Posts tagged ‘anonymous’

TorrentFreak: Punish Music Pirates With Finger Amputations, Artist Says

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

carrotIf there was a guaranteed and cost-effective way for the creative industries to clamp down on piracy, rest assured they would take it. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet in today’s arsenal.

Ordering ISPs to block ‘pirate’ sites is one approach, but at least in the first instance the process is both expensive and drawn out, often taking a number of years to come to fruition.

Another method is to hit Internet users who dare to download and share copyrighted material. Some frameworks, such as those in the United States and United Kingdom, envision a situation where people can be persuaded to do the right thing after receiving warning letters. More aggressive schemes, such as those in South Korea and New Zealand, foresee potential disconnections for persistent pirates.

But one musician in Nigeria believes she has a quick and easy solution to stop people illegally pirating her work. Her version of the so-called “graduated response” is controversial, but might just work.

“Cutting their fingers off will stop them, by the time you cut off two people’s fingers others will stop,” popular singer Stella Monye told the News agency of Nigeria.

Amputations, the singer says, are doubly effective. Not only do they act as a deterrent, but already-punished pirates will not be able to re-offend either.

“If their fingers are cut, they won’t [be able to use the hands] in pirating the works,” Monye said. “They will learn and it will be faster in stopping them; without a drastic measure they won’t stop.”

Web blockades have been previously described as a potential abuse of human rights, but Monye’s anti-piracy solution pushes new boundaries.

Image credit

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

TorrentFreak: Microsoft Gets GitHub to Remove “Infringing” Xbox Music App

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

audioticaA few weeks ago Microsoft extended its Xbox Music API, allowing third-party developers to link their apps to the music service.

This resulted in a range of new apps that provide access to Xbox Music tracks, but Microsoft is not happy with all of them.

Earlier this week the company contacted developer platform GitHub, asking the company to remove all code related to the Audiotica download tool, which they did.

In its takedown notice Microsoft explains that the app in question provides users with DRM-free music, something it is not allowed to do. Specifically, the app is said to violate the circumvention clause of the DMCA.

“This code violates [...] the DMCA in that it allows users to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to copyrighted works by facilitating the unauthorized conversion of songs streamed via Xbox Music into DRM-free MP3s that can be easily shared online,” Microsoft writes.

Microsoft explains that the application puts its licensing agreements with the major music labels in jeopardy. Under these agreements the company has to protect music tracks from being shared online without restrictions.

“As part of Microsoft’s agreements with the copyright owners of the songs included in the service, Microsoft has both authorization from and an obligation to those copyright owners to control access to their works by employing an effective DRM system,” Microsoft notes.

An interesting argument, since the tracks provided by Xbox’s Music service appear to be free of DRM.

Xbox Music API
music_api

TorrentFreak contacted Audiotica developer Harry who was unpleasantly surprised by Microsoft’s takedown notice. He notes that Microsoft itself is the one making it easy to access DRM-free music through the Xbox Music API.

“Audiotica is programmed so users with an Xbox Subscription can download directly from Xbox Music. This is what surprised me about the takedown. Microsoft claims we can’t allow users to obtain DRM free music from their service, while they’re the one providing it,” Harry says.

Microsoft most likely took offense to the fact that the application allowed users to download and store tracks. Although this might not technically be a form of “circumvention,” it does violate the API’s terms of service.

The Audiotica developer says he will ask GitHub to reinstate his project, without the Xbox Music feature. The application will still be able to access music from other sources including YouTube, VK and Soundcloud.

“Right now I will be filling a counter notice to bring it back. To avoid further problems with Microsoft I will be removing Xbox Music from the MP3 crawler engine and the downloader.”

Microsoft’s takedown request follows a new trend in which copyright holders are targeting GitHub projects. Previously the MPAA successfully requested the takedown of two popular Popcorn Time forks. While both the MPAA and Microsoft don’t own any of the code, the alleged indirect infringements were sufficient to take the code down.

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

TorrentFreak: Piracy Fight Needs Content Available at a Fair Price, Minister Says

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

pirate-runningFor close to a decade Australia has been struggling with what the content industries see as a serious online piracy problem but today the country seems closer than ever to a legislative tipping point.

A paper leaked last week revealed that the government is looking towards a range of piracy mitigation measures, from holding ISPs more responsible for their users’ actions to the ISP-level blocking of so-called ‘pirate’ sites.

To coincide with the paper’s official release yesterday, the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA), the trade body representing subscription
television platforms, published (PDF) the results of a survey in which 60% of respondents agreed that people who facilitate piracy should face prosecution.

Whether the respondents understood that those “facilitators” include those who download TV shows and movies using BitTorrent isn’t clear, but the reality on the ground is that a large section of the Australian public has grown weary of being treated as second class consumers. Content not only arrives months adrift on a slow boat from the United States, but also at vastly elevated rates that defy reasonable explanation. This has led many to download TV shows instead, something which has led into today’s debate.

But while some of the Government’s proposals are causing unease due to a perceived reliance on a Big Media “wishlist”, there are signs that ministers understand that the piracy problem doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

In an interview with ABC’s Chris Uhlmann, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnball was put on the spot over what some view as the exploitation of Australian consumers by international entertainment companies. So why do Aussies pay 40% more than those in the US to download movies from iTunes?

“That is, that is a very powerful argument,” Turnball conceded.

“If I can just say so, there is an obligation on the content owners, if their concerns are to be taken seriously and they are by government, and if governments are to take action to help them prevent piracy, then they’ve got to play their part which is to make their content available universally and affordably.”

The argument that content has to be made widely available at a fair price before progress can be made cannot be understated and it will be extremely interesting to see whether the Minister’s acknowledgment of the problem will become a sticking point in negotiations as potential legislation draws closer.

But in the meantime, why are content producers “ripping off” Aussies with inflated prices? Profit, apparently.

“Well, I assume it’s because they feel they can make money out of it,” Turnball said.

Of course, commercial decisions like this get made every day, but as Uhlmann pointed out to the Minister, for Internet content the justification isn’t strong – from a technical standpoint it doesn’t cost any more to make content available for download in Australia than in the United States.

