Author Archive

TorrentFreak: KickassTorrents Goes Secure, Encrypts Traffic For All Visitors

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

KATLike most Internet users, torrent site visitors prefer not to have their browsing habits exposed to third parties.

One way to prevent this from happening is by using SSL encryption. This is supported by more and more sites, and last year Google even went as far as encrypting all searches by default.

Most of the larger torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and Torrentz also offer SSL support. However, KickassTorrents is the first to force encryption. This means that everyone who visits the site will now be sending data over a secure https connection.

TorrentFreak spoke with the KickassTorrents team who told us that the new feature was implemented by popular demand.

“We’re just thinking about those people who will feel safer when they know all the data transferred between them and KAT is completely encrypted. People requested it, so we respond,” the KAT team informs TF.

SSL encryption will prevent one’s boss, school, or ISP from monitoring what pages are visited what data is sent or retrieved from the site. However, it’s still possible to see that the KickassTorrents domain was accessed, and how much time was spent there.

Also, it’s worth emphasizing that it doesn’t anonymize the visitor’s IP-addresses in any way, as a VPN or proxy might.

That said, enabling encryption is a good way for KickassTorrents to offer its users a little more security. On top of that, Google recently noted that it would prioritize SSL encrypted sites in its search results, something the site’s operators probably wont mind either.

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

TorrentFreak: “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Warnings Double This Year

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

pirate-runningFebruary last year, five U.S. Internet providers started sending Copyright Alerts to customers who use BitTorrent to pirate movies, TV-shows and music.

These efforts are part of the Copyright Alert System, an anti-piracy plan that aims to educate the public. Through a series of warnings suspected pirates are informed that their connections are being used to share copyrighted material without permission, and told where they can find legal alternatives.

During the first ten months of the program more than more than 1.3 million anti-piracy alerts were sent out. That was just a ramp up phase though. This year the number of alerts will grow significantly.

“The program doubles in size this year,” says Jill Lesser, Executive Director of the overseeing Center for Copyright Information (CCI).

Lesser joined a panel at the Technology Policy Institute’s Aspen Forum where the Copyright Alert System was the main topic of discussion. While the media has focused a lot on the punishment side, Lesser notes that the main goal is to change people’s norms and regain their respect for copyright.

“The real goal here is to shift social norms and behavior. And to almost rejuvenate the notion of the value of copyright that existed in the world of books and vinyl records,” Lesser said.

The notifications are a “slap on the wrist” according to Lesser, but one which is paired with information explaining where people can get content legally.

In addition to sending more notices, the CCI will also consider adding more copyright holders and ISPs to the mix. Thus far the software and book industries have been left out, for example, and the same is true for smaller Internet providers.

“We’ve had lots of requests from content owners in other industries and ISPs to join, and how we do that is I think going to be a question for the year coming up,” Lesser noted.

Also present at the panel was Professor Chris Sprigman, who noted that the piracy problem is often exaggerated by copyright holders. Among other things, he gave various examples of how creative output has grown in recent years.

“This problem has been blown up into something it’s not. Do I like piracy? Not particularly. Do I think it’s a threat to our creative economy? Not in any area that I’ve seen,” Sprigman noted.

According to the professor the Copyright Alert System is very mild and incredible easy to evade, which is a good thing in his book.

The professor believes that it’s targeted at casual pirates, telling them that they are being watched. This may cause some to sign up for a VPN or proxy, but others may in fact change their behavior in the long run.

“Do I think that this is a solution to the piracy problem. No. But I think this is a way of reducing the size of it over time, possibly changing social norms over time. That could be productive. Not perfect but an admirable attempt,” Sprigman said.

Just how effective this attempt will be at changing people’s piracy habits is something that has yet to be seen.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police Accuse Domain Name Registrar of Facilitating Criminal Activity

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

easydnsOver the past year City of London Police have been working together with the music and movie industries to tackle sites that provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

“Operation Creative” began with the sending of warning letters to site owners, asking them to go legit or shut down. Late last year this was followed by a campaign targeted at domain registrars, asking them to suspend the domain names of several “illegal” sites.

Most registrars ignored these letters and only five out of the 75 requests were granted. The police aren’t giving up on their efforts though, as they have now contacted the registrars again, this time with a warning.

EasyDNS was one of the companies who refused to suspend domains without a court order. This week CEO Mark Jeftovic informed TorrentFreak that his company received a new letter from City of London PIPCU titled “notice of criminality.”

Unlike the previous one, the latest letter doesn’t have any concrete demands, but simply puts the registrars on notice.

Receipt of this email serves as notice that the aforementioned domain, managed by EASYDNS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. 28/03/2014 is being used to facilitate criminal activity, including offences under:

Fraud Act 2006
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
Serious Crime Act 2007

We respectfully request that EASYDNS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. give consideration to your ongoing business relationship with the owners/purchasers of the domain to avoid any future accusations of knowingly facilitating the movement of criminal funds.

According to easyDNS the warning appears to suggest that registrars themselves could face legal trouble if they fail to take action. A rather worrying development considering that no court has deemed the sites to be violating local law.

“We think this time the intent is not to actually get the domain name taken down, but rather to build some sort of ‘case’ that we, easyDNS, by mere ‘Receipt of this email’ are now knowingly allowing domains under management to be ‘used to facilitate criminal activity’,” Jeftovic notes.

“Thus, if we don’t takedown the domains PIPCU want us to, when they want us to, then we may face accusations in the future (in their own words) ‘of knowingly facilitating the movement of criminal funds’,” he adds.

Despite the repeated threats, easyDNS doesn’t plan to take any action without a proper court order. In a blog post Jeftovic explains this stance, noting that his company will fiercely defend due process.

The file-sharing domains PIPCU wants to take offline are guilty until proven innocent and there is no basis to act without a court order, he believes. Instead, he characterizes the warning letter as potentially libelous and a abuse of power.

“Hinting that failure to cooperate could result in adverse consequences such as being stripped of one’s trade accreditation or possibly being accused of a crime in the future, strikes me as coercive or an abuse of position on the part of PIPCU,” Jeftovic concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Warner Bros. Sues New York Bar For Playing 80-Year Old Song

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

giacomoMany bars, pubs and restaurants like to entertain their guests with live music, with bands often playing covers of recent hits or golden oldies.

As with all music that’s performed in public, the bar owners are required to pay the royalties, even if there are just handful of listeners present.

