Author Archive

TorrentFreak: Online Store Can Sell ‘Used’ Ebooks, Court Rules

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

tomskabinetPeople who buy an MP3, digital movie or an eBook assume that they have the right to do whatever they want with it, but copyright holders see things differently.

Platforms that allow people to resell digital goods are meeting fierce resistance from the entertainment industries, who view them as a threat to their online business models.

For example, the major record labels previously pointed out that MP3s are simply too good to resell, as they don’t deteriorate in quality. Similarly, movie studios complained that the ability to sell “used” videos would kill innovation.

The book industry is also concerned and in an attempt to counter this threat several publishers launched a lawsuit against Tom Kabinet, an online marketplace for used eBooks based in the Netherlands.

The publishers fear that the site will negatively impact their business, and that it can’t prevent people from reselling pirated copies. The companies asked the Amsterdam Court for a preliminary injunction against Tom Kabinet, but the request was denied this week.

The Amsterdam Court concluded that selling used eBooks is a legal grey area and not by definition illegal in Europe.

Previously the EU Court of Justice previously ruled that consumers are free to resell games and software, even when there’s no physical copy. That case applied to licensed content, which is different from the Tom Kabinet case, so further investigation is needed to arrive at a final verdict.

The court therefore dismissed the publishers’ claims and ordered them to pay €23.469,56 in legal fees. Tom Kabinet, meanwhile, is still allowed to facilitate the sale of used eBooks.

It’s clear that the publishers didn’t get the result they hoped for. In fact, things have gotten worse, as Tom Kabinet’s visitor numbers have exploded. Shortly after the verdict was announced the site went offline because it couldn’t handle the surge in traffic.

These connectivity issues have been fixed now, and the site’s owner is happy with the outcome thus far.

“There is still a long way to go before legislation is clear on eBooks, but we’ve made a pretty good start,” Tom Kabinet informed TorrentFreak.

The publishers on the other hand are considering further steps, and it’s likely that the case will head to a full trial in the future.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Launches Mobile Site, Teases More Expansions

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

pirate bayOne of The Pirate Bay’s strengths has been its resilience. No matter how hard the movie and music industries try, the site remains operational.

Over the years the Pirate Bay site has undergone many changes to make it harder to shut down. The tracker was put into retirement, torrents were traded in for magnet links, and the site moved its servers to the cloud.

What remained the same, however, was the site’s general appearance and its lack of support for mobile devices. That changes today.

The Pirate Bay has just debuted a new site for mobile devices. The Mobile Bay offers a much more usable interface to browse the torrent site on mobile devices.

Previously mobile users were simply presented with a smaller version of the regular Pirate Bay site, which was coded long before smartphones and tablets became popular. With banners on both sides it was rather hard to navigate on smaller devices.

The mobile version doesn’t change the overall appearance much, but it’s definitely more readable and easier to navigate.

The new vs. old mobile look
tpb-mob-oldnew

Users on mobile devices are now redirected to the new Mobile Bay domain, which will exist next to the regular site. People have the option to continue using the old layout if they prefer, but The Pirate Bay team doesn’t see any reason why people would.

“The normal version of the site renders like crap on mobile devices,” the TPB team told us.

The Mobile Bay is one of the largest visible updates to the site in years, but according to The Pirate Bay it’s only the beginning. Behind the scenes the TPB team is working on a series of new niche sites that will provide extra features and make it easier to find content.

The TV, movie and music sections on The Pirate Bay will each get their own dedicated sites. The TV site, for example, will allow users to see a complete overview of all episodes per show, download season packs, and more.

Another new project in the pipeline is the RSSbay which will support personalized RSS feeds enabling people to launch torrents remotely.

“We will add more features later on, such as personal RSS feeds so users can browse torrents at work or school, and start the downloads at home,” the TPB team tells us.

Aside from improving the user experience, the other advantage of these separate domain names is that TPB can’t be taken out as easily.

“We’re trying to separate the site into different domain names to make it more resilient. In the event one domain get taken down, there will be plenty others left,” the TPB team says.

As always with the Pirate Bay, it will be hard to predict how long it will take before these new sites will see the light of day, but the mobile edition is live now.

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

TorrentFreak: Director Wants His Film on The Pirate Bay, Pirates Deliver…

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

suzyDutch movie director Martin Koolhoven sent out an unusual request on Twitter a few days ago.

While many filmmakers fear The Pirate Bay, Koolhoven asked his followers to upload a copy of his 1999 film “Suzy Q” to the site.

“Can someone just upload Suzy Q to The Pirate Bay?” Koolhoven asked.

The director doesn’t own all copyrights to the movie himself, but grew frustrated by the fact that his film is not available through legal channels.

The TV-film, which also features the film debut of Game of Thrones actress Carice Van Houten, was paid for with public money but after the music rights expired nobody was able to see it anymore.

The main problem is with the film’s music, which includes tracks from popular artists such as The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. This prevented the film from being released in movie theaters and on DVD, and the TV-network also chose not to extend the licenses for the TV rights.

Since the music was no longer licensed it couldn’t be shown anymore, not even on the websites of the public broadcasters.

“To me, it felt like the movie had died,” Koolhoven tells TorrentFreak.

Hoping to bring it back to life, Koolhoven tweeted his upload request, and it didn’t take long before the pirates delivered. Within a few hours the first copy of the film was uploaded, and several more were added in the days that followed.

“I had no idea the media would pick it up the way they did. That generated more media attention. At first I hesitated because I didn’t want to become the poster boy for the download-movement. All I wanted was for people to be able to see my film,” Koolhoven says.

Unfortunately the first upload of the movie that appeared on The Pirate Bay was in very bad quality. So the director decided to go all the way and upload a better version to YouTube himself.

“I figured it would probably be thrown off after a few days, due to the music rights issue, but at least people could see a half decent version instead of watching the horrible copy that was available on The Pirate Bay,” Koolhoven tells us.

Interestingly, YouTube didn’t remove the film but asked the director whether he had the right to use the songs. Since this is not the case the money made through the advertisements on YouTube will go to the proper rightsholders.

“We’re a few days later now and the movie is still on YouTube. And people have started to put higher quality torrents of Suzy Q on Pirate Bay. Even 720p can be found, I’ve heard,” Koolhoven notes.

While the director is not the exclusive rightsholder, he does see himself as the moral owner of the title. Also, he isn’t shying away from encouraging others to download and share the film.

In essence, he believes that all movies should be available online, as long as it’s commercially viable. It shouldn’t hurt movie theater attendance either, as that remains the main source of income for most films and the best viewing experience.

