Posts tagged ‘anonymous’

TorrentFreak: No VPN on Earth Can Protect Careless Pirates

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

pirate-cardLast year, Philip Danks, a man from the West Midlands, UK, went into a local cinema and managed to record the movie Fast and Furious 6. He later uploaded that content to the Internet.

After pleading guilty, this week Wolverhampton Crown Court sentenced him to an unprecedented 33 months in prison.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft are no doubt extremely pleased with this result. After their successful private prosecution, the Hollywood-affiliated anti-piracy group is now able to place Danks’ head on a metaphorical pike, a clear warning to other would-be cammers. But just how difficult was this operation?

There’s often a lot of mystery attached to the investigations process in a case like this. How are individuals like Danks tracked and found? Have FACT placed spies deep into file-sharing sites? Are the authorities sniffing traffic and breaking pirates’ VPN encryption?

Or are they spending half an hour with Google and getting most of it handed to them on a plate? In Danks’ case, that appears to be exactly what happened.

Something that many millions of people use online is a nickname, and Danks was no exception. His online alias in the torrenting scene was TheCod3r, and as shown below it is clearly visible in the release title.

Kick-up

The idea behind aliases is that they provide a way to mask a real name. Military uses aside, adopting an alternative communications identity was something popularized in the 70s with the advent of Citizens Band radio. The practice continues online today, with many people forced to adopt one to register with various services.

However, what many in the file-sharing scene forget is that while aliases on a torrent site might be useful, they become as identifying as a real name when used elsewhere in ‘regular’ life. The screenshot below shows one of Danks’ first huge mistakes.

Fish-Google

Clicking that link on dating site Plenty of Fish (POF) reveals a whole range of information about a person who, at the very least, uses the same online nickname as Danks. There’s no conclusive proof that it’s the same person, but several pieces of information begin to build a picture.

In his POF profile, Danks reveals his city as being Willenhall, a small town situated in an area known locally as the Black Country. What FACT would’ve known soon after the movie leaked online was which cinema it had been recorded in. That turned out to be a Showcase cinema, just a few minutes up the road from Willenhall in the town of Walsall.

Also revealed on Danks’ POF profile is his full name and age. When you have that, plus a town, you can often find a person’s address on the UK’s Electoral Register.

It’s also trivial to find social networking pages. Not only do pictures on Danks’ POF profile match those on his Facebook page, he also has a revealing movie item listed in his interests section.

fb-1

Of course, none of this in itself is enough to build a decent case, but when you have the police on board as FACT did, things can be sped up somewhat. On May 23, 2013 Danks was raided and then, just two days later, he did something quite astonishing.

Posting on his Facebook page, the then 24-year-old took to his Facebook account (he has two) to mock the makers of Fast and Furious 6.

“Seven billion people and I was the first. F*** you Universal Pictures,” he wrote.

Also amazing was Danks’ apparent disregard for the predicament he was in. On May 10, 2013, Danks again took to Facebook, this time to advertise that he was selling copies of movies including Robocop and Captain America.

sale

This continued distribution of copyrighted material particularly aggravated the Court at his sentencing hearing this week, with Danks’ behavior being described as “bold, arrogant and cocksure offending.”

While the list of events above clearly shows a catalog of errors that some might even find amusing, the desire of many pirates to utilize the same nickname across many sites is a common one employed by some of the biggest in the game.

Once these and other similar indicators migrate across into real-life identities and activities (and the ever-present Facebook account of course), joining the dots is not difficult – especially for the police and outfits like FACT. And once that happens, no amount of VPN encryption of lack of logging is going to put the genie back in the bottle.

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

TorrentFreak: Lionsgate Wants to Settle Expendables 3 Lawsuit With Torrent Site

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

expendablespiracyWith a disappointing $16 million in earnings during the opening weekend, the box-office premiere of The Expendables 3 turned into a big flop.

Many insiders blame the pre-release leak of the film for the disappointing numbers. Millions of people have downloaded pirated copies and skipped the box office, they argue.

Over the past several weeks Lionsgate has countered the leak by sending tens of thousands of takedown requests. The movie studio even went as far as suing the operators of six websites that allegedly failed to remove the infringing files – Limetorrents.com, Billionuploads.com, Hulkfile.eu, Played.to, Swankshare.com and Dotsemper.com.

This pressure resulted in drastic actions at several of these sites. Faced with a preliminary injunction, cloud hosting service Hulkfile shut down its website, for example, and Swankshare did the same. LimeTorrents remained online, but removed all expendables torrents, including the trailers.

TorrentFreak spoke with the operator of the torrent site who says he installed a filter that blocks everything related to the Expendables franchise. He hoped that this would be enough to appease the movie studio, but thus far Lionsgate has no plans to back down without compensation.

In an email the movie studio’s lawyer notes that the preliminary injunction stays in place. Interestingly, however, the torrent site operator is invited to discuss a potential settlement.

“Thanks for the email. As you know the court has entered a preliminary injunction, and the lawsuit is going to continue unless we can reach a settlement. I think it would be helpful to set up a time to talk by phone,” Lionsgate’s lawyer writes.

Whether Lionsgate is serious about settling or whether it merely wants to know more about the identity of Limetorrents’ operator remains anyone’s guess. It’s very unlikely that the movie studio will settle for anything short of a few million dollars in damages, something the torrent site owner can’t afford.

So for now, this means that the lawsuit is destined to drag on.

Yesterday LimeTorrents’ domain registrar eNom had to hand over any information it has on the site’s owner. With the domain name at risk LimeTorrents has decided to move its website to a new .CC domain name, where it will continue serving torrents, minus the Expendables.

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

TorrentFreak: Fast & Furious 6 Pirate Sentenced to 33 Months Prison

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

During May 2013, TorrentFreak received an email from an individual in the UK who detailed serious problems he’d experienced in the preceding days.

On May 23 at 07:30, five unmarked cars containing 10 police officers and representatives from the Federation Against Copyright Theft tried to apprehend the man at this former address. That error was quickly corrected and within minutes three cars, four detectives and two FACT officers had made it to the correct location.

The police were looking for Philip Danks, a man from Walsall in the West Midlands. Their information was that the then 24-year-old had cammed Fast and Furious 6 at the local Showcase cinema before uploading it to the Internet.

“I was detained for 3 hrs 12 minutes, out of that I was questioned for approximately 40 minutes,” Danks told TorrentFreak at the time. “One police officer and two FACT officers conducted the interview. The police officer sat back and let FACT do all the questioning, so FACT were running the show.”

Danks was eventually released, but in September police were back, this time arresting both his sister and her former boyfriend. New allegations were made, this time in respect of the unauthorized camming and uploading of the movie ‘Epic’.

In March this year Danks told TF that the police weren’t going to take any action against him. However, after previously keeping us updated, Danks went quiet. Today his fate has been revealed.

Following a trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Danks was sentenced to 33 months in prison for recording, uploading and also selling physical copies of Fast and Furious 6.

In Court it was claimed that Danks’ uploading of Fast 6 resulted in more than 700,000 downloads costing Universal Pictures and the wider industry millions of pounds in losses.

It appears that Danks was also very easy to trace. When he contacted TF last year his email address betrayed his online nickname – ‘TheCod3r’ – a handle that is now easily linked to a KickassTorrents upload of the same movie. FACT say it was this username that led them to Danks.

Comments left by TheCod3r on KickassTorrentsfast6com

While 33 months is no doubt an extremely harsh sentence, there were important aggravating factors. FACT report that following his arrest in 2013, Danks continued to both sell and distribute illegal copies of movies. He was assisted with uploading by Michael Bell, his sister’s former boyfriend. The Court sentenced Bell to a 12 month community order with 120 hours unpaid work.

Both pleaded guilty to committing offenses under the Fraud Act 2006 and the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988. 

