court order comes after the Motion Picture Association (MPA) filed a complaint that remained uncontested by the ISPs. Because the ISPs have given up on defending their position in court, it is now a mere formality for copyright holders to have a pirate site banned.

Chris Marcich, President and Managing Director of the MPA, Europe, Middle East and Africa, believes that the ISP blockades are an effective and legitimate tool to deter online copyright infringement.

“Securing court orders requiring ISPs to block access to illegal websites is an accepted and legitimate measure to tackle online copyright infringement,” Marcich says.

“It carefully targets sites whose sole purpose is to make money off the back of other people’s content while paying nothing back into the legitimate economy,” he adds.

Whether the present blocks will be more than a drop in the ocean has yet to be seen. There are many other streaming portals that are still available, which means that the movie studios will probably be back in court in a few months.

—-

The full list of sites that are currently blocked in the UK is as follows:

New: watchseries.lt, Stream TV, Watchseries-online, Cucirca, Movie25, watchseries.to, Iwannawatch, Warez BB, Ice Films, Tehparadox, Heroturko, Scene Source,, Rapid Moviez, Iwatchonline, Los Movies, Isohunt, Torrentz.pro, Torrentbutler, IP Torrents, Sumotorrent, Torrent Day, Torrenting, BitSoup, TorrentBytes, Seventorrents, Torrents.fm, Yourbittorrent, Tor Movies , Demonoid, torrent.cd, Vertor, Rar BG.

Previously blocked: bittorrent.am, btdigg.org, btloft.com, bts.to, limetorrents.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, seedpeer.me, torlock.com, torrentbit.net, torrentdb.li, torrentdownload.ws, torrentexpress.net, torrentfunk.com, torrentproject.com, torrentroom.com, torrents.net, torrentus.eu, torrentz.cd, torrentzap.com, vitorrent.org.Megashare, Viooz, Watch32, Zmovie, Solarmovie, Tubeplus, Primewire, Vodly, Watchfreemovies, Project-Free TV, Yify-Torrents, 1337x, Bitsnoop, Extratorrent, Monova, Torrentcrazy, Torrentdownloads, Torrentreactor, Torrentz, Ambp3, Beemp3, Bomb-mp3, Eemp3world, Filecrop, Filestube, Mp3juices, Mp3lemon, Mp3raid, Mp3skull, Newalbumreleases, Rapidlibrary, EZTV, FirstRowSports, Download4all, Movie2K, KickAssTorrents, Fenopy, H33T and The Pirate Bay.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Site ‘Hijacks’ MPAA’s Movie Search Engine

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

popcorncabEarlier this month Hollywood launched its very own search engine for movies and TV-shows. With WhereToWatch people can lookup the latest entertainment to check if and where it’s available.

The site offers a very handy service aimed at steering people away from pirate sites and promoting legal options. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t change the fact that most new films aren’t available for streaming or download.

To fill this gap torrent site PopcornCab decided to release a userscript that adds torrent links to the MPAA’s website. The code, which works in all modern browsers through an extension, makes WhereToWatch even more usable according to the PopcornCab team.

PopcornCab’s Travis McCrea, who also runs the eBook library Tuebl.ca and previously headed U.S. and Canadian Pirate parties, tells TF that he’s not a fan of the “morally corrupt” MPAA, but that their new site is a step in the right direction.

“I actually really like WhereToWatch and think it’s a great concept so getting people using the website to see what streaming options are available to them is nice in my opinion,” he says.

McCrea himself has subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. The user experience of these legal services is much better than torrents, he says, but the availability is lacking. In this regard, adding torrents is a win-win.

“I get to encourage people to go to WhereToWatch and see if maybe a streaming solution appeals to them but also give them a link to the torrent files from PopcornCab,” McCrea says.

Below is what a PopcornCab listing looks like when the userscript is enabled. The other streaming and download options are still listed as well, below the torrent link.

WhereToWatch with torrents
wheretotorrent

McCrea tells us that PopcornCab, previously know as TorMovies.org, is mainly operated by a friend who prefers to stay out of the spotlight. Many hours have gone into designing the user interface where it sets itself apart from most other torrent sites.

“I find that torrent sites frequently neglect user experience in favor of raw information, and I hate that. PopcornCab brings you a beautiful website which helps you find movies and TV shows with a great interface,” McCrea notes.

McCrea has considered the possible legal repercussions that come with running a torrent site in public and daring the MPAA, but he’s not worried. If he’s arrested, there’s someone else who can take over, he notes.

“I believe in what I am doing, I believe sharing culture is a fundamental right of every person on Earth and so civil penalties don’t scare me. That said, we are pretty careful to dot our I’s and cross our T’s legally so we SHOULD be fine…,” McCrea says.

PopcornCab’s operator has grown used to facing legal threats. Although he is convinced that they’re not doing anything illegal, there is an emergency fund available for the worst case scenario.

“I have money just sitting in a legal trust, and am almost getting disappointed that it isn’t being used…. but not that disappointed,” he says.

While legal trouble can’t be guaranteed, McCrea is certainly drawing attention from Hollywood with his latest project. So this bag of money may come in handy in the future.

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Goes Down Locally

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

tpb-logoMany U.S. Internet subscribers across various ISPs are experiencing trouble accessing The Pirate Bay at the moment.

Every time TPB becomes inaccessible thousands of people begin to worry that their ISPs have begun blocking or that something awful has happened to their beloved site.

However, the current downtime appears to be a routing issue as the site is still reachable in most parts of the world.

There’s also good news for people who can’t access The Pirate Bay at the moment because many of the proxies are still working just fine, as do VPNs.

TF reached out to the TBC crew who confirmed that that there are connectivity problems. However, this appears to be beyond their control.

“As far as we are concerned TPB is online. Network connectivity issues are outside of our control. Many people are experiencing no issues connecting to TPB,” a TPB crew member says.

“Sooner or later these routing issues will be resolved. In the meantime, a proxy or VPN can be used,” he adds.

There is no ETA for when the problems will be resolved but the most resilient torrent site is expected come back online for everyone eventually.

Stay tuned.

Pirate Bay Downtime

tpb

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

TorrentFreak: BT Starts Blocking Private Torrent Sites

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

bt-blockedFollowing a series of High Court orders, six UK ISPs are currently required to block subscriber access to dozens of the world’s largest torrent sites.

The latest order was issued last month after a complaint from the major record labels. It expands the UK blocklist by 21 torrent sites, including limetorrents.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, seedpeer.me and torlock.com.

This weekend both BT and Sky implemented the new changes, making it harder for their subscribers to reach these sites. Interestingly, however, BT appears to have gone above and beyond the court order, limiting access to various other sites as well.

Over the past several days TorrentFreak has received reports from several users of private torrent sites who get an “error blocked” message instead of their favorite sites. These include the popular IPTorrents.com and TorrentDay.com trackers, as well as scene release site Scnsrc.me.

IPTorrents and Torrentday are significant targets. Although both sites require prospective users to obtain an invite from a current member (or from the site itself in exchange for cash), they have over a hundred thousand active users.

