Author Archive

TorrentFreak: Google’s New Search Downranking Hits Torrent Sites Hard

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

google-bayIn recent years Hollywood and the music industry have taken a rather aggressive approach against Google. The entertainment industry companies have accused the search engine of not doing enough to limit piracy, and demanded more stringent anti-piracy measures.

One of the suggestions often made is the removal or demotion of pirate sites in search results. A lower ranking would lead fewer people to pirate sources and promoting legal sources would have a similar effect, rightsholders argue.

While Google already began changing the ranking of sites based on DMCA complaints in 2012, it announced more far-reaching demotion measures last week. According to Google the new alghorithm changes would “visibly” lower the search rankings of the most notorious pirate sites, and they were right.

TorrentFreak has spoken with various torrent site owners who confirm that traffic from Google has been severely impacted by the recent algorithm changes. “Earlier this week all search traffic dropped in half,” the Isohunt.to team told us.

The drop is illustrated by a day-to-day traffic comparison before and after the changes were implemented, as shown below. The graph shows a significant loss in traffic which Isohunt.to solely attributes to Google’s recent changes.

Torrent site traffic drop
traffic drop

The downranking affects all sites that have a relatively high percentage of DMCA takedown requests. When Google users search for popular movie, music or software titles in combination with terms such as “download,” “watch” and “torrent”, these sites are demoted.

The new measures appear to be far more effective than previous search algorithm changes, and affect all major ‘pirate’ sites. Below is an overview of the SEO visibility of several large torrent sites in the UK and US, based on a list of 100 keywords.

Google SEO visibility torrent sites
seo-visibility

The true impact varies from site to site, depending on how much it relies on Google traffic. Confirming their earlier stance, The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak that they are not really concerned about the changes as they have relatively little traffic from Google.

“That Google is putting our links lower is in a way a good thing for us. We’ll get more direct traffic when people don’t get the expected search result when using Google, since they will go directly to TPB,” they said.

To get an idea of how the search results have changed we monitored a few search phrases that were likely to be affected. The before and after comparisons, which are only three days apart, show that popular ‘pirate sites’ have indeed disappeared.

A search for “Breaking Bad torrent” previously featured Kickass.to, Torrentz.eu and Isohunt.com on top, but these have all disappeared. Interestingly, in some cases their place has been taken by other less popular torrent sites.

old – “Breaking Bad torrent” – new
breaking bad torrent

The top torrent sites have also vanished from a search for the movie The Social Network. “The Social Network download” no longer shows results from Kickass.to, ThePirateBay.se and Movie4k.to but shows the IMDb profile on top instead.

old – “The Social Network download” – new
the social network download

Searches for music tracks have changed as well. The phrase “Eminem lose yourself mp3″ no longer shows links to popular MP3 download sites such as MP3Skull.com, but points to legal sources and lesser known pirate sites.

old – “Eminem lose yourself mp3″ – new
eminemp3

The traffic data and search comparisons clearly show that Google’s latest downranking changes can have a severe impact on popular “pirate” sites. Ironically, the changes will also drive a lot of traffic to smaller unauthorized sources for the time being, but these will also be demoted as their takedown notice count increases.

Rinse and repeat.

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

TorrentFreak: Photographer Who Sued Imgur Now Has a Pirate Bay Problem

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

boffoli1When it comes to online piracy most attention usually goes out to music, TV-shows and movies. However, photos are arguably the most-infringed works online.

Virtually every person on the Internet has shared a photo without obtaining permission from its maker, whether through social networks, blogs or other services.

While most photographers spend little time on combating piracy, Seattle-based artist Christopher Boffoli has taken some of the largest web services to court for aiding these infringements

Boffoli has filed lawsuits against Twitter, Google and others, which were settled out for court under undisclosed terms. Last month he started a new case against popular image sharing site Imgur after it allegedly ignored his takedown requests.

The photographer asked the court to order an injunction preventing Imgur from making 73 of his photos available online. In addition, he requested millions of dollars in statutory damages for willful copyright infringement.

Imgur has yet to file an official reply to the complaint. In the meantime, however, Boffoli’s actions appear to have triggered another less welcome response.

A few days ago a user of The Pirate Bay decided to upload a rather large archive of the photographer’s work to the site. The archive in question is said to hold 20,754 images, including the most famous “Big Appetites” series.

A torrent with 20,754 images
tpb-boffoli

The image archive, which is more than eight gigabytes in size, had to be partly wrapped in an .iso file because otherwise the .torrent file itself would have been too large.

The description of the archive mentions Boffoli’s recent actions against Imgur, which could have triggered the upload. One of the commenters points out that the Imgur lawsuit may have done more harm than good, and a new Internet meme was born.

“Sued for 73 images, got 20,754 uploaded to TPB, LOL. About the Big Appetites series, if I ever get my hands on a copy, I’ll scan it at 600 dpi and upload it here, have fun trying to censor the internet, Boffoli,” the commenter notes.

TorrentFreak asked Boffoli for a comment on the leak and whether he will take steps to prevent the distribution, but we have yet to hear back.

While not everyone may agree with the lawsuit against Imgur piracy can impact photographers quite a bit. It’s usually not the average Pirate Bay user that’s causing the damage though, but rather companies that use professional photos commercially without a license.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Government Shuts Down Music Sharing Sites

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

IPRC_SeizedDuring the spring of 2010 U.S. authorities started a campaign to take copyright-infringing websites offline.

Since then Operation in Our Sites has resulted in thousands of domain name seizures and several arrests. While most of the sites are linked to counterfeit goods, dozens of “pirate” sites have also been targeted.

After a period of relative calm the authorities appear to have restarted their efforts with the takedown of two large music sites. RockDizFile.com and RockDizMusic.com, which are connected, now display familiar banners in which ICE takes credit for their demise.

“This domain has been seized by ICE- Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court under the authority of 18 U.S.C. §§ 981 and 2323,” the banner reads.

TorrentFreak contacted ICE yesterday for a comment on the recent activity but we have yet to receive a response.

The domain names are now pointing to the same IP-address where many of the previously seized websites, such as torrent-finder.com and channelsurfing.net, are directed. Both domain names previously used Cloudflare and had their NS entries updated earlier this week.

Despite the apparent trouble, RockDizFile.com and RockDizMusic.com’s Twitter and Facebook pages have remained silent for days.

RockDizMusic presented itself as an index of popular new music. Artists were encouraged to use the site to promote their work, but the site also featured music being shared without permission, including pre-release tracks.

RockDizMusic.com
rockdizmusic

RockDizFile used a more classic file-hosting look, but with a 50MB limit it was mostly used for music. The site offered premium accounts to add storage space and remove filesize and bandwidth limitations.