Kieron Sharp, Director General of FACT said that his organization is grateful to West Midlands Police for their assistance in bringing Danks and Bell to justice.

“This is an important case and an important sentence. Danks was responsible for recording, uploading and distributing the film and was clearly unconcerned at the time about the consequences of his actions, perhaps believing that the internet gave him anonymity. We at FACT have shown that we will find and identify people committing criminal offenses and ensure that they are properly dealt with through the courts,” Sharp said.

The MPAA’s Chris Marcich said that holding pirates to account is vital if the creative industries are to flourish alongside the development of legal services.

“It is important that those making money on the back of other people’s hard work and creativity, paying nothing back into the creative economy, are held accountable and we welcome today’s verdict,” Marcich said.

“This is one important element of the wider strategy to tackle this issue which also includes educating consumers about legitimate online sources of content through schemes like Creative Content UK, working with advertiser and payment processors to cut off the revenue streams pirate sites rely on and blocking illegal sites through the courts.”

Yet again FACT have another very big headline under their belt which will prove useful in their quest to deter those contemplating a similar course of action to Danks. As previously noted, camming on its own is not considered an offense, but couple it with distribution and selling copies for profit and things can get very serious indeed.

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

TorrentFreak: Fraud and Embezzlement Drives Anti-Piracy Group into Bankruptcy

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

smaisguyAnti-piracy groups are often quick to label file-sharing sites as criminal organizations, but these outfits also have some rotten apples amongst their own.

A few months ago we reported on the President of the Lithuanian Anti-Piracy Association LANVA, who was jailed for two years for drug trafficking. The boss of Iceland’s anti-piracy group SMAIS is not doing much better, it seems, as he stands accused of fraud and embezzlement.

SMAIS is a local branch of Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association. The group recently failed to get The Pirate Bay blocked in Iceland, and has now run into the law itself.

The organization’s board filed for bankruptcy after it discovered a wide range of serious problems. The group’s financial statements were falsified, the books were not in order, and taxes haven’t been paid since 2007.

Making matters even worse, the board says that its CEO Snæbjörn Steingrímsson has admitted to embezzlement. This case is now under review by the Special Prosecutor, who has to decide whether a criminal investigation will be launched against the anti-piracy chief.

The last time SMAIS made international headlines was last year, when the group pulled its Facebook page offline after four days. According to Steingrímsson, SMAIS didn’t have enough resources to handle the constant flaming comments from the public.

What certainly didn’t help was that the launch of the Facebook page coincided with the news that SMAIS never paid for the film and game rating software they purchased from a Dutch company back in 2007. Considering the position the group is in now this is hardly a surprise.

Whether Hollywood has plans to install a new anti-piracy group in Iceland if the bankruptcy goes through is currently unknown.

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

TorrentFreak: Dotcom’s Millions Will Remain Frozen, Court Decides

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

dotcom-laptopJust days before the huge raid on Kim Dotcom’s New Zealand home in 2012, foreign restraining orders were granted to enable the seizure of the entrepreneur’s assets.

Those orders ran out in April 2014, with the Crown immediately seeking to have them extended. That application was rejected by the High Court, a decision that prompted celebrations from Dotcom alongside speculation on how he might spend some of the money.

But things weren’t over yet. The Crown filed an appeal against the ruling, and today the Court of Appeal handed down its decision. It’s bad news for Dotcom and fellow respondents Bran Van Der Kolk, Megastuff Limited, and Dotcom’s estranged wife, Mona Dotcom.

The judgment handed down by Judges O’ Regan, Wild and French in the Court of Appeal concerns the High Court’s dismissal of an application by the Commissioner of Police to extend the restraining order over Dotcom’s assets made by a United States Court.

The High Court’s Judge Thomas previously decided that while the Court had jurisdiction to extend the duration of the restraining orders, it would be inappropriate to do so, a decision which led to the appeal.

While Dotcom supported Judge Thomas’ ultimate ruling, he cross appealed against the finding that there was jurisdiction to extend the restraining order. He also contested the Judge’s decision to extend the order pending the outcome of the appeal.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Dotcom’s cross-appeal in its entirety.

For her part, Mona Dotcom supported her estranged husband’s position but also requested that her property be excluded from any extended order. The Court rejected her submission.

“We allow the appeal, quash the decision of the High Court and make the extension order sought by the Commissioner,” the Court of Appeal judges wrote.

“An order is made extending the duration of the registration of the restraining orders issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on 10 and 25 January 2012 and registered in New Zealand on 18 April 2012 for one year from 18 April 2014.”

The decision means that Dotcom will have to head back to court in April 2015 in the hope of regaining possession of his property which includes millions in cash plus luxury cars and jewelry.

In a Twitter response, Dotcom pondered whether the latest decision and others like it might be straining relations between the High Court and Court of Appeals.

“I wonder how much respect Auckland High Court judges have for the Appeal judges in Wellington. Almost all rulings in my case were overturned,” he wrote.

Dotcom’s much-delayed extradition hearing is scheduled for February 2015.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Asked to Remove 1 Million Pirate Links Per Day

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

google-bayIn the hope of steering prospective customers away from pirate sites, copyright holders are overloading Google with DMCA takedown notices.

These requests have increased dramatically since Google began making the data public. A few years ago the search engine received just a few dozen takedown notices during an entire year, but today it processes millions of allegedly infringing links per week.

Over the past months the number of reported URLs has continued to rise. Now, for the first time ever, Google has processed an average of more than one million URLs per day.

Last week Google was asked to remove more than 7.8 million results, up more than 10% compared to the previous record a week earlier. The graph below shows the remarkable increase in requests over the past three years.

To put these numbers in perspective, Google is currently asked to remove an infringing search result every 8 milliseconds, compared to one request per six days back in 2008.

google-dmca-record

The massive surge in removal requests is not without controversy. It’s been reported that some notices reference pages that contain no copyrighted material, due to mistakes or abuse, but are deleted nonetheless. Google has a pretty good track record of catching these errors, but since manual review of all links is unachievable, some URLs are removed in error.

Google says it’s doing its best to address the concerns of copyright holders. Last year the company released a report detailing the various anti-piracy measures it uses. However, according to some industry groups the search giant can and should do more.

For the RIAA the staggering amount of takedown requests only confirms the notion that the process isn’t very effective. Brad Buckles, RIAA executive vice president of anti-piracy, previously suggested that Google should start banning entire domains from its search results.

“Every day produces more results and there is no end in sight. We are using a bucket to deal with an ocean of illegal downloading,” Buckles said.

The issue has also piqued the interest of U.S. lawmakers. Earlier this year the House Judiciary Subcommittee had a hearing on the DMCA takedown issue, and both copyright holders, Internet service providers, and other parties are examining what they can do to optimize the process.

In the meantime, the number of removal requests is expected to rise and rise, with 10 million links per week being the next milestone.

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Boss Avoids Copyright Q&A to Avoid Piracy “Crazies”

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

runningThe main thrust from the government and entertainment industry figures is that something pretty drastic needs to be done about the illegal downloading habits of many Australians.

Consumer groups and citizens, on the other hand, want any response to be measured and coupled with assurances from entertainment companies that Australians will stop being treated like second-class consumers. Local ISPs have varying opinions, depending on the depth of their Big Media affiliations.

Back in July a discussion paper leaked revealing government proposals that include measures such as the tweaking of ISP liability right through to ‘pirate’ website blocking. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull later indicated that a public Q&A would be held in September for representatives from the entertainment industries, ISPs, and consumer groups to air their thoughts on the proposals.

While the opportunity was welcomed by the majority of stakeholders, it’s now clear that not everyone will be there.

