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TorrentFreak: KickassTorrents Users Fight Back Against DMCA Takedown Purge

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

uploaddayAs the largest torrent site on the Internet, KickassTorrents (KAT) has become a prime target for copyright holders.

In terms of daily visitors KAT is comparable to The Pirate Bay at its height, but there’s one key difference. Unlike TPB, KAT accepts DMCA takedown notices so rightsholders have the option to remove infringing content from the site.

Thus far the popular torrent index has processed more than half a million requests. While that’s already a decent number, last week many KAT users noticed that content had started to disappear at an increasing rate.

“In the past 48 hours over 200 of my uploads have been removed due to the DMCA. In the past four years only 100 had been removed. Does anyone know what’s going on?” KAT’s “elite mod” Politux wrote a few days ago.

“I haven’t uploaded as much as you, but I’ve lost 6% of my torrents to DMCA,” another user replied, before many more joined in to count their losses.

Ironically, the thread where the discussion on the takedown purge started was quickly removed. But that didn’t stop the complaints from pouring in. In several forum posts and blog entries people started discussing the takedowns, with some even threatening to leave the site over it.

Looking at KAT’s takedown stats we see that there has indeed been a significant increase in DMCA takedowns. Over the past week KAT has removed close to 30,000 torrents, which is more than 5% of all files that have been removed in the site’s entire history.

removedj

While the spike may just be temporary, KAT admin Mr.Gooner has seized the opportunity to respond in style, declaring February 1st to be “KickAss Upload Day.”

“Due to a recent rise in Torrents deleted because of copyright reasons and the mass of users rightfully having a grumble I suggested we should have a day like this as a ‘fight back’ if you like,” Mr.Gooner writes.

“A way of encouraging everyone to upload and let these removals go over our heads, to work together as a unit & to continue enjoying each and every minute of KAT and one another’s uploads,” he adds.

The idea seems to be catching on as the call to action has already generated hundreds of replies, with many uploaders vowing to upload as much as they can. On an average day KAT lists roughly 5,000 new torrents, but there may be a few more today.

Whether copyright holders are planning a counter-response is unknown, but based on the reactions thus far the DMCA whack-a-mole won’t end anytime soon.

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Is Back Online!

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

pirate bayEarly December The Pirate Bay was raided at the Nacka station, a nuclear-proof data center built into a mountain complex near Stockholm.

After being down for two weeks the domain came back online waving a pirate flag on its temporary homepage.

TPB later added a countdown to February 1st, alongside several hints that the site would come back online at that day.

Today we can report that The Pirate Bay lived up to the comeback expectations, with a comeback one day ahead of schedule.

A few minutes ago the site started serving torrents to the masses again, much to the delight of millions of users. The Pirate Bay’s homepage currently features a Phoenix.

tpbback

The look and feel of the site is familiar and the user accounts are working properly as well.

Based on the recent torrents is appears that the data loss is minimal. The latest upload was on December 9 last year, the same day TPB’s servers were raided.

Whether or not mods and admins are able to access the TPB backend is unknown at the moment. Earlier this week TPB staff told us that they would be locked out. This would make the site easier to manage and the risk of being brought down for a third time.

However, these planned “optimizations” caused mutiny among the site’s original staff members.

WTC-SWE, one of the lead admins of The Pirate Bay, told us earlier this week that they are launching their own version of the Pirate Bay, which they believe is the real one.

To make the matter even more confusing, Pirate Bay’s downtime spurred the development of various spin-offs who all have a steady userbase of their own. Isohunt.to’s OldPirateBay.org is currently the largest, with millions of visitors per day and the number one spot for the search term Pirate Bay in Google.

It will be interesting to see thepiratebay.se can reclaim these visitors during the months to come.

Developing story…

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

TorrentFreak: Huge Security Flaw Leaks VPN Users’ Real IP-Addresses

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

boxedThe Snowden revelations have made it clear that online privacy is certainly not a given.

Just a few days ago we learned that the Canadian Government tracked visitors of dozens of popular file-sharing sites.

As these stories make headlines around the world interest in anonymity services such as VPNs has increased, as even regular Internet users don’t like the idea of being spied on.

Unfortunately, even the best VPN services can’t guarantee to be 100% secure. This week a very concerning security flaw revealed that it’s easy to see the real IP-addresses of many VPN users through a WebRTC feature.

With a few lines of code websites can make requests to STUN servers and log users’ VPN IP-address and the “hidden” home IP-address, as well as local network addresses.

The vulnerability affects WebRTC-supporting browsers including Firefox and Chrome and appears to be limited to Windows machines.

A demo published on GitHub by developer Daniel Roesler allows people to check if they are affected by the security flaw.

IP-address leak
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The demo claims that browser plugins can’t block the vulnerability, but luckily this isn’t entirely true. There are several easy fixes available to patch the security hole.

Chrome users can install the WebRTC block extension or ScriptSafe, which both reportedly block the vulnerability.

Firefox users should be able to block the request with the NoScript addon. Alternatively, they can type “about:config” in the address bar and set the “media.peerconnection.enabled” setting to false.

peerconn

TF asked various VPN providers to share their thoughts and tips on the vulnerability. Private Internet Access told us that the are currently investigating the issue to see what they can do on their end to address it.

TorGuard informed us that they issued a warning in a blog post along with instructions on how to stop the browser leak. Ben Van Der Pelt, TorGuard’s CEO, further informed us that tunneling the VPN through a router is another fix.

“Perhaps the best way to be protected from WebRTC and similar vulnerabilities is to run the VPN tunnel directly on the router. This allows the user to be connected to a VPN directly via Wi-Fi, leaving no possibility of a rogue script bypassing a software VPN tunnel and finding one’s real IP,” Van der Pelt says.

“During our testing Windows users who were connected by way of a VPN router were not vulnerable to WebRTC IP leaks even without any browser fixes,” he adds.

While the fixes above are all reported to work, the leak is a reminder that anonymity should never be taken for granted.