The error displayed when BT subscribers try to access the above URLs is similar to that returned when users to try access sites covered by High Court injunctions.

However, there is no known court decision that requires BT to block these URLs. In fact, no UK ISP has ever blocked a private torrent site before.

TF contacted BT’s press contact and customer service team but we have yet to receive a response to our findings. Meanwhile, several of the affected users are discussing on Facebook and Twitter how they can bypass the blockades.

bt-blocked

It appears that for now IPTorrents is still accessible via https and via the site’s alternative .me and .ru domains. In addition, VPNs and proxy servers are often cited among suggested workaround techniques.

Whether the private torrent sites will remain blocked and on what grounds remains a mystery for now. We will update this article if BT sends us a response. BT users who spot more unusual blocks are encouraged to get in touch.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Asked to Censor Three Million Pirate Bay URLs

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

pirate bayDespite the criminal prosecution of The Pirate Bay four, the notorious torrent site remains available to the public at large.

TPB is setup to make it especially difficult for law enforcement to take it down, so copyright holders have to turn to third parties to address the threat.

One of the main strategies is to ask Google and other search engines to remove infringing Pirate Bay URLs from their search results.

Google in particular is heavily targeted and this week the number of thepiratebay.se URLs submitted to Google reached the three million mark. Nearly all of these links have indeed been removed and can no longer be accessed through search results.

The chart below shows the number of links that have been submitted per week. There is a sharp decline towards the end of 2013 when The Pirate Bay used another domain name. The requests increased again in December when the torrent site switched back.

3 Million Pirate Bay URLs reported
thepiratebay3m

While most of the reported links do indeed point to copyrighted material, some none-infringing pages have been removed as well.

Paramount Pictures, for example, asked to remove this blog post where a comment mentions “the beast of hercules,” not the Hercules movie. Similarly, TPB’s Doodles page is gone because an adult entertainment company confused it with Kelly Madison’s “Yankee Doodle Dame”

In total, the three million URLs were submitted in 135,486 separate takedown notices, averaging more than 22 links per takedown request. A staggering number, but one that pales in comparison to other sites.

Looking at the list of domains for which Google received the most URLs removal requests, The Pirate Bay is currently listed in 23rd place. The top spot goes to rapidgator.net with close to 13 million URLs, followed by 4shared.com, filestube.com, dilandau.eu and zippyshare.com. Torrentz.eu, the first torrent site in the list, comes in 8th with 5.4 million URLs.

For The Pirate Bay the reduced availability in Google is not much of a problem. Previously the Pirate Bay team informed TorrentFreak that they stopped relying on search engines as a traffic source a long time ago.

And indeed, despite the censored pages The Pirate Bay’s traffic has continued to grow. Even today the site remains among the 100 most visited websites on the Internet.

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

TorrentFreak: Piracy Monetization Firm Rightscorp Sued for Harassment and Abuse

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

rightscorp-realCopyright holders have been sending DMCA takedown notices to ISPs for over a decade, but in recent years these warnings turned into revenue opportunities.

Companies such as Rightscorp ask U.S. ISPs to forward DMCA notices to subscribers,with a settlement offer tagged on to the end. On behalf of Warner Bros, BMG and others Rightscorp asks subscribers to pay $20 per pirated file or risk a potential $150,000 in court.

In recent months there have been various complaints from people who were aggressively approached by Rightscorp, which has now resulted in a class-action complaint against the piracy monetization firm.

The lawsuit was filed at a California federal court on behalf of Karen Reif, Isaac Nesmith and others who were approached by Rightscorp. In the complaint, Rightscorp is accused of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, violations of debt Collection laws and Abuse of Process.

One of the allegations describes the repeated use of robo-calls to alleged infringers. A summary of what happened to Karen Reif shows that once Rightscorp knows who you are, they don’t give up easily.

“By late September of 2014, Ms. Reif was receiving on average about one robo-call per day, and sometimes one robo-call and one live call in the same day.These calls came in from a variety of different numbers, from different area codes all over the country,” the complaint alleges.

This bombardment of harassing robo-calls is a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the lawyers argue.

The class-action further includes a long list of violations regarding Rightscorp’s debt collection practices, violating both the FDCPA and the Rosenthal Act.

“Among other wrongful conduct: Rightscorp has engaged in telephone harassment and abuse; made various false and misleading representations; engaged in unfair collections practices; failed to provide validation and required notices relating to the debts..,” the complaint reads.

In addition to the above Rightscorp allegedly made false representations that ISPs were participating in the debt collection. For example, the warning letter stated that ISPs would disconnect repeat infringers, something that rarely happened.

Finally, the complaint raises the issue of Rightscorp’s controversial DMCA subpoenas which demand that smaller ISPs should hand over personal details of their subscribers. Thus far most ISPs have complied, but according to the complaint these requests are a “sham and abuse” of the legal process.

“To identify potential consumers to target, Rightscorp has willfully misused this Court’s subpoena power by issuing at least 142 special DMCA subpoenas, per [the DMCA], to various Internet Service Providers.”

“These subpoenas, which were issued on this Court’s authority, but procured outside of an adversarial proceeding and without any judicial review, are so clearly legally invalid as to be a sham and abuse of the legal process,” the complaint reads.

The above is just a summary of the long list of complaints being brought against Rightscorp. With these settlement practices becoming more common, the case will definitely be one to watch.

Attorney Morgan Pietz is confident that they have a strong case and told FCT that other Rightscorp victims are invited to get in touch.

“We would still be very interested to talking to anyone who was being contacted by Rightscorp or who paid settlements, particularly anyone who was getting the pre-recorded robo-calls,” Pietz said.

For Rightscorp the lawsuit is yet another setback. Earlier this month the piracy monetization firm reported that it continues to turn a loss, which may eventually drive the company towards bankruptcy.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 11/24/14

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

guardiansThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Guardians of the Galaxy is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

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 (1) Guardians of the Galaxy 8.5 / trailer
2 (…) Lucy 6.5 / trailer
3 (2) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 8.0 / trailer
4 (…) Predestination 7.6 / trailer
5 (3) Dracula Untold 6.3 / trailer
6 (…) Falcon Rising 5.7 / trailer
7 (4) If I Stay 7.0 / trailer
8 (…) Interstellar (TS) 9.0 / trailer
9 (6) Let’s Be Cops 6.7 / trailer
10 (5) The November Man 6.3 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Google Refuses MPAA Request to Blacklist ‘Pirate Site’ Homepages

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

google-bayEvery week copyright holders send millions of DMCA takedown notices to Google, hoping to make pirated movies and music harder to find.

The music industry groups RIAA and BPI are among the most active senders. Together they have targeted more than 170 million URLs in recent years.

The MPAA’s statistics are more modest. Thus far the Hollywood group has asked Google to remove only 19,288 links from search results. The most recent request is one worth highlighting though, as it shows a clear difference of opinion between Hollywood and Google.

Last week the MPAA sent a DMCA request listing 81 allegedly infringing pages, mostly torrent and streaming sites.

Unlike most other copyright holders, the MPAA doesn’t list the URLs where the pirated movies are linked from, but the site’s homepages instead. This is a deliberate strategy, one that previously worked against KickassTorrents.

