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TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Now Available as iOS App

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

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

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

When the original version shut down various forks continued the project, each releasing their own features. One of the most-used Popcorn Time versions comes from time4popcorn.eu, who remain very active on the development side.

After previously rolling out an Android version and Chromecast and Apple TV support, today the fork released the first Popcorn Time app for iOS. The first release requires a jailbreak and can be accessed through the Cydia platform.

TorrentFreak spoke with the developers who say they are working on a solution for non-jailbroken devices as well, but that will take some more time to complete. Nonetheless, they are happy with the progress they’ve made thus far.

“After only 5.5 months, Popcorn Time is available on all major platforms! And this is only the beginning. Our future plans are huge,” the time4popcorn.eu team notes.

The iOS app is currently missing some features that are available in the desktop version. Chromecast and Apple TV support are still works in progress, likewise the built-in VPN.

The standard functionality appears to work just fine, provided that there’s enough bandwidth available to stream the video files via BitTorrent.

The developers have released the iOS source code under a GPL V3 license, which allows others to extend and improve it. The team itself will also continue to work on improving the code, and they promise to release more “exiting details” on the application’s future in a week or two.

Popcorn Time’s appeal to pirates hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hollywood. Two months ago the MPAA pushed back and managed to get two popular forks removed from Github claiming that the apps are hurting the major movie studios.

While this was a setback, it doesn’t seem to have hindered development much. Both Popcorn Time forks are still around and show no sign of throwing the towel voluntarily anytime soon.

Popcorn Time fork on iOS
captiospopcorn

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

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent Wants to Become RIAA Certified Music Service

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

bittorrent-logoLast Friday Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke released his new solo album via BitTorrent. A few tracks were made available for free, but those who want the full album are charged $6.

The new experiment is part of BitTorrent Inc’s bundles project, which allows artists to easily share their work with fans. While many artists tested the waters before Yorke, he is the first to ask for money directly from consumers.

“If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of Internet commerce back to people who are creating the work. Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves. Bypassing the self elected gate-keepers,” commented Thom Yorke on his decision to join.

Fast forward a few days and the album release has turned out to be a great success. At the time of writing the number of downloads surpassed 500,000, and at the current rate this will have doubled before the end of the week.

These numbers are for both the free sample and the full album, which are both being counted by BitTorrent. Thom Yorke doesn’t want the sales figures to become public but judging from the number of people sharing the torrent this lies well above one hundred thousand.

“When the Bundle is downloaded using one of our clients, it pings back with a torrent added event which is how these are being counted. Thom Yorke has asked that sales figures remain undisclosed, which is his discretion,” BitTorrent spokesman Christian Averill told TorrentFreak.

yorke500k

Now that BitTorrent Inc. has become a paid music service, a whole new world opens up. Will there soon be a BitTorrent release at the top of the charts for example? We asked BitTorrent whether they are considering becoming an RIAA-certified seller, and the company’s answer was an unequivocal yes.

“Our vision is absolutely that Bundles will count toward all the usual industry accolades and charts. Again, it will be up to the publisher of the specific Bundle. But the numbers certainly merit the recognition,” Averill says.

If that happens, BitTorrent sales will be eligible for RIAA’s gold and platinum awards as well as other charts.

While some music industry insiders may need some time to adjust to the idea of BitTorrent (Inc) as an authorized music service, the RIAA itself doesn’t see any reason why the company can’t apply.

“Music sales … on digital music services that are authorized by and reported to the record labels, whether paid for by the consumer through a subscription or free to the consumer through ad-supported services, are accepted for RIAA certifications,” RIAA’s Liz Kennedy tells TorrentFreak.

Becoming RIAA-certified doesn’t happen overnight though. BitTorrent would first have to request the certification and a full audit is then required to receive an Authorized service stamp and a possible listing on whymusicmatters.com.

“Whymusicmatters.com, a joint initiative of the RIAA and Music Biz, lists the leading authorized music services in the United States,” Kennedy explains.

For BitTorrent this would be a great achievement. The company has had to withstand a fair amount of criticism from copyright holders in recent years, and recognition as an authorized music service will surely silence some of it.

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

TorrentFreak: Photographer Sues Imgur For Failing to Remove Copyrighted Photos

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

imgurWhen 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 this is usually not a problem with a picture of the average Internet meme, when it comes to professional photography there can be serious consequences.