As is often the case with these type of vulnerabilities, VPN and proxy users should regularly check if their connection is secure. This also includes testing against DNS leaks and proxy vulnerabilities.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Trademark Forces “Rated R” Beer To Drop Its Name

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

ratedrThe MPAA is best known for its efforts to protect the rights of the major movie studios. However, the group also has some intellectual property of its own to defend.

A few weeks ago the MPAA sent a cease and desist letter to Minneapolis beer brewery 612 Brew, who’re known for their tasty beers including the popular “Rated R” brand.

The movie industry group pointed out that the company was using the “Rated R” trademark without permission and urged the beer maker to drop the name to avoid confusion.

The MPAA registered “Rated R” at the trademark office in the eighties as a certification mark, indicating that a movie is rated unsuitable for children under 17, unless they’re accompanied by an adult.

While movie ratings have nothing to do with beer, the MPAA took offense at the name after the brewery filed their own trademark application. According to 612 Brew co-founder Kasak, the MPAA didn’t want the beer makers to use any of the “Rated” variants.

“[Our beer] could have been PG, PG-13 or R. It didn’t matter. As long as it contained the word ‘rated’ it would still get flagged,” Kasak told Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.

An MPAA spokesperson confirmed that the group sent a cease and desist letter but further details are not available.

The brewery first responded to the demands by arguing that the Rated R name can be used as they clearly operate in a different industry. The MPAA wasn’t convinced though, so 612 decided that it was easiest to change the name.

The trademark specifically notes that the MPAA doesn’t have an exclusive right to the word “rated,” but 612 Brew decided to go for a different variant.

Starting this year the name of “Rated R” beer was changed to “Unrated,” which isn’t trademarked by the MPAA. While the change is a setback for the brewery it’s co-founder doesn’t believe it will harm business in the long run.

“It’s going to take some time for people to get used to it, but it will be OK. It’s a great beer and they’ll drink it regardless of the name,” Kasak notes.

The brewery now has to hope that the “unrated” name won’t cause any headaches in the future. A quick search reveals that there’s an “unrated” trademark application in progress by a “yoga pants” outfit, so fingers crossed.

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

TorrentFreak: Amazon Bans BitTorrent App FrostWire Over Piracy Concerns

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

fwlogoTaking “infringing” apps out of popular app stores is one of Hollywood’s key anti-piracy priorities for the years to come.

Various copyright holder groups frequently report “piracy-enabling” apps to Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, alongside requests for the stores to take them offline.

The stores themselves also screen for potentially problematic software. Apple, for example, has notoriously banned all BitTorrent related apps.

This week, Amazon is following in Apple’s footsteps by banning one of the most used BitTorrent clients from its store. The Android version of FrostWire had been listed for well over a year but Amazon recently had a change of heart.

FrostWire developer Angel Leon tells TF that the app was removed without prior warning. When he asked the company for additional details, he was told that Amazon sees his app as a pirate tool.

“In reviewing your app, we determined that it can be used to facilitate the piracy or illegal download of content. Any facilitation of piracy or illegal downloads is not allowed in our program,” Amazon’s support team writes.

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Leon was baffled by the response. FrostWire had been a member of the Developer Select program for over a year and always made sure to avoid any links to piracy. On the contrary, FrostWire was actively promoting Creative Commons downloads and other legal content.

“We have never promoted illegal file sharing, we actually promote creative commons downloads, and free legal downloads from soundcloud, archive.org. The app is also a full blown music player, but none of this probably counts,” Leon tells us.

“Web browsers and email clients are still there, programs that also fall in the category of being ‘used to facilitate the piracy or illegal download of content’,” he adds, pointing out the arbitrary decision.

While it’s not clear why Amazon changed its stance towards FrostWire, it wouldn’t be a surprise if pressure from copyright holders played a role.

FrostWire’s developer believes that the mobile developer industry may have to come up with a less censorship prone store in the future. There’s a need for a decentralized app store that secures the interests of both iOS and Android developers.

For now, Leon hopes that other stores will be less eager to pull the plug on perfectly legal apps. While it may seem to be a small decision for the stores, having a popular app removed can ruin a developer’s entire business.

The beauty of FrostWire and other BitTorrent clients is that they offer the freedom to share files with people from all over the world without being censored. Restricting access to apps that make this possible will harm society, Leon believes.

“This is a freedom which eventually protects society from the likes of totalitarian governments, something some of us at FrostWire have lived first hand in Latin America, something that forced me and so many Venezuelans to leave our countries and start again from scratch in the US,” Leon concludes.

Despite being banned from Amazon’s store, Kindle users will still be able to get updates via the FrostWire website. A special installer for Kindle will be available soon.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Won’t Make A Full Comeback, Staff Revolt

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

pirate bayJudging from all the teasers on the Pirate Bay homepage the notorious torrent site is preparing to relaunch this weekend.

Those in control of the domain have yet to make an official announcement but several sources inform TF that the site won’t make a full comeback.

Instead, The Pirate Bay is expected to launch a trimmed down version without room for the dozens of moderators and admins who looked after the site over the past decade.

This lighter version of The Pirate Bay will be easier to operate but the plan has also upset many former staffers. This includes people who have been with the site for over a decade, removing fake torrents and other types of spam.

Several admins and moderators have responded to the news with anger and are now openly distancing themselves from the thepiratebay.se site that was their home for years.

“I wish I had better news to come with. The launch that is about to take place on February 1 is not us,” says WTC-SWE, one of the lead admins of The Pirate Bay.

“It was until some dickhead decided to take TPB crew out of the picture. He thinks a site can be run without any staff at all and at the same time keeping up with fakes, internal issues etc,” he adds.

What stings them the most is that many dedicated individuals, who put countless hours into keeping the site functioning, now appear to be being pushed aside on a whim.

“Personally I won’t accept this neither will any of the crew that’s been active for almost 10-11 years. As an admin and human, I won’t stand aside and accept this kind of behavior. This is the worst scenario that could happen,” WTC-SWE says.

“You don’t treat people like horseshit,” he adds.

The staff, now in open revolt, have closed the official #thepiratebay IRC channel on EFnet to the public. They won’t offer support anymore for a site that they have no ‘control’ over, but warn people who do want to visit it to be cautious of malware.

