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TorrentFreak: Twitter Suspends ‘Pirate’ Site Accounts Over Dubious Claims

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

pirate-twitterIn common with many other online services, copyright holders regularly ask Twitter to remove tweets that link to pirated material.

If a user decides to post a link to a pirated blockbuster or music track there’s a good chance that it won’t be online for long. In addition, the Twitter user may have his or her account suspended.

The latter happened to the accounts of Spain’s largest torrent site EliteTorrent and the linking site Bajui recently, both following a copyright holder complaint. However, both accounts had refrained from linking to pirated material.

The takedown notices in which the accounts were targeted were sent by the Spanish company Golem Distribución, who own the distribution rights of the film “Cut Bank.” They both reference tweets where the title of the film was mentioned alongside the film poster.

In its copyright and DMCA policy Twitter explains that it takes action against “tweets containing links to allegedly infringing materials,” but EliteTorrent and Bajui didn’t post any links, just text and a film poster.

The Elitetorrent tweet
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Morphoide, the founder of the Elitewebs Network which includes both EliteTorrent and Bajui, initially thought that the tweets were flagged because of the image. However, the DMCA notice makes no mention of this.

Instead, Golem Distribución accuses the accounts in broken English of distributing the film on their respective websites, not Twitter.

“According to the protocol of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act): We have noted that the websites own, is offering free downloads and/or streaming of the work ‘CUT BANK’ belonging to GOLEM DISTRIBUCIÓN,” the notice reads.

The DMCA notice
dmcagolemtweet

Morphoide is disappointed with Twitter’s decision and informs us that he specifically chose not to include any links to avoid this kind of trouble.

“There were no links in the tweets. I stopped linking a long time ago because I didn’t want my account to be suspended for doing so,” Morphoide says.

Apparently even tweets without links can be flagged and both sites have had their accounts suspended as a result. This means that thousands of followers are gone, just like that.

The site’s founder says he has lost faith in Twitter and doesn’t intend to appeal the suspension.

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

TorrentFreak: US Govt. Denies Responsibility for Megaupload’s Servers

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

megaupload-logoIn a few months’ time it will be four years since Megaupload’s servers were raided by U.S. authorities. Since then, virtually no progress has been made in the criminal case.

Kim Dotcom and his Megaupload colleagues are still awaiting their extradition hearing in New Zealand and have yet to formally appear in a U.S. court.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Megaupload servers from Carpathia Hosting remain in storage in Virginia, some of which contain crucial evidence as well as valuable files from users. The question is, for how long.

Last month QTS, the company that now owns the servers after acquiring Carpathia, asked the court if it can get rid of the data which is costing them thousands of dollars per month in storage fees.

This prompted a response from a former user who wants to preserve his data, as well as Megaupload, who don’t want any of the evidence to be destroyed.

Megaupload’s legal team suggested that the U.S. Government should buy the servers and take care of the hosting costs. However, in a new filing (pdf) just submitted to the District Court the authorities deny all responsibility.

United States Attorney Dana Boente explains that the Government has already backed up the data they need and no longer have a claim on the servers.

“…the government has already completed its acquisition of data from the Carpathia Servers authorized by the warrant, which the defendants will be entitled to during discovery,” Boente writes.

“As such, there is no basis for the Court to order the government to assume possession of the Carpathia Servers or reimburse Carpathia for ‘allocated costs’ related to their continued maintenance.”

The Government says it handed over its claim on the servers early 2012 after the search warrant was executed and the hosting company was informed at the time. This means that the U.S. can and will not determine the fate of the stored servers.

The authorities say they are willing to allow Megaupload and the other defendants to look through the data that was copied, but only after they are arraigned.

In any case, the U.S. denies any responsibility for the Megaupload servers and asks the court to keep it this way.

“…the United States continues to request that the Court deny any effort to impose unprecedented financial or supervisory obligations on the United States related to the Carpathia Servers,” the U.S. Attorney concludes.

Previously the U.S. and MPAA blocked Megaupload’s plans to buy the servers, which is one of the main reasons that there is still no solution after all those years.

The MPAA also renewed its previous position last week (pdf). The Hollywood group says doesn’t mind if users are reunited with their files as long as Megaupload doesn’t get hold of them.

“The MPAA members’ principal concern is assuring that adequate steps are taken [to] prevent the MPAA members’ content on the Mega Servers in Carpathia’s possession from falling back into the hands of Megaupload or otherwise entering the stream of commerce,” they write.

The above means that none of the parties is willing to move forward. The servers are still trapped in between the various parties and it appears that only District Court Judge Liam O’Grady can change this.

It appears to be a choice between saving the 25 Petabytes of data or wiping all servers clean.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrenting “Manny” Pirate Must Pay $30,000 in Damages

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

pirate-runningWhile relatively underreported, many U.S. district courts are still swamped with lawsuits against alleged film pirates.

One of the newcomers this year are the makers of the sports documentary Manny. Over the past few months “Manny Film” has filed 215 lawsuits across several districts.

Most cases are settled without of court, presumably for a few thousands dollars. However, if the alleged downloader fails to respond the damage can be much worse.

District Court Judge Darrin Gayles recently issued a default judgment (pdf) against Micheal Chang, a Florida man who stood accused of pirating a copy of “Manny.

Since Chang didn’t respond to the allegations the Judge agreed with the filmmakers and ordered Chang to pay $30,000 in statutory damages. In addition he must pay attorneys’ fees and costs bringing the total to $31,657.

While the damages are a heavy burden to bear for most, the filmmakers say that the defendant got off lightly. Manny Film argued that Chang was guilty of willful copyright infringement for which the damages can go up to $150,000 per work.

“Here, despite the fact of Defendant’s willful infringement, Plaintiff only seeks an award of $30,000 per work in statutory damages,” Manny Film wrote.

According to the filmmakers Chang’s Internet connection was used to pirate over 2,400 files via BitTorrent in recent years, which they say proves that he willfully pirated their movie.

“…for nearly two years, Defendant infringed over 2,400 third-party works on BitTorrent. In addition to Plaintiff’s film, Defendant downloaded scores of Hollywood films, including works such as Avatar and The Wolf of Wall Street.”

It is unlikely that the court would have issued the same damages award if Chang had defended himself. Even in cases without representation several judges have shown reluctance to issue such severe punishments.

