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TorrentFreak: Canada Is a Hotbed for Online Piracy, Rightsholders Claim

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

canadaThe International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has just published its latest submission to the U.S. Government, providing an overview of countries it believes should better protect the interests of the copyright industry.

The IIPA, which includes a wide range of copyright groups including the MPAA, RIAA, BSA and ESA, has listed its complaints against a whole host of countries. As in previous years, Canada was discussed in detail with the recommendation to put it on the 2016 Special 301 ‘watch list.’

Like previous years, the rightsholders’ group points out that many of the top pirate sites have connections to Canada, labeling it as a safe haven for online piracy.

“Canada still has far to go to rectify its reputation as a safe haven for Internet pirates. Indeed, a number of the world’s most popular Internet sources dedicated to online theft of copyright material retain connections to Canada,” IIPA writes.

The group highlights KickassTorrents as one of the prime offenders but also mentions other sites and services including,,, and

“This includes the biggest BitTorrent site in the world in terms of visitors and popularity,, along with the various other incarnations that the so-called ‘Kick Ass Torrents’ operation has assumed in its domain-hopping peregrinations over the past eight years.”

In addition, the IIPA signals a relatively new group of infringing services with ties to Canada, including Popcorn Time, which run on people’s desktop computers but are also sold pre-loaded onto set-top boxes.

“A disturbing recent trend is the emergence of stand-alone BitTorrent applications that employ an attractive, user-friendly interface that enables users to illegally stream and download infringing movies and TV programs,” the report reads.

There is also some positive new to report. Two years ago Canada adopted the Copyright Modernization Act, and according to the IIPA a new provision (27, 2.3) helped to target the Canadian developers behind the popular fork.

“In October 2015, a Canadian Federal Court issued a sweeping injunction against the Canadian developers of PopcornTime,” IIPA writes.

“The court relied, in part, on claims that the defendants had provided services primarily for the purpose of enabling acts of copyright infringement, in violation of the newly enacted provision,” the group adds.

Still, the new copyright act doesn’t go far enough according to the copyright holders, and new legislation is required to address ongoing problems.

“In other respects, however, the Copyright Modernization Act simply fails to respond adequately to the challenge of online piracy,” the IIPA notes.

Canada’s new “notice and notice” system, through which ISPs are obliged to warn pirating subscribers, is not very effective, they claim. Especially when there are no consequences for subscribers who continue to pirate.

In addition, they point out that Canadian law lacks a “notice-and-takedown” regime where hosting companies can be held liable if they fail to disable access to pirated material.

The IIPA believes that in the current legal environment online pirates, even those who fall into the criminal category, can roam free. The U.S. Government should therefore keep Canada on the “watch list,” encouraging it to change its laws.

“The consistent absence of any criminal enforcement in Canada against even the most blatant forms of online theft complete the picture of a system that is still not up to the challenge,” the IIPA writes.

“Canada should review the effectiveness of its current regime, and consider alternatives to remedy its shortcomings and the current lack of incentives to stimulate full inter-industry cooperation against online piracy,” they add.

The IIPA’s full 2016 Special 301 recommendation report is available here. This also includes assessments for more than a dozen other countries, including Brazil, China, India, Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine.

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

TorrentFreak: Beware: Piracy Defense Lawyers Can Be “Trolls” Too

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

trollsignLawsuits against file-sharers are commonplace in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people have been accused in recent years, most after using standard BitTorrent clients.

The cases barely make the news anymore but for copyright holders and law firms they are still big business, with many cases ending in out of court settlements.

As is the case in any legal dispute, lawyers from both sides can profit. The ones representing the copyright holders usually get rewarded with attorney fees and a piece of the settlement award, and those on the other side get paid for the defense.

To many, the attorneys representing the alleged pirates are seen as “the good guys.” However, several insiders believe that not all attorneys have the best interests of their clients at heart.

TorrentFreak spoke with defense lawyer Robert Cashman, who has represented many accused pirates over the past five years. He recently sounded the alarm bell warning people about attorneys whose main motivation is earning a few bucks.

Cashman is one of the attorneys who comes recommended by the EFF. While many defense attorneys are indeed a great help, there are also several who run a “settlement factory” by settling cases on a routine basis, with minimal investment.

“The ‘settlement factory’ attorney problem began years ago, even when there were only 20 of us on the EFF’s subpoena defense list,” Cashman says.

While Cashman confronted several colleagues with his observations, the problem still exists and got worse over time.

“They run a volume-based business where in a number of cases, they have hired multiple attorneys to take calls for their firm as a result to some Google AdWords or online marketing program they just spent who knows how much to attract these ‘leads’.”

“The attorneys they hire are tasked with convincing a person who filled out their online web form to settle the claims against them, even when settling is not in the best interests of the client,” Cashman adds.

In addition to active advertising campaigns, these attorneys also approach defendants who have already retained counsel elsewhere, encouraging them to go for them as a cheaper option.

According to Cashman the “settlement factory” attorneys are able to offer their services cheaply, because they spend minimal time on the cases and run a volume-based business. While this may result in lower legal fees, it might not help an eventual settlement.

Cashman previously confronted a colleague he was mentoring for selling his services short and received a telling reply.

“He explained to me that he actually only spent a few MINUTES on each case because he already prearranged with the plaintiff attorney to settle claims for a certain amount using their boilerplate contract, and thus $300 for him was a windfall.”

The main problem is that instead of looking at the unique aspects of every case, settlement factories often agree to higher settlement amounts, driving up the ‘price’ for everyone.

“The result is that because these attorneys are willing to pay higher prices when settling cases, they “drive up” the prices for all of us other attorneys who are trying to negotiate for a significantly lower amount,” Cashman notes.

Instead of actually looking for ways to negotiate a lower settlement, exploring viable defenses, or considering other individual characteristics, they go for a quick solution.

“The client is getting served on a golden platter to the copyright trolls who are extorting money from them, and it is the very attorneys in whom they are placing their trust who are allowing them to be cheated,” Cashman says.

At the end of the day the defendant is poorly represented, must pay a higher settlement, while driving up the settlement amounts for other defendants in the process.

In part, Cashman’s plea is in his own interest. He runs a business as well and needs to make a profit. So when colleagues get all the work at a cheaper rate, that hurts business.

However, he believes that every attorney should still serve the client to the best of his ability, and the settlement factory attorneys only seem to make matters worse.