Village Roadshow is the company that mounted the most aggressive anti-piracy legal action ever against iiNet, one of Australia’s largest ISPs. They have a deep interest in how this debate pans out. This morning, however, co-CEO Graham Burke told ZDNet that his company wouldn’t be attending the discussions because he’ll be overseas at the time.

While that may be true, an email Burke sent to Turnbull and other participants shines rather more light on the topic.

“My company is not prepared to participate in the forum. As expressed to you previously these Q and A style formats are judged by the noise on the night and given the proposed venue I believe this will be weighted by the crazies,” Burke told the Minister.

According to ZDNet, attendees from the ISP industry will include iiNet CEO David Buckingham, Telstra executive director Jane Van Beelen and Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein.

On a musical front the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) will be in attendance, as will writer and producer Peter Duncan. Looking after the interests of citizens will be consumer group Choice, but it appears Burke and Village Roadshow are concerned about potential dissent from the “crazies”.

“What is at stake here is the very future of Australian film production itself and it is too crucially important to Australia’s economy and the fabric of our society to put at risk with what will be a miniscule group whose hidden agenda is theft of movies,” Burke told the Minister.

It’s perhaps understandable for the movie boss to avoiding walking into a losing battle, but referring to those that do wish to participate in an open debate as having a hidden agenda of “movie theft” isn’t going to win over potential allies.

Boycotting discussions in which people get the opportunity to air their perhaps opposing opinions doesn’t indicate a willingness to enter a dialog or negotiations either.

But that might be the nail on the head right there.

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

TorrentFreak: Attackers Can ‘Steal’ Bandwidth From BitTorrent Seeders, Research Finds

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

swarmBitTorrent is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to share large files over the Internet. The popular file-sharing protocol is used by dozens of millions of people every day and accounts for a substantial amount of total Internet traffic.

This popularity makes BitTorrent an interesting target for attacks, which various anti-piracy companies have shown in the past. One of these possible attacks was recently unveiled by Florian Adamsky, researcher at the City University London.

In an article published in “Computers & Security” Adamsky and his colleagues reveal an exploit which allows attackers to get a higher download rate from seeders than other people.

In technical terms, the exploit misuses BitTorrent’s choking mechanism of clients that use the “Allowed Fast” extension. Attackers can use this to keep a permanent connection with seeders, requesting the same pieces over and over.

The vulnerability was extensively tested in swarms of various sizes and the researchers found that three malicious peers can already slow download times up to 414.99%. When the number of attackers is greater compared to the number of seeders, the worse the effect becomes.

The impact of the attack further depends on the download clients being used by the seeders in the swarm. The mainline BitTorrent clients and uTorrent are not vulnerable for example, while Vuze, Transmission and Libtorrent-based clients are.

TorrentFreak spoke with Adamsky who predicts that similar results are possible in real swarms. Even very large swarms of more than 1,000 seeders could be affected through a botnet, although it’s hard to predict the precise impact.

“If an attacker uses a botnet to attack the swarm, I think it would be possible to increase the average download time of all peers [of swarms with 1,000 seeders] up to three times,” Adamsky tells us.

“If most of the clients would have a vulnerable client like Vuze or Transmission it would be possible to increase the average download time up ten times,” he adds.

In their paper the researchers suggest a relatively easy fix to the problem, through an update of the “Allowed Fast” extension. In addition, they also propose a new seeding algorithm that is less prone to these and other bandwidth attacks.

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

TorrentFreak: Court: Usenet Provider Doesn’t Have to Filter Pirated Content

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

news-serviceIn 2009, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, representing the movie and music industries, took Europe’s largest Usenet provider News-Service Europe (NSE) to court.

Through the court BREIN demanded that NSE delete all infringing content from its servers, and in 2011 the Court of Amsterdam sided with the copyright holders.

The Court argued that NSE willingly facilitated copyright infringement through its services. In its verdict the Court ruled that NSE had to remove all copyrighted content, and filter future posts for possible copyright infringements.

Responding to the verdict the Usenet provider said that it was economically unfeasible to filter all messages. The company therefore saw no other option than to shut down its services while the appeal was pending.

This week the Appeals Court ruled on the case overturning the previous verdict, setting a more positive precedent for Usenet providers and similar services.

The Court concluded that NSE does not facilitate copyright infringement as long as it maintains a procedure through which copyright holders can send unlimited takedown notices.

In addition, the Court decided that proactive filtering of copyrighted content is not required, as that conflicts with existing jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice.

“We are very pleased with this ruling,” NSE CEO Patrick Schreurs says. “The Court correctly states that a Usenet provider such as News-Service Europe can not be expected to proactively monitor the messages others place.”

The ruling this week is an interlocutory verdict. The Court still has to rule on how NSE’s notice and takedown procedure should operate. Afterwards, both BREIN and NSE still have the option to take the case to the Supreme Court.

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

TorrentFreak: Major Torrent Sites and Google Purge The Expendables 3

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

With The Expendables 3 now officially released in theaters, the autopsy over its leak last month and the potential effects on box office figures has begun.

Many news outlets reported yesterday that the first weekend’s takings represent a flop for the third in the Expendables franchise and, of course, those closest to Hollywood are pointing the figure firmly at piracy.

But on the ground, on some of the very sites accused of facilitating piracy of the action movie, there are signs which suggests that this leaked title is being treated somewhat differently to any that have gone before.

LimeTorrents

Noting that the site was named in a Lions Gate lawsuit, TF monitored for the presence of The Expendables 3 torrents on popular torrent site LimeTorrents. The result is shown in the image below.

Lime-Expend

While the site lists 14 torrents, not a single working Expendables 3 torrent appears in the search results. The three that do appear are sponsored links that do not lead to anything useful.

But while LimeTorrents are clearly doing all they can to comply with the terms of a lawsuit, other sites that have not been named by Lions Gate also appear to have been taking action.

KickassTorrents

KickassTorrents is the world’s second largest torrent site and the go-to place for many looking for fresh content. However, anyone searching for leaked Expendables 3 torrents will be going home disappointed. There are currently nine torrents returned in results, all of which are trailers. The leaked movie cannot be found.

Kick-expend

It’s worth noting that like many of the leading torrent sites, Kickass removes torrents following copyright holder requests, so that goes someway to explaining why the Expendables 3 torrents have all disappeared. What is notable, however, is that no fresh ones seem to be reappearing as is usually the case.

RARBG

There’s a similar story over at RARBG, the site placed 10th in our Top Torrent Sites 2014 post. A search produces the two torrents shown in the screenshot below and as they clearly point out, these definitely ain’t The Expendables.

rarbg

BitSnoop

The effect of these takedowns, whether from rightsholders or introduced on a voluntary basis, can also be seen on torrent sites that specialize in indexing torrents found elsewhere. BitSnoop, the 9th most popular torrent site online with an index of 23 million torrents, currently has none related to The Expendables 3.

bitsnoop-expend

Torrentz

Over at Torrentz, a meta-search engine that indexes content on other sites, we can see that just four torrents are returned following an Expendables 3 search, none of which are the movie in question.The links at the top are sponsored and don’t relate to torrents.

The note at the bottom reveals that 41 torrent links have been removed following DMCA notices and their euro equivalent. Again, no more torrents seem to be reappearing.

torrentz-expend

Google

While torrents disappearing and not reappearing within major torrent sites is quite unusual in itself, perhaps the most dramatic effect can be seen in Google search results.

As previously documented, Lions Gate has put in a herculean effort to have listings removed. This, combined with any torrent site self-censorship efforts, has resulted in a tiny number of usable entries in the first 20 pages of Google results for common searches such as ‘The Expendables 3 + download + torrent’.

