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TorrentFreak: Why Record Labels Want Kim Dotcom’s Album Taken Down

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

goodtimesEarlier this year Kim Dotcom released his first music album “Good Times,” giving it away for free to anyone interested.

An official copy of the album was posted on the cloud hosting service Mega, which is linked from Dotcom’s homepage. This has never caused any issues, until a few weeks ago, when various copyright holders started sending unusual takedown requests to have the content removed.

IFPI, representing the major music labels, submitted several DMCA notices to Mega claiming that the file infringed the rights of various artists. This resulted in a game of whack-a-mole in which the album was removed and reinstated a few times. Currently it’s unavailable yet again.

megadown

When we previously covered the issue, Mega stressed that the takedown requests were clearly mistaken. The company accused IFPI of not doing their homework and doubted the accuracy of their notices in general.

However, since the takedown notices kept targeting the same link, there was a good chance that these mistakes were orchestrated in some way. Assuming that someone was making IFPI and others believe that the link pointed to albums of other artists, we decided to do some research.

Eventually we stumbled upon a series of Pastebin pages where the URL of Dotcom’s album is linked to titles of other artists. Several of the artists mentioned in the pastes are the same as the one’s IFPI listed in their DMCA notices, so this would explain the mistakes.

kimdown

The above is concerning for several reasons. First of all, it shows that IFPI and others don’t verify the legitimacy of their takedown notices. This means that pranksters can easily get them to censor legitimate content.

Secondly, Mega usually can’t check the validity of a claim, or it simply doesn’t know whether or not a user has permission to publish it. So they have very little options to stop the abuse.

“Mega aims to process all takedowns promptly, within a few hours. It is impossible to verify the claims as the files are encrypted so we don’t know the contents (unless the full link is provided with the key included), and we can’t verify if the person has a valid ownership/license or not,” a Mega spokesperson told us.

Despite these restrictions, the cloud hosting provider says it’s setting up a system where repeated takedowns can be flagged to prevent this type of abuse in the future.

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

Until then, Dotcom’s album will most likely disappear from Mega a few more times. Luckily for the fans, there’s also a copy hosted on the soon-to-be-released music service Baboom.

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

TorrentFreak: BPI Hits Record Breaking 100 Million Google Takedowns

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

bpiDespite the growing availability of legal music services in many countries, record labels are facing a constant stream of pirated music.

In an attempt to prevent these infringements, the BPI and other music industry groups send millions of takedown notices to Internet services every month. Most of these requests are directed at Google.

This week the UK music industry group BPI reached a new milestone after notifying Google of the 100 millionth allegedly infringing URL, up from 50 million just 10 months ago.

As can be seen below, the latest update shows that the 100 million links were spread out over 274,810 separate DMCA takedown notices.

BPI’s takedown notices
bpi100m

With 100 million requests the BPI has broken a new milestone. Never before has a copyright holder representative reported so many allegedly infringing links to Google. Degban is currently second in this list with 99 million URLs, followed by the RIAA with 57 million.

For the BPI this record isn’t something to be proud of though. The music industry group tells us that it shows just how hard it is for copyright holders to have infringing content taken offline.

“This milestone makes two things very clear. First, that however much creators do, the system of ‘notice and takedown’ will never be enough on its own to protect them or consumers from the online black market, or to spur growth in the digital economy,” a BPI spokesperson says.

“Second, that despite its clear knowledge as to which sites are engines of piracy, Google continues to help build their illegal businesses, by giving them a prominent ranking in search results.”

The BPI stresses that Google should do more to lower the visibility of unauthorized content in its search results. Despite promises to do so, the music group still sees very little improvement on this front.

“To illustrate: Google’s records show it has been told more than 10 million times that content on 4shared.com is illegal – yet it’s still the very first result today when we search for ‘Calvin Harris mp3′ – ahead of Amazon and every other legal service,” BPI notes.

Addressing this issue is pretty straightforward, the BPI argues. Google should work with the entertainment industries to adjust its search algorithm, as the UK Government also highlighted recently.

“Google can simply fix this problem by amending its algorithm. We hope they will respond positively to the invitation from Government to negotiate voluntary measures to do so,” BPI says, closing with an iconic lyric.

“It’s time the media giant changed its tune – we need a little less conversation and a little more action please.”

Google has thus far been hesitant to fiddle with its search results.

The company has made several changes to address the complaints of copyright holders. However, it also stressed that the entertainment industries themselves should take responsibility, arguing that piracy is primarily an availability and pricing problem.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 09/22/14

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

transThis week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Transformers: Age of Extinction 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 (…) Transformers: Age of Extinction 6.1 / trailer
2 (3) Edge Of Tomorrow 8.1 / trailer
3 (9) X-Men: Days of Future Past 8.4 / trailer
4 (1) Maleficent 7.4 / trailer
5 (…) Million Dollar Arm 7.3 / trailer
6 (2) How To Train Your Dragon 2 8.3 / trailer
7 (5) The Fault in Our Stars 8.3 / trailer
8 (4) The Giver 6.9 / trailer
9 (7) Godzilla 7.1 / trailer
10 (10) Divergent 7.2 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Runs on 21 “Raid-Proof” Virtual Machines

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

pirate cloudTwo years ago The Pirate Bay made an important change to its infrastructure by switching its entire operation to the cloud.

Instead of buying their own hardware The Pirate Bay decided to serve its users from several cloud hosting providers scattered around the world. This saved costs, guaranteed better uptime, and made the site more portable and thus harder to take down.

The operational change also had a downside. Before the move the notorious torrent site had a dedicated page displaying its hardware and server setup, which was something true geeks kept a close eye on.

Today the site no longer owns any crucial pieces of hardware. However, it’s worth taking a look at the virtual setup the site is running on now. TorrentFreak asked the Pirate Bay team for an update and they were happy to oblige.

At the time of writing the site uses 21 “virtual machines” (VMs) hosted at different providers. This is up four machines from two years ago, in part due to the steady increase in traffic.

Most of the VMs, eight in total, are used for serving the web pages. The searches take up another six machines, and the site’s database currently runs on two VMs.

The remaining five virtual machines are used for load balancing, statistics, the proxy site on port 80, torrent storage and for the controller.

In total the VMs use 182 GB of RAM and 94 CPU cores. The total storage capacity is 620 GB, but that’s not all used. Needless to say, that is relatively modest considering the size of the site.

- 8 web
- 6 search
- 2 database
- 1 lvs
- 1 stats
- 1 for proxy site on .80,
- 1 torrents
- 1 control

All virtual machines are hosted with commercial cloud hosting providers, who have no clue that The Pirate Bay is among their customers. All traffic goes through the load balancer, which masks what the other VMs are doing. This also means that none of the IP-addresses of the cloud hosting providers are publicly linked to TPB.