Royalty collection agencies take this obligation very seriously and drive around the country visiting local bars and pubs to check whether they obey the law. Those who don’t usually get a bill in the mailbox, and if they refuse to pay up it gets worse.

Every year hundreds of small establishments are sued by copyright holders, often with help from performing rights organizations ASCAP and BMI. This week, Giacomo Jacks, a restaurant/bar from Amityville, New York, became a target.

The bar is being sued by Warner Bros. and Pure Songs for playing two songs without permission back in February. As they failed to secure the rights, Giacomo Jacks now faces a maximum of $60,000 in damages.

While these lawsuits are fairly common, the song over which Warner Bros is suing stands out immediately, as it’s more than 80 years old.

The song in question is the classic love song “I Only Have Eyes for You,” written by Harry Warren and lyricist Al Dubin and used in Warner Bros’ 1934 movie Dames. Since then it has been covered dozens of times, including the well-known Flamingos version.

I Only Have Eyes for You (1934)
copyreg

In the lawsuit Warner Bros. claims to have been severely harmed by the public performance in the Amityville bar, for which it demands proper compensation. Since the actual damage can’t be calculated they ask for up to $30,000 per infringement.

“The said wrongful acts of the Defendants have caused and are causing great injury to the Plaintiffs, which damage cannot be accurately computed, and unless this Court restrains the Defendants from the further commission of said acts, said Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury,” the complaint (pdf) reads.

While Warner Bros. appear to be on sound legal ground (the song’s copyright only expires after 95 years) suing a small local business over a 80-year old song is not the best PR. That said, considering previous cases that dealt with the same issue, Giacomo Jacks will most likely lose the case or end up paying a hefty settlement fee.

Meanwhile, various unauthorized copies of the track are played hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube and elsewhere.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Research: Blocking The Pirate Bay Works, So…..

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

blocktpb1Website blocking has become one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries in recent years.

The UK is a leader on this front, with the High Court ordering local ISPs to block access to dozens of popular file-sharing sites, including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents.

Not everyone is equally excited about these measures and researchers have called their effectiveness into question. This prompted a Dutch court to lift The Pirate Bay blockade a few months ago. The MPAA, however, hopes to change the tide and prove these researchers wrong.

Earlier today Hollywood’s anti-piracy wish list was revealed through a leaked draft various copyright groups plan to submit to the Australian Government. Buried deep in the report is a rather intriguing statement that refers to internal MPAA research regarding website blockades.

“Recent research of the effectiveness of site blocking orders in the UK found that visits to infringing sites blocked declined by more than 90% in total during the measurement period or by 74.5% when proxy sites are included,” it reads.

MPAA internal research
mpaa-leak

In other words, MPAA’s own data shows that website blockades do help to deter piracy. Without further details on the methodology it’s hard to evaluate the findings, other than to say that they conflict with previous results.

But there is perhaps an even more interesting angle to the passage than the results themselves.

Why would the MPAA take an interest in the UK blockades when Hollywood has its own anti-piracy outfit (FACT) there? Could it be that the MPAA is planning to push for website blockades in the United States?

This is not the first sign to point in that direction. Two months ago MPAA boss Chris Dodd said that ISP blockades are one of the most effective anti-tools available.

Combine the above with the fact that the United States is by far the biggest traffic source for The Pirate Bay, and slowly the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.

It seems only a matter of time before the MPAA makes a move towards website blocking in the United States. Whether that’s through a voluntary agreement or via the courts, something is bound to happen.

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

TorrentFreak: LA Police: Online Piracy Funds Drug Dealers and Terrorists

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

lacountyEarlier this month we reported how media conglomerate ABS-CBN is going after several website owners who link to pirated streams of its programming.

The Philippines-based company filed a lawsuit at a federal court in Oregon looking for millions of dollars in damages from two local residents. The court case has barely started but that didn’t prevent ABS-CBN from using its journalistic outlet to taint public opinion.

In a news report released by its American branch, the company slams the defendants who they align with hardcore criminals.

The coverage is presented as news but offers no balance. Instead it frames online piracy as a threat to everyone, with billions of dollars in losses that negatively impact America’s education and health care budgets.

But it gets even worse. It’s not just public services that are threatened by online piracy according to the news outlet, national security is at stake as well.

“Piracy actually aids and abets organized crime. Gangs and even terrorist groups have reportedly entered the piracy market because the penalties are much lighter than traditional crimes such as drug dealing – and the profit could be much higher,” ABS-CBN’s senior reporter Henni Espinosa notes.

It’s not the first time that we have heard these allegations. However, for a news organization to present them without context to further its own cause is a line that not even the MPAA and RIAA would dare to cross today.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, on the other hand, has also noticed the link with organized crime and terrorism.

“[Piracy is] supporting their ability to buy drugs and guns and engage in violence. And then, the support of global terrorism, which is a threat to everybody,” LA County Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers tells the new outlet.

Los Angeles County police say that piracy is one of their top priorities. They hope to make the local neighborhoods a little safer by tracking down these pirates and potential terrorists.

“To identify bad guys that we need to take out of the community so the rest of the folks can enjoy their neighborhood and their families,” Rogers concludes.

Since the above might have to sink in for a moment, we turn to the two Oregon citizens who ABS-CBN based the report on. Are Jeff Ashby and his Filipina wife Lenie Ashby really hardcore criminals?

Based on public statistics the five sites they operated barely had any visitors. According to Jeff he created them for his wife so she could enjoy entertainment from her home country. He actually didn’t make any copies of the media but merely provided links to other websites.

‘I created these websites for my wife who is from the Philippines, so she and others who are far from the Philippines could enjoy materials from their culture that are otherwise unavailable to them, Jeff Ashby wrote to the court.

“Since these materials were already on the web, we did not think there would-be a problem to simply link to them. No content was ever hosted on our server,” he adds.

The websites were all closed as soon as the Oregon couple were informed about the lawsuit. They regret their mistake and say they didn’t know that it could get them into trouble, certainly not $10 million worth of it.

So are these really the evil drug lords or terrorists the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and ABS-CBN are referring to?

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

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent’s Secure Dropbox Alternative Simplifies Sharing

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

syncThere are dozens of sync and backup services available on the Internet, but most have a major drawback. They require people to store data on external cloud-based servers that are not under their control.

BitTorrent Sync is a lightweight backup tool that eliminates this drawback, and it’s much faster too.