However, this time around Google was less receptive. As can be seen below most of the MPAA’s takedown requests were denied. In total, Google took “no action” for 60 of the 81 submitted URLs, including casa-cinema.net, freemoviestorrents.com and solarmovie.is.

Part of MPAA’s takedown request
mpaa-takedown-refusal

It’s unclear why Google refused to take action, but it seems likely that the company views the MPAA’s request as too broad. While the sites’ homepages may indirectly link to pirated movies, for most this required more than one click from the homepage.

We previously asked Google under what circumstances a homepage might be removed from search results. A spokesperson couldn’t go into detail but noted that “it’s more complex than simply counting how many clicks one page is from another.”

“We’ve designed a variety of policies to comply with the requirements of the law, while weeding out false positives and material that’s too remote from infringing activity,” Google spokesperson told us.

In this case Google appears to see most reported homepages as not infringing, at least not for the works the MPAA specified.

The MPAA previously said that it would like to move towards blocking pirate sites from search engines entirely, however Google’s recent actions suggest that the company doesn’t want to go this far just yet.

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

TorrentFreak: Fail: MPAA Makes Legal Content Unfindable In Google

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

wheretowatchThe entertainment industries have gone head to head with Google in recent months, demanding tougher anti-piracy measures from the search engine.

According to the MPAA and others, Google makes it too easy for its users to find pirated content. Instead, they would prefer Google to downrank sites such as The Pirate Bay from its search results or remove them entirely.

A few weeks ago Google took additional steps to decrease the visibility of pirated content, but the major movie studios haven’t been sitting still either.

Last week MPAA announced the launch of WhereToWatch.com, a website that lists where movies and TV-shows can be watched legally.

“WheretoWatch.com offers a simple, streamlined, comprehensive search of legitimate platforms – all in one place. It gives you the high-quality, easy viewing experience you deserve while supporting the hard work and creativity that go into making films and shows,” the MPAA’s Chris Dodd commented.

At first glance WhereToWatch offers a rather impressive database of entertainment content. It even features TorrentFreak TV, although this is listed as “not available” since the MPAA’s service doesn’t index The Pirate Bay.

Overall, however, it’s a decent service. WhereToWatch could also be an ideal platform to beat pirate sites in search results, something the MPAA desperate wants to achieve.

Sadly for the MPAA that is only a “could” since Google and other search engines currently have a hard time indexing the site. As it turns out, the MPAA’s legal platform isn’t designed with even the most basic SEO principles in mind.

For example, if Google visits the movie overview page all links to individual pages are hidden by Javascript, and the search engine only sees this. As a result, movie and TV-show pages in the MPAA’s legal platform are invisible to Google.

Google currently indexes only one movie page, which was most likely indexed through an external link. With Bing the problem is just as bad.

wtw-google

It’s worth noting that WhereToWatch doesn’t block search engines from spidering its content through the robots.txt file. It’s just the coding that makes it impossible for search engines to navigate and index the site.

This is a pretty big mistake, considering that the MPAA repeatedly hammered on Google to feature more legal content. With some proper search engine optimization (SEO) advice they can probably fix the problem in the near future.

Previously Google already offered SEO tips to copyright holders, but it’s obvious that the search engine wasn’t consulted in this project.

To help the MPAA on its way we asked isoHunt founder Gary Fung for some input. Last year Fung lost his case to the MPAA, forcing him to shut down the site, but he was glad to offer assistance nonetheless.

“I suggest MPAA optimize for search engine keywords such as ‘download ‘ and ‘torrent ‘. For some reason when people google for movies, that’s what they actually search for,” Fung tells us.

A pretty clever idea indeed, as the MPAA’s own research shows that pirate-related search terms are often used to “breed” new pirates.

Perhaps it’s an idea for the MPAA to hire Fung or other “industry” experts for some more advice. Or better still, just look at how the popular pirate sites have optimized their sites to do well in search engines, and steal their work.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Copyright Alert System Security Could Be Improved, Review Finds

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

spyFebruary last year the MPAA, RIAA and five major Internet providers in the United States launched their “six strikes” anti-piracy plan.

The Copyright Alert System’s main goal is to inform subscribers that their Internet connections are being used to share copyrighted material without permission. These alerts start out friendly in tone, but repeat infringers face a temporary disconnection from the Internet or other mitigation measures.

The evidence behind the accusations is provided by MarkMonitor, which monitors BitTorrent users’ activities on copyright holders’ behalf. The overseeing Center for Copyright Information (CCI) previously hired an impartial and independent technology expert to review the system, hoping to gain trust from the public.

Their first pick, Stroz Friedberg, turned out to be not that impartial as the company previously worked as RIAA lobbyists. To correct this unfortunate choice, CCI assigned Professor Avi Rubin of Harbor Labs to re-examine the system.

This week CCI informed us that a summary of Harbor Labs’s findings is now available to the public. The full review is not being published due to the vast amount of confidential information it contains, but the overview of the findings does provide some interesting details.

Overall, Harbor Labs concludes that the evidence gathering system is solid and that false positives, cases where innocent subscribers are accused, are reasonably minimized.

“We conclude, based on our review, that the MarkMonitor AntiPiracy system is designed to ensure that there are no false positives under reasonable and realistic assumptions. Moreover, the system produces thorough case data for alleged infringement tracking.”

However, there is some room for improvement. For example, MarkMonitor could implement additional testing to ensure that false positives and human errors are indeed caught.

“… we believe that the system would benefit from additional testing and that the existing structure leaves open the potential for preventable failures. Additionally, we recommend that certain elements of operational security be enhanced,” Harbor Labs writes.

In addition, the collected evidence may need further protections to ensure that it can’t be tampered with or fall into the wrong hands.

“… we believe that this collected evidence and other potentially sensitive data is not adequately controlled. While MarkMonitor does protect the data from outside parties, its protection against inside threats (e.g., potential rogue employees) is minimal in terms of both policy and technical enforcement.”

The full recommendations as detailed in the report are as follows:

recommendations

The CCI is happy with the new results, which they say confirm the findings of the earlier Stroz Friedberg review.

“The Harbor Labs report reaffirms the findings from our first report – conducted by Stroz Friedberg – that the CAS is well designed and functioning as we hoped,” CCI informs TF.

In the months to come the operators of the Copyright Alert System will continue to work with copyright holders to make further enhancements and modifications to their processes.

“As the CAS exits the initial ramp-up period, CCI has been assured by our content owners that they have taken all recommendations made within both reports into account and are continuing to focus on maintaining the robust system that minimizes false positives and protects customer security and privacy,” CCI adds.

Meanwhile, they will continue to alert Internet subscribers to possible infringements. After nearly two years copyright holders have warned several million users, hoping to convert then to legal alternatives.

Thus far there’s no evidence that Copyright Alerts have had a significant impact on piracy rates. However, the voluntary agreement model is being widely embraced by various stakeholders and similar schemes are in the making in both the UK and Australia.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrents Good For a Third of all Internet Traffic in Asia-Pacific

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

download-keyboardOver the years we have been following various reports on changes in Internet traffic, specifically in relation to torrents.