Instead, the TPB former crew members are now preparing to launch their own version of the site. This spin-off will be operated from a new domain and will have several long-time mods and admins on board.

WTC-SWE says that they are in possession of a TPB backup which will be used to revive the old site in full. The full staff of moderators and admins remains under his wings and will start over at a home.

“It’s only a matter of time. I will need to blast the whole coding and clean up all the mess. The real TPB will be back with proper staff and all,” WTC-SWE says.

Thus far, the people running the official thepiratebay.se domain have remained quiet. In a few days, when the count-down completes, we are likely to know more about their vision for the site’s future.

To be continued…

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

TorrentFreak: Old Pirate Bay Will Share $100,000 With Devs, Mods and Uploaders

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

oldtpbJust a few days after The Pirate Bay raid the people behind Isohunt.to decided to come up with a temporary replacement, Oldpiratebay.org.

While the site’s operators are not affiliated with the original site, they wanted to offer a hideout for wandering TPB users. This hasn’t been without success as the site is now pulling in millions of visitors per day.

Despite its popularity the OldPirateBay still lacks many of the features The Pirate Bay had. There is currently no upload feature for example, nor is there a moderator crew to keep the site clean.

The Isohunt.to team previously called on the community to improve the project. This has already led to several improvements through the OpenBay’s GitHub repository and with a big cash injection they hope to facilitate the development.

“In order to boost that process we are announcing an unprecedented move,” Isohunt.to announces today.

“$100,000 for developing OldPirateBay.org, are you ready for that?! Anyone can take part in the website development and moderation which will result in public recognition. Also addition to your pay check would be a nice surprise,” they add.

The money will be shared through a contest. Starting next month $10,000 in cash prizes, paid in Bitcoin, will be awarded to the developers who contribute to the top features.

From March 1, OldPirateBay will have upload and moderation capabilities. This will include a ranking system where the top contributors and moderators can divide $5,000 in Bitcoin per group each month.

“The idea behind this message is to empower the community to create OldPirateBay.org as they see it. And we’re ready to reward the most active participants along the way,” the Isohunt.to team notes.

While the site was started as a temporary replacement it will remain online if the Pirate Bay does indeed return next week. This creates an interesting situation as OldPirateBay already outranks the original site in Google’s search engine.

The people behind OldPirateBay believe that the community should decide the long-term fate of the site. If there’s enough interest to keep the site growing then they are willing to stimulate this process.

“The main idea is that community should develop the site in the way they want. So if there will be enough initiative the site will be developed by people. We just want to stimulate it,” Isohunt.to concludes.

A full description of the contest details will be available on the OldPirateBay website in the near future.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 01/26/15

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

interThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Interstellar is the most downloaded movie.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (…) Interstellar (DVDScr) 8.8 / trailer
2 (2) American Sniper (DVDscr) 7.6 / trailer
3 (…) Taken 3 6.3 / trailer
4 (1) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (DVDscr) 7.7 / trailer
5 (…) John Wick 7.3 / trailer
6 (4) Into The Woods (DVDscr) 6.8 / trailer
7 (3) Fury 7.8 / trailer
8 (7) Gone Girl 8.4 / trailer
9 (…) American Heist 5.6 / trailer
10 (5) The Judge 7.5 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Phoenix Hints At Imminent Pirate Bay Comeback

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

phoenix1During the Spring of 2006, less than three years after The Pirate Bay was founded, 65 Swedish police officers entered a datacenter in Stockholm.

The policemen had instructions to shut down the largest threat to the entertainment industry at the time – The Pirate Bay’s servers.

The raid was successful, but while various copyright holder groups claimed a major victory, the Pirate Bay team wasn’t sitting still.

Thanks to a backup made by Fredrik Neij at the last minute, The Pirate Bay returned online in three days. Seemingly unimpressed by the raid, TPB renamed itself to “The Police Bay” complete with a new logo shooting cannon balls at Hollywood.

A few days later this logo was replaced by a Phoenix, a reference to the site rising from its digital ashes.

Last December The Pirate Bay was raided for the second time. This time around there was no quick comeback, but a new update that was added to the site today suggests that it’s coming.

After nearly nine years the Phoenix is once again present on the site’s homepage, offering hope to estranged Pirate Bay users.

Although nothing has been confirmed officially, this is by far the most concrete hint that TPB is working hard on a comeback.

The counter that’s still running down suggests that TPB will return in full glory February 1st, so we should know more within a week. Tick tock, tick tock…

phoenixtpb

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

TorrentFreak: “Pirate Cinema” Visualizes Torrent Traffic in Online Art Display

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

Somewhere in a datacenter in Austria there’s a dedicated machine that has only one mission: download and share the 100 most popular files on BitTorrent and turn these bits and pieces into a piece of art.

The machine in question belongs to artist Nicolas Maigret and his Pirate Cinema project. Pirate Cinema has been on display for nearly two years in various venues, but this week the circle was completed when the piracy composition made its online debut.

TF caught up with Maigret to learn more about the background and purpose of Pirate Cinema. He tells us that after completing several projects where the proposal was to represent networks in a physical form, he wanted to visualize how they’re used by millions of people around the world.

“That’s where the Pirate Cinema concept started,” Maigret says.

Over the past several years Maigret has worked on bringing it to life in various forms and this week Pirate Cinema started streaming online for the first time. Those who check out the stream see chunks of popular videos flashing by, gathered from around the globe in real-time.

Pirate Cinema (live here)

The video bits include the IP-address of the source, partially masked, and the country of origin. This is not without purpose. Maigret specifically includes this info to show how public these transfers are, and how easily they can be monitored.

“On one hand this is in response to omnipresent users surveillance going on the Internet. More specifically here, on the file sharing networks, where people are monitored daily, resulting in real life lawsuits,” Maigret tells us.

But Pirate Cinema is also a tribute to the Copy Culture that developed in the latest generations of computer users. The Copy Culture that is more common today than it has ever been before.