Of course, more experienced downloaders and those who persevere through a few searches can still find torrents and other ways to watch the movie. Torrents still remain on The Pirate Bay too, but there are clear signs that the leak of this movie is being treated differently from any other in recent memory, and not only by those involved in its legal distribution either.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Court Grants Order to Wipe Pirate Sites from the Internet

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

stop-blockedThe entertainment industries often complain that they have virtually no means to target pirate sites, especially those run from overseas.

This grim outlook isn’t shared by the operators of ABS-CBN, the largest media and entertainment company in the Philippines, who filed a lawsuit against several unauthorized streaming sites at a District Court in Oregon.

The company’s complaint alleges a mixture of trademark and copyright infringement against a dozen websites including Pinoystreaming.com, Pinoytvko.biz and Pinoy-tube.com. The sites in question are operated by different people, some of whom have no apparent connection to the United States.

To stop the sites from operating as quickly as possible the media company requested a temporary restraining order. This was done under seal without the knowledge of the defendants, as ABS-CBN feared that they would otherwise switch domain names and continue operating as usual.

“Absent a temporary restraining order, Defendants will be able to completely erase the status quo by transferring the benefits of their prior illegal activities to new websites,” the company argued.

In short, ABS-CBN requested power to take the sites offline before the owners knew that they were getting sued, and without a chance to defend themselves. While that may seem a lot to ask, Judge Anna Brown granted the request.

Earlier this month the Judge signed the temporary restraining order which bars the operators from running their sites. In addition, it allows the media company to order hosting companies to take down the servers, domain registrars to seize the domain names, and search engines to remove all results linking to the sites.

“Upon Plaintiffs’ request, those with actual notice of the injunction, including any Internet search engines, Web hosts, domain-name registrars, and domain name registries or their administrators, shall cease facilitating access to any or all domain names and websites…,” the order reads.

The court also ordered the domain name registrars to point the domains to a copy of the complaint, so the website owners would know why their sites had been wiped from the Internet. Further, to prevent the defendants from passing on Google traffic to a new domain, ABS-CBN was granted permission to access the Google Webmaster Tools of the defendants.

“Plaintiffs may enter the Subject Domain Names into Google’s Webmaster Tools and cancel any redirection of the domains that have been entered there by Defendants which redirect traffic to a new domain name or website and thereby evade the provisions of this Order,” the order reads.

The above is just part of the injunction which effectively shuts down the sites in question. All websites in the suit are now redirected to a copy of the complaint. Also, several domains are no longer present in Google’s search results.

The preliminary injunction is unique in its kind, both due to its broadness and the fact that it happened without due process. This has several experts worried, including EFF’s Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry.

“It’s very worrisome that a court would issue a rapid and broad order affecting speech based on allegations, without careful consideration and an opportunity for the targets to defend themselves,” McSherry tells TorrentFreak.

In addition to the restraining order, Judge Brown also granted ABS-CBN’s request to freeze all financial assets of the defendants until further notice. The defendants were given the option to appeal both orders after they were issued, but it’s unknown whether they have done so.

This is not the first ex-parte injunction to be handed down against alleged pirate sites this month. The same happened in the Expendables 3 case, although this order wasn’t nearly as broad as the one against the Filipino streaming sites.

Whether it’s the start of a new trend has yet to be seen, but considering the broad measures judges are willing to sign off, things could get messy.

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

TorrentFreak: ISPs Face Lawsuits After Failing to Block The Pirate Bay

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

pirate bayFollowing favorable rulings on website-blocking from both the European Court of Justice and the local Supreme Court, at the end of July several Austrian movie companies renewed their mission to have ‘pirate’ sites blocked at the ISP level.

VAP, the anti-piracy association of the Austrian film and video industry, wrote to several local ISPs – UPC, Drei, Tele2 and A1 – demanding a blockade of three domains – ThePirateBay.se, Movie4K.to and Kinox.to.

Just days later the IFPI signaled its intention to join the fray. In a letter dated August 4 and sent to five local ISPs, the music group set a deadline of less than two weeks for the service providers to block subscriber access to ThePirateBay,se, isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to.

After the VAP letter came talks between the anti-piracy outfit and the ISPs, but a deadline of August 14 expired last week with no blocking having taken place. While the courts have confirmed that in certain circumstances service providers can be required to block errant sites, it appears that the ISPs don’t want to take action based on mere requests from rightsholders.

“We continue to believe that the decision to block websites or other Internet content should lie with the courts and legislators,” UPC told Austrian news outlet Future Zone.

“We have sympathy for rightsholders and we are in full support of the creative industries. However, we offer our customers access to the Internet and have no obligation or right to choose which content is accessed.”

Faced with blocking requests around Europe, most if not all ISPs have required a court order in order to restrict access to ‘pirate’ sites. Given this history, UPC’s reluctance comes as no surprise to VAP. Managing Director Werner Müller admitted last week that it was always unlikely that the ISPs would act without being legally required to do so. That means legal action, and VAP are ready for it.

“There will soon be a lawsuit concerning blocking against two websites – kinox.to and movie4k.to – against four major domestic Internet providers,” Müller says. “The lawsuits are prepared and are waiting almost only on their delivery.”

And, according to comments made by IFPI CEO Franz Medwenitsch, the music industry won’t be far behind.

“As of today there has been no response from the service providers so we had our attorney begin the preparations for legal action,” Medwenitsch confirms.

These web-blocking cases being brought against Austrian ISPs are of particular importance as they represent the first to take place following the March 27 ruling of the European Court of Justice. How that ruling is interpreted will be closely watched by rightsholders across the continent.

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

TorrentFreak: Third Unreleased Doctor Who Episode Leaks Online

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

In July, news broke that following a serious error at a BBC office in Miami, the scripts and video to the brand new series of Doctor Who had accidentally been made available online.

While the BBC closed down the security breach, it didn’t do so quickly enough. The scripts were made available on file-sharing networks first and they were soon followed by the leak of the first episode.

Destined for Marcelo Camargo of Marc Drei Productions, a Brazil-based production company known for its subtitling work, the unfinished ‘workprint’ release wasn’t to be the last. Less than a week ago the first full copies of the second episode “Into The Dalek” started doing the rounds, prompting concerns of whether the leaks would stop there or continue.

That question now seems to have been answered. A 1020Mb file currently being made available via The Pirate Bay is the third episode in the new series. The file follows the naming convention of the previous two leaks suggesting that the video comes from the same source.

Rumored to be titled “Robots of Sherwood”, the episode confirms details revealed in the leaked scripts and sees Doctor Who venturing back in time for a memorable meeting with Robin Hood.

Dr-robin

As can be seen from the screenshot, the episode is presented in monochrome and is heavily watermarked. Special effects and other elements of final polish also appear to be absent.

The question now falls to whether the remaining three episodes of six will also leak to mainstream file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent. There are reports of episodes four, five and six appearing on the eD2K network (sometimes known as eDonkey) but thus far there are no confirmed full downloads.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 08/18/14

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

maleThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Maleficent 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 (…) Maleficent 7.4 / trailer
2 (1) Captain America: The Winter Soldier 8.1 / trailer
3 (2) Divergent 7.2 / trailer
4 (…) X-Men: Days of Future Past (HDrip/TS) 8.4 / trailer
5 (4) 22 Jump Street (TS) 7.8 / trailer
6 (3) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 7.4 / trailer
7 (…) Brick Mansions 5.8 / trailer
8 (6) The Expendables 3 (DVDscr) ?.? / trailer
9 (…) Godzilla (Webrip) 7.1 / trailer
10 (5) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (TS) 8.3 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Ferguson Attacks And Web Censorship Are Parts Of Same Story

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

The governments around the world are reacting the exact same way today as they did when the printing press arrived 500 years ago. There isn’t really anything new under the sun.

Then, as now, they were used to telling people what was true and what wasn’t, telling whatever story that fit whatever it was they wanted to do.