Earlier this year the Seattle-based artist Christopher Boffoli discovered that dozens of photos from his well-known “miniatures of food” series were being shared on Imgur. The photos were uploaded by a user named kdcoco who published them without permission.

This type of infringement is fairly common and usually easy to stop through a DMCA notice. In this case, however, that didn’t produce any results, so the photographer saw no other option than to take Imgur to court.

In a complaint (pdf) filed at a federal court in Seattle, Boffoli explains that he sent Imgur a DMCA takedown request on February 21. This seemed to work, as the image sharing site was quick to respond.

“The images have been marked for removal and will be deleted from all of our servers within 24 hours,” Imgur quickly replied.

One of Boffoli’s photos
boffoli

But following this initial reply nothing happened. According to the complaint all of the images remained online for several months.

“As late as September 2014 — more than 200 days after receiving Boffoli’s notice — Imgur had not removed or disabled access to the Infringing Content. To date, the Infringing Content is still accessible on Imgur’s servers,” the photographer’s lawyers write.

Aside from the infringing behavior of the Imgur user, Boffoli holds the image sharing service responsible for continued copyright infringement.

“Imgur had actual knowledge of the Infringing Content. Boffoli provided notice to Imgur in compliance with the DMCA, and Imgur failed to expeditiously disable access to or remove the Infringing Website,”

The photographer is asking the court to order an injunction preventing Imgur from making his work available. In addition, the complaint asks for actual and statutory damages for willful copyright infringement.

With at least 73 photos in the lawsuit, Imgur theoretically faces more than $10 million in damages. Thus far Imgur hasn’t responded to the complaint but at the time of writing the infringing photos are no longer available online.

It’s not the first time Boffoli has sued an online service for failing to remove his photos. He also filed lawsuits against Twitter, Google and others. These cases were settled out for court under undisclosed terms.

Time will tell whether Imgur will go for the same option, or if it will defend itself in court.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 09/29/14

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 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) Transformers: Age of Extinction 6.1 / trailer
2 (2) Edge Of Tomorrow 8.1 / trailer
3 (…) 22 Jump Street 7.6 / trailer
4 (…) Sin City: A Dame to Kill For 7.0 / trailer
5 (3) X-Men: Days of Future Past 8.4 / trailer
6 (4) Maleficent 7.4 / trailer
7 (…) Good People 5.4 / trailer
8 (8) Million Dollar Arm 7.3 / trailer
9 (7) The Fault in Our Stars 8.3 / trailer
10 (6) How To Train Your Dragon 2 8.3 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Piracy Police Chief Calls For State Interference to Stop Internet Anarchy

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

cityoflondonpoliceFounded little over a year ago, the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has quickly grown to become one of the world’s most active anti-piracy operations.

The unit uses a wide range of strategies, from writing to domain registrars and threatening them, to working with advertisers in order to cut off revenues from ‘pirate’ sites.

PIPCU is determined to continue its anti-piracy efforts in the years to come. However, the unit’s head Andy Fyfe also believes that the Government may have to tighten the rules on the Internet, to stop people from breaking the law.

In an interview with PC Pro, Fyfe says he wants to see this topic being debated in the media.

“I’m very interested in having a debate in the media about how much policing of the internet people want. At the moment, there’s almost no regulation and no policing of the internet,” Fyfe says.

PIPCU’s chief believes that the public has to be protected from criminals including pirate site operators who take advantage of their trust. If that doesn’t happen then the Internet may descend into anarchy, he says, suggesting that the Government may have to intervene to prevent this.

“In the end, that might mean that the Internet becomes completely ungovernable, and that no one can dare operate on it at all, no one can dare do their shopping or banking on it. So should there be a certain level of … state inference in the interest of protecting consumers? I’m very keen to raise that as a debate,” Fyfe notes.

The Police chief believes that tighter rules may be needed to prevent people from breaking the law in the future. This could mean that not everyone is allowed to launch a website, but that a license would be required, for example.

“There may well come a time when government decides it’s had enough and it’s not getting enough help from those main companies that control the way we use the internet – they’re not getting enough help from them, so they’re going to start imposing regulations, imposing a code of conduct about the way people may be allowed to operated on the internet,” Fife says.

