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TorrentFreak: MPAA Threats Shut Down Popular Torrent Site BT-Chat

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

btchat Over several years the Canada-based torrent index BT-Chat has grown to become one of the most popular among TV and movie fans.

The site was founded over a decade ago and has been running without any significant problems since. Starting a few days ago, however, the site’s fortunes turned.

Without prior warning or an official explanation the site went offline. Instead of listing the latest torrents, an ominous message appeared with a broken TV signal in the background.

“Error 791-the internet is shutdown due to copyright restrictions,” the mysterious message read.

chatdown

Initially is was unclear whether the message hinted at hosting problems or if something more serious was going on. Many of the site’s users hoped for the former but a BT-Chat insider informs TF that the site isn’t coming back anytime soon.

The site’s operators have decided to pull the plug after receiving a hand delivered letter from the Canadian MPA, which acts on behalf of its American parent organization the MPAA.

In the letter, shown below, Hollywood’s major movie studios demand that the site removes all infringing torrents.

“We are writing to demand that you take immediate steps to address the extensive copyright infringement of television programs and motion pictures that is occurring by virtue of the operation of the Internet website www.BT-Chat.com.”

MPAA-CAN

The MPAA makes its case by citing U.S. copyright law, and states that linking to unauthorized movies and TV-shows constitutes contributory copyright infringement.

Referencing the isoHunt case the movie studios explicitly note that it’s irrelevant whether or not a website actually hosts infringing material.

“It makes no difference that your website might not have infringing content on it, or only links to infringing content,” the letter says.

The threats from Hollywood have not been taken lightheartedly by the BT-Chat team. While giving up a site that they worked on for more than a decade is not easy, the alternative is even less appealing.

In the end thry decided that it would be for the best to shut the site down, instead of facing potential legal action.

And so another popular site bites the dust…

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

TorrentFreak: Advocate General Doubts Legality of Pirate Bay Blockade

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

pirate bayEarly last year The Court of The Hague handed down its decision in a long running case which had previously forced two Dutch ISPs, Ziggo and XS4ALL, to block The Pirate Bay.

The Court ruled against local anti-piracy outfit BREIN, concluding that the blockade was ineffective and restricted the ISPs’ entrepreneurial freedoms.

Responding to the verdict the two ISPs quickly unblocked the site and various other Dutch ISPs followed suit.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood-backed group took its case all the way to the Supreme Court and today Advocate General Van Peursem published his conclusion after a careful review.

The Advocate General advises the Supreme Court to stay the proceedings between BREIN and the Internet providers in order to seek clarification from the EU Court of Justice on several matters.

The first question that requires a European review is whether The Pirate Bay is actually communicating illegal content to the public. If this isn’t the case then the EU Court should rule whether ISPs can be ordered to block the site on other grounds.

A decision at the European level will be important, as it may also affect court orders in other countries, such as the UK, Italy and Belgium.

When the questions are resolved at the EU Court, the Advocate General advises to redo the entire trial noting that The Court of The Hague was too strict when it concluded that the blockade was ineffective and disproportional.

The Advocate General’s advice is not binding so it’s not yet certain whether the case will be referred to the EU Court of Justice. However, in most cases the recommendations are followed by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is expected to release its verdict on October 9th.

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

TorrentFreak: Seized Megaupload Domains Link to Scam Ads and Malware

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

dojWell over three years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, but there is still little progress in the criminal proceedings against the operation.

The United States hopes that New Zealand will extradite Kim Dotcom and his colleagues, but the hearings have been delayed several times already.

Meanwhile, several domain names including the popular Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com remain under the control of the U.S. Government. At least, that should be the case. In reality, however, they’re now being exploited by ‘cyber criminals.’

Instead of a banner announcing that the domains names have been seized as part of a criminal investigation they now direct people to a Zero-Click adverting feed. This feed often links to malware installers and other malicious ads.

One of the many malicious “ads” the Megaupload and Megavideo domain names are serving links to a fake BBC article, suggesting people can get an iPhone 6 for only £1.

And here is another example of a malicious ad prompting visitors to update their browser.

megascamad

The question that immediately comes to mind is this: How can it be that the Department of Justice is allowing the domains to be used for such nefarious purposes?

Looking at the Whois records everything seems to be in order. The domain name still lists Megaupload Limited as registrant, which is as it was before. Nothing out of the ordinary.

The nameserver PLEASEDROPTHISHOST15525.CIRFU.BIZ, on the other hand, triggers several alarm bells.

meganame

CIRFU refers to the FBI’s Cyber Initiative and Resource Fusion Unit, a specialized tech team tasked with handling online crime and scams. The unit used the CIRFU.NET domain name as nameserver for various seized domains, including the Mega ones.

Interestingly, the CIRFU.NET domain now lists “Syndk8 Media Limited” as registrant, which doesn’t appear to have any connections with the FBI. Similarly, CIRFU.BIZ is not an official CIRFU domain either and points to a server in the Netherlands hosted by LeaseWeb.

It appears that the domain which the Department of Justice (DoJ) used as nameserver is no longer in control of the Government. Perhaps it expired, or was taken over via other means.

As a result, Megaupload and Megavideo are now serving malicious ads, run by the third party that controls the nameserver.

This is quite a mistake for one of the country’s top cybercrime units, to say the least. It’s also one that affects tends of thousands of people, as the Megaupload.com domain remains frequently visited.

Commenting on the rogue domains, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom notes that the people who are responsible should have known better.

“With U.S. Assistant Attorney Jay Prabhu the DOJ in Virginia employs a guy who doesn’t know the difference between civil & criminal law. And after this recent abuse of our seized Mega domains I wonder how this guy was appointed Chief of the Cybercrime Unit when he can’t even do the basics like safeguard the domains he has seized,” he tells TF.

“Jay Prabhu keeps embarrassing the U.S. government. I would send him back to law school and give him a crash course in ‘how the Internet works’,” Dotcom adds.

Making matters worse for the Government, Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com are not the only domain names affected. Various poker domains that were previously seized, including absolutepoker.com and ultimatebet.com, also link to malicious content now.

While the Government appears to have lost control of the old nameservers, it can still correct the problem through a nameserver update at their end. However, that doesn’t save those people who had their systems compromised during recent days, and it certainly won’t repair the PR damage.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Drags CloudFlare into Piracy Lawsuit, Scolds LeaseWeb

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

cloudflareEarlier this month the long running lawsuit between the RIAA and Grooveshark came to an end.

Facing hundreds of millions in damages, the music streaming service settled the dispute for $50 million while offering an apology for the mistakes that had been made in the past.

The RIAA heralded the outcome as a major victory, but the joy didn’t last long. A few days after Grooveshark shut down unknown persons launched a new music service using the familiar Grooveshark brand.