“Cannabis is dangerous. Tobacco is not harmful at all. Oh, and there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

When police troops in Ferguson launched tear gas grenades at a television team from Al-Jazeera, that is a symptom of the exact same thing as web censorship: governments are losing control of the story. Governments can no longer invent whatever truth that fits what they want to happen. Police firing at press is actually something very rare – even in the worst of war zones, it’s a rare occurrence that press teams are deliberately targeted, and yet, this was precisely what happened in Ferguson, USA.

The reason is the exact same as for web censorship and mass surveillance:

The governments and the people working for them are attacking anybody who exposes what they do, using whatever power they have to do so.

Tear gas grenades against a TV crew may have been both overviolent and counterproductive, but it’s still the same thing. It’s exactly what happened when the printing press arrived, and the penalties for using a printing press – thereby circumventing the truthtellers of that time – gradually increased to the death penalty (France, 1535).

Not even the death penalty worked to deter people from using the printing press to tell their version of events to the world, which more often than not contradicted the official version. The cat was out of the bag. As it is now. Governments and police still don’t understand that everybody is a broadcaster – attacking a TV crew was futile in the first place.

During the initial, hopeful months of the Arab Spring, a lot of photos circulated of young people gathering for protests. What was interesting about the photos were that they were taken with mobile phones, but also that they showed a lot of other people at the protest taking photos of the same crowd at the same time with their own mobile phone. Thus, the photos of the ongoing revolution contained instructions in themselves for how to perpetuate the revolution – take pictures of crowds defying the edicts and dictums.

This is why it’s so puzzling that the police even bother to give special treatment to people from television stations and newspapers. Strictly speaking, they’re not necessary to get the story out anymore, even if they still have some follower advantage for the most part.

“Police are being transformed from protecting the public into protecting government from the public”, as @directorblue just tweeted. That could be said about pretty much anything concerning the net, too — from oppressive applications of copyright monopoly law to strangling net innovations or giving telcos monopolies that prevent the net’s utility.

The attacks on the public by police troops in Ferguson, attacks from the copyright industry against those who want a free net, and web censorship by governments are all different sides of the same story. And all of this has happened before. Last time this happened, it took 200 years of civil war to settle the dust and agree that the printing press may have been a nice invention after all.

Can we please not repeat that mistake?

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

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

TorrentFreak: WWE Asked Google to Hit Live Piracy…From the Future

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

WWE2Removing content from the Internet has become big business in recent years, with rightsholders from all over the globe seeking to limit access to infringing content.

As the world’s leading search engine, Google receives millions of DMCA-style notices every week. Its internal systems, both automated and human-reviewed, then attempt to assess the validity of the notices before removing URLs from its indexes.

What these notices all have in common is that they refer to infringements that have already taken place, since that’s the nature of a takedown. However, a notice that recently appeared in Google’s Transparency Report reveals that for at least one organization, looking into the future is now also on the agenda.

The notice was sent by an anti-piracy company working on behalf of World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE as it’s more commonly known. The notice aimed to tackle piracy of a WWE Event titled Money In The Bank 2014, which took place on June 29, 2014. However, the notice was sent to Google two days before, on June 27.

“The following links infringe on WWE’s copyrighted Pay Per View event Money In The Bank 2014, set to air this Sunday, June 29, by one or more of the following means,” the notice begins.

WWE then sets out three potential infringements.

wwe-bank

“Providing a link to a free (pirated) stream of this event” is misleading since it’s impossible to link to an event that hasn’t aired yet. Conceivably an advance static link could have been setup to air the event come June 29, but on June 27 the event had definitely not aired, hence no piracy.

“Providing a promise of DIRECT free streaming of this event on the identified site” seems no different from the allegation made above. It’s certainly possible that some of the sites promised to illegally stream the event, but at the date of the notice that would have been impossible.

The fact that WWE resorted to telling Google that the event’s predictions show was the source material being infringed upon shows that no actual live event infringements had yet taken place.

The final claim – “Using copyrighted images, logos and celebrity photos to promote the site” – is one that carries far more weight than the two key instances of infringement alleged above. Some of the sites listed did use WWE artwork to promote their upcoming streams, but there were some notable omissions, not least the homepage of Justin.tv. Google refused to comply in this and three other instances.

The notice from WWE, which can be viewed here, illustrates the problems faced by companies airing live events. While outfits such as WWE often know where streams and links to streams will appear once an event goes live, taking them down quickly once it actually begins may not always go as smoothly as they would like.

While attempts at a pro-active DMCA-style notice like this might work on a small scale, it’s not difficult to imagine the chaos that would ensue if all rightsholders tried to have unauthorized content removed before it even appeared online.

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

TorrentFreak: TalkTalk Wants Resellers to Warn Pirating Customers

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

talktalklogoUnlike those in the US, Internet providers in the UK are not obliged to forward copyright infringement notices to their subscribers. This means that local Internet users are spared the typical warnings that are so common elsewhere.

Despite the lacking legal requirements, some anti-piracy groups do send copyright infringement notices to UK ISPs. In most cases these are ignored by the providers, but last week TalkTalk forwarded a notice to one of its resellers.

In the email the ISP asks Opal Solutions to forward the notice in question to one of its subscribers who allegedly shared a pirated copy of “Godzilla”. In addition the reseller was urged to take “preventive” measures, but what these should be is left open.

“Please see below copyright infringement email regarding an IP address of one of your clients, Please inform your client and take necessary preventative measures,” TalkTalk wrote.

At the bottom of this article is a copy of the original copyright infringement notice TalkTalk forwarded. It is a typical DMCA style notice sent by IP Echelon on behalf of Warner Bros.

IP Echelon didn’t make any effort to customize the notice for the UK audience. The email specifically references US copyright law, which doesn’t apply to the reseller or TalkTalk.

What’s most noteworthy, though, is that TalkTalk has decided to pass on this notice. The ISP is not known to forward these notices to its own subscribers, yet they appear to be urging a reseller to go beyond what’s required by law.

The forwarded email is most likely an attempt to avoid any type of liability. The question that remains is this: if TalkTalk do this with resellers does this mean they will start warning their subscribers as well?

Earlier this year the news broke that TalkTalk and other UK providers will voluntarily start sending infringement notices under the VCAP program. While VCAP isn’t going into effect before the summer of 2015, TalkTalk’s forwarded infringement notice could suggest that they might do something sooner.

Below is a full copy of the copyright infringement notice.

—-

We are writing this message on behalf of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc..

We have received information that an individual has utilized the
below-referenced IP address at the noted date and time to offer
downloads of copyrighted material.

The title in question is: Godzilla

The distribution of unauthorized copies of copyrighted television
programs constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act,
Title 17 United States Code Section 106(3). This conduct may also
violate the laws of other countries, international law, and/or treaty
obligations.

Since you own this IP address
we request that you immediately do the following:

1) Contact the subscriber who has engaged in the conduct described
above and take steps to prevent the subscriber from further downloading
or uploading Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. content without authorization; and

2) Take appropriate action against the account holder under your Abuse
Policy/Terms of Service Agreement.

On behalf of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., owner of the exclusive rights
in the copyrighted material at issue in this notice, we hereby state that
we have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner
complained of is not authorized by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.,
its respective agents, or the law.

Also, we hereby state, under penalty of perjury, that we are authorized
to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive rights being infringed
as set forth in this notification.

We appreciate your assistance and thank you for your cooperation in this
matter. Your prompt response is requested.

Any further enquiries can be directed to copyright@ip-echelon.com
Please include this message with your enquiry to ensure a swift response.