One of the patterns that emerged with the rise of video streaming services is that BitTorrent is losing its share of total Internet traffic, in North America at least, where good legal services are available.

This downward spiral is confirmed by the latest report from Sandvine which reveals that torrent traffic is now responsible for ‘only’ 5% of all U.S. Internet traffic in North America during peak hours, compared to 10.3% last year.

In other countries, however, this decrease is not clearly visible. In Europe, for example, the percentage of Internet traffic during peak hours has remained stable over the past two years at roughly 15%, while absolute traffic increased during the same period.

In Asia-Pacific BitTorrent traffic there’s yet another trend. Here, torrents are booming with BitTorrent traffic increasing more than 50% over the past year.

asia-pacific

According to Sandvine torrents now account for 32% of all traffic during peak hours, up from 21%. Since overall traffic use also increased during the same period, absolute traffic has more than doubled.

Looking at upstream data alone torrents are good for more than 55% of all traffic during peak hours.

One of the countries where unauthorized BitTorrent usage has been growing in recent years is Australia, which has one of the highest piracy rates in the world.

There are several reasons why torrents are growing in popularity, but the lack of good legal alternatives is expected to play an important role. It’s often hard or expensive to get access to the latest movies and TV-shows in this region.

It will be interesting to see whether this trend will reverse during the coming years as more legal services come online. Netflix’ arrival in Australia next year, for example, is bound to shake things up.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Brands Kim Dotcom a Fugitive, ‘Spies’ on Others

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

megaupload-logoIt’s been nearly three years since Megaupload was taken down by the U.S. authorities but it’s still uncertain whether Kim Dotcom and his fellow defendants will be extradited overseas.

Two months ago the U.S. Government launched a separate civil action in which it asked the court to forfeit the bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants, claiming they were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes.

Megaupload responded to these allegations at the federal court in Virginia with a motion to dismiss the complaint. According to Megaupload’s lawyers the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) is making up crimes that don’t exist.

In addition, Dotcom and his co-defendants claimed ownership of the assets U.S. authorities are trying to get their hands on. A few days ago the DoJ responded to these claims, arguing that they should be struck from the record as Dotcom and his colleagues are fugitives.

In a motion (pdf) submitted to a Virginia District Court the U.S. asks for the claims of the defendants to be disregarded based on the doctrine of fugitive disentitlement.

“Claimants Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, and Sven Echternach, are deliberately avoiding prosecution by declining to enter the United States where the criminal case is pending,” U.S. Attorney Dana Boente writes.

“The key issue in determining whether a person is a fugitive from justice is that person’s intent. A defendant who flees with intent to avoid arrest is a fugitive from justice,” he adds.

Since Kim Dotcom and his New Zealand-based Megaupload colleagues are actively fighting their extradition they should be seen as fugitives, the DoJ concludes.

“Those claimants who are fighting extradition on the criminal charges in the related criminal case, claimants van der Kolk, Batato, Kim Dotcom, and Ortmann, are fugitives within the meaning of the statute, regardless of the reason for their opposition.”

Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken disagrees with this line of reasoning. He told TF that the fugitive disentitlement doctrine shouldn’t apply here.

“The DOJ is trying to win the Megaupload case on procedure rather than the merits. Most people don’t realize that Kim Dotcom has never been to the United States,” Rothken says.

A person who has never been to the United States and is currently going through a lawful procedure in New Zealand shouldn’t be seen as a fugitive, according to Rothken.

The recent DoJ filing also highlights another aspect of the case. According to a declaration by special FBI agent Rodney Hays, the feds have obtained “online conversations” of Julius Bencko and Sven Echternach, the two defendants who currently reside in Europe.

These conversations were obtained by law enforcement officers and show that the authorities were ‘spying’ on some of the defendants months after Megaupload was raided.

tapped

“During a conversation that occurred on or about March 28, 2012, Bencko allegedly told a third-party, ‘I can come to Bratislava [Slovakia] if needed .. bu [sic] you know .. rather not travel around much .. ‘ Later in the conversation, Bencko states ‘i’m facing 55 years in usa’,” the declaration reads.

In addition to the two defendants, law enforcement also obtained a conversation of Kim’s wife Mona Dotcom, who is not a party in the case herself.

“During a conversation that occurred on or about February 9, 2012 a third-party told Mona Dotcom, ‘Also Julius [Bencko] wants Kim [Dotcom] to know that he will be supportive in what ever way possible that he needs’,”

According to the U.S. the ‘tapped’ conversations of Bencko and Echternach show that since they are avoiding travel to the United States, they too can be labeled fugitives.

It’s unclear how the online conversations were obtained, but Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken told TF that he wouldn’t be surprised if civil liberties were violated in the process, as has happened before in the case.

Whether these fugitive arguments will be accepted by the court has yet to be seen. Highlighting the motion Megaupload submitted earlier, Rothken notes that regardless of these arguments the case should be dismissed because the court lacks jurisdiction.

“The United States doesn’t have a stature for criminal copyright infringement,” Rothken tells us. “We believe that the case should be dismissed based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”

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

TorrentFreak: Court: $30,000 for Sharing a Pirated Movie is Excessive Punishment

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

cashOver the past several years hundreds of thousands of Internet subscribers have been sued in the United States for allegedly sharing copyrighted material, mostly films, online.

The goal of these lawsuits is to encourage alleged downloader to settle, and in some cases copyright holders continue proceedings against the defendants after being identified by their ISPs.

If the alleged pirates then fail to respond, the rightsholder can ask the court for a default judgment, where they usually get their way.

This also happened in lawsuits brought by the makers of the independent films Elf-Man and The Thompsons. In both cases the copyright holders asked the court for a default judgment of $30,000 for sharing a single film.

With 11 defendants, including one couple who would share the fine, the potential damage award amounted to a massive $300,000. The copyright holders argued that this is justified since they suffered significant losses as a result, but the court disagreed.

In related orders U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice notes that a $30,000 punishment per shared film is excessive, considering the evidence that was presented.

“This Court finds the evidence in this case, which merely shows that each Defendant copied and published via BitTorrent Plaintiff’s motion picture––the cost of which to rent or purchase was less than $20––rather than distributed for commercial resale, does not support a $30,000 penalty for each Defendant,” Judge Rice writes.

In his order the Judge refers to the Eighth Amendment which prohibits excessive fines as well as cruel and unusual punishments. In this case the requested damages are unconstitutional as they’re seen as excessive in relation to the nature of the offense.

“This Court finds an award of $30,000 for each defendant would be an excessive punishment considering the seriousness of each Defendant’s conduct and
the sum of money at issue,” the order reads.

The filmmakers argued that the pirated downloads threaten the financing of future films and that high damages could serve as a deterrent. Judge Rice, however, was not convinced and set these arguments aside.

“… this Court is unpersuaded that the remote damages––’downstream revenue’ and destroyed plans for a sequel due, in part, to piracy––justify an award of $30,000 per defendant, even in light of the statute’s goal of deterrence.”