“The goal of the defense attorney should not simply be profit off of the problem, but to take steps to make the lawsuits go away in the first place,” Cashman concludes

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 02/08/16

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

ridealongThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Ride Along 2 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
1 (3) Ride Along 2 5.8 / trailer
2 (1) The Big Short (DVDscr) 8.1 / trailer
3 (2) Spectre 7.9 / trailer
4 (4) The Revenant (DVDscr) ?.? / trailer
5 (…) Kung Fu Panda 3 (Telesync) 8.0 / trailer
6 (5) The Martian 8.2 / trailer
7 (7) Creed (DVDscr) 8.0 / trailer
8 (…) Steve Jobs 7.4 / trailer
9 (6) The Intern 7.4 / trailer
10 (…) The Good Dinosaur 6.9 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: God Can Stop Piracy, Research Finds

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

freeman“Thou shalt not steal” is one of the Ten Commandments many Christians hold in high regard.

However, the general public generally doesn’t view piracy as outright stealing. In fact, many people see piracy as morally justified.

To examine this contradiction more closely, a new study (paywall) published by researchers from Australia looked at the relationship is between religious attitudes and piracy.

The study was conducted among members of a Christian mega-church in Indonesia who were divided into various categories, based on the strength of their religion. The results shed an interesting light on how piracy and religion interact.

The first interesting result is that people’s attitudes towards piracy correlate with how religious they are. That is, people who are more religious have less favorable opinions about digital piracy.

“… consistent with our expectation, it was found that the highly religious respondents have a stronger attitude against digital piracy than those who are less religious,” the paper reads.

The questions above covered general attitudes towards piracy. For example, that it hurts the music industry or that it’s against the law. A second set of questions focused on actual behavioral change.

Here, the same people were asked whether they would be less likely to pirate if X told them to. The X differed per question ranging from their pastor, friends, religion to God himself.

The responses to these questions are quite revealing, showing that only God himself can make a strong impact on people’s piracy habits.

“Among the four referents (pastor, friends, religion, God) included in this study, only God was the referent with the strongest influence that could discourage respondents from buying pirated media,” the researchers report.

While God can impact the behavior of less, moderately and highly religious people, he has the strongest impact on the latter. Interestingly, however, even highly religious people won’t change their behavior if their pastor or religion tells them to.

“No significant differences were found in items relating to ‘religion’ and ‘my pastor,’ implying that respondents’ motivation to comply with these referents are not influenced by the extent of their religiosity.”

According to the researchers the effect can be explained by the fact that many people don’t view piracy as unethical. This is reflected in previous research as well as their study, which found that respondents generally don’t see digital piracy behavior as sinful.

“Previous studies found that those who are actively involved in digital piracy do not view piracy as being illegal or unethical and only 10% of American teenagers believe that digital piracy is morally wrong,” the researchers write.

To address this, the researchers suggest “instilling moral values about digital piracy” at a very young age.

“Religious institutions, in cooperation with educational institutions, could work together to communicate a strong message against digital piracy,” the researchers propose in their paper.

Copyright holders will appreciate the suggestion, and they are already working on educating young kids early on, both in the U.S and the UK.

Traditional anti-piracy efforts also continue, including a planned campaign featuring none other than Morgan Freeman, who coincidentally played God in a few movies and is currently working on a documentary series featuring the Almighty.

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Industry Demands €1.2 Billion Piracy Damages from Dutch Govt

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

piratekayCompared to many other countries around the world, pirating movies and TV-shows is hugely popular in the Netherlands.

Up to a third of the population is estimated to download and stream copyrighted content without paying for it.

This high percentage is not surprising as the Netherlands has traditionally been a relative safe haven for pirates. Downloading movies without permission was not punishable by law until the European Court of Justice spoke out against the tolerant stance two years ago.

As a result the Dutch government quickly outlawed unauthorized downloading. However, breaking the habits of a large section of the population will take more than that and local piracy rates still remain high.

This has prompted Dutch filmmakers and distributors to hold the Government responsible and they’re now demanding compensation for the piracy losses they claim to have suffered.

In a letter sent to Secretary of State for Justice, Klaas Dijkhoff, a coalition of film industry companies claim 1.2 billion euros ($1.34 billion) to compensate for damages dating back to 2004.

“The Dutch State has maintained for years that copying from illegal sources was allowed. The result was that an entire generation of consumers believes that downloading without paying for it is simply allowed,” the filmmakers write (via Tweakers).

“Through this letter we hold the Dutch government liable for the damage. We want the Dutch State to take responsibility for its unlawful legislation and the resulting damage,” they add.

The companies base their billion euro claim on research from Considerati, which estimates the losses at 78 million euros per year. Including rent that comes to a total of 1.2 billion euros.

However, according to the movie companies the losses may amount to more.

“The actual damage is expected to be even higher. Recent figures show that the revenue from video-on-demand have dropped off massively in 2014 and 2015, compared to 2013,” the letter adds.

Among other things, the movie companies suggest using the damages for various anti-piracy campaigns. In addition, they suggest stronger enforcement against copyright infringers.

The Dutch government has until later this month to respond or else the movie industry companies will take legal steps.

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

TorrentFreak: PayPal Starts Banning VPN and SmartDNS Services

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

paypaldeniedPayPal is widely known for their aggressive stance towards BitTorrent sites, Usenet providers and file-hosting services, but VPN, proxy and SmartDNS providers might now suffer the same fate too.

This week PayPal stopped accepting payments for a company that provides VPN and SmartDNS tools, stating that these may facilitate copyright infringement.

So-called “unblocker” tools can be used to bypass geo-filtering blockades which Netflix and other video platforms have in place.

According to the message PayPal sent to UnoTelly and possibly others, these services are against the company’s policies because they help users to bypass copyright restrictions.

“Under the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, PayPal may not be used to send or receive payments for items that infringe or violate any copyright, trademark, right of publicity or privacy, or any other proprietary right under the laws of any jurisdiction,” PayPal’s email reads.

“This includes transactions for any device or technological measure that descrambles a scrambled work, decrypts an encrypted work or otherwise avoids, bypasses, removes, deactivates or impairs a technological measure without the authority of the copyright owner.”

PayPal informs the affected business(es) that their accounts have been permanently limited and that this decision can’t be appealed. This means that they have to switch to other payment processing providers.

UnoTelly informs TorrentFreak that the decision came as a shock, without any type of prior notice. The company is disappointed and sees the move as a direct attack on open and unrestricted Internet access.

“We are disappointed at PayPal’s unilateral action and the way it acted without prior warning. We provide both DNS resolution and secure VPN services. Our services are network relays that connect people around the world,” UnoTelly’s Nicholas Lin says.

Under PayPal’s policy every VPN and SmartDNS service is at risk of losing its PayPal account. However, it seems likely that the company will mainly take action against companies that market themselves as an “unblocker” service.

UnoTelly, for example, specifically mentions its ability to bypass geo-blocks imposed by streaming sites such as Netflix and Hulu.

PayPal’s actions are not an isolated incident. They come a few weeks after Netflix started to increase its crackdown on VPN services and other unblockers, as requested by copyright holders. It would be no surprise if copyright holders are also behind PayPal’s recent move.


PayPal’s email:

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Takes Over Popcorn Time Domain

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

popcorntLate last year the main Popcorn Time fork, operating from the domain name, shut down its website unexpectedly.

The MPAA took credit for the fall announcing that it had filed a lawsuit against several of the developers in Canada. In response to these legal threats several key developers backed out.

Since the initial announcement there haven’t been any official updates on the case. TorrentFreak learned, however, that several of the accused developers have been negotiating a deal to settle the dispute out of court.

This week came the first public signs that the case is indeed moving towards a resolution. On Tuesday the domain changed ownership from Popcorn Time developer and defendant David Lemarier, to the MPAA.

This means that Hollywood is now officially in control of what was once the most popular Popcorn Time domain.


TorrentFreak reached out to the MPAA and Lemarier for more details several days ago, but both have yet to reply. The other defendants we contacted preferred not to comment on the case.

From the information we were able to gather in recent weeks it appears that the movie studios prefer a settlement over a full court battle. Perhaps to save costs, perhaps to avoid attracting more attention to the Popcorn Time phenomenon.

This would be similar to how they approached their case against YIFY/TYS, which was arguable the most prominent piracy group of the past half decade. However, instead of taking the operator to court the movie studios quickly arranged an out of court settlement.

With the domain now in the hands of the MPAA it is safe to conclude that this fork is not coming back.

Previously the software’s developers maintained that they were not involved in any infringing activity. Theoretically, some of the accused may still choose to put up a fight but considering the recent developments this has become less likely.

Meanwhile, several other Popcorn Time forks continue to operate, launching new features and services as if nothing ever changed.

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

TorrentFreak: Fansubbers Take Anti-Piracy Group BREIN to Court

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

free-subtitlesFan-made subtitles are commonly created for two purposes – to let foreigners understand English-speaking entertainment or to provide the deaf with a way to comprehend audio.

Every day millions of people enjoy homemade subtitles but if it was up to some copyright holder groups, the websites offering these files would all cease to exist.

This has created a fair amount of tension between both sides and several subtitle websites have had to close shop as a result of this pressure. In the Netherlands, however, a group of subtitle fanatics has decided to go on the offensive.

A group of fansubbers united in the “Free Subtitles Foundation” (Stichting Laat Ondertitels Vrij – SLOV) and raised $15,000 over the past two years for a legal campaign against the local anti-piracy group BREIN, which is about to kick off.

BREIN, who represent the major Hollywood studios and various other film companies, has previously threatened legal action against subtitle sites on several occasions and the Free Subtitles Foundation hopes to bring an end to this.

TorrentFreak contacted Camiel Beijer, the group’s lawyer, who informed us that the case revolves around two issues.

“The main question is whether the creation and publishing of film subtitles is an act only reserved to the maker of the film work in question,” Beijer says.

“The second issue concerns a review of the conduct of BREIN against people who create and reproduce subtitles. The Free Subtitles Foundation anticipates that a court verdicts will shed more light on these two themes.”

The foundation will send out the summons next week and believes that the case is essential for the future of fansubbing in the Netherlands. It hopes that the court will side with their view that the right to freedom of expression and information trumps copyright.

The fansubbers and BREIN have discussed their differences outside of court in the past but haven’t been able to come to terms. The anti-piracy group maintains that distributing subtitles on a large-scale, or distributing subtitles that can do relatively great damage, should not be permitted.

“Creating and distributing subtitles requires permission from the copyright holder,” BREIN chief Tim Kuik tells TorrentFreak.

BREIN stresses that there are exceptions where fansubbing is allowed, when a film is in the public domain for example. However, it believes that most subtitle sites create subtitles from pirated sources to make these accessible for the Dutch market.

“BREIN can not allow that copyright infringing subtitles are distributed when they harm its members, authors, rightsholders and all others who whose income depends on legal distribution of films and TV series,” Kuik notes.

For their part the Free Subtitles Foundation argues that BREIN shouldn’t be able to threaten subtitle makers with high penalties and fines, without a clear legal basis.

The case between the fansubbers and BREIN is expected to be heard in court later this year.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Tracker Knocked Offline by ‘Faulty’ Takedown Requests

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

opentrackerAt any given point in time, millions of people are sharing files via BitTorrent, transfers that are often coordinated by external torrent trackers.

Technically speaking a standalone tracker is similar to a DNS provider, it’s a ‘phone book’ which points people to content without knowing what it is.

The trackers themselves don’t host any files nor do they have a searchable index. However, that doesn’t mean that copyright holders will leave them alone.

Increasingly, trackers are asked to block infringing hashes from their service, which several do. This group includes the popular “Trackerfix” tracker. However, despite honoring removal requests the service got into trouble a few days ago.

The problems started with a wave of takedown requests sent by the Indian film production company Thirrupathi Brothers, which owns the rights to the Tamil movie Rajini Murugan.

The film company is not happy with a torrent being shared on the torrent site LimeTorrents so in order to stop it from being distributed Thirrupathi Brothers targeted a wide range of external trackers.

In a series of takedown notices sent to a variety of trackers’ internet services including CloudFlare, OVH, Private Layer, Plus Server, Velia, Host Europe, Godaddy and NetSAAP it demands an immediate shutdown of the infringing activity.

As a result of the series of requests, the Trackerfix tracker suffered several hours of downtime.

Part of the takedown notice

TorrentFreak spoke with the operator of the popular Trackerfix tracker who is fed up with the whole situation. Even though they had already blocked the hash from their service, the threatening language resulted in their hosting company pulling the plug.

The downtime lasted a few hours but was eventually resolved. What’s most problematic, according to the tracker operator, is that the notice itself is inaccurate and overbroad.

The email indeed appears to be missing parts and is confusing, to say the least. For one, it requests the takedown of several third-party torrent trackers for one infringing hash, out of the millions they track.

This is similar to requesting a DNS server to be taken down because it points people to The Pirate Bay.

“These torrents, videos, URL links are fraudulent/infringing material of the Tamil movie Rajini Murugan. The movie is illegally released around the web… want to stop fraudulent materials on web. The pirated videos are used your bittorrent tracker service for torrent fraudulent material transmission,” the broken English email reads.

In addition, the takedown notice references a combination of Dutch and U.S. regulations, even though several of the targeted companies are located outside of this jurisdiction.

“This letter is official notification under the Foundation for Internet Domain Registration in the Netherlands (SIDN) Dutch Copyright Act, protection of authors’ rights […] and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (‘DMCA’), and I seek the removal of the aforementioned infringing material from your servers.”

At the time of writing the Trackerfix service is back online but the owner fears that he may have to search for a new hosting company if the takedown demands continue.

It’s not clear whether any of the other torrent trackers mentioned in the takedown requests were also pulled offline, but according to Trackerfix it’s certainly not getting easier to operate a torrent tracker.

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

TorrentFreak: YouTube Is Not Liable for Pirating Users, Court Rules

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

sadyoutubeYouTube has been battling music rights group GEMA in several court cases for more than half a decade.

In one of the most prominent cases the music group, which claims to represent 70,000 artists, argued that YouTube is liable for the content its users upload.

As such, the music group demanded Google’s video service to pay 0.375 euro cents per view for a selection of copyrighted music videos.

Before the weekend the Higher Regional Court of Munich announced its verdict in the case, resulting in a clear win for Google. According to the court YouTube is not liable for the infringing material uploaded by its users.

The verdict, which confirmed a ruling from a lower court last summer, comes as a disappointment to GEMA. The music rights group believes that services such as YouTube are profiting from piracy.

“Today’s decision is most regrettable. The court has obviously followed YouTube’s argument that it is only the uploaders who are responsible for the contents that are retrievable via the service,” says Tobias Holzmüller, GEMA’s General Counsel.

“We consider this to be wrong. Furthermore, the decision is not justified from an economic perspective, as it continues to enable YouTube to generate high advertising revenues without passing them on to musical authors,” he adds.

The court’s decision is in line with the safe harbor principle which holds that user-generated content services are automatically not responsible for the actions of their users.

However, in recent months various music industry groups have called on lawmakers to reconsider this position. The European music group IFPI, for example, argued that these sites and services must obtain proper licenses.

In line with GEMA, IFPI chief executive Frances Moore previously called out YouTube for not playing fair, accusing it of benefiting from piracy.

“It is true that artists and record producers are not being paid fairly for the use of their music. This is because user upload platforms, such as SoundCloud and YouTube, are taking advantage of exemptions from copyright laws that simply should not apply to them,” Moore said.

“There should be clarification of the application of ‘safe harbors’ to make it explicit that services that distribute and monetize music do not benefit from them.”

GEMA says it’s reviewing the decision from the Higher Regional Court Munich, which it expects to appeal in the near future.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 02/01/16

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

bigshortThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

The Big Short 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
1 (2) The Big Short (DVDscr) 8.1 / trailer
2 (1) Spectre 7.9 / trailer
3 (…) Ride Along 2 5.8 / trailer
4 (3) The Revenant (DVDscr) ?.? / trailer
5 (6) The Martian 8.2 / trailer
6 (4) The Intern 7.4 / trailer
7 (…) Creed (DVDscr) 8.0 / trailer
8 (8) Bridge of Spies 7.9 / trailer
9 (…) Lazer Team 7.1 / trailer
10 (…) Sisters (Webrip) 6.5 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Today Show Sued Over Copyright Infringement

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

todayCopyright is a double-edged sword, and those who sharpen one side often get cut by the other.

In recent years NBC Universal has fiercely protected its copyrights. The company warned file-sharers of criminal prosecutions, pursued The Pirate Bay in court, and even tried to censor TorrentFreak with an inaccurate takedown notice.

This week, however, the company is on the receiving end of a copyright dispute. Photographer Alexander Stross filed a lawsuit at a Texas federal court accusing the Today Show of infringing his work through multiple venues.

In the complaint (pdf) Stross explains that a series of photos he took of micro houses in Texas gained mainstream new attention earlier this year. It was also covered in a segment of The Today Show, reaching an audience of millions of people.

However, the photos shown on air were used without permission from the photographer. In addition, one of the photos was posted in a tweet without attribution, which is still online today.

“The same day as the On-Air Segment, The Today Show ‘Tweeted’ about the story – reproducing one of the Photographs, with no attribution at all,” the complaint states.

A day later this coverage was followed by an article on The Today Show website, again featuring the infringing photos. To make matters worse these were credited to a third party.

“Defendant ascribed a false and misleading credit to each Photograph stating ‘Courtesy of Matt Garcia Design,’ as reflected below,” the complaint adds.

Screenshot from the complaint

In an attempt to resolve the matter Stross contacted The Today Show, notifying it about the incorrect credits. After he didn’t hear back for a month, he emailed again, but without a response.

Only after the photographer hired legal representation did a producer of the show reply, arguing that the architect of the houses gave permission to use the material. However, according to internal correspondence no permission was given at the time the material was used.

“Defendant knowingly published the Photographs in the Web Article with a false and misleading credit to [the architect] – before it ever received anything from Garcia.”

“When contacted by counsel, Defendant lied about the source of the Photographs, and its alleged belief that it had advance authorization to use them,” the complaint mentions.

Even more so, The Today Show knew that the credit was incorrect as it mentioned Stross as the author of the photos in the original segment. Nonetheless, they never contacted him to obtain permission.

According to Stross it is clear that The Today Show infringed on his copyrights and he demands both statutory and actual damages as compensation.

With eight photos in total the damages could reach a million dollars but of course, NBC Universal should be well aware of that already.

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

TorrentFreak: Strike Torrent Search Goes Open Source, After RIAA Debacle

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

strikelLast December, Aurous developer Andrew Sampson settled his legal dispute with the RIAA for a massive $3 million, according to the legal paperwork.

The legal trouble also affected another popular project Sampson ran, the torrent search engine Strike. While it was not specifically mentioned in the settlement agreement the Florida-based developer decided to pull the plug on this project too.

While the site has been offline for weeks, interest in the project hardly waned. Sampson informs TorrentFreak that over a million visitors still landed on the site, which served pages cached by CloudFlare. In addition, many external services called on the site’s defunct API.

This prompted the developer to make the code available for others, releasing it under an open source license.

“I don’t want to leave thousands of developers hanging; the API received over 25,000,000 unique requests a month, not to mention the millions of unique users we received every month,” Sampson tells us.

“I wanted to leave something, it may not be the prettiest thing, but the least I can do is extend an olive branch and give people a small tool set for hosting their own search engines.”

With the code anyone can set up a custom torrent search engine, replicating the Strike service. The only thing that’s missing are the actual torrent scrapers. After consulting his lawyers, Sampson decided not to make those public.

The past few weeks have been rough for the developer, who says he suffered mentally from his run-in with the RIAA.

“After dealing with this lawsuit I’m a bit taxed mentally, I hit a really low point for a while, depression kind of overwhelmed me, I lost a decade long friendship, a lot of my savings, I just became kind of bitter and angry,” Sampson notes.

However, he’s slowly starting to get a grip on reality again and is looking forward to working on new projects. While he still has a healthy interest in P2P and BitTorrent, he will stay away from anything remotely infringing.

“I’d much rather focus my energy on work and building open source tools that don’t cross grey lines. It is a lot less stressful and feels great.”

The release of Strike’s source code offers the developer the closure he needs, so he can move on to other things.

Currently he’s working on a new project called Ulterius. This is an open source C# based framework that allows users to manage windows based systems from any HTML5 enabled browser.

“I received a lot of support from the community during this, I can only hope they like what I make next. I’m 20 years old, so I’m just getting started,” he concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Steal This Show S01E05: P2P takes on Ebay

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

steal240In this episode we’re joined by Washington Sanchez, co-founder of P2P marketplace Open Bazaar, and Angel Leon, founder of popular torrent client Frostwire and OpenBazaar contributor.

This week we discuss Netflix and the use of VPNs by its content-hungry customers to evade geoblocking; the increasingly businesslike and quite possibly criminal vibe from some large torrent sites; and the fact that Vladimir Putin’s Internet Adviser is running a filesharing site.

Finally, we delve into how Open Bazaar is creating a peer-to-peer network that will put the “d” in “decommerce”.

Steal This Show aims to release bi-weekly episodes featuring insiders discussing copyright and file-sharing news. It complements our regular reporting by adding more room for opinion, commentary and analysis.

The guests for our news discussions will vary and we’ll aim to introduce voices from different backgrounds and persuasions. In addition to news, STS will also produce features interviewing some of the great innovators and minds.

Host: Jamie King

Guests: Washington Sanchez and Angel Leon.

Produced by Jamie King
Edited & Mixed by Eric Bouthiller
Original Music by David Triana
Web Production by Siraje Amarniss

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Govt: Excessive Piracy Punishments Should Be Avoided

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

us-united-america-flagThree years ago the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force started to explore various ways that current copyright law could be improved.

Following extensive discussions and a public consultation process it finalized its recommendations this week, releasing a whitepaper (pdf) with several concrete proposals.

One of the main topics covers the ‘penalties’ for online piracy, which can currently reach $150,000 per copied work. These statutory damages can lead to excessive awards, as shown in two RIAA cases.

The Task Force notes that the award amount doesn’t have to be lowered, as it may be appropriate as a deterrent for online piracy in extreme cases. However, steps should be taken against disproportionate punishments and copyright trolling.

“It is important to avoid excessive and inconsistent awards that risk encouraging disrespect for copyright law or chilling investment in innovation. And the abusive enforcement campaigns reported by commenters should not be tolerated,” the paper reads.

Instead of changing the maximum statutory damages the Task Force recommends an update to current legislation with a list of factors for courts and juries to consider when determining the amount of a damages award.

Possible factors include the financial situation of the defendant. Someone who’s unemployed should not pay the same amount in damages as a billion dollar company for the same offense.

“The Task Force recognizes the concern that some awards of statutory damages can be far beyond the capacity of the defendant to pay – whether an individual or a start-up business. Requiring juries and judges to consider the defendant’s financial situation when assessing the level of the award will help address that concern,” the recommendation reads.

The value of the infringed work and the harm it causes the copyright holder should also be taken into account. This means that leaking a pre-release copy of a blockbuster movie should receive a higher punishment than sharing a B-film usually offered at a discount.

“An award that takes into account the likely heightened magnitude of harm to the market for a pre-release work may enable the copyright owner to receive a more appropriate level of compensation than an award of actual damages.”

Taking the value of the work into account may also help to deter copyright trolls, who generally sue people over adult content and other niche material.

“On the other hand, when the infringed work is of minimal commercial value, a lower award may be appropriate. This can help address concerns about holders of low-value copyrights … using the threat of statutory damages to turn litigation threats into a profit center,” the Task Force adds.

The paper further recognizes that the “abusive enforcement actions” of copyright trolls are harmful to the copyright system as well as the judicial system.

Some stakeholders suggested to tackle this problem by lowering the maximum of $150,000 in statutory damages, so copyright trolls can’t use it as a threat. However, the Task Force believes that the courts have other means to address these excesses, as they’ve done with Righthaven and Prenda Law.

“The unfair tactics used by certain litigants should be curbed without cutting back a remedy that serves legitimate purposes of compensation and deterrence. The courts are well positioned to evaluate such tactics and have sanctioned counsel and parties who pursue baseless, reckless, or vexatious claims,” the paper reads.

The Government’s proposed changes don’t leave statutory damages completely untouched though. In cases of non-willful secondary liability of online services, the paper proposes to move away from the strict “per work” rule.

This means that a court may issue a lower damages award against a site or service if the number of infringed works is very high, which now automatically results in hundreds of millions in potential damages.

Overall the proposals are well-balanced. The whitepaper strikes a careful balance between proponents and opponents of decreased statutory damages, reflected in positive comments from both sides.

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

TorrentFreak: “Piracy Harms” Are Now Part of U.S. Education Law

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

obamaessaWith bipartisan support, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) became law late last year, outlining what U.S. public education policy looks like in the years to come.

One of the key changes to its predecessor is a stronger focus on technology. If fully funded, school districts can receive up to a billion dollars to spend on education technology.

What hasn’t been mentioned in any mainstream coverage, however, is that this technology part includes a piracy component.

It turns out that various entertainment industry lobby groups have kept a close eye on the bill. In its most recent disclosure the MPAA lists “content protection” as a lobbying topic related to ESSA, and this hasn’t been in vain.

When reading through the final text we see several mentions of “piracy harms,” always related to education technology. For example, the available funds can be used for all sorts of educational training and development related to the “harms of copyright piracy”

“(i) effectively integrate technology into curricula and instruction (including education about the harms of copyright piracy),” one reference reads.

Piracy harms…

The law doesn’t go into detail on what the harms of online piracy are. This might turn into some interesting discussions down the road as academic studies show varying results.

The addition of the piracy related language is celebrated by the entertainment industries, including the MPAA-backed organization Creative Future. The group lists a thank you note on its website allowing the public to forward the message to Congress.

“Congress did the right thing! [ESSA], which sets new educational standards for our country, ensures that teachers, parents, and staff who are learning about new technologies in order to instruct the next generation of digital citizens must also understand the harms associated with piracy.”

“There is no better time to help students understand copyright than when they are learning how to use the Internet! Now, technology training for educators will also include this important pro-creativity message,” Creative Future adds.

In recent years the MPAA and RIAA have already started to get involved in copyright education. As part of the Center of Copyright Information they helped to create a new curriculum for California schools.

Initially the lesson materials were rather one-sided, lacking a proper mention of issues such as fair use and alternatives to standard copyright licenses. After a public outcry, this was eventually changed in an updated version of the lesson materials.

Continuing down this path, it’s expected that various copyright groups will now reach out to educators to assist them with training and education related to the harms of piracy.

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

TorrentFreak: Cox Should Expose Pirating Subscribers, Court Hears

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

cox-logoLast month a Virginia federal jury ruled that Internet provider Cox Communications was responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers.

The ISP was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and must now pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.

BMG held the ISP responsible for tens of thousands of copyright infringements. During trial hearings it was revealed that tracking company Rightscorp downloaded more than 150,000 copies of their copyrighted works directly from Cox subscribers.

The verdict was a massive victory for the music company and a disaster for Cox, but the case is not over yet.

This week Cox renewed its motion for judgment as a matter of law, hoping to escape the jury verdict. Alternatively, the ISP wants the court to grant a new trial.

BMG opposes this motion and has submitted a request for a permanent injunction instead. According to the music publisher, Cox has failed to take any action to prevent further copyright infringements.

“Now, more than a month later, Cox’s network continues to be the site of massive, ongoing infringement of BMG’s copyrights. This ongoing infringement inflicts irreparable harm on BMG,” the music publisher writes.

When contacted on the matter, Cox’s legal counsel informed BMG that the ISP was still analyzing all aspects of its processes and procedures. However, the music publisher doesn’t want to wait any longer and has requested a permanent injunction from the court, ordering the Internet provider to take action.

Besides forwarding all future takedown notices to subscribers whose accounts are linked to copyright infringements, BMG also requests an overview of the actions Cox takes to prevent further infringements.

In addition, BMG also wants the personal details of all associated account holders, including their names, email addresses and phone numbers.

The Proposed Injunction

BMG does not state how it intends to use these personal details, but given its relationship with Rightscorp it’s likely that the associated subscribers may be contacted to pay a settlement fee.

The music publisher believes that the proposed injunction is fair, considering the alleged harm it continues to suffer from the mass infringements on Cox’s network.

“Requiring Cox to prevent further use of its network for infringement by specified infringers at identified IP addresses imposes no undue burden on Cox and is narrowly tailored to reduce the enormous and irreparable harm that BMG suffers from infringement over Cox’s network,” the company writes.

It is now up to Judge O’Grady to review the requests from both parties.

If he sides with BMG then Cox will have to share the personal details of potentially tens of thousands of subscribers. If Cox has its way the jury verdict may be moot, or alternatively there will be a new trial.

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

TorrentFreak: Netflix Exempts U.S. Military Bases From Copyright Geo-Blocks

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

us-united-america-flagEarlier this month Netflix announced that it would increase its efforts to block subscribers who circumvent geo-blockades.

This means that it will be harder to use VPN services and proxies to access Netflix content from other countries, as movie studios have requested.

With the application of commercial blacklist data Netflix blocks IP-addresses that are linked to such services. The announcement caused concern among many people who live and work abroad, including U.S. military personnel.

Many soldiers stationed in the Middle East and elsewhere use Netflix in combination with a VPN, to feel ‘at home.’ Soon, this may no longer be possible, at least not for those who live off-base.

While Netflix is determined to take stronger action against VPN-pirates, the company also says that all U.S. military bases are exempt from blockades, Stars and Stripes reports

“Netflix always exempts U.S. military bases around the world. They will still be able to access the U.S. catalog,” Netflix spokesperson Anne Marie Squeo said.

This is an interesting decision, since most military bases abroad are not considered U.S. soil. Also, we are not aware of a similar treatment for other overseas workers or military bases of non-U.S. countries.

Still, for most soldiers this gesture is not enough, as they live off-base.

Jesse Fowler, a hospital corpsman stationed in Bahrain, says he’s not disappointed with the local offering of Netflix but relies on a VPN to access some shows that are not available.

“…I’m mad if I can’t change where my Internet is so I can’t watch my own shows,” Fowler says.

This sentiment is shared by the Bahrain-stationed Navy counselor Eric Cutright. “My VPN hasn’t been blocked. But if it does, I will be pissed. Netflix Bahrain is trash,” he said.

TorrentFreak has kept a close eye on the recent developments and Netflix has indeed started to block more VPN providers. However, blocking all of them appears to be a difficult task, especially because several providers continue to add new IP-addresses.

Ironically, many soldiers may switch to piracy again when Netflix is no longer an option, turning the clock back half a decade.

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

TorrentFreak: South American Pirates Transfer 789 Petabytes Per Year

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

cassetteCommissioned by the copyright TV industry group Alianza, research firm NetNames has just released a comprehensive report on the scope of online piracy in South America.

The study is a follow-up on the global “Sizing the Piracy Universe” report released two years ago. It combines data from various sources to estimate the local piracy landscape.

Analyzing data from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, the report concludes that nearly half of the population has visited pirate sites or services in the period of a month.

“Of the approximately 222.3 million Internet users in South America, nearly 50%, or 110 million, accessed a site that distributed pirated audiovisual content by means of either a cyberlocker, peer-to-peer network or illegal IPTV streaming site,” the report reads.

Contrary to the worldwide picture, direct download sites receive more visitors and generate more bandwidth than peer-to-peer sharing such as BitTorrent. This may in part be due to lower Internet speeds, which are not optimal for P2P transfers.

Per year cyberlocker traffic accounts for more than half of all piracy traffic, 442 petabytes, compared to 265 petabytes of peer-to-peer traffic. NetNames also includes data for pirated live IPTV broadcasts, which adds another 82 petabytes.

In total the South American piracy landscape generates 789 petabytes per year. Or put differently, a whopping 2.3 million gigabytes per day.


While these bandwidth numbers may look impressive they pale in comparison to other regions. For example, NetNames previously found that piracy accounted for roughly 20,000 petabytes of bandwidth per year in North America, and a massive 26,000 petabytes in Europe.

NetNames notes that it is nonetheless a considerable proportion, since the local Internet infrastructure is underdeveloped, and warns that copyright holders may face even higher levels of piracy if Internet penetration and speeds increase.

The report is expected to serve as an important lobbying tool to convince local lawmakers to take steps to prevent copyright infringement. Michael Hartman, Senior Vice President of DIRECTV Latin America, believes it is key to raise awareness.

“Online piracy represents a significant threat to the protection of intellectual property rights,” Hartman says.

“This is the first step necessary to raise awareness of the problem. It will enable Alianza members to educate others about the problem and develop strategies to combat this form of piracy.”

The full NetNames report is available on the Alianza website.

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

TorrentFreak: “My Little Pony” Sued For Using a Pirated Font

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

mlpPiracy comes in all shapes and sizes and even large multinationals can sometimes cross the line.

According to Font Brothers, American toy multinational Hasbro did so when it started to use the “Generation B” font for its My Little Pony products, without permission.

The Generation B font was created by Harold Lohner and is commercially exploited by Font Brothers.

One of the best known uses of the font is for the popular My Little Pony toys and videos. However, according to a complaint filed at a New York federal court Hasbro failed to obtain a proper license, so My Little Pony is using a pirated font.

“Defendant Hasbro has used or instructed others to use unauthorized copies of the Generation B Font in the creation of, but not limited to, all products, goods, merchandise, television and film properties, and advertising materials connected with the ‘My Little Pony’ product line..,” the complaint reads.

“Defendant Hasbro has created unauthorized and infringing copies of the Generation B Font Software and impermissibly distributed the same to third parties,” it adds (pdf).

Font Brothers claim that the font is being used across a wide variety of products and the company list various examples.

While small differences can sometimes be tricky to prove that an unauthorized font is used, in this case it is also used on Hasbro’s website. The stylesheet of the website specifically mentions the Generation B and a copy of the font stored and distributed through Hasbro’s servers.

My Little Pony website using the Generation B font

In the complaint Font Brothers write that they contacted Hasbro about the infringing use, but the toy maker refused to license the font for My Little Pony products and merchandise.

“Defendant has refused to comply with Plaintiff’s reasonable request for appropriate software licensing fees given the services already rendered by Plaintiff’s GENERATION B type font software, despite several demands for such action.”

As a result, Minnesota-based Font Brothers are claiming substantial damages and requesting a jury trial to resolve the matter.

“Font Brothers has lost, and will continue to lose, substantial revenue from Defendant’s wrongful use, copying, distribution, and creation of unauthorized infringing works based upon the GENERATION B font software.”

Considering the scope of the alleged infringements, which affect pretty much the entire My Little Pony line, the potential damages run into the millions. In addition, Font Brothers demand the destruction of all products and material which utilize the infringing font.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 01/25/16

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

spectre1This week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Spectre 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
1 (2) Spectre 7.9 / trailer
2 (1) The Big Short (DVDscr) 8.1 / trailer
3 (3) The Revenant (DVDscr) ?.? / trailer
4 (5) The Intern 7.4 / trailer
5 (7) Black Mass (Web-DL) 7.1 / trailer
6 (6) The Martian 8.2 / trailer
7 (…) The Veil 5.0 / trailer
8 (4) Bridge of Spies 7.9 / trailer
9 (9) The Last Witch Hunter (WEB-DL) 6.0 / trailer
10 (…) Legend 7.1 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: World’s Oldest Torrent Is Still Being Shared After 4,419 Days

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

matrix-ascii-smallBitTorrent is an excellent distribution mechanism, but for a file to live on at least one person has to keep sharing it.

This means that most torrents eventually die after the public loses interest. However, some torrents seem to live on forever.

More than ten years ago TorrentFreak reported on a fan-made ASCII version of The Matrix, describing it as a really old torrent. This torrent had survived for 696 days, which was a rarity.

At the time BitTorrent had only a fraction of the users it has now so it was harder to keep them active. A lot of things have changed in the decade since, but the torrent in question is still going strong.

The torrent file of The Matrix ASCII was created more than 12 years ago (4,419 days) on December 20, 2003. Even though the original site is no longer online, it still has 8 active seeders at the time of writing.

There are also people actively downloading the file, most likely after they found a copy of the release on one of the torrent sites where it remains available. To the best of our knowledge, this means that The Matrix ASCII is the oldest torrent that’s still being actively shared.

The.Matrix-ASCII screencapmatrix-ascii-large

The 12-year-old release of The Matrix ASCII comes with a DVD cover and insert. While there are no accurate statistics available it is believed to have been downloaded by tens of thousands of people over its lifetime.

Perhaps worried that Hollywood wouldn’t appreciate the effort, the torrent includes a small disclaimer.

“This work is a parody. As such I do not believe that this DVD has any possibility of competing with the original in any market. It is not for sale,” the disclaimer reads.

Prospective downloaders have very little to worry about though. Warner Bros. is not known to go after this type of fan-art that’s created for non-commercial use and the creator has never been targeted either.

The people who’ve downloaded a copy of The Matrix have thus far responded mostly positively after watching the ASCII movie. That is, those who knew what to expect. Those looking for the original Matrix movie are less appreciative.

“Dude, tell me what to do with this Matrix ASCII, cause the picture is all green n stuff, can’t even see what’s going on. And, its in 4 VOB files, but why?” was the response of one unhappy downloader.

The fact that this torrent has been able to survive for so long is a testament to the resilience of BitTorrent. For us, The Matrix ASCII has become an iconic release and we’ll certainly keep an eye on how it fares in the future.

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

TorrentFreak: Creative Kids Turn MIT Website Into a ‘Piracy’ Haven

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

spongepirateKids love to be creative and in today’s world, tablets and computers offer a wealth of options to do so.

One of these creative playgrounds is the visual programming language Scratch, which has been in development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for over a decade.

“With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community,” the project explains.

Scratch targets children between the ages of 8 and 16, who can create and remix works of art through an easy to use web-based interface. The tool has become quite popular in recent years with over 12 million projects being shared.

More recently, however, it also gained the attention of copyright holders. Over the past months music industry group BPI sent tens of thousands of takedown notices targeting the creative playground, pointing out the use of various pirated tracks.

Indeed, upon closer inspection it appears that many kids projects feature songs of popular artists.

“Credit to the Internet for pictures”

Many of the young creators may not be aware of their infringing acts, but the major music labels certainly are. MIT doesn’t publish any details on takedown notices but Google alone has received close to 40,000 alerts referencing infringing “” URLs.

This makes the MIT website one of the top pirate sites on the Internet, and definitely the most infringing educational domain.

Interestingly, the youngsters are not completely oblivious to the concept of copyright. One user addresses the issue in the Scratch forums, asking whether it’s okay to use copyrighted music in his creations.

Other members quickly chimed in concluding that this type of use is permitted.

“Yep! Scratch has a special license that lets you use copyrighted music and other things – just be sure to give credit to anything you don’t own,” one commenter wrote.