According to the Pirate Bay team the current setup works pretty well. Although small issues pop up every now and then, the site has had no major downtime recently.

If the police come knocking in the future the cloud servers can of course be disconnected. However, with the site’s current setup it would be fairly easy to continue operating from another provider in a relatively short time.

For now, the most vulnerable spot appears to be the site’s domain. Just last year the site burnt through five separate domain names due to takedown threats from registrars.

But then again, this doesn’t appear to be much of a concern for TPB as the operators have dozens of alternative domain names standing by.

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

TorrentFreak: Dotcom’s Internet Party Fails to Enter New Zealand Parliament

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

internetpartyJanuary this year Kim Dotcom launched his Internet Party with an ambition to enter the New Zealand Parliament a few months later.

The Internet entrepreneur could not run for election himself, but as the party’s president and visionary he would gain significant political power.

Today New Zealanders went out to vote and the Internet Party was listed on the ballots in an alliance with the Mana Party.

Voting booths officially closed at 7 PM local time and the provisional results show that Internet Mana failed to win a seat.

The party managed 1.26% of the total vote, somewhat short of the 5% required to enter the New Zealand Parliament. A disappointing result after Dotcom spent more than $2 million on the party and its election campaign.

kiwi-results

Over the past several weeks Internet Mana received a lot of attention in the press. Dotcom actively campaigned against his arch-rival Prime Minister John Key, and earlier this week the party organized the “Moment of Truth” during which Edward Snowden, Glen Greenwald and Julian Assange all criticized New Zealand’s secret spying efforts.

Despite the heavy critique of the Prime Minister, Key’s National Party became the overwhelming winner of the elections with nearly half of all votes.

Following the defeat Dotcom apologized to Mana leader Hone Harawira and the Maori people. Mr Harawira lost his Parliament seat and Dotcom suggests that he may be to blame for the disappointing result.

“I take full responsibility,” Dotcom said in a short speech. “The brand Kim Dotcom was poisoned … and I did not see that before the last couple of weeks.”

After his speech Dotcom left the building, declining interview requests from local reporters.

In a tweet Dotcom later congratulated the Prime Minister and his National Party on their win.

“New Zealanders have chosen National and John Key to lead. I congratulate the Prime Minister. Please do your best for all Kiwis. Good luck,” he wrote.

dotcomkey

Responding to the results Internet Party leader Laila Harre said that the party’s policy went unreported in the media, which mostly focused on scandals and the dirty games being played.

Harre thanked Dotcom for the opportunity to shake up New Zealand politics. She said that Dotcom became the symbol of Internet Mana, but that the party likely underestimated the impact this would have on the campaign.

“There’s been a two-year campaign of vilification of Kim and that was clearly impacted on our campaign,” Harre noted.

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

TorrentFreak: Developer Registers “Popcorn Time” Trademark to Prevent Abuse

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

popcornThe Popcorn Time phenomenon is one of the biggest piracy stories of the year thus far.

The software amassed millions of users by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface.

The original app was shut down by the developers after a few weeks, but the project was quickly picked up by others. This resulted in several popular forks that have each developed their own features, with most releasing their source code in public.

In recent months there has been some competition between the various forks. Several spin-offs have claimed the name “Popcorn Time” but thus far that hasn’t resulted in any serious issues.

Recently, however, one developer made a move to formalize his claim on the Popcorn Time brand. An application for the trademark was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and this week the case was assigned to an examiner.

The proposed trademark describes Popcorn Time as follows: “Downloadable computer software used for streaming multimedia content images, videos and audio from peer to peer.”

The trademark application lists the Canadian developer David Lemarier who filed his application through Legalforce. While some are worried about the development, it appears that Lemarier doesn’t have any nefarious plans.

A source at the main fork Popcorntime.io familiar with the reasoning behind the trademark application told TF that it was filed as a defensive move.

“We strongly believe in the open contributions to the Popcorn Time project and the filing of the trademark wasn’t designed to hinder or prohibit the further development of the official Popcorn Time or any other related forks,” the source says.

“It’s wise to attempt to protect the trademark from ‘giants’ who might come along, sweep up the name, and then bully contributors into non-existence.”

The nature of the ‘giants’ the Popcorntime.io team are concerned about is left open.

Time4Popcorn, one of the popular forks, is not happy with the trademark application. They describes it as “rude” and stress that the Popcorn Time name doesn’t belong to anyone.

“This is news to us and we’re still figuring out how to respond to this, but this is rude and it is something we take very seriously,” the Time4Popcorn team notes.

“We assure you that we will never ever do something like this, and we will not let this happen that someone else will claim that it is their trademark. Never. An open source project is for everyone. It does not belong to us or to anyone else!”

Then again, even if someone with bad intentions did obtain the trademark, not much will change. Given the nature of the Popcorn Time application it is unlikely that any of the popular forks will shut down over a trademark dispute.

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

TorrentFreak: Report Brands Dotcom’s Mega a Piracy Haven

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

profitThe most popular file-hosting sites, also known as cyberlockers, have millions of visitors per day.

In recent years many of these sites have gotten a bad reputation as they are frequently used to share copyrighted files.

Today the Digital Citizens Alliance released a new report (pdf) that looks into the profitability of these sites and services. Titled “Behind The Cyberlocker Door: A Report How Shadowy Cyberlockers Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions,” it offers insight into the money streams that end up at these alleged pirate sites.

The study, carried out by NetNames and backed by the entertainment industry, uses information from the busted Megaupload service to estimate the earnings of various other sites. Based on these and other assumptions it concludes that the top cyberlockers generate an average $3.2 million per site per year.

“Overall, total annual revenue across the thirty cyberlockers equated to $96.2 million or $3.2 million per site. One site gathered $17.6m per year in revenue,” the report notes, adding that it’s a conservative estimate.

Estimated revenue and profit per direct download cyberlocker
roguerev

The report brands these sites as piracy havens based on a sample of the files they host. All the sites that are listed are used predominantly for copyright infringement, they claim.

“The overwhelming use of cyberlockers is for content theft. Analysis of a sampling of the files on the thirty cyberlocker sites found that the vast majority of files were clearly infringing,” the report reads.

“At least 78.6 percent of files on direct download cyberlockers and 83.7 percent of files on streaming cyberlockers infringed copyright,” it adds.

Alleged “infringing” use per cyberlocker
rogueinfper

Here’s where the researchers make a crucial mistake. The sample, where the percentage of allegedly infringing files is based on, is drawn from links that are posted publicly online. These are certainly not representative for the entire site, at least not in all cases.