Recognizing the new Grooveshark.io service as a considerable threat, the RIAA didn’t waste any time taking countermeasures. The group filed a sealed application for temporary restraining and seizure orders, targeting the site’s domain name and hosting services.

The court granted the RIAA’s request earlier this month and this week the documents were unsealed. They reveal how the music group intends to drag both Cloudflare and hosting provider LeaseWeb into the fight.

In his declaration, RIAA’s VP Online Anti-Piracy Mark McDevitt describes the new Grooveshark as a “blatantly illegal” site that hides its true location behind CloudFlare’s service.

“Because of the presence of CloudFlare’s servers, it is impossible to identify the location of the actual server supporting those aspects of the website absent the disclosure of this information by CloudFlare,” McDevitt writes (pdf).

While CloudFlare doesn’t host any of the infringing files, it’s accused of helping Grooveshark to evade detection. The RIAA alerted CloudFlare of this role early May and asked the company to take action, without the desired result.

“In response to this notice, CloudFlare informed the RIAA that it had notified the operator of the Grooveshark.io website of the RIAA’s complaint, but did not discontinue providing its services to the website,” McDevitt writes.

In an email seen by TF, CloudFlare informs the RIAA that it’s merely a pass-through provider, and that they’re not offering any hosting services.

“Please be aware CloudFlare is a network provider offering a reverse proxy, pass-through security service. We are not a hosting provider. CloudFlare does not control the content of our customers,” the company replied.

Even today, the new Grooveshark remains active on the Grooveshark.li domain name, and it’s still hiding behind CloudFlare. The site did lose its original domain name, which Namecheap seized after receiving the court order, but new domains are easily registered.

It’s unclear at this point whether CloudFlare is actively refusing to comply with the restraining order that’s targeted at Grooveshark’s Internet service providers, but the company’s counsel did attend a court hearing yesterday to discuss the matter.

Besides CloudFlare, the RIAA also names web company LeaseWeb, which they suspect of offering hosting services to the new Grooveshark. In its presentations to the court the RIAA lashes out hard against the Dutch company.

“LeaseWeb has a long history of hosting major pirate sites. For example, LeaseWeb once hosted the notorious (and now shuttered) pirate website ‘MegaUpload,’ which was the subject of the largest criminal copyright law enforcement action ever undertaken,” McDevitt writes.

“Other examples of LeaseWeb’s involvement with pirate sites are also well known in the antipiracy community,” he adds, after summing up several other examples.

Neither CloudFlare nor LeaseWeb are named as defendants, but the language used makes clear that the RIAA isn’t happy with how they respond to copyright complaints.

While Grooveshark.li is a relatively small fish, the case may set a crucial precedent for future anti-piracy efforts. With relative ease the Court has issued temporary restraining and seizure orders. If these hold up, more sites may be targeted in a similar fashion.

This outlook may also be the reason for CloudFlare to have their say in the matter. As a service provider to some of the largest piracy havens, including The Pirate Bay, there’s a lot at stake.

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Suffers Downtime

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

pirate bayThe Pirate Bay has become unreachable since a few hours.

It’s currently not clear what’s causing the problems. There might be a hardware issue, hosting problem or a software glitch, issues that have occurred many times in the site’s history.

What we do know is that the site’s domain names are not the culprit.

The Pirate Bay currently displays a CloudFlare error message across all domain names, suggesting that TPB’s servers are unresponsive.

tpbcferror

With the raid of a few months ago still fresh in memory some fear the worst, but these concerns are unwarranted for now.

In fact, the site is still accessible via the Tor network, including the popular Pirate Browser.

The Tor traffic goes through a separate server, and it appears that this part of the site’s infrastructure is not going through CloudFlare.

TorrentFreak reached out to The Pirate Bay team for a comment on the situation and we will update this article if we hear back.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Order Forbids ‘Poor Pirate’ To Use BitTorrent

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

bartThe makers of Dallas Buyers Club have sued thousands of BitTorrent users over the past year.

Many 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, there are exceptions to this rule with damages and costs in some cases hitting $14,000.

This week we stumbled upon a new consent judgment between Oregon resident Krystal Krause and the movie studio. In this case the Magistrate Judge signed off on an order that requires the defendant to pay $7,500.

Interestingly, however, the woman doesn’t have to pay anything as long as she promises not to pirate any movies in the future. According to the judgment the filmmakers offer this leniency due to the “financial hardship” and “extenuating circumstances.”

“In recognition of the financial hardship and extenuating circumstances in this case, plaintiff agrees that though the below Money Judgment shall be entered and enforceable, plaintiff will not execute or enforce the Money Judgment so long as the defendant complies with the below Permanent Injunction…,” the consent order reads.

The court documents do not explain what the extenuating circumstances are, but it suggests that money isn’t the only issue.

Looking more closely at the permanent injunction it appears that there are more reasons why the order is unusual.

injunction

In addition to barring any future infringements, Krause can’t use BitTorrent for legal purposes either. In fact, she has to remove all BitTorrent and P2P software she has installed.

“Krystal Krause is hereby directed to immediately delete […] any and all BitTorrent clients on any computer(s) she owns or controls together with all other software used to obtain media through the Internet by BitTorrent peer-to-peer transfer or exchange,” it reads (pdf).

For Krause it may be a small sacrifice to make, especially when it saves $7,500 in costs. That said, it’s still highly unusual to order someone to remove software that by itself isn’t infringing at all.

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

TorrentFreak: Rightscorp Offered Internet Provider a Cut of Piracy Settlements

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

cox-logoPiracy monetization firm Rightscorp has made headlines over the past year, often because of its aggressive attempts to obtain settlements from allegedly pirating Internet users.

Working on behalf of various copyright owners including Warner Bros. and BMG the company sends copyright infringement notices to Internet providers in the U.S. and Canada. These notices include a settlement proposal, offering alleged downloaders an option to pay off their “debt.”

Rightscorp’s practices haven’t been without controversy. The company and its clients have been sued for abuse and harassment and various large ISPs refuse to forward the settlements to their subscribers.

Cox Communications, one of the larger Internet providers in the U.S. also chose not to work with Rightscorp. The ISP didn’t comment on this refusal initially, but now that Cox has been sued by several Rightscorp clients, it reveals why.

In a statement that leaves little to the imagination, Cox notes that Rightscorp is “threatening” subscribers with “extortionate” letters.

“Rightscorp is in the business of threatening Internet users on behalf of copyright owners. Rightscorp specifically threatens subscribers of ISPs with loss of their Internet service — a punishment that is not within Rightscorp’s control — unless the subscribers pay a settlement demand,” Cox writes (pdf).

As a result, the ISP decided not to participate in the controversial scheme unless Rightscorp revised the notifications and removed the extortion-like language.

“Because Rightscorp’s purported DMCA notices were, in fact, improper threats against consumers to scare them into paying settlements to Rightscorp, Cox refused to accept or forward those notices, or otherwise to participate in Rightscorp’s extortionate scheme.”