“We’re technically protected under fair use because scratch is ‘educational’,” another comment added.

While this may sound reassuring it’s also a bit misguided. Scratch certainly doesn’t have a license to use all copyrighted music and even the educational argument could be contested in court.

The people behind the Scratch project seem to be aware of the potential issues. The site has a DMCA takedown policy in place which allows rightsholders to remove content, but not before giving it a second thought.

“In assessing whether or not a Scratch user has violated your copyrights, please keep in mind that Scratch is an educational and not-for-profit initiative, seeking to aid children’s learning by providing the tools for them to learn and express themselves using digital technology,” the Scratch project writes.

“We hope you also see Scratch not only as a good way of popularizing your creations/website but also as an opportunity to do something good for children’s education,” it adds.

If copyright holders still want to take down the kids’ creations they are welcome to do so, but they should think of the children first…

Luckily for the BPI and other copyright groups Scratch isn’t all bad. They would certainly appreciate this home-made anti-piracy PSA created by one Scratcher, for example.

“Don’t steal things”

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

TorrentFreak: EFF Warns Against Broad “Stay Down” Anti-Piracy Filters

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

targetmissThis month the U.S. Government’s Copyright Office launched a public consultation to evaluate the effectiveness of the DMCA’s Safe Harbor provisions.

The study aims to signal problems with the current takedown procedures and addresses the repeat infringer issue that affects ISPs, copyright takedown abuses, and the ever-increasing volume of DMCA notices.

An issue that’s been high on the agenda are requests from copyright holder groups to ensure that content “stays down” after it’s removed. For example, when Google removes a copyrighted image from its search results, it should ensure that it doesn’t reappear under another URL.

This “take down, stay down” approach is being pushed by industry groups including the MPAA and RIAA who believe that the current takedown procedures are not effective.

However, not everyone welcomes tighter rules. In particular, the recent proposals struck a nerve with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who warn against such broad copyright filters.

“Now, some lobbyists think that content filtering should become a legal obligation: content companies are proposing that once a takedown notice goes uncontested, the platform should have to filter and block any future uploads of the same allegedly infringing content,” the EFF’s Elliot Harmon notes.

“Filter-everything would effectively shift the burden of policing copyright infringement to the platforms themselves, undermining the purpose of the safe harbor in the first place.”

One of the problems is that copyrighted content may be infringing on one site, but not on another. For example, a video creator may want to take down infringing copies of his work, but that doesn’t mean that all the licensed versions should be removed from the web too.

In addition, the EFF points out that automated takedown tools are far from perfect. The takedown ‘robots’ that copyright holders employ often make mistakes, removing access to content that’s not infringing at all.

“Here’s something else to consider about copyright bots: they’re not very good,” Harmon writes.

“Content ID routinely flags videos as infringement that don’t copy from another work at all. Bots also don’t understand the complexities of fair use. In September, a federal appeals court confirmed that copyright holders must consider fair use before sending a takedown notice,” he adds.

The EFF does agree with copyright holders that the DMCA notice-and-takedown procedure isn’t perfect. But, instead of more strict filtering they would like more safeguards to ensure that free speech and fair use are protected. This is not the case at the moment.

“You don’t need to look far to find examples of copyright holders abusing the system, silencing speech with dubious copyright claims,” Harmon notes.

“Under the filter-everything approach, legitimate uses of works wouldn’t get the reasonable consideration they deserve. Even if content-recognizing technology were airtight, computers would still not be able to consider a work’s fair use status,” he adds.

The above clearly shows that there’s a great divide on how the DMCA takedown process should operate and what changes the U.S. Government should implement.

Considering the parties involved and the stakes at hand, copyright holders, Internet services and ISPs will do everything in their power to convince the Copyright Office that they know what’s best for the future of the Internet.

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

TorrentFreak: Piracy Can Boost Digital Music Sales, Research Shows

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

cassetteFor more than a decade researchers have been looking into the effects of online music piracy on the revenues of the record industry, with mixed results.

By now it’s clear that there’s no universal positive or negative effect of piracy on sales. The results depend on the type of artist, music genre and media, among other variables.

A newly published study by Jonathan Lee, researcher at Queen’s University Department of Economics, sheds an interesting light on these differences and unravels another piece of the puzzle.

In a working paper titled Purchase, Pirate, Publicize: The Effect of File Sharing on Album Sales, he examined the effect of BitTorrent piracy on both digital and physical music sales.

The goal of the study is to find out whether piracy’s sales displacement (piracy hurts sales) or the promotion component (piracy boosts sales) has a stronger effect.

“In theory, piracy could crowd out legitimate sales by building file sharing capacity, but could also increase sales through word-of-mouth,” Lee explains.

Drawing on a data set of 250,000 albums and 4.8 million downloads from a popular private BitTorrent tracker, he found some interesting effects. The overall results show a modest negative impact on album sales, as music industry executives would expect.

“From the results, I conclude that file sharing activity has a statistically significant but economically modest negative effect on legitimate music sales,” Lee writes.

Interestingly, however, this negative result is largely driven by physical sales. For many artists, piracy actually boosts digital sales, presumably because it serves as free advertising.

“This relationship varies by medium: file sharing decreases sales of physical copies but boosts sales of digital ones for top-tier artists, suggesting that the word-of-mouth effect is most relevant for the digital market.”

In addition, the popularity of the artists is an important factor too. More popular artists do relatively well as the boost in digital album sales compensates for the loss on the physical side.

“Top-tier artists lose sales, but the loss is partially offset by an increase in digital sales and the overall effect is small,” Lee writes.

Links between piracy and sales across various artists tiers

For their part, artists who are somewhat popular actually benefit from piracy while lesser knows musicians are hurt the most. The latter may be explained by the fact that these artists simply aren’t good enough for people to buy their work.

“Mid-tier artists are helped slightly and bottom-tier artists are significantly hurt by file sharing, which could indicate that file sharing helps lesser-known artists only if they are actually talented,” Lee notes.

The study adds to the never-ending debate on the effect of piracy on sales. It’s a good illustration that file-sharing can have both a positive and a negative impact.

One of the downsides is that the data itself is relatively old, from 2008, and the music industry has changed a lot since then. This means that the results may have been different today.

Also, it’s worth noting that the download numbers come from a BitTorrent tracker that counts a relatively high share of music aficionados. They may also act differently than the general file-sharer.

That said, the paper offers a unique and unprecedented analysis of BitTorrent piracy on music sales. It clearly disputes the general argument that music piracy exclusively hurts album sales, and suggests that BitTorrent piracy can act as promotion under certain circumstances.

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