Posts tagged ‘anonymous’

TorrentFreak: Phoenix Hints At Imminent Pirate Bay Comeback

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

phoenix1During the Spring of 2006, less than three years after The Pirate Bay was founded, 65 Swedish police officers entered a datacenter in Stockholm.

The policemen had instructions to shut down the largest threat to the entertainment industry at the time – The Pirate Bay’s servers.

The raid was successful, but while various copyright holder groups claimed a major victory, the Pirate Bay team wasn’t sitting still.

Thanks to a backup made by Fredrik Neij at the last minute, The Pirate Bay returned online in three days. Seemingly unimpressed by the raid, TPB renamed itself to “The Police Bay” complete with a new logo shooting cannon balls at Hollywood.

A few days later this logo was replaced by a Phoenix, a reference to the site rising from its digital ashes.

Last December The Pirate Bay was raided for the second time. This time around there was no quick comeback, but a new update that was added to the site today suggests that it’s coming.

After nearly nine years the Phoenix is once again present on the site’s homepage, offering hope to estranged Pirate Bay users.

Although nothing has been confirmed officially, this is by far the most concrete hint that TPB is working hard on a comeback.

The counter that’s still running down suggests that TPB will return in full glory February 1st, so we should know more within a week. Tick tock, tick tock…

phoenixtpb

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

TorrentFreak: “Pirate Cinema” Visualizes Torrent Traffic in Online Art Display

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

Somewhere in a datacenter in Austria there’s a dedicated machine that has only one mission: download and share the 100 most popular files on BitTorrent and turn these bits and pieces into a piece of art.

The machine in question belongs to artist Nicolas Maigret and his Pirate Cinema project. Pirate Cinema has been on display for nearly two years in various venues, but this week the circle was completed when the piracy composition made its online debut.

TF caught up with Maigret to learn more about the background and purpose of Pirate Cinema. He tells us that after completing several projects where the proposal was to represent networks in a physical form, he wanted to visualize how they’re used by millions of people around the world.

“That’s where the Pirate Cinema concept started,” Maigret says.

Over the past several years Maigret has worked on bringing it to life in various forms and this week Pirate Cinema started streaming online for the first time. Those who check out the stream see chunks of popular videos flashing by, gathered from around the globe in real-time.

Pirate Cinema (live here)

The video bits include the IP-address of the source, partially masked, and the country of origin. This is not without purpose. Maigret specifically includes this info to show how public these transfers are, and how easily they can be monitored.

“On one hand this is in response to omnipresent users surveillance going on the Internet. More specifically here, on the file sharing networks, where people are monitored daily, resulting in real life lawsuits,” Maigret tells us.

But Pirate Cinema is also a tribute to the Copy Culture that developed in the latest generations of computer users. The Copy Culture that is more common today than it has ever been before.

“For the last 15 years, P2P networks have served as a great resource for mainstream content, but also for valuable rarities and unknown content that is hardly accessible otherwise,” Maigret says

“File-sharing has been central in the access to culture worldwide. The Pirate Cinema tends to make those activities and dynamics tangible,” he adds.

Aside from the online display there is also a live audio-visual performance. This live show is composed of 6 acts that each monitor a specific selection of torrents, such as the rise of porn on BitTorrent and the oldest torrent alive.

Those interested in learning more about the project can check out the official site. Taking part in the online art project is also an option, but that comes at a risk.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Party MEP Fails to Deliver True Copyright Reform

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

copyright-brandedThe Pirate Party did not only manage to continue its presence in the European Parliament by having German Pirate Julia Reda elected. It also secured the politically important role of rapporteur on copyright reform. High expectations for a long overdue upheaval of the status quo in the political debates on copyright were warranted.

But in Julia Reda’s draft report on copyright reform from Monday January 19, there is little to nothing in it that can be considered as a fulfillment of those expectations.

Her proposals for a new European copyright can be summarized as ”more of the same”. She wants the European Union to make a regulation, which means directly applicable at the member state level. This regulation, she suggests, can contain all of the current bits of copyright. This is by itself useful, especially for American technology companies that want to repeat their US successes and are confronted with a European market that is highly fragmented by its wildly disparate copyright laws.

Half of her report deals with the consequences of making a regulation. Of course, exceptions and limitations will be harmonized if the European law is directly applicable in all the member states. What people were requesting were broader exceptions and limitations and a re-assessment of the copyright framework and legal certainty for the benefit of individuals. Instead they’re getting benefits for corporations. What Julia proposes is to maintain things in their present state, while making it more difficult for individuals to influence local laws.

Part of the report deals with Julia’s admiration for the European Court of Justice rulings in the Svensson (hyperlinking), Best Water International (embedded videos) and Vlaams Belang (parody) cases. Respecting the judiciary is good, but not reform-friendly. The political mission outside of pure constitutional law is setting the framework for the judiciary, not to follow its lead.

Another sixth of the report – most of the progressive bits – deals with database rights. Julia does not, however, propose to change database rights. It’s in equal measure tragic and deceptive: she’s tricking people into believing she wants something, but she’s not giving herself the political space to accomplish that thing. Expecting us to cheer for her, no doubt, while she’s gutting the opportunity for realizing the hopes she inspires.

Even the European Commission has set a higher standard for themselves than this. It has acknowledged since 2009 that there is a problem with the substance of copyright. Their 2013 copyright consultation, it acknowledges, indicates that citizens, consumers and a large number of other actors experience problems with both the economic justice and the principles of copyright. De facto, Julia Reda is more conservative than the European Commission, and this is a massive problem for representative democracy.

While the Commission acknowledges remixing and transformative uses are important to a large number of users, Julia ”notices with interest” that remixing occurs. She praises the level of balancing between rightsholders’ interests that the European copyright laws achieve. The Commission acknowledges instead that neither citizens or authors feel that such a balance exists. Is she making anyone happy?