The functionality of the Sync application is comparable to most cloud-based sync tools, except for the fact that there’s no cloud involved. Users simply share their files across their own devices, or the devices of people they share files with.

Since its launch the application has built a steady user base of millions of users who already transferred a mind-boggling amount of data.

“Since the initial Alpha launch of Sync a little over a year ago, we’ve now hit over 10 million total user installs and have transferred over 80 Petabytes of data,” BitTorrent Inc’s Erik Pounds notes.

Today marks another big step in the development of Sync. With the release of version 1.4 users are now able to share files and folders more easily, by simply sending someone a URL. Previously, people had to exchange encryption keys which seemed more complicated.

Sharing a Sync file or folder
syncnew

People who receive a Sync URL will be directed to a download page where they are prompted to install Sync, if it isn’t already, and start downloading files right away.

Sync offers a wide variety of sharing options. Users have complete control over where their data is going and how it is used. This includes setting read/write permissions and the option to give access to approved devices only.

“Sync gives you full ownership over your data. With no third parties involved in storing or arbitrating your data, you know exactly where your files go,” Pounds explains.

In addition to the easier sharing options and various other improvements, the latest release also has a completely redesigned interface.

For those who are interested, the latest version of BitTorrent Sync is now available for download here, completely free of charge.

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

TorrentFreak: Lionsgate Targets Downloaders of Expendables 3 Leak

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

expendablespiracyOver the past few weeks movie studio Lionsgate has rolled out an unprecedented anti-piracy campaign to stop people from sharing leaked copies of The Expendables 3.

Aside from dragging six file-sharing sites to court, Lionsgate sent out hundreds of thousands of takedown notices to websites that linked to pirated copies of the leaked movie.

As a result all traces of the movie were completely wiped from many file-sharing sites. However, the movie studio still isn’t satisfied and is now going after individual downloaders as well.

Lionsgate has started sending takedown notices targeting people sharing the movie via BitTorrent. The notices are being sent to various ISPs who are urged to forward them to the customers whose accounts were monitored sharing the movie.

Interestingly, this also includes those who use remote servers known as BitTorrent seedboxes. While many believe that seedboxes keep them safe from the prying eyes of piracy monitoring firms, this is not always the case. Yesterday, a customer of the Canadian seedbox provider Whatbox received the following notice.

Copyright warning
expendable-seedbox

Via an email Whatbox urged the customer to delete the file in question, or face account suspension.

“A copyright complaint has been received for content existing on your account. To prevent account suspension, please delete the affected content within the next 24 hours,” the notice reads.

TorrentFreak contacted Whatbox, who explained that this takedown procedure is standard policy. As an Internet access provider it properly processes all incoming requests form copyright holders.

“When we receive a notice we check for the infohash and email the appropriate customer asking them to remove the file(s). Nothing is passed along to the copyright enforcement group except to confirm that the content was found and subsequently removed,” Anthony Ryan of Whatbox says.

“If a customer causes a large number of copyright complaints, we reserve the right terminate their service with a prorated refund and 24 hours of complimentary service to backup all their non-infringing files,” Ryan adds.

The above notice confirms that Lionsgate’s takedown efforts are now targeting individual downloaders, through their ISPs. The action appears limited to warning letters and at least for now there are no signs that Lionsgate will drag file-sharers to court.

Nu Image, another studio involved in the production of The Expendables 3, hasn’t taken any legal action either. However, they are more familiar with the topic than Lionsgate, as they sued a record breaking 23,322 U.S. Internet users for downloading a copy of the first Expendables film.

To be continued?

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

TorrentFreak: Police Freeze Mega Shares in Money Laundering Investigation

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

megaWhile facing an extradition to America for his role in the so-called “Megaupload Conspiracy”, Kim Dotcom launched a new cloud storage venture, Mega. Now, this new service is being indirectly linked to a crime ring by local authorities.

Today Mega announced that one of its major shareholders William Yan, also known as Bill Liu, is suspected of having connections to a large crime ring. Pending further investigation the police has put the 18.8% share held through Yan’s companies under restraining order.

Yan has not been formally charged and through his lawyer denied any wrong-doing. Mega itself is not believed to be connected to the alleged crimes.

“The Police have commented that their action does not affect any innocent third parties (such as Mega) who have had business dealings with Mr Yan,” Mega CEO Graham Gaylard says commenting on the news.

“Mega has been extremely diligent to ensure that all its operations are fully compliant with all legal and regulatory requirements. Mega does not undertake any illegal activities and does not wish to be associated with any such activity,” Gaylard adds.

Kim Dotcom says that William Yan was properly screened before he became a shareholder. The New Zealand entrepreneur, who himself is accused of money laundering by the United States, said that no alarm bells went off at the time.

“He is an investor who put money into Mega because he believed in it. I had no idea he had any problems or issues,” Dotcom told the Herald.

The news comes at an unfortunate time for Mega, which intends to go public on the New Zealand stock exchange through a backdoor listing. As a result of the restraining order the trading in shares of the backdoor listing vehicle TRS has been temporarily halted.

Despite the problems of its shareholder, Mega’s CEO doesn’t believe the company will be affected. Gaylard stresses that all funds received by Mega were paid by Yan’s lawyers through banks that operate under stringent anti money laundering policies.

“Mega has never had any reason to suspect that such funds resulted from any illegal activity, and the Restraining Order will not affect the operations of Mega,” Gaylard says.

“For us it is business as usual.”

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 08/25/14

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

maleThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Maleficent is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (1) Maleficent 7.4 / trailer
2 (9) Godzilla (Webrip) 7.1 / trailer
3 (2) Captain America: The Winter Soldier 8.1 / trailer
4 (3) Divergent 7.2 / trailer
5 (…) The Fault in Our Stars 8.3 / trailer
6 (4) X-Men: Days of Future Past (HDrip/TS) 8.4 / trailer
7 (5) 22 Jump Street (TS) 7.8 / trailer
8 (6) The Prince 4.6 / trailer
9 (…) Draft Day 6.8 / trailer
10 (6) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 7.4 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Police: Finding Pirate Bay Documents is Too Expensive

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

pirate bayThanks to the UK’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) the public is able to check what the government is up to, and hold it accountable. At least, that’s what it’s intended for.

FOIA requests are a helpful tool for journalists and at TorrentFreak we previously used this right to uncover the scope of City of London Police’s anti-piracy efforts.

There is more to reveal though. It is widely known that the police work in tandem with entertainment industry groups such as FACT and the BPI, so we also attempted to find out what’s being discussed behind closed doors.

Since asking for all information shared between City of London Police and entertainment industry groups might be a bit much, we focused our FOIA request on The Pirate Bay.

More specifically, we requested police correspondence with representatives of the creative industry “regarding the pirate bay also known as TPB, thepiratebay.se, thepiratebay.sx, thepiratebay.org, or Pirate Bay.”

On Friday we heard back from the responsible Information Access Officer, but no documents were provided. Instead, we were told that the request can’t be processed as the cost would exceed the statutory limit of £450.

“In order to establish the existence of any correspondence of this kind it would be necessary to examine all mail systems, all call logs and all files/documents held by the force,” the reply read.

“The cost of completing this work would exceed the limit prescribed by the Secretary of State in accordance with powers contained in Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act. The limit is currently set at £450 and the hourly rate is set at £25.”

Apparently the police estimate that it would take more than 18 hours to locate the information we asked for. That would make sense if none of the documents are organized, but we assume that the force has some type of archiving system.

The above response leaves us with no other option than to limit the request to electronic information only, specifying a narrow time frame. Whether this will fall within the desired cost projection has yet to be seen though. Let’s hope there’s no hard drive crash in the meantime.

To be continued…

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

TorrentFreak: Backup Service Kicks Customer Over “Infringing” Torrent Files

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

torrentsMost people who regularly use a computer know that it’s wise to have all critical data backed up. Whether it’s on a local hard drive or in the cloud, a copy can come in handy if something breaks.

Zoolz is one of the many commercial backup solutions. The company services regular customers but also business clients including Microsoft, Dell, the BBC and the Washington post.

Zoolz allows customers to backup their files in the cloud, including entire hard-drives. This is all done privately and securely, the company claims, with zero knowledge of what’s being transferred.

This zero knowledge claim has been called into doubt recently as one of Zoolz’ customers, Ryan Gallagher, had his account terminated after the company found several .torrent files in his backups. Gallagher didn’t store any infringing media, but just 1 Megabyte worth of old metadata.

Apparently, scanning for pirated filenames is standard practice at Zoolz, which is also explained in the product agreement.

“If Metadata checking (i.e. file names) reveals that an account has content relating to video piracy, software piracy or any copyrighted data with the intent to distribute (i.e. torrents) the account will be immediately terminated,” it reads.

And this is indeed what happened. Zoolz promptly notified the customer that his account would be terminated, and he was given a few days to transfer over a terabyte of data to a safer place.

“My account and all data (1.3TB) was nuked, they would not budge on deleting specific ‘prohibited file names’ saying they had no way to do it. It’s a complete waste of time and bandwidth,” former Zoolz customer Gallagher comments.

While there is nothing wrong with strict anti-piracy policies, deleting an entire account over a few small pieces of metadata goes pretty far. The .torrent files Zoolz found only reference pirated files, nothing more.

And it got even worse. When Geoff Akerlund of the Backup Review site confronted the company with its drastic actions, he was accused of supporting illegal behavior himself.

“We are sad to see you side with illegal behavior, the torrents could mean that the user has the actual media files, and downloading any media file without any proof of ownership is considered illegal,” Zoolz told him.

The backup service claims that the torrents “could” indicate that the user has a copy of the files as well, and that without proof of ownership terminating the account is warranted.

Aside from this rude behavior and terminating users accounts because they store non-infringing .torrent files, one has to wonder what business a backup provider has snooping through the computers of their customers.

In any case, Zoolz has “zero knowledge” of proper customer service.

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

TorrentFreak: Lionsgate Wants to Settle Expendables 3 Lawsuit With Torrent Site

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

expendablespiracyWith a disappointing $16 million in earnings during the opening weekend, the box-office premiere of The Expendables 3 turned into a big flop.

Many insiders blame the pre-release leak of the film for the disappointing numbers. Millions of people have downloaded pirated copies and skipped the box office, they argue.

Over the past several weeks Lionsgate has countered the leak by sending tens of thousands of takedown requests. The movie studio even went as far as suing the operators of six websites that allegedly failed to remove the infringing files – Limetorrents.com, Billionuploads.com, Hulkfile.eu, Played.to, Swankshare.com and Dotsemper.com.

This pressure resulted in drastic actions at several of these sites. Faced with a preliminary injunction, cloud hosting service Hulkfile shut down its website, for example, and Swankshare did the same. LimeTorrents remained online, but removed all expendables torrents, including the trailers.

TorrentFreak spoke with the operator of the torrent site who says he installed a filter that blocks everything related to the Expendables franchise. He hoped that this would be enough to appease the movie studio, but thus far Lionsgate has no plans to back down without compensation.

In an email the movie studio’s lawyer notes that the preliminary injunction stays in place. Interestingly, however, the torrent site operator is invited to discuss a potential settlement.

“Thanks for the email. As you know the court has entered a preliminary injunction, and the lawsuit is going to continue unless we can reach a settlement. I think it would be helpful to set up a time to talk by phone,” Lionsgate’s lawyer writes.

Whether Lionsgate is serious about settling or whether it merely wants to know more about the identity of Limetorrents’ operator remains anyone’s guess. It’s very unlikely that the movie studio will settle for anything short of a few million dollars in damages, something the torrent site owner can’t afford.

So for now, this means that the lawsuit is destined to drag on.

Yesterday LimeTorrents’ domain registrar eNom had to hand over any information it has on the site’s owner. With the domain name at risk LimeTorrents has decided to move its website to a new .CC domain name, where it will continue serving torrents, minus the Expendables.

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

TorrentFreak: Fraud and Embezzlement Drives Anti-Piracy Group into Bankruptcy

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

smaisguyAnti-piracy groups are often quick to label file-sharing sites as criminal organizations, but these outfits also have some rotten apples amongst their own.

A few months ago we reported on the President of the Lithuanian Anti-Piracy Association LANVA, who was jailed for two years for drug trafficking. The boss of Iceland’s anti-piracy group SMAIS is not doing much better, it seems, as he stands accused of fraud and embezzlement.

SMAIS is a local branch of Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association. The group recently failed to get The Pirate Bay blocked in Iceland, and has now run into the law itself.

The organization’s board filed for bankruptcy after it discovered a wide range of serious problems. The group’s financial statements were falsified, the books were not in order, and taxes haven’t been paid since 2007.

Making matters even worse, the board says that its CEO Snæbjörn Steingrímsson has admitted to embezzlement. This case is now under review by the Special Prosecutor, who has to decide whether a criminal investigation will be launched against the anti-piracy chief.

The last time SMAIS made international headlines was last year, when the group pulled its Facebook page offline after four days. According to Steingrímsson, SMAIS didn’t have enough resources to handle the constant flaming comments from the public.

What certainly didn’t help was that the launch of the Facebook page coincided with the news that SMAIS never paid for the film and game rating software they purchased from a Dutch company back in 2007. Considering the position the group is in now this is hardly a surprise.

Whether Hollywood has plans to install a new anti-piracy group in Iceland if the bankruptcy goes through is currently unknown.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Asked to Remove 1 Million Pirate Links Per Day

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

google-bayIn the hope of steering prospective customers away from pirate sites, copyright holders are overloading Google with DMCA takedown notices.

These requests have increased dramatically since Google began making the data public. A few years ago the search engine received just a few dozen takedown notices during an entire year, but today it processes millions of allegedly infringing links per week.

Over the past months the number of reported URLs has continued to rise. Now, for the first time ever, Google has processed an average of more than one million URLs per day.

Last week Google was asked to remove more than 7.8 million results, up more than 10% compared to the previous record a week earlier. The graph below shows the remarkable increase in requests over the past three years.

To put these numbers in perspective, Google is currently asked to remove an infringing search result every 8 milliseconds, compared to one request per six days back in 2008.

google-dmca-record

The massive surge in removal requests is not without controversy. It’s been reported that some notices reference pages that contain no copyrighted material, due to mistakes or abuse, but are deleted nonetheless. Google has a pretty good track record of catching these errors, but since manual review of all links is unachievable, some URLs are removed in error.

Google says it’s doing its best to address the concerns of copyright holders. Last year the company released a report detailing the various anti-piracy measures it uses. However, according to some industry groups the search giant can and should do more.

For the RIAA the staggering amount of takedown requests only confirms the notion that the process isn’t very effective. Brad Buckles, RIAA executive vice president of anti-piracy, previously suggested that Google should start banning entire domains from its search results.

“Every day produces more results and there is no end in sight. We are using a bucket to deal with an ocean of illegal downloading,” Buckles said.

The issue has also piqued the interest of U.S. lawmakers. Earlier this year the House Judiciary Subcommittee had a hearing on the DMCA takedown issue, and both copyright holders, Internet service providers, and other parties are examining what they can do to optimize the process.

In the meantime, the number of removal requests is expected to rise and rise, with 10 million links per week being the next milestone.

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

TorrentFreak: Attackers Can ‘Steal’ Bandwidth From BitTorrent Seeders, Research Finds

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

swarmBitTorrent is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to share large files over the Internet. The popular file-sharing protocol is used by dozens of millions of people every day and accounts for a substantial amount of total Internet traffic.

This popularity makes BitTorrent an interesting target for attacks, which various anti-piracy companies have shown in the past. One of these possible attacks was recently unveiled by Florian Adamsky, researcher at the City University London.

In an article published in “Computers & Security” Adamsky and his colleagues reveal an exploit which allows attackers to get a higher download rate from seeders than other people.

In technical terms, the exploit misuses BitTorrent’s choking mechanism of clients that use the “Allowed Fast” extension. Attackers can use this to keep a permanent connection with seeders, requesting the same pieces over and over.

The vulnerability was extensively tested in swarms of various sizes and the researchers found that three malicious peers can already slow download times up to 414.99%. When the number of attackers is greater compared to the number of seeders, the worse the effect becomes.

The impact of the attack further depends on the download clients being used by the seeders in the swarm. The mainline BitTorrent clients and uTorrent are not vulnerable for example, while Vuze, Transmission and Libtorrent-based clients are.

TorrentFreak spoke with Adamsky who predicts that similar results are possible in real swarms. Even very large swarms of more than 1,000 seeders could be affected through a botnet, although it’s hard to predict the precise impact.

“If an attacker uses a botnet to attack the swarm, I think it would be possible to increase the average download time of all peers [of swarms with 1,000 seeders] up to three times,” Adamsky tells us.

“If most of the clients would have a vulnerable client like Vuze or Transmission it would be possible to increase the average download time up ten times,” he adds.

In their paper the researchers suggest a relatively easy fix to the problem, through an update of the “Allowed Fast” extension. In addition, they also propose a new seeding algorithm that is less prone to these and other bandwidth attacks.

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

TorrentFreak: Court: Usenet Provider Doesn’t Have to Filter Pirated Content

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

news-serviceIn 2009, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, representing the movie and music industries, took Europe’s largest Usenet provider News-Service Europe (NSE) to court.

Through the court BREIN demanded that NSE delete all infringing content from its servers, and in 2011 the Court of Amsterdam sided with the copyright holders.

The Court argued that NSE willingly facilitated copyright infringement through its services. In its verdict the Court ruled that NSE had to remove all copyrighted content, and filter future posts for possible copyright infringements.

Responding to the verdict the Usenet provider said that it was economically unfeasible to filter all messages. The company therefore saw no other option than to shut down its services while the appeal was pending.

This week the Appeals Court ruled on the case overturning the previous verdict, setting a more positive precedent for Usenet providers and similar services.

The Court concluded that NSE does not facilitate copyright infringement as long as it maintains a procedure through which copyright holders can send unlimited takedown notices.

In addition, the Court decided that proactive filtering of copyrighted content is not required, as that conflicts with existing jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice.

“We are very pleased with this ruling,” NSE CEO Patrick Schreurs says. “The Court correctly states that a Usenet provider such as News-Service Europe can not be expected to proactively monitor the messages others place.”

The ruling this week is an interlocutory verdict. The Court still has to rule on how NSE’s notice and takedown procedure should operate. Afterwards, both BREIN and NSE still have the option to take the case to the Supreme Court.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Court Grants Order to Wipe Pirate Sites from the Internet

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

stop-blockedThe entertainment industries often complain that they have virtually no means to target pirate sites, especially those run from overseas.

This grim outlook isn’t shared by the operators of ABS-CBN, the largest media and entertainment company in the Philippines, who filed a lawsuit against several unauthorized streaming sites at a District Court in Oregon.

The company’s complaint alleges a mixture of trademark and copyright infringement against a dozen websites including Pinoystreaming.com, Pinoytvko.biz and Pinoy-tube.com. The sites in question are operated by different people, some of whom have no apparent connection to the United States.