For example, last year U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice ruled that $30,000 in damages per shared film is excessive, referring to the Eighth Amendment which prohibits excessive fines as well as cruel and unusual punishments.

“This Court finds an award of $30,000 for each defendant would be an excessive punishment considering the seriousness of each Defendant’s conduct and the sum of money at issue,” Judge Rice wrote.

On the other hand, it could have been even worse. The damage award pales in comparison to some other default judgments. In Illinois three men had to pay $1.5 million each for sharing seven to ten movies using BitTorrent.

Controversy aside, Manny Film believes that they are certainly entitled to the $30,000. They have requested the same amount in other cases which are still pending, arguing that the actual lost revenue is even higher.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Italian ISPs to Block Popcorn Time

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

popcorntBranded a “Netflix for Pirates,” the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people over the past year.

The application is a thorn in the side of many copyright holders who are increasingly trying to contain the threat.

In Italy this has now resulted in a new blocking order issued by the Criminal Court of Genoa. The Court ruled that Popcorn Time assists copyright infringement and has ordered local ISPs to block several domain names.

The domains listed in the ruling include those of the two most used forks, popcorntime.io and popcorn-time.se, as well as the localized download page popcorntimeitalia.com.

While the ISP blockades will prevent people from downloading Popcorn Time from these sites, applications that have been downloaded already will continue to work for now.

Also, many other sites offering the same Popcorn Time software are still available. This means that the blockades will only have a limited effect.

Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer with the Sarzana and Partners law firm who specializes in Internet and copyright disputes, informs TF that Popcorn Time could successfully fight the order.

Sarzana references a recent case in Israel where the Popcorn Time block was overturned because it hinders freedom of speech and says he’s willing to represent the developers.

For now the developers of the main .io Popcorn Time fork are showing little interest in fighting the decision. Instead, they’d rather put their efforts into making sure that the blockade has minimal impact.

“While they are able to block the website, Popcorn Time is a standalone program, so once a user has it downloaded it is unlikely that blocks will cause many issues other than new users getting the program from our site directly or in some cases updates.”

“However, we try our best to have things in place to make these blocks effectively null and void,” the Popcorn Time teams says.

Just a few days ago the same developers urged Hollywood to start competing with Popcorn Time. However, for now we expect that blocking efforts and other legal actions will remain top priorities.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 08/31/15

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

avengThis week we have five newcomers in our chart.

Avengers: Age of Ultron 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 (2) Avengers: Age of Ultron (Web-DL) 7.8 / trailer
2 (1) Mad Max: Fury Road 8.4 / trailer
3 (…) San Andreas (Web-DL) 6.4 / trailer
4 (…) Self/less 6.5 / trailer
5 (2) Aloha 5.3 / trailer
6 (…) Magic Mike XXL (HDRip) 6.2 / trailer
7 (…) Southpaw (HDrip) 7.8 / trailer
8 (…) Minions (HDRip) 6.7 / trailer
9 (5) Terminator Genisys (Subbed HDTV rip) 7.0 / trailer
10 (7) Pitch Perfect 2 6.8 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Offcloud Downloads Torrents to Google Drive and Dropbox

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

offcloudlogoDownloading torrents remotely is nothing new. Most of the popular torrent clients support this functionality, but for many users it’s too much of a hassle to configure it correctly.

This is where Offcloud comes in.

The new startup offers users a wide range of tools to download and backup files from video services and file-hosters, and recently added torrent support and Google drive integration as well.

The idea is simple and straightforward. Users simply paste a torrent link into their Offcloud account and the service then downloads the files right away.

One of the main benefits to users is that they can add torrents from work, school or on the road. After the torrent is downloaded to Offcloud’s server the files can be downloaded to a local computer or synced to Google Drive, Dropbox or an FTP server.

Once the files are synced people can access or play the files directly from the cloud, since Dropbox and Google Drive support online streaming for various media formats.

Google Drive Streaming
h4uflH4

Downloading files only to Offcloud is an option as well of course, as the service has a built-in media player.

The main downside of Offcloud is that it limits the number of downloads to two torrent links per week on a free account. This should be good enough for the casual user, but paid plans are also available starting at $1.99.

TF also asked the service about its seeding policy and the company clarified that it’s not a seedbox service.

“Offcloud does not have the ambition to be a seedbox service. We are not here to help BitTorrent uploaders, but rather to provide a simple cloud-based solution to users who simply wish to leech from BitTorrent in a fast and secure manner,” Offcloud’s spokesperson says.

The company tries to main torrent etiquette by uploading and downloading an equal amount of data. And thanks to the high bandwidth capacity the overall torrent swarm speeds will increase, at least temporarily.

“We usually aim at a 1:1 ratio for the sake of the BitTorrent swarm’s quality. Furthermore, our 10-Gbit nodes are truly boosting the swarm at the moment they are active on a certain torrent,” Offcloud notes.

TF tested the service which works as advertised. The torrents start quickly and download at much higher speeds than the average home connection, and they quickly appear in the designated Dropbox account or Google Drive.

In addition to torrents the service also downloads and converts videos from a range of other sites including YouTube, Vimeo, adult sites and most popular file-hosters.

People who want to take a look can head over to Offcloud to take it for a free spin.

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Is Down…

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

pirate bayThe Pirate Bay has become unreachable since a few hours.

It’s currently not clear what’s causing the problems. There might be a hardware issue, hosting problem or a software glitch, issues that have occurred many times in the site’s history.

What we do know is that the site’s domain names are not the culprit.

The Pirate Bay currently displays a CloudFlare error message across all domain names, suggesting that TPB’s servers are unresponsive.

tpbcferror

With the raid of last year still fresh in memory some fear the worst, but these concerns are unwarranted for now.

In fact, the site is still accessible via the Tor network (through http://uj3wazyk5u4hnvtk.onion/), including the popular Pirate Browser.

The Tor traffic goes through a separate server and works just fine.

TorrentFreak reached out to The Pirate Bay team for a comment on the situation and we will update this article if we hear back.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Blames Hollywood For Its Popularity

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

popcorntLast week several users of Popcorn Time were sued in the United States and this week a Norwegian anti-piracy group threatened to go after tens of thousands of local users.

It’s clear that copyright holders aren’t happy with the app, which allows people to stream pirated movies. However, according to the software’s developers Hollywood is to blame for its overwhelming success.

In a statement sent to TF the team behind the popular Popcorn Time .io fork say that film and TV-studios should compete with their app. That is, make a globally available streaming service where all the latest blockbusters and series are available.

“People are ready to pay a fee, but a lot of them currently refuse to pay for a petty catalog with country-specific restrictions,” the Popcorn Time team notes.

“The price can also be a hurdle for some people: $20 a month is not the same in Uganda and the United States. But obviously, the most problematic issue is the complete lack of legal availability in some places.”

Hollywood is still holding on to limited releases and regional roadblocks. This is something Netflix and other VOD providers are not happy with, and neither are consumers.

“Why would people in France wait two years to see a movie that’s already being broadcasted in the US, when they both are paying almost the same amount of money?”

According to Popcorn Time these artificial limitations drive people to break towards unofficial sources.

“The Internet has brought people closer, and they start to notice that some things aren’t acceptable. And then they turn to alternatives, even if it means diving into illegality.”

The developers themselves see the Popcorn Time software as a legitimate product but they realize that some users may be breaking the law. Ironically, the reason for breaking the law is so they can watch their favorite Hollywood entertainment.

Currently, this situation mostly benefits the popularity of Popcorn Time but with the right alternative for the right price, many won’t need to turn to piracy.

“Maybe it is time to consider the will of the people and offer them a legal, complete and useful service, no matter where they were born, instead of trying to punish people for… well, for wanting the see the content artists and industries are offering.

“Currently, piracy is fulfilling the demand of the people because the industry fails at the transition into the modern age. We think it’s as simple as that,” the Popcorn Time team concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: First Netflix 4K Content Leaks to Torrent Sites

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

netflixuhdWhile many average consumers can’t even play 4K content on their TV or computer, true video geeks are looking forward to every new release.

Thus far the offerings have been limited to adult content and a handful of mainstream productions. However, with the adoption of a Blu-Ray standard for Ultra High Definition video more releases will follow soon.

4K streaming releases have been available for a while already, with Netflix and Amazon being the two key vendors. These online streams are well protected against pirates.

In fact, up until this week it was believed to be impossible to break the High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP) version 2.2 or higher. However, this may no longer be the case as the first 4K Netflix leak just appeared online.

The leak in question is the first episode of Breaking Bad and was released by the reputable group “iON.” The 2160p video file takes up 17.73 GB of space, which is roughly 50 times that of a traditional standard definition equivalent.

The image below shows the file being listed at a popular private tracker with just over a dozen people sharing it.

Breaking.Bad.S01E01.Pilot.2160p.NF.WEBRip.DTS.x264-iON
bb4k

The media info for the release shows that the episode has a bit rate of 41.3 Mbps and overall the video specs make it hard to play the file smoothly on the average computer.

At the time of writing the 4K leak is only available on private torrent trackers but it’s expected to eventually leak to public sites as well. It’s currently unknown if the release group broke HDCP 2.2 or if they found another way to capture the stream.

Leaked drafts of the 4K copy protection agreement between Sony and Netflix reveals that the streams are generally well-protected. They also include a watermark so that leaks can be traced back to the source.

“The watermark must contain sufficient information such that forensic analysis of unauthorized recorded video clips of the output video shall uniquely determine the account to which the output video was delivered,” the document reads.

It’s unclear whether the watermarks were included and if they were removed from the Breaking Bad video, but release groups are generally well-equipped to remove these type of markers.

Netflix informs TF that they are looking into the reported leak and the company will do its best to prevent similar breaches in the future.

“Piracy is a global problem. We, like others content providers, are actively working on ways to protect content featured on our site,” a Netflix spokesperson told us.

While 4K content is not going to be shared by the majority of online pirates, the first 4K leak from Netflix will certainly have Hollywood and the streaming service worried. Whether they can stop it has yet to be seen though.

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

TorrentFreak: Tech Giants Want to Punish DMCA Takedown Abusers

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

copyright-brandedEvery day copyright holders send millions of DMCA takedown notices to various Internet services.

Most of these requests are legitimate, aimed at disabling access to copyright-infringing material. However, there are also many overbroad and abusive takedown notices which lead to unwarranted censorship.

These abuses are a thorn in the side of major tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft. These companies face serious legal consequences if they fail to take content down, but copyright holders who don’t play by the rules often walk free.

This problem is one of the main issues highlighted in a new research report (pdf) published by the CCIA, a trade group which lists many prominent tech companies among its members.

The report proposes several changes to copyright legislation that should bring it in line with the current state of the digital landscape. One of the suggestions is to introduce statutory damages for people who abuse the takedown process.

“One shortcoming of the DMCA is that the injunctive-like remedy of a takedown, combined with a lack of due process, encourages abuse by individuals and entities interested in suppressing content,” CCIA writes.

“Although most rightsholders make good faith use of the DMCA, there are numerous well-documented cases of misuse of the DMCA’s extraordinary remedy. In many cases, bad actors have forced the removal of material that did not infringe copyright.”

The report lists several examples, including DMCA notices which are used to chill political speech by demanding the takedown of news clips, suppress consumer reviews, or retaliate against critics.

Many Internet services are hesitant to refuse these type of takedown requests at it may cause them to lose their safe harbor protection, while the abusers themselves don’t face any serious legal risk.

The CCIA proposes to change this by introducing statutory damage awards for abusive takedown requests. This means that the senders would face the same consequences as the copyright infringers.

“To more effectively deter intentional DMCA abuse, Congress should extend Section 512(f) remedies for willful misrepresentations under the DMCA to include statutory awards, as it has for willful infringement under Section 504(c),” CCIA writes.

In addition to tackling DMCA abuse the tech companies propose several other changes to copyright law.

One of the suggestions is to change the minimum and maximum statutory damages for copyright infringement, which are currently $750 and $150,000 per work.

According to the CCIA the minimum should be lowered to suit cases that involve many infringements, such as a user who hosts thousands of infringing works on a cloud storage platform.

The $150,000 maximum, on the other hand, is open to abuse by copyright trolls and rightsholders who may use it as a pressure tool.

The tech companies hopes that U.S. lawmakers will consider these and other suggestions put forward in the research paper, to improve copyright law and make it future proof.