For Mega the researchers looked at 500 files that were shared online. However, the overwhelming majority of Mega’s files, which number more than 500,000,000, are never shared in public.

Unlike some other sites in the report, Mega is a rather traditional cloud hosting provider that’s frequently used for personal backup, through its desktop client or mobile apps for example. The files that are shared in public are the exception here, probably less than one percent of the total.

There is no denying that there are shady and rogue sites that do profit heavily from piracy, but lumping all these sites together and branding them with a pirate label is flat-out wrong.

Aside from “exposing” the estimated profitability of the cyberlockers the report also has a secondary goal. It puts out a strong call to the credit card companies Visa and MasterCard, and hosting providers such as Cloudflare, urging them to cut their ties with these supposed pirate havens.

“They should take a hard look at the checkered history of their cyberlocker partners. Simply put, the businesses that simply exploit and expropriate the creative efforts of others do not occupy a legitimate place in the Internet ecosystem,” the report notes.

“Content theft is a cancer on the Internet. It introduces viruses and malware to computers, robs creators who rely on the Internet to sell their products, damages brands by associating them with illegal and inappropriate content and provides seed money for criminals to engage in other illegal activities,” it adds.

Hopefully future reports will have more nuance. At minimum they should make sure to have all the facts right, as that’s generally more convincing.

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

TorrentFreak: AT&T Patents Technology to Keep Torrent Files Alive

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

attIn recent years the intellectual property division of AT&T has patented quite a few unusual inventions. Today we can add another to the list after the telecoms company was granted a patent which aims to keep torrent files available for as long as possible.

In the patent (pdf), which was awarded yesterday, the ISP points out that BitTorrent is a very effective way of sharing files online. However, AT&T also signals some drawbacks, including the fact that some torrent swarms stop working because there are no complete copies of the file available.

“As more and more peers download a complete copy of the file, the performance of the torrent deteriorates to the point that it becomes difficult for the file to be located and downloaded. As a result, current BitTorrent systems are not desirable for downloading older files,” the patent reads.

Since there are often many swarms downloading the same content via different trackers, it could be that the file lives on elsewhere. Similarly, other peers might be willing to start seeding the dead torrent again. AT&T’s patent pairs these sources to increase the availability of files downloaded via BitTorrent.

AT&T’s torrent patent
patent-att

The patent proposes to add “collaboration information” which may be obtained from each peer when it joins a torrent swarm. If a torrent has no active seeds available, this information can point the downloader to “dormant peers” or external trackers that still have active seeders.

“If the file is not available at an active peer, the tracker node has two options; it may contact some of the listed dormant peers to see if they are willing to make the file available, and/or it may contact a remote tracker node listed for the file,” the patent reads.

“If the file is made available by a dormant peer and/or at a remote torrent, the local peer can then establish a peer-to-peer communication with the dormant peer or a peer on the remote torrent, and download the file therefrom. As a result, the local peer can locate and download files that are not available on its current torrent from both dormant peers and peers in other torrents.”

The idea to point people to other trackers is not new. Most torrents come with multiple trackers nowadays to ensure that a file remains available for as long as possible. AT&T’s proposed invention would automate this feature.

The idea to contact “dormant peers” is more novel. In short, that means that people who previously downloaded a file, but are no longer seeding it, can get a request to make it available again.

Whether the ISPs has any real life applications for their invention is yet unknown. The current patent was granted this week, but the first application dates back to 2005, a time when BitTorrent wasn’t quite as mainstream as it is today.

The patent certainly doesn’t mean that the ISP encourages sharing copyrighted files. Among other anti-piracy innovations, AT&T previously patented systems to track content being shared via BitTorrent and other P2P networks and report those offenders to the authorities.

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

TorrentFreak: Copyright Holders Want Netflix to Ban VPN Users

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

netflixWith the launch of legal streaming services such as Netflix, movie and TV fans have less reason to turn to pirate sites.

At the same time, however, these legal options invite people from other countries where the legal services are more limited. This is also the case in Australia where up to 200,000 people are estimated to use the U.S. version of Netflix.

Although Netflix has geographical restrictions in place, these are easy to bypass with a relatively cheap VPN subscription. To keep these foreigners out, entertainment industry companies are now lobbying for a global ban on VPN users.

Simon Bush, CEO of AHEDA, an industry group that represents Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures and other major players said that some members are actively lobbying for such a ban.

Bush didn’t name any of the companies involved, but he confirmed to Cnet that “discussions” to block Australian access to the US version of Netflix “are happening now”.

If implemented, this would mean that all VPN users worldwide will no longer be able to access Netflix. That includes the millions of Americans who are paying for a legitimate account. They can still access Netflix, but would not be allowed to do so securely via a VPN.

According to Bush the discussions to keep VPN users out are not tied to Netflix’s arrival in Australia. The distributors and other rightsholders argue that they are already being deprived of licensing fees, because some Aussies ignore local services such as Quickflix.

“I know the discussions are being had…by the distributors in the United States with Netflix about Australians using VPNs to access content that they’re not licensed to access in Australia,” Bush said.

“They’re requesting for it to be blocked now, not just when it comes to Australia,” he adds.

While blocking VPNs would solve the problem for distributors, it creates a new one for VPN users in the United States.

The same happened with Hulu a few months ago, when Hulu started to block visitors who access the site through a VPN service. This blockade also applies to hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens.

Hulu’s blocklist was implemented a few months ago and currently covers the IP-ranges of all major VPN services. People who try to access the site through one of these IPs are not allowed to view any content on the site, and receive the following notice instead:

“Based on your IP-address, we noticed that you are trying to access Hulu through an anonymous proxy tool. Hulu is not currently available outside the U.S. If you’re in the U.S. you’ll need to disable your anonymizer to access videos on Hulu.”

It seems that VPNs are increasingly attracting the attention of copyright holders. Just a week ago BBC Worldwide argued that ISPs should monitor VPN users for excessive bandwidth use, assuming they would then be pirates.

Considering the above we can expect the calls for VPN bans to increase in the near future.

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

TorrentFreak: Search Engines Can Diminish Online Piracy, Research Finds

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

google-bayIn recent years Hollywood and the music industry have taken a rather aggressive approach against Google. The entertainment industry companies believe that the search engine isn’t doing enough to limit piracy, and have demanded more stringent measures.

One of the suggestions often made is to remove or demote pirate sites in search results. A lower ranking would lead fewer people to pirate sources and promoting legal sources will have a similar effect.

Google previously said it would lower the ranking of sites based on DMCA complaints, but thus far these changes have had a limited effect. A few weeks ago the company also began promoting legal options but this effort is in the testing phase for now.

The question that remains is whether these changes would indeed decrease piracy. According to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, they can.