“For the last 15 years, P2P networks have served as a great resource for mainstream content, but also for valuable rarities and unknown content that is hardly accessible otherwise,” Maigret says

“File-sharing has been central in the access to culture worldwide. The Pirate Cinema tends to make those activities and dynamics tangible,” he adds.

Aside from the online display there is also a live audio-visual performance. This live show is composed of 6 acts that each monitor a specific selection of torrents, such as the rise of porn on BitTorrent and the oldest torrent alive.

Those interested in learning more about the project can check out the official site. Taking part in the online art project is also an option, but that comes at a risk.

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

TorrentFreak: Zombie Pirate Bay Tracker Fuels Chinese DDoS Attacks

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

pirate bayOn November 2009 The Pirate Bay announced that it would shut down its tracker for good.

Trackers were outdated according to the site’s owners. Instead, they encouraged BitTorrent users to rely on DHT, PEX and other trackerless technologies.

Despite the fact that the tracker is no longer functional, many old and some new torrents still include the tracker.thepiratebay.org announce address.

While the tracker hasn’t responded to these calls for five years, for some server admins it has now risen from the dead.

Starting early January hundreds of websites have been plagued by traffic from China. While the exact reason remains unclear, it appears that the Great Firewall of China may be in part causing the problems.

Due to a reconfiguration the Pirate Bay domain is being linked to random IP-addresses. This problem applies to various censored sites, but the thousands of connections per second coming from tracker.thepiratebay.org stand out for most people.

It is no secret that BitTorrent users can easily DDoS websites if the tracker address points to the wrong IP, but we haven’t witnessed something of this magnitude before.

Below is a graph Craig Hockenberry posted of a DDoS on his server where the number of requests peaked at 52 Mbps per second, with torrent announces being the most common source.

dailyddos

The suspicion that Chinese efforts to censor the Internet have something to do with the problems seems plausible. Querying Chinese DNS servers returns many seemingly random IP-addresses that change all the time.

In other words, requests to the dead Pirate Bay trackers are sent to seemingly random servers, and none of these have anything to do with the notorious torrent site.

Johannes Ullrich, CTO of SANS Internet Storm Center, came to a similar conclusion and many of his readers reported problems of the same nature.

“We also get a lot of this type of traffic for the last 2 weeks. At moments it causes a total DoS for our webserver. Most of the traffic has thepiratebay as hostname in the http request, but we also see akamai, edgecdn and some more obscure and explicit sites passing in our logs,” Arjan says.

“I work in the banking sector in the UK. We started to see this traffic hit our web servers just before the new year and it has continued since, but thankfully not on a harmful scale. We’ve seen various sites in the host header, including thepiratebay, facebook, googlevideo – all of which appear to be restricted within China,” Anonymous adds.

And the list goes on and on.

Over the past several days reports have come from all over the place, all describing the same problem. Thus far, most server admins have decided to filter out Chinese traffic, which eases the load. But the underlying problem persists.

For now the true origin of the zombie DDoSes remains unknown, but hopefully those responsible will soon realize the crippling mistake they’ve made, and put Pirate Bay’s tracker back in the ground.

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

TorrentFreak: Apple Patents Technology to Legalize P2P Sharing

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

apple-p2pLittle over a decade ago Apple revolutionized the music industry with its iTunes store, allowing people to purchase digital copies of their favorite music.

With iTunes, Apple offered pirates a legal option, but the company still sees value in “sharing” music and other media with friends and family.

In fact, the company was just awarded a patent that makes it possible to license P2P sharing.

Titled “decoupling rights in a digital content unit from download” the patent describes a system where users can freely share music and videos with each other. Instead of getting the actual file from iTunes or other stores, users would only need to obtain a license.

Once licensed these files can be shared freely across one’s own devices, with friends, family or even complete strangers.

applepat1

According to Apple such a system has several benefits. Among other things, reduced bandwidth and other overhead costs. This may result in a separate and cheaper price tier for those users who only have to license a media file.

“This reduction in operating expenses may facilitate a two-tier pricing structure. For example, the digital content store may charge a first price to users who download a digital content unit from the store and a second price to users who authorize a digital content unit without downloading the unit,” the patent reads.

This price reduction may then make it more interesting to share files legally, thereby reducing traditional forms of piracy.

“This may encourage users to trade or copy digital content units as well as authorize these copies. Such sharing may, in turn, reduce piracy or illegal copying..,” Apple argues.

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While “legalized P2P sharing” may sound appealing, in theory it’s actually quite restrictive. The idea introduces a new layer of content protection which means that the files in question can only be played on “trusted client software.”

This means that transferring files between devices is only possible if these support Apple’s licensing scheme. That’s actually a step backwards from the DRM-free music that’s sold in most stores today.

It’s unclear whether Apple has any plans to use the P2P licensing technology in the wild. The original idea is a bit dated, but perhaps Apple can think of some less restrictive implementations of their newly obtained patent.

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

TorrentFreak: Cox: We’re Not Responsible For Pirating Customers

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

cox-logoFor more than a decade copyright holders have been sending ISPs takedown notices to alert account holders that someone’s been using their connection to share copyrighted material.

These notifications have to be forwarded under the DMCA law and are meant to deter Internet subscribers from sharing unauthorized material.

Cox Communications is one of the ISPs that forwards these notices. The ISP also implemented a strict set of rules of its own accord to ensure that its customers understand the severity of the allegations.

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

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

The case is a critical test for the repeat infringer clause of the DMCA and the safe harbor protections ISPs enjoy.

Today Cox replied (pdf) to the complaint, denying pretty much all allegations put forward by the music publishers. In addition, the ISP briefly outlined various defenses it submits in reply.

The company argues that the claims against the company are barred for a wide range of reasons. Cox had no knowledge of the infringements, for example, and never had the intent to induce, profit from, or materially contribute to piracy conducted by its customers.

In addition the ISP notes that the claim of vicarious liability falls flat because the company has no controlling (Respondeat superior) relationship with its customers.

While the responses are very brief, and have yet to be detailed in the future, Cox also argues that the music publishers may not have the proper copyrights to some of the works that are at stake.

“Plaintiffs’ claims are barred to the extent they do not own copyrights in the works underlying their claims,” they note,

In addition, Cox’s lawyers argue that “the doctrine of copyright misuse” bars their claims, suggesting that BMG and Round Hill Music used abusive or improper practices in exploiting or enforcing copyright.

The latter may refer to the settlement schemes the publishers are engaged in together with Rightscorp. A few weeks ago Rightscorp and its clients were sued for fraud, harassment and abuse for their controversial anti-piracy actions.

The case will now move forward with both sides substantiating their claims during the months to come. Given the importance of the issue at hand it wouldn’t be a surprise if other ISPs and web services such as Google also chime in.

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

TorrentFreak: Netflix Sees Popcorn Time As a Serious Competitor

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

netflix-logoThe Popcorn Time app brought peer-to-peer streaming to a mainstream public last year.

Branded the “Netflix for Pirates” it became an instant hit by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface.

This was cause for concern for many Hollywood executives and Netflix itself is now also starting to worry. In a letter to the company’s shareholders Popcorn Time gets a special mention.

“Piracy continues to be one of our biggest competitors,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings writes.

“This graph of Popcorn Time’s sharp rise relative to Netflix and HBO in the Netherlands, for example, is sobering,” he adds, referencing the Google trends data below showing Popcorn Time quickly catching up with Netflix.

popcorn-netflix

While it’s a relatively small note, Hastings’ comments do mark a change in attitude for a company that previously described itself as a piracy killer.

Netflix’s CEO previously noted that piracy might even help the company, as many torrent users would eventually switch to Netflix as it offers a much better user experience.

“Certainly there’s some torrenting that goes on, and that’s true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand,” Hastings said last year.

“Netflix is so much easier than torrenting. You don’t have to deal with files, you don’t have to download them and move them around. You just click and watch,” he added.

The problem with Popcorn Time is that it’s just as easy as Netflix, if not easier. And in terms of recent movies and TV-shows the pirated alternative has a superior content library too.

A study published by research firm KPMG previously revealed that only 16% of the most popular and critically acclaimed films are available via Netflix and other on-demand subscription services.

While Netflix largely depends on the content creators when it comes to what content they can make available, this is certainly one of the areas where they have to “catch up.”

Despite the Popcorn Time concerns, business is going well for Netflix. The company announced its results for the fourth quarter of 2014 which resulted in $1.48 billion in revenue, up 26%, and a profit of $83 million.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Site Blockades Are Disproportional, Greek Court Rules

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

censorshipSite blocking actions have become relatively common throughout Europe over the past several years. Copyright groups have won court cases in various countries including the UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and France.

The rightsholders typically argue that ‘pirate’ sites infringe their rights and demand that ISPs stop forwarding traffic to them. This was also the plan in Greece, where the Greek Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AEPI) sued local ISPs two years ago.

AEPI wanted the Internet providers to block access to The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, isoHunt, 1337x and H33T, plus several local sites. The group argued that the sites damage their members’ businesses, but the ISPs countered this request by pointing out that censorship is not the answer.

A few days ago the Athens Court reached its conclusion which largely sides with the ISPs. The ruling states that blockades are disproportional and in violation of various constitutional rights.

Among other things, such measures would breach people’s right to freedom of information, confidential communications and protections against the collection, processing and use of personal data.

One of the problems the Court signaled is that the torrent sites also contain links to files that are distributed legally. These would be needlessly censored by the blockades.

In addition the verdict doubts that the blockades will be effective to begin with, as there are various circumvention options for site owners and users.

The Court further referenced the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, noting that ISPs’ “freedom to conduct a business” is at stake, as well as net neutrality principles.

“…the requested injunction goes contrary to Article 16 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, violating the rights of defendants providers in entrepreneurship, and the basic principle of Internet neutrality, which provides that all information must be handled without discrimination,” it notes.

TF spoke with Dr. Konstantinos Komaitis, an expert in Internet governance and intellectual property, who argues that in such cases proportionality is key in determining the appropriate balance.

“The decision by the Greek Court is very well thought and reasoned both from a legal and technology perspectives,” Komaitis says.

Komaitis explains that other, more appropriate and technology neutral measures should be considered, because blocking torrent sites would interfere with the right to freely share and receive information. In addition the measures are unnecessary and ineffective, since users would be able to find ways to get past the blockades.

“On the technology side, the Court correctly understood that torrent technology can — and has been – used for legal purposes, so blocking would not only be ineffective but also jeopardize its legal use,” Komaitis adds.

“All in all, the Court’s decision demonstrates two things: first, proportionality is an unwavering principle in the Greek legal system that is able to strike a very important balance between various rights; and, second, the ability of courts to understand and protect technologies that are part of an innovative Internet environment.”

The Greek verdict is similar to that of a Dutch Appeals court in The Hague last year, which ruled that the local blockade of The Pirate Bay had to be lifted.

In Greece AEPI still has the option to appeal the verdict, but whether they plan to do so is unknown at the moment. For the time being, however, the targeted torrent sites remain accessible.

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

TorrentFreak: How Hollywood Plans to Seize Pirate Site Domain Names

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

pirate-runningLast December a leaked document from the MPAA exposed Hollywood’s global anti-piracy priorities for the coming years.

The leak listed the mysterious term “Fujian” as one of the top priorities, without explaining what the name of a Chinese province has to do with online piracy.

Additional documents seen by TF shed more light on the issue. It turns out that the MPAA is slowly but steadily testing a novel legal procedure through which it hopes to seize the domain names of top pirate sites.

Fujian actually refers to the company “Fujian Sharing Import & Export Ltd,” which was sued several years ago for selling counterfeit Polo Ralph Lauren and The North Face clothing.

The counterfeiters used thousands of websites to sell their knockoffs using just as many domain names. If one was taken down, Fujian would simply replace it by a new one selling the same counterfeit gear.

To stop this game of Whack-A-Mole a federal court in New York ordered various intermediaries, including domain name registries, to stop working with the company and hand over the domain names to the clothing manufacturers. If they failed to comply, the registries themselves would be held liable.

In recent years both The North Face and Polo Ralph Lauren frequently updated the list of counterfeit domain names and had them seized by their registries and deleted from search engines.