“I know not everybody cares about that, but I do. The cinema is the best place to see movies. If you haven’t seen ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ on the big screen, you just haven’t seen it,” Koolhoven says.

In the case of Suzy Q, however, people are free to grab a pirated copy.

“Everyone can go to The Pirate Bay and grab a copy. People are actually not supposed to, but they have my permission to download Susy Q,” Koolhoven said in an interview with Geenstijl.

“If other people download the movie and help with seeding then the download time will be even more reasonable,” Koolhoven adds.

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

TorrentFreak: Vuze Releases Leap, a Simple and Lightweight Torrent Client

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

Vuze_bw_logoVuze is one of the most recognized BitTorrent brands. Their client is used by millions of people each day and has a steadily growing user-base.

In recent years Vuze’s core BitTorrent client has evolved into an advanced download solution with every complex feature heavy BitTorrent users could wish for.

The downside of being so complete is that the application can be quite overwhelming to newcomers. In addition the application is somewhat of a resource hog. The Vuze team has taken these complaints to heart and coded “Vuze Leap,” a brand new client that is both simple and lightweight.

“We sought to deliver a simpler experience as a counterpart to the powerful, full-featured core Vuze BitTorrent Client that has pleased millions of users for years. Even with file-sharing being a part of internet usage for years, we continued to hear, from some users a desire to have a simpler experience that was less resource intensive,” Vuze’s Claude Tolbert tells TorrentFreak.

Today the first Vuze Leap beta is unveiled to the public. The torrent client works out of the box. Users are presented with a big search box which they can use to search for torrents without having to leave the application.

leap_beta_home_screen-s

When a search term is entered, Vuze Leap will automatically search for matching content on Google, the Internet Archive and elsewhere. This can then be downloaded with a single click.

After a download is completed users can play media files directly from the client, or navigate to the download folder as they would do with other torrent clients. Vuze Leap automatically categorizes files into various categories to keep the library organized.

leap_beta_find_screen-s

Vuze’s new BitTorrent client is best suited to less tech-savvy users who don’t necessarily need all the advanced features the core Vuze client has to offer. Through its simpler interface Vuze Leap should make BitTorrent more accessible to people who are new to torrents.

“We believe that Vuze Leap extends usability to users who may be new to filesharing or don’t require the power and functionality that the core Vuze BitTorrent Client provides. However, both provide an outstanding experience to users,” Tolbert says.

TorrentFreak tested the application and it works as advertised. It certainly feels much lighter and faster than the core Vuze client. The built-in search is handy as well, although users may have to scroll down to get the best search results, which often come from Google.

The application is currently only available for Windows but support for other operating systems is expected to follow in the future.

Those who are interested in taking Vuze Leap for a spin can download the latest beta release after signing up for the beta test. The download link comes with the confirmation email.

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

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Wants to Freeze MPAA and RIAA Lawsuits Until 2015

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

megauploadWell over two years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, but there is still little progress in the criminal proceedings against its founders.

The United States want New Zealand to extradite Kim Dotcom and his colleagues but this process has been delayed several times already. Earlier this month the extradition hearing was postponed again until February next year.

In addition to the U.S. Government, Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were also sued by the major record labels and Hollywood’s top movie studios a few months ago.

Fearing that these cases might influence the criminal case, Megaupload’s legal team successfully obtained a freeze on them until this summer, when the extradition hearing was originally scheduled for. Now that this has been delayed until next year, Megaupload wants to place the MPAA and RIAA cases on hold until April 2015.

In a new motion for a stay, the lawyers ask the court to freeze both civil cases because the accused may otherwise be forced to implicate themselves, which would violate their rights.

“The individual Defendants still face extradition, and therefore still have an interest in preserving the Fifth Amendment rights that arise from the prosecution of the Criminal Action,” the motion reads.

There’s also a more practical concern. Since the U.S. Government refuses to provide access to the raided servers, it may be difficult to access evidence that’s crucial to build a proper defense.

“Relevant evidence that is electronically stored on servers, which would be needed to defend the civil cases, is not reasonably accessible. As a result of the Criminal Action, the Megaupload cloud-storage servers have been taken offline and are housed in a locked third-party warehouse in Virginia,” Megaupload’s lawyers write.

“The Department of Justice has opposed Megaupload’s efforts to gain access to those servers and data. Standard civil e-discovery protocols would typically include accessing and “mirroring” the original servers so that the resultant copies may used to analyze the data contained therein. At present, that cannot be done,” they add.

If the court grants the request then it will take another year before there’s any progress in the civil cases against Megaupload. The movie and music studios didn’t object to the previous freezing request, but they may be running out of patience soon.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Targets ‘Pirate’ Searches to Promote Legal Content

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

googlepirateadOver the past few years the entertainment industries have repeatedly asked Google to step up its anti-piracy efforts.

One of the most often heard complaints is that pirated content sometimes ranks better than legal alternatives. Copyright holders want Google to remedy this situation by promoting legal content through higher placement in search results.

“Search engines should address the distortive search practices that result in listings and rankings that favor substantially infringing sites,” the MPAA complained earlier.

While it seemed that Google had rejected the boosting of legal offerings in results, it appears that the company is now taking measures to address copyright holder concerns.

Google has quietly rolled out an update that places banner ads for Google Play and other content platforms above the regular search results if people search for piracy related terms. The banners in question show up on searches for a title of a movie or TV-show in combination with keywords such as “torrent,” “BitTorrent,” or “DVDrip.”

As shown below, the first organic result is still a “pirate” site, but the legal options are now clearly visible through the inserted banner.

“Breaking Bad Torrent”
breakingtorrent

Initially these new ads were displayed in most of the US and UK. The availability was limited after TorrentFreak reached out to Google before the weekend, but they are still visible to us from a California IP-address.

It’s unknown how Google picks the keywords but the banner is also shown when searching for the video format “avi” and even “putlocker,” a popular file-hosting service.

The ads do not appear when searching for the movie or TV-show titles alone. They are specifically triggered by the extra ‘piracy’ keyword. For example, the banner shows up when searching for “Noah DVDrip” but not for “Noah DVD,” “Noah rent“, “Noah buy” or Noah paired with a random word.

Noah DVDrip
noahdvdrip1

In addition to piracy related keywords the ads also appear for more generic searches where pirate sites traditionally rank very high. These include words such as “download,” “watch,” “online” and “view” which often have unauthorized sites in the top results.

The “Noah watch” search below is a good example where a banner is placed above the first result, which in this case links to infringing material.