The entertainment companies’ “right” to charge whatever they like is their business, Turnball reiterated, but that approach may come at a price.

“If you want to discourage piracy, the best thing you can do, and the music industry is a very good example of this, the way they’ve responded, the best thing you can do is to make your content available globally, universally and affordably. In other words, you just keep on reducing and reducing and reducing the incentive for people to do the wrong thing,” he said.

Turnball also noted that following the publication of the discussion paper, content owners are going to have to justify why they are charging Australians more than overseas counterparts. That might prove a very interesting discussion.

Finally, the government is now inviting submissions from the public on the issue of online copyright infringement. There is no specific mention of offering content widely at a fair price, however, something which has drawn the ire of the Pirate Party.

“Instead of addressing the reality that Australians are paying more money for less content than other countries, the Discussion Paper is biased towards turning Internet service providers into ‘Internet police’ and censorship in the form of website blocking, neither of which have proven effective overseas,” Pirate Party President-elect Brendan Molloy said in a statement.

Those interested have until September 1 to make their opinions heard – question 9 might prove an opportunity to talk about a fair deal for Australians.

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

TorrentFreak: Bleep… BitTorrent Unveils Serverless & Encrypted Chat Client

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

bleepEncrypted Internet traffic surged worldwide after the Snowden revelations, with several developers releasing new tools to enable people to better protect their privacy.

Today BitTorrent Inc. contributes with the release of BitTorrent Bleep, a communication tool that allows people to exchange information without the need for any central servers. Combined with state of the art end-to-end encryption, the company sees Bleep as the ideal tool to evade government snooping.

Bleep’s main advantage over some other encrypted messaging applications is the absence of central servers. This means that there are no logs stored, all metadata goes through other peers in the network.

“Many messaging apps are advertising privacy and security by offering end-to-end encryption for messages. But when it comes to handling metadata, they are still leaving their users exposed,” BitTorrent’s Farid Fadaie explains.

“We reimagined how modern messaging should work. Our platform enables us to offer features in Bleep that are unique and meaningfully different from what is currently available.”

Bleep Bleep
BleepScreen

The application’s development is still in the early stages and the current release only works on Windows 7 and 8. Support for other operating systems including popular mobile platforms will follow in the future.

Aspiring Bleep users can create an account via an email or mobile phone number, but an incognito mode without the need to provide any personal details is also supported.

The new messaging app is not the only ‘breach safe’ tool the company is currently working on. Last year BitTorrent launched its Sync application which provides a secure alternative to centralized cloud backup solutions such as Dropbox and Google Drive.

BitTorrent Inc. is inviting people to test the new Bleep application, but warns there are still some bugs.

Those who want to give BitTorrent Bleep a try can head over to BitTorrent’s experiments section to sign up for the pre-Alpha release.

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

TorrentFreak: Kim Dotcom’s Assets Attacked From Multiple Directions

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

dotcom-laptopWhile there are plenty of people who would like to portray Kim Dotcom as the biggest copyright offender the world has ever seen, there are many who look beyond that towards his larger than life persona and playboy-style riches.

His lifestyle, one in which he inhabits a huge and luxurious mansion while traveling the country in helicopters, is made all the more interesting by the fact that authorities in the United States, New Zealand and Hong Kong attempted to seize all of Dotcom’s assets back in 2012.

While they succeeded in locking up millions, it’s evident that Dotcom has assets elsewhere and is currently disposing of them.

That’s the argument being put forth by Dotcom foes 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros who have not only initiated legal action in the United States, but have also done so in New Zealand. They’re keeping an eye on Dotcom’s spending to ensure there’s something left for them should they prevail in their legal action.

In a new judgment out today, Justice Patricia Courtney said there is indeed evidence to suggest that Dotcom had been giving “very substantial payments” to
his fledgling “Internet Party” political party. His offer to pay a $5m bounty to a whistle-blower was also noted.

As a result, Judge Courtney concluded that there is “a danger that any judgment obtained by the applicants will go unsatisfied, partly or wholly, as a result of Mr Dotcom disposing of assets.”

In an effort to put the brakes on that possibility, the Judge gave Dotcom until August 20 to reveal all of his assets “wherever they are located” and to identify “the nature of his interest in them.”

However, speaking with RadioNZ, Dotcom said any money he’s spending now has been made since the mansion raids of 2012.

“The assets that they are talking about now are new assets that were created because of my entrepreneurial skill after the raid. So they’re trying to attack assets that have nothing to do with MegaUpload or anything that I have run previously as business operations,” Dotcom said.

However, the $11.8 million in assets already subjected to a criminal restraining order following the raid in New Zealand are also under attack. In April the High Court said Dotcom could have his assets returned. That decision was quickly appealed by the Crown and the case was heard at the Court of Appeal today.

A lawyer for the police told the Court that although the assets are being held under a criminal restraining order in New Zealand, the Court did not need to take into account whether the cases being pursued in the United States against Dotcom were criminal or civil in nature.

The judges reserved their decision on whether the freeze on Dotcom’s assets should continue for another year in addition to the two years plus that have already passed.

Meanwhile, over in the United States, Dotcom lawyer Ira Rothken announced that the US Federal Court had granted a motion to stay all civil copyright litigation against his client until April 1, 2015.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Adds Apple TV Support, iOS App Coming Soon

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 became an instant hit by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface.

While the original app was shut down by the developers after a few weeks, the project was quickly picked up by others. This resulted in several popular forks that have gained millions of users in recent months.

Today one of the most popular Popcorn Time forks releases a highly anticipated feature. The developers inform TorrentFreak that the latest version now has Airplay support, making it possible to stream movies directly to Apple TVs and other supported devices.

Ironically, Airplay support is currently limited to the Windows release, but a Mac version is due early next week and the Linux release will follow shortly after.

The latest feature follows the addition of Chromecast support a few weeks ago, but this is by no means the last planned development.

Popcorn Time adds Airplay support

popcorn_time_appletv_airplay

Looking ahead the developers hope to bring the Popcorn Time experience to as many operating systems and devices as possible.

“Our ultimate goal is to bring Popcorn Time to every platform, operating system and device that can play videos, so Airplay is one particle of a huge revolution we’re making to the torrents and movies world online,” the time4popcorn.eu team told us.

“This is only the beginning… You know us, we have many more surprises coming your way,” they add.

One of the “surprises” is a native iOS app. Although it probably won’t be featured in Apple’s App Store anytime soon, Popcorn Time will be available on jailbroken iPhones and iPads in the near future.

“Support for iOS devices will be ready in August. It’s already working in our development environment and it’s looking beautiful,” the team notes.

Popcorn Time’s popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hollywood. A few weeks 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 new features are being rolled out faster than ever.

Update Due to a last minute bug the release has been postponed. It will arrive later today.

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

TorrentFreak: “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme Costs 3 Million Per Year

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

pirate-runningFebruary last year, the MPAA, RIAA and five major U.S. Internet providers started sending copyright alerts to customers who pirate movies, TV-shows and music.

Through a series of warnings suspected pirates are informed that their connections are being used to share copyrighted material without permission, and told where they can find legal alternatives.

These efforts are part of the Copyright Alert System which is headed by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI). The goal of this voluntary partnership is to educate the public and point alleged pirates to legal alternatives.

While it’s known that the costs of the program are split between the copyright holders and Internet providers, CCI has been reluctant to share any financial details. Luckily the IRS provides some insight on this front.

TorrentFreak obtained the most recent tax filing of the six-strikes outfit which covers the company’s operations between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. The document reveals that the program cost nearly $3 million during that period.

To put this figure in perspective, the CCI previously reported that 1.3 million notices were sent out during the first 10 months. This means that the cost per notice translates to roughly $2, which is rather high.

Center for Copyright Information’s Form 990
cci

Looking at how the money is spent we see that the only paid employee, CCI Executive Director Jill Lesser, received $320,000 in compensation. Another $350,000 went to Lesser’s consulting firm, JAL Consulting, which was hired as an independent contractor.

The RIAA’s former lobbying firm Stroz Friedberg received $420,000 for the independent expert analysis of the evidence gathering technology behind the project. After we uncovered the RIAA ties CCI later hired a second independent expert, but the results of this do-over have yet to be published.

The largest independent contractor is the Glover Park Group, who handle CCI’s communication. They received more than $680,000 over the reported period. American Arbitration, who handle the appeals of people who claim to be wrongly accused, was paid $245,000 for its services.

It’s worth noting that the costs for the Internet providers are higher than the amount they pay to the CCI. The ISPs also spend money on the technical setup that’s required to handle the Copyright Alerts as well as extra customer support.

It will be interesting to see how these costs develop over the years. CCI previously announced that more Copyright Alerts would be sent out this year, so it’s expected that the average of $2 per warning will eventually reduce.

Whether the copyright holders will ever be able to recoup their investments remains to be seen.

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

TorrentFreak: Block The Pirate Bay Within 3 Days, Austrian ISPs Told

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

pirate bayKino.to, one of Germany’s largest illegal streaming portals, was shut down during 2011 following the largest law enforcement action against of its type in Europe. But even with the site long gone the disruption it caused is about to affect The Pirate Bay and two other major sites.

Just a month before Kino.to was dismantled in June 2011, Austrian ISP ‘UPC’ was served with a preliminary injunction ordering it to block subscriber access to the site. Verein für Anti-Piraterie der österreichischen Film und Videobranche (VAP) – the anti-piracy association of the Austrian film and video industry – had been on the warpath since 2010 and had finally got their way after UPC refused to comply voluntarily.

But would blocking the site be legal? UPC insisted that it couldn’t be held responsible for a site it had nothing to do with. The ISP also maintained that there had been no court ruling determining that UPC customers who accessed Kino.to were breaking the law.

To settle the matter once and for all the Austrian Supreme Court asked the European Court of Justice to clarify whether a company that provides Internet access to people using an illegal website could be required to block that site. On March 27, 2014, the ECJ handed down its decision.

On UPC’s first point the Court said that EU law does not require a specific relationship between the person infringing copyright and the intermediary against whom any injunction had been issued. On the second point the Court said that proof of illegality was not necessary as the law exists not only to bring an end to infringement, but also to prevent it.

The key point of the ruling was that ISPs can indeed be required to block access to infringing sites provided that injunctions are both balanced and proportional. As a result, earlier this month Austria’s Supreme Court found that the blockade against Kino.to, even though the site is long dead, was correctly applied.

On the back of this ruling, this week VAP wrote to several local ISPs, UPC included, demanding a new blockade of three domains – ThePirateBay.se, Movie4K.to and Kinox.to, a site that took over from Kino.to.

“Letters dated yesterday have been sent to four large ISPs containing a request to block a small number of websites,” VAP Managing Director Werner Müller told Future Zone.

On behalf of three local movie companies (Allegro Film, Wega Film and Epo Film) VAP has requested IP address and DNS blocks of the three sites but has given the ISPs very little time in which to carry them out, by this Friday August 1, to be exact.

The Association of Internet Service Providers Austria (ISPA) feels the deadline is far too restrictive.

“The period given to the providers to act is ludicrously short. We see this as very problematic. Extreme pressure is being exerted,” Secretary General Maximilian Schubert said.

“Two working days during the holiday season is just too little. To implement this by Friday we deem too difficult.”

Interestingly, Schubert also sees differences between The Pirate Bay and the pair of streaming portals listed in VAP’s blocking request.

“There is also legal content on The Pirate Bay,” Schubert said.

Discussions between VAP and the ISPs are scheduled for later in the week, so whether the anti-piracy group will get its way immediately will remain to be seen. They’ve waited years already, another few days shouldn’t make much difference.

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

TorrentFreak: Police Begin Placing Warning Adverts on ‘Pirate’ Sites

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

cityoflondonpoliceFor a year, City of London Police have been working with the music and movie industries on initiatives to cut down on the consumption of pirated content online.

Operation Creative employs a multi-pronged approach, seeking to educate consumers while making life difficult for sites that operate unlicensed services.

Many unauthorized sites generate revenue from advertising, so the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) informs potential advertisers on how to keep their promotions away, thus depriving sites of cash. Another key aim is to stop users from getting the impression that pirate sites have “big brand” support when household names are seen advertising.

Today, PIPCU officially announced the launch of another angle to their ad strategy. As reported by TF in April, police are now placing their own ads on pirate sites to warn users that the site they’re using has been reported.

“This new initiative is another step forward for the unit in tackling IP crime and disrupting criminal profits,” said Head of PIPCU, DCI Andy Fyfe.

“Copyright infringing websites are making huge sums of money though advert placement, therefore disrupting advertising on these sites is crucial and this is why it is an integral part of Operation Creative.”

Sample police ad

As shown below, the BBC has published a PIPCU-supplied screenshot of how the ads look on an unauthorized MP3 site known as Full-Albums.net.

PIPCU-ad-mp3

In our tests we couldn’t replicate the banners, despite dozens of refreshes, so it’s possible the site took action to remove them. Needless to say, we did see other advertising, and very interesting it was too.

Ironically, by clicking album links on Full-Albums we were presented with ads from BearShare, a music service that struck deals with the RIAA in the last decade. As can be seen from the screenshot below, the service places the major labels’ logos prominently to attract customers, even when accessed from a UK IP address.

Bear-ads

TF checked with the BPI on the licensing status of the service in the UK and will update this article when their statement arrives, but as can be seen from this quote from the BearShare site, they claim to be legal.

“Using BearShare is 100% legal. The service employs state of the art filtering technology, and is approved by the major record labels and RIAA. Downloading from BearShare is entirely legal, and will not get you in any kind of trouble whatsoever,” the service says.

If Bearshare is licensed, this raises the possibility that the labels are indirectly financing ads on pirate sites themselves, something they’ll want to quickly remedy.

Ads on other sites

PIPCU, who have partnered with content verification technology provider ‘Project Sunblock’ to place the warning ads, say their banners are “now replacing a wide range of legitimate brand adverts on infringing websites.”

So, determined to find examples of the police advertising, we began moving through sites with the most copyright complaints as per Google’s Transparency Report.

Unfortunately we were unable to view a single PIPCU banner. However, as shown in the screenshot below, we did get some interesting results on MP3Juices, a site for which the BPI has sent 1,206,000+ takedowns to Google.

Juicebet

Skybet is not only a subsidiary of broadcasting giant BSkyB, but the company is also a leading member of the Federation Against Copyright Theft. In turn, FACT is a key Operation Creative partner. While Sky Bet wasn’t the only gambling advertiser on the site, this ad placement means that BSkyB are currently helping to finance the very sites that PIPCU are trying to close down.

There’s absolutely no suggestion that Sky or the major labels via Bearshare are deliberately trying to finance pirate sites, but the above examples show just how difficult it’s going to be to keep major brand’s advertising off these sites, even when they are acutely aware of the problems.

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

TorrentFreak: Ford and General Motors Sued Over ‘CD Ripping Cars’

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

ford-jukeA quarter century ago the music industry was confronted with a new threat – cassette tape recorders.

These devices were able to make “near perfect” copies of any audio recording and the RIAA and others feared this would be the end of the recorded music industry.

The record labels took their fears to Congress, which eventually resulted in the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) of 1992. Under this law importers and manufacturers have to pay royalties on “digital audio recording devices,” among other things.

The legislation also applies to some newer recording devices common today, which is now causing trouble for Ford and General Motors. Both companies ship cars with the ability to rip CDs onto internal hard drives and according to a coalition of artists and record companies this violates copyright law.

The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC), which lists major record labels and 300,000 artists among its members, filed a class action lawsuit on Friday in which they demand millions of dollars in compensation.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the complaint (pdf) which states that Ford’s “Jukebox” device and General Motor’s “Hard Drive Device” allow consumers to rip CDs onto an internal hard drive. According to the music group these devices fall under the Audio Home Recording Act and the car companies are therefore required to pay royalties.

Thus far, neither Ford nor General Motors has complied with any requirements of the Act. Both companies have sold cars with these devices for several years on a variety of models including the Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus, Ford Explorer, Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Volt, and GMC Terrain.

In addition to the two car companies, the lawsuit also targets their technology partners Denso and Clarion. Commenting on the dispute the AARC notes that a class action lawsuit was unavoidable.

“Twenty-two years ago, cooperation between music creators and device manufacturers resulted in legislation that led to a digital electronics revolution. But having reaped the benefits of this bargain, Ford, GM, Denso, and Clarion have now decided to ignore their obligations to music creators and declare themselves above the law,” AARC Executive Director Linda Bocchi comments

“While no one likes litigation, Ford, GM, Denso, and Clarion have stonewalled long enough, and we are determined to collect the royalties our members – and all artists and music creators with rights under the AHRA – are owed,” Bocchi adds.

The artists and record labels are looking for both actual and statutory damages, which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, they want to prevent the manufacturers from selling these unauthorized devices in their cars.

The case will prove to be an interesting test of the legality of “recording” devices in car entertainment systems. As is usually true, the law is not as black and white as AARC’s complaint states.

For example, the lawsuit doesn’t mention that the Audio Home Recording Act includes various exemptions for personal use and for recording equipment that’s part of a larger device, such as CD-burners in computers.

It’s now up to the court to decide how cars fit into this picture.

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

TorrentFreak: “Scared” Pirates Delayed Release of Expendables 3

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

Last week saw the leak online of the brand new Expendables movie.

Earmarked for an August 15 U.S. release, Expendables 3 leaked in near DVD quality a full two weeks ahead. The timing and quality combined to make the leak one of the most prominent in recent years.

While the original sources of these leaks are nearly always shrouded in mystery, once made publicly available on sites like The Pirate Bay they are anyone’s for download.

Originally it was believed that Pirate Bay releaser Drarbg uploaded the first public torrent, but that was not the case. Flying under the radar a hugely less popular torrent (still only with a handful of seeds) actually preceded it by almost 20 minutes.

exp-charles

It’s certainly feasible that another release preceded even this one, but with torrents on sites other than Pirate Bay regularly deleted due to copyright complaints, it’s now too late for any certainty.

It’s also impossible to say how many people were in the chain after the leak and before the first public torrent upload, but numerous public sources (including RARBG themselves) are now pointing to postings on 4chan as indicating the start of events.

The thread is right here and obviously everything happened in public. The postings don’t specifically mention the title of the movie but a source close to the situation assures TF that the chat does indeed refer to The Expendables 3.

4chan-1

Less than two hours after his initial posting on July 15, ‘Anonymous’ was back on 4chan with an update.

“I am in contact with a release group that works with private trackers. They asked me for proof of what I had and I took pictures with a written timestamp of the disc in and out of the box,” he wrote.

“I dumped them into some special submission link they had and they will get back to me. I’m just waiting in a secured IRC room for them to get back to me once the staff takes a look.”

Precisely what happened after then is a mystery (as is the leaker’s apparent disregard for security by posting in public) but a source informs TF that whoever obtained the copy knew they had something hot – perhaps too hot.

“We know that the leak was back then, around July 15, but everyone was scared to leak it. Most private groups had it for more than 10 days, but again they were scared to leak it,” TF was told.

After the leaked copy was allegedly handed over July 15, the comments of ‘Anonymous’ as he returned to 4chan predicted the events of last Thursday.

“Keep an eye out for the leak. No telling how long this will take, but I’m sure it will make its way to public trackers due to the demand for it,” he wrote.

Interestingly, although initial demand for The Expendables 3 was brisk, downloads now sit at an estimated 500,000, and it’s currently less popular on file-sharing networks than “Divergent” which was released on the same day.

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

TorrentFreak: Japan to Crack Down on Anime and Manga Piracy

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

japanIn an effort to crackdown on Internet piracy, during October 2012 the Japanese government introduced new legislation targeted at file-sharers.

To support existing punishments of up to 10 years in prison for uploaders, knowingly downloading copyright-infringing material became an offense carrying a potential two years in jail. While it was hoped that these measures would encourage consumers to do the right thing, today the problems persist.

As a result, this week the Japanese government will act in order to preserve what it sees as one of its greatest cultural exports.

Anime and manga are now consumed in countries right around the world and Japan sees this interest in Japanese culture as useful to its relationships abroad. However, with that popularity comes piracy, much of it facilitated by unlicensed overseas sites.

In the hope of remedying the situation overseas, this Friday will see the launch of a massive anti-piracy campaign aimed at making a huge dent in anime and manga piracy.

The government and 15 leading producers and distributors will begin contacting an estimated 580 “overseas pirate sites” with demands that they mass-delete infringing content. The sites are located in various regions, but there will be a particular focus on China.

Whether those sites will comply will remain to be seen, but should pirate content become harder to find the campaign wants to be able to capitalize on that opportunity. According to NHK, a new site will direct fans to legal copies of the 250 affected works at a flat price of a few hundred yen.

“We want to create a project so that anime fans overseas can enjoy Japanese content legally and without infringement worries while the profits are paid to anime production companies and publishers,” a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry spokesman said.

It seems highly unlikely that overseas sites will comply fully with the requests of the Japanese. However, by attempting to serve the overseas markets with legal content it will at least make it easier for foreigners to open their wallets, should they feel inclined to do so.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/28/14

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

expendablesThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

The Expendables 3, which leaked several weeks before the official premiere, is the most downloaded movie this week.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (…) The Expendables 3 (DVDscr) ?.? / trailer
2 (…) Divergent 7.2 / trailer
3 (2) The Other Woman 6.5 / trailer
4 (1) Need For Speed 7.1 / trailer
5 (8) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 7.4 / trailer
6 (5) Transformers: Age of Extinction (HDTS) 6.3 / trailer
7 (4) Noah 6.3 / trailer
8 (…) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (TS) 8.3 / trailer
9 (3) Transcendence 6.4 / trailer
10 (…) Hercules Reborn 3.4 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Google Protects Chilling Effects From Takedown Notices

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

google-bayEach week many millions of DMCA-style copyright notices are sent to sites and services around the planet. Initially the process flew almost entirely under the radar, with senders and recipients dealing with complaints privately.

In 2001, that began to change with the advent of Chilling Effects, an archive created by activists who had become concerned that increasing volumes of cease-and-desist letters were having a “chilling effect” on speech.

In the decade-and-a-third that followed the archive grew to unprecedented levels, with giants such as Google and Twitter routinely sending received notices to the site for public retrieval.

However, while Chilling Effects strives to maintain free speech, several times a month rightsholders from around the world (probably unintentionally) try to silence the archive in specific ways by asking Google to de-index pages from the site.

As can be seen from the tables below, Home Box Office has tried to de-index Chilling Effects pages 240 times, with Microsoft and NBC Universal making 99 and 65 attempts respectively.

Chilling1

The ‘problem’ for these copyright holders is two-fold. Firstly, Chilling Effects does indeed list millions of URLs that potentially link to infringing content. That does not sit well with copyright holders.

“Because the site does not redact information about the infringing URLs identified in the notices, it has effectively become the largest repository of URLs hosting infringing content on the internet,” the Copyright Alliance’s Sandra Aistars complained earlier this year.

However, what Aistars omits to mention is that Chilling Effects has a huge team of lawyers under the hood who know only too well that their archive receives protection under the law. Chilling Effects isn’t a pirate index, it’s an educational, informational, research resource.

Thanks to Google, which routinely throws out all attempts at removing Chilling Effects URLs from its indexes, we are able to see copyright holder attempts at de-indexing.

Earlier this month, for example, Wild Side Video and their anti-piracy partners LeakID sent this notice to Google aiming to protect their title “Young Detective Dee.” As shown below, the notice contained several Chilling Effects URLs.

chill2

Each URL links to other DMCA notices on Chilling Effects, each sent by rival anti-piracy outfit Remove Your Media on behalf of Well Go USA Entertainment. They also target “Young Detective Dee”. This is an interesting situation that offers the potential for an endless loop, with the anti-piracy companies reporting each others’ “infringing” links on Chilling Effects in fresh notices, each time failing to get them removed.

chilling3

The seeds of the “endless loop” phenomenon were also experienced by HBO for a while, with the anti-piracy company sending notices (such as this one) targeting dozens of Chilling Effects pages listing notices previously sent by the company.

While publishing notices is entirely legal, the potential for these loops really angers some notice senders.

On April 10 this year a Peter Walley sent a notice to Google complaining that his book was being made available on a “pirate site” without permission. Google removed the link in its indexes but, as is standard practice, linked to the notice on Chilling Effects. This enraged Walley.

chilling4

None of these rantings had any effect, except to place yet another notice on Chilling Effects highlighting where the infringing material could be found.

It’s a lesson others should learn from too.

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

TorrentFreak: TorrenTV Instantly Streams Movie Torrents to Apple TV

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

appletvEarlier this year Popcorn Time made headlines all over the Internet as one of the first apps to combine a simple and stylish user interface with an effective way to stream torrents.

The application also inspired dozens of developers to start their own spinoffs. While most of these apps mimicked the looks and functionality of the original application, TorrenTV offers something completely different.

Instead of providing a Netflix-style index of movies, TorrenTV allows people to add their own torrents and stream these directly to an Apple TV.

“Popcorn Time is beautiful in code and in looks but I wanted to do two things that PopcornTime didn’t allow me, watch movies directly on my TV and add new torrents which Popcorn Time doesn’t have yet,” TorrenTV developer Carlos tells TorrentFreak.

Carlos started coding and a few weeks later TorrenTV was born. The application works by simply dropping a torrent or magnet link into it. The video file starts downloading and via Airplay it can be streamed directly to an Apple TV.

TorrenTV for Linux, Mac and Windows
torrentv-apps

TorrenTV uses Popcorn Time code and is built on the same Peerflix and torrent-stream libraries. There are plans to extend its functionality by adding Chromecast and Roku support in the future, but its simplicity will remain.

One of the main differences compared to Popcorn time is that TorrenTV doesn’t offer an index of movies. This may be a downside for some, but according to Carlos this is an advantage.

With no index of pirated content it can’t be taken down by the MPAA, which happened to Popcorn Time a few weeks ago.

For those who are interested in taking it for a spin, TorrenTV is available for Mac, Windows and Linux and can be downloaded from the official site.

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

TorrentFreak: American ISPs Receive 1.1 Million Piracy Settlements per Week

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

pirate-runningFebruary last year, five U.S. Internet providers started sending copyright alerts to customers who allegedly pirate movies, TV-shows and music.

During the first year they sent out 1.3 million educational notices, warning account holders that their connection was used to share pirated content. However, its scope pales in comparison to what others are doing.

TorrentFreak spoke with anti-piracy outfit CEG TEK, who also send out warning letters on behalf of copyright holders. However, their version comes with a sting.

In addition to the traditional slap on the wrist their notices also include a settlement proposal, which can reach hundreds of dollars. These emails are sent as regular DMCA notices which the ISPs then forward to their customers.

Little has been revealed about the scope of this program, but CEG TEK’s Kyle Reed now informs us that in 2013 they sent out 26 million notices to U.S. based Internet providers. The volume is expected to double this year as the company currently sends out 1.1 million notices per week.

It’s an impressive number, but since not all ISPs are happy with the process only a small fraction of their customers receive the settlement offer to the respective account holder.

CEG TEK currently sends out requests to 3,493 Internet providers and 342 of these forward the settlement offer, which is roughly 10%. This includes many small ISPs as well as companies and universities.

Some providers forward the notice but without the request for a settlement. Comcast, for example, is known to do this. While CEG TEK prefers it if providers forward the entire notice, the stripped ones are also of value to their clients.

“There are various levels of cooperation. Success doesn’t always mean getting a settlement from an account holder. Rightsholders are also happy when they can get their anti-piracy message out there,” CEG TEK’s Kyle Reed tells TorrentFreak.

Interestingly, there are also various ISPs who don’t forward anything. According to their interpretation of the DMCA they are not obliged to send the notices to their customers.

“Several Internet providers don’t comply at all. They simply ignore our notices,” Reed says.

CEG TEK is not the only company to send these settlement requests as a DMCA takedown notice, Rightscorp does the same. Both companies have increased their output in recent years and major rightsholders such as Warner Bros. are in on the scheme.

It’s an interesting trend, one that goes above and beyond the official Copyright Alert System. According to CEG TEK the approach is effective. The company has gathered data on how their notices influence piracy rates, which it plans to publish in the future.

Whether that will be enough to make a dent in piracy rates remains to be seen though.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder’s Religious Rights Spark New Complaint

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

It’s been almost two months since former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde was located on a farm in Sweden and spirited away by a specialist police unit.

Sunde’s destination was Västervik Norra, the prison allocated to him following the finalizing of his jail sentence in 2012.

The first few days and weeks of Sunde’s imprisonment went silently under the media radar, but by the end of June the former Pirate Bay spokesman was making his voice heard on his prison conditions.

Sunde has been both vegetarian and vegan, a dietary choice that has proven difficult during his incarceration. In a letter to authorities he complained that due to his needs not being met, his weight had plummeted 11 pounds (5kgs) in just four weeks.

It’s not clear whether that complaint resulted in any positive action, but just a month later Sunde is making his displeasure known once more, this time over his religious rights.

Four years ago a group of self-confessed pirates began a mission to have their beliefs recognized as a religion in Sweden. The Church of Kopimism – which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V as sacred symbols – eventually prevailed and in 2012 was officially approved by the authorities.

Kopimi

Just recently Sunde tried to exercise his right to meet with a representative of his chosen religion, but was met with prison red tape in response.

“The board of spiritual care (NAV) doesn’t have any representative for the Kopimist faith with whom they cooperate and therefore the Prison and Probation Service should provide permission for electronic contact with representatives from the Kopimist faith to believers,” Sunde wrote in his letter to authorities.

Whether this complaint will result in physical or even virtual access to a Kopimist priest is not yet clear. However, since Kopimism is an official religion, the authorities may have little choice but to comply. This throws up an interesting privacy-related question that Sunde himself mused over some two-and-a-half years ago.

“In some religions…there’s a Seal of Confession – which means that when you talk to a priest in the congregation, the priest has to keep what you say confidential. This is respected in some countries as law, where the courts can not make the priest testify against the individual,” Sunde said in 2012.

“This is probably the thing that I love the most with Kopimism as a religion – we can have yet another form of P2P communication – Priest2Priest. With no legal right for anyone to listen in to the conversation perhaps.”

It seems highly unlikely that Sunde will be allowed an online “encrypted confession” with a Kopimism “priest” anytime soon, but The Church of Kopimism’s legal status could throw up some headaches and dilemmas for the authorities as they try to process Peter’s complaint.

Not that he intended that, of course.

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

TorrentFreak: US Wants to Criminalize Movie and Music Streaming

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

streamingYesterday the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on punishments for and remedies against online copyright infringement. One of the speakers was David Bitkower, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General, who laid out the wishes of the Obama administration.

After praising previous successes, such as the shutdown of Megaupload and the prosecution of several IMAGiNE members, Bitkower explained the evolving challenges copyright holders are dealing with.

From illegal piano rolls in the early 1900s to floppy disks a century later, new technologies have presented new threats, he argued. With the rise of broadband access this process has worsened and the most recent challenge is combating illegal streaming services.

“One new challenge confronting copyright owners and law enforcement authorities is the rise of Internet ‘streaming’ as the dominant means of disseminating many types of copyrighted content online. This activity also derives from advances in technology: in this case, the growth in availability of high-speed Internet to the average consumer,” Bitkower said.

The problem for the Department of Justice and copyright holders is that these services are harder to prosecute. Technically, streaming doesn’t count as distribution but as a public performance, which can only be charged as a misdemeanor.

The administration tried to remedy this in 2012, by implementing the SOPA and PIPA bills, but these were shelved after public outrage. Many people feared that uploading copyrighted YouTube videos could possibly land them in jail and took their concerns to the streets.

However, fast forward a few years and the same plan is back on the table.

“The Administration recommends that Congress amend the law to create a felony penalty for unauthorized Internet streaming. Specifically, we recommend the creation of legislation to establish a felony charge for infringement through unauthorized public performances conducted for commercial advantage or private financial gain,” Bitkower explained.

“It would emphasize the seriousness of the threat that unauthorized streaming poses to legitimate copyright holders, clarify the scope of conduct deemed to be illegal in order to deter potential infringers, and provide the Department with an important tool to prosecute and deter illicit Internet streaming.”

In addition to criminalizing illicit streaming, Bitkower also called for persistent funds to support its international operations. In recent years the DoJ has educated police forces abroad to deal with copyright infringement. This apparently includes training on very basic skills, such as how to connect to the Internet in the first place.

“The program has realized numerous successes, including a Ukrainian police officer who, after receiving training, was able to use a dial-up Internet connection from his home computer to bring down the largest illegal file sharing service in his country,” Bitkower said.

The international program helped to shut down Megaupload, but could also target The Pirate Bay through tools such as “diplomatic and trade-based pressure.” Worryingly, the United States has trouble getting the facts rights, as it believes that the political Pirate Party is connected to The Pirate Bay.

“In addition to the Mega Conspiracy described above, we have seen The Pirate Bay start as a file sharing site for unauthorized copies of works in Sweden, expand to other countries, and even develop its own political party in Europe,” Bitkower noted.

Mistakes aside, it’s clear that the Obama administration hasn’t lost its focus on copyright infringement.

All recommendations are aimed at more prosecutions, more international pressure and tougher punishments for pirates. Time will tell whether they can get Congress to agree this time around.

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

Schneier on Security: Building a Legal Botnet in the Cloud

This post was syndicated from: Schneier on Security and was written by: schneier. Original post: at Schneier on Security

Two researchers have built a botnet using free anonymous accounts. They only collected 1,000 accounts, but there’s no reason this can’t scale to much larger numbers.

TorrentFreak: Leaked Paper Reveals Aussie Anti-Piracy Crackdown Musings

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

In common with all countries heavily involved with the distribution of U.S.-sourced entertainment products, Australia us under continuous pressure to do something about the online piracy phenomenon.

Much of the negotiations have Attorney-General George Brandis at their core, with the Senator regularly being accused of lacking transparency.

This week Aussie news outlet Crikey obtained (subscription) a leaked copy of a discussion paper in which Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull seek industry feedback on new anti-piracy proposals.

The discussion paper

Dated July 2014, the paper begins by outlining the Government’s perception of the piracy threat, noting that all players – from content creators to ISPs and consumers – have a role to play in reducing the illegal consumption of content.

It continues with details of schemes operating in the United States (Six-Strikes), UK (VCAP) and New Zealand which aim to develop consumer attitudes through education and mitigation. Inevitably, however, the paper turns to legislation, specifically what can be tweaked in order to give movie studios and record labels the tools they need to reduce infringement

ISP liability

The 2012 High Court ruling in the iiNet case signaled the end of movie and TV studio litigation against service providers. With their dream of holding ISPs responsible for the actions of their pirating users in tatters, copyright holders would need new tools to pursue their aims. It’s clear that Brandis now wants to provide those via a change in the law.

“The Government believes that even when an ISP does not have a direct power to prevent a person from doing a particular infringing act, there still may be reasonable steps that can be taken by the ISP to discourage or reduce online copyright infringement,” the paper reads.

“Extending authorization liability is essential to ensuring the existence of an effective legal framework that encourages industry cooperation and functions as originally intended, and is consistent with Australia’s international obligations.”

Proposal 1 – Extending liability

Aus-disc1

“The Government is looking to industry to reach agreement on appropriate industry schemes or commercial arrangements on what would constitute ‘reasonable steps’ to be taken by ISPs,” the paper notes.

Website blocking

Given several signals on the topic earlier this year, it comes as no surprise that website blocking is under serious consideration. The paper outlines blocking mechanisms in Europe, particularly the UK and Ireland, which allow for court injunctions to be issued against ISPs.

Proposal 2 – Website blocking

aus-disc2

The Irish model, which has already blocked sites including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, is of special interest to the Australian Government, since proving that an ISP had knowledge of infringing conduct is not required to obtain an injunction.

“A similar provision in Australian law could enable rights holders to take action to block access to a website offering infringing material, without the need to establish that a particular ISP authorized an infringement,” the paper notes, adding that such provisions would only apply to websites outside Aussie jurisdiction.

It’s likely that most copyright holders will be largely in favor of the Government’s proposals on the points detailed above, but whether ISPs will share their enthusiasm remains to be seen.

Stakeholders are expected to return their submissions by Monday 25th August.

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

TorrentFreak: Expendables 3 Leaks Online, 100K+ Copies Down in Hours

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

expendables3You’d have to be enjoying a Mars residency not to know that all big (and most small) movies get leaked online. If it’s available in a cinema, someone, somewhere will have a copy in a matter of days and it’s just a question of when, not if, it appears on the Internet.

As such, these events aren’t particularly big news but every now and again one comes along to make people sit up and listen. Several hours ago, July 24, 2014, marked one such notable leaking event.

Featuring every action hero known to man, from Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wesley Snipes, Jason Statham and Jet Li, to UFC stars Randy Couture and Ronda Rousey, Expendables 3 was always going to be a hit. However, the plan was to have it become a hit on the big screen before breaking into the home market.

That is not going to happen. Around twelve hours ago, a near perfect copy of The Expendables 3 appeared online and it’s already a smash hit with home audiences.

Screenshot from the leak

exp1

Figures gathered by TorrentFreak reveal that more than 100,000 200,000 (update) people have downloaded the presumed ‘DVD screener’ copy using BitTorrent alone, and at one point in excess of 65,000 users were engaged in transfers on a single torrent.

These stats push the leak well ahead of the initial pre-release popularity of the infamous X-Men Origins: Wolverine leak back in 2009 and once the news begins to spread today, things are only going to get worse.

Needless to say, the folks at distributor Lionsgate are going to be absolutely furious. While ‘cams’ are an annoyance, most movie-goers won’t want to destroy the movie experience by watching them. High-quality copies like this one are a different matter altogether and the soaring download numbers are a testament to that.

No blurry cams here, high-quality all the way

exp2

So who is behind the leak? At this stage it’s impossible to point the finger at the person who obtained the DVD copy. However, we can take a look at who brought the copy to the wider public Internet.

When leaks come from a so-called ‘Scene’ source it’s possible to track the copy at least as far back as the group that placed it online but with so-called P2P releases, as is the case with Expendables 3, that’s not quite so easy. However, the initial and most popular public copy appears to be attributable to an entity known as Drarbg. (see update below)

Drarbg has accounts on several major torrent sites, including The Pirate Bay, and is one of the most prolific BitTorrent releasers online today. Many presume that this is a single person, but Drarbg has previously indicated that it’s a group of individuals working together as a team. Drarbg, as the name suggests, has affiliations with RARBG, a popular public torrent site.

It seems likely that this high-profile, high-quality leak will become a talking point in the hours, weeks and months to come and will probably be seized upon as a prime example of why piracy crackdowns are needed. However, there is also another angle to be aware of.

Nu Image, the production company behind all three Expendables titles, sued previous downloaders of its titles. Will history repeat itself? Time will tell….

Update: Downloads climbing well over 200K copies now…

Update 2: While the Drarbg torrent gained the most traction initially, it appears another torrent was uploaded by another releaser around 20 mins before.

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

TorrentFreak: University Sets Fines & Worse For Pirating Students

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

lsuAnyone providing an Internet-access infrastructure to third parties needs to be aware of the online piracy issue. For service providers, whether that’s a regular ISP, web host, or the operator of a free open WiFi in a local coffee shop, knowledge of how other people’s actions can affect them is a useful asset.

For universities in the United States, awareness of how Internet piracy can affect their establishment is especially crucial. On top of the requirements of the DMCA, in July 2010, exactly four years ago, the U.S. put in place a new requirement for colleges and universities to curtail illegal file-sharing on their networks. Failure to do so can result in the loss of federal funding so needless to say, campuses view the issue seriously.

Yesterday the The Daily Reveille, the official news resource of the Louisiana State University, revealed that LSU’s IT Services receive between 15 and 20 complaints a month from copyright holders, an excellent result for around 30,000 students.

At the start of the last decade it was music companies doing most of the complaining, but Security and policy officer Craig Callender says that with the advent of services such as Spotify being made available, reports from TV companies are more common.

But no matter where they originate, LSU acts on these allegations of infringement. A first complaint sees a student kicked offline, with Internet access only restored after the completion of an educational course covering illegal file-sharing.

Those who breach the rules again have worse to look forward to, starting with a fine.

“LSU is effectively combating unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by fining students implicated in a verified DMCA copyright violation,” the university’s official policy document reads.

“The $50 fine provides a mechanism for recovering costs incurred in reviewing and processing DMCA notifications, and funding programs for awareness (e.g., education and ad campaign costs).”

Educational campaigns include the promotion of legal services, such as those outlined on the university’s chosen official resource list. Interestingly, while the links for music and books work, the MPAA page for legal TV shows and movies (for which the university receives the most notices) no longer exists.

But while the $50 fine might be harsh enough for a student on a limited budget, LSU warns of even tougher sanctions. Allegations of illegal file-sharing are noted on the student’s academic record which can have implications for his or her career prospects.

In addition, complaints can result in a referral to the Dean of Students’ office for violation of the LSU Code of Student Conduct. According to official documentation, the Student Conduct Office keeps Student Conduct files for seven years after the date of the incident, or longer if deemed necessary.

It’s clear that the work of the RIAA and MPAA in the last decade seriously unnerved universities who have been forced to implement strict measures to curtail unauthorized sharing. LSU says it employs filtering technology to eliminate most P2P traffic but it’s clear that some users are getting through.

Almost certainly others will be using VPN-like solutions to evade not only the P2P ban, but also potential complaints. Still, universities will probably care much less about these users, since they don’t generate DMCA notices and have no impact on their ability to receive federal funding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Launches Mobile Site, Teases More Expansions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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