Judge Rice opted to award the minimum in statutory damages instead, which is $750 per film. In addition, he awarded $2,225 in attorney fees per defendant, which brings the total to a little under $3,000.

This is not the first time that the Eighth Amendment has been raised in a file-sharing case. The same argument was used to lower the damages award in RIAA’s case against Jammie Thomas, although this was overturned on appeal.

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

TorrentFreak: Artists and Labels Now Sue Chrysler Over CD-Ripping Cars

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

ripping-carToward the end of the last century record labels feared that home taping would kill the music industry.

To counter the threat cassette tape recorders posed at the time, they asked Congress to take action.

This eventually resulted in the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) of 1992. Under this law importers and manufacturers must pay royalties on “digital audio recording devices,” among other things.

The legislation is still in play today. Instead of targeting cassette recorders, however, the threats are now other copying devices. According to the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies, this includes media entertainment systems that are built into many cars.

This week the music group, which lists major record labels and 300,000 artists among its members, sued Chrysler and its technology partner Mitsubishi (pdf) for failing to pay royalties.

The dispute revolves around Chrysler’s media entertainment systems including “MyGIG” and “Uconnect Media Center” which allow car owners to rip CDs to a hard drive.

“These devices are covered by the AHRA, but the defendants have refused to pay royalties on them or include the required serial copy protections,” AARC Executive Director Linda Bocchi comments.

The music group reached out to Chrysler and Mitsubishi hoping to settle the issue, but these talks failed. As a result AARC saw no other option than to take the case to court.

“We had hoped Chrysler and the Mitsubishi Electric companies would settle their liability and begin paying what they owe once they had an opportunity to study and assess the issues,” Bocchi says.

“But it has now become painfully clear they have no intention of complying with the law. While litigation is always a last resort, it is clear this lawsuit is the only way to protect our members’ rights.”

The current lawsuit follows an earlier case against Ford and General Motors, which is still ongoing.

In both cases artists and record labels are looking for 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.

Ford has already filed a motion to dismiss arguing that AHRA doesn’t apply to their systems, and the other defendants including Chrysler are likely to do the same. Whose side the court will agree with is expected to become clear in the months to come.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Pays University $1,000,000 For Piracy Research

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

mpaa-logoLast week the MPAA submitted its latest tax filing covering 2013. While there are few changes compared to previous years there is one number that sticks out like a sore thumb.

The movie industry group made a rather sizable gift of $912,000 to Carnegie Mellon University, a figure that neither side has made public before.

This brings the MPAA’s total investment in the University over the past two years to more than a million dollars.

The money in question goes to the University’s “Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics” (IDEA) that researches various piracy related topics. During 2012 MPAA also contributed to the program, albeit significantly less at $100,000.

TF contacted IDEA co-director Rahul Telang, who told us that much of the money is spent on hiring researchers and, buying data from third parties and covering other research related expenses.

“For any substantial research program to progress it needs funding, and needs access to data and important stakeholders who care about this research. IDEA center has benefited from this funding significantly,” he says, emphasizing that the research applies to academic standards.

“All research is transparent, goes through academic peer review, and published in various outlets,” Telang adds.

While IDEA’s researchers operate independently, without an obligation to produce particular studies, their output thus far is in line with Hollywood’s agenda.

One study showed that the Megaupload shutdown boosted digital sales while another reviewed academic literature to show that piracy mostly hurts revenues. The MPAA later used these results to discredit an independent study which suggested that Megaupload’s closure hurt box office revenues.

Aside from countering opponents in the press, the MPAA also uses the research to convince lawmakers that tougher anti-piracy measures are warranted.

Most recently, an IDEA paper showed that search engines can help to diminish online piracy, an argument the MPAA has been hammering on for years.

The tax filing, picked up first by Variety, confirms a new trend of the MPAA putting more money into research. Earlier this year the industry group launched a new initiative offering researchers a $20,000 grant for projects that address various piracy related topics.

The MPAA sees academic research as an important tool in its efforts to ensure that copyright protections remain in place, or are strengthened if needed.

“We want to enlist the help of academics from around the world to provide new insight on a range of issues facing the content industry in the digital age,” MPAA CEO and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd said at the time.

The movie industry isn’t alone in funding research for ‘political’ reasons. Google, for example, heavily supports academic research on copyright-related projects in part to further its own agenda, as do many other companies.

With over a million dollars in Hollywood funding in their pocket, it’s now up to IDEA’s researchers to ensure that their work is solid.

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

TorrentFreak: Why Hollywood Director Lexi Alexander Sides With “Pirates”

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

lexIt’s pretty obvious that Lexi Alexander isn’t your average Hollywood director. Instead of parading on the red carpet sharing redundant quotes, she prefers to challenge the powers that rule Hollywood.

A few months ago Alexander campaigned to get Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde released from prison, pointing out that throwing people in jail is not going to stop piracy.

She believes that the MPAA and other pro-copyright groups are a bigger threat than casual pirates, and unlike some of her colleagues she is not afraid to tell the world.

Recently Alexander penned five reasons why she’s pro file-sharing and copyright reform. While she’s doesn’t agree with the “everything should be free” mantra of some anti-copyright activists, Alexander believes that file-sharing is mostly a symptom of Hollywood’s failures.

Over the past day or so this turned into a heated debate (e.g. 1, 2) between a movie industry workers on Twitter, where various anti-piracy advocates condemned the movie director and others for siding with “pirates.”

From a Hollywood perspective Alexander’s ‘balanced’ comments may indeed appear extreme, not least since like-minded voices keep quiet for career reasons. So why has she decided to jump on the barricades then? Today, Alexander explains her motivations to us in a short interview.

TF: What triggered you to discuss file-sharing and copyright related topics in public?

Lexi: It wasn’t my intent to be that outspoken about file-sharing, at first I just wanted to expose the hypocrisy of Hollywood going after anybody for any crime. But after I had published that first blog, I was suddenly exposed to a lot more information about the issue, either from people in the copyright reform movement or through outlets like yours.

Frankly, TorrentFreak has a lot to do with the extent of my outspokenness. Sometimes I see your headlines in my Twitter feed and I think I’m in some alternative universe, where I’m the only one who swallowed the red pill. “Another kid in prison for a file-sharing”, “Anti file-sharing propaganda taught in schools”, “torrent sites reported to the state department”, etc., etc. All done in the name of an industry that is infamous for corruption. I mean, doesn’t anybody see that? Hollywood studios shaking their finger at people who illegally download stuff is like the Vatican shaking their finger at pedophiles.

TF: What’s your main motivation to support file-sharing and copyright reform??

Lexi: Well, first and foremost I will not stand for young, bright minds being hunted and locked up in my name. And since I am still part of the film & TV industry, albeit not the most popular member at this point, these acts are done in my name. Even if I would agree with this ludicrous idea that everything to do with file-sharing or downloading is theft and should be punished with prison…then I’d still insist that everybody in Hollywood who has ever stolen anything or cheated anybody needs to go to prison first. If we could somehow make that rule happen with magical fairy dust…you’d never hear another beep about imprisoning file-sharers.