“Cox expressly and repeatedly informed Rightscorp that it would not accept Rightscorp’s improper extortion threat communications, unless and until Rightscorp revised them to be proper notices.”

The two parties went back and forth over the details and somewhere in this process Rightscorp came up with a controversial proposal. The company offered Cox a cut of the settlement money its subscribers would pay, so the ISP could also profit.

“Rightscorp had a history of interactions with Cox in which Rightscorp offered Cox a share of the settlement revenue stream in return for Cox’s cooperation in transmitting extortionate letters to Cox’s customers. Cox rebuffed Rightscorp’s approach,” Cox informs the court.

This allegation is something that was never revealed, and it shows to what great lengths Rightscorp is willing to go to get ISPs to comply. It’s not clear whether the same proposal was made to other ISPs are well, but that wouldn’t be a surprise.

Cox, however, didn’t take the bait and still refused to join the scheme. Rightscorp wasn’t happy with this decision and according to the ISP, the company and its clients are now getting back at them through the “repeat infringer” lawsuit.

“This lawsuit is, in effect, a bid both to punish Cox for not participating in Rightscorp’s scheme, and to gain leverage over Cox’s customers for the settlement shakedown business model that Plaintiffs and Rightscorp jointly employ,” Cox notes.

Despite the strong language and extortion accusations used by Cox, the revelations didn’t prevent the Court from granting copyright holders access to the personal details of 250 accused copyright infringers.

The case is just getting started though, and judging from the aggressive stance being taken by both sides we can expect a lot more dirt to come out in the months ahead.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 05/25/15

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

kingsmanThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Kingsman: The Secret Service 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 (5) Kingsman: The Secret Service 8.1 / trailer
2 (1) Ex Machina 8.0 / trailer
3 (3) Jupiter Ascending 5.8 / trailer
4 (…) Home 6.8 / trailer
5 (…) Avengers: Age of Ultron (CAM/TS) 8.0 / trailer
6 (4) Furious 7 (Subbed/cropped HDRip) 8.8 / trailer
7 (2) Project Almanac 6.3 / trailer
8 (…) The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water 6.3 / trailer
9 (9) Focus 6.7 / trailer
10 (6) American Sniper 7.4 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: ‘How Movie Studios Exploit Video on Demand Services’

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

moviesThe account below comes from an employee of a mid-sized video on demand (VOD) service in Europe.

To avoid repercussions from the major studios the author prefers to remain anonymous.

Exploitation On Demand

Every once in a while wrongdoings are reported by whistleblowers. Motives are often political and have worldwide consequences. Today, we’re addressing a much more down to earth topic. We don’t pretend for a second that we’re changing the world but instead we’re shining light on what we consider to be wrongful practices destroying an industry.

Our case is business centered, yet the industry we’re denouncing has damaged its fair share of individual liberties and has violated countless numbers of ethical principles. We’re talking about the Major Movie Studios.

For quite some time we’ve been working with “Major Studios” such as Warner Bros, Walt Disney, Universal, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Paramount. We would like to refer to it as collaboration, but unfortunately it’s really been a one way street thus far. Money transits and the final destination is the Majors’ pockets

We’ve been operating a video on demand service (VOD) for quite some time now, trying to make the best out of it. Eventually we grew tired of being shaken down at every turn and now feel it’s time to share the limitations that come with a deal in the “legit distribution” system. This may not be breaking news to some of you, yet we feel it’s important for people to understand how operating within the constraints imposed by the Majors works.

While observing the latest productions coming out from Hollywood studios (Fast & Furious 7, Avengers, Transformers 4, Dumb and Dumber 2, Taken 3) you may have noticed that this industry is not very risk savvy, to say the least. In fact it hates risk.

In recent years the studios’ strategy has been to buy rights to bestselling or comic books, plus games and kids toys to feed the public with a new episode every year.

Another risk minimizing strategy is to pre-sell cinema-distribution rights in certain territories to finance film making. By this mechanism a film is basically paid for before it gets made.

This system works for cinema distribution and was exported for home entertainment, where it affects our business. For a video on demand (VOD) operator to distribute any given catalogue, it must pay “Minimum Guarantees (MG’s)” to the studio. This allows one to exploit the catalogue. Mind you, you don’t get to choose what you pay for. That would be too simple.

Output deals are the norm and in essence they mean you need to take every licensed film as part of a single deal. If you want the latest blockbuster, you must also take the latest winner of the Golden Raspberry awards, and take our word for it, there are some pretty unworthy films in there. These Minimum Guarantees are quoted in millions of dollars per deal, and as a result VOD services like ourselves have to operate on very small profit margins.

On top of MG’s, distributors must also agree to pay revenue shares. Should the sales top the Minimum Guarantee on a given year the rev share kicks in. Revenue shares are usually in the studio’s favor (between 70% and 50% depending on whether we’re speaking of recent releases or old ones).

If a given platform manages to recoup its costs it must also share its future revenue with the Rights Holder, while providing the majority of the value chain involved in a streaming service: Storage, streaming costs, platform development, DRM licenses and geoblocking tools.

In the meantime, studios provide a license that costs them virtually nothing and they take the lion’s share of the deal for it. And we haven’t even started on release windows yet. Windows? If you thought that paying a fortune for a film allowed you to exploit it forever, think again. Usually the window for a film is 90 days.

You got that right: platforms have 90 days to pay for a Minimum Guarantee if they expect to turn a profit on a film. And keep in mind most of the profit just gets funneled back to the studios anyway with the revenue share clause. After that a title simply gets pulled off their catalogues to allow for Pay-TV and linear TV distribution. The title can come back in the catalogue after 12 to 18 months, given of course that it’s properly paid for.

This may seem like a lot to process, and it is, yet it’s just the tip of the iceberg. We will probably write a follow-up to this article as these people are not acting as if they were selling entertainment; they’re behaving like they’re selling enriched uranium!

Facilities that host servers on which films are kept have to be equipped as if they were a bank. If studio’s are looking to diversify they should consider giving Fort Knox consultancy services on security matters. More on that soon…

We love films and originally started a VOD business hoping to provide a legit solution that would entertain millions. How will we ever be successful while we have to operate on such stiff policies? Well we won’t.

It’s no wonder that streaming and P2P services are thriving: Majors’ constraints imposed on people who are trying to abide by their standards are just disabling anyone trying to be competitive enough and offer a comprehensive catalogue at a decent cost to the public.

Until this framework changes no one will ever. With their own policies, the major movie studios are sawing at the branch on which they sit . They probably realize it to some extent. But they certainly don’t care enough to do something about it.

Surely this is because piracy is not hurting them as much as they want us to believe. By cutting some slack to their partners they would have concrete tools to cut down piracy. They’re simply too comfortable to consider that as an option.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Cox to Expose “Most Egregious” BitTorrent Pirates

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

cox-logo Last year BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music sued Cox Communications, arguing that the ISP fails to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers.

The companies, which control the publishing rights to songs by Katy Perry, The Beatles and David Bowie among others, claim that Cox has given up its DMCA safe harbor protections due to this inaction.

The case revolves around the “repeat infringer” clause of the DMCA, which prescribes that Internet providers must terminate the accounts of persistent pirates.

As part of the discovery process the music outfits requested details on the accounts which they caught downloading their content. In total there are 150,000 alleged pirates, but as a compromise BMG and Round Hill limited their initial request to 500 IP-addresses.

Cox refused to hand over the requested information arguing that the Cable Privacy Act prevents the company from disclosing this information.

The matter was discussed during a court hearing late last week. After a brief deliberation Judge John Anderson ruled that the ISP must hand over the personal details of 250 subscribers.

“Defendants shall produce customer information associated with the Top 250 IP Addresses recorded to have infringed in the six months prior to filing the Complaint,” Judge Anderson writes.

“This production shall include the information as requested in Interrogatory No.13, specifically: name, address, account number, the bandwidth speed associated with each account, and associated IP address of each customer.”

The order
coxorder

The music companies also asked for the account information of the top 250 IP-addresses connected to the piracy of their files after the complaint was filed, but this request was denied. Similarly, if the copyright holders want information on any of the 149,500 other Cox customers they need a separate order.

The music companies previously informed the court that the personal details are crucial to proof their direct infringement claims, but it’s unclear how they plan to use the data.

While none of the Cox customers are facing any direct claims as of yet, it’s not unthinkable that some may be named in the suit to increase pressure on the ISP.

The full list of IP-addresses is available for download here (PDF).

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

TorrentFreak: Google: Targeting Downloaders Not The Best Solution to Fight Piracy

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

google-bayIn recent years it has become more common for copyright holders to include settlement offers in the takedown notices that are sent to Internet providers.

While most large ISPs prefer not to forward these demands, Google Fiber decided it would.

A few days ago we highlighted the issue in an article. Before publication we reached out to Google for a comment, but initially the company didn’t reply. Now, a week after our first inquiry Google has sent a response.

Google explains that it’s forwarding the entire takedown notice including the settlement offers in an effort to be as transparent as it can be.

“When Google Fiber receives a copyright complaint about an account, we pass along all of the information we receive to the account holder so that they’re aware of it and can determine the response that’s best for their situation,” a Google spokesperson tells TF.

This suggests that the transparency is seen by Google as more important than protecting customers against threatening and sometimes inaccurate notices. Overall, however, Google notes that targeting pirates directly is not the best solution to deal with the issue.

“Although we think there are better solutions to fighting piracy than targeting individual downloaders, we want to be transparent with our customers,” Google’s spokesperson adds.

Google doesn’t say what these better options are, but previously the company noted that piracy is mainly a pricing and availability problem.

While transparency is often a good thing, in this case it doesn’t necessarily help Google Fiber customers. After receiving the notice they can either pay up or ignore it. If they choose the latter generally nothing happens, but recent history shows that there’s a legal risk involved.

Last week the news broke that Rotten Records, one of the companies which sends settlement requests to ISPs, sued Comcast subscribers for ignoring these infringement notices.

With the possibility of false accusations, it would probably be in the customers’ best interest if ISPs ignored the notices entirely, which some do.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Loses New Domain Name, Hydra Lives On

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

tpbhydraxEarlier this week the Stockholm District Court ordered the Pirate Bay’s .SE domains to be handed over to the Swedish state, arguing that they were linked to copyright crimes.

The Pirate Bay was fully prepared for the negative outcome and quickly redirected its visitors to six new domain names.

Since then the site has been accessible through the GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD domain names, without even a second of downtime.

Marking the change The Pirate Bay updated its logo to the familiar Hydra logo, linking a TLD to each of the heads. However, we can now reveal that one head has already been chopped off.

The site’s .GS domain name has been suspended by the registry, and ThePirateBay.gs is now listed as “ServerHold” and “Inactive.”

The Pirate Bay informs us that the .GS domain has indeed been lost, which didn’t come as a complete shock. In fact, one of the reasons to move to six domains was to see which ones would hold up.

“We have more domain names behind, if needed. We are stronger than ever and will defend the site to the end,” the TPB team tells us.

At this point it’s unclear for how long the other domain names will remain available. Hoping to find out more, we reached out to the respective registries to discover their policies on domains being operated by The Pirate Bay.

The Mongolian .MN registry informs TF that they will process potential complaints through ICANN’s Dispute Resolution Policy, suggesting that they will not take any voluntary action.

The VG Registry referred us to their terms and conditions, specifically sections 3.4 and 7.2, which allow for an immediate termination or suspension if a domain infringes on the rights of third parties. However, it could not comment on this specific case.

“We will review any complaint and act accordingly. Please understand that we cannot make any predictions based on theoretical options,” a VG Registry spokesperson says.

It won’t be a big surprise if several more Pirate Bay domain names are suspended during the days and weeks to come. That’s a Whac-A-Mole game the site’s operators are all too familiar with now, but one that won’t bring the site to its knees.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Israeli ISPs to Block Popcorn Time Websites

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

popcorntBranded a “Netflix for Pirates,” the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people over the past year.

The application has some of the major media giants worried, including Netflix which sees the pirate app as a serious competitor to its business.

Since Popcorn Time is powered by BitTorrent it is hard to stop the downloads directly, but copyright holders can go after the websites that offer the application. In Israel the local anti-piracy outfit ZIRA went down this route.

The group, which represents several media companies, applied for an ex parte injunction ordering local Internet providers to block access to the websites of several Popcorn Time forks.

This week the Tel Aviv court granted the application, arguing that the application does indeed violate the rights of copyright holders.

The copyright holders are pleased with the outcome, which shows that services such as Popcorn Time are infringing even though they don’t host any files themselves.

“The Popcorn Time software provides users with a service to stream and download content on the Internet, including Israeli movies and foreign movies and TV series with English subtitles, without having any permission from copyright holders to do so,” attorney Presenti told local media.

The ISP blockades will prevent people from downloading Popcorn Time in the future. However, applications that have been downloaded already will continue to work for now.

To address this, ZIRA’s lawyers say the are considering additional steps including the option to block the ports Popcorn Time uses. While that may be effective, it may also block other traffic, especially if the app switches to more common ports such as port 80.

Israel is the second country to block access to Popcorn Time websites. Last month the UK High Court issued a similar order, which also targeted the domain names of various APIs the applications use.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Fiber Sends Automated Piracy ‘Fines’ to Subscribers

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

googlefiberlogoEvery month Google receives dozens of millions of DMCA takedown requests from copyright holders, most of which are directed at its search engine.

However, with Google Fiber being rolled out in more cities, notices targeting allegedly pirating Internet subscribers are becoming more common as well.