The movie studios are now planning to use the same strategy against pirate sites. Besides asking reputable domain name registries to take voluntary action, they also plan to use the “Fujian” model in court.

In a detailed overview of its strategies the MPAA says that it wants to “persuade or compel domain name registries that control the reputable gTLDs (e.g., .com, .org) to terminate domain services for demonstrated pirate sites.”

“Efforts principally include civil litigation (Fujian strategy) and outreach to registries seeking to ensure they do not provide domain services to pirate sites,” they add.

Thus far they have had some success in the U.S. in a lawsuit against a ring of counterfeit DVD sites. However, the tactic has yet to be tried against sites that offer streaming services, torrents or links to pirated material.

Behind closed doors the MPAA admits that targeting domain names will be less effective than site blocking, which is also on the agenda, as sites can move to so-called “rogue” registries. But it is still expected to have a decent impact.

“Nevertheless, domain name termination can be very effective in disrupting pirate sites and the user experience in visiting them. At least temporarily, thesite is made inaccessible,” MPAA notes.

“Even sites that come back online can be expected to see reduced traffic, with a corresponding impact on profitability and sustainability,” they add.

And there’s more to worry about. Looking at one of the most recent (24th!) supplemental order in the Fujian case we see that the court grants rightsholders powers that go much further than targeting domain names alone.

The order also requires search engines to delist the infringing URLs, banks to seize the site’s assets, and forbids ISPs, back-end service providers and web designers to do business with the domain name owners.

Whether the MPAA will be successful with their efforts has yet to be seen but persistent pirates may want to learn the IP-addresses of their favorite sites by heart, just in case.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirates Fail to Prevent American Sniper’s Box Office Record

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

sniperWhen a high quality screener of American Sniper leaked online days before the theatrical release the filmmakers probably feared the worst.

After all, recent history has ‘shown’ that early leaks can have a devastating impact on box office revenues. The Expendables 3, for example, grossed a disappointing $16 million during the opening weekend.

At the time many insiders and experts blamed the pre-release leak for the disappointing numbers. Millions of people had downloaded pirated copies and skipped the box office, they argued.

“This is really a clear situation where this had an impact. It’s hard to measure, but the ripple effect, not only of the downloads, but of the word-of-mouth that spread as a result, can be seen in the soft opening,” BoxOffice.com vice president Phil Contrino said at the time.

With American Sniper things turned out quite differently though. Sure, the film was downloaded millions of times before its premiere, perhaps even more than The Expendables 3. However, all these unauthorized downloads couldn’t prevent the film from grossing record numbers.

From Friday to Sunday, American Sniper grossed $90.2 million, making it the largest opening weekend in history for the December through February winter period. This means that it beats Avatar, The Hobbit trilogy and all other previous winter blockbusters.

For some reason these record numbers were possible despite rampant piracy. How can that be?

First of all, the impressive opening doesn’t necessarily mean that the pre-release piracy had no impact at all. Perhaps the film would have raked in an additional $5 million without piracy.

On the other hand, some may argue that piracy may even have helped to promote the film through word-of-mouth advertising. In the end we simply don’t know what effect piracy had on the opening weekend.

It’s telling though, that every time a film flops piracy is brought into the discussion as one of the main reasons for the disappointing results. But if records are broken, piracy isn’t mentioned at all.

In other words, piracy is often a convenient scapegoat used selectively to cover up failures that probably have very little to do with illegal streams or downloads. But there’s nothing new there.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 01/19/15

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

hobbit2This week we have four newcomers in our chart.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 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) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (DVDscr) 7.7 / trailer
2 (2) American Sniper (DVDscr) 7.6 / trailer
3 (…) Fury 7.8 / trailer
4 (3) Into The Woods (DVDscr) 6.8 / trailer
5 (…) The Judge 7.5 / trailer
6 (7) Birdman (DVDscr) 8.6 / trailer
7 (4) Gone Girl 8.4 / trailer
8 (5) Unbroken (DVDscr) 7.2 / trailer
9 (…) Vice 4.2 / trailer
10 (…) Wild 7.4 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij Wants You to Write Him a Letter

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

fredrik-neijFredrik Neij, also known as Tiamo, was one of the key players behind The Pirate Bay during its early years. Without him, the site might have never recovered from the first raid in 2006.

As with Peter Sunde and Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik’s involvement with the site eventually resulted in a prison sentence and a hefty fine.

After being on the run for two years he was arrested by Thai immigration authorities last November when he tried to cross the border from Laos. A few days later he flew to Sweden where he was transferred to a prison in Skänninge.

With several weeks now passed, TF has learned that Fredrik is doing well considering the circumstances. His wife and two kids are allowed to visit now, which must be a welcome distraction to monotonous prison life.

With a sentence of 10 months Fredrik will not be released before summer. Worryingly, he also has to face hacking allegations as well as a criminal referral of his ISP DCP Networks.

Considering the above, Fredrik won’t mind having some things to entertain himself. In a message sent to TF he signaled that it would be nice to receive letters, cards and other stuff from people all over the world.

Anything goes, the more mail arrives the better.

People who want to write Fredrik should use the address listed at the bottom of this article. Keep in mind though, all incoming mail will be checked by the authorities before he receives it.

Besides Fredrik, Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm also remains in prison. Last October he was convicted of hacking into the systems of IT company CSC and sentenced to 3.5 years.

TF spoke with Gottfrid’s mother Kristina who informed us that her son is being held in better conditions than before. He is allowed to receive books and his letters are no longer read by the police, but access to a computer or the Internet is still off-limits.

Gottfrid has officially appealed his sentence and these proceedings are scheduled to start in April. In the meantime, he too would love to receive mail.

The addresses of Gottfrid and Fredrik are listed below.

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg
Arresthuset i Koege
Kongsberg Allé 6
Dk4600 Koege, DENMARK

Fredrik Neij 14-514
Box 213
596 21 Skänninge
SWEDEN

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wants to Censor OpenCulture’s Public Domain Movies

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

opencultureDespite the growing availability of legal services in many countries, movie studios face a constant stream of pirated films.