Secondly, I have said this a million times and it’s like I’m talking to the wall…horrible thieves (aka the four letter acronym) are stealing 92.5 % of foreign levies from filmmakers in countries outside of the US, breaking the Berne Convention in the process. It’s actually not legal for those countries to hand any money to anybody else but the creator. But somehow, some very smart con men duped these shady collection societies into handing them all the dough. Ask me again why I need copyright reform?

See, I wish more of my colleagues would come out of the fog…but that fog is made of fears, so it is thick and consistent. Fear to upset the decision makers, fear to get blacklisted and never get to make movies again, fear to get fired by your agents, fear to become unpopular with your film-industry peers, it’s so much easier to blame the British, pimple-faced teenager, who uploaded Fast and the Furious 6, for the scarcity we experience.

I used to get frustrated about my peers’ lack of courage, but lately I feel only empathy. I don’t like seeing talented storytellers ruled by fear. I don’t even enjoy the endless admissions I get anymore from producers or Executives who whisper in my ear that they’re pro file-sharing too (this is often followed by a demonstration of their illegally downloaded goods or their torrent clients, as if they’re trying to make sure I’ll put in a good word, if the power were to shift to the other side one of these days).

TF: Do you believe that your opinions on these topics may impact your career? If so, how?

Lexi: What do you think? LOL

But my opinions on these topics are based on facts, so therefore the question I have to ask myself next is: If I keep the truth to myself and watch innovators get sent to prison by actual criminals…how does that impact my soul?

I do realize how huge the giant I decided to criticize really is whenever I read about the amount of money that’s at play here.

At the moment I still have a TV show under option, which I am currently developing and I’m getting ready to pitch another one. A few things definitely fell through right after my first piracy post and I’m not sure how many people don’t consider me for projects because of my file-sharing stance. I can’t really worry about that. First and foremost I’m still a filmmaker, so if this shit gets too real I have to force my mind down the rabbit hole (filmmaker euphemism for escaping into your screenplays or movies).

TF: File-sharing also has its downsides of course. What’s the worst side of piracy in your opinion?

Lexi: The worst part is that there are a lot of people who suddenly feel entitled to do anything they want with our work, at any given stage. I spoke to a filmmaker the other day whose film got leaked during post production. It was missing the visual effects and it had a temp score (temporary music used as a filler before the real score is ready). Then reviews started popping up about this version of the film on IMDB, yet the people who posted those reviews had no fucking clue what they were judging, revealed by the many comments about “the director ripping off the Dark Knight score”. It was the Dark Knight score, you morons.

That was really heartbreaking and whoever doesn’t understand that can go to hell. I don’t think there’s anybody in the world who’d like their work, whatever it may be, stolen when it’s half way done and paraded around the world with their name on it.

I also will never be able to respect anybody who films or watches one of those shaky cam movies. I don’t buy that there’s anybody who enjoys a movie that way, I think this is all about trying to be the shit on some forum.

TF: In what way do you think file-sharing will (and has) change(d) the movie industry?

Lexi: I entered this industry right at the beginning of the transition to digital technology. I remember insisting to shoot my first two films on film stock, by then people were already dropping the “dinosaur” and “stone age” hints. We were all beaten into submission when it came to new digital technologies, because they reduced production and distribution costs. Then the powers started realizing that those same technologies also made unauthorized duplications much easier, so the narrative changed and now we were told to hate that part of it. It’s almost comical isn’t it?

I quickly realized that file-sharing would shatter borders and as someone who considers herself a citizen of the world, rather than of one country, this made me extremely happy. I have always wanted entertainment events to be global rather than national. This is good for the world.

The more the audience becomes familiar with foreign movies and TV shows (not synchronized and released months later, but subtitled and premiering simultaneously) the sooner we will start accepting, maybe even demanding shows and movies with a diverse, global cast from the get go. And since those are the shows I create… it cannot happen fast enough.

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

TorrentFreak: Giganews Not Liable for Pirating Usenet Customers, Court Rules

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

giganewsAdult magazine publisher Perfect 10 has made a business out of suing online services for allegedly facilitating copyright infringement.

Over the past several years the company has targeted a dozen high-profile companies including Google, Amazon, Yandex, MasterCard, Visa, RapidShare, Giganews and Depositfiles.

Aside from a few private settlements the company has yet to score its first victory in court. The company was confident that this would happen in their prolonged battle with Usenet provider Giganews, but late last week these hopes were shattered.

On Friday the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled on several motions (1, 2, 3) regarding Giganews’ liability for copyright infringement, as well as the nature of its DMCA takedown process.

In its order the court confirms that there is no evidence that Giganews is directly involved in any infringing practices.

“A claim for direct copyright liability demands evidence that the defendant had a direct hand in causing the infringement. The undisputed evidence before the Court, however, demonstrates that Defendants had no direct causal role in the alleged infringement,” the order reads.

According to the Court, Perfect 10 confuses direct and indirect copyright infringement, as the company has presented no evidence that Giganews employees are engaged in distributing pirated content.

Furthermore, claims of indirect copyright infringement also failed. The Court didn’t accept that Giganews is liable for the alleged copyright infringements of its users, as there is no proof that the company enjoyed direct financial benefit from any Perfect 10 images its subscribers may have distributed.

“[T]he ‘direct financial benefit’ requirement demands more than evidence that customers were ‘drawn’ to Giganews to obtain access to infringing material in general. Perfect 10 must prove with competent evidence that at least some of Giganews’ customers were ‘drawn’ to Giganews’ services, in part, to obtain access to infringing Perfect 10 material.”

“This action is a specific lawsuit by a specific plaintiff against a specific defendant about specific copyrighted images; it is not a lawsuit against copyright infringement in general on the Usenet,” the order adds.

In addition to their infringement claims Perfect 10 also argued that Giganews didn’t respond properly to takedown requests. While the court doesn’t dispute that proper takedown notices would give Giganews actual knowledge of infringements, the publisher’s notices were not proper.

Instead of listing message-IDs that could identify specific content, Perfect 10 sent in screenshots of a newsreader window, instructing Giganew “to conduct searches of specific names within certain newsgroups” and remove all results that were returned “on a certain date.” These notices do not comply with the DMCA’s standards, the court argues.

All in all the orders mean that Giganews is not liable for the infringements Perfect 10 claimed, and as a result the company can put the case to rest after three years.

However, as noted by Techdirt, it’s unlikely that Perfect 10 will stop its legal campaigns anytime soon. Just this summer the company initiated a new suit against hosting service OVH, who thanks to Giganews now have some additional ammunition to fight back.

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

TorrentFreak: KickassTorrents Moves to Kickass.so Domain Name

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

kickasstorrents_500x500With millions of unique visitors per day KickassTorrents (KAT) is one of the most used torrent sites. In recent months it has even rivaled The Pirate Bay in terms of traffic.

Over the years KAT has moved from domain to domain on a few occasions, to evade law enforcement and pressure from the entertainment industries. Most recently the site had been operating from the Kickass.to domain.

Starting today however, the site is serving its pages from the Somalian TLD Kickass.so.

Wondering whether the site may have run into issues with the .to registry we contacted the KAT team for further details. “It’s just annual domain rotation,” we were told in a brief reply.