Respectfully,

Adrian Leatherland
CEO
IP-Echelon
Email: copyright@ip-echelon.com
Address: 6715 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, 90028, United States

- ————- Infringement Details ———————————-
Title: Godzilla
Timestamp: 2014-08-13T14:06:26Z
IP Address:
Port: 60261
Type: BitTorrent
Torrent Hash: c5cdf551eea353484657d45dbe93f688575a1e31
Filename: Godzilla.2014.WEBRiP.XviD-VAiN
Filesize: 2485 MB
- ———————————————————————

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Outfit Wants to Hijack Browsers Until Fine Paid

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

Many rightsholders around the world are looking for ways to cut down on Internet piracy and US-based Rightscorp thinks it has an attractive solution.

The company monitors BitTorrent networks for infringement, links IP addresses to ISPs, and then asks those service providers to forward DMCA-style notices to errant subscribers. Those notices have a sting in the tail in the shape of a $20 settlement demand to make supposed lawsuits go away. The company says 75,000 cases have been settled so far with copyright holders picking up $10 from each.

Earlier this year the company reported that its operation cost $2,134,843 to run in 2013, yet it brought in just $324,016, a shortfall of more than $1.8 million. With the second quarter of 2014 now in the bag, Rightscorp has been reporting again to investors. TorrentFreak has seen a transcript of an August 13 conference call which contains some interesting facts.

In pure revenue terms the company appears to be doing better, $440,414 during the first six months of 2014. However, operating costs were $1.8m compared to $771,766 in the same period last year. Bottom line – the company lost $1.4m in the first six months of 2014.

Still, Rightscorp is pushing on. It now represents the entire BMG catalog, plus artists belonging to the Royalty Network such as Beyonce, Calvin Harris and Kanye West. And, as previously reported, it’s now working with 140 ISPs, some of which are apparently disconnecting repeat infringers.

Interestingly, and despite the ISP removing settlement demands from infringement notices, Comcast subscribers are apparently handing cash over to Rightscorp too. How this is being achieved wasn’t made clear.

What is clear is that Rightscorp is determined to go after “Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cable Vision and one more” in order to “get all of them compliant” (i.e forwarding settlement demands). The company predicts that more details on the strategy will develop in the fall, but comments from COO & CTO Robert Steele hint on how that might be achieved.

“So we start in the beginning of the ISP relationship by demanding the forwarding of notices and the terminations,” Steele told investors.

“But where we want to end up with our scalable copyright system is where it’s not about termination, it’s about compelling the user to make the payment so that they can get back to browsing the web.”

Steele says the trick lies in the ability of ISPs to bring a complete halt to their subscribers’ Internet browsing activities.

“So every ISP has this ability to put up a redirect page. So that’s the goal,” he explained.

“[What] we really want to do is move away from termination and move to what’s called a hard redirect, like, when you go into a hotel and you have to put your room number in order to get past the browser and get on to browsing the web.”

The idea that mere allegations from an anti-piracy company could bring a complete halt to an entire household or business Internet connection until a fine is paid is less like a “piracy speeding ticket” and more like a “piracy wheel clamp”, one that costs $20 to have removed.

Except that very rarely are Rightscorp looking for just $20.

According to comments Steele made to investors, “very few” people targeted by his company pay a fine of just $20, even though that’s what most of them believe to be the case after Googling the company.

“[For] most people, piracy is a lifestyle, and so most people are getting multiple notices,” Steele explained. “So we’re closing cases everyday for $300, $400, $500 because people got multiple notices.”

One of the ways Rightscorp achieves these inflated settlements is by having a headline settlement fee of $20, but not applying that to a full album. By charging $20 for each and every album track, costs begin to climb.

So, while someone receiving an initial infringement notice might think the matter can be solved by paying $20, after contacting the company they realize the matter is much more serious than first believed. At this point the company knows the name and address of the target, something they didn’t initially know. Now the pressure is really on to settle.

Finally, we come to the question of success rates. We know that 75,000 cases have been settled overall, but how many people have simply ignored Rightscorp notices and moved on. One investor indirectly asked that question, but without luck.

“At the moment we consider that trade secret,” Steele said.

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

TorrentFreak: I Visited Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde in Prison, Here’s What he Had to Say

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

sunde-small— by Julia Reda

It wasn’t easy to meet Peter in prison. Initially, his request for the approval of my visit was rejected, as have been requests on behalf of other friends. It was only when he read up on the regulations and filed a complaint – pointing out my status as an elected representative of the European Parliament – that my visit was approved.

He tells me that this is par for the course in prison. “If you don’t constantly insist upon your rights, you will be denied them”. Repeatedly, he had to remind the guards that they’re not allowed to open confidential mail he receives from journalists. His alleged right to an education or occupation during his jail time in practice amounted to being given a beginners’ Spanish book.

“Prison is a bit like copyright,” Peter remarks. In both areas, there is a lack of transparency and the people in power profit from the fact that the average person doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the issue. That opens the door to misuse and corruption.

Few people feel directly affected by these systems (even though a lot of Internet users commit copyright infringements, many don’t even realize that they are breaking laws and suffer no repercussions). Hence it is difficult to get traditional politics to change even the most blatant injustices that these systems produce. I ask him whether his imprisonment has changed his political views.

“It has confirmed them,” he replies. “I knew the system was broken before, but now I know to what extent.”

“The worst thing is the boredom”, Peter informs me when I ask him about life in prison. He gives an account of his daily routine: “I have soy yoghurt and muesli for breakfast, which I was recently allowed to buy from my own money, as the prison doesn’t offer any vegan food.”

That is followed by one hour of exercise – walking around the yard in circles – and sometimes the chance to play ping-pong or visit the prison library in the afternoon, before Peter is locked in his cell for the night. The only other distraction comes from the dozens of letters Peter receives every day.

Not all the books that his friends and supporters send make their way to him – they are screened for “inappropriate content” first. Other items that arrive in the mail, such as vegan candy, won’t be handed out to him until after his release, “but at least the prison has to catalog every single thing you send me, which pisses them off,” Peter says with a wink.

While his notoriety mostly comes from his role in founding the Pirate Bay, Peter has been critical of the platform’s development for a long time and has been focusing his energy on other projects.

“There should be 10,000 Pirate Bays by now!” he exclaims. “The Internet was built as a decentralized network, but ironically it is increasingly encouraging centralization. Because The Pirate Bay has been around for 11 years now, almost all other torrent sites started relying on it as a backbone. We created a single point of failure and the development of file sharing technology got stuck.”

In Peter’s eyes, the Pirate Bay has run its course and turned into a commercial enterprise that has little to do with the values it was founded on. Nowadays, the most important battles for an open Internet take place elsewhere, he says, noting that the trend towards centralization is not limited to file sharing.

Facebook alone has turned into its own little walled-garden version of the Internet that a lot of users would be content using without access to the wider Net. At the same time, services from Google to Wikipedia are working on distribution deals that make their services available to people without real Internet access.

One step to counter this trend towards centralization could be data portability, the right to take all one’s personal data from a service such as Facebook and bring it along to a competitor. The right to data portability is part of the proposed European data protection regulation that is currently stuck in negotiations among the EU member states.

“Having data portability would be a great step forward, but it’s not enough. Portability is meaningless without competition.” Peter says.

“As activists and entrepreneurs, we need to challenge monopolies. We need to build a Pirate social network that is interoperable with Facebook. Or build competition to small monopolies before they get bought up by the big players in the field. Political activism in parliaments, as the Pirate Party pursues it, is important, but needs to be combined with economic disruptions.

“The Internet won’t change fundamentally in the next two years, but in the long-term, the effects of the decisions we take today can be dramatic.”

According to Peter, establishing net neutrality, especially on mobile networks, will be one of the crucial fights. The Internet may have started out as a non-commercial space, but is entirely ruled by business arguments nowadays, and without net neutrality, large corporations will be able to strengthen their monopolies and stifle innovation. A pushback will be needed from small enterprises as well as civil society – but those groups struggle to be heard in political debates as they often lack the financial resources for large-scale lobbying efforts.

Although Peter is visibly affected by his imprisonment and talks about struggling with depression, he has not stopped making plans for the future. “Things will get easier once I get out. I’ve been a fugitive for two years and could hardly go to conferences or would have to show up unannounced.”

Once his eight month sentence has come to an end, Peter wants to get back to activism. When I ask about his upcoming projects, he starts grinning and tells me to be patient.

“All I can say now is that I’m brimming with ideas and that one of my main goals will be to develop ethical ways of funding activism. You often need money to change things. But most ways of acquiring it require you to compromise on your ideals. We can do better than that.”

Peter is now hoping for his prison sentence to eventually be transformed into house arrest, which would allow him to see his critically ill father and spend less time in isolation. Whether that happens will largely depend on whether the Swedish state will continue to view a file-sharing activist as a serious threat to the public. In a society where the majority of young people routinely break copyright law simply by sharing culture, that view seems entirely unsustainable.

About The Author

Julia Reda is a German politician for the Pirate Party Germany and a member of the European Parliament since 2014, where she serves as a Vice-President of the Greens/EFA group. She is also the chairperson of the Young Pirates of Europe.

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

TorrentFreak: Lionsgate Targets Hosting Providers & Domain Registrars Over Expendables 3 Piracy

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

expendablesToday sees the official premiere of The Expendables 3, but what was supposed to be a celebration for the makers has turned into a fiasco.

Three weeks ago a high quality leak of the film appeared online. This resulted in millions of downloads long before it reached the big screen.

Fearing a massive loss in revenue, Lionsgate issued thousands of takedown requests to limit the leak’s availability and sued six file-sharing sites that allegedly failed to respond to these notices.

It now appears that Lionsgate has more tricks up its sleeve. The owner of cloud hosting service filecloud.io informs TorrentFreak that he never heard from Lionsgate, yet the movie studio is now going after his DDoS protection provider Cloudflare and domain registrar Easyname.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the notice, which is also believed to have been sent to the service providers of several other file-sharing sites. In the notice Lionsgate’s law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton requests that these companies render the sites in question unavailable.

The law firm lists several allegedly infringing URLs and points out that the hosting providers and domain name registrars have to take responsibility.

part of Lionsgate’s notice
notice-lions-small

The following text comes from a notice Cloudflare and others received, accusing the company of potentially assisting a criminal operation and ignoring a previous notice.

“In accordance with the DMCA, we have already notified you of the infringement, but you have continued to cause, enable, induce, facilitate and materially contribute to the infringement by continuing to provide your users with the means to unlawfully distribute, reproduce and otherwise exploit The Expendables 3,” the email reads.

The same takedown notice was also sent to the domain name registrar Easyname, who were encouraged to “take action” against the allegedly infringing site under ICANN rules. In their notice Lionsgate appears to hint at a domain name suspension.

“If you are the domain name registrar for the domain name referenced above, under ICANN rule 3.18.1, you are required to take reasonable and prompt steps to investigate and respond appropriately to any reports of abuse,” the notice reads.

“You are hereby put on notice that despite Rule 3.18, and the website owner’s representation to you that it is not using the domain name ‘in violation of any applicable laws’, the owner is either directly infringing the rights of Lionsgate or contributing to such infringement through the distribution of the stolen work referenced above,” it adds.

Lionsgate’s methods are unusual as the operator of filecloud.io was never contacted by the movie studio’s law firm. There were abuse mails sent by other outfits though, and the URLs listed in the takedown notice were already taken offline. This means that the infringing pages listed by Lionsgate were directed to a 404 page.

The owner of filecloud.io informs TF that he’s not happy with the pressure Lionsgate has put on the companies he works with, especially since they failed to first contact the site itself.

“It might be nice if these complaining entities actually checked that their emails have a valid claim before firing them off to everyone under the moon,” filecloud.io’s owner notes.

“The majority of notices I get daily are dud but at least none of them go out of their way forwarding their gripe to everyone who has anything remotely to do with the site,” he adds.

In this case the notices haven’t yet caused any trouble for filecloud.io, but it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which smaller companies are easily threatened to pull the plug on an accused site.

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

TorrentFreak: Most-Pirated Movies, TV-Shows and Games Per State… Debunked

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

crosscatPiracy is a hot topic, so when there are statistics to report the media is usually all over it. This week a series of intriguing maps has been doing the rounds.

The data was first published by the piracy experts over at Movoto Real Estate. Based on a large sample of three million unique IP addresses collected over a period of 40 days they presented a map of the most torrented movies, TV-shows and games per state.

This was quickly picked up by The Washington Post, Venturebeat and several other publications, who all shared the findings with their readers. TorrentFreak was ready to jump on the bandwagon too, but we couldn’t help noticing a few odd results.

What stands out immediately is that some of the most-downloaded movies in certain states are barely downloaded at all through torrent sites. “La Grande Bellezza” in New Jersey, for example, or “Cuban Fury” in Florida. The same is true for “Witching and Bitching” which, according to the map, is very popular in Indiana and Tennessee.

Are these movies really more often downloaded than blockbuster successes such as Divergent and X-Men as the map below suggests?

Most pirated movies per state?
most-downloaded-movie

The same odd results appear in the games and TV-show maps. Game of Thrones is by far the most downloaded TV-show in America, but for some reason “Awkward” is more popular in Texas and Louisiana. The same Louisianans also download the game “Scribblenauts Unlimited” more frequently than popular releases such as Minecraft and Watch Dogs.

Something is clearly amiss, so we took the unprecedented step of downloading the source data which is readily available.

To our surprise, the maps in question don’t represent the most-downloaded titles. Instead, they appear to reveal for which shows the download numbers differ the most when compared to the national average. This is completely unrelated to which movie, TV-show or game was downloaded the most.

Whoops, not downloads
variation

Now back to our earlier question. Is “La Grande Bellezza” really that popular in New Jersey? No, the actual data shows only 2 downloads in this state…

Similarly, is “Awkward” the most pirated TV-show in Texas? Again, no, it has 232 downloads in the dataset compared to 2,554 for a single Game of Thrones episode. And we can go on and on.

In fact, if we made a real map based on the actual download counts in the dataset, Game of Thrones would be the most downloaded show in each and every state, as expected.

Confusingly, however, a map of the most pirated movies per state would list “Blood Widow” on top in pretty much every state.

This suggests that there’s an issue with the data itself too, as this movie is nowhere to be found in the list of most shared files on The Pirate Bay and elsewhere. The most likely explanation is that the researchers ran into a fake torrent file with bogus IP-addresses.

Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that the maps in question should be taken with a grain of salt, or a barrel of rum perhaps.

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

TorrentFreak: Premier League to Clamp Down on GIFs and Vines

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

premierWhen Steve Wilhite of Compuserve created the GIF format in the late 80s, he probably didn’t imagine it would be in use more than a quarter of a century later.

Against the odds, in 2012 the GIF celebrated its 25th birthday, a fitting tribute to a format that has not only endured but also enjoyed a resurgence alongside today’s meme culture. However, the tiny video clips available in today’s GIFs aren’t appreciated by everyone.

On the eve of the new season, the UK’s Premier League has been putting fans on notice that it will no longer tolerate the unauthorized distribution of its copyright works. In addition to going after those who live stream full matches, the football giant says it now intends to tackle individuals who post short clips online.

According to the League, the problem is being caused by fans who record goals and upload them as GIFs and Vines within a few minutes of the event. These spread virally around blogs and sites such as Twitter and are enthusiastically consumed, especially on mobile devices.

“You can understand that fans see something, they can capture it, they can share it, but ultimately it is against the law,” Dan Johnson, director of communications at the Premier League, told the BBC.