The only proposal which makes even remote sense are two paragraphs on technological protection measures. In the cybersecurity spirit of the European Parliament established in its NSA resolution of 2014, she suggests not to put blackboxes in consumer IT products. So we have a copyright-friendly, cyber-security inspired German trying to impose a Brussels-made statist policy on 507 millions citizens of Europe which leaves stuff more or less the same. Angela Merkel could not have done it better had she tried.

About The Author

ameliaa

Amelia Andersdotter represented the Swedish Pirate Party in the European Parliament between December 2011 and July 2014. She’s an expert on topics related to the Internet, intellectual property and IT-policy.

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

TorrentFreak: Zombie Pirate Bay Tracker Fuels Chinese DDoS Attacks

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

pirate bayOn November 2009 The Pirate Bay announced that it would shut down its tracker for good.

Trackers were outdated according to the site’s owners. Instead, they encouraged BitTorrent users to rely on DHT, PEX and other trackerless technologies.

Despite the fact that the tracker is no longer functional, many old and some new torrents still include the tracker.thepiratebay.org announce address.

While the tracker hasn’t responded to these calls for five years, for some server admins it has now risen from the dead.

Starting early January hundreds of websites have been plagued by traffic from China. While the exact reason remains unclear, it appears that the Great Firewall of China may be in part causing the problems.

Due to a reconfiguration the Pirate Bay domain is being linked to random IP-addresses. This problem applies to various censored sites, but the thousands of connections per second coming from tracker.thepiratebay.org stand out for most people.

It is no secret that BitTorrent users can easily DDoS websites if the tracker address points to the wrong IP, but we haven’t witnessed something of this magnitude before.

Below is a graph Craig Hockenberry posted of a DDoS on his server where the number of requests peaked at 52 Mbps per second, with torrent announces being the most common source.

dailyddos

The suspicion that Chinese efforts to censor the Internet have something to do with the problems seems plausible. Querying Chinese DNS servers returns many seemingly random IP-addresses that change all the time.

In other words, requests to the dead Pirate Bay trackers are sent to seemingly random servers, and none of these have anything to do with the notorious torrent site.

Johannes Ullrich, CTO of SANS Internet Storm Center, came to a similar conclusion and many of his readers reported problems of the same nature.

“We also get a lot of this type of traffic for the last 2 weeks. At moments it causes a total DoS for our webserver. Most of the traffic has thepiratebay as hostname in the http request, but we also see akamai, edgecdn and some more obscure and explicit sites passing in our logs,” Arjan says.

“I work in the banking sector in the UK. We started to see this traffic hit our web servers just before the new year and it has continued since, but thankfully not on a harmful scale. We’ve seen various sites in the host header, including thepiratebay, facebook, googlevideo – all of which appear to be restricted within China,” Anonymous adds.

And the list goes on and on.

Over the past several days reports have come from all over the place, all describing the same problem. Thus far, most server admins have decided to filter out Chinese traffic, which eases the load. But the underlying problem persists.

For now the true origin of the zombie DDoSes remains unknown, but hopefully those responsible will soon realize the crippling mistake they’ve made, and put Pirate Bay’s tracker back in the ground.

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

TorrentFreak: Men Tried for Extortion After Porn Download Threats

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

badtrollFor more than a decade copyright holders around the world have been doing their best to extract money from those who download content without permission. The RIAA were probably the pioneers but today it’s the adult industry making the most noise.

Porn is a convenient weapon in this landscape. Few people want their adult content viewing habits to be made public so the chances of targets paying up following an unauthorized download are anecdotally higher than for regular entertainment content.

Out to make as much money as possible, this assumption wasn’t lost on a group of adult business ‘entrepreneurs’ based in Sweden.

Operating out of the region of Skåne, two years ago the individuals began sending threatening communications to people they claimed had downloaded pornographic content from sites without permission. The websites in question were all operated by the men.

In total around 4,000 people all over Sweden received ‘invoices’ for alleged illegal downloads. Each were warned that if they failed to pay the amounts stipulated they would be reported to the police and their activities made public.

While some people paid, others decided to take action. According to SR.se, police received 1,000 complaints from members of the public ranging from 10-year-old children to pensioners.

After an investigation the police began to view the case as criminally motivated. As a result this week six men went on trial in the Malmö district court accused of generating around $240,000 via extortion and blackmail. During a break in proceedings one of the accused defended his actions.

“If people are stealing and taking things that do not belong to them they must face the consequences. It also applies to porn,” said Dennies Pettersson, one of the main defendants in the case.

In an article published in Nyheter24 this week, former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde said he hopes the men get convicted but wonders if the type of content involved affected the way the case was being handled.

“What I think is interesting and worth a little thought is how the situation would be if it were not porn but possibly pop music or Hollywood movies that had been downloaded? Who would’ve been the deceiver in the state’s eyes in that situation?” Sunde asks.

Due to the numbers of victims to be heard and its complexity (the investigation documents run to 20,000 pages) the Malmö district court has set aside a whole month to handle the case.

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

TorrentFreak: Apple Patents Technology to Legalize P2P Sharing

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

apple-p2pLittle over a decade ago Apple revolutionized the music industry with its iTunes store, allowing people to purchase digital copies of their favorite music.

With iTunes, Apple offered pirates a legal option, but the company still sees value in “sharing” music and other media with friends and family.

In fact, the company was just awarded a patent that makes it possible to license P2P sharing.

Titled “decoupling rights in a digital content unit from download” the patent describes a system where users can freely share music and videos with each other. Instead of getting the actual file from iTunes or other stores, users would only need to obtain a license.

Once licensed these files can be shared freely across one’s own devices, with friends, family or even complete strangers.

applepat1

According to Apple such a system has several benefits. Among other things, reduced bandwidth and other overhead costs. This may result in a separate and cheaper price tier for those users who only have to license a media file.

“This reduction in operating expenses may facilitate a two-tier pricing structure. For example, the digital content store may charge a first price to users who download a digital content unit from the store and a second price to users who authorize a digital content unit without downloading the unit,” the patent reads.

This price reduction may then make it more interesting to share files legally, thereby reducing traditional forms of piracy.