To stop the sites from operating as quickly as possible the media company requested a temporary restraining order. This was done under seal without the knowledge of the defendants, as ABS-CBN feared that they would otherwise switch domain names and continue operating as usual.

“Absent a temporary restraining order, Defendants will be able to completely erase the status quo by transferring the benefits of their prior illegal activities to new websites,” the company argued.

In short, ABS-CBN requested power to take the sites offline before the owners knew that they were getting sued, and without a chance to defend themselves. While that may seem a lot to ask, Judge Anna Brown granted the request.

Earlier this month the Judge signed the temporary restraining order which bars the operators from running their sites. In addition, it allows the media company to order hosting companies to take down the servers, domain registrars to seize the domain names, and search engines to remove all results linking to the sites.

“Upon Plaintiffs’ request, those with actual notice of the injunction, including any Internet search engines, Web hosts, domain-name registrars, and domain name registries or their administrators, shall cease facilitating access to any or all domain names and websites…,” the order reads.

The court also ordered the domain name registrars to point the domains to a copy of the complaint, so the website owners would know why their sites had been wiped from the Internet. Further, to prevent the defendants from passing on Google traffic to a new domain, ABS-CBN was granted permission to access the Google Webmaster Tools of the defendants.

“Plaintiffs may enter the Subject Domain Names into Google’s Webmaster Tools and cancel any redirection of the domains that have been entered there by Defendants which redirect traffic to a new domain name or website and thereby evade the provisions of this Order,” the order reads.

The above is just part of the injunction which effectively shuts down the sites in question. All websites in the suit are now redirected to a copy of the complaint. Also, several domains are no longer present in Google’s search results.

The preliminary injunction is unique in its kind, both due to its broadness and the fact that it happened without due process. This has several experts worried, including EFF’s Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry.

“It’s very worrisome that a court would issue a rapid and broad order affecting speech based on allegations, without careful consideration and an opportunity for the targets to defend themselves,” McSherry tells TorrentFreak.

In addition to the restraining order, Judge Brown also granted ABS-CBN’s request to freeze all financial assets of the defendants until further notice. The defendants were given the option to appeal both orders after they were issued, but it’s unknown whether they have done so.

This is not the first ex-parte injunction to be handed down against alleged pirate sites this month. The same happened in the Expendables 3 case, although this order wasn’t nearly as broad as the one against the Filipino streaming sites.

Whether it’s the start of a new trend has yet to be seen, but considering the broad measures judges are willing to sign off, things could get messy.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 08/18/14

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

maleThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Maleficent is the most downloaded movie this week.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (…) Maleficent 7.4 / trailer
2 (1) Captain America: The Winter Soldier 8.1 / trailer
3 (2) Divergent 7.2 / trailer
4 (…) X-Men: Days of Future Past (HDrip/TS) 8.4 / trailer
5 (4) 22 Jump Street (TS) 7.8 / trailer
6 (3) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 7.4 / trailer
7 (…) Brick Mansions 5.8 / trailer
8 (6) The Expendables 3 (DVDscr) ?.? / trailer
9 (…) Godzilla (Webrip) 7.1 / trailer
10 (5) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (TS) 8.3 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: TalkTalk Wants Resellers to Warn Pirating Customers

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

talktalklogoUnlike those in the US, Internet providers in the UK are not obliged to forward copyright infringement notices to their subscribers. This means that local Internet users are spared the typical warnings that are so common elsewhere.

Despite the lacking legal requirements, some anti-piracy groups do send copyright infringement notices to UK ISPs. In most cases these are ignored by the providers, but last week TalkTalk forwarded a notice to one of its resellers.

In the email the ISP asks Opal Solutions to forward the notice in question to one of its subscribers who allegedly shared a pirated copy of “Godzilla”. In addition the reseller was urged to take “preventive” measures, but what these should be is left open.

“Please see below copyright infringement email regarding an IP address of one of your clients, Please inform your client and take necessary preventative measures,” TalkTalk wrote.

At the bottom of this article is a copy of the original copyright infringement notice TalkTalk forwarded. It is a typical DMCA style notice sent by IP Echelon on behalf of Warner Bros.

IP Echelon didn’t make any effort to customize the notice for the UK audience. The email specifically references US copyright law, which doesn’t apply to the reseller or TalkTalk.

What’s most noteworthy, though, is that TalkTalk has decided to pass on this notice. The ISP is not known to forward these notices to its own subscribers, yet they appear to be urging a reseller to go beyond what’s required by law.

The forwarded email is most likely an attempt to avoid any type of liability. The question that remains is this: if TalkTalk do this with resellers does this mean they will start warning their subscribers as well?

Earlier this year the news broke that TalkTalk and other UK providers will voluntarily start sending infringement notices under the VCAP program. While VCAP isn’t going into effect before the summer of 2015, TalkTalk’s forwarded infringement notice could suggest that they might do something sooner.

Below is a full copy of the copyright infringement notice.

—-

We are writing this message on behalf of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc..

We have received information that an individual has utilized the
below-referenced IP address at the noted date and time to offer
downloads of copyrighted material.

The title in question is: Godzilla

The distribution of unauthorized copies of copyrighted television
programs constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act,
Title 17 United States Code Section 106(3). This conduct may also
violate the laws of other countries, international law, and/or treaty
obligations.

Since you own this IP address
we request that you immediately do the following:

1) Contact the subscriber who has engaged in the conduct described
above and take steps to prevent the subscriber from further downloading
or uploading Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. content without authorization; and

2) Take appropriate action against the account holder under your Abuse
Policy/Terms of Service Agreement.

On behalf of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., owner of the exclusive rights
in the copyrighted material at issue in this notice, we hereby state that
we have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner
complained of is not authorized by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.,
its respective agents, or the law.

Also, we hereby state, under penalty of perjury, that we are authorized
to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive rights being infringed
as set forth in this notification.

We appreciate your assistance and thank you for your cooperation in this
matter. Your prompt response is requested.

Any further enquiries can be directed to copyright@ip-echelon.com
Please include this message with your enquiry to ensure a swift response.