RockDizFile.com
rockdizfile

Both websites appear to have a strong focus on rap and hip-hop music. This is in line with previous ICE seizures which targeted RapGodFathers.com, RMX4U.com, OnSmash.com and Dajaz1.com.

The latter was seized by mistake. The record labels failed to deliver proof of alleged infringements to the authorities and after a long appeal the domain was eventually returned to its owners.

This incident and the general lack of due process of ICE’s domain seizures has led to critique from lawmakers and legal scholars. The authorities are nevertheless determined to keep Operation in Our Sites going.

“Operation In Our Sites’ enforcement actions involve federal law enforcement investigating and developing evidence to obtain seizure warrants from federal judges,” ICE states on its website.

Once a credible lead comes in ICE says it “will work with the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute, convict, and punish individuals as well as seize website domain names, profits, and other property from IP thieves.”

At this point it’s unclear whether ICE has targeted any of the individuals connected to RockDizFile.com and RockDizMusic.com or whether the unit has taken down any other sites in a similar fashion.

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

TorrentFreak: Retired Scene Groups Return to Honor Fallen Member

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

ripTo many people the Warez Scene is something mythical or at least hard to comprehend. A group of people at the top of the piracy pyramid.

The Scene is known for its aversion to public file-sharing, but nonetheless it’s in large part responsible for much of the material out there today.

The goal of most Scene groups is to be the first to release a certain title, whether that’s a film, music or software. While there is some healthy competition The Scene is also a place where lifelong friendships are started.

A few days ago, on October 17, the Scene lost Goolum, a well-respected member and friend. Only in his late thirties, he passed away after being part of the Scene for more than a decade.

As a cracker Goolum, also known as GLM, was of the more experienced reverse engineers who worked on numerous releases.

Through the years Goolum was connected to several groups which are now retired, some for more than a decade. To honor their fallen friend, the groups ZENiTH, Lz0, SLT and MiDNiGHT have made a one-time comeback.

Below is an overview of their farewell messages, which honor him for his cracking skills but most of all as a friend. Our thoughts go out to Goolum’s friends and family.

ZENiTH: THUNDERHEAD.ENGINEERING.PYROSIM.V2014.2.RIP.GOOLUM-ZENiTH (NFO)

ZENiTH, a group that retired around 2005, mentions Goolum’s loyalty and the love for his daughter.

“Goolum has been in and around the scene since the Amiga days but had never been a guy to jump from group to group, but stayed loyal and dedicated to the few groups he was involved in.”

“We are all proud to have been in a group with you, to have spent many a long night sharing knowledge about everything, learning about your daughter who you where very proud of, and all the projects you were involved in.”

ZENiTH’s in memoriam
zenith1

Lz0: CEI.Inc.EnSight.Gold.v10.1.1b.Incl.Keygen.RIP.GOOLUM-Lz0 (NFO)

Lz0 or LineZer0, split from the Scene last year but many of its members are still actively involved in other roles. The group mentions the hard time Goolum has had due to drug problems. LzO also highlights Goolum’s love for his daughter, and how proud he was of her.

“We all knew that he struggled in life – not just economical but also on a personal level and not the least with his drug issues. One of the things that kept him going was his wonderful daughter whom he cherished a lot. He often talked about her, and how proud of her he was. He was clear that if there was one thing in life he was proud of – it was that he became the dad of a wonderful girl.”

“We’re shocked that when finally things started to move in the right direction, that we would receive the news about his death. It came without warning and we can only imagine the shock of his family. It’s hard to find the right words – or words for that matter. Even though it might have appeared as that he was lonely – with few friends, he knew that we were just a keyboard away.”

Lz0′s in memoriam
Lz0mem

SLT: PROTEUS.ENGINEERING.FASTSHIP.V6.1.30.1.RIP.GOOLUM-SLT (NFO)

SLT or SOLiTUDE has been retired since 2000 but returns to remember Goolum. The group notes that he will be dearly missed.

“You will be missed. It is not easy to say goodbye to someone who you have known for over a decade, trading banter, laughs, advice and stories. You leave behind a daughter, a family and a group of friends, who will miss you dearly.”

“As the news have spread, the kind words have poured in. Solitude is releasing this in honor of you, to show that the values we founded the group on is the exact values you demonstrated through your decades of being in the scene. Loyalty, friendship and hard work. Our thoughts are with you, wherever you may be.”

SLT’s in memoriam
SLT

MiDNiGHT: POINTWISE_V17.2.R2_RIP_GOOLUM-MIDNIGHT (NFO)

MiDNiGHT hasn’t been active for nearly a decade but have also honored Goolum with a comeback. The group mentions that he was a great friend who was always in for a chat and a beer.

“Life won’t ever be the same again my friend. We could sit and chat for hours and hours, and even then we knew each other well enough that nothing more was required than a beer, a rant and a small *yarr* and we’d know it would all be good.”

“This time it’s not good mate. I am here, you are not. I can’t even begin to express how this makes me feel – except an absolute sadness.”

MiDNiGHT’s in memoriam
midnight

RIP Goolum 1977 – 2014

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

TorrentFreak: 4shared Demands Retraction Over Misleading Piracy Report

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

profitLast month the Digital Citizens Alliance and NetNames released a new report with the aim of exposing the business models and profitability of “rogue” file-storage sites.

The report titled Behind The Cyberlocker Door: Behind The Cyberlocker Door: A Report How Shadowy Cyberlockers Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions, is being used as ammunition for copyright holders to pressure credit card companies and advertisers to cut ties with the listed sites.

While some of the sites mentioned are indeed of a dubious nature the report lacks nuance. The “shadowy” label certainly doesn’t apply to all. Mega, for example, was quick to point out that the report is “grossly untrue and highly defamatory.” The company has demanded a public apology.

4shared, the most visited site in the report with over 50 million unique visitors per month, is now making similar claims. According to 4shared’s Mike Wilson the company has put its legal team on the case.

“We decided to take action and demand a public retraction of the information regarding 4shared’s revenues and business model as published in the report. Our legal team is already working on the respective notes to Digital Citizens Alliance and Netnames,” Wilson tells TorrentFreak.

As the largest file-hosting service the report estimates that 4shared grosses $17.6 million per year. However, 4shared argues that many of the assumptions in the report are wrong and based on a distorted view of the company’s business model.

“Revenue volumes in this report are absolutely random. For instance, 4shared’s actual revenue from premium subscription sales is approximately 20 times smaller than is shown in the document,” Wilson says.

4shared explains that its premium users are mostly interested in storing their files safely and securely. In addition, the company notes that it doesn’t have any affiliate programs or other encouragements for uploading or downloading files.