“This may encourage users to trade or copy digital content units as well as authorize these copies. Such sharing may, in turn, reduce piracy or illegal copying..,” Apple argues.

apple2

While “legalized P2P sharing” may sound appealing, in theory it’s actually quite restrictive. The idea introduces a new layer of content protection which means that the files in question can only be played on “trusted client software.”

This means that transferring files between devices is only possible if these support Apple’s licensing scheme. That’s actually a step backwards from the DRM-free music that’s sold in most stores today.

It’s unclear whether Apple has any plans to use the P2P licensing technology in the wild. The original idea is a bit dated, but perhaps Apple can think of some less restrictive implementations of their newly obtained patent.

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

TorrentFreak: Police Seized 50 Servers in Pirate Bay Raid

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

The first major raid on The Pirate Bay took place on May 31 2006 in Stockholm, Sweden. It was a dramatic affair, with dozens of police involved, hardware seized and individuals arrested.

But while authorities previously shut down the ‘Bay in a blaze of glory while pressing the maximum publicity button (most probably to send a signal to the United States), this time around things were markedly different. Announcements, when they arrived, were much more considered – vague even.

“There has been a crackdown on a server room in Greater Stockholm. This is in connection with violations of copyright law,” read a statement from Paul Pintér, police national coordinator for IP enforcement.

It seems likely that the more modest tone was the product of 12 years of virtual humiliation at the hands of the world’s most arrogant torrent site. Big announcements of raids and permanent closures are hard to retract when a site returns in 72 hours as it did following the raids in 2006.

This time around the raid was confirmed as taking place in a datacenter located in Nacka outside Stockholm, but very few details have been made available since. However, according to new information, police left no stone unturned to ensure that The Pirate Bay was properly taken down.

A witness to the raid has now confirmed that more than 10 officers turned up at the datacenter which, rather dramatically, is itself embedded into the side of a mountain just outside the capital.

Alongside regular law enforcement officials were a forensics team tasked with securing all available related digital evidence on site. Previously prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad said the investigation into the site would take months and now it’s becoming clear why that’s the case.

To ensure no piece of evidence was left behind, on December 9, 2014 the officers present seized around 50 servers under suspicion of being connected to The Pirate Bay. That’s somewhat more than the 21 virtual servers the site previously claimed to operate.

According to a source familiar with events last month, police not only took away servers that had been live at the time of the raid, but they also gained access to the datacenter’s storage rooms. From there officers seized old equipment, just in case any of it had been used to operate The Pirate Bay.

While shutting down the site was the main goal of the police, evidence is now being sifted through as part of a criminal investigation. Earlier this month prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad confirmed that the process would like take months to complete.

With that underway, speculation continues as to whether The Pirate Bay will ever return. Various hints and suggestions have been appearing on the site’s temporary homepage but as yet not a single torrent or magnet link has been indexed.

Nevertheless, the site remains massively popular. Understandably ThePirateBay.se took a massive hit in traffic when it stopped offering content in December but against all the odds the site is still attracting millions of visitors. According to Alexa, the site is still the 159th most-trafficked in the world.

tpb-traffic

Finally, as reported earlier this week, the site’s homepage was recently hosted in Moldova but protected by Cloudflare. While the anti-DDoS service is still in place, the site does not appear to be operational from its earlier IP address.

On the move already? Only eight days to find out…….

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

TorrentFreak: Cox: We’re Not Responsible For Pirating Customers

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

cox-logoFor more than a decade copyright holders have been sending ISPs takedown notices to alert account holders that someone’s been using their connection to share copyrighted material.

These notifications have to be forwarded under the DMCA law and are meant to deter Internet subscribers from sharing unauthorized material.

Cox Communications is one of the ISPs that forwards these notices. The ISP also implemented a strict set of rules of its own accord to ensure that its customers understand the severity of the allegations.

According to some copyright holders, however, Cox’s efforts are falling short. Last month BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music sued the ISP because it fails to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers.

The companies, which control the publishing rights to songs by Katy Perry, The Beatles and David Bowie among others, claimed that Cox has given up its DMCA safe harbor protections due to this inaction.

The case is a critical test for the repeat infringer clause of the DMCA and the safe harbor protections ISPs enjoy.

Today Cox replied (pdf) to the complaint, denying pretty much all allegations put forward by the music publishers. In addition, the ISP briefly outlined various defenses it submits in reply.

The company argues that the claims against the company are barred for a wide range of reasons. Cox had no knowledge of the infringements, for example, and never had the intent to induce, profit from, or materially contribute to piracy conducted by its customers.

In addition the ISP notes that the claim of vicarious liability falls flat because the company has no controlling (Respondeat superior) relationship with its customers.

While the responses are very brief, and have yet to be detailed in the future, Cox also argues that the music publishers may not have the proper copyrights to some of the works that are at stake.

“Plaintiffs’ claims are barred to the extent they do not own copyrights in the works underlying their claims,” they note,

In addition, Cox’s lawyers argue that “the doctrine of copyright misuse” bars their claims, suggesting that BMG and Round Hill Music used abusive or improper practices in exploiting or enforcing copyright.

The latter may refer to the settlement schemes the publishers are engaged in together with Rightscorp. A few weeks ago Rightscorp and its clients were sued for fraud, harassment and abuse for their controversial anti-piracy actions.

The case will now move forward with both sides substantiating their claims during the months to come. Given the importance of the issue at hand it wouldn’t be a surprise if other ISPs and web services such as Google also chime in.

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

TorrentFreak: Bomber Tries Copyright Troll Argument to Unmask Critic

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

brett-kBorn in 1954, Brett Kimberlin has led a colorful criminal life. In 1973 he was convicted of felony perjury after lying about his activities to a grand jury investigation drug trafficking.

Five years later Kimberlin became a suspect in the murder of Julia Scyphers, a 65-year-old grandmother who strongly disapproved of Kimberlin’s relationship with her 13-year-old granddaughter. Scyphers had been shot once in head.

However, police in Speedway, Indiana, soon had additional things on their mind. In the first few days of September 1978 a wave of bombings hit Speedway which led to serious injuries including the loss of a Vietnam veteran’s leg.