In a paper titled “Do Search Engines Influence Media Piracy?” the researchers ran two experiments where they let participants use a custom search engine to find a movie they wanted to watch. The respondents could pick from a list of 50 titles and received a $20 prepaid virtual Visa card as compensation.

All search results were pulled from a popular search engine. In the control category the results were not manipulated, but in the “legal” and “infringing” conditions the first page only listed “legal” (e.g Amazon) and neutral (e.g IMDb) sites or “infringing” (e.g. Pirate Bay) and neutral sites respectively.

While it’s quite a simple manipulation, and even though users could still find legal and pirated content in all conditions, the results are rather strong.

Of all participants who saw the standard results, 80% chose to buy the movie via a legal option. This went up to 94% if the results were mostly legal, and dropped to 57% for the group who saw mostly infringing results on the first page.

To Pirate or Not to Pirate
resulttable

TorrentFreak contacted Professor Rahul Telang who says that the findings suggest that Google and other search engines have a direct effect on people’s behavior, including the decision to pirate a movie.

“Prominence of legal versus infringing links in the search results seem to play a vital role in users decision to consume legal versus pirated content. In particular, demoting infringing links leads to lower rate of consumption of pirated movie content in our sample,” he notes.

In a second study the researchers carried out a slightly modified version of the experiment with college students, a group that tends to pirate more frequently. The second experiment also added two new conditions where only the first three results were altered, to see if “mild” manipulations would also have an effect.

The findings show that college students indeed pirate more as only 62% went for the legal option in the control condition. This percentage went up gradually to 76% with a “mild legal” manipulation, and to 92% in the legal condition. For the infringing manipulations the percentages dropped to 48% and 39% respectively.

To Pirate or Not to Pirate, take two
table2

According to Professor Telang their findings suggest that even small changes can have a significant impact and that altering search algorithms can be instrumental in the fight against online piracy.

“The results suggest that the search engines may play an important role in fight against intellectual property theft,” Telang says.

It has to be noted that Professor Telang and his colleagues received a generous donation from the MPAA for their research program. However, the researchers suggest that their work is carried out independently.

As a word of caution the researchers point out that meddling with search results in the real world may be much more challenging. False positives could lead to significant social costs and should be avoided, for example.

This and other caveats aside, the MPAA and RIAA will welcome the study as a new piece of research they can wave at Google and lawmakers. Whether that will help them to get what they want has yet to be seen though.

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

TorrentFreak: ISP Wants Court to Sanction Piracy Monitoring Firm

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

rightscorp-realFor several months Rightscorp has been sending DMCA subpoenas to smaller local ISPs in the United States.

Unlike regular subpoenas, these are not reviewed by a judge and only require a signature from the Court clerk. This practice raised questions because DMCA subpoenas are not applicable to file-sharing cases, which is something courts determined more than a decade ago.

Perhaps unaware of the legal precedent, most ISPs have complied with the requests. Until last week, when small Texas provider Grande Communications stood up in court after it was asked to reveal the account details connected to 30,000 IP-addresses/timestamp combinations.

Soon after Grande filed its objections Rightscorp decided to drop the request entirely. While ISP is pleased that its customers no longer have to be exposed, the company is not letting Rightscorp off the hook.

In an advisory to the court (pdf) the ISP notes that Rightscorp’s actions suggest that it’s merely trying to avoid having a judge look at their dubious efforts.

“The abrupt withdrawal of the Subpoena is consistent with the apparent desire of Rightscorp and its counsel to avoid judicial review of their serial misuse of the subpoena power of the federal courts,” Grande’s attorneys write.

The ISP still wants Rightscorp to pay for the costs run up thus far. In addition, Grande also believes that sanctions for misusing the federal court’s subpoena powers may be in order.

“The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California may consider ordering Rightscorp and its counsel to show cause why they should not be sanctioned for misusing the federal court’s subpoena powers,” the advisory reads.

The ISP points out that if it hadn’t challenged the subpoena, the personal details of hundreds or thousands of subscribers would have been shared based on a faulty procedure. Since similar requests are being sent to other ISPs, the matter warrants further investigation.

“It appears clear that Rightscorp and its counsel are playing a game without regard for the rules, and they are playing that game in a manner calculated to avoid judicial review. Hopefully, they will not be permitted to continue much longer,” Grande’s attorneys conclude.

Rightscorp’s withdrawal of the subpoena also contradicts earlier comments the company’s CEO Christopher Sabec made to TorrentFreak.

Sabec told us that the company believes that earlier decisions on the legitimacy of DMCA subpoenas in file-sharing cases were wrong, and will be overturned should the issue reach the Supreme Court.

Apparently, this was a veiled threat, perhaps to discourage Internet providers from starting a battle that could get very expensive. Instead, with possible sanctions pending, things may now get expensive for Rightscorp.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 09/15/14

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

maleThis week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Maleficent is the most downloaded movie, again.

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 (2) Maleficent 7.4 / trailer
2 (1) How To Train Your Dragon 2 8.3 / trailer
3 (7) Edge Of Tomorrow (Webrip) 8.1 / trailer
4 (…) The Giver 6.9 / trailer
5 (5) The Fault in Our Stars 8.3 / trailer
6 (3) A Million Ways To Die In The West 6.2 / trailer
7 (4) Godzilla (Webrip) 7.1 / trailer
8 (…) Plastic 5.8 / trailer
9 (6) X-Men: Days of Future Past (HDrip/TS) 8.4 / trailer
10 (8) Divergent 7.2 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent: Our Users Buy 33% More Music Albums Online

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

bittorrent-crimeBitTorrent Inc, the company behind the successful uTorrent and BitTorrent file-sharing clients, has been making huge efforts in recent times to shed the false image that the company is synonymous with online piracy.

One of the key ways it’s changing this perception is by partnering with well-known artists such as De La Soul, Moby and Madonna, and showing that BitTorrent is an ideal tool to connect artists with fans.

To provide some examples of what it can do, BitTorrent Inc. has made a distribution and advertising deck with success stories. Thus far more than 10,000 artists have used BitTorrent’s bundles, generating over 100 million downloads which convert into real sales.

Slide from BitTorrent’s advertising deck (via Digiday)
bittorrents-pitch-deck

Aside from listing its successes the company also reports some intriguing statistics on the consumer behavior of its community.

On slide 12 BitTorrent Inc. notes that its community is 33% more likely to buy albums online, makes 34% more DVD purchases, watches 34% more movies in theater and is twice as likely to have a paid music subscription.

BitTorrent’s community
community

Because BitTorrent Inc provides no source for the data provided in this last slide we contacted the company last week to find out more. Unfortunately, we haven’t received a response thus far.