Noah Watch
noahwatch

TorrentFreak contacted Google but the company couldn’t say why the ads are displayed for these piracy related keywords. A spokesman did confirm that the ads appear for “various searches” and that they are the same format as the Knowledge Graph ads that were rolled out late last year.

“These ads will appear after various searches that include specific movie, TV, and music titles,” a Google spokesman told us.

Since the availability of the banners was limited overnight the company may still be experimenting with the setup. Unfortunately, Google couldn’t comment further on our findings.

Promoting legal content through ads would make sense for Google, as that would satisfy some of the copyright holders’ demands without changing the actual search results. On top of that, it can be quite useful to users as well.

Whether the banners will be able to steer people away from pirate sites has yet to be seen though.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/21/14

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

Need-for-SpeedThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Need For Speed is the most downloaded movie this week.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (3) Need For Speed 7.1 / trailer
2 (5) The Other Woman 6.5 / trailer
3 (1) Transcendence 6.4 / trailer
4 (2) Noah 6.3 / trailer
5 (…) Transformers: Age of Extinction (HDTS) 6.3 / trailer
6 (…) Brick Mansions 5.9 / trailer
7 (4) Sabotage 6.0 / trailer
8 (…) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Webrip) 7.4 / trailer
9 (7) Rio 2 6.7 / trailer
10 (10) X-Men: Days of Future Past (HDCAM) 8.5 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: UK ISPs and Copyright Holders Praise New Piracy Warning System

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

pirate-cardIn an effort to curb online piracy, earlier this year the movie and music industries reached agreement with the UK’s leading ISPs to send warnings to alleged copyright infringers.

As we previously revealed, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) will only apply to P2P file-sharing and will mainly focus on repeat infringers.

The monitoring will be carried out by a third-party company and unlike other warning systems there won’t be any punishments. The main purpose of the warnings is to alert and educate copyright infringers, in the hope they will move over to legal alternatives.

The program was officially announced today and received support from all parties involved, including the UK Government which is financially backing the measures. Without exception they all praise the warning system and the accompanying educational campaign.

“It is fantastic that the UK creative community and ISPs have come together in partnership to address online copyright infringement and raise awareness about the multitude of legitimate online services available to consumers. We are also grateful to the UK Government for backing this important new initiative,” the MPA’s Chris Marcich comments.

Thus far BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have agreed to send warnings to customers whose connections are being used for unauthorized file-sharing. Commenting on the collaboration, all four ISPs praised the educational nature of the VCAP program.

“BT is committed to supporting the creative industries by helping to tackle the problem of online piracy while ensuring the best possible experience for its customers. That’s why we’ve worked very hard with rights-holders and other leading ISPs to develop a voluntary programme based on consumer education and awareness which promotes the use of legal online content.” BT Consumer CEO John Petter says.

Lyssa McGowan, Director of Sky Broadband, is equally delighted by the anti-piracy agreement.

“As both a content creator and ISP, we understand how vital it is to tackle online copyright infringement in order to protect future investment in content. As a result, we’re pleased [...] to help make consumers aware of illegal downloading and point them towards the wide range of legitimate sites where they can enjoy great content,” she notes.

The comments from the other ISPs, copyright holder groups, and the Government, are all variations on the same theme. The parties praise the new awareness campaign and note that the main goal is to convert consumers to legal alternatives through education.

The question that remains, however, is how genuine all this positivity really is.

While the scheme is being overwhelmed with praise, the parties also announced that the first warning emails will not be sent out before next summer, possibly even later. These delays are a thorn in the side of both copyright holders and the Government, suggesting that negotiations behind the scenes are less uplifting.

This also shows in earlier comments from the Prime Minister’s IP advisor Mike Weatherly who said that it’s already time to think about VCAP’s potential failure. He suggested that the program needs to be followed by something more enforceable, including disconnections, fines and jail sentences.

More background and details on the planned piracy warning are available in our previous VCAP overview article.

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

TorrentFreak: Dotcom’s MEGA Blocked in Italy Over Piracy Concerns

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

mega Italian authorities and the local entertainment industry are continuing their war on piracy with yet another round of broad website blockades.

This week Court of Rome Judge Constantino De Robbio ordered all local Internet providers to restrict access to 24 websites including Kim Dotcom’s Mega.co.nz. The list further includes several other cloud storage sites such as Firedrive (formerly known as Putlocker) and even Russia’s largest email provider Mail.ru.

The broad anti-piracy measures were requested by a small independent Italian movie distributor Eyemoon Pictures. The company complained that the sites in question distributed two films, “The Congress” and “Fruitvale Station,” before they were released in Italian cinemas.

It appears that the injunction was issued without a very careful investigation of the true nature of the sites. Kim Dotcom’s Mega.co.nz is known to be very responsive to takedown notices, and the targeting of Russia’s largest email providers is even more baffling.

In a comment Mega CEO Stephen Hall tells TorrentFreak that Mega views the blockade as disproportionate and illegal. The company operates an EU and DMCA compliant takedown process which allows copyright holder to remove infringing files swiftly.

“We believe that the blockade adopted by the Italian Prosecutor is illegal. The blocking order was placed on the basis of a complaint by a small distributor for two films and the effect of the total block is obviously disproportionate,” Hall says.

Hall further points out that the measures are easily circumvented by using Google DNS or any other non-ISP DNS provider. However, the company hopes that it can have the blockade reversed via soon-to-be-filed appeal.

“Mega is taking steps to ensure that our Italian customers regain access to their files without first having to fiddle with their nameserver settings by filing an appeal next week,” Hall adds.

TorrentFreak contacted Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer specialized in Internet and copyright disputes, who told us that the scope of the preliminary injunction is rather broad.

“This is the second-largest website blocking order in Italy, but certainly the most important one considering the names involved,” Sarzana says.

The lawyer is opposed to the measures and welcomes site owners who want to appeal the blockades.

“I see website blocking through DNS and IP-address as a form of censorship. The block can not distinguish between licit and illicit files. It’s like using a bomb broad-spectrum to hit only one person, the collateral damage is very obvious,” Sarzana notes.

The sites affected in today’s actions have an option to appeal the Court’s decision, which has been done before with success.

Earlier this year Rome’s Court of Appeals recalled a blocking order against the video streaming site Filmakerz.org, arguing that it was too broad. In its order the Court specified that partial blocking of a specific URL is preferred over site-wide bans, and that copyright-infringing sites must have a for-profit angle.