An additional announcement posted on the site today assures the site’s users that there is nothing to worry about.

“We are moving to kickass.so now. As you know we change our domain regularly. Nothing more has been changed for you, so don’t worry, you can use Kickass as usually, it’s automatically redirected,” the KAT team writes.

Intended or not, the domain change will have some consequences on the anti-piracy front. For example, the site will become accessible again in most countries where it has been blocked previously.

In addition all the URLs that were blocked by Google through DMCA notices, more than 1.6 million, will become accessible again under the new domain. This also means that Google’s new downranking algorithm will be bypassed, at least temporarily.

In recent weeks KAT has lost a significant amount of traffic due to Google’s new anti-piracy measure, so intended or not, that may be an extra incentive to keep the yearly domain rotations going.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 11/17/14

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

guardiansThis week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Guardians of the Galaxy is the most downloaded movie.

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 (9) Guardians of the Galaxy 8.5 / trailer
2 (2) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 8.0 / trailer
3 (1) Dracula Untold 6.3 / trailer
4 (3) If I Stay 7.0 / trailer
5 (…) The November Man 6.3 / trailer
6 (4) Let’s Be Cops 6.7 / trailer
7 (6) Hercules 6.2 / trailer
8 (5) Into The Storm 6.0 / trailer
9 (10) How to Train Your Dragon 2 8.2 / trailer
10 (…) Free Fall 4.1 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Beacon Pimps TPB With Movie Trailers and Info

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

pirate bayMany Pirate Bay users are avid movie fans, who use their favorite torrent site to discover and download fresh content.

Since not all titles immediately ring a bell, they often use third-party sites and services such as IMDb to find more info. In fact, nearly 2% of all IMDb visitors browsed The Pirate Bay before coming to the site, and vice versa.

To save these users a few clicks there is now a new browser extension that pulls up movie information automatically. The Pirate Beacon, as it’s called, shows users descriptions, IMDb ratings and trailers when users hover over Pirate Bay link.

We reached out to Jordan, the developer of Pirate Beacon, who tells us that the idea actually came from a friend who made a mockup of the discovery tool last year. After working on it for a while the project was shelved, but last Saturday he picked it up again.

A few hours of coding later The Pirate Beacon was online.

The extension uses IMDb links to gather movie info, so it’s only available for torrents that have this listed. The trailers are then pulled from trailersapi.com and when this fails a movie poster is displayed instead.

“It works pretty good for newer movies but doesn’t do so well for older ones. So if I can’t find a trailer, I fall back to the IMDb posters api to grab a movie poster for it,” Jordan says.


tpb-afk-beacon

Jordan explains that the addon will help people to gather info about movies without having to leave the site, which can be quite cumbersome at times.

“I think it is most useful for discovery purposes. If you’ve ever spent any time browsing TPB you will know that it’s somewhat annoying to see a movie that you’ve not heard of then have to go find it. This just takes that annoyance away,” Jordan.

The idea appeals to a lot of fellow Pirate Bay users as it has immediately started to gain traction. After an initial Chrome release it’s now available for Firefox too. Additionally, support for many TPB proxies has been added as well.

Jordan says he will continue to work on the project. Support for the Opera browser is one of the next items on the todo list, and he also wants to add support for more torrent sites, starting with KickassTorrents.

“I am planning to expand it to other torrent sites as well. People have been requesting it to work with some other sites. It’s now available on Firefox and Chrome and soon to be available on Opera,” he notes.

The Pirate Beacon’s source code is available on GitHub and the Chrome and Firefox extensions are up on the official site.

The MPAA, meanwhile, is trying to steer people away from The Pirate Bay. The movie group launched its own search engine earlier this week.

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

TorrentFreak: Mega Terminates Kim Dotcom’s Account For Repeat Infringements

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

dotcom-laptopNew Zealand-based entrepeneur Kim Dotcom has dealt with numerous copyright infringement allegations in recent years.

The United States launched a criminal case against Dotcom and wants him extradited, while the major movie and music companies filed their own suits against Megaupload’s former boss.

This week he can add another allegation to this growing list, a rather unusual one too as it comes from cloud hosting service Mega, a company he founded.

Dotcom has been using Mega to share his first music album “Good Times” with everyone who wants to give it a spin. While he holds all the rights, several prominent music labels kept informing Mega that the album was “infringing.”

A few weeks ago we learned that the takedown requests were all inaccurate, and triggered by a prankster. However, that apparently didn’t stop them from coming in and as a result Dotcom has now had his Mega account terminated for repeatedly violating the terms of service.

Those who try to grab a copy of the album via the official download link on Kim.com see the following message:

“The file you are trying to download is no longer available. The associated user account has been terminated due to multiple violations of our Terms of Service.”

megatosviol

The account termination probably won’t last as it was triggered by false takedowns. However, it shows how easy it is to abuse the takedown process to shut down people’s accounts, at least temporarily.

Previously Mega told TF that they take every takedown notice seriously, but that they also plan to set up a system where repeated false takedowns can be flagged to prevent this type of abuse in the future.

“We are improving our systems to monitor the takedown process and will eventually be able to identify repeated incorrect notices,” a Mega spokesperson said.

For now, we hope that Dotcom has his files backed up in a safe place.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Firm Rightscorp On The Brink of Bankruptcy?

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

rightscorp-realFor years the entertainment industries have been complaining that online piracy hurts their revenues.

This problem has motivated people to start anti-piracy companies such as Rightscorp, a company that uses standard DMCA takedown requests to send settlement offers to alleged copyright infringers.

Rightscorp had big plans and went public last year on the NASDAQ exchange, aiming to help the biggest entertainment companies turn piracy into profit. Thus far, however, the results have been rather disappointing.

Despite teaming up with prominent names such as Warner Bros. and BMG, the company hasn’t been able to turn a profit.

In their latest SEC filing published earlier today the company reports a total loss of $2.2 million for the current year. This brings the total loss since its founding in 2011 to more than $6.5 million.

“The Company had a cumulative net loss from inception to September 30, 2014 of $6,540,194. The Company has not yet established an ongoing source of revenues sufficient to cover its operating costs and to allow it to continue as a going concern,” the SEC filing reads.

For Rightscorp to remain in business it desperately needs extra investment. The current revenue stream of $250,000 per quarter from piracy settlements doesn’t come close to covering operating costs.

In a word of caution to investors, Rightscorp warns that without extra funding the company may have to cease its operations.

“If the Company is unable to obtain adequate capital it could be forced to cease operations. Accordingly, these factors raise substantial doubt as to the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” the filing reads.

Investors appear to have foreseen Rightcorp’s troubles as the companies stock price continues to nosedive, straight to the bottom. This week it reached a new low of 13 cents per share.

riht

One of Rightscorp’s problems is that they can only reach a fraction of U.S. Internet subscribers. Most large ISPs, including Comcast, have thus far refused to forward their settlement demands.

Several smaller providers are not eager to forward the “settlement” DMCA notices either. In an attempt to force them to do so the company recently obtained several DMCA subpoenas against local ISPs, but these are also being protested.