PIPCU’s head doesn’t detail what the “code of conduct” might look like or how it may be enforced. Perhaps it’s finally time for the Internet passport to be introduced?

We’re keen on having this debate as well, so please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Warner Bros. to Reveal Flawed Anti-Piracy Technology

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

warnerThree years ago file-hosting service Hotfile countersued Warner Bros., accusing the movie studio of repeatedly abusing the DMCA takedown process.

Hotfile alleged that after giving Warner access to its systems, the studio removed hundreds of files that weren’t theirs, including games demos and Open Source software.

The case was poised to reveal how Warner Bros. anti-piracy system works and what mistakes were made by the movie studio. But last November, a few weeks before the trial was due to begin, the case was closed as part of a settlement between Hotfile and the MPAA.

The decision was a disappointment to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who asked the court to unseal documents regarding Warner’s alleged abuse. According to the group, the public has the right to know what mistakes Warner made.

Warner Bros. objected to this request, arguing that the effectiveness of their anti-piracy technology would be undermined by a public disclosure. The movie studio asked the Court to permanently seal the records, but during an oral hearing this week U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams denied this request.

The Judge ordered Warner Bros. to hand over some of the information within ten days, and come up with a schedule for the release of all relevant documents. According to Judge Williams the public has the right to see how Warner Bros. handles DMCA takedown requests.

The EFF is happy with the ruling, and says it will help legislators to refine and improve the current DMCA process. This year both the Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee have looked into possible changes to the current process.

“More information about how the DMCA process has been abused – particularly through automated takedown systems with inadequate human review – will help us improve it, and hold people responsible when they use this powerful tool of censorship abusively or without caution,” EFF’s Mitch Stoltz says in a comment.

“The sealed documents from the Hotfile case will help,” he adds.

While it’s too late for Hotfile, it is definitely valuable to see what how Warner Bros. made its mistakes and how their piracy takedown technology is set up.

“We’re pleased that Judge Williams preserved the public’s right to open court proceedings here, and we are looking forward to a close analysis of the Warner documents when they are released,” Stoltz concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Thom Yorke Sells New Album via Paywall Protected Torrent

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

Radiohead’s Tom Yorke has been very critical of new music services such as Spotify. Last year he pulled his music from the popular streaming service claiming that “new artists get paid fuck all.”

Yorke would like to see more money flowing to the artists and in an effort to accomplish this goal he has teamed up with BitTorrent Inc.

The San-Francisco company has experimented with artist bundles for a while and together with Yorke they have now launched their first paywalled torrent. After paying $6, fans can download Yorke’s “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes” album via a protected torrent file.

“It’s an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around,” Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich write in a joint statement.

“If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of internet commerce back to people who are creating the work. Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves. Bypassing the self elected gate-keepers,” they add.

In recent years BitTorrent Inc. has been working very hard to show that its technology can be used for more than “piracy” and today’s bundle is a prime example. After releasing various free samples from other artists, Yorke’s full album is definitely a breakthrough.

The paywall and other restrictions are not something traditional BitTorrent users are used to, but it’s a necessary “evil” to draw mainstream artists to the model.

BitTorrent Inc. emphasizes that the album itself is DRM-free but that the torrents do have copy protection. This means that people can’t easily share them with others who haven’t paid.

“BitTorrent Bundles features protected torrents, limiting the number of times a torrent can be downloaded. While Bundle content is DRM-free, torrents are protected with this new way of managing how often a Bundle is downloaded,” BitTorrent Inc. notes.

This works very much like private trackers, where only members can share files with each other. With the “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes” torrent those who pay are a “member” and only they can share the file.

It will be interesting to see if other artists are also willing to join the experiment. A full album for $6 definitely sounds like a fair price and the artists get to keep most of the cash. BitTorrent Inc. says it currently gets 10% of the revenue for enabling the distribution.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, several unauthorized torrents without a paywall are also doing the rounds on various torrent sites. The good news is, however, that the paywalled version currently has more people sharing than the pirated one.

Those interested in Thom Yorke’s “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes” can grab a copy here.

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

TorrentFreak: Most Top Films Are Not Available on Netflix, Research Finds

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

netflix-logoThere is little doubt that, in the United States, Netflix has become the standard for watching movies on the Internet.