The full list of blocked domain names is as follows:

cineblog01.net, cineblog01.tv, ddlstorage.com, divxstage.eu, easybytez.com, filminstreaming.eu, filmstream.info, firedrive.com, mail.ru, mega.co.nz, movshare.sx, nowdownload.ag, nowdownload.sx, nowvideo.sx, piratestreaming.net, primeshare.tv, putlocker.com, rapidvideo.tv, sockshare.com, uploadable.ch, uploadinc.com, video.tt , videopremium.me and youwatch.org

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Firm Wants to Fine Aussie and Canadian File-Sharers

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

pirate-runningFor more than a decade copyright holders have been monitoring pirated downloads of their work on various file-sharing networks.

Traditionally these efforts have focused on the United States where ISPs are required to forward takedown notices to their account holders.

A recent trend has seen these notices become more than mere warnings. Companies such as CEG TEK and Rightscorp also tag on settlement requests, hoping to recoup some of the damages allegedly caused by file-sharers.

Since these requests are sent as DMCA notices, copyright holders do not have to involve the courts. Nonetheless, the ‘fines’ can be as high as several hundred dollars per shared file. Thus far these “automated fines” have been limited to the United States, but soon they will expand to Japan, with Australia and Canada next on the list.

TorrentFreak spoke with CEG TEK’s Kyle Reed who confirmed that they will soon start their piracy monetization service in Japan. At the same time the company will run various tests to see how Aussie and Canadian Internet providers respond to their notices.

“Increased coverage for our monetization clients in additional countries has always been top of mind. We have a base of international clients, some of which call these countries home,” Reed tells TorrentFreak

“Canada and Australia are both hot topics with rights owners and the market conditions afford us the opportunity to initiate ISP compliance testing,” Reed adds.

If the notice forwarding goes well with the ISPs, and there are decent response rates, the company will also begin sending out settlement requests in Australia and Canada.

Internet providers have to be tested in advance, because the settlement scheme fails if ISPs ignore or modify the notices. For example, in the U.S. many of the larger ISPs forward the notice without the actual settlement offer.

CEG TEK is not the only piracy monetization service to consider international expansion. Previously Rightscorp announced that it was interested in offering its services in Canada.

Whether Internet providers in Australia and Canada are willing to cooperate has yet to be seen. In Canada there is currently no legal obligation for ISPs to cooperate, although this will change soon. Australia has a notice and takedown policy but this doesn’t require ISPs to forward the settlement requests.

According to CEG TEK their settlement services are superior to traditional anti-piracy warnings since they stop more unauthorized transfers while making money in the process.

“In the United States and around the world, traditional peer-to-peer anti-piracy methods have proved to be largely ineffective. We have the only peer-to-peer solution shown to decrease infringements and repeat offenders, as well as return monetary settlements to rightful copyright owners,” Reed says.

The irony is of course that these companies will render themselves obsolete if they become too effective, but for now there are still plenty of pirates around.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Traffic Doubles Despite ISP Blockades

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

tpb-logoThe Pirate Bay is without doubt one of the most censored websites on the Internet.

Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site and this list continues to expand.

Denmark was one of the first countries to block The Pirate Bay, but the biggest impact came in 2012 when major ISPs in the UK and the Netherlands were ordered to deny their users access to the site.

The entertainment industries have characterized these blockades as a major victory and claim they’re an efficient tool to deter piracy. The question that has thus far remained unanswered, however, is how Pirate Bay’s traffic numbers are being affected. Is the site on the verge of collapsing?

As it turns out, The Pirate Bay hasn’t stopped growing at all. On the contrary, The Pirate Bay informs TorrentFreak that visitor numbers have doubled since 2011.

The graph below shows the growth in unique visitors and pageviews over the past three years. The Pirate Bay chose not to share actual visitor numbers, but monthly pageviews are believed to run into the hundreds of millions.

Pirate Bay traffic
tpbblockedtraffic

These numbers reveal that the torrent site is still doing quite well, but that doesn’t mean that the blockades are not working. After all, the additional traffic could simply come from other countries.

A better indication for the effectiveness of the blockades are the number of visitors that access the site through proxies. The Pirate Bay told TorrentFreak that roughly 9% of all visitors use proxies. This percentage doesn’t include sites that cache pages.

In other words, a significant percentage of users who don’t have direct access to the site are bypassing court-ordered blockades though proxies.

Interestingly, the United States is by far the biggest traffic source for the notorious torrent site. This is somewhat ironic, as American record labels and movie studios are the driving force behind the blockades in other countries.

All in all it is safe to conclude that censorship is not the silver bullet to stop The Pirate Bay. While it certainly has some impact, there are still millions of people who simply route around the blockades and continue downloading as usual.

Photo

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

TorrentFreak: Solarmovie Domain Gets Stolen by Mysterious Hacker

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

solarmovieWith millions of visitors per week Solarmovie is a thorn in the side of the major movie studios. The site indexes links to pirated copies of movies and TV-shows, which can be streamed directly through third party sites.

Apart from the ISP blockade in the UK, Solarmovie hasn’t run into any significant trouble. However, that changed yesterday when the site’s owner found out that someone had stolen the Solarmovie.tl domain name.

An unknown ‘hacker’ gained access to the name.com registrar where the domain was held and quickly transferred it to another registrar. How this could have happened is a mystery to Solarmovie admin Chris, who notes that they used a secure password.

“We have no idea how the registrar was accessed. The account had a 10 character long randomly generated password,” Chris informs TorrentFreak.

“I wonder why the name.com registrar didn’t send a confirmation link to the account’s primary email when it was changed. Registrars shouldn’t allow changes to login details in such an easy way without triple checking against swindlers,” he adds.

The Solarmovie.tl domain was transferred to EuroDNS and the registrant name changed to Gabriel Vasilica of HAVARD THABO LLP. The stolen domain now redirects to Solarmovie.ag, which initially displayed a “coming soon” landing page, but is now hosting a copy of the Solarmovie website.

The ‘fake’ Solarmovie has put up a notification informing visitors that the .AG domain is the site’s new home.

The “fake” Solarmovie.ag
solarhijack

The ‘real’ Solarmovie, meanwhile, has reverted back to its old Solarmovie.so domain where it remains accessible as usual. They hope that the registrar can help them get the old domain back. Time will tell whether that’s possible.

“Currently we are talking to our registrar about possible measures we can take to have the domain returned. As for now, we revert back to solarmovie.so domain,” Chris says.

While it’s unclear who’s behind the domain hijack there are several signs that it’s the same person who stole the 1Channel.ch domain, which later became Vodly.to. For example, both vodly.to and solarmovie.ag use the same IDs for the Newrelic stats service.

Whoever’s behind the stolen domains and however they pulled it off, other streaming sites should be warned.

Update: Solarmovie’s Twitter account was hijacked briefly as well, but has been restored an hour ago.