However, while writing this article we found that the numbers reported in the pitch deck trace back to one of our own articles. The data reported by BitTorrent Inc. comes from music industry group IFPI and details the buying habits of music pirates. BitTorrent Inc subsequently used these piracy statistics to sell its “community” to potential partners.

This is interesting for a variety of reasons. First, IFPI’s research doesn’t mention BitTorrent users, but file-sharing music pirates in general. Furthermore, since when does BitTorrent see “music pirates” as its community? Perhaps that’s the reason why the source for the data isn’t provided in the pitch deck (IFPI was mentioned as source in an earlier pitch deck).

That said, BitTorrent Inc is right to point out that file-sharers tend to be more engaged fans than the average person. Even the RIAA was willing to admit that.

It’s good to see that more and more artists, including many big names, are beginning to recognize this potential too. Even U2, whose former manager is one of the most vocal anti-piracy crusaders, has now decided to give away its latest album for free hoping that it will increase sales of older work. Without piracy, that would have never happened.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Refuses to Remove Links to Kate Upton’s “Fappening” Photos

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

uptonNearly two weeks have passed since hundreds of photos of naked celebrities leaked online. This “fappening” triggered a massive takedown operation targeting sites that host and link to the images, Google included.

A few days ago Google received a request to remove links to Kate Upton’s stolen photos The request was not sent by Upton but by her boyfriend Jason Verlander, who also appears in a few of the leaked images.

The notice includes hundreds of URLs of sites such as thefappening.eu where the photos are hosted without permission.

It’s quite unusual for Google’s takedown team to be confronted with a long link of naked celebrity pictures. This may explain why it took a while before a decision was reached on the copyright-infringing status of the URLs, a process that may involve a cumbersome manual review.

Yesterday the first batch was processed and interestingly enough Google decided to leave nearly half of all URLs untouched. The overview below shows that with 16 of the 444 links processed, only 45% were removed.

The big question is, of course, why?

Verlander’s takedown request

upton-google-fappening

Google doesn’t explain its decision keep the links in question in its search results. In some cases the original content had already been removed at the source site, so these URLs didn’t have to be removed.

Other rejections are more mysterious though. For example, the thefappening.eu URLs that remain online all pointed to stolen images when we checked. Most of these were not nudes, but they certainly weren’t posted with permission.

One possible explanation for Google’s inaction is that Verlander most likely claimed to own the copyright on the images, something he can only do with pictures he took himself. With Upton’s selfies this is hard to do, unless she signed away her rights.

While browsing through the reported URLs we also noticed another trend. Some sites have replaced Upton’s leaked photos with photos of other random naked women. Google’s takedown team apparently has a sharp eye because these were not removed by Google either.

Chilling Effects, who host Google’s takedown requests, just posted a redacted version of the original notice with Upton’s name removed. Unfortunately this doesn’t offer more clues to resolve this takedown mystery, so for now we can only guess why many of the links remain indexed.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police Shut Down MP3 Search Engine MP3Juices

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

mp3juicesOver the past few months City of London Police have been working together with copyright holders to topple sites that provide or link to pirated 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 “illegal” sites.

Most registrars have denied these suspension requests because they lack any legal basis, but some are cooperating. Yesterday another site fell victim to the police’s campaign after MP3Juices.com had its domain name suspended.

The MP3 search engine was relatively popular with well over a million visitors per month. For now, these visitors will have to find an alternative as the site currently displays a prominent police banner.

“You have tried to access a website that is under criminal investigation by the UK: Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) This site is being investigated for online copyright infringement,” the banner reads.

pipcu

The domain was suspended by domain name registrar Internet.bs, who previously suspended the domains of several other sites including Cricfree.tv. Interestingly, the latter was allowed to transfer its domain to another registrar after it threatened to take legal steps.

TorrentFreak asked PIPCU for a comment on the latest domain suspension but we have yet to hear back.

Increasingly, owners of alleged pirate sites are looking for safe registrars that won’t give in to complaints from authorities overseas. The Canadian registrar EasyDNS appears to be a safer choice, as the company protests PIPCU’s efforts fiercely.

PIPCU is not happy with these non-cooperative registrars and a few weeks ago the police sent EasyDNS a threatening letter, suggesting that the company itself could be held liable for aiding and abetting a criminal operation.

TorrentFreak spoke with a source who has been following the response of site owners to the recent domain perils, and he suggested that bypassing registrars altogether may become a new trend.

“Cutting out the registrar and going directly to the TLD’s registry is the best way. Through Iceland for example. ISNIC would only respond to a court order in Iceland, not threats from police,” we were told.

Iceland’s ISNIC would indeed be a safe option. The organization previously told us that it will not take any action without a court order, and later condemned PIPCU’s domain suspension requests.

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

TorrentFreak: Spotify: Aussie Music Piracy Down 20%

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

spotify-blackSince its launch Spotify always had a very clear goal in mind. Compete with piracy and make it obsolete.

To see how the company is faring on this front Spotify regularly researches piracy rates in countries where they enter the market. Thus far the results have been rather positive.

In 2012 the streaming service entered the Australian market and Spotify’s own research now shows that music piracy via BitTorrent dropped significantly during the following year.

In a keynote speech at the BIGSOUND music conference today, Spotify’s Director of Economics Will Page reveals that the volume of music piracy has decreased 20% between 2012 and 2013. Similarly, the number of people sharing music via BitTorrent in Australia has gone down too.

“It’s exciting to see that we are making inroads into reducing the music piracy problem within such a short space of time in this market,” Page says.

“It shows the scope for superior legal services (offered at an accessible price point) to help improve the climate for copyright online,” he adds.

While the overall volume is down not all pirates are giving up their habit. The research found that it’s mostly the casual file-sharers who stop sharing, while the hard-core pirates remain just as active as before.

Also worth noting is that interest in illegal music downloads pales in comparison to that of other media. The research found that the demand for TV-shows and movies is four times that of music.

Spotify suggests that it’s partly responsible for the drop in music piracy, but doesn’t say to what extent. It’s also not clear how the demand for and volume of other forms of piracy changed in the same time period.

Page sees the drop in music piracy as an encouraging sign, but notes that more has to be done. While Spotify’s Director of Economics doesn’t comment on specific anti-piracy proposals the Government has put forward, he does stress that both carrots and sticks are required to address the issue.

“Let’s be clear, Australia still faces a massive challenge in turning around its much talked about media piracy challenge, and it always has, and always will, take a combination of public policy and superior legal offerings,” page says.

“The downward trend in piracy volume and population suggests superior music legal services like Spotify are making a positive impact, and this has proven to be the case in Scandinavia, but it will take both carrots and sticks to turn the market around.”

The research seems to suggest that services like Spotify are reasonably good carrots, but what the sticks look like will have to become clear in the months to come.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Internet Provider Refuses to Expose Alleged Pirates

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

grande_communicationsThere are many ways copyright holders approach today’s “online piracy problem.”

Some prefer to do it through innovation, while others prefer educational messages, warnings or even lawsuits. Another group is aiming to generate revenue by obtaining lots of small cash settlements.

Rightscorp has chosen the latter model but unlike traditional copyright trolls it uses the DMCA to reach its goal. On behalf of copyright holders such as Warner Bros. they send DMCA notices with a settlement offer to ISPs, who then forward them to their customers.

Not all ISPs are cooperating with this scheme, but for this problem Rightscorp also found a solution. In recent months the company has requested more than 100 DMCA subpoenas, asking smaller ISPs to identify hundreds or thousands of alleged pirates.

These DMCA subpoenas bypass the judge and only have to be signed off by a court clerk. In other words, Rightscorp uses an uncommon shortcut to cheaply and quickly expose the alleged pirates, and nearly all of the ISPs happily complied.

The Texas ISP Grande Communications also received a signed subpoena in the mailbox, listing 30,000 IP-addresses/timestamp combinations of alleged pirates. However, Grande informed the court that it refuses to identify its account holders. Among other things, it argues that Rightscorp abuses the Court’s subpoena power.

“The Subpoena is part of an ongoing campaign by Rightscorp to harvest ‘settlements’ from Internet subscribers (who may or may not have been the users of their accounts at the times and dates in question) located across the nation through an abuse of the subpoena power of the federal courts in California,” Grande’s lawyer writes.

The Internet provider further notes that the anti-piracy company is only issuing these subpoenas to smaller regional ISPs as these are less likely to fight back.

“As can be seen from the PACER listing, Rightscorp has avoided sending subpoenas to any of the national ISPs (such as Verizon, AT&T, or Comcast), but instead has sent subpoenas to regional ISPs in various locations around the nation,” Grande writes.

“Presumably, Rightscorp is hoping that the regional ISPs, with smaller in-house legal departments, will be likely to simply comply with its subpoenas, especially given that those subpoenas bear the signature of the Clerk of the Court.”

Grande then goes on to state that jurisprudence has long-established that DMCA subpoenas can’t be used to identify file-sharers. Instead, Rightscorp should file a copyright infringement lawsuit as many other copyright holders have, so that a judge can properly review the evidence and arguments.

The ISP believes that Rightscorp is trying to bypass the scrutiny of a judge in order to avoid due process from taking place. This should not be allowed and Grande therefore asks the court to quash the subpoena.

“Rightscorp’s purpose in improperly issuing subpoenas under [the DMCA] is clear: to avoid judicial review of the litany of issues that would arise in seeking the requisite authorization from a court for the discovery of the sought-after information, including issues relating to joinder, personal jurisdiction, and venue.”

“In similar contexts and in no uncertain terms, the courts have stated that bypassing procedural rights of individual subscribers in order to harvest personal information en masse from a single proceeding will not be tolerated,” Grande adds.

When we covered Rightscorp’s use of DMCA subpoenas earlier this year, several legal experts indeed said that DMCA subpoenas are not allowed in file-sharing cases. This was decided in a case between Verizon and the RIAA more than a decade ago, and has been upheld in subsequent cases.

Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec disagreed, however, and he told TorrentFreak that the court made the wrong decision in the RIAA case. According to Sabec the verdict won’t hold up at the Supreme Court, so they’re ignoring it.

“The [RIAA vs. Verizon] Court case used flawed reasoning in concluding that an ISP such as Verizon is not a ‘Service Provider’ even though it clearly meets the definition laid out in the statute,” Sabec said.

“The issue has actually not been addressed by the vast majority of Circuit Courts. We believe that the decision you cite will be overturned when the issue reaches the Supreme Court,” he added.

Whether Rightscorp is indeed willing to fight this up to the Supreme Court has yet to be seen. For now, however, the alleged pirates are safe at Grande Communications.

It’s worth noting that Grande only has 140,000 customers. The 30,000 IP-address and timestamp combinations appear to include many duplicate entries, so the total number of affected subscribers is likely to be only a fraction of that number.

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

TorrentFreak: Police Ordered to Return Clones of Dotcom’s Seized Data

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

dotcom-laptopJanuary 2012, New Zealand Police carried out the largest ever action against individuals accused of copyright infringement.

The raid on Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion was requested by United States authorities who are now trying to extradite the Megaupload founder and several of his colleagues.

Despite protests from Dotcom about the legitimacy of the search warrants, the raid was found to be legal earlier this year. However, that doesn’t mean that all seized property can be kept from the New Zealand-based entrepreneur.

Today the New Zealand Court of Appeal ruled that clones of the seized electronic devices should be returned to Dotcom and his co-defendants “as soon as reasonably practicable.”

Last month the prosecution explained that the data hadn’t yet been handed over because some of it was encrypted, making it impossible for police to verify and investigate its contents.

In its ruling today, the Court of Appeal respects this hesitation but noted that all non-encrypted data should be returned. The rest can follow after the defendants give up their encryption passwords to two nominated police officers.

Previously the Court of Appeal ruled that police crossed a line when they shared cloned data with the United States. In a reference, today’s order prohibits the two police officers from revealing the encryption passwords with others.

“[...] in particular to any representative of the government of the United States of America,” the verdict reads.

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

TorrentFreak: Dutch Movie Industry Wants to Monitor and Warn Pirates

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

stop-blockedIn recent years the movie industry has been pushing hard for voluntary agreements aimed at targeting online piracy.

This has resulted in arrangements with Internet providers in several countries including the United States and the UK, where unauthorized file-sharers are monitored and warned.

The Dutch movie industry is now calling for a similar scheme. Traditionally the Netherlands has been one of the countries with the highest piracy rates, and without any sign of improvement the movie industry wants to take action.

“Consumers should be educated. They must understand that it’s not allowed,” says René van Turnhout, director of film distributor Dutch Filmworks and chairman of trade association NVPI Video.

The Dutch film industry is calling for a warning system modeled after the British VCAP initiative. This means that accused pirates are sent a series of warning letters, but without any punishments.

While an agreement with ISPs is still miles away Van Turnhout already has a suggestion for what the letters should look like. Aside from alerting pirates to their unauthorized behavior, the notice should include links to legal alternatives.

“We’ve found that you have tried to view films from illegal sources. Filmmakers also have to earn money to make a living. We refer you to the following legal alternatives,” is what the letter could read, according to Van Turnhout.

Just how popular movie piracy is in the Netherlands became apparent last week when Popcorn Time revealed that its application is installed on 1.3 million devices there, trailing only behind the United States but with a population of less than 17 million people.

Convincing Dutch ISPs to participate is going to be quite a challenge though. Traditionally they have been very cautious when it comes to anti-piracy measures. Earlier this year ISPs successfully appealed the local Pirate Bay blockade, which they deemed to be ineffective and in violation the their customers’ rights.

The Dutch proposal is in line with increased calls for warning systems around the globe. Among other countries, Australia is also looking into it. Last week local ISPs said there’s no evidence that these schemes are effective, but that they would be willing to consider one if the Government desires.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 09/08/14

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

howtotrainThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is the most downloaded movie.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (…) How To Train Your Dragon 2 8.3 / trailer
2 (1) Maleficent 7.4 / trailer
3 (…) A Million Ways To Die In The West 6.2 / trailer
4 (2) Godzilla (Webrip) 7.1 / trailer
5 (3) The Fault in Our Stars 8.3 / trailer
6 (9) X-Men: Days of Future Past (HDrip/TS) 8.4 / trailer
7 (…) Edge Of Tomorrow (Webrip) 8.1 / trailer
8 (6) Divergent 7.2 / trailer
9 (4) Neighbors 6.7 / trailer
10 (7) Captain America: The Winter Soldier 8.1 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Oh No! Web Sheriff Targets ‘Pirating’ Reddit Users

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

sheriff1The Web Sheriff, aka John Giacobbi, has been protecting the Internet from pirates for roughly a decade.

In the early days he became somewhat of a cult figure thanks to his polite style and trademarked letterhead. This set him apart from other anti-piracy crusaders who usually sent DMCA takedown requests with a more aggressive lawyer-like style.

The Sheriff once had a lively discussion with The Pirate Bay folks, who then sent him this invoice fax. Not much later relationships deteriorated even further after Giacobbi announced he would sue the site’s operators in the US, France and Sweden, but not much came of that.

In recent years things have quietened down a bit, but The Web Sheriff and his deputies are still active. In recent years they have taken down over half a million URLs from Google alone. Most recently, the Sheriff has been targeting several Reddit.com pages.

In one of the most recent complaints the Sheriff demands the takedown of a submission in the r/megalinks subreddit, linking to two parts of the movie Nymphomaniac hosted on Mega.co.nz.

reddit-websher

The request for removal was sent to Google last week but the search engine decided not to remove the URLs. It’s unclear why, but one reason for the inaction may be that the Mega links are no longer active.

Not all links reported by the Web Sheriff are “infringing” though. Another recent submission shows that he also tried to get this submission take down, which points to a perfectly legitimate news article from Variety.

redd2

This year copyright holders have increasingly targeted allegedly infringing Reddit links, Google’s data shows. The Web Sheriff is currently ranked second in number of URLs sent, placed after LeakID and before Disney.

Even the MPAA went after Reddit a few weeks ago. The Hollywood group tried to take down the subreddit r/fulllengthfilms, but failed and drove hundreds of thousands of eyeballs to the page instead.

Thus far the Web Sheriff hasn’t booked any real successs either, but Reddit users are warned. The Sheriff is watching and will shoot down your submissions whenever he can.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA and RIAA Teach Copyright in Elementary Schools, Now With Fair Use

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

pirateAlmost a year ago we questioned a new initiative from the Center for Copyright Information (CCI).

The group, which has the MPAA and RIAA as key members, had just started piloting a kindergarten through sixth grade curriculum on copyright in California schools.

The curriculum was drafted in collaboration with the California School Libraries Association and iKeepSafe, who aim to teach kids the basics of copyright. The lesson materials were rather one-sided, however, often ignoring fair use and the free-to-share copyright licences Creative Commons provides.

These concerns were later picked up by the mainstream press, creating a massive backlash. Responding to the critique the CCI and other partners were quick to state that it was just a pilot and that the final materials would probably be more balanced.

Glen Warren, vice president of the California School Library Association, acknowledged the problems and suggested that the early drafts were coming straight from the content industry.

“We’re moving along trying to get things a little closer to sanity. That tone and language, that came from that side of the fence, so to speak,” Warren commented.

This week, TorrentFreak spotted the final version of the curriculum and it’s clear that the public outcry for more nuance has paid off.

Instead of focusing on enforcement and the things people can’t do with copyrighted content, it now emphasizes that sharing can be a good thing. Creative Commons licenses are discussed in detail and every lesson plan also informs students about fair use.

For example, in the old second grade lesson plan the teacher was supposed to say the following sentence:

“You’re not old enough yet to be selling your pictures online, but pretty soon you will be. And you’ll appreciate if the rest of us respect your work by not copying it and doing whatever we want with it.”

While the above paragraph ignores the fact that some people are happy to share their photos with flexible Creative Commons licenses, it has been completely removed from the final version.

The sentence “we recognize that it’s hard work to produce something, and we want to get paid for our work” has been completely stripped from the lesson plan too. Instead students are reminded that “the projects they created are fun / informative / respectful, and so they may want to share them online.”

The sixth grade lesson material has also been thoroughly updated, as well as the accompanying video which doubled in length to explain fair use.

The changes become clear by comparing the old “purpose” and “key concepts” with the new one. Below is a copy of the old text, with no reference to fair use and Creative Commons licenses.

Old
grade6old

And here’s the new and improved version, with these two concepts included, and without the strong focus on consequences for “illegal use.”

New
grade6new

Another positive change is that instead of warning students against using copyrighted images and music from the Internet in Powerpoint presentations, they are now told that this is totally fine, as long as the material is only shown in class.

Similar changes have been made throughout the entire curriculum, which is now much more balanced than the rather strict and biased view that was presented before.

There’s still one question that lingers in the back of our mind though. Would the curriculum have been as balanced as it is right now if we hadn’t pointed out the problems in the first place?

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

TorrentFreak: Touche: Deadmau5 Accuses Disney of Pirating His Music

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

mouseDJ Deadmau5 is known all over the world for wearing an oversized headpiece with mouse ears during his live performances.

The ears have become a trademark for the DJ, whose real name is Joel Zimmerman, and in April he wanted to formalize this through an official trademark application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The logo is already trademarked in dozens of countries, and the U.S. seemed a logical next step.

Disney clearly disagreed and this week the company filed a 171-page opposition to the trademark application, claiming it would hurt the company’s business.

Deadmau5 wasn’t impressed by Disney’s efforts and took his anger to Twitter. The DJ noted that he wouldn’t give in to “a money hungry corporation over some bulls–t,” and questioned their motives.

“Disney thinks you might confuse an established electronic musician / performer with a cartoon mouse. That’s how stupid they think you are,” he wrote on Twitter.

The mouse fight was on and a few hours ago Deadmau5 retaliated with a rather surprising counter attack. As it turns out, Disney is hosting a Deadmau5 video on their website, without permission.