Whether Rightscorp will be able to survive these setbacks has yet to be seen. One thing’s for sure though, profiting from piracy is not as easy as they had hoped.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Demands Tougher Penalties for Aussie Pirates

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

ausThe MPAA has published its latest submission to the U.S. Government. It provides an overview of countries the studios believe could better protect the interests of the copyright industry.

The movie group lists more than two dozen countries and describes which “trade barriers” they present.

In recent years the Obama administration has helped Hollywood to counter online piracy and with a letter, signed by MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd, the movie organization urges the Government not to drop the ball.

“The US government must not falter from being a champion of protecting intellectual property rights, particularly in the online market,” Dodd told the United States Trade Representative.

According to the MPAA there are more than two dozen countries that require special attention. This includes Australia, which has one of the highest online piracy rates in the world

“Australia has consistently ranked amongst the highest incidence of per capita P2P infringement of MPAA member company films in the region,” the MPAA chief writes.

One of the main grievances against Australia is the lack of thorough copyright laws. On this front the movie studios put forward a specific recommendation to draft legislation to deter ‘camming’ in movie theaters.

“Australia should adopt anti-camcording legislation. While illegal copying is a violation of the Copyright Act, more meaningful deterrent penalties are required,” the MPAA notes.

In recent years there have been several arrests of people linked to scene release groups who illegally recorded movies in theaters. However, instead of several years in jail they usually get off with a slap on the wrist.

“For instance, in August 2012, a cammer was convicted for illicitly recording 14 audio captures, many of which were internationally distributed through his affiliation with a notorious release group; his fine was a non-deterrent AUD 2,000,” the MPAA writes.

“These lax penalties fail to recognize the devastating impact that this crime has on the film industry,” they add.

The MPAA hopes that the U.S. Government can help to change this legal climate Down Under. The most recent anti-piracy plans of the Aussie Government are a step in the right direction according to the Hollywood group.

This is not the first time that the MPAA has become involved in Australian affairs. Previously a Wikileaks cable revealed that the American movie group was also the main force behind the lawsuit against iiNet.

In addition to Australia, the MPAA also points out various copyright challenges in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden. The latter country is seen as a “safe haven” for pirates and lacks effective enforcement, as The Pirate Bay remains online despite the convictions of its founders.

“The law [in Sweden] must also change in order to effectively curb organized commercial piracy, as evidenced by the difficulties thwarting The Pirate Bay – an operation the court system has already deemed illegal,” MPAA writes.

MPAA’s full list of comments and recommendations is available here.

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

TorrentFreak: Columbia Pictures Wants Anti-Piracy Policies Kept Secret, Indefinitely

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

columbiaIt’s been almost a year since Hotfile was defeated by the MPAA, but the case hasn’t yet gone away completely.

Earlier this year the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the court to unseal documents regarding the workings of Warner Bros.’ anti-piracy tools.

These documents are part of the counterclaim Hotfile filed, where it accused Warner of repeatedly abusing the DMCA takedown process. In particular, the EFF wants the public to know what mistakes were made and how these came to be.

In September the Court ruled that the sealed documents should indeed be made public, and the first information was released soon after. Among other things the unsealed records showed that Warner Bros. uses “sophisticated robots” to track down infringing content.

This week the MPAA submitted its proposed schedule (pdf) for the release of the other documents. With regards to Warner’s anti-piracy system they propose a wait of at least 18 months before more information is unsealed. By then Warner will have changed its systems significantly so that the information can no longer be used by pirates to circumvent detection.

In the case of Columbia Pictures, however, things are more complicated. The sealed information of the Sony Pictures owned studio would still be beneficial to pirates for decades to come, the court is told.

“Defendants have cited two specific pieces of information regarding Columbia’s enforcement policies that, if revealed to the public, could compromise Columbia’s ability to protect its copyrighted works,” the MPAA’s lawyers write.

In a sworn declaration Sony Pictures’ Vice President Content Protection, Sean Jaquez, explains that the redacted documents describe broad policy decisions regarding online copyright enforcement that are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

“Columbia intends to continue to implement these confidential copyright enforcement policies indefinitely,” Jaquez writes.

“These confidential enforcement policies will not become less sensitive over time because they reflect broad policy judgments, rather than specific implementation features of Columbia’s anti-piracy enforcement system that are likely to change as technology evolves or time passes,” he adds.

To keep these secrets out of the public eye, the MPAA asks the court to keep the records relating to Columbia Pictures under seal indefinitely. If that’s too much, the information should remain secret for at least ten years.

It’s now up to Judge Williams to decide whether the proposed timeframes are reasonable and whether Columbia can keep its anti-piracy secrets locked up forever.

To be continued.

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

TorrentFreak: Dallas Buyers Club Pirate Agrees to Pay $14,000, But Why?

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

dallasMovie studio Voltage Pictures is no stranger to suing BitTorrent users.

The company has pioneered mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the United States and is estimated to have made a lot of money doing so.

Earlier this year Voltage and Dallas Buyers Club LLC initiated lawsuits against alleged file-sharers of the Oscar-winning movie. Several hundred alleged downloaders have been targeted since.

Most of these cases end up being settled for an undisclosed amount. This is usually a figure around $3,500, which is what the company offers in their settlement proposals. However, this week we stumbled upon something bigger.

A few days ago a federal court in Oregon handed down a hefty judgment against a person who shared a copy of Dallas Buyers Club via BitTorrent. The order is a so-called consent judgment, the terms of which are agreed by both parties, for the sum of $14,000.

“A Money Judgment in favor of plaintiff Voltage Pictures, LLC and Dallas Buyers Club, LLC and against defendant DOE-67.166.84.226 is awarded the sum of $14,000.00. This figure includes costs, fees and damages,” the order (pdf) reads.

dallasconsent

The amount is unusually high for a consent judgment especially since the defendant, who remains anonymous, hired a proper attorney. If others get the option to settle for $3,500 or less, why would this person agree to pay four times as much?

It’s safe to assume that the defendant in this case never got the option for a cheaper settlement and a good look at the original complaint may explain why. As it turns out, the movie makers collected a whole lot more dirt on the defendant.

In an attempt to beef up their case, the movie studio compiled a list of 118 titles (pdf) that were shared by the defendant’s IP-address. This includes several TV-show episodes including Game of Thrones, as well as popular movies, software and music titles.

“As can be seen from Exhibit 1, defendant is a prolific proponent of the BitTorrent distribution system advancing the BitTorrent economy of piracy,” they wrote in their complaint.

First page of exhibit 1
collateral

While it remains speculation, it’s likely that the Dallas Buyers Club makers used these collateral downloads to add extra pressure. In any case, it certainly didn’t hurt their negotiating position.

This is not the only consent judgment won by Dallas Buyers Club recently. In a similar case in Oregon the company obtained $7,500 from another avid BitTorrent user who shared more than hundred other titles as well.

Apparently, Voltage and Dallas Buyers Club LCC have found a rather effective way to increase settlement fees. TF asked Dallas Buyers Club’s attorney for a comment on the varying amounts, but we have yet to hear back.

In any case, pirates are warned: Anything you download or share may be used against you in a court of law.

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