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

TorrentFreak: Chrome Blocks uTorrent as Malicious and Harmful Software

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

maliciousutorrWith millions of new downloads per month uTorrent is without a doubt the most used BitTorrent client around.

However, since this weekend the number of installs must have dropped quite a bit after Google Chrome began warning users away from the software. According to Chrome the BitTorrent client poses a serious risk.

“uTorrent.exe is malicious and Chrome has blocked it,” the browser informs those who attempt to download the latest stable release.

Chrome does give users the option to restore the file but not without another warning. The browser is convinced that the file is harmful and suggests that the uTorrent website may have been hacked.

“This file will harm your computer. Even if you have downloaded files from this website before, the website may have been hacked. Instead of recovering this file you can retry the download later.”

Blocked
malic-blocked

The first reports of Chrome’s block came in three days ago and at the time of writing the problems persist. The warnings appear for the latest stable release (3.4.2.32354) and no other releases appear to be affected.

Currently there is no indication why the software has been flagged, but a scan by more than 50 of the most popular anti-virus services reveals no active threats.

Google’s safe browsing diagnostic page claims that the uTorrent website was involved in malware distribution in recent months, but no further details on the nature of the supposed malware are provided.

“This site has hosted malicious software over the past 90 days. It infected 4 domain(s), including kioskea.net/, ziggi.uol.com.br/, majorgeeks.com/,” the diagnostics page reads.

This isn’t the first time that uTorrent has reported problems with Chrome. The same happened late last year when the malware blocking feature was still in beta. At the time uTorrent parent company BitTorrent Inc. managed to resolve the issues after several days.

Thus far, none of the developers have responded to user complaints in the uTorrent forums.

Update We discovered that uTorrent occasionally serves other versions as well, these are not blocked. The vast majority of the downloads are still blocked though.

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

TorrentFreak: File-Sharing Doesn’t Hurt Box Office Revenue, Research Finds

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

piracy-progressResearch into online piracy comes in all shapes and sizes, often with equally mixed results. Often the main question is whether piracy is hurting sales.

A new study conducted by economist Koleman Strumpf is one of the most comprehensive on the subject so far.

Drawing on data from a popular BitTorrent tracker and revenue projections from the Hollywood Stock Exchange he researches how the release of a pirated movie affects expected box office income.

The research covers 150 of the most popular films that were released over a period of seven years, and the findings reveal that the release of pirated films on file-sharing sites doesn’t directly hurt box office revenue.

“There is no evidence in my empirical results of file-sharing having a significant impact on theatrical revenue,” Strumpf tells TorrentFreak in a comment.

“My best guess estimate is that file sharing reduced the first month box office by $200 million over 2003-2009, which is only three tenths of a percent of what movies actually earned. I am unable to reject the hypothesis that there is no impact at all of file-sharing on revenues.”

So while there is a small negative effect, this is limited to three tenth of a percent and not statistically significant.

Interestingly, the data also reveals that movie leaks shortly before the premiere have a small positive impact on expected revenues. This suggests that file-sharing may serve as a form of promotion.

“One consistent result is that file-sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue. One explanation is that such releases create greater awareness of the film. This is also the period of heaviest advertising,” Strumpf notes.

One of the advantages of this study compared to previous research is that it measures the direct effect of a movie leak on projected box office revenues. Previous studies mostly compared early versus late leaks, which is less accurate and may be influenced by other factors.

“For example, suppose studios added extra security to big budget movies which then have a delayed arrival to file-sharing networks. Then even if file-sharing has no impact at all, one would find that delayed arrival on file-sharing leads to higher revenues,” Strumpf tells us.

Another upside of the research lies in the statistical precision. The data includes thousands of daily observations and relatively precise estimates, something lacking in most previous studies.

The downside, on the other hand, is that the expected box office impact is estimated from the Hollywood Stock Exchange. While this has shown to be a good predictor for actual revenues, it’s not a direct measurement.

In any case, the paper suggests that file-sharing might not be the biggest threat the movie industry is facing.

Even if the negative effects were twice as big as the data suggests, it would still be less than the $500 million Hollywood spent on the MPAA’s anti-piracy efforts during the same period.

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

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent to Crowdfund TV-Show Through New Paywall

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

bundleFollowing in the footsteps of FrostWire and VODO, BitTorrent Inc. launched an artist promotion program a few years ago.

The idea was to let artists share their work for free, exposing it to millions of BitTorrent users all around the world.

Helped by a massive user base of more than 170 million the program has been very successful. But, aside from promotion some artists would also like to see some hard cash in return. This is now an option thanks to the “paygate” uTorrent’s parent company will launch this September.

The walled content can only be accessed and shared after a user pays a fixed fee to the creator. To prevent users from sharing it without permission there will be some restrictions in place.

The paywall idea was initially announced last year and film producer Marco Weber will be one of the first to try it in the wild. Through BitTorrent, Weber will release a pilot of the new TV-series “Children of the Machine” and those who like it can pay $9.95 to buy the entire series.

“If viewers fall in love with the show, they can purchase the entire series in advance via Bundle paygates. Once the funding threshold is reached — 250K subscribers — the first season will be produced, and delivered back to the fans who kicked in to support the project,” BitTorrent announces.

The filmmaker chose the crowdfunding format, which means that if the project is not funded the series will never see the light of day. This is a serious possibility as no artists have ever raised more than a few thousand dollars, even though many have tried.

The film producer is nevertheless confident that the the project will turn into a success.

“With over 170 million users, BitTorrent is a powerhouse. Add in paygates, and you have a fantastic tool to distribute content to a growing, influential youth audience,” Weber says.

The good news is that many of these millions of BitTorrent users are already familiar with downloading TV-shows, be it without permission. However, an often heard excuse for this deviant behavior is that it takes too long before an episode becomes available through legal channels, so whether these people will be patient enough to prepay a series months in advance will remain to be seen.

Both Weber and BitTorrent Inc. have to be applauded for giving it a try and it will be interesting to see the results.

BitTorrent isn’t the first to experiment with these new models though. The VODO platform has used a similar paywall system for quite some time, and together with The Pirate Bay and several other torrent sites they helped to crowdfund the TV-series Pioneer One.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/14/14

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

transcenThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Transcendence is the most downloaded movie this week.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (2) Transcendence 6.4 / trailer
2 (1) Noah 6.3 / trailer
3 (…) Need For Speed 7.1 / trailer
4 (…) Sabotage 6.0 / trailer
5 (5) The Other Woman 6.5 / trailer
6 (…) Muppets Most Wanted 6.8 / trailer
7 (3) Rio 2 6.7 / trailer
8 (4) A Million Ways to Die in the West (Webrip) 6.4 / trailer
9 (7) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (HDTS) 8.2 / trailer
10 (6) X-Men: Days of Future Past (HDCAM) 8.5 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Suing File-Sharers Doesn’t Work, Lawyers Warn

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

pirate-runningFor more than a decade copyright holders and the U.S. Government have been trying to find the silver bullet to beat piracy.