Respectfully,

Adrian Leatherland
CEO
IP-Echelon
Email: copyright@ip-echelon.com
Address: 6715 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, 90028, United States

- ————- Infringement Details ———————————-
Title: Godzilla
Timestamp: 2014-08-13T14:06:26Z
IP Address:
Port: 60261
Type: BitTorrent
Torrent Hash: c5cdf551eea353484657d45dbe93f688575a1e31
Filename: Godzilla.2014.WEBRiP.XviD-VAiN
Filesize: 2485 MB
- ———————————————————————

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

TorrentFreak: Lionsgate Targets Hosting Providers & Domain Registrars Over Expendables 3 Piracy

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

expendablesToday sees the official premiere of The Expendables 3, but what was supposed to be a celebration for the makers has turned into a fiasco.

Three weeks ago a high quality leak of the film appeared online. This resulted in millions of downloads long before it reached the big screen.

Fearing a massive loss in revenue, Lionsgate issued thousands of takedown requests to limit the leak’s availability and sued six file-sharing sites that allegedly failed to respond to these notices.

It now appears that Lionsgate has more tricks up its sleeve. The owner of cloud hosting service filecloud.io informs TorrentFreak that he never heard from Lionsgate, yet the movie studio is now going after his DDoS protection provider Cloudflare and domain registrar Easyname.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the notice, which is also believed to have been sent to the service providers of several other file-sharing sites. In the notice Lionsgate’s law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton requests that these companies render the sites in question unavailable.

The law firm lists several allegedly infringing URLs and points out that the hosting providers and domain name registrars have to take responsibility.

part of Lionsgate’s notice
notice-lions-small

The following text comes from a notice Cloudflare and others received, accusing the company of potentially assisting a criminal operation and ignoring a previous notice.

“In accordance with the DMCA, we have already notified you of the infringement, but you have continued to cause, enable, induce, facilitate and materially contribute to the infringement by continuing to provide your users with the means to unlawfully distribute, reproduce and otherwise exploit The Expendables 3,” the email reads.

The same takedown notice was also sent to the domain name registrar Easyname, who were encouraged to “take action” against the allegedly infringing site under ICANN rules. In their notice Lionsgate appears to hint at a domain name suspension.

“If you are the domain name registrar for the domain name referenced above, under ICANN rule 3.18.1, you are required to take reasonable and prompt steps to investigate and respond appropriately to any reports of abuse,” the notice reads.

“You are hereby put on notice that despite Rule 3.18, and the website owner’s representation to you that it is not using the domain name ‘in violation of any applicable laws’, the owner is either directly infringing the rights of Lionsgate or contributing to such infringement through the distribution of the stolen work referenced above,” it adds.

Lionsgate’s methods are unusual as the operator of filecloud.io was never contacted by the movie studio’s law firm. There were abuse mails sent by other outfits though, and the URLs listed in the takedown notice were already taken offline. This means that the infringing pages listed by Lionsgate were directed to a 404 page.

The owner of filecloud.io informs TF that he’s not happy with the pressure Lionsgate has put on the companies he works with, especially since they failed to first contact the site itself.

“It might be nice if these complaining entities actually checked that their emails have a valid claim before firing them off to everyone under the moon,” filecloud.io’s owner notes.

“The majority of notices I get daily are dud but at least none of them go out of their way forwarding their gripe to everyone who has anything remotely to do with the site,” he adds.

In this case the notices haven’t yet caused any trouble for filecloud.io, but it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which smaller companies are easily threatened to pull the plug on an accused site.

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

TorrentFreak: Most-Pirated Movies, TV-Shows and Games Per State… Debunked

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

crosscatPiracy is a hot topic, so when there are statistics to report the media is usually all over it. This week a series of intriguing maps has been doing the rounds.

The data was first published by the piracy experts over at Movoto Real Estate. Based on a large sample of three million unique IP addresses collected over a period of 40 days they presented a map of the most torrented movies, TV-shows and games per state.

This was quickly picked up by The Washington Post, Venturebeat and several other publications, who all shared the findings with their readers. TorrentFreak was ready to jump on the bandwagon too, but we couldn’t help noticing a few odd results.

What stands out immediately is that some of the most-downloaded movies in certain states are barely downloaded at all through torrent sites. “La Grande Bellezza” in New Jersey, for example, or “Cuban Fury” in Florida. The same is true for “Witching and Bitching” which, according to the map, is very popular in Indiana and Tennessee.

Are these movies really more often downloaded than blockbuster successes such as Divergent and X-Men as the map below suggests?

Most pirated movies per state?
most-downloaded-movie

The same odd results appear in the games and TV-show maps. Game of Thrones is by far the most downloaded TV-show in America, but for some reason “Awkward” is more popular in Texas and Louisiana. The same Louisianans also download the game “Scribblenauts Unlimited” more frequently than popular releases such as Minecraft and Watch Dogs.

Something is clearly amiss, so we took the unprecedented step of downloading the source data which is readily available.

To our surprise, the maps in question don’t represent the most-downloaded titles. Instead, they appear to reveal for which shows the download numbers differ the most when compared to the national average. This is completely unrelated to which movie, TV-show or game was downloaded the most.

Whoops, not downloads
variation

Now back to our earlier question. Is “La Grande Bellezza” really that popular in New Jersey? No, the actual data shows only 2 downloads in this state…

Similarly, is “Awkward” the most pirated TV-show in Texas? Again, no, it has 232 downloads in the dataset compared to 2,554 for a single Game of Thrones episode. And we can go on and on.

In fact, if we made a real map based on the actual download counts in the dataset, Game of Thrones would be the most downloaded show in each and every state, as expected.

Confusingly, however, a map of the most pirated movies per state would list “Blood Widow” on top in pretty much every state.

This suggests that there’s an issue with the data itself too, as this movie is nowhere to be found in the list of most shared files on The Pirate Bay and elsewhere. The most likely explanation is that the researchers ran into a fake torrent file with bogus IP-addresses.

Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that the maps in question should be taken with a grain of salt, or a barrel of rum perhaps.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Peter Sunde Shouldn’t Be in Jail, MEP Says

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

peter-sundeMore than two months have passed since former Pirate Bay spokesman and co-founder Peter Sunde was arrested on a farm in Sweden by a specialist police unit.

Sunde was transferred to Västervik Norra, the high security prison facility where he is serving the eight-month jail sentence that was handed down in 2012.

Despite the sentencing Sunde has always maintained his innocence. He utilized all legal means at his disposal to fight back, and emphasized that his role in The Pirate Bay didn’t warrant being branded a criminal.

This view is shared by many people including Julia Reda, the new Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Pirate Party. Reda will be visiting Sunde in prison later today to send her support, and points out that he shouldn’t be there in the first place.

“I am visiting Peter Sunde in prison today to express my support. The unnecessarily harsh sentence he was given illustrates that our justice system has completely lost touch with digital culture,” Reda says.

“The tactic of draconian deterrence against file sharing has failed!” she adds.

During her visit the MEP also plans to ask Sunde about his conditions. The Pirate Bay founder previously requested a transfer to a lower security facility as he was losing weight and coping with psychological issues due to his circumstances.

Sunde’s sentencing is a result of a failed witch hunt against online piracy, Reda argues. Instead of embracing those who explore new technologies and business models, authorities have wrongly opted to crack down on people such as Sunde.

The MEP believes that the focus should be on deterrence, with authorities doing more to encourage and assist content creators to develop business models that can compete with piracy.

Reda notes that several founders of file-sharing services have become successful entrepreneurs. The developers behind Kazaa later brought Skype and Rdio, and Napster’s Sean Parker served as the first president of Facebook.

Sunde is also a digital pioneer, and actively involved in several startups including the micro-donation service Flattr and the encrypted chat application Heml.is. His contributions to these projects have been halted now, which is not the right way to go according to the MEP.

“I am saddened by the fact that Sweden has chosen to jail this digital pioneer in an attempt to make an example of him,” she says.

We hope to have more details of the MEP’s visit and Sunde’s outlook on the future later this week.

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

TorrentFreak: Hulkfile Shuts Down Following Expendables 3 Lawsuit

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

hulkfileThree weeks ago a high quality leak of the upcoming The Expendables 3 film appeared online.

Fearing a massive loss in revenue, movie studio Lionsgate sued the operators of six websites that allegedly failed to remove the infringing files – Limetorrents.com, Billionuploads.com, Hulkfile.eu, Played.to, Swankshare.com and Dotsemper.com.

A few days ago the court sided with Lionsgate and granted a preliminary injunction to seize the financial assets of the site’s operators. In addition the sites were forbidden from linking to the infringing material. Since this includes user uploaded files, the order effectively means that the sites have to shut down.

Today the broad order claimed its first major casualty in cloud hosting provider Hulkfile. The company informs TorrentFreak that it has disabled access to all visitors from the United States and that it intends to shut down globally during the coming days.

“Hulkfile.eu is no longer accessible in the U.S. and will shut down completely soon. We can’t keep building our business on the weak base the preliminary injunction left us with,” Hulkfile’s operator says.

Hulkfile believes that Lionsgate has painted a tainted picture of its service to the U.S. federal court. The file-storage service says it honors all takedown requests, and even developed a special removal tool for copyright holders which is used by various takedown services.

“We’re not doing anything wrong, it’s a service just like any other cloud storage service in the world. If Hulkfile was started to support piracy, then why would we have created a takedown system which provided access to more than 40 copyright holders and piracy fighters?”

The takedown notices Lionsgate sent for the Expendables leak hadn’t been processed yet due to the vacation period, the hosting service claims. The movie studio could have taken the links down themselves if they used Hulkfile’s removal tool, but Lionsgate’s takedown partner MarkMonitor has apparently shown no interest in using it.

“We showed good faith by providing access to a removal tool which MarkMonitor never asked to gain access to, even after we offered it multiple times. Every day there is a new file-sharing service launching somewhere. The only way for copyright holders to protect their material is to cooperate, not to fight,” Hulkfile tells TF.

With an injunction that basically prevents Hulkfile from operating its service, the company sees no other option than to throw in the towel. Users will get the option to transfer their files to another hosting provider, but Hulkfile will not come back after that.

It seems that Hulkfile is not the only casualty. The smaller file-sharing service Swankshare completely vanished from the Internet shortly after the court issued its preliminary injunction. It’s currently unknown whether this site plans to stay down for good.

While the Expendables leak posed a serious threat to Lionsgate’s revenue, one has to wonder whether this justifies putting several other companies out of business with such broad injunctions. In particular because Hulkfile and others had no real option to defend themselves due to the ex-parte nature of the order.

Considering the ‘success’ booked by Lionsgate in such a small time period it’s safe to expect that more movie companies will use the same strategy in the future.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police Hijack Ads of 74 Pirate Websites, Refuse to Name Them

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

cityoflondonpoliceOver the past year City of London Police have been working together with the music and movie industries to tackle sites that provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

The police started by sending warning letters to site owners, asking them to go legit or shut down. Late last year this was followed by a campaign targeted at domain registrars, asking them to suspend the domain names of several so-called pirate sites.

Two weeks ago police began the latest initiative in “Operation Creative,” a partnership with online advertising companies to replace ads on suspected pirate sites with police banners. The banners in question inform users that the site they’re browsing has been reported to the authorities.

Police banner
pipcu-ad-mp3

Until now little was known about the scope of the anti-piracy initiative, but a Freedom of Information (FOI) request TorrentFreak sent to the police reveals some additional details.

In total, 74 domain names are being targeted by the advertisement hijacking effort. All of these domains have been reported to the police by copyright holder groups. Unfortunately, however, our request to get a full list of the affected domains was rejected.

While the police recognize that the public has a legitimate interest in knowing which sites are being targeted, it believes that the possible negative consequences of the disclosure weigh stronger. They fear that the list of domains could prove useful to pirates and increase traffic to the sites in question.

“This is an ongoing investigation and disclosure to the public domain would raise the profile of those sites unlawfully providing copyright material. This would enable individuals to visit the sites highlighted and unlawfully download copyright material and increase the scale of the loss,” City of London Police inform us.

The FOI request further reveals that 83 advertising companies are currently participating in the effort to target ads on pirate sites. All these companies are UK-based or have a UK office, but many are multinationals and have a presence in the US and elsewhere too.

As with the domain names, the police also refused to share the names of their advertising company partners. The police fear that publishing the names of the companies could result in cyber-attacks.

“In the case of advertisers, public identification would increase the risk of harm to them by way of cyber attack or other means,” TorrentFreak was told.

A FOI request TorrentFreak sent previously also revealed more details on the other “Operation Creative” efforts. It showed that City of London Police has warned 107 websites since its launch last year, and sent out suspension requests for 75 domain names.

The domain name suspension efforts were not particularly effective as only five of these were granted. The other 70 requests were denied by domain registrars.

Whether the ad hijacking campaign will have much effect is doubtful too. Thus far there haven’t been any reports from users who have spotted these warning banners in the wild.

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