These include regular takedown notices but also the more controversial settlement demands sent by companies such as Rightscorp and CEG TEK.

Instead of merely alerting subscribers that their connections have been used to share copyright infringing material, these notices serve as automated fines, offering subscribers settlements ranging from $20 to $300.

The scheme uses the standard DMCA takedown process which means that the copyright holder doesn’t have to go to court or even know who the recipient is. In fact, the affected subscriber is often not the person who shared the pirated file.

To protect customers against these practices many ISPs including Comcast, Verizon and AT&T have chosen not to forward settlement demands. However, information received by TF shows that Google does take part.

Over the past week we have seen settlement demands from Rightscorp and CEG TEK which were sent to Google Fiber customers. In an email, Google forwards the notice with an additional warning that repeated violations may result in a permanent disconnection.

“Repeated violations of our Terms of Service may result in remedial action being taken against your Google Fiber account, up to and including possible termination of your service,” Google Fiber writes.

fiberwarning

Below Google’s message is the notification with the settlement demand, which in this example was sent on behalf of music licensing outfit BMG. In the notice, the subscriber is warned over possible legal action if the dispute is not settled.

“BMG will pursue every available remedy including injunctions and recovery of attorney’s fees, costs and any and all other damages which are incurred by BMG as a result of any action that is commenced against you,” the notice reads.

bmgwarning

Facing such threatening language many subscribers are inclined to pay up, which led some to accuse the senders of harassment and abuse. In addition, several legal experts have spoken out against this use of the DMCA takedown process.

Mitch Stoltz, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) previously told us that Internet providers should carefully review what they’re forwarding to their users. Under U.S. law they are not required to forward DMCA notices and forwarding these automated fines may not be in the best interest of consumers.

“In the U.S., ISPs don’t have any legal obligation to forward infringement notices in their entirety. An ISP that cares about protecting its customers from abuse should strip out demands for money before forwarding infringement notices. Many do this,” Stoltz said.

According to Stoltz these settlement demands are often misleading or inaccurate, suggesting that account holders are responsible for all use of their Internet connections.

“The problem with notices demanding money from ISP subscribers is that they’re often misleading. They often give the impression that the person whose name is on the ISP bill is legally responsible for all infringement that might happen on the Internet connection, which is simply not true,” he notes.

While Google is certainly not the only ISP that forwards these notices it is the biggest name involved. TF asked Google why they have decided to forward the notices in their entirely but unfortunately the company did not respond to our request for comment.

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

TorrentFreak: Netflix Needs BitTorrent Expert to Implement P2P Streaming

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

netflix-logoWith roughly 60 million subscribers globally, Netflix is a giant in the world of online video entertainment.

The service moves massive amounts of data and is credited with consuming a third of all Internet traffic in North America during peak hours.

Netlix’s data use is quite costly for the company and also results in network congestion and stream buffering at times. However, thanks to P2P-powered streaming these problems may soon be a thing of the past.

In a job posting late April, Netflix says it is looking to expand its team with the addition of a Senior Software Engineer. While that’s nothing new, the description reveals information on the company’s P2P-streaming plans.

“Our team is evaluating up-and-coming content distribution technologies, and we are seeking a highly talented senior engineer to grow the knowledge base in the area of peer-to-peer technologies and lead the technology design and prototyping effort,” the application reads.

The software engineer will be tasked with guiding the project from start to finish. This includes the design and architecture phase, implementation, testing, the internal release and final evaluation.

“This is a great opportunity to enhance your full-stack development skills, and simultaneously grow your knowledge of the state of the art in peer-to-peer content distribution and network optimization techniques,” Netflix writes.

A few weeks ago Netflix told its shareholders that it sees the BitTorrent-powered piracy app Popcorn Time as a serious threat. However, the job application makes it clear that BitTorrent can be used for legal distribution as well.

Among the qualification requirements Netflix lists experience with BitTorrent and other P2P-protocols. Having contributed to the open source torrent streaming tool WebTorrent or a similar project is listed as a preferred job qualification.

In other words, existing Popcorn Time developers are well-suited candidates for the position.

– You have experience with peer-to-peer protocols such as the BitTorrent protocol

– You have strong experience in the development of peer-to-peer protocols and software

– You have contributed to a major peer-to-peer open source product such as WebTorrent

– You have strong experience in the development of web-based video applications and tools

Moving to P2P-assisted streaming appears to be a logical step. It will be possible to stream videos in a higher quality than is currently possible. In addition, it will offer a significant cost reduction.

BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen will be happy to see that Netflix is considering using his technology. He previously said that Netflix’s video quality is really terrible, adding that BitTorrent-powered solutions are far superior.

“The fact is that by using BitTorrent it’s possible to give customers a much better experience with much less cost than has ever been possible before. It’s really not being utilized properly and that’s really unfortunate,” Cohen said.

While the job posting is yet more evidence that Netflix is seriously considering a move to P2P-powered streaming, it’s still unclear whether the new technology will ever see the light of day.

The job posting
netflix-torrent

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Moves to GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD Domains

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

tpb-logoThe Pirate Bay has long been associated with Sweden but soon the popular torrent site will stop using a Swedish domain name.

Earlier today the Stockholm District Court ordered the seizure of both thepiratebay.se and piratebay.se, arguing that they were linked to copyright crimes.

Potential appeals aside the domains in question will be handed over to the Swedish Government, but the ruling is unlikely to hamper Pirate Bay’s availability, quite the contrary.

The TPB team informs TF that they have already begun redirecting the .SE address, rotating it to six new domain names.

As of now, the notorious torrent site is available through new GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD domain names.

Pirate Bay homepage (.VG didn’t fit the hydra)
tpblogo

This means that all the effort that went into the lawsuit, as well as at least $40,000 in legal costs, have done very little to stop the site.

“Congratulations to Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad. Two years hard work to get us to change two little letters at a cost of $20,000 per letter,” the TPB team tells TF in a comment.

“He could have given us $35,000 and we would have left the domain, thus saving the Swedish tax payer $5,000. All he had to do was ask nicely,” they add.

With six new domains one can argue that The Pirate Bay has become even more resilient. There will undoubtedly be attempts to seize or suspend the new domains, but there are also plenty more domains TPB can register.

And so the Whack-a-Mole continues.

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

TorrentFreak: EZTV Shuts Down After Hostile Takeover

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

eztv-logo-smallDuring the spring of 2005 several large TV-torrent sites were knocked offline, leaving a gaping void that was soon filled by a new torrent distribution group, EZTV.

For a decade EZTV has been one of the leading TV distribution groups. It turned into one of the most visited torrent sites, but today this run comes to an end.

Facing a hostile takeover the group’s founder and main operator NovaKing has called it quits.

Initially it remained vague how EZTV’s demise came to be, not least because NovaKing could not be reached. However, with help from several EZTV staffers including sladinki007 we can now explain what happened.