Responding to this blatant act of piracy the DJ instructed his legal team to go after the media empire. They sent a cease and desist letter to Disney which Deadmau5 forwarded to the company on Twitter, with a personal note.

The letter explains that Disney is using Deadmau5′s work without permission and demands an immediate halt to this infringing behavior.

“The exclusive rights owned by Zimmerman in the Master are being infringed on the Disney website as of September 4, 2014. Specifically, these rights are being infringed via materials being made available at the following URL.”

Deadmau5 on Disney’s site
deaddisney

In addition to copyright infringement, the letter also states that Disney is using Deadmau5′s trademarks without authorization. The lawyers urge the company to stop this unauthorized exploitation of the DJ’s name and likeness as well.

“Disney prominently features the deadmau5 Mark next to the Infringing Video. implying a non-existent endorsement by Zimmerman,” the letter reads.

“Again. we are unaware of any license allowing you the right to reproduce, distribute or otherwise exploit the deadmau5 Mark or to exploit Zimmerman’s name and likeness in connection with same.”

At the time of writing Disney hasn’t complied with the request, but it seems that they have no other option than to comply. Whether it will change anything in their stance towards the DJ’s mouse ear trademark application is doubtful though.

Image credit

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Government Wants Kim Dotcom’s Cash and Cars

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

megauploadActing on a lead from the entertainment industry, the U.S. Government shut down Megaupload early 2012.

Since then the case hasn’t progressed much. Kim Dotcom’s extradition hearing has been delayed until 2015 and most of the recent court proceedings dealt with how the seized assets should be handled.

Dotcom tried to regain his possessions but this effort failed last month. Meanwhile, both the MPAA and RIAA have protected their claims on the Megaupload millions, and now the U.S. Government has joined in as well.

In a complaint submitted at a federal court in Virginia the Department of Justice asks for a forfeiture of the bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions, claiming they were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes.

The filing starts with a brief summary of the indictment that was brought against Dotcom and his colleagues. According to the Government, Megaupload was a criminal organization set up to profit from copyright infringement.

“The members of the Mega Conspiracy described themselves as ‘modern day pirates’ and virtually every aspect of the Mega Sites was carefully designed to encourage and facilitate wide-scale copyright infringement,” the U.S. attorney writes.

The Government wants the seized properties to be handed over to the authorities, and claims it’s permitted under U.S. law. This includes the bank account that was used by Megaupload for PayPal payouts.

The account, described as “DSB 0320,” had a balance of roughly $4.7 million (36 million Hong Kong Dollars) at the time of the seizure, but processed more than $160 million over the years.

“Records indicate that from August 2007 through January 2012 there were 1,403 deposits into the DBS 0320 account totaling HKD 1,260,508,432.01 from a PayPal account. These funds represent proceeds of crime and property involved in money laundering as more fully set out herein,” the complaint reads.

One of Megaupload’s bank accounts
bankkd

More than a dozen bank accounts are listed in total including some of the property they were used for to buy.

The list of assets further includes several luxury cars, such as a 2011 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG with a “Wow” license plate, TVs including a 108″ Sharp LCD TV and artwork in the form of Olaf Mueller photographs.

The Government claims that the possessions can be forfeited since they were obtained through criminal copyright infringement and money laundering, but Megaupload’s lawyer Ira Rothken disagrees.

“Kim Dotcom and Megaupload will vigorously oppose the US Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture action,” Rothken tells TF.

“The DOJ’s efforts to use lopsided procedures over substance to destroy a cloud storage company is both offensive to the rights of Megaupload and to the rights of millions of consumers worldwide who stored personal data with the service,” he adds.

According to Rothken the U.S. ignores several crucial issues, including the Sony Doctrine and the fact that criminal secondary copyright infringement no longer exists.

“The DOJ’s forfeiture complaint ignores the US Supreme Court’s protection called the Sony Doctrine provided to dual use technologies like cloud storage, ignores substantial non infringing uses of such cloud storage including by DOJ users themselves, and ignores the fact that Congress removed criminal secondary copyright infringement from the copyright statute in 1976,” Rothken says.

Which side the District Court judge will agree with has yet to be seen, but with so many parties claiming their cut of the Megaupload assets it’s certainly not getting easier for Dotcom to reclaim his property.

To be continued.

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

TorrentFreak: Record Labels Take Down Kim Dotcom’s Official Album… From Mega

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

goodtimesMega, the cloud hosting service founded by Kim Dotcom, has been growing steadily since its spectacular launch last year.

Considering the controversial reputation of its predecessor Megaupload, copyright holders have been keeping a close eye on the site. Thus far, however, the number of takedown requests received by the company has been relatively small.

Perhaps not completely unexpectedly, among the takedown requests that do come in are many that wrongfully request the takedown of perfectly legitimate files. This was illustrated earlier this week when Kim Dotcom’s official album Good Times was removed following a complaint.

The album was released by Dotcom earlier this year and he has been sharing it via his website ever since. The link in question points to Mega where people can download it for free, but a few days ago it suddenly disappeared.

megadown

To find out why the album was removed we contacted Mega for an explanation. The company informed us that music industry group IFPI requested the removal of Dotcom’s album through a takedown request sent on September 1.

Representing the major record labels, IFPI claimed that the link infringed on the copyrights of one of their artists. IFPI listed several musicians but Kim Dotcom was not one of them.

“It’s clearly an incorrect takedown request,” Mega’s Chief Compliance Officer Stephan Hall tells us.

ifpitakedown

TorrentFreak also contacted Kim Dotcom, who asked Mega to reinstate the album, which they did. All in all the album was unavailable for about a day.

While a mistake is easily made, this is not the first time that IFPI has tried to remove Dotcom’s album from Mega. A similar request was sent on August 18, this time claiming that it was a copyright infringement of Kimbra’s “The Golden Echo.”

IFPI’s actions have been sloppy, to say the least, and Mega’s Chief Compliance Officer has little faith in the accuracy of the music group’s other takedown requests.

“This is an indication that someone at the IFPI is not doing their homework and that their takedown notices in general cannot be trusted,” Hall tells TorrentFreak.

Unfortunately these kind of mistakes are not an isolated incident. For example, before Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload was shutdown early 2012 the site received many erroneous takedown notices.

“During the Megaupload days over 20% of all takedown notices were bogus,” Dotcom told us previously.

“We analyzed big samples of notices and most were automated keyword based takedowns that affected a lot of legitimate files. The abuse of the takedown system is so severe that no service provider can rely on takedown notices for a fair repeat infringer policy.”

A policy to punish copyright holders who make repeated mistakes, on the other hand, might be worth considering.

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