The subscription service is responsible for a third of all Internet traffic during peak hours, dwarfing that of online piracy and other legal video platforms.

It’s safe to assume that Netflix is the best and most convenient alternative to piracy at this point. That is, if the service carries the movies people want to see. This appears to be a problem.

Research firm KPMG has just released a new study that looks at the online availability of the 808 most popular and critically acclaimed films. The study was commissioned by NBC Universal and praised by the MPAA, presumably to dispel the argument that many people pirate because they don’t have the option to watch some films legally.

“This first-of-its-kind report analyzed the availability of 808 different film titles over 34 major online video distribution services and found that 94 percent of the films were available on at least one service,” MPAA’s Chris Dodd commented on the study.

The MPAA is right that most of the movies are available through online stores and rental services. However, the Hollywood group conveniently ignores the lacking availability on popular subscription platforms which services such as Netflix and Hulu use.

This is not a minor oversight as the study finds that availability of top films on Netflix and other subscription services is very low.

Although KPMG decided not to mention it in the executive summary of the report, the findings show that only 16% of the films are available through on-demand subscription services (SOVD).

Availability of the top films
topfilmavail

The above sheds a different light on the availability argument. Because, what good is it if 94 percent of the films are available online, but (at least) 84% are missing from the most-used movie service?

After all, most people prefer to get their movies in one place as it’s not very convenient to use a few dozen services to get your movie fix.

Of course this is not an excuse for people to go out and download films without permission, and we have to admit that a lot of progress has been made on the availability side in recent years. However, Hollywood can definitely learn from the music industry, where most of the popular content is available through subscription services.

From the availability point of view there’s another issue worth pointing out. The most pirated titles are usually recent releases, and these are generally not available, not even through iTunes, Amazon or rental services.

This is also illustrated in the KPMG report which shows that 100% of the top 2012 films are available online, compared to 77% of the 2013 releases. It’s probably safe to say that the majority of all pirated downloads are of films that are not yet legally available.

In other words, there’s still plenty of improvement possible.

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

TorrentFreak: Lionsgate Hopes Server Logs Will Expose Expendables Leaker

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

expendablespiracyOver the past two months movie studio Lionsgate has rolled out an unprecedented anti-piracy campaign to stop people from sharing leaked copies of The Expendables 3.

Aside from dragging six file-sharing sites to court, Lionsgate sent out hundreds of thousands of takedown notices to websites that linked to pirated copies of the leaked movie.

While this campaign had some success, the studio has yet to identify who first published the leaked copy online. In a new court request filed at a California federal court Lionsgate states that the weblogs of file-hosting service Swankshare.com may provide more details.

Swankshare is one of the sites that was targeted in Lionsgate’s lawsuit. Following a preliminary injunction the site’s servers were taken down by its hosting company FDCServers. However, the Expendables makers now want to gain access to the server logs to see who uploaded the leaked copy of the film.

“Lions Gate is informed and believes that as the website host for Swankshare, FDCServers is likely to have weblogs and other data evidencing traffic on Swankshare that will be useful to Lions Gate in its investigation of the source of the infringement at issue in this lawsuit,” Lionsgate’s lawyers inform the court.

The request suggests that there is reason to believe that Swankshare may have been used by the initial leaker. However, it’s currently unknown whether the movie studio has any concrete leads to proof this or if it’s merely grasping at straws.

Lionsgate’s request
lionslogs

The court filing also shows that the movie studio has been able to track down the owner of Swankshare, Mr. Lucas Lim. They are currently trying to resolve their dispute, and as part of these discussions Mr. Lim agreed that Lionsgate can access the sites server logs.

“Lions Gate and Mr. Lim have discussed whether a resolution of the dispute between them might be possible, and to further those discussions Mr. Lim has stipulated that Lions Gate may seek authority from the Court to serve a subpoena on FDCServers for the production of weblogs and other data evidencing traffic on Swankshare,” they explain.

Hosting provider FDCServers is willing to cooperate but requested clarification from the court that it’s permitted to grant access to the servers, as they were ordered to take them offline in the previous injunction.

Whether the server logs will indeed expose the initial leaker has yet to be seen, but Lionsgate has clearly not given up the effort to track down the source.

Meanwhile, the movie studio continues to stop the distribution of The Expendables 3 via various file-sharing sites.

Earlier this week the court approved a request to add Limetorrents.net and Torrentdownload.biz to the injunction as these sites are connected to the owner of Limetorrents.com. Both sites currently remain online but no longer list any copies of Expendables 3.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Govt Hopes to ‘Profit’ From Anti-Piracy Measures

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

pirate-cardA few weeks ago the UK Government announced its support for a new anti-piracy plan, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP).

The Government teamed up with copyright holders and ISPs, who will start sending warning emails to pirating Internet users next year. In addition there will be a broader educational campaign to steer people towards using legal options.

While the campaign is a private initiative the Government has decided to back it financially with several million pounds. However, TorrentFreak has learned that the Government funding wasn’t straightforward and was made outside of the available marketing budget.

Through a Freedom of Information request we obtained an email conversation between the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and music industry group BPI. In the email from May this year IPO’s Ros Lynch explains that there are no regular marketing funds available to support VCAP.

“As part of the process of agreeing Government financial support for the educational element of VCAP we will need to seek a marketing exemption as we are currently not permitted to spend on marketing,” Lynch writes to BPI’s Ian Moss.

To be able to get the exception the Government needs additional information from the entertaining industries, showing that the investment makes sense financially. Or put differently, that the Government will see a good return for their invested taxpayer money.

“Essentially this will require a proper business case which includes hard figures,” Lynch writes.

“For example, what research are you basing your target audiences on? How have you calculated your 5% reduction in infringement? What £ saving does a 5% reduction bring? What overall estimate can you make of the ROI of this campaign e.g. what financial benefit would a £2.2m Government investment bring?”

ipoemail

The above suggests that the BPI is predicting a 5% drop in piracy from the anti-piracy measures. However, in a response to the IPO’s request the industry group writes that even with a lower success rate the Government’s spending will pay off.

In a “Summary Business Case” (pdf) BPI uses the expected VAT increase to convince the Government of the “profitability” of the campaign. It estimates that if 15% of all illegal downloads are lost sales, piracy only has to decline 1% over three years for the Government to recoup their investment.

“The underlying assumptions are based on very good data that has been produced by Ofcom and by a number of academic studies looking at the replacement ratios. It shows that only very small changes in piracy lead to significant returns to Government,” BPI notes.

The music industry group stresses that the calculation only looks at VAT income and that the effects on the wider economy may be even greater. However, the static model they presented should already be good enough to warrant the funding.

“So even from a very simple, static assumption, a small reduction in piracy of between .49% and 1% over the three years would return Government investment of £4m in an education scheme,” BPI writes.

This prediction was apparently good enough for the Government to invest in the new anti-piracy plans beyond the available marketing budget. Even more so, the authorities committed £3.5 million to the campaign, instead of the £2.2 that was discussed in May.

Whether the Government will indeed be able to recoup the taxpayer money through the anti-piracy campaign will be hard to measure, but the plan is going full steam ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

megadown

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

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

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

kimdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: BPI Hits Record Breaking 100 Million Google Takedowns

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

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

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

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

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

BPI’s takedown notices
bpi100m

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

transThis week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is the most downloaded movie.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kiwi-results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dotcomkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Report Brands Dotcom’s Mega a Piracy Haven

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

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

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

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

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

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

Estimated revenue and profit per direct download cyberlocker
roguerev

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

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

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

Alleged “infringing” use per cyberlocker
rogueinfper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AT&T’s torrent patent
patent-att

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Copyright Holders Want Netflix to Ban VPN Users

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Search Engines Can Diminish Online Piracy, Research Finds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Pirate or Not to Pirate
resulttable

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

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

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

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

To Pirate or Not to Pirate, take two
table2

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: ISP Wants Court to Sanction Piracy Monitoring Firm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

maleThis week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Maleficent is the most downloaded movie, again.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BitTorrent’s community
community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The big question is, of course, why?

Verlander’s takedown request

upton-google-fappening

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police Shut Down MP3 Search Engine MP3Juices

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

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

The police started by sending warning letters to site owners, asking them to go legit or shut down. Late last year this was followed by a campaign targeted at domain registrars, asking them to suspend the domain names of several “illegal” sites.

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

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

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

pipcu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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