The group’s troubles started earlier this year when the .IT registry suspended EZTV’s domain name because of inaccurate Whois information. A few weeks later the .IT registry put the domain back on the market and it was snapped up by scammers.

The people who took over the domain name came in well-prepared. They registered the UK company EZCloud LIMITED, which is the same company name as EZTV used. Initially the takeover wasn’t much of a problem, as EZTV had already moved to a new domain name at EZTV.ch, but things quickly turned from bad to worse.

Using the EZCloud company details and by faking the director’s name, the scammers also managed to take over the EZTV.se domain through the EuroDNS registrar. NovaKing tried to prevent this from happening by alerting the registrar, but according to an EZTV staffer he was told to get a court order if he wanted his domain back.

The .se domain was linked to the mailbox of EZTV founder NovaKing, which allowed them to access the domain registrar account and various other services for which they quickly reset all passwords. As a result, NovaKing was locked out, losing control of virtually all of his domain names.

Initially, there was also the possibility that the servers were compromised as well. This prompted a thorough security audit and a site lockdown last month.

Eventually, even the new EZTV.ch domain fell into the hands of the scammers, completing the hostile takeover.

Sladinki007 says that NovaKing must have been devastated by what happened. A life’s work was completely ruined in a few days and access to personal domain names was gone as well.

While EZTV could technically start over using a new name the group’s founder decided to throw in the towel. Too much had already been lost. The group had always been a “fun” non-profit project, and the recent troubles took the fun away.

The scammers, meanwhile, continue to operate both the .it and .ch domain names and are now distributing their own torrents (sourced elsewhere) with the hijacked EZTV brand. They pretend to be the real deal, sending out misleading and false status updates, but they’re not.

Having control over NovaKing’s email address the scammers even reached out to other torrent site operators, claiming that EZTV was back in business. However, most knew better not to fall for it and have retired official EZTV uploader accounts.

A Pirate Bay moderator informs TF that they have suspended the EZTV user account. Many of the older torrents are still on the site, but TPB has added a warning urging people to stay away from the compromised domain.

TPB’s EZTV warning
tpbwarning

Other torrent sites such as KickassTorrents, BT-chat and Rarbg have also disabled or suspended the official EZTV accounts after hearing about the takeover. In addition, KickassTorrents and BT-chat have added the same warning as TPB. This way they hope to keep people away from the compromised EZTV site, which is now serving various ads including pop-unders.

Former EZTV staffers also urge people to stay away from all EZTV sites and to inform others to do the same. The real EZTV is no longer active.

EZTV’s forced retirement marks the and of an era. While there are still plenty of TV-torrents around, the group will be dearly missed by millions.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 05/18/15

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

machinaThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Ex Machina 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 (…) Ex Machina 8.0 / trailer
2 (…) Project Almanac 6.3 / trailer
3 (1) Jupiter Ascending 5.8 / trailer
4 (2) Furious 7 (Subbed/cropped HDRip) 8.8 / trailer
5 (4) Kingsman: The Secret Service 8.1 / trailer
6 (3) American Sniper 7.4 / trailer
7 (…) Chappie 7.2 / trailer
8 (5) Run All Night 6.9 / trailer
9 (…) Focus 6.7 / trailer
10 (7) Fifty Shades of Grey 4.2 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Cuts More Jobs, Awards Bonuses to Execs

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

riaa-logoThe RIAA has just submitted its latest tax filing to the IRS, covering the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014. Time for us to see where the music industry’s anti-piracy arm stands.

In previous years the RIAA reported a massive decline in revenue after the record labels cut back on their membership dues, but this trend now appears to have stopped.

Total revenue according to the latest filing is $24.2 million, a slight increase from $24.1 million the year before. Despite the stabilizing income, which mostly comes from the record label’s membership dues, the RIAA continues to trim employees.

Over the past five years the number of employees at the RIAA has been slashed in half, dropping from 117 to just 55.

In its most recent filing the RIAA lists 55 people on the payroll compared to 58 the year before. In total these employees earned $11.7 million of which more than 25% went into the pockets of three top executives.

Interestingly, while more than half of the organization’s workers have been let go, the RIAA’s top employees have enjoyed salary increases year after year, including some healthy bonuses.

The top earner in the year ending March 2014 was CEO Cary Sherman with a $1.6 million a year payout for a working week of 50 hours. Sherman’s base salary is a cool million dollars, but that was boosted with a half million bonus and other compensation.

Other high income employees were Mitch Glazier (Senior Executive VP), Steve Marks (General Counsel) and Neil Turkewitz (EVP International) with $776,616, $728,959 and $657,952 respectively, including over a quarter million in bonuses.

RIAA top earners
990riiarev

While these incomes are significant, they are relatively modest compared to other industry groups. For example, MPAA boss Chris Dodd earns $3.3 million, while its former General Counsel Henry Hoberman earned close to a million.

Looking at other expenses reported in the tax return we see that the RIAA spent $2.3 million on lobbying, a figure that has remained relatively stable over time.

The same cannot be said for the group’s legal fees, which dropped from $16.50 to $1.28 million in a few years. In part, this is because the expensive lawsuits against individual file-sharers and services such as Limewire have ended.

Most recently the RIAA started another lawsuit, this time targeting the music linking site MP3Skull, so perhaps the amount spent will increase again in future years.

The full 2013/2014 filing is available here.

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

TorrentFreak: Facebook Shuts Down ExtraTorrent’s Official Page

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

etfacebookWith regular competitions and frequent status updates ExtraTorrent has a very active community on Facebook.

Or had, we should say.

After sailing clear for nearly three years, Facebook decided to pull the plug on the site this morning citing a third-party copyright complaint.

“We have removed or disabled access to the following content that you have posted on Facebook because we received a notice from a third-party that the content infringes their copyright(s),” Facebook wrote.

According to Facebook the ExtraTorrent page was considered to be a repeat copyright infringer, but the staff of the torrent site refutes this characterization.

ExtraTorrent’s staff tells TF that they were careful not to link directly to infringing content after Facebook warned them two years ago. However, Google cache does show occasional links to pages that list pirated movies.

Facebook’s takedown message
extratorrent-facebook-page-removed

The last notice ExtraTorrent received from Facebook came in yesterday. This takedown notice complained about a post from two years ago which linked to a torrent of the film Elysium.

“This post was published in 2013. It’s very curious. Looks like Facebook removed the ExtraTorrent Page because of a post from 2013,” ET’s staff tells us.

This is not the first time that ExtraTorrent has been kicked from Facebook. The same happened three years ago when the site’s official page had roughly 140,000 fans.

Despite the new setback, the torrent site is not giving up on Facebook just yet. They quickly launched a new page which quickly gathered thousands of followers, and many more are sure to follow.

Extratorrent’s new Facebook page
extraface

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

TorrentFreak: Record Labels Sue ‘New’ Grooveshark, Seize Domains

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

groovesharkEarlier this month the long running lawsuit between the RIAA and Grooveshark came to an end.

Facing hundreds of millions in damages, the music streaming service settled the dispute for $50 million while offering an apology for the mistakes that had been made in the past.

The record labels celebrated the outcome as a victory, but after a few days they had a new Grooveshark problem on their hands. A person naming himself “Shark” had launched a new music service using the familiar Grooveshark brand.

Contrary to most press reports proclaiming a near-complete return of Grooveshark, the site itself appeared to be mostly an MP3Juices clone. However, the use of the Grooveshark name was enough to have the record labels worried.

In a complaint filed under seal at the Southern District of New York, the labels are now suing the people behind Grooveshark’s reincarnation.

The labels accuse the site’s operators of counterfeiting, trademark infringement, cybersquatting and copyright infringement and immediately applied for countermeasures to shut the site down.

Earlier this week District Court Judge Deborah Batts sided with the labels, issuing the requested temporary restraining order as well as a seizure order directed at the site’s operators, hosting providers and domain registrar NameCheap.

“There is good cause to believe that, unless the Defendants are restrained and enjoined by Order of this Court, immediate and irreparable harm will result from the Defendants’ ongoing violations,” the Judge writes.

Under the temporary restraining order the site’s operators are barred from using Grooveshark trademarks and logos and it also prohibits hosting providers from working with the site. In addition, NameCheap was ordered to seize the domain until further notice.

Letter to Namecheap
newgroove

Namecheap swiftly complied with the order and as a result the site’s domain names including Grooveshark.io are now inaccessible.

The operator of the ‘new’ Grooveshark, however, is not impressed by the legal fireworks and will continue to run the site from the new Grooveshark.vc domain name that was just launched.

“I have one message for those responsible for this hostile take over: You will not stop us. We won’t give in to this type of bullying,” Shark informs us.

“On the contrary! The harder you come at us the stronger we’ll fight, and now after this hit we’re more determined than ever to keep Grooveshark alive and kicking,” he adds.

In addition to relocating to a new domain name Shark says he’s added several developers to his team. A few days ago the team released the much requested playlist feature and in the near future he hopes to make the entire project Open Source.

And so a new game of Whac-A-Mole has started.

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

TorrentFreak: Top BitTorrent Tracker Pressured to Ban Infringing Hashes

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

demoniiAt any given point in time, millions of people are sharing files via BitTorrent. The most used trackers process millions of requests per minute, serving between 15 and 30 million people at once.

Demonii is one of these top BitTorrent trackers. The standalone tracker offers no torrents but merely coordinates communication between people who share files via sites such as The Pirate Bay.

Technically speaking a tracker is similar to a DNS provider, it’s a ‘phone book’ which points people to content without knowing what it is. However, according to German lawfirm Rasch, trackers have a responsibility to block infringing hashes if they are asked to.

Earlier this year the lawfirm took action against the hosting companies of several standalone trackers after they failed to block “infringing” hashes. The operator of Demonii, currently the most used BitTorrent tracker, informed us that they were contacted too.

“First we received an email from Rasch asking us to remove about five torrent hashes for one music artist. Since the firm is merely an agent and not the actual copyright owner, I asked for proof that he is the lawful agent,” Demonii’s operator explains.

The lawfirm provided the requested paperwork and to avoid problems with the hosting company, Demonii blocked the five hashes. This was the first time that Demonii had ever blocked content, which is nothing more than filtering a piece of HEX string.

However, it soon became clear that Rasch was just getting started. In the weeks that followed the company filed complaints against 10,000 allegedly infringing hashes which pointed to content from various copyright holders.

Again, Demonii requested proof that the firms was acting as a lawful agent, but this time Rasch declined. Instead, Rasch lawyer Mirko Brüß told the operator that anyone can report copyright infringements.

“Anybody can notify you of an infringement, even if they are in no way affiliated with the rights owner. Please understand that we will not go above and beyond what is provided by the law in order to satisfy your personal requests,” Brüß wrote in an email.

“It is your decision to act upon the information sent to you. But with regards to blocking content wrongfully, the content owners could approach us with claims for damages for sending a false notice to you,” he added.

The Demonii operator disagrees with this assessment and calls out the claim as incorrect.

“If what he is saying is right, in theory, I can go send an email to his hosting provider to remove their site? After all I am not the owner and no way legally affiliated, but I can still claim the take down?! — No.. I can’t, and neither should he,” he tells TF.

However, with pressure shifting to the tracker’s hosting service (which had given the tracker 24 hours to comply), Demonii was eventually forced to block all reported hashes.

Describing the lawfirm’s tactics as “bullying”, the operator decided to move away from its hosting company to one that may be more resistant to this type of pressure.

“We have moved to a different hosting provider, one which we hope will take the matter more seriously and not just bend over backwards for any outrageous claim and takedown request where ownership can not be proven,” Demonii’s operator says.

The previous hash blocks have also been lifted, so Demonii is starting over fresh and uncensored again. The move hasn’t stopped the lawfirm from sending more blocking requests, but for the time being the tracker is opting to ignore these.

The tracker stresses that it respects copyright law. However, it will only respond to correct takedown notice and not to “bullying” tactics.

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

TorrentFreak: Shutting Down Pirate Sites is Ineffective, European Commission Finds

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

eucommtechreportA few years ago Europe witnessed the largest piracy-related busts in history with the raid of the popular movie streaming portal Kino.to.

Police officers in Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands raided several residential addresses, data centers and arrested more than a dozen individuals connected to the site.

The operation wiped out the largest unauthorized streaming portal in Europe and was praised as a massive success. However, new research from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre shows that the effect on end users was short-lived and relatively limited.

In a working paper titled “Online Copyright Enforcement, Consumer Behavior, and Market Structure” researchers examined clickstream data for a set of 5,000 German Internet users to see how their legal and illegal consumption habits changed in response to the shutdown.

One of the main conclusions is that the kino.to raid led to a short-lived decrease in piracy, after which piracy levels returned to normal. At the same time, the researchers observed only a small increase in the use of legal services.

“While users of kino.to decreased their levels of piracy consumption by 30% during the four weeks following the intervention, their consumption through licensed movie platforms increased by only 2.5%,” the paper reads.

Based on the above the researchers conclude that if the costs of the raids and prosecution are factored in, the shutdown probably had no positive effect.

totalp1

“Taken at face value, these results indicate that the intervention mainly converted consumer surplus into deadweight loss. If we were to take the costs of the intervention into account, our results would suggest that the shutdown of kino.to has not had a positive effect on overall welfare,” the researchers write.

Perhaps more worrying is the fact that Kino.to was soon replaced by several new streaming services. This so-called “Hydra” effect means that a landscape which was previously dominated by one site, now consists of several smaller sites that together have roughly the same number of visitors.