This week the American Bar Association joined the discussion with a 113-page white paper. With their “call for action” the lawyers encourage Congress to draft new anti-piracy legislation and promote voluntary agreements between stakeholders.

Among the options on the table is the filing of lawsuits against individual file-sharers, something the RIAA did extensively in the past. Interestingly, the lawyers advise against this option as it’s unlikely to have an impact on current piracy rates.

According to the lawyers these type of lawsuits are also financially ineffective, oftentimes costing more than they bring in. In addition, they can create bad PR for the copyright holders involved.

“While it is technically possible for trademark and copyright owners to proceed with civil litigation against the consuming public who [...] engage in illegal file sharing, campaigns like this have been expensive, do not yield significant financial returns, and can cause a public relations problem for the plaintiff in addressing its consuming public,” the lawyers write.

“The [American Bar Association] does not believe that legislative action directly targeting consumers would prove effective in reducing piracy or counterfeiting at this time,” the white paper adds.

While the above may be true for any of the cases that go to trial, various copyright trolls might tend to disagree as they have shown that targeting file-sharers can be quite lucrative.

Pirates shouldn’t be too quick to cheer on the lawyers though, as the white paper also contains some pretty draconian suggestions.

The American Bar Association says that future legislation should target infringing websites, and it names The Pirate Bay as an example. Since site owners are often unknown and therefore hard to prosecute in America, they advise a series of more indirect tactics.

The lawyers are in favor of a “follow the money” principle where anti-piracy measures are targeted at strangling the finances of pirate sites. They call for legislation that makes it easier to cut off advertising, and to seize funds through banks or payment processors.

In addition, the white paper calls for new legislation that would allow copyright holders to obtain injunctions against the hosting companies of pirate sites. The American Bar Association also considered similar injunctions against domain registrars and search engines, but it couldn’t reach agreement on these issues.

Overall copyright holders will be pleased to see the recommendations put forward in the white paper, but it’s doubtful whether lawmakers will be quick pick them up.

Several of the suggestions were previously listed in the SOPA and PIPA bills, so if these are ever drafted into legislation Congress can expect a lot of public backlash.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Requests Support For Its Imprisoned Founders

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

tpb-logoPretty much every weekend The Pirate Bay replaces its logo to plug a band, game developer or filmmaker. This is part of the Promo Bay initiative through which TPB supports independent artists.

At the start of this weekend the torrent site decided to feature something a little more personal. The site currently displays a banner asking visitors to send their support to two of the site’s original founders.

Gottfrid Svartholm and Peter Sunde are both in prison at the moment and could use an uplifting note or two, the message suggests.

“Show your support by sending them some encouraging mail! Gottfrid is only allowed to receive letters while Peter gladly received books, letter and vegan candy,” the TPB team writes.

Pirate Bay homepage
tpbhome

Peter Sunde is serving the sentence he received for his involvement with The Pirate Bay. He’s being held in a high security prison in Västervik and recently requested a transfer to a lower safety class unit.

Gottfrid Svartholm has already served his Pirate Bay sentence but currently stands accused in Denmark of hacking into the mainframe computers of IT company CSC. He faces up to five years in prison and his trial will start in two months.

When Gottfrid served his Pirate Bay sentence in Sweden he also received numerous letters and cards. He later sent a video out to thank everyone for the support he received.

“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in any way, very much, it has meant a lot to me,” Gottfrid said at the time.

“I don’t have the time or the possibility to answer many of the letters but you should know that I read each and every one of them and it has really helped me a lot.”

For those who can’t read the image above, the addresses for Gottfrid and Peter are as follows.

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg
c/o Jens H. Jorgensen
Politigarden, 1567, Copenhagen
Denmark

Peter Sunde
Box 248
593 23 Västervik
Sweden

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Pulls “Popcorn Time” Repositories Off GitHub

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

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

The software became an instant hit by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy to use Netflix-style interface. Needless to say this has been a thorn in the side for Hollywood.

Today the MPAA decided to deploy countermeasures by filing requests with development platform GitHub to take down several Popcorn Time related repositories.

“We are writing to notify you of, and request your assistance in addressing the extensive copyright infringement of motion pictures and television shows that is occurring by virtue of the operation and further development of the GitHub projects Popcorn Time, and Time4Popcorn,” the MPAA writes in its takedown notice.

GitHub swiftly complied and starting a few hours ago the repositories were absent from the website, leaving the following note.

Popcorn Time removed
dmcagit

In its takedown notice the MPAA specifically targets the “popcorn-official” and the “time4popcorn” projects, but it also urges GitHub to remove all related forks.

“By this notification, we are asking for your immediate assistance in stopping your users’ unauthorized activity. Specifically, we request that you remove or disable access to the infringing Projects’ repositories and all related forks,” MPAA writes.

Interestingly, the MPAA doesn’t mention the original Popcorn Time repository, which remains intact.

To prove the infringing nature of Popcorn Time the takedown notice was accompanied by several screenshots of the user interface, as well as several pirated copies of Hollywood movies playing.

ptdmca

While the takedown notices may hinder the development of the software, at least temporarily, the websites of the forks remain online. This means that the applications themselves are still available for download.

Earlier this week the team behind the Time4Popcorn fork informed us that they have gathered millions of users over the past several months, and that the application is being downloaded tens of thousands of times per day.

Whether the MPAA also has plans to target the Popcorn Time fork websites remains to be seen.

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

TorrentFreak: Warner Bros. Censorship of Greenpeace LEGO Video Backfires (Updated)

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

lego-sadEarlier this month Greenpeace released a new campaign in which it targets LEGO for promoting Shell on its toys.

The campaign video titled “Everything is NOT Awesome” is inspired by the popular “Everything is Awesome” song, a callback to the LEGO movie. The video shows LEGO figures drowning in oil with a cover of the song playing in the background.

Over the past several days more than three million people have watched the video on YouTube. However, a few hours ago the video suddenly became unavailable due to a copyright claim by Warner Bros.

Censored
greenpeace-lego

TorrentFreak contacted Greenpeace who informed us that the email YouTube sent doesn’t clarify on what grounds the video was taken down. The group assumes that the use of the song is the culprit, but says it won’t let this case go without a fight.

“Our film was designed as a creative way of letting people know about the threat to the Arctic from Shell and the role LEGO has in the story. It seems to have struck a nerve with some important corporate bigwigs, but this crude attempt to silence dissent won’t work,” Greenpeace’s Ian Duff says.

Greenpeace will appeal the takedown request, a process that can take up to 10 days to complete. In the meantime the group has uploaded the video to Vimeo, along with a call to its millions of social media followers and mailing list subscribers to re-upload it elsewhere.

“We fully intend to challenge this claim, and we’re asking supporters to upload the video wherever they can,” Duff says.

In the appeal Greenpeace will argue that the video uses satire and parody and that it is in the public interest. The video should therefore be protected under the right to free speech.

This is not the first time that Greenpeace has had one of its campaign videos removed from YouTube. Previously a video featuring several Star Wars characters was taken down. The video was later reinstated after Greenpeace successfully appealed the takedown request.

Warner Bros’ motivation for the takedown remains unclear. It seems unlikely that it is an automated request since there are still more than 700 video on YouTube that use the same ‘Everything is Awesome’ song.

Whatever the reason may be, the takedown attempt will clearly backfire.

During the days to come the rift between Greenpeace and Warner Bros. will be widely covered by the media while hundreds of copies of the video will be uploaded and shared.

The censored campaign video

Update: The video is back online.

“18 hours later we’ve seen that the video has been re-instated. WB have withdrawn their complaint. It seems who ever wanted it censored has spotted the error in their ways,” Duff informs TorrentFreak.

Update 2: Warner Bros. now removed the video from Vimeo….

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

TorrentFreak: UK Lawmakers Favor Legalization of MP3 and DVD Copying

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

uk-flagTo most consumers it’s common sense that they can make a backup copy of media they own, but in the UK this is currently illegal.

Earlier this year the UK Intellectual Property Office proudly announced that these restrictions would be lifted this summer. After consulting various stakeholders the Government decided that it would be in the best interests of consumers to legalize copying for personal use.

“Copyright law is being changed to allow you to make personal copies of media you have bought, for private purposes such as format shifting or backup,” the UK’s Intellectual Property Office writes.

“The changes will mean that you will be able to copy a book or film you have purchased for one device onto another without infringing copyright.”

To communicate the changes to the public the Government released a consumer guide which stated the change would go into effect in June. However, when June came the most crucial changes were still pending Parliamentary approval.

What exactly delayed the process remains a mystery. Copyright lobbyists are likely to have become involved and late last month lawmakers were casting doubt over the entire plan.

According to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) it is not clear whether the private copying exceptions are allowed under EU law if there’s no “fair compensation” for copyright holders.

“Only a court, and ultimately the CJEU, can give an authoritative ruling on whether the [EU Copyright] Directive precludes the private copying exception provided for in [the copying for personal use draft legislation] without the inclusion of a compensation scheme for rightholders adversely affected by the exception,” JCSI notes.

The Government previously concluded that compensation wasn’t needed since the changes would not result in any significant harm to copyright holders. However, the JCSI mentions that there are several stakeholders who disagree with this assessment.

Yesterday the new copying exceptions were discussed during a general committee debate. The overall consensus was that the current copyright regulations are too restrictive as they run counter to what millions of people are already doing.

“By criminalizing format shifting, we are potentially criminalizing 20 million people around the country who probably think they can do that already,” said Mike Weatherley MP, who’s also the Prime Minister’s Intellectual Property Advisor.

This opinion was shared by John Whittingdale MP who told the debate about his personal experiences with the issue.

“A long time ago I started transferring music that I purchased on one antiquated format — vinyl records — on to another antiquated format — cassette tapes — which I then played in my car. I was technically in breach of copyright law. Subsequently, I moved into the new age and transferred CDs that I had bought on to my iPod. I was still in breach of copyright law,” Whittingdale said.

This admission of criminality was met with laughter from the other lawmakers, which was telling for the issue at hand. None of the lawmakers appeared to view the criminal wrongdoing as a problem, yet it is under current law.

This mismatch between what’s morally accepted and what the law prescribes should be fixed according to Whittingdale.

“It is not good for the respect of law to give a message to consumers that it is fine to break some laws and not others. If the law is outdated and being widely ignored then it needs to change. That is why I welcome the private copying exception,” he said.

Minister David Willetts also responded to the doubts raised by JCSI. He confirmed that the European Court of Justice is the relevant legal authority in this case, but according to the legal experts that were consulted copyright holders don’t have to be compensated under the current regulations.

Willetts also waved away concerns about the potential losses the new regulations could cause to copyright holders. According to the Minister these concerns are unwarranted as the new rules clearly state that copies can only be made for personal use, so sharing with third parties remains illegal.

At the end of the hearing the current draft of the Copyright and Rights in Performances Regulations were passed, meaning that they are a step closer to becoming law.

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

TorrentFreak: ‘Popcorn Time’ Remains Popular With Millions of Users

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

popcornThe Popcorn Time phenomenon took the Internet by storm earlier this year. The software became the subject of hundreds of news articles by offering P2P streaming in an easy to use Netflix-style interface.

Overwhelmed by the response and the legal pressure that came with it the original team quickly retired. However, since the code is open source, many competing forks quickly adopted the project, each taking it in a different direction.

The storm calmed down somewhat after a few months, but it appears that the “Netflix for pirates” idea is here to stay. TorrentFreak reached out to one of the most popular Popcorn Time forks at time4popcorn.eu to find out how they are faring.

While the developers are hesitant to reveal any hard data about their software’s popularity, they note that they have acquired millions of users over the past several months. On an average day tens of thousands of people download the application, with Sunday being the most popular day by far.

The developers further reveal that roughly half of all Popcorn Time downloads are for the Windows platform. The Mac version is in second place with 25%, followed by Android and Linux with 20% and 5% respectively.

For the developers this popularity is one of the main reasons to continue innovating through new features. For example, last month they integrated a free VPN so users can hide their IP-address from the rest of the world.

“The million of users are the wind in our sails. We tell this to them all the time – they are the reason we’re putting in all the hard we’ve been putting in for the past 3.5 months,” the Time4Popcorn team tells TorrentFreak.

“In none of our previous projects did we experience this kind of ‘madness’. This is really what keeps us working around the clock on this project,” they add.

This week the Popcorn Time variant released another highly anticipated feature in their latest Alpha release, support for Chromecast. This means that users can now stream films directly to Chromecast with just a simple click.

popcornchrome

Chromecast support was one of the most requested Popcorn Time features, the developers told us. It’s also directly in line with one of the main goals of the software, which is creating an optimal viewing experience.

“The first goal for Popcorn Time is to make the best viewing experience for all our users, and the other is to make the safest watching experience so all our users can fulfill the first goal without getting in trouble,” the Time4Popcorn team says.

While Chromecast support is a milestone, the developers mention that there is more exiting news ahead in the not too distant future.

“This week’s Alpha release with Chromecast support is nothing compared to what we have coming,” we were told.

Stay tuned…

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Director Slams “Pathetic” Anti-Piracy Crusade

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

lexi2It’s not every day that you see a Hollywood director holding up a “Free Peter Sunde” sign, but Lexi Alexander is on a mission.

With her support for the Pirate Bay founder who’s currently locked up in a Swedish prison, Alexander hopes to reach out to the “other side” with whom she shares a common goal.

Alexander is not a fan of the anti-piracy crusade the MPAA and other groups are waging against file-sharers. The massive losses that are claimed due to piracy are “bullshit” according to her. In fact, she believes that piracy may do more good than harm.

“I get a little upset when I hear how hard my industry jumps into action, sparing neither time, manpower or resources, as soon as someone even hints at potential loss to the crown estate,” Alexander notes.

“Piracy has NOT been proven to hurt box-office numbers, on the contrary, several studies say it may have boosted the bottom line,” she adds.

In recent years the movie industry has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into expensive anti-piracy measures, nearly all of which are counterproductive according to Alexander.

For example, as a German living in Hollywood she can’t watch German news online due to geographical restrictions and the same is true for U.S. shows when she’s visiting Germany. But thanks to the pirates, Hollywood director can easily bypass these restrictions.

“But guess what, for every IP block, DRM and who-knows-what security feature Hollywood spends thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on, some piracy kid will undo it for free and within a couple of minutes.”

“And this is my favorite part: I am 100% certain that the hacking of entertainment industry’s security features provides better entertainment for these kids than the entertainment we’re trying to prevent them from stealing. Let that sink in for a second, then try not to bust up laughing.”

hulu-sorry

In a recent interview with Daily Record, Alexander describes criminalization of file sharing as “pathetic.” It is mostly an issue that keeps Hollywood’s “Fat Cats” busy, but not so much independent filmmakers.

“The people who complain most about piracy in Hollywood are Fat Cats who did little to deserve their wealth or position. I doubt you’ll find many people on the anti-piracy train amongst film crews or indie filmmakers, unless they’re being paid a retainer,” she says.

Contrary to what the MPAA and others may lead the public to believe, Alexander says that piracy is rather common among filmmakers. She herself admits to downloading films when there are no legal options available.

“I download stuff myself, so do many of my colleagues here in Hollywood. Usually we do it only when we can’t find something on mainstream streaming services,” Alexander says.

gsh

The movie director uses pirate sites to grab movies that are relevant for an upcoming meeting for example, something which has saved her on a few occasions.

“I cannot tell you how often my ass was saved by some torrent site in those situations. And I assume that 99% of my Hollywood filmmaker colleagues or their poor assistants have found themselves on a piracy site for just that reason (if they deny it, they’re lying. The end.)”

Despite her own piracy habits, Alexander doesn’t endorse the existing piracy status quo. In a blog post on her own site she notes that many of the people running pirate sites are just as motivated by greed as the people in Hollywood.

The movie director considered reaching out to Kim Dotcom but concluded that his luxurious lifestyle makes him just like the Hollywood elite. The Pirate Bay team was second on the list, but this was scrapped after learning about historical connections with right-winger Carl Lundström.

The movie director is nonetheless reaching out to all pirates with good intentions who put art and talent before the dollar signs. An “Occupy Hollywood movement,” as she describes it, and calling for Peter Sunde’s release, is her way to reach out to those who support this cause.

So will the real pirates please stand up?

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

TorrentFreak: Uptobox Bans Americans After Visa and MasterCard Pressure

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

uptoboxAfter failed attempts to introduce tougher anti-piracy legislation in the United States, Hollywood and the major record labels focused their efforts on strangling revenue of so-called rogue sites.

Payment services are among the key intermediaries and the entertainment industries previously helped negotiate an anti-piracy agreement between VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, PaySafeCard and several other key players.

As a result several major file-hosting services have had trouble accepting payments from their users. The popular cyberlocker Uptobox is among the latest casualties of this effort, TorrentFreak has learned.

“Our payment processors have received a notification from Visa and MasterCard telling them to stop accepting credit card payments for our service, subject to penalties,” Uptobox operator Guillaume informs us.

“These measures are the result of pressure from movie studios on Visa and Mastercard,” he adds.

Uptobox is currently still able to accept credit card payments through a reseller, but decided to cut all ties with the United States to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

This means that U.S. visitors are no longer allowed to access the site. Instead they receive the following notice. “Sorry, Uptobox.com is not available in your country.”

Uptobox block

uptobox-block

Uptobox will consider lifting the ban if a European payment provider is willing to directly accept credit card payments for them. However, considering Visa and MasterCard’s tight grip on the situation this may prove to be difficult.

According to Guillaume, MasterCard previously complained to payment processors Hipay and Allopass as well, following a request from Disney. In addition, PayPal has rejected Uptobox’s requests to become an authorized file-hosting service.

According to statistics released last year more than 1,500 “pirate” merchants were cut off from payment providers between 2011 and 2013, and this list continues to expand week after week.

Despite the setbacks Uptobox is determined to keep its business going. The cyberlocker is currently exploring several alternative payment methods including Bitcoin.

“Processing payments for our users is hard right now, but we are sure we will find a suitable payment processor. We’re also considering to support Bitcoin and other payment methods such as SMS,” Guillaume tells us.

“For now, the service is not in danger, we still have a bright future ahead of us,” the Uptobox operator concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/07/14

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

noah11This week we have five newcomers in our chart.

Noah is the most downloaded movie this week.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (…) Noah 6.3 / trailer
2 (…) Transcendence 6.4 / trailer
3 (1) Rio 2 6.7 / trailer
4 (2) A Million Ways to Die in the West (Webrip) 6.4 / trailer
5 (…) The Other Woman 6.5 / trailer
6 (3) X-Men: Days of Future Past (HDCAM) 8.5 / trailer
7 (4) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (HDTS) 8.2 / trailer
8 (…) Heaven Is For Real 5.5 / trailer
9 (5) 300: Rise Of An Empire 6.6 / trailer
10 (9) The Grand Budapest Hotel 8.3 / trailer

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