In an attempt to deter these infringements, the MPAA and individual movie studios send thousands of takedown notices to Internet services every month. Most of these requests are directed at Google.

When it comes to takedown notices the MPAA has a dubious track record. The movie industry group has got into the habit of asking Google to remove the homepages of allegedly infringing sites instead of individual pages where the infringing movies are listed.

A few days ago, for example, the MPAA asked Google to remove the homepage of the most popular torrent site Kickass.so, alongside several other torrent and streaming sites. As with previous requests Google declined to do so as the request was too broad.

kickmpaa

The same takedown notice includes another unusual and perhaps more worrying request. Between all the “pirate sites” the MPAA also targeted Open Culture’s list of public domain movies.

For those unfamiliar with the project, Open Culture offers an archive of high-quality cultural & educational media. With Stanford University’s Dan Colman as founder and lead editor, the content listed on the site is selected with great care.

The MPAA, however, appears to have spotted a problem with the list and has asked Google to remove the entire page (containing 700 movies) from its search results, as shown in the image below.

openculturedown

So why would MPAA target content that’s seemingly in the public domain?

The full details of the takedown notice have yet to be published, but there is a good chance that the request was sent in error.

In any case, the notice doesn’t look good for the MPAA. Over the past seferal months the MPAA has lobbied Google to block entire domains from its search results, but mistakes like these are a reminder for Google to remain cautious.

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

TorrentFreak: 95% Of Oscar Contenders Leaked on Pirate Sites Already

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

oscartorrentsThe Oscars is the biggest award show of the year and is closely followed by hundreds of millions of movie fans.

This week the new nominees were announced and as usual that triggered a spike in sales, theater visits and illegal downloads.

The interest of torrent users for Best Picture nominee “The Theory of Everything” quadrupled almost instantly, and several other titles saw similar spikes.

With help from Andy Baio, who has been collecting detailed piracy stats for the Oscar-nominees since 2003, we can also reveal how many of the films are already available along with some other interesting trends.

What stands out immediately is how widely available the films are. Of all 2015 nominees, except documentary and foreign films, 34 of the 36 films (95%) are present on pirate sites.

Only the animated feature film “Song of The Sea” and best original song nominee “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” have yet to appear online.

The films that are available don’t all come in perfect quality of course. “Beyond the Lights,” for example, only leaked in a CAM (camcorded) version. Most, however, are available in relatively decent screener, DVDRip or comparable quality.

Ironically enough, nearly all of the pirated screener copies appear to have been leaked from Academy sources.

The data further shows that it takes an average of 25 days until first leak appears online. In 2015 retail DVDs leaked faster than in previous years, in part due to shorter release windows.

“Two Days One Night” leaked the earliest, with a DVD quality copy of the movie becoming available more than two months before its official U.S. release date. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” took the longest with a total of 88 days.

While relatively unknown films see a serious spike in downloads after the nominations, most interest goes out to the traditional blockbusters. Of all nominees The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies remains the most popular with more than two million downloads over the past week.

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

TorrentFreak: EZTV Ditches .IT Domain After Italian Intervention

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

eztv-logo-smallFounded in 2005, the TV-torrent site EZTV has served torrents for nearly a decade.

Over the past several years it has maintained a steady user-base and with millions of users it’s undoubtedly the most used TV-torrent site on the Internet today.

This popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed by copyright holders. The site has already been blocked in the UK via court order and there are efforts underway elsewhere to frustrate the site’s operations.

Most recently EZTV ran into trouble with the Italian domain name registry NIC.it over some paperwork. Facing a possible confiscation of the EZTV.it domain name, they saw no other option than to switch to a new home.

Without going into detail, EZTV’s NovaKing tells TF that a complaint from copyright holders is likely to be the driving force behind the recent issues.

“NIC.it hasn’t been very cooperative in trying to find a solution. While they haven’t admitted it on the record, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were pressured by copyright holders,” NovaKing says.

EZTV’s domain registrar EuroDNS suggested several options to resolve the problems but all these paths were fruitless.

With the Italian registry not willing to cooperate, EZTV decided not to wait any longer and has now ditched the .it domain. EZTV swiftly relocated to a new home using the Swiss TLD EZTV.ch.

eztvnewhome

The Swiss domain name wasn’t chosen for any reason in particular, it was just the most convenient option for now.

“We have a stockpile of domain names in reserve. The Swiss domain was the easiest option as that was already partially setup, but we can easily relocate again if needed,” NovaKing says.

And so the Whack-A-Mole can continue for a while.

For EZTV the domain intervention is a relatively minor inconvenience. The site has faced bigger problems in the past. Just last month it was down for nearly two weeks after its servers were taken offline in the Pirate Bay raid.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Links Online Piracy to Obama’s Cybersecurity Plan

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

mpaa-logoThe unprecedented Sony hack has put cybersecurity on top of the political agenda in the United States.

Just last week Representative Ruppersberger re-introduced the controversial CISPA bill and yesterday President Obama announced his new cybersecurity plans.

New measures are needed to “investigate, disrupt and prosecute” cybercrime as recent events have shown that criminals can and will exploit current weaknesses, according to the White House

“In this interconnected, digital world, there are going to be opportunities for hackers to engage in cyber assaults both in the private sector and the public sector,” President Obama notes.

Together with Congress the Obama administration hopes to draft a new bill that will address these concerns. Among other things, the new plan aims to improve information sharing between private Internet companies and the Government.

Privacy advocates argue that this kind of data sharing endangers the rights of citizens, who may see more private data falling into the hands of the Government. President Obama, on the other hand, sees it as a necessity to stop attacks such as the Sony breach.

“Because if we don’t put in place the kind of architecture that can prevent these attacks from taking place, this is not just going to be affecting movies, this is going to be affecting our entire economy in ways that are extraordinarily significant,” the President cautions.

With the Sony hack Hollywood played a central role in putting cybersecurity back on the agenda. And although President Obama makes no mention of online piracy, the MPAA is quick to add it to the discussion.

In a statement responding to the new cybersecurity plans, MPAA CEO Chris Dodd notes that because of these criminals certain companies have their “digital products exposed and available online for anyone to loot.”

“That’s why law enforcement must be given the resources they need to police these criminal activities,” Dodd says.

The MPAA appears to blend the Sony hack with online piracy. It calls upon Congress to keep the interests of Hollywood in mind, and urges private actors including search engines and ISPs to help in curbing the piracy threat.

“… responsible participants in the Internet ecosystem – content creators, search, payment processors, ad networks, ISPs – need to work more closely together to forge initiatives to stop the unlawful spread of illegally-obtained content,” Dodd says.

Hollywood’s effort to frame online piracy as a broader cybersecurity threat is not entirely new.

Last year an entertainment industry backed report claimed that 90 percent of the top pirate sites link to malware or other unwanted software. In addition, two-thirds were said to link to credit card scams.

This report was later cited in a Senate Subcommittee hearing where the MPAA urged lawmakers to take steps so young Americans can be protected from the “numerous hazards on pirate sites.”

Whether a new cybersecurity bill will indeed include anti-piracy measures has yet to be seen. But for the MPAA it may be one of the few positive outcomes of the Sony hack, which exposed some of its best kept secrets in recent weeks.

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

TorrentFreak: Piracy Notices Boost Demand For Anonymous VPNs in Canada

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

pirate-runningDue to a recent change to Canada’s copyright law, ISPs are now required to forward copyright infringement notices to their customers.

As a result, tens of thousands of Internet subscribers have received warnings in their mailboxes over the past days, with some asking for cash settlements.

The so-called notice-and-notice system aims to reduce local piracy rates, but it appears that not all Canadians are ready to give up their habits.

Instead, many file-sharers are taking measures to hide their IP-addresses and bypass the monitoring companies copyright holders have hired. By using VPN services or BitTorrent proxies their sharing activities can no longer be linked to their ISP account, effectively evading the notice system.

Data from Google trends reveals that interest in anonymizing services has spiked with searches for “VPN” nearly doubling in recent weeks. This effect, shown in the graph below, is limited to Canada and likely a direct result of the new law.

“VPN” searches in Canada
vpncanada

The effects are clearly noticeable at VPN providers as well, in both traffic and sales. TorGuard, a VPN and BitTorrent proxy provider saw the number of Canadian visitors and subscribers double this year.

“Since the start of 2015 TorGuard has seen a drastic jump in Canadian traffic and subscribers. At the time of this writing our Canadian sales are up roughly 100% and this trend appears to be increasing,” TorGuard’s Ben Van der Pelt tells us.

TorGuard traffic from Canada
torgcanada

Aside from steering people towards anonymizing tools Canada’s notice-and-notice scheme also piqued the interest of the Government. The abuse of these notices in particular.

Another consequence of the new law is that Canadian VPN providers have to warn pirating users as well. For most services this is impossible, as they don’t keep any IP-address logs, adding further insecurity to the local market.

For now, none of the VPN providers we spoke with plan to start logging but if they are forced to do so the preference is to move their businesses outside Canada.

From the above it’s clear that the new notice-and-notice system is certainly having an impact, but how many file-sharers stop pirating and how many choose to hide instead is anyone’s guess at this point.

One thing’s for certain though, VPN services are certainly becoming a more mainstream option.

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

TorrentFreak: Falsely Accused ‘Pirate’ Wins $101,000 in Attorney Fees

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

elf-manMass-piracy lawsuits have been plaguing the U.S. for years, targeting hundreds of thousands of alleged downloaders.

Most copyright holders involved in these cases, often referred to as trolls, are only out to collect settlement payments from the accused, so the cases never go to trial.

The same is true for the lawsuit between the makers of the “Elf-Man” movie and Ryan Lamberson of Spokane Valley, Washington.

As is common in these cases an IP address was presented as the main piece of evidence. This address was collected by a file-sharing “investigator” using software to connect to the BitTorrent swarm where the infringing files were allegedly shared.

However, Lamberson’s attorney pointed out to the court that the studio’s evidence was far from solid, and that they couldn’t prove the alleged wrongdoings.

“Mr. Lamberson is an innocent ISP subscriber. Like many of the Elf Man defendants, he had never heard of Elf Man. He never had any desire to view the movie let alone download his own copy,” defense attorney Chris Lynch tells TF.

One of the problems the defense uncovered was that the tracking software couldn’t actually prove that the defendant had downloaded the file.

“Although the complaints allege the defendants ‘downloaded’ the works, the plaintiff’s investigators’ computers are programmed only to entrap data uploaded by the defendant, not data downloaded by the defendant. In other words, there is no evidence that any defendant downloaded the movie, only supposition,” Lynch says.

And there were other problems too. The Elf-Man studio wasn’t entirely forthcoming about the identity, employer, or location of its investigators, for example.

Faced with these issues the Elf-Man makers decided to drop the lawsuit. However, they didn’t get away without having to pick up the bill as Judge Rice awarded attorney fees to the accused file-sharer.

Just before the weekend the Judge issued an order granting Mr. Lamberson nearly $101,000 in attorney fees, which he deemed a reasonable amount.

“Defendant’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fees … is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Defendant is awarded attorney fees in the amount of $100,961,” the Judge writes.

100k

The awarded fees are short of the $200,000 requested, but the defense is quite pleased with the outcome nonetheless as the amount helps to cover the costs.

For some, however, the outcome is still a disappointment in that the Elf-Man makers weren’t sanctioned for their dubious practices, including the use of unlicensed investigators.

Lynch and his firm Lee & Hayes are not done with the copyright trolling cases though, and will keep a close eye on developments. Perhaps they can target this type of abuse again in a future case.

“Although we are delighted with the outcome for Mr. Lamberson, we remain concerned about the practice of United States copyright infringement cases being brought against innocent people who are based on thin, possibly inadmissible, foreign evidence without any corroboration of actual infringement,” Lynch notes.

“Our case exposed some of the abuse, but there are hundreds of cases throughout the country based on similar evidentiary anomalies. My law firm intends to remain active in this area fighting this abuse.”

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