The researchers note that Movie2k.to and KinoX.to quickly filled the gap, and that the scattered piracy landscape would make future shutdowns more costly.

“Our analysis shows that the shutdown of kino.to resulted in a much more fragmented structure of the market for unlicensed movie streaming,” the paper reads.

“This potentially makes future law enforcement interventions either more costly – as there would not be a single dominant platform to shutdown anymore – or less effective if only a single website is targeted by the intervention”

totalp

One of the policy implications could be to advise against these type of large piracy raids, as they do very little to solve the problem at hand.

However, the researchers note that the results should be interpreted with caution. For example, it doesn’t include any data on offline sales. Similarly, back in 2011 there were relatively few legal options available, so the effects may be different now.

That said, the current findings shed an interesting light on the limited effectiveness of international law enforcement actions directed at piracy sites. Also, it’s the first research paper we know of that provides strong evidence for the frequently mentioned Hydra effect.

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

TorrentFreak: “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme Is a Sham, Filmmakers Say

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

pirate-runningTo counter the ever increasing piracy threat a group of smaller movie studios launched a new coalition last month, the Internet Security Task Force (ISTF).

ISTF, which includes Voltage Pictures, Millennium, Bloom, Sierra/Affinity and FilmNation Entertainment among its members, is poised to be more aggressive than the MPAA.

Today the group unveils its first point of action. According to the group it’s time to end the voluntary “six strikes” Copyright Alert System, the voluntary anti-piracy agreement between the RIAA, MPAA and several large U.S. Internet providers.

ISTF presents data which reveals that the six strikes warnings are not getting the desired result, describing the system as a “sham”.

According to Millennium Films President Mark Gill his studio sent numerous piracy notices directed at ‘Expendables 3′ pirates under the scheme, but only a tiny fraction were forwarded by the participating ISPs.

“We’ve always known the Copyright Alert System was ineffective, as it allows people to steal six movies from us before they get an educational leaflet. But now we have the data to prove that it’s a sham,” Gill comments.

“On our film ‘Expendables 3,’ which has been illegally viewed more than 60 million times, the CAS only allowed 0.3% of our infringement notices through to their customers. The other 99.7% of the time, the notices went in the trash,” he adds.

As part of the Copyright Alert System ISPs and copyright holders have agreed to send a limited number of notices per month, so anything above this threshold is not forwarded.

ISTF’s data on the number of ‘Expendables 3′ infringements suggests that the Copyright Alerts are in fact less effective than the traditional forwarding schemes of other providers.

Cox and Charter, two ISPs who do not participate in the Copyright Alert System, saw a 25.47% decrease in reported infringements between November 2014 and January 2015. However, the ISPs who sent six strikes notices saw a 4.54% increase over the same period.

“These alarming numbers show that the CAS is little more than talking point utilized to suggest these five ISPs are doing something to combat piracy when in actuality, their customers are free to continue pirating content with absolutely no consequences,” Voltage Pictures CEO Nicolas Chartier notes.

“As for its laughable six strikes policy, would any American retailer wait for someone to rob them six times before handing them an educational leaflet? Of course not, they call the cops the first time around,” he adds.

While it’s clear that ISTF is not happy with the Copyright Alert System, they seem mistaken about how it works. Customers don’t have to be caught six times before they are warned, they get an educational notice the first time they’re caught.

The “six strikes” terminology refers to the graduated response scheme, in which customers face stronger punishments after being caught more times.

Interestingly, the filmmakers promote the Canadian notice-and-notice system as a better alternative. Since earlier this year, Canadian ISPs are obligated to forward infringement notices to their subscribers, and ISTF notes that it has been instrumental in decreasing piracy.

Since the beginning of 2015, Bell Canada has seen a 69.6% decrease in infringements and Telus (54.0%), Shaw (52.1%), TekSavvy (38.3%) and Rogers (14.9%) all noted significant reductions.

The data presented is collected by the monitoring outfit CEG TEK. This American company sends infringement notices paired with settlement requests on behalf of copyright holders, sometimes demanding hundreds of dollars from alleged pirates.

Needless to say, these threats may in part be the reason for the reported effectiveness.

In the United States, ISPs are currently not obliged to forward copyright infringement notices. Some ISPs such as Comcast do so voluntarily, but they also strip out the settlement demands.

ISTF hopes this will change in the near future and the group has sent a letter to the MPAA, RIAA and the major ISPs urging them to expire the Copyright Alert System, and switch to the Canadian model instead.

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

TorrentFreak: Copyright Holders Want Cox to Expose “Most Egregious” Pirates

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

cox-logoIn the United States most large Internet providers forward DMCA notices to subscribers who’re accused of downloading copyrighted material.

Cox Communications is one of the ISPs that does this. In addition, the ISP also implemented a strict set of rules of its own accord to ensure that its customers understand the severity of the allegations.

According to some copyright holders, however, Cox’s efforts are falling short. Last year BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music sued the ISP because it fails to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers.

The companies, which control the publishing rights to songs by Katy Perry, The Beatles and David Bowie among others, claimed that Cox has given up its DMCA safe harbor protections due to this inaction.

The case revolves around the “repeat infringer” clause of the DMCA, which prescribes that Internet providers must terminate the accounts of persistent pirates. Both parties are currently conducting discovery.

In order to make their case the copyright holders have sent a long list of demands to Cox, but court records show the ISP is reserved in the information it’s willing to hand over.

The company refused, for example, to reveal the identities of roughly 150,000 subscribers who allegedly downloaded infringing works from BMG and Round Hill Music. According to the ISP, the Cable Privacy Act prevents the company from disclosing this information.

The music groups, however, aren’t taking no for an answer and are now asking the court to compel Cox to hand over their personal details. According to them, this information is crucial to proof the direct infringement claims.

The copyright holders are willing to accept a more limited number of accounts to begin with. In a motion to compel, they ask for the personal details of 500 account holders whose accounts were repeatedly used to share pirated material.

“In an effort to narrow the dispute, Copyright Holders only request the identity of and contact information associated with 500 of what appear to be the most egregious infringers,” they write.

“Specifically, Copyright Holders seek the identity of subscribers associated with 250 IP addresses that have infringed the copyrights at issue since the complaint was filed in this case, and the identity of subscribers associated with 250 IP addresses that have infringed in the six months prior to the Complaint being filed,” the companies add.

While the current request is limited to 500 IP-addresses, the music groups reserve the right to request more at a later stage and ask the court to grant permission to do so.

“Copyright Holders also request that the Court issue an open Order requiring Cox to produce the contact information for additional direct infringers of the copyrights at issue in this case, if the need arises,” they write.

There is a hearing scheduled for later this week when the copyright holders will further detail their request, if needed. Cox has yet to respond but it’s unlikely that the company will hand to hand over the requested information without putting up a fight.

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