“Since copyright law was written more than 100 years ago, the goal has been to encourage creativity to benefit the overall public good. It’s important as copyright is modernized to ensure that reforms continue to benefit not just rightsholders, but the overall public good,” the CCIA concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: T-Mobile Refuses to Block The Pirate Bay

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

pirate bayAs the poster-child of online piracy, The Pirate Bay has become one of the most censored websites on the Internet in recent years.

Most recently the Austrian Internet provider A1 was ordered by the Commercial Court of Vienna to block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay.

In addition to various domain names of the notorious torrent site, the court order also requires the Internet provider to block three other “structurally infringing” sites; Isohunt.to, 1337x.to and h33t.to.

Taking advantage of this momentum, local music rights group LSG sent its lawyers after several other large ISPs urging them to follow suit, or else.

A letter with a ‘demand’ to block The Pirate Bay and others was sent T-Mobile and Drei, among others. However, without a court order directed at them the providers are not all eager to comply.

Helmut Spudich, spokesman for T-Mobile, says that his company has no plans to implement new blocking measures. “We will not to comply with this request and access to The Pirate Bay will not be blocked,” Spudich told Futurezone.

The decision of the Commercial Court of Vienna only applies to A1, so T-Mobile sees no legal obligation to comply with the request.

Instead, T-Mobile notes that the authorities “should implement clear legal regulations with regard to Internet blocking in Austria.”

“We don’t want to block our customers to be blocked inadvertently and would like a clarification on the correct procedure,” Spudich adds.

Several other Austrian Internet providers have received the same letter but thus far none have publicly stated that they are prepared to voluntarily block The Pirate Bay on their network.

The Pirate Bay is not the first site to be targeted in Austria. Earlier this year the Supreme Court ordered several leading Austrian ISPs to block the major streaming sites Movie4K.to and Kinox.to.

This order also clarified that the Internet providers will have to pay the costs for future blockades, which may make ISPs more hesitant to comply without protest.

Whether copyright holders will indeed take T-Mobile and other ISPs to court to broaden the existing blockade has yet to be seen.

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

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Wants U.S. Govt to Buy and Store its Servers

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

megauploadWhen Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were raided early 2012, the U.S. Government seized 1,103 servers at Carpathia’s hosting facility in the United States.

Nearly four years have since passed and after all this time the servers are still gathering dust at a Virginia warehouse.

In recent weeks the issue has come to the forefront again. QTS, the company that owns the servers after it acquired Carpathia hosting, asked the court if it can get rid of the data which costs them thousands of dollars per month in storage costs.

This motion triggered a reply from former Megaupload user Kyle Goodwin who still hopes to retrieve his files and a few hours ago Megaupload’s legal team also submitted a comment, asking the court to add it as an official response.

Megaupload points out that the data on the servers must be preserved. Not only for the users’ sake, but also because they contain crucial evidence. The company plans to use this to its benefit in the criminal proceedings as well as the pending cases against the MPAA and RIAA.

The DOJ previously allowed the data hosted in Europe to be destroyed, they argue. If the same happens to the Carpathia servers various examples of Megaupload’s “copyright neutral technology” may disappear.

“The database servers can show safe harbor compliance. The web servers can show the copyright neutral nature of the interface design. The content servers in combination with other data can show fair use and substantial non-infringing uses and users,” Megaupload writes.

Thus far the U.S. Government has only copied a very small percentage of the total data and Megaupload fears that this may be “cherry-picked” to favor the Department of Justice’s case.

“The Government is burdened with a weak case to present in a criminal trial and it wants to prevent a strong defense,” Megaupload’s legal team writes.

“The Government cannot criminally and civilly indict all the revenues arising out of all the global users of the Megaupload cloud storage site in the largest copyright case in history while at the same time cherry picking a sliver evidence to retain for trial and throwing away the rest to manifestly prevent the mounting of a fair defense,” they add.

Megaupload’s legal team asks the court to instruct the Government to buy the servers and transfer them to a facility where they and other authorized parties can access them.

“The Government should bear the cost of such purchase and preservation,” the legal team write.

Before ruling on Megaupload’s request, District Court Judge Liam O’Grady first has to decide whether to accept its request to be heard in the matter. The Government is also likely to chime in, as they’re probably not in favor of the proposed solution.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police ‘Hijack’ Ads on 251 Pirate Sites

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

cityoflondonpoliceOver the past two years City of London Police’s PIPCU unit has been working with the music and movie industries to target sites that provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

Under the banner “Operation Creative”, last year they struck a deal with online advertising companies with the goal of replacing ads on suspected pirate sites with police banners.

The banners in question inform users that “illegal downloading is a crime” and stress the site they’re browsing has been reported to the authorities.

Police banner
pipcu-ad-mp3

The campaign has been active for more than a year but PIPCU only selectively releases information about its scope. However, thanks to a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request we now know how many sites are on the “Infringement Watch List.”

PIPCU informs TF that 151 domain names are being targeted by the advertisement replacement effort. These domains have been reported to the police by copyright holder groups, which is also the case for PIPCU’s other anti-piracy initiatives.

Last year we sent a similar FOI request and at the time 74 sites were included, meaning that the number being targeted has doubled over the past year. Unfortunately, the police are not willing to share the actual domain names as this may increase the number of visitors to these sites.

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

PIPCU further informed us that 134 advertising agencies are participating in the program, up from 84 last year. All of these companies have a UK presence but many operate internationally.

It remains unclear what percentage of the total ads on pirate sites are being replaced. The banners appear rarely in the wild so we assume that the volume is relatively low.

A few weeks ago PIPCU released some statistics on the effectiveness of the campaign. Based on a small sample they concluded that the UK’s top ad spending companies decreased their ‘pirate’ advertising by 73%.

Whether this made any serious impact on the overall revenue of pirate sites is unknown, but PIPCU’s Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe praised the collaboration.

“Working closely with rights holders and the advertising industry, PIPCU has been able to lead the way with tackling copyright infringing sites by successfully disrupting advertising revenue,” he said.

Next year we’ll see if the program continues to expand, and if so, at what rate.

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

TorrentFreak: Former Megaupload User Asks Court to Return His Files

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

megaupload-logoNearly four years have passed since Megaupload’s servers were raided by the U.S. Government, and still it remains uncertain if former users will ever be able to retrieve their files.

Soon after the raids former Megaupload user Kyle Goodwin, a sports reporter who used Megaupload to store work-related files, took legal steps to secure his work.

Helped by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mr. Goodwin filed at least six requests asking the court to find a workable solution for the return of his data, but thus far without success.

The U.S. hasn’t been particularly helpful in the matter as it previously suggested that disadvantaged users shouldn’t bother the Government with complaints, but sue Megaupload instead.

Earlier this month QTS, which owns the servers after they acquired Carpathia hosting, asked the court if it could wipe the data. The company still spends $5,760 per month to preserve Megaupload’s files but doesn’t want to carry this burden forever.

QTS’ request is understandable and the company is not the only third-parties waiting for a solution. Following up on the company’s request, EFF and Kyle Goodwin are asking the court to come up with a solution so he and other former Megaupload users can retrieve their lost files.

“Getting access to the video files I had stored in my Megaupload account would be valuable for my business, my customers, and for me personally,” Goodwin tells the court.

“If I am able to access those files, I will continue to make original video productions from them […] and use the videos in documentaries and promotional materials. I believe the revenue I could earn from the use of the video files will help me grow my business.”

Goodwin’s attorneys has filed a response (pdf) to QTS’ request to dispose of the data. They stress to the court that it’s important to come up with a solution. None of the involved parties can or wants to take responsibility, so the court has to step in.

“It is unclear who currently controls Mr. Goodwin’s property. QTS says it does not have any interest in the data and cannot access it.”

“The government claims it has released control over the servers and the data on them. Megaupload, for its part, says it cannot afford to turn the servers back on and allow customers like Mr. Goodwin to retrieve their data because the government controls its financial assets.”

The uncertainly about the data is not Mr. Goodwin’s fault though, the lawyers argue. They therefore ask the court to come up with a solution.

“It is clear, however, that through no fault of his own, Mr. Goodwin does not control his property, and that this Court has the authority to remedy that. Mr. Goodwin respectfully requests this Court exercise that power and grant him, and those similarly situated, the return of their property.”

How such a data return would work is unclear. Technically the data can be mirrored and hosted elsewhere but someone has to pick up the bill. Thus far negotiations on the issue haven’t resulted in a workable solution.

Also, putting Megaupload’s data back online is likely to cause concern among copyright holders. The MPAA previously stated that users can have their files back as long as access to copyrighted files is blocked, which may be easier said than done.

The court will now have to review the situation once more and is expected to respond to Goodwin’s request during the weeks to come.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 08/24/15

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

madmaxThis week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Mad Max: Fury Road is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (1) Mad Max: Fury Road 8.4 / trailer
2 (…) Avengers: Age of Ultron (HDrip) 7.8 / trailer
3 (2) Aloha 5.3 / trailer
4 (…) A Brilliant Young Mind 7.3 / trailer
5 (3) Terminator Genisys (Subbed HDrip) 7.0 / trailer
6 (7) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (HDTS) 8.0 / trailer
7 (4) Pitch Perfect 2 6.8 / trailer
8 (10) Insurgent 6.6 / trailer
9 (9) Furious 7 7.6 / trailer
10 (5) Hot Pursuit 4.9 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: uTorrent Explores Options to Make Users Pay

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

utorrent-logo-newWith roughly 150 million monthly users uTorrent is by far the most used BitTorrent client.

This dazzling number is a dream for most software companies as it presents major revenue potential. The problem is, however, that uTorrent is free.

In recent years uTorrent’s parent company BitTorrent Inc. has monetized the client through advertisements and bundled software. This works, but it’s also an annoyance for users and the company itself, as it associates the torrent client with riskware.

If it’s up to the uTorrent team, the added software will soon be a thing of the past. Over the past several months the people at BitTorrent Inc. have been discussing the possibility of replacing this revenue stream.

“Specifically, we want to find a way to improve uTorrent for our customers while financially supporting the amazing team that works every day to make uTorrent great.”

The uTorrent team says that it’s never been happy with the bundled software approach and wants to try alternatives during the weeks to come.

“As you know, uTorrent is a free piece of software. To support it, we use bundled software and offers to offset the cost that would otherwise be paid directly by the user,” they note.

“We’ve never been satisfied with this revenue model. It requires compromises that detract from a premium user experience. We want to find a model that adds value to our product and our users. We want to find a better way.”

What the alternatives might be is not yet clear, but the uTorrent team says it will be testing a few options during the next few weeks and months.

In doing so, their goal is to make uTorrent the best client out there while being transparent about the changes in the revenue model.

In addition the team says that there will be options for every budget. This suggest that uTorrent will start to charge users, at least some of them.

Or to use their own wording: “Provide our users with clear options for supporting uTorrent (with options for every budget)”

utorrmove

While we can only speculate for now, one option could be to ask for a monthly, yearly or even a lifetime subscription fee for future versions of uTorrent. With 150 million users, this can be quite profitable even if it costs as little as 99 cents per year.

A similar subscription (but more expensive) model is already in use for BitTorrent Sync, which is developed by the same company.

Another alternative is a significant fee for a lifetime subscription/license, but this may be too much of a hurdle for the average torrent user, so that seems less likely.

Similarly, a voluntary “donation” based revenue stream seems destined to fail, as previous experiments have shown that torrent users are generally hesitant to contribute freely.

Alternatively, BitTorrent Inc. may come out with a trimmed down version of the client with more limited functionality. Users could then upgrade this to a standard version if they choose to pay for it.

Again, we can only speculate for now, but the fact that the uTorrent team is hinting at asking users for money is destined to cause a heated debate.

We contacted BitTorrent Inc. for additional details but haven’t heard back from the company at the time of publishing.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Trackers Ban Windows 10 Over Privacy Concerns

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

win10Since the release of Windows 10 last month many media reports have focused on various privacy intrusions.

The WiFi password sharing feature, for example, or the extensive sharing of personal data and information back to Microsoft’s servers. The list goes on and on.

While we’re the last ones to defend these policies, it is worth pointing out that many other large tech companies have similar privacy violating policies. Reading rants about Windows 10 privacy on Facebook is particularly ironic.

This week things took a turn for the worse. Slowly but steadily reports started pouring in that Windows 10 has a built-in piracy kill switch. If we were to believe some of the reports, Microsoft would nuke all torrents downloaded from The Pirate Bay.

The truth is nowhere near as dystopian though. The controversy originates from a single line in Microsoft’s Service Agreement which allows the company to download software updates and configuration changes that may prevent people from “playing counterfeit games.”

This change isn’t limited to Windows 10 but covers many services. Also, there is no indication that this will ever be used to target third-party games, which is highly unlikely.

Still, the recent privacy concerns have some torrent tracker staffers worried. During the week TF received reports informing us that several private trackers have banned Windows 10, or are considering doing so.

The staffers at iTS explain that Windows 10 is off-limits now because of the extensive amount of data it shares. This includes connections to MarkMonitor, the brand protection company which is also involved in the U.S. Copyright Alert System.

“Unfortunately Microsoft decided to revoke any kind of data protection and submit whatever they can gather to not only themselves but also others. One of those is one of the largest anti-piracy company called MarkMonitor,” iTS staff note.

“Amongst other things Windows 10 sends the contents of your local disks directly to one of their servers. Obviously this goes way too far and is a serious threat to sites like ours which is why we had to take measures,” they add.

While this may sound scary, Microsoft has been working with MarkMonitor for years already. Among other things, the company helps to keep scammers at bay.

There is no evidence that any piracy related info is being shared. Still, the connection is raising red flags with other tracker operators as well. More trackers reportedly ban Windows 10 and others including BB and FSC are consider to follow suit.

“We have also found [Windows 10] will be gathering information on users’ P2P use to be shared with anti piracy group,” BB staff writes to its users.

“What’s particularly nasty is that apparently it sends the results of local(!!) searches to a well known anti piracy company directly so as soon as you have one known p2p or scene release on your local disk … BAM!”

The same sentiment is shared at FSC where staff also informed users about the threat.

“As we all know, Microsoft recently released Windows 10. You as a member should know, that we as a site are thinking about banning the OS from FSC. That would mean you cannot use the site with the OS installed,” FSC staff writes.

While a paranoid mindset is definitely not a bad thing for people in the business of managing a torrent community, banning an operating system over privacy concerns is a bit much for most. Especially since many of the same issues also affect earlier versions of Windows.

Luckily, the most invasive privacy concerns can be dealt with by configuring Windows properly. Or any other operating system, application or social network for that matter.

Instead of banning something outright, it may be a good idea to inform the public on specific dangers and educate them how they can be alleviated.

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

TorrentFreak: Spotify: Piracy May Surge Without a Freemium Option

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

cassetteWith the option to stream millions of tracks supported by an occasional ad, or free of ads for a small subscription fee, Spotify has proven to be a serious competitor to music piracy.

Since its first release in 2009 the service has conquered the hearts and minds of many music fans. Currently available in more than 60 countries, it is catering to dozens of millions of users.

In recent months, however, various prominent music industry insiders have called for an end to Spotify’s freemium option. With this move they hope that the company will increase its revenues and pay more compensation to artists and labels.

This is not a good idea, according to Sachin Dosh, Spotify’s Vice President of content and distribution. Killing the freemium model may result in more subscriptions but it may also boost piracy.

“We’ve done such a great job at Spotify of making piracy irrelevant, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone. It just means there’s no need for it right now,” Dosh told MBW.

“You could create that need again if you follow the wrong path,” he adds.

In recent years Spotify has caused a decline in music piracy rates in a few countries, something the company always envisioned it would. Having a free tier is an essential part of this chain.

According to Spotify’s exec the music industry realizes the risk of canceling the freemium option, which suggests that there are no concrete plans to change its model in the near future.

“…I think the industry does actually agree with a lot of this: instead of making free worse, the right answer is making premium better,” Dosh says.

Spotify’s comments on a piracy revival are in line with what we warned earlier. However, it is not the only threat. The recent push for more “exclusive” releases are another point of frustration for many music fans.

Various music services make deals to be the first to release new albums, such as Dr. Dre’s iTunes exclusive, making the piracy option relevant again for users of other paid services. This might not be a good strategy in the long run.

On that note, Spotify also has to be careful with privacy issues. A change to the company’s terms and conditions now allows it to access photos, phone numbers and sensory data from mobile users, which has quite a few users upset.

Now we don’t want these users, including Minecraft creator Markus Persson, to reconvert to pirates again, do we?

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

TorrentFreak: UK Piracy Police Asked Domain Registrars to Shut Down 317 Sites

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

cityoflondonpoliceFor most police departments online piracy has no priority, but in recent years City of London Police have made copyright infringement one of their main targets.

In September 2013 the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit was founded, marking the start of a broad enforcement campaign to decease online piracy rates.

PIPCU initially began by sending out warning letters to pirate site owners, asking them to go legit or shut down. Soon, this was followed by a campaign targeted at domain registrars, asking them to suspend the domain names of several “illegal” sites.

To find out the scope of both campaigns, TorrentFreak filed a Freedom of Information request asking for further details. While the police didn’t want to mention any names, fearing that this would promote piracy, we did receive some interesting statistics.

Since the launch of the unit two years ago PIPCU says it has sent warning letters to the operators of 377 ‘pirate’ sites. All of these sites were referred by entertainment industry groups and include most of the popular file-sharing domains.

The number of warning letters increased from 107 last year, suggesting that PIPCU intensified its efforts. While these warnings may have yielded results at smaller sites, we are not aware of any larger ones that shut down in response.

In addition to contacting site owners directly, PIPCU also approached domain name registrars with requests to suspend these pirate sites. In total, police sent out suspension requests for 317 domain names, up from 75 around the same time last year.

Interestingly, PIPCU notes that it has no information on the effectiveness of these requests. In other words, police don’t know how many sites were subsequently suspended by domain name registrars.

This is quite surprising as one would expect that the efficiency of their campaigns is being measured somehow. Also, the records we requested were available last year. At the time, police told us that only 5 of the 75 requests to domain registrars had been successful.

EasyDNS CEO Mark Jeftovic is one of the people who denied the PIPCU requests. While he is not against domain name suspensions, he stressed that his company wouldn’t take action just because the request is sent on police letterhead.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought it was something that gets decided in a court of law, as opposed to ‘some guy on the internet’ sending emails. While that’s plenty reason enough for some registrars to take down domain names, it doesn’t fly here,” he said.

Although the hundreds of voluntary warnings and suspension requests have not resulted in the downfall of any large pirate sites, the UK Government is happy with the progress made thus far.

Last fall Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Neville-Rolfe secured PIPCU’s future until at least 2017. With a fresh £3 million cash boost the unit will continue its anti-piracy efforts during the years to come.

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

TorrentFreak: Dallas Buyers Club Wants to Interrogate Suspected Pirates

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

dallasThe makers of Dallas Buyers Club have sued hundreds of BitTorrent users over the past year.

Many of these cases end up being settled for an undisclosed amount. This usually happens after the filmmakers obtain the identity of the Internet account holder believed to have pirated the movie.

Not all alleged downloaders are eager to pay up though. In fact, many don’t respond to the settlement letters they receive or claim that someone else must have downloaded the film using their connection.

In a recent court filing (pdf) at a Washington District Court the filmmakers explain the efforts they undertake to ensure that the right person is accused. This includes gathering information from Facebook, LinkedIn and even Google Maps.

“Google address mapping and county records were investigated to confirm ownership/rental status of and residence at the property associated with the IP address, as well as observe the physical makeup and layout of the house and neighborhood to anticipate possible claims that a wireless signal was highjacked by someone outside of the residence,” the filmmakers explain.

The router security settings and download history of a specific connection are used as additional pieces of information to ensure that the alleged copyright infringements are systematic.

“Further, given the standard security measures imposed by ISPs to prevent unauthorized use of an IP address, the volume of piracy demonstrated over the extended observation period could not be the result of someone driving by, a temporary house guest or a hacker sitting in a car on the street.”

While the methods above are already quite invasive, Dallas Buyers Club now aims to take it up a notch.

In order to pinpoint the true pirates the movie studio wants to depose 15 account holders. This means that they will have to testify under oath for up to two hours and face a grilling from the studio’s legal team.

This is the first time that we’ve seen a request for a deposition in a Dallas Buyers Club case. Needless to say, a testimony under oath can be quite intimidating, and is highly unusual in these type of cases.

The account holders of IP-addresses linked to the pirated downloads have already been identified by the ISP. However, they failed to respond to the movie studio or denied that they had shared the film illegally.

Through a testimony under oath, the movie studio hopes to identify the true pirates, so they can be named in the lawsuit.

“DBC believes that further discovery is warranted to confirm which of any possible occupants of the physical address assigned the infringing IP address is the proper Doe defendant to be named in the case,” they note.

The filmmakers suspect that some of the subscribers are the actual infringers, but it’s possible that they’re covering for someone else, such as a roommate or spouse.

“A subscriber should not be allowed to shield, immunize and anonymize those they allow to use their Internet service from liability for intentional torts. The subscriber is the single best and perhaps only source of information as to the responsible party using its IP address.”

According to the filmmakers the depositions will result in a reduction of legal expenses while guaranteeing the anonymity of the defendants.

However, more critical observers may also note that it is an optimal tool to pressure ISP subscribers who choose to ignore settlement requests and other threats.

At the time of writing the court has yet to rule on the discovery request.

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Studio Sues Popcorn Time Users In The U.S.

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

cobblerOver the past several years hundreds of thousands of Internet subscribers have been sued in the United States for allegedly sharing copyrighted material, mostly video.

The cases are generally targeted at “BitTorrent” users in general, not focusing on any client in particular.

However, this week the makers of the 2014 comedy “The Cobbler” decided to single out Popcorn Time users.

Popcorn Time also uses BitTorrent under the hood but unlike traditional clients it allows users to browse through a library of films and stream these from within the application.

Popcorn Time is by no means private as users connect to public BitTorrent swarms, which makes it easy for monitoring firms and copyright holders to track down pirates.

This also happened to 11 Popcorn Time users who allegedly viewed and shared “The Cobbler.” The makers of the movie filed a complaint (pdf) at a Oregon District Court requesting a subpoena to compel Comcast to hand over the personal details of the associated account holders.

“Each defendant’s IP address has been observed and confirmed as both viewing and distributing plaintiff’s motion picture through Popcorn Time,” the complaint explains.

The Popcorn Time defendants
popcob

The reason for singling out Popcorn Time users is unclear. The same filmmakers have launched lawsuits against BitTorrent users before, but they may believe that the infringing image of Popcorn Time bolsters their case.

“Popcorn Time exists for one purpose and one purpose only: to steal copyrighted content,” they write, adding that the defendants should have been well aware of this.

The Popcorn Time website and application repeatedly informs users that its use may be against the law. For example, the Popcorn Time website has a clear warning on its homepage and in the FAQ.

“Without a doubt, each user of Popcorn Time is provided multiple notices that they are downloading and installing software for the express purpose of committing theft and contributing the ability of others to commit theft by furthering the Bit Torrent piracy network,” the complaint explains.

Popcorn Time warning
popwarning

The filmmakers demand a permanent injunction against the defendants ordering them to stop pirating their movies. In addition, they request statutory damages of up to $150,000.

In reality, however, they are likely to approach the defendants for a settlement offer of a few thousands dollars, as is common in these type of “copyright troll” cases.

The developers of the Popcorn Time app that was targeted inform TF that users are indeed repeatedly warned that using their application to download pirated films can lead to legal trouble.

“Popcorn Time isn’t illegal. However, the use people make of the application can be illegal, depending on their country and local laws,” they tell TF.

“You’d think with all our warnings, the anti-piracy laws, the explanations given in the media and the common sense, users would be aware of their actions by now. Pinning a a ‘Popcorn Time’ label over such a lawsuit seems a little inflated,” they add.

The Court has yet to issue an order following the subpoena request. Based on previous cases the account holders connected to the 11 IP-addresses listed above can expect a settlement offer in the mail soon.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Government Grabbed Dotcom’s Millions “As a Last Resort”

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

megaupload-logoEarlier this year the U.S. Government won its civil forfeiture case against Megaupload and Kim Dotcom.

As a result the authorities now claim possession of Kim Dotcom’s bank accounts, cars, art and other property worth dozens of millions of dollars.

Last month Megaupload’s legal team appealed the District Court’s decision, pointing out that the court denied the defendants’ basic rights and violated due process.

According to the defense team the court was wrong to label Dotcom and his colleagues as fugitives, an argument that received support from several prominent legal experts.

A few hours ago the U.S. Government responded to the claims. In a lengthy 59-page response brief United States Attorney Dana Boente argues that the District Court rightfully labeled Dotcom and his colleagues as fugitives.

The brief also explains why the Department of Justice decided to file a civil forfeiture case against Megaupload and Dotcom, while the criminal proceedings were still ongoing.

The U.S. feared that Dotcom would get his money back if the DoJ failed to file a civil case. Under New Zealand law foreign restraining orders are only valid for two years, with a possible one-year extension. This extension would have run out on April 18th of this year.

“Therefore, the United States had no realistic alternative to filing its civil forfeiture action if it was to obtain any financial relief for the victims of the Mega Conspiracy,” Boente writes.

Tucked away in a footnote United States Attorney Boente describes the case as a last resort to keep the money safe.

“…this civil forfeiture case was filed as a last resort, over two years after the Fugitive Claimants were indicted when it became clear that they would fight to delay any extradition proceedings, while depleting the proceeds of their crimes to the detriment of their victims and to their own unearned benefit”

“Had the defendants simply appeared to face the criminal charges, the civil forfeiture case would not have been necessary,” the footnote adds.

The crux of the appeal is whether or not the District Court’s order to forfeit an estimated $67 million in assets was right. According to the Government it was, as the defendants’ due process rights were not violated.

In the response brief the U.S. notes that Dotcom and his colleagues avoided the United Stated on purpose, which makes it proper to label them as fugitives.

Megaupload’s defense previously argued that they avoided the U.S. because they were exercising their legal right to fight the extradition. However, the U.S. Attorney noted that Dotcom his colleagues had their chance to get due process, if they’d decided to come to the United States.

It’s now up to the Appeals Court to decide whether the U.S. forfeiture order was indeed rightful, or if Dotcom and his Megaupload colleagues should regain control over their assets.

Even if the U.S. wins, the assets will not be available freely. Over in New Zealand, the court granted Dotcom interim relief from having the forfeiture order recognized locally.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Ducks Censorship Battle With Google, Twitter and Facebook

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

movietubeLast month the MPAA sued several popular movie streaming websites which all operated under the MovieTube flag.

As part of the lawsuit the major movie studios asked for a preliminary injunction ordering several third-party companies to stop linking or providing services to the sites.

For several tech companies this request went too far. Last week Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo explained to the court that it could result in broad Internet censorship, similar to the blocking provisions that were listed in the controversial SOPA bill.

The filing appeared to be the start of a new standoff between Hollywood and the tech companies, but a letter submitted by the MPAA yesterday puts it on hold.

The MPAA informed the court that a preliminary injunction is no longer required as the MovieTube sites have been offline for several weeks already.

“Plaintiffs are no longer seeking preliminary injunctive relief at this time but will seek permanent relief as soon as possible,” the MPAA’s lawyers write.

The decision to drop the request may very well have been triggered by the Amici Curiae brief of the tech companies. After all, the MovieTube sites were already offline when the MPAA submitted the injunction request weeks ago.

In their letter to the court the MPAA stress that the opposition brief should no longer be considered now that they have pulled their request for an injunction.

“…because Plaintiffs have withdrawn their motion for preliminary injunctive relief, the arguments offered by Amici Curiae in opposition to that motion are not ripe for consideration and are otherwise inapplicable.”

“To the extent Amici are requesting what amounts to an advisory opinion, such a request is improper and should not be entertained,” they add.

It appears that it’s a strategic move from the MPAA not to challenge the tech companies, for now. However, the movie industry group has made it clear that website blocking is one of their main anti-piracy priorities so we can expect this battle to reignite in the future.

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

TorrentFreak: Fox Targets Free Fitness Workout For Using the Word ‘Avatar’

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

avatarCopyrights and trademarks are an important tool for rightsholders to ensure that their content is not being abused.

Unfortunately, they can also be used to censor other content creators. Just last week we showed how legitimate videos we pulled offline simply because they used the word pixels.

Today another example of an overbroad content protection effort has surfaced. Darebee, a service offering free fitness programs, was recently targeted by a takedown request sent by Twentieth Century Fox.

Fox’s legal department complained to the fitness service about various programs referencing popular film and TV-titles including “Buffy,” “Fight Club,” “Archer” and “Avatar.”

Fox’ takedown request
foxtakedown

Darebee admits that some programs are indeed inspired by popular films but stresses that it doesn’t profit from them.

“When we have knowingly used a film name to one of our workouts or a film or comic book character we have done so within the homage, inspiration and fan-created content framework. We don’t sell anything. Our workouts are free and always will be,” Darebee notes.

While Darebee doesn’t agree with the request, they decided to remove most of the ‘infringing’ programs to avoid further problems. However, the “Avatar Upgrade” workout remains online.

According to Darebee the Avatar reference has no connection with the popular Fox movie. Instead, it refers to the avatars people use online.

“The program is based upon the fact that we each have avatars in the digital world and try to improve them any way we can. We can now do the same thing in real life by going through a program with the same name, focused on our real-life avatars.”

“Fox or any other corporation do not own the rights to the English language and every word in its dictionary,” Darebee adds, explaining why they’re keeping the Avatar workout program online.

In a detailed response Darebee notes that some rightholders go too far in their protection efforts. Motivated by greed, these efforts are hurting other content creators, they claim.

“Every company has a right to make a profit. That we totally understand and we do not dispute. But no company has any right to see people solely as dollar signs, or use its apparent size to railroad everyone’s rights in the mistaken belief that it will help it become more successful,” they write.

With the help of many volunteers Darebee will continue to publish free fitness workouts. The “Archer,” “Buffy,” “Die Hard” “Predator” and “Fight Club” programs are gone, but the “Avatar Upgrade” remains online.

Also, perhaps not totally coincidentally, a new “Fighters Club” program has just appeared online.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 08/17/15

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

madmaxThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Mad Max: Fury Road 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 (…) Mad Max: Fury Road 8.4 / trailer
2 (8) Aloha 5.3 / trailer
3 (1) Terminator Genisys (Subbed HDrip) 7.0 / trailer
4 (2) Pitch Perfect 2 6.8 / trailer
5 (3) Hot Pursuit 4.9 / trailer
6 (…) Dark Places 6.3 / trailer
7 (4) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (HDTS) 8.0 / trailer
8 (…) Cop Car (HDrip) 6.6 / trailer
9 (5) Furious 7 7.6 / trailer
10 (6) Insurgent 6.6 / trailer

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