Unlike the report claims, 4shared stresses that it’s not setup as a service that aims to profit from copyright infringement, although it admits that this does take place.

To deal with this unauthorized use the file-hosting service has a DMCA takedown policy in place. In addition, some of the most trusted rightsholder representative have direct access to the site where they can delete files without sending a takedown notice.

This works well and the overall takedown volume is relatively low. Together, the site’s users store a billion files and in an average month 4shared receives takedown notices for 0.05% of these files.

In addition to their takedown procedure 4shared also scans publicly shared music files for copyright-infringing content. This Music ID system, custom-built by the company, scans for pirated music files based on a unique audio watermark and automatically removes them.

Despite these efforts 4shared was included in the “shadowy cyberlocker” report where it’s branded a rogue and criminal operation. Whether the company’s legal team will be able to set the record straight has yet to be seen.

Netnames and Digital Citizens have thus far declined to remove Mega from the report as the company previously demanded. Mega informs TorrentFreak that a defamation lawsuit remains an option and that they are now considering what steps to take next.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 10/20/14

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

22jumpThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

22 Jump Street 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) 22 Jump Street 7.6 / trailer
2 (…) How to Train Your Dragon 2 8.2 / trailer
3 (5) The Purge: Anarchy 6.6 / trailer
4 (3) Stretch 6.8 / trailer
5 (2) Transformers: Age of Extinction 6.1 / trailer
6 (…) Planes: Fire & Rescue 5.8 / trailer
7 (…) The Giver 6.7 / trailer
8 (…) Annabelle 5.9 / trailer
9 (4) Sex Tape 5.2 / trailer
10 (9) X-Men: Days of Future Past 8.4 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Sports Streaming Site Hides Itself From The UK Piracy Police

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

cityoflondonpoliceOver the past few months City of London Police have been working together with copyright holders to take on sites that provide or link to pirated content.

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) uses a variety of measures to achieve its goals. This includes sending requests to registrars requesting the suspension of allegedly infringing domain names.

The sports streaming site Fromhot, also known as Sportlemon and Frombar, was one of the most recent targets of the latter strategy. The “franchise” has well over a million visitors per month but some of these went missing after the Frombar.com domain was suspended.

The streaming site does remain operational from several alternative domain names, which now point to Fromhot.com, but interestingly enough the site can no longer be accessed from the UK.

fromhot1

A few days after its main domain was suspended the sport streaming site decided to block all visitors from the UK. It appears that this measure was taken in the hope of avoiding further actions from PIPCU.

TorrentFreak contacted the people behind the site for a comment on the unusual measure, but we have yet to hear back.

Frombar is not the first sports streaming site to be targeted by PIPCU. In May, PIPCU had the domain of the Cricfree.tv streaming portal suspended but its operator was able to bring the site back under a new domain.

In addition to the domain suspensions PIPCU also had several sports streaming site operators arrested. TorrentFreak previously revealed that the operator of BoxingGuru.co.uk, boxingguru.eu, boxingguru.tv and nutjob.eu was arrested during April.

This was followed by the arrest last month of 27-year old Zain Parvez, who allegedly operated CoolSport.se, CoolSport.tv and KiwiSportz.tv. Parvez was described as the head of an “industrial scale” sports streaming operation but all charges against him were dropped earlier this week.

Whether the blockade of UK traffic will keep PIPCU at bay has yet to be seen. The notice posted on the seized Frombar.com still notes that the site is “under criminal investigation.”

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

TorrentFreak: Jennifer Lawrence Gets Google to Censor Leaked Pictures, Sort Of

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

pixelatedOver the past several weeks hundreds of photos of naked celebrities leaked online. This “fappening” triggered a massive takedown operation targeting sites that host and link to the controversial images.

As a hosting provider and search engine Google inadvertently plays a role in distributing the compromising shots, much to the displeasure of the women involved.

More than a dozen of them sent Hollywood lawyer Marty Singer after the company. Earlier this month Singer penned an angry letter to Google threatening legal action if it doesn’t remove the images from YouTube, Blogspot and its search results.

“It is truly reprehensible that Google allows its various sites, systems and search results to be used for this type of unlawful activity. If your wives, daughters or relatives were victims of such blatant violations of basic human rights, surely you would take appropriate action,” the letter reads.

While no legal action has yet been taken, some celebrities have also sent individual DMCA takedown requests to Google. On September 24 Jennifer Lawrence’s lawyers asked the search engine to remove two links to thefappening.eu as these infringe on the star’s copyrights.

The DMCA takedown request
jlawdmca
Earlier this week the request was still pending, so TorrentFreak asked Google what was causing the delay. The company said it could not comment on individual cases but a day later the links in question were removed.

This means that both the thefappening.eu main domain and the tag archive of Jennifer Lawrence posts no longer appear in Google’s search results.

Whether this move has helped Lawrence much is doubtful though. The site in question had already redirected its site to a new domain at thefappening.so. These links remain indexed since they were not mentioned in the takedown request.

The good news is that many of Lawrence’s pictures are no longer hosted on the site itself. In fact, the URLs listed in the takedown request to Google no longer show any of the infringing photos in question, so technically Google had no obligation to remove the URLs.

A prominent disclaimer on the site points out that the operator will gladly take down the compromising photos if he’s asked to do so. Needless to say, this is much more effective than going after Google.

The disclaimer
attention

Photo via

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

TorrentFreak: Google Will Punish “Pirate” Sites Harder in Search Results

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

google-bayOver the past few years the entertainment industries have repeatedly asked Google to step up its game when it comes to anti-piracy efforts.

These remarks haven’t fallen on deaf ears and Google has slowly implemented various new anti-piracy measures in response.

Today Google released an updated version of its “How Google Fights Piracyreport. The company provides an overview of all the efforts it makes to combat piracy, but also stresses that copyright holders themselves have a responsibility to make content available.

One of the most prominent changes is a renewed effort to make “pirate” sites less visible in search results. Google has had a downranking system in place since 2012, but this lacked effectiveness according to the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright industry groups.

The improved version, which will roll out next week, aims to address this critique.

“We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites. This update will roll out globally starting next week,” says Katherine Oyama, Google’s Copyright Policy Counsel.

The report notes that the new downranking system will still be based on the number of valid DMCA requests a site receives, among other factors. The pages of flagged sites remain indexed, but are less likely to be the top results.

“Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in search results. This ranking change helps users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily,” the report reads.

Looking at the list of sites for which Google received the most DMCA takedown request, we see that 4shared, Filestube and Dilandau can expect to lose some search engine traffic.

The report further highlights several other tweaks and improvements to Google’s anti-piracy efforts. For example, in addition to banning piracy related AutoComplete words, Google now also downranks suggestions that return results with many “pirate” sites.

Finally, the report also confirms our previous reporting which showed that Google uses ads to promote legal movie services when people search for piracy related keywords such as torrent, DVDrip and Putlocker. This initiative aims to increase the visibility of legitimate sites.

A full overview of Google’s anti-piracy efforts is available here.

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

TorrentFreak: United States Hosts Most Pirate Sites, UK Crime Report Finds

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

sam-pirateThe UK IP Crime Group, a coalition of law enforcement agencies, government departments and industry representatives, has released its latest IP Crime Report.

The report is produced by the UK Government’s Intellectual Property Office and provides an overview of recent achievements and current challenges in the fight against piracy and counterfeiting. Increasingly, these threats are coming from the Internet.

“One of the key features in this year’s report is the continuing trend that the Internet is a major facilitator of IP crime,” the Crime Group writes.

The report notes that as in previous years, Hollywood-funded industry group FACT remains one of the key drivers of anti-piracy efforts in the UK. Over the past year they’ve targeted alleged pirate sites though various channels, including their hosting providers.

Not all hosts are receptive to FACT’s complaints though, and convincing companies that operate abroad is often a challenge. This includes the United States where the majority of the investigated sites are hosted.

“Only 14% of websites investigated by FACT are hosted in the UK. While it is possible to contact the hosts of these websites, there still remains a considerable number of copyright infringing websites that are hosted offshore and not within the jurisdiction of the UK.”

“Analysis has shown that the three key countries in which content is hosted are the UK, the USA and Canada. However, Investigating servers located offshore can cause specific problems for FACT’s law enforcement partners,” the report notes.

ushostpirate

The figure above comes as a bit of a surprise, as one would expect that United States authorities and industry groups would have been keeping their own houses in order.

Just a few months ago the US-based IIPA, which includes MPAA and RIAA as members, called out Canada because local hosting providers are “a magnet” for pirate sites. However, it now appears they have still plenty of work to do inside U.S. borders.

But even when hosting companies are responsive to complaints from rightsholders the problem doesn’t always go away. The report mentions that most sites simply move on to another host, and continue business as usual there.

“In 2013, FACT closed a website after approaching the hosting provider on 63 occasions. Although this can be a very effective strategy, in most instances the website is swiftly transferred onto servers owned by another ISP, often located outside the UK.”

While downtime may indeed be relatively brief the report claims that it may still hurt the site, as visitors may move on to other legitimate or illegitimate sources.

“The [moving] process usually involves a disruptive period of time whereby the website is offline, during which users will often find an alternative service, thus negatively affecting the website’s popularity.”

While hosting companies remain a main target, tackling the online piracy problem requires a multi-layered approach according to the UK Crime Group.

With the help of local law enforcement groups such as City of London’s PIPCU, copyright holders have rolled out a variety of anti-piracy measures in recent months. This includes domain name suspensions, cutting off payment processors and ad revenue, website blocking by ISPs and criminal prosecutions.

These and other efforts are expected to continue during the years to come. Whether that will be enough to put a real dent in piracy rates has yet to be seen.

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

TorrentFreak: Leaked TPP Draft Reveals Tough Anti-Piracy Measures

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

copyright-brandedThe Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement aimed at strengthening economic ties between the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and eight other countries in the region, has been largely shrouded in secrecy.

Today whistleblower outfit Wikileaks sheds some light on the ongoing negotiations by leaking a new draft of the agreement’s controversial intellectual property chapter.

The draft dates back to May 2014 and although it’s far from final, some significant progress has been made since the first leak during August last year.

For example, the countries have now agreed that a new copyright term will be set in the agreement. No decision has been made on a final term but options currently on the table are life of the author plus 50, 70 or 100 years.

The proposal to add criminal sanctions for non-commercial copyright infringement, which is currently not the case in many countries, also remains in play.

The leak further reveals a new section on ISP liability. This includes a proposal to make it mandatory for ISPs to alert customers who stand accused of downloading copyrighted material, similar to the requirement under the U.S. DMCA.

Alberto Cerda of Georgetown University Law Center points out that some of the proposals in the ISP liability section go above and beyond the DMCA.

“The most worrying proposal on the matter is that one that would extend the scope of the provisions from companies that provide Internet services to any person who provides online services,” Cerda told TorrentFreak.

This means that anyone who passes on Internet traffic could be held liable for the copyright infringements of others. This could include the local coffeehouse that offers free wifi, or even someone’s own Internet connection if it’s shared with others.

The leaked draft also adds a provision that would allow ISPs to spy on their own users to catch those who download infringing content. This is another concern, according to the law Professor.

“From a human rights viewpoint, that should be expressly limited to exceptional circumstances,” Cerda says.

It’s clear that the ISP liability section mimicks the DMCA. In fact, throughout the TPP chapter the most draconian proposals often originate from the United States.

Law Professor Michael Geist notes that Canada has been the leading opponent of many of the U.S. proposals, which often go against the country’s recently revamped copyright law. Geist warns that the TPP may eventually lead to tougher local laws as U.S. pressure continues.

“As the treaty negotiations continue, the pressure to cave to U.S. pressure will no doubt increase, raising serious concerns about whether the TPP will force the Canadian government to overhaul recently enacted legislation,” Geist writes.

Compared to the previous draft that leaked last year there are also some positive developments to report.

For example, Canada put forward a proposal that permits countries to allow exceptions to technological protection measures. This would makes it possible to classify DRM-circumvention as fair use, for example. A refreshing proposal, but one that’s unlikely to be approved by the U.S.

If anything, the leaked TPP chapter shows once again that there is still a very long way to go before a final draft is ready. After more than three years of negotiating many of the proposals are still heavily debated and could go in multiple directions.

That is, if an agreement is ever reached.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Removes Pirate Bay Search Box and Links

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

google-bayAbout a month ago Google announced its new and improved “sitelinks” sections.

This section appears when searching for keywords related to large sites, including YouTube and Twitter, and lists links to popular parts of the site.

Last week TorrentFreak reported that The Pirate Bay had also been added to this list. This allowed people to use Google to search Pirate Bay pages, complete with a pirate-themed AutoComplete function.

While this unusual addition was the work of algorithms, it was bound to upset some entertainment industry groups. After all, many copyright holders have been asking to make sites such as The Pirate Bay less visible in the search results, and this change was doing the opposite.

This is how a search for The Pirate Bay looked like until yesterday, complete with a search box and prominent sitelinks.

Pirate Bay search box and sitelinks
tpbsitelinks

Now, less than a week later the search bar no longer appears for Pirate Bay related content. Even more so, other prominent sitelinks which have been in place for more than a year are gone too.

Today, the only things left are a few rather small sitelinks under the site description, as shown below.

Pirate Bay ….
google-sitelinks-gone-tpb

TorrentFreak has confirmed that the sitelinks features were removed for several torrent sites including Isohunt.to and Torrentz.eu. For Google, Twitter and other sites the new search box remains online.

The removal of the search box and prominent links appears to be intentional. TorrentFreak learned that Google was not happy with the unintended feature for The Pirate Bay, and must have felt the need to take action.

While the removal may be a well intended move to keep copyright holders pleased, it places Google in a difficult position. It could be argued that if the sitelinks features have been removed due to the “infringing” aspects of a site, why still keep the site in search results at all?

To find out more TorrentFreak contacted Google, but the company didn’t wish to comment on the recent changes. Google did stress that the placing of the sitelinks is determined automatically.

“Not every site will get the sitelinks search box; it’s determined automatically based on a number of factors. As always, we’ll keep working to improve the quality of our search results,” a Google spokesperson says.

The comment evades the issue at hand, but it appears that these factors were changed recently to exclude The Pirate Bay and other “pirate” sites.

For now, however, all Pirate Bay pages remain indexed as usual. In that regard the recent change is mostly interesting from a political perspective, as a possible result on the entertainment’s continuing pressure on the search engine.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirates Become Biggest Political Party in Local Czech Election

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

ppczLast weekend there were local elections in the Czech Republic, and the local Pirate Party has dozens of candidates on the ballots.

The Pirates campaigned with a program that advocates more Government transparency, more involvement for citizens, less copyright monopolies and the use of free software.

This message was received well by the public as 21 Pirate Party representatives were voted into regional parliaments. In addition, several other Pirates gained seats through the lists of other local parties.

One of the biggest victories was booked in Mariánské lázně where the Pirates came out as the biggest party with 21% of the total vote. This means that the Czech town may soon have its first Pirate mayor.

Pirate Party seats in Mariánské lázně
czp

The Pirate Party also did well in the capital city of Prague where it received 5.3% of the vote. This translates to four seats in the local parliament.

Despite the successes the Pirates don’t expect that they will govern in many regions. This may happen in a few places, but only if they can agree on a good program with the other parties.

“Generally we are against coalitions, especially in Prague, but in some regions with parties and people who are closer to our program we might govern,” Pirate Party’s Markéta Gregorová tells TorrentFreak.

According to Maša Čorak, co-chairperson of Pirate Parties International, the Czech success was welcomed after several disappointing results in other European countries. Talking to the Pirate Times, she says that the victory will carry over to other countries.

‘I have no doubt that every single Czech pirate that succeeds in being an elected official will do a tremendous job in promoting our core goals and ideas and putting them back in the public spotlight. That is, after all, the beauty of this movement; a victory in just one country can be and will be a huge step forward throughout entire Europe,” she says.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Under “Legal Investigation,” Switches Domain

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

popcornBranded a “Netflix for Pirates,” the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people in just a few months.

There are several successful versions of the application available online, and last week the most popular fork ran into trouble. Out of the blue Time4popcorn.eu had its domain name suspended by the EURid registry.

TorrentFreak spoke with the developers who contacted EURid hoping to get the domain name back. They were informed that the suspension was the result of an ongoing legal investigation that could take weeks to complete.

“Apparently there’s some sort of legal investigation going on against us in Belgium and this is what started this whole thing. This is what made EURid remove our domain just like that without any warning,” the Time4Popcorn team says.

What prompted the investigation is unknown and EURid refuses to release any further details, but it seems likely that a copyright holder group filed a complaint with the domain name registry.

Resolving the matter, if possible at all, would require the fork to show proof of identity. This complicated matters even further and the developers therefore decided to permanently move to a new domain name.

From today the Time4Popcorn name will be dropped as the fork is switching to the new Popcorn-time.se domain name, hoping that this won’t be such an easy target.

“Our main agenda was to get a domain that will stay. Something that will not be taken down as easily as our .eu domain got taken down. We have a feeling that an .es domain will be much harder to remove, but we don’t really know for sure,” they say.

The developers stress that everything is working as usual on their new domain. The domain troubles have been a setback but the service itself will never be taken down.

The domain troubles haven’t gone unnoticed by other Popcorn Time forks either. The Time4Popcorn version used to be the number one search result but this spot now goes to PopcornTime.io, the fork that initially took over from the original developers.

PopcornTime.io informs TorrentFreak that they have been working hard to keep up with the growing demand. As a result of the ranking improvement PopcornTime.io saw its traffic quadruple, with hundreds of thousands of new visitors flocking to their site.

Time4Popcorn, now known as Popcorn-time.se, hopes to regain some of this traffic in the months to come as they roll out new features and updates.

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

TorrentFreak: “Megaupload’s Imaginary Copyright Crimes Should be Dismissed”

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

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

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

Two months ago the Department of Justice launched a separate civil action in which it asked the court for a forfeiture of the bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants, claiming they were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes.

Megaupload has now responded to these allegations at the federal court in Virginia, with a motion to dismiss (pdf) the complaint. According to Megaupload’s lawyers the Department of Justice is making up crimes that don’t exist.

One of the main arguments is that the Government accuses the Megaupload defendants of secondary criminal copyright infringement, a crime that doesn’t exist under common law.

“The crimes for which the Government seeks to punish the Megaupload defendants do not exist. Although there is no such crime as secondary criminal copyright infringement, that is the crime on which the Government’s Superseding Indictment and instant Complaint are predicated,” Megaupload’s lawyers write.

“That is the nonexistent crime for which Megaupload was destroyed and all of its innocent users were denied their rightful property. And that is the nonexistent crime for which the Government would now strip the criminal defendants, and their families, of all their assets,” they add.

In addition, Megaupload mentions another argument why the Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the case. It’s a requirement that the infringements took place in the United States, but the DOJ’s compliant fails to back that up.

“Tellingly, the Complaint and the Superseding Indictment together fail to identify a single instance in which an act of infringement — particularly an unauthorized upload or download — occurred entirely within the United States,” the motion reads.

This is true for the alleged infringements committed by Megaupload users and also for the 50 Cent track Kim Dotcom allegedly distributed himself. There is no mention or proof that this infringement took place in the United States.

“Although the Complaint alleges that Kim Dotcom personally distributed a link to a copy of a copyrighted work on, and has received at least one infringing copy of a copyrighted work from, the Mega Sites, the Complaint never alleges where that occurred,” the lawyers argue.

Based on these and several other arguments Megaupload’s legal team has asked the Court to dismiss the DOJ’s complaint. At the very least, they want the case to be put on hold until the criminal case is completed.

TorrentFreak spoke with Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken who explains that this is the first time that the Government has been called out for prosecuting “nonexistent” crimes.

“For the first time in the case, with this motion to dismiss, we are attacking the merits of the DOJ’s core copyright claims. We are optimistic that the Court will find that there is no such thing as criminal secondary copyright infringement,” Rothken tells TorrentFreak.

The Government’s efforts are no surprise to Megaupload’s legal team. The civil attempt to obtain possession of the assets fits a pattern of meritless claims according to Rothken.

“The DOJ is trying to win the Megaupload case on procedure rather than the merits,” Rothken told us.

“We are hopeful the US Court will finally decide the threshold copyright issues in Kim Dotcom’s and Megaupload’s favor and bring this global legal matter to a rapid end.”

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 10/13/14

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

22jumpThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

22 Jump Street 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 (4) 22 Jump Street 7.6 / trailer
2 (1) Transformers: Age of Extinction 6.1 / trailer
3 (…) Stretch 6.8 / trailer
4 (2) Sex Tape 5.2 / trailer
5 (…) The Purge: Anarchy 6.6 / trailer
6 (3) Edge Of Tomorrow 8.1 / trailer
7 (5) Lucy 6.6 / trailer
8 (…) Echo to Echo 5.8 / trailer
9 (7) X-Men: Days of Future Past 8.4 / trailer
10 (8) Good People 5.4 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Twin Peaks Piracy Surges In Anticipation of Comeback

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

twinpeaksWhen the first Twin Peaks episode was broadcasted back in 1990, the World Wide Web didn’t yet exist.

But this week, nearly 25 years later, tens of thousands of people used it to browse to their favorite torrent sites and catch up with the show.

On Monday director David Lynch announced the comeback of the cult show which kept millions of people glued to their TV screens in the early nineties. The show, that some consider to be the beginning of today’s TV series boom, will start a new season in 2016.

The Twin Peaks revival has made headlines all over the world and many millions of people are anxious to see how the mystery continues.

This renewed attention also increased interest in the first two seasons, both from old fans and the younger generation who never saw how it all started. This was also noticeable on various torrent sites, where the numbers of Twin Peaks downloads skyrocketed over the past few days.

The interest in Twin Peaks never faded away completely. But instead of a few hundred daily downloads, the various season packs are now being downloaded more than 10,000 times a day.

Counting all the different release it’s estimated that Twin Peaks torrents were downloaded 75,000 times over the last week. This includes mostly full seasons, or complete packs of both seasons.

A few Twin Peaks downloads
twinp

This statistic pales in comparison to recent TV-shows, which can get well over a million downloads per week, but for a series from the early nineties it’s pretty impressive.

Most pirates seem to prefer the lower quality versions which are roughly 1.4 gigabyte for an entire season. Those pirates who prefer better quality don’t have to miss out though. There’s also a 79.99 gigabyte copy of “Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery.”

Depending on the release, the number of active sharers for each of these files increased up to tenfold. This surge is slowly fading off as time goes by but it’s certainly a sign that there’s plenty of interest among pirates too.

Whether this will eventually help or hurt the Twin Peaks revival will remain an unsolved puzzle for now.

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

TorrentFreak: UK IP Chief Wants Schools to Teach Copyright Ethics and Morals

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

uk-flagMike Weatherley, a Conservative MP and Intellectual Property Adviser to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, has pushed various copyright related topics onto the political agenda over the past year.

Previously Weatherley suggested that ISPs should be held responsible for pirating users, that search engines should blacklist pirate sites and that persistent file-sharers should be thrown in jail.

Ideally, however, UK citizens shouldn’t be sharing or downloading content without permission to begin with. This is an issue the IP-advisor hopes to resolve with his latest set of recommendations, which center around copyright education and awareness.

In a 51-page report (pdf) that was just released Weatherley stresses the importance of copyright awareness and education, especially for the younger generation. This is needed as respect for copyright has declined in recent years and some even believe that sharing copyrighted material without permission is not a big deal.

“There is … a certain level of tolerance for the idea that IP infringements could be considered legitimate. Some believe that illegal activity online is a social norm, with no moral implications,” Weatherley writes.

“We are at risk of an entire generation growing up with different levels of respect for IP and copyright in particular. Should this social contract disappear, there could be longer-term consequences beyond the immediate, short-term negative impacts experienced by the creative sector,” he adds.

In his report the IP-advisor makes several recommendations for how this trend can be countered. Through a broad set of education measures he hopes that copyright will regain respect from the public.

“Education and consumer awareness programmes that seek to change current behaviour or influence future actions are essential for nurturing a greater culture of respect and value for the UK’s creative economy, and to negate the impact of infringement.”

The report mentions that several of the education efforts have already been set in motion. This includes PIPCU’s warning banners on pirate sites as well as the upcoming scheme to warn alleged copyright infringers through their ISP.

One of the future goals is to bring copyright into the classroom. To achieve this Weatherley recommends to add copyright education to the school curriculum, starting with the youngest kids in primary school.

“The school curriculum needs to prepare pupils – from early years through to the end of secondary school and higher education – for the 21st century knowledge economy. Interaction with IP is a daily occurrence for many young people, and yet it is widely ignored within the education system,” the report reads.

As a secondary form of public education, the BBC should also start broadcasting programming that stresses the value of copyright through various channels. This to ensure that the message reaches a wide audience.

“Given its reach and public service broadcasting remit, the BBC should create a copyright education programme using online, on-air and face-to-face channels,” Weatherley recommends.

With these initiatives and other changes, the IP advisor hopes to change people’s attitudes towards copyright. This should then lead to less online piracy in the long run which may reflect positively on the economy.

Unfortunately, the report doesn’t mention who should be involved in creating the educational messages, should they be implemented. The only stakeholders that have been consulted recently are the major copyright holder groups, which may lead to a biased perspective.

To avoid an unbalanced curriculum as we’ve seen in the United States, it may be wise to also involve representatives from the consumer side, library organisations, or alternatives to strict copyright licensing such as Creative Commons.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Studios Willingly Advertise on Notorious ‘Pirate’ Site

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

vkThe Russian social network VKontakte (VK) has long been criticized for its passive approach to piracy. The site is flooded with unauthorized content including movies and music, all uploaded by its millions of users.

As a result the United States Trade Representative has labeled the site a “notorious market” on several occasions. While VK has taken some steps to address the issues this year, copyright holders are far from satisfied.

This week the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), which represents MPAA, RIAA and other entertainment industry groups, called out VK as one of the worst piracy havens around. The U.S. Government is organizing a hearing on Russia’s WTO implementation and in a request to testify the IIPA points out that piracy is rampant in the country.

“Russia is home to several of the U.S. Government’s ‘Notorious Markets’ for copyright piracy, especially digital piracy,” IIPA’s Eric Schwartz writes (pdf).

“One such Notorious Market is vKontakte, the most popular online social network in Russia, and the largest single distributor of infringing music in Russia; it is also a hotbed for online piracy of movies and television programming.”

Despite the numerous complaints that have been submitted to the Russian authorities, widespread piracy remains a problem on the social network. Last year Russia implemented a new law that would allow copyright holders to have structurally infringing websites blocked, but attempts to target VK have failed thus far.

“To date, the Government of Russia has taken little or no action against this site, or the other sites or services identified by the U.S. and other foreign governments and copyright rightsholders. This is symptomatic of the problems of ineffective enforcement in Russia,” Schwartz adds.

The critique of VK is not new. The MPAA and other copyright holders have complained about it for years. Having this in mind, we were surprised to find that several Hollywood studios still advertise their content on VK.

In recent months copyright holders have been lobbying advertising networks to stop doing business with so-called pirate sites. However, major movie studios including Warner Bros see no problem with having a presence on VK.

Below is a screenshot of the VK profile of Warner Bros. Russian branch, which currently has 146,780 members. Aside from promoting new movies, they also list several music tracks they don’t appear to hold the copyrights to.

Warner Bros. on VK
warnervk

Warner Bros. is of course not the only studio with an official VK account. Universal Pictures has a dedicated page for Russian fans too, and so do Disney, Marvel and 20th Century Fox.

The above are just a few examples. There are many other companies represented by the IIPA who have a profile on the “notorious pirate site”, Microsoft included.

So instead of asking Russia to take action against the site, shouldn’t these companies stop advertising on it first? Considering the fact that they place VK in the same category as The Pirate Bay, that would make sense.

Or perhaps the Hollywood studios will create an official Pirate Bay profile, to start uploading trailers of their latest movies there as well…?

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Stops Working After Domain Suspension

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

popcornBranded a “Netflix for Pirates,” the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people in just a few months.

There are several successful forks of the application available online, but this afternoon one of the most used versions suddenly stopped working.

Without prior warning the Time4Popcorn.eu fork had its domain name suspended by the EURid registry. TorrentFreak contacted the developers who confirmed that they have indeed lost control of the domain.

According to an email sent by EURid and seen by TorrentFreak, the registry explains that the domain name has been suspended on suspicion that it was registered using inaccurate contact details.

“Upon verification of the contact data for your .eu domain name, we have reason to believe that your contact data is inaccurate,” EURid writes, asking the Popcorn Time team to show proof of identity.

Suspended
popcorntimedomain

As a result Popcorn Time’s website is no longer loading. However, what’s even worse for those who use the fork is that the application itself also stopped working as it requires the domain to load the user interface.

The developers quickly switched the site over to time4popcorn.com, but it will take some time to update the application.

“At the moment the desktop and iPhone versions aren’t working but in a few hours we’ll update the desktop version to the new domain and it should update automatically for most and will work,” the Time4Popcorn team tells us.

“If for some reason some users didn’t get the automatic update, they’ll be able to re-download the app from time4popcorn.com,” they add.

The issues with EURid show that the domain name is a weak link. This is problematic, especially for an application that claims it “will never be taken down.” The developers realize this and are working to resolve the vulnerability.

“From the next update, beta 5.0, this kind of scenario will be nearly impossible. This incident of the service being shut down like this will be very unlikely to happen,” the team notes.

One of the questions that remains is why EURid believes that the contact information is inaccurate. Is this the result of a routine check, or were they tipped off by an entertainment industry group? The latter doesn’t seem unlikely.

The Time4Popcorn team doesn’t appear to be worried though, and plans to continue improving their application as soon as the issue is resolved.

“This is a small kick to the balls at the moment, but we’ll come out of this much stronger and way better,” they say.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Lifts Overbroad “Piracy” Blockade of Mega and Other Sites

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

megaLast July the Court of Rome ordered all local Internet providers to block 24 websites including Mega.co.nz and Russia’s largest email provider Mail.ru.

The broad anti-piracy measures were requested by 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.

Several sites affected by the blockade decided to appeal the order, and not without success. Fulvio Sarzana, who acts as lawyer for several of the accused sites including Mega, told TorrentFreak that the sites in question can now be accessed again.

The lawyer took up the case with the local Prosecutor, and pointed out that the blockades are overbroad. Instead of blocking access to a single file it makes entire sites unreachable.

In addition, Sarzana noted that the measures are not needed as the file-hosting sites have strict takedown policies in place which allow copyright holders to remove infringing content.

The Prosecutor was receptive to these arguments and after a settlement agreement with several of the affected services was reached last month, local ISPs were ordered to lift the blockades.

“For Mega we negotiated a court settlement with the Office of the Prosecutor of Rome, which recognized the legitimacy of Mega’s activities and ordered the removal of the blockade. The same is the case for other hosting services,” Sarzana tells TorrentFreak.

For another site, which prefers not to be named, it was necessary to take the case to the Appeals Court. In common with a similar case earlier this year, the Court held that the blocking order was indeed too broad. As a result this blockade was also lifted.

“The Court held that the ISP blockade of the website was disproportionate because the copyright infringement occurs on individual pages. The entire website can therefore not be blocked for copyright reasons,” Sarzana notes.

The lawyer expects that the Appeals Court ruling will have implications for the Communications Regulatory Authority (AGCOM), which currently has the power to block allegedly infringing sites without a court order.

Considering the recent Appeals Court decision, this procedure may be unconstitutional. This possibility has also been raised by several consumer groups who have asked the court to review AGCOM’s legitimacy.

Last week the Court of Rome referred these complaints to the Constitutional Court. Here it will be examined whether the current procedure violates right to freedom of expression and free speech, among other things.

To be continued.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Adds Custom Pirate Bay Search With Autocomplete

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

google-bayThe entertainment industries have gone head to head with Google in recent months, demanding tougher anti-piracy measures from the search engine.

According to the RIAA, MPAA and others, Google is making it too easy for its users to find pirated content. Instead, they would prefer Google to remove sites such as the Pirate Bay from its search results.

Thus far this hasn’t happened and it’s unlikely that the position will change in the near future. The search engine has changed Pirate Bay’s appearance in the search results, however, but not in the direction the copyright holders had hoped for.

A few weeks ago Google announced its new and improved “sitelinks” section. This section also appears when searching for Pirate Bay related keywords and lists links to popular sections of the site.

In an additional new move, it now shows a prominent search box that people can use to search for content on The Pirate Bay directly from Google.

Google’s Pirate Bay search box
tpbsitelinks

The feature also works with other large search related sites and wasn’t intended for The Pirate Bay specifically. However, considering the entertainment industries’ previous critique this will soon be added to their long list of complaints.

Perhaps even more painful than the search box itself is the fact that the new sitelinks also support AutoComplete. This means that people get pirate-themed search suggestions if they use the box in question.

Simply typing in the letter G shows the following search suggestions, for example.

Pirate autocomplete
tpbsuggest

It’s unclear where these suggested terms are sourced from. They could come from popular searches on Google that relate to The Pirate Bay, or perhaps they are based on Pirate Bay pages that are indexed by the search engine.

It’s worth noting that the “pirate” AutoComplete appears to go against Google’s policy of not showing copyright-infringing suggestions. Regular Google searches don’t suggest “Pirate Bay” when entering “Pirate B” for example.

And things could get even worse in the future.

For now, the custom Pirate Bay search box returns its results within Google. However, if The Pirate Bay decides to implement the right markup it will take users directly to The Pirate Bay, which is likely to escalate the situation further.

The Pirate Bay team is aware of Google’s new feature and is considering adding support for these direct searches. Whether Google will allow that to happen remains to be seen.

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

TorrentFreak: Revealed: Warner Bros. Uses “Sophisticated Robots” to Fight Piracy

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

warnerIt’s been nearly a year since Hotfile was defeated by the MPAA, but the case hasn’t gone away completely yet.

As part of their $80 million settlement agreement with the movie studios, the file-hosting service also let the counter-suit over Warner Bros. alleged DMCA-abuse go.

This meant that the true workings of Warner Bros. takedown systems remained secret, since many of the court filings were heavily redacted. Arguing that the public has the right to know how Warner operated, the Electronic Frontier Foundation therefore asked the court to unseal the records.

Warner Bros. objected to this request, arguing that the effectiveness of their anti-piracy technology would be undermined by a public disclosure. However, two weeks ago U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams ordered that it’s in the public interest to unseal the information.

The first set of unredacted documents were published by Warner Bros. yesterday evening. While it’s only a fraction of all sealed material, we can now see what the movie studio was so eager to keep out of the public eye.

Most of the unsealed information deals with Warner’s automated DMCA takedown tools. In the court filings these are described as “robots” which are programmed to mimic human behavior.

“Warner uses a system of computer programs known as ‘robots’ to help search link sites. for links to infringing copies of its content. These programmable robots are highly sophisticated and can effectively mimic the search a human would conduct, except faster,” Warner explains.

Warner’s (previously) redacted robots
warnerredact

This isn’t a big surprise, but Warner clearly preferred to keep its automated takedown tools out of the public domain.

The unsealed information further shows that the script in question searches 200 hand-picked link sites for specific keywords. A takedown notice then goes out to the source site of this link. The actual content was never downloaded and reviewed, nor were the titles checked to see if Warner actually owned the content in question.

“Its search process relied on computer automation to execute programs and did not involve human review of the file titles, page names or other overt characteristics before issuing a takedown notice,” an unredacted court order reads.

“And because the files were not reviewed, neither Warner’s robots nor its employees made a determination whether there were legal uses for the files.”

Despite revealing details of its “robots”, Warner still redacts how many employees its anti-piracy division employs. Unfortunately for them they forgot to black out one reference. According to an unredacted court order Warner employed seven people in its anti-piracy division at the time.

All in all it appears that most of the redactions revealed up until now were meant to keep the anti-piracy operations shrouded in mystery. There is not much that can actually hurt the company’s anti-piracy efforts.

While it’s now clear that Warner’s DMCA takedowns were highly automated, there is still a lot more information to unseal. Many questions about specific errors also remain unanswered, including the fact that the studio intentionally targeted the open source JDownloader software.

Whether future revelations will lift more of the veil will become apparent in the months to come.

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

TorrentFreak: Research Warns Against Overestimated Movie Piracy Losses

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

pixel-pirateWhen it comes to movie piracy Hollywood tends to be most concerned about unauthorized copies that appear online when a film is still paying in theaters.

These are often CAM releases, which are copies of the movie recorded in a theater. Despite their low quality, these CAMs are often downloaded hundreds of thousands if not millions of times.

To find out what effect these downloads have on box office revenues APAS Laboratory researcher Marc Milot conducted a thorough field study. By using download statistics from the torrent site Demonoid, in combination with movie ratings and pre-release buzz, the research estimates the effect of CAM piracy on box office sales.

The findings, published this week in a paper titled “Testing the lost sale concept in the context of unauthorized BitTorrent downloads of CAM copies of theatrical releases”, reveal an intriguing pattern.

Based on a sample of 32 widely released movies, the results show that box office revenue could be best predicted by pre-release buzz and to a lesser extent by the rating of the movies, which were both taken from Rotten Tomatoes. Interestingly, the amount of times a movie was pirated had no effect on its box office sales.

Instead of a link with sales, the amount of unauthorized downloads was affected by how visible these titles were on Demonoid. TorrentFreak contacted Milot, who believes that these results support the notion that many pirates download movies to discover new content.

“The research findings are the first to support with concrete behavioral evidence what BitTorrent file-sharers have been saying all along: that they don’t always download movies – in this case CAM versions of theatrical releases – they would have paid to view if they were not available on sites like Demonoid,” Milot told us.

This notion is supported by the fact that, unlike at the box office, the rating of a movie doesn’t affect the piracy volume. This finding is based on ratings by both Pirate Bay and Rotten Tomatoes users, to control for the possibility that pirates simply have a different movie taste.

Downloads/sales by movie rating
ratingdownloads

According to the researcher, these results should caution the movie industry not to overestimate the effect of CAM piracy on box office sales.

“BitTorrent site users appear to be exploring and downloading the most visible movies, without caring how good or bad they are. It is in this way that BitTorrent sites and the box office are completely different systems in which people behave uniquely and with different motivations,” Milot explains.

“These findings should caution against the use of download statistics alone in calculations of losses – in this case lost ticket sales – to avoid overestimation,” he adds.

Whether the above will be a reassurance for Hollywood has yet to be seen. There have been several studies on the impact of movie piracy in recent years, often with conflicting results. The current research helps to add yet another piece to the puzzle.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 10/06/14

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

transThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is the most downloaded movie for the third 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) Transformers: Age of Extinction 6.1 / trailer
2 (…) Sex Tape 5.2 / trailer
3 (2) Edge Of Tomorrow 8.1 / trailer
4 (3) 22 Jump Street 7.6 / trailer
5 (…) Lucy 6.6 / trailer
6 (6) Maleficent 7.4 / trailer
7 (5) X-Men: Days of Future Past 8.4 / trailer
8 (7) Good People 5.4 / trailer
9 (…) Are You Here 5.3 / trailer
10 (4) Sin City: A Dame to Kill For 7.0 / trailer

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