Authorities believed that Kimberlin set up the Speedway Bombings as an attempt to distract from the investigation into Scyphers’ murder. While Kimberlin was never tried for this crime (the only witness died) he was convicted of the bombings and sentenced to 51 years in prison.

Ever since, Kimberlin – the son of a lawyer – has become known for filing lawsuits against his critics – and failing miserably.

Nevertheless, Kimberlin isn’t giving up. In one ongoing case (Brett Kimberlin vs National Bloggers Club) the convicted bomber is taking action against several bloggers who wrote things about his past he took offense to. It’s a quagmire of a case and one that has just seen Kimberlin reference copyright-trolling aspects for the first time.

At this point Kimberlin is trying to identify a person who wrote about him on the Ace of Spades blog (AOS) but is not named as a party in the action. So far Kimberlin has been unsuccessful, however he feels that since litigants in copyright cases have previously succeeded in unmasking alleged infringers, he should also be able to.

“Defendant AOS repeatedly states that since Plaintiff has not identified AOS as a person in the Complaint, he cannot seek the identity of AOS. This circular argument highlights one of the basic reasons why Plaintiff needs to know the identity of AOS,” Kimberlin told a Maryland district court yesterday.

“As this Court noted in [an earlier Malibu Media case, extract below], a plaintiff cannot effectively litigate a civil case if he does not know the identity of the defendant.”

Malibu cannot engage in discovery to probe the underlying facts underlying its claim without first naming a defendant. Unless Malibu is permitted, at least at the initial stages of litigation, to proceed against a subscriber, it will be caught in a Catch-22…(link)

“It should be noted that this Court has granted the issuance of subpoenas in scores of cases brought by Malibu Media to identify anonymous civil defendants who violated copyrights by illegally downloading films,” Kimberlin continues.

“Many of those defendants made arguments similar to AOS, (e.g.,they would be subjected to harassment or pressured into settlement), yet every Maryland federal judge in each of those cases rejected their arguments.

“Wherefore, for all the above reasons and the reasons set forth in Plaintiff’s motion, this Court should order the identity of AceofSpades,” Kimberlin concludes.

Whether or not the Court will be swayed by Kimberlin’s arguments remains to be seen, but Popehat’s assessment of Kimberlin’s current and previous legal efforts is hardly a shining one.

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

TorrentFreak: Netflix Sees Popcorn Time As a Serious Competitor

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

netflix-logoThe Popcorn Time app brought peer-to-peer streaming to a mainstream public last year.

Branded the “Netflix for Pirates” it became an instant hit by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface.

This was cause for concern for many Hollywood executives and Netflix itself is now also starting to worry. In a letter to the company’s shareholders Popcorn Time gets a special mention.

“Piracy continues to be one of our biggest competitors,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings writes.

“This graph of Popcorn Time’s sharp rise relative to Netflix and HBO in the Netherlands, for example, is sobering,” he adds, referencing the Google trends data below showing Popcorn Time quickly catching up with Netflix.

popcorn-netflix

While it’s a relatively small note, Hastings’ comments do mark a change in attitude for a company that previously described itself as a piracy killer.

Netflix’s CEO previously noted that piracy might even help the company, as many torrent users would eventually switch to Netflix as it offers a much better user experience.

“Certainly there’s some torrenting that goes on, and that’s true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand,” Hastings said last year.

“Netflix is so much easier than torrenting. You don’t have to deal with files, you don’t have to download them and move them around. You just click and watch,” he added.

The problem with Popcorn Time is that it’s just as easy as Netflix, if not easier. And in terms of recent movies and TV-shows the pirated alternative has a superior content library too.

A study published by research firm KPMG previously revealed that only 16% of the most popular and critically acclaimed films are available via Netflix and other on-demand subscription services.

While Netflix largely depends on the content creators when it comes to what content they can make available, this is certainly one of the areas where they have to “catch up.”

Despite the Popcorn Time concerns, business is going well for Netflix. The company announced its results for the fourth quarter of 2014 which resulted in $1.48 billion in revenue, up 26%, and a profit of $83 million.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Site Blockades Are Disproportional, Greek Court Rules

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

censorshipSite blocking actions have become relatively common throughout Europe over the past several years. Copyright groups have won court cases in various countries including the UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and France.

The rightsholders typically argue that ‘pirate’ sites infringe their rights and demand that ISPs stop forwarding traffic to them. This was also the plan in Greece, where the Greek Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AEPI) sued local ISPs two years ago.

AEPI wanted the Internet providers to block access to The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, isoHunt, 1337x and H33T, plus several local sites. The group argued that the sites damage their members’ businesses, but the ISPs countered this request by pointing out that censorship is not the answer.

A few days ago the Athens Court reached its conclusion which largely sides with the ISPs. The ruling states that blockades are disproportional and in violation of various constitutional rights.

Among other things, such measures would breach people’s right to freedom of information, confidential communications and protections against the collection, processing and use of personal data.

One of the problems the Court signaled is that the torrent sites also contain links to files that are distributed legally. These would be needlessly censored by the blockades.

In addition the verdict doubts that the blockades will be effective to begin with, as there are various circumvention options for site owners and users.

The Court further referenced the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, noting that ISPs’ “freedom to conduct a business” is at stake, as well as net neutrality principles.

“…the requested injunction goes contrary to Article 16 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, violating the rights of defendants providers in entrepreneurship, and the basic principle of Internet neutrality, which provides that all information must be handled without discrimination,” it notes.

TF spoke with Dr. Konstantinos Komaitis, an expert in Internet governance and intellectual property, who argues that in such cases proportionality is key in determining the appropriate balance.

“The decision by the Greek Court is very well thought and reasoned both from a legal and technology perspectives,” Komaitis says.

Komaitis explains that other, more appropriate and technology neutral measures should be considered, because blocking torrent sites would interfere with the right to freely share and receive information. In addition the measures are unnecessary and ineffective, since users would be able to find ways to get past the blockades.