These over-enthusiastic fans sharing a few seconds of footage – often at particularly low quality – are apparently causing financial hardship for the most-watched football league in the world. So, to bring that to an end, the Premier League are looking towards a technological solution.

“It’s a breach of copyright and we would discourage fans from doing it, we’re developing technologies like gif crawlers, Vine crawlers, working with Twitter to look to curtail this kind of activity,” Johnson said.

“I know it sounds as if we’re killjoys but we have to protect our intellectual property.”

Going after those who place short video clips online is not new. There have been several reports in the past few months of UFC owner Zuffa taking action against individuals who upload GIFs, with a recent purge in July against content hosted on popular hoster GfyCat.

While fans insist that GIFs of goals and knockouts are simply free promotion, the rights to show such things don’t come cheap. UK tabloid The Sun has an app which shows Premier League goals within two minutes of the moment, but fans have to pay £7 per month ($11.68) to access it.

As the UFC have no doubt realized by now (and the Premier League soon will), taking down GIFs will be a huge resource drain and will do little to stop availability of content. The files are too tiny, far too easily shared and come from potentially thousands of directions. Add to this the problem of having to nuke content in near real-time, and this becomes an unsolvable problem, at least by enforcement means.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Hit By Massive DDoS Attack

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

popcornEvery year sees periods when sites in the file-sharing sector are subjected to denial of service attacks. The attackers and their motives are often unknown and eventually the assaults pass away.

Early in 2014 many torrent sites were hit, pushing some offline and forcing others to invest in mitigation technology. In May a torrent related host suffered similar problems.

Today it’s the turn of the main open source Popcorn Time fork to face the wrath of attackers unknown. TorrentFreak spoke with members of the project including Ops manager XeonCore who told us that the attack is massive.

“We are currently mitigating a large scale DDoS attack across our entire network. We are currently rerouting all traffic via some of our high bandwidth nodes and are working on imaging and getting our remaining servers back online to help deal with the load,” the team explain.

The attack is project-wide with huge amounts of traffic hitting all parts of the network, starting with the site hosting the Popcorn Time source code.

Attack on the source code site – 980Mbps

source

Also under attack is the project’s CDN and API. The graph below shows one of the project’s servers located in France. The green shows the normal traffic from the API server, the blue represents the attack.

Attack on the France API server – 931Mbps

france-api

Not even the project’s DNS servers have remained untouched. At one point two of three DNS servers went down, with a third straining under almost 1Gbps of traffic. To be sure, a fourth DNS server was added to assist with the load.

Attack on the Dutch DNS server – peaking at 880Mbps

dutch-dns

All told the whole network is being hit with almost 10Gbps of traffic, but the team is working hard to keep things operational.

“We’ve added additional capacity. Our DNS servers are currently back up and running but there is still severe congestion around Europe and America. Almost 10Gbps across the entire network. Still working on mitigating. API is still online for most users!” they conclude.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the attack and it’s certainly possible things will remain that way. Only time will tell when the attack will subside, but the team are determined to keep their project online in the meantime.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Peter Sunde Shouldn’t Be in Jail, MEP Says

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

peter-sundeMore than two months have passed since former Pirate Bay spokesman and co-founder Peter Sunde was arrested on a farm in Sweden by a specialist police unit.

Sunde was transferred to Västervik Norra, the high security prison facility where he is serving the eight-month jail sentence that was handed down in 2012.

Despite the sentencing Sunde has always maintained his innocence. He utilized all legal means at his disposal to fight back, and emphasized that his role in The Pirate Bay didn’t warrant being branded a criminal.

This view is shared by many people including Julia Reda, the new Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Pirate Party. Reda will be visiting Sunde in prison later today to send her support, and points out that he shouldn’t be there in the first place.

“I am visiting Peter Sunde in prison today to express my support. The unnecessarily harsh sentence he was given illustrates that our justice system has completely lost touch with digital culture,” Reda says.

“The tactic of draconian deterrence against file sharing has failed!” she adds.

During her visit the MEP also plans to ask Sunde about his conditions. The Pirate Bay founder previously requested a transfer to a lower security facility as he was losing weight and coping with psychological issues due to his circumstances.

Sunde’s sentencing is a result of a failed witch hunt against online piracy, Reda argues. Instead of embracing those who explore new technologies and business models, authorities have wrongly opted to crack down on people such as Sunde.

The MEP believes that the focus should be on deterrence, with authorities doing more to encourage and assist content creators to develop business models that can compete with piracy.

Reda notes that several founders of file-sharing services have become successful entrepreneurs. The developers behind Kazaa later brought Skype and Rdio, and Napster’s Sean Parker served as the first president of Facebook.

Sunde is also a digital pioneer, and actively involved in several startups including the micro-donation service Flattr and the encrypted chat application Heml.is. His contributions to these projects have been halted now, which is not the right way to go according to the MEP.

“I am saddened by the fact that Sweden has chosen to jail this digital pioneer in an attempt to make an example of him,” she says.

We hope to have more details of the MEP’s visit and Sunde’s outlook on the future later this week.

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

TorrentFreak: Hulkfile Shuts Down Following Expendables 3 Lawsuit

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

hulkfileThree weeks ago a high quality leak of the upcoming The Expendables 3 film appeared online.

Fearing a massive loss in revenue, movie studio Lionsgate sued the operators of six websites that allegedly failed to remove the infringing files – Limetorrents.com, Billionuploads.com, Hulkfile.eu, Played.to, Swankshare.com and Dotsemper.com.

A few days ago the court sided with Lionsgate and granted a preliminary injunction to seize the financial assets of the site’s operators. In addition the sites were forbidden from linking to the infringing material. Since this includes user uploaded files, the order effectively means that the sites have to shut down.

Today the broad order claimed its first major casualty in cloud hosting provider Hulkfile. The company informs TorrentFreak that it has disabled access to all visitors from the United States and that it intends to shut down globally during the coming days.

“Hulkfile.eu is no longer accessible in the U.S. and will shut down completely soon. We can’t keep building our business on the weak base the preliminary injunction left us with,” Hulkfile’s operator says.

Hulkfile believes that Lionsgate has painted a tainted picture of its service to the U.S. federal court. The file-storage service says it honors all takedown requests, and even developed a special removal tool for copyright holders which is used by various takedown services.

“We’re not doing anything wrong, it’s a service just like any other cloud storage service in the world. If Hulkfile was started to support piracy, then why would we have created a takedown system which provided access to more than 40 copyright holders and piracy fighters?”

The takedown notices Lionsgate sent for the Expendables leak hadn’t been processed yet due to the vacation period, the hosting service claims. The movie studio could have taken the links down themselves if they used Hulkfile’s removal tool, but Lionsgate’s takedown partner MarkMonitor has apparently shown no interest in using it.

“We showed good faith by providing access to a removal tool which MarkMonitor never asked to gain access to, even after we offered it multiple times. Every day there is a new file-sharing service launching somewhere. The only way for copyright holders to protect their material is to cooperate, not to fight,” Hulkfile tells TF.

With an injunction that basically prevents Hulkfile from operating its service, the company sees no other option than to throw in the towel. Users will get the option to transfer their files to another hosting provider, but Hulkfile will not come back after that.

It seems that Hulkfile is not the only casualty. The smaller file-sharing service Swankshare completely vanished from the Internet shortly after the court issued its preliminary injunction. It’s currently unknown whether this site plans to stay down for good.

While the Expendables leak posed a serious threat to Lionsgate’s revenue, one has to wonder whether this justifies putting several other companies out of business with such broad injunctions. In particular because Hulkfile and others had no real option to defend themselves due to the ex-parte nature of the order.

Considering the ‘success’ booked by Lionsgate in such a small time period it’s safe to expect that more movie companies will use the same strategy in the future.

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