“On the technology side, the Court correctly understood that torrent technology can — and has been – used for legal purposes, so blocking would not only be ineffective but also jeopardize its legal use,” Komaitis adds.

“All in all, the Court’s decision demonstrates two things: first, proportionality is an unwavering principle in the Greek legal system that is able to strike a very important balance between various rights; and, second, the ability of courts to understand and protect technologies that are part of an innovative Internet environment.”

The Greek verdict is similar to that of a Dutch Appeals court in The Hague last year, which ruled that the local blockade of The Pirate Bay had to be lifted.

In Greece AEPI still has the option to appeal the verdict, but whether they plan to do so is unknown at the moment. For the time being, however, the targeted torrent sites remain accessible.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Shows Most Significant Signs of Return Yet

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

For friends and foe alike, the past 44 days have resulted in a will it / won’t it return guessing game surrounding The Pirate Bay.

The self-styled “world’s most resilient torrent site” put a dent in its own billing by going down after a December 9 raid and failing to return. But that has done little to stop speculation that something is on the way.

Via a web server in Moldova, those behind the site have been posting various hints and teasers suggesting that the current downtime will come to an end in roughly 10 days time. Whether that will actually be the case remains to be seen, but new changes today have certainly excited observers.

TPB-return

As can be seen from the image above, ThePirateBay.se has today reverted to a much more familiar look. With the earlier black and waving full-page pirate flag shrunk to fit a box in the center of the screen, its surroundings are now almost identical to the layout in place when the site went down in December.

Returned but currently grayed out are the well-worn torrent browsing features, categories, preferences and languages. PirateBrowser and PromoBay links are active, however. These and the familiar Pirate Bay logo are now bordered by two features that have welcomed visitors for the past several weeks.

At the bottom of the page the notorious Pirate galleon continues to sail towards its island destination (now renamed welcomehome.png) and up top the countdown timer continues inexorably towards its February 1 conclusion.

Other technical changes include the implementation of a Cloudflare protected front end for the site, although TF can confirm that the site is still based at Trabia, the Republic of Moldova’s largest datacenter.

While it seems unlikely that Pirate Bay will stay in that location should it return next week, the company behind the site’s hosting has already laid down some pointers.

“We do support freedom of speech and barrier-free Internet usage. In the same time we operate a strict zero-tolerance abuse policy which is part of our terms of service on which all services we provide to our clients are based,” the company said in a statement.

“This means that our clients have to obey national and international laws. In case our clients violate this by abusing our services they are suspended and/or terminated if necessary.”

Given the site’s current status (no sharing features whatsoever) Trabia says that no action against the site is needed. The company does note, however, that Moldova’s copyright law of 2010 can require a host to take action against sites that violate the rights of third parties. Nevertheless, the issue may not be straightforward in the case of The Pirate Bay.

“The problem here is that the technology used, so called ‘magnet links’, is not violating the right of 3rd parties directly,” the company says.

“[There] is actually no copyright infringement originating from websites such as ‘thepiratebay.se’ which makes it a very complex case which is open for a lot of interpretation and discussions. We stand behind all our clients as long as they use our services for a legal purpose,” Trabia concludes.

In the meantime the Swedish investigation into the site continues and is likely to take months to complete. Millions hope the site’s return will precede the investigation’s conclusion.

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

TorrentFreak: How Hollywood Plans to Seize Pirate Site Domain Names

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

pirate-runningLast December a leaked document from the MPAA exposed Hollywood’s global anti-piracy priorities for the coming years.

The leak listed the mysterious term “Fujian” as one of the top priorities, without explaining what the name of a Chinese province has to do with online piracy.

Additional documents seen by TF shed more light on the issue. It turns out that the MPAA is slowly but steadily testing a novel legal procedure through which it hopes to seize the domain names of top pirate sites.

Fujian actually refers to the company “Fujian Sharing Import & Export Ltd,” which was sued several years ago for selling counterfeit Polo Ralph Lauren and The North Face clothing.

The counterfeiters used thousands of websites to sell their knockoffs using just as many domain names. If one was taken down, Fujian would simply replace it by a new one selling the same counterfeit gear.

To stop this game of Whack-A-Mole a federal court in New York ordered various intermediaries, including domain name registries, to stop working with the company and hand over the domain names to the clothing manufacturers. If they failed to comply, the registries themselves would be held liable.

In recent years both The North Face and Polo Ralph Lauren frequently updated the list of counterfeit domain names and had them seized by their registries and deleted from search engines.

The movie studios are now planning to use the same strategy against pirate sites. Besides asking reputable domain name registries to take voluntary action, they also plan to use the “Fujian” model in court.

In a detailed overview of its strategies the MPAA says that it wants to “persuade or compel domain name registries that control the reputable gTLDs (e.g., .com, .org) to terminate domain services for demonstrated pirate sites.”

“Efforts principally include civil litigation (Fujian strategy) and outreach to registries seeking to ensure they do not provide domain services to pirate sites,” they add.

Thus far they have had some success in the U.S. in a lawsuit against a ring of counterfeit DVD sites. However, the tactic has yet to be tried against sites that offer streaming services, torrents or links to pirated material.

Behind closed doors the MPAA admits that targeting domain names will be less effective than site blocking, which is also on the agenda, as sites can move to so-called “rogue” registries. But it is still expected to have a decent impact.

“Nevertheless, domain name termination can be very effective in disrupting pirate sites and the user experience in visiting them. At least temporarily, thesite is made inaccessible,” MPAA notes.

“Even sites that come back online can be expected to see reduced traffic, with a corresponding impact on profitability and sustainability,” they add.

And there’s more to worry about. Looking at one of the most recent (24th!) supplemental order in the Fujian case we see that the court grants rightsholders powers that go much further than targeting domain names alone.

The order also requires search engines to delist the infringing URLs, banks to seize the site’s assets, and forbids ISPs, back-end service providers and web designers to do business with the domain name owners.

Whether the MPAA will be successful with their efforts has yet to be seen but persistent pirates may want to learn the IP-addresses of their favorite sites by heart, just in case.

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

TorrentFreak: Failed MPAA / Xunlei Anti-Piracy Deal is Shocking

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

mpaa-logoAs one of China’s top 10 Internet companies, Xunlei is a massive operation. In the first three months of 2014 the company enjoyed 300 million monthly unique visitors.

Among other file-sharing ventures, Xunlei operates ‘Thunder’, the world’s most popular torrent client. This and other issues have placed the company firmly on the radar of the MPAA.

The movie group first took legal action against the China-based outfit in 2008 but by 2014 relations began to warm with Xunlei pursuing an IPO in the United States. In May last year there was a breakthrough, with the former rivals signing a Content Protection Agreement (CPA) requiring Xunlei to protect MPAA studio content including movies and TV shows.

In October 2014, however, the MPAA reported Xunlei to the U.S. government, complaining that piracy was rampant on the service. Something had clearly gone wrong, an assertion that was only underlined this morning with a report that the MPAA has now sued Xunlei.

“For too long we have witnessed valuable creative content being taken and monetized without the permission of the copyright owner. That has to stop and stop now,” said Mike Ellis, the MPAA’s Asia-Pacific chief.

While it’s clear that the MPAA are disappointed with Xunlei’s efforts, it’s certainly possible that the company found it impossible to fulfill its agreement with the MPAA. Documents obtained by TorrentFreak dated May 2014 (days before the deal was signed) detailing a draft agreement which Xunlei “stated unequivocally in writing that it will accept” reveal the toughest set of anti-piracy demands ever seen.

Content filtering

The CPA reveals that Xunlei agreed to deploy Vobile‘s fingerprinting system across all of its services (including file-sharing clients) to ensure that no unfiltered content would ever be uploaded or downloaded. Filters were to have been deployed within 120 days of signing the agreement and would have to be implemented on both past and future projects.

Repeat infringers

The CPA requires Xunlei to terminate those who not only infringe but also those who attempt to infringe copyright. For all U.S.-based users of Xunlei the company agreed to implement a three-strike policy, with Chinese user strike numbers to be determined later.

“This is a very strict repeat infringer policy — as strict as exists anywhere in key respects — in that both uploads and downloads count and in that infringement is determined by the filter (not just based on
notices received),” the MPAA document reads.

“[The] filter will identify each and every instance of a user attempting to infringe a studio work, by uploading or downloading. Thus, the repeat infringer numbers likely will be off the charts in our favor when we have those later negotiations. Xunlei is also obligated to preserve data on identified infringers, and we can request this data in our due diligence reviews.”

Site blocking

The CPA also grants the MPAA the power to determine who Xunlei can deal with online.

“[The MPAA] will be able to identify to Xunlei what we believe to be ‘pirate sites’ and Xunlei will block those domains from all aspects of its system (e.g., no using those domains for accelerated downloads and no accepting communications/links from those domains),” the MPAA writes.

Licensing – content is banned unless the MPAA says otherwise

As a content provider Xunlei has licensing deals with many companies to provide legitimate content. However, the CPA with the MPAA restricts the company’s ability to make its own decisions without reference.

“The definition of Unauthorized Content…excludes content for which Xunlei has a license directly or for which the studios have granted a license to a site or users that would extend to and authorize the use contemplated by Xunlei. However, this is not left to Xunlei to determine,” the MPAA notes.

“All content is deemed Unauthorized unless Xunlei obtains express written confirmation from the appropriate studio that a relevant license has been granted,” with the CPA “putting the burden on [Xunlei] to get written confirmations and effectively to create a white list.”

Access to source code

“[The MPAA] will have rights of due diligence, which will allow us access to source code and technical data/documents, to assess Xunlei’s compliance,” the MPAA adds.

When it all goes wrong

The Content Protection Agreement includes clauses for the MPAA not to sue Xunlei for copyright infringement as long as it keeps to its side of the deal. However, it appears the MPAA wanted to avoid legal action if at all possible.

“[In] the event that we are still seeing significant infringement even with Xunlei honoring its filtering obligations, then either [Xunlei] violated its representation (which by agreement is deemed a material breach) or the ongoing cooperation provisions kick in – and if [Xunlei] does not comply with them, we can sue,” the MPAA notes.

“Given the limited relief available in an action in China and the uncertainty of suit in the US, we strongly recommend that we accept the contingent covenant not to sue in the draft CPA.”

There are currently no reports of the MPAA’s legal action in Chinese media but it will be interesting to see the reaction in the days to come.

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

Errata Security: Drums of cyberwar: North Korea’s cyber-WMDs

This post was syndicated from: Errata Security and was written by: Robert Graham. Original post: at Errata Security

People ask me if today’s NYTimes story changes my opinion that North Korea didn’t do the Sony hack. Of course it doesn’t. Any rational person can tell that the story is bogus. Indeed, such stories hint the government is hiding something.

The story claims the NSA has thoroughly hacked North Korea since 2010, and that’s what enabled the US government to tell who was responsible for the Sony hack. But if this were true, then we hacked first, and the Sony hack is retaliation — meaning we had no justification for Obama’s sanctions. But, if the story is false, then again sanctions against North Korea aren’t justified, because we don’t have the proof our government claims. True or false, this story means the U.S. sanctions against North Korea aren’t justified.

The reason this story is nonsense is that it’s not journalism. It relies almost entirely on anonymous sources in the government. These aren’t anonymous whistle-blowers who fear retaliation, but government propagandists who don’t want to be held accountable. The government exploits the New York Times, promising them exclusive breaking news in exchange for them publishing propaganda. This allows government to have a story that is simultaneous true and false, whichever way serves their purpose best.

This isn’t some paranoid fantasy I have about the New York Times. It’s what their own ombudsman said a few weeks ago criticizing a previous article by this same author. The Society of Professional journalists criticize anonymous sources in their Code of Ethics, and in another paper more clearly criticize this “Washington game” of anonymity. There is even a Twitter bot (@NYTAnon) that tracks these sorts of stories. Every rational person knows that using anonymous government sources are bad ethics spouting the government official story — that they are no better than the sorts of stories that ran in PRAVDA, the official Soviet newspaper.

Some people compare this DRPK-cyberwar propaganda with the Iraq-WMD propaganda. It turns out that this is indeed an appropriate comparison. David Sanger, the author of the above cyber story, has been the chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times for over 20 years. SourceWatch, a site that tracks those who influence government policy, blames Sanger along with Judith Miller for hyping WMDs as a justification for the Iraq war. SourceWatch may be referring to stories like this one naming anonymous sources that laid the groundwork for Colin Powell’s famous presentation at the U.N. Sanger is nowadays widely criticized for hyping the Iran-WMD threat.

I’m not trying to be difficult here, finding arbitrary reasons to reject evidence that doesn’t fit my conclusion. I’ve always been critical of Washington D.C. stories citing anonymous government sources pushing cyber-legislation, cyber-war, and other cyber-policy. It’s all dishonest and evil. This latest story is not credible — and most any (non-Washington) journalist will confirm this.

TorrentFreak: Pirates Fail to Prevent American Sniper’s Box Office Record

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

sniperWhen a high quality screener of American Sniper leaked online days before the theatrical release the filmmakers probably feared the worst.

After all, recent history has ‘shown’ that early leaks can have a devastating impact on box office revenues. The Expendables 3, for example, grossed a disappointing $16 million during the opening weekend.

At the time many insiders and experts blamed the pre-release leak for the disappointing numbers. Millions of people had downloaded pirated copies and skipped the box office, they argued.

“This is really a clear situation where this had an impact. It’s hard to measure, but the ripple effect, not only of the downloads, but of the word-of-mouth that spread as a result, can be seen in the soft opening,” BoxOffice.com vice president Phil Contrino said at the time.

With American Sniper things turned out quite differently though. Sure, the film was downloaded millions of times before its premiere, perhaps even more than The Expendables 3. However, all these unauthorized downloads couldn’t prevent the film from grossing record numbers.

From Friday to Sunday, American Sniper grossed $90.2 million, making it the largest opening weekend in history for the December through February winter period. This means that it beats Avatar, The Hobbit trilogy and all other previous winter blockbusters.

For some reason these record numbers were possible despite rampant piracy. How can that be?

First of all, the impressive opening doesn’t necessarily mean that the pre-release piracy had no impact at all. Perhaps the film would have raked in an additional $5 million without piracy.

On the other hand, some may argue that piracy may even have helped to promote the film through word-of-mouth advertising. In the end we simply don’t know what effect piracy had on the opening weekend.

It’s telling though, that every time a film flops piracy is brought into the discussion as one of the main reasons for the disappointing results. But if records are broken, piracy isn’t mentioned at all.

In other words, piracy is often a convenient scapegoat used selectively to cover up failures that probably have very little to do with illegal streams or downloads. But there’s nothing new there.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate MEP Proposes Major Reform of EU Copyright

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

The idea of copyright is certainly not new and most countries worldwide have developed complex systems to ensure that it’s upheld, ostensibly to protect the rights of creators.

But with the unprecedented advancement of communications technology, especially in respect of the Internet, copyright frameworks often appear terribly outdated and unfit for purpose.

In 2015 the EU has its collective eyes on copyright reform and to this end has appointed an individual whose political party has more focus than most on the world of copyright.

Last November, Julia Reda, a politician for the German Pirate Party and member of the European Parliament, was tasked with producing a report on the implementation of the 2001 InfoSoc Directive.

Having already presented her plans during a meeting of the Legal Affairs Committee in December, this morning Reda released a first draft of her report. It will come as no surprise that need for reform has been underlined.

“Although the directive was meant to adapt copyright to the digital age, in reality it is blocking the exchange of knowledge and culture across borders today,” Reda’s core finding reads.

The report draws on responses to a public consultation and lays out a reform agenda for the overhaul of EU copyright. It finds that the EU would benefit from a copyright mechanism that not only protects past works, but also encourages future creation and the unlocking of a pan-European cultural market.

reda-pic“The EU copyright directive was written in 2001, in a time before YouTube or Facebook. Although it was meant to adapt copyright to the digital age, in reality it is blocking the exchange of knowledge and culture across borders today“, Reda explains.

“We need a common European copyright that safeguards fundamental rights and makes it easier to offer innovative online services in the entire European Union.”

The draft (pdf) acknowledges the need for artistic works to be protected under law and calls for improvements in the positions of authors and performers “in relation to other rightholders and intermediaries.”

The document recommends that public sector information should be exempt from copyright protection and calls on the Commission to safeguard public domain works while recognizing rightsholders’ freedom to “voluntarily relinquish their rights and dedicate their works to the public domain.”

Copyright lengths are also tackled by Reda, who calls on the Commission to harmonize the term to a duration that does not exceed the current international standards set out in the Berne Convention.

On Internet hyperlinking the report requests that citizens are allowed to freely link from one resource to another and calls on the EU legislator “to clarify that reference to works by means of a hyperlink is not subject to exclusive rights, as it is does not consist in a communication to a new public.”

The document also calls for new copyright exceptions to be granted for research and educational purposes to not only cover educational establishments, but “any kind of educational and research activities,
including non-formal education.”

Also of interest is Reda’s approach to transparency. Since being appointed, Reda says she’s received 86 meeting requests from lobbyists. As can be seen from the chart below, requests increased noticeably after the Pirate was named as rapporteur in November 2014.

graph-reda

“I did my best to balance out the attention paid to various interest groups. Most requests came from publishers, distributors, collective rights organizations, service providers and intermediaries (57% altogether), while it was more difficult to get directly to the group most often referred to in public debate: The authors,” Reda explains.

“The results of the copyright consultation with many authors’ responses demonstrate that the interests of collecting societies and individual authors can differ significantly.”

Reda has published a full list of meetings that took place. It includes companies such as Disney and Google, and ‘user’ groups such as the Free Software Foundation Europe.

“Tomorrow morning around 9 I’m going to publish my report on EU #copyright, discussion in legal affairs committee on Tuesday,” Reda reported a few minutes ago.

The final report will be put to an April vote in the Legal Affairs Committee and then to a vote before the entire Parliament during May.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 01/19/15

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

hobbit2This week we have four newcomers in our chart.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (1) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (DVDscr) 7.7 / trailer
2 (2) American Sniper (DVDscr) 7.6 / trailer
3 (…) Fury 7.8 / trailer
4 (3) Into The Woods (DVDscr) 6.8 / trailer
5 (…) The Judge 7.5 / trailer
6 (7) Birdman (DVDscr) 8.6 / trailer
7 (4) Gone Girl 8.4 / trailer
8 (5) Unbroken (DVDscr) 7.2 / trailer
9 (…) Vice 4.2 / trailer
10 (…) Wild 7.4 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: “The Internet Would Never Have Existed Without The Copyright Monopoly”

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

copyright-brandedI had an interesting exchange of opinions with a copyright industry lawyer the other day.

In what appeared to be a private conversation on Twitter between colleagues I was called out as evil, claiming that all the anti-copyright-monopoly sentiment on the Internet came from me personally.

Of course, knowing how Twitter works, anybody mentioning my name gets an immediate highlight on my screen, and so I took the liberty of butting in to the conversation a few seconds later.

tweet1

I explained patiently that the Pirate Party could not possibly exist if there wasn’t already a widespread sense of information liberty; that the sentiment of the Internet already was that the copyright monopoly was there to constrict and punish rather than anything else.

To my surprise, the copyright industry lawyer responded that the entire Internet would not have existed at all without the copyright monopoly. This was a statement that would have been trivial to ridicule to smithereens (“please explain how Al Gore fits into it?”), but it made me genuinely curious. How do these people think, anyway?

tweet2

So when I asked which part of the Internet Mr. Shrum referred to – DARPA (ARPAnet), TCP/IP, or CERN [sic, referring to the birth of WWW but I didn’t write that out], he surprised me even more by saying “All of them”.

tweet3

Somewhat to my surprise, this lawyer also picked up on the “monopoly” moniker as can be seen above, not trying to argue against that characteristic at all. So being aware that there was a monopoly, this copyright industry lawyer still argued that no part of the Internet would have been created without that monopoly.

Of course, this goes completely counter to actual history: particularly with regards to the World Wide Web, which was specifically created in Switzerland to circumvent the monopoly previously held by University of Minnesota in the US, where a similar technology by the name of Gopher had been developed. When somebody claims exclusive rights to a standard on the Internet, that standard is generally dropped like a bad habit and replaced by something else immediately. That has happened several times, and the WWW standard was such a replacement.

However, I gained a lot of understanding from this short exchange. It would appear the people we are debating in the copyright industry are reasoning something like this:

1 – the Progress Clause (the justification for the copyright monopoly in article 8 in the US Constitution, allowing Congress to create exclusive rights in order to “Promote the Progress of Science and the Useful Arts”) means that any law created using that justification automatically has the effect of also promoting such progress in all its applications and spheres of influence.

2 – therefore, anything created in an environment where such a law exists, created under a monopoly regime covering expressions of ideas, could not have been conceived without the existence of the law in question.

If this is the actual reasoning – and it would appear that it is – then it becomes comprehensible why net liberty activists who fight for the freedom to create without permission are seen as evil by the copyright industry. If they genuinely believe that everything that exists was created because the copyright monopoly exists, then somebody who wants to take away that monopoly regime would plunge the world into darkness where nothing more is created, ever.

Stop laughing.

This explains the worldview we’re going up against when discussing the topic, and as such, it was valuable to understand. It fits well in with my observation that copyright monopoly maximalists are acting like religious fundamentalists a few years back – especially given the apparent non-need to check on actual facts, when all the “facts” could be easily deduced from the certainty that everything created was created because there is a copyright monopoly.

At some point later in the discussion, a colleague in the copyright industry butted in and subtly suggested that this lawyer might want to stop arguing the point that the Internet was created because of the copyright monopoly before reading up on the actual history.

tweet4

That was the end of that discussion.

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, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij Wants You to Write Him a Letter

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

fredrik-neijFredrik Neij, also known as Tiamo, was one of the key players behind The Pirate Bay during its early years. Without him, the site might have never recovered from the first raid in 2006.

As with Peter Sunde and Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik’s involvement with the site eventually resulted in a prison sentence and a hefty fine.

After being on the run for two years he was arrested by Thai immigration authorities last November when he tried to cross the border from Laos. A few days later he flew to Sweden where he was transferred to a prison in Skänninge.

With several weeks now passed, TF has learned that Fredrik is doing well considering the circumstances. His wife and two kids are allowed to visit now, which must be a welcome distraction to monotonous prison life.

With a sentence of 10 months Fredrik will not be released before summer. Worryingly, he also has to face hacking allegations as well as a criminal referral of his ISP DCP Networks.

Considering the above, Fredrik won’t mind having some things to entertain himself. In a message sent to TF he signaled that it would be nice to receive letters, cards and other stuff from people all over the world.

Anything goes, the more mail arrives the better.

People who want to write Fredrik should use the address listed at the bottom of this article. Keep in mind though, all incoming mail will be checked by the authorities before he receives it.

Besides Fredrik, Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm also remains in prison. Last October he was convicted of hacking into the systems of IT company CSC and sentenced to 3.5 years.

TF spoke with Gottfrid’s mother Kristina who informed us that her son is being held in better conditions than before. He is allowed to receive books and his letters are no longer read by the police, but access to a computer or the Internet is still off-limits.

Gottfrid has officially appealed his sentence and these proceedings are scheduled to start in April. In the meantime, he too would love to receive mail.

The addresses of Gottfrid and Fredrik are listed below.

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg
Arresthuset i Koege
Kongsberg Allé 6
Dk4600 Koege, DENMARK

Fredrik Neij 14-514
Box 213
596 21 Skänninge
SWEDEN

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

TorrentFreak: BitCannon: Download Torrent Sites to Use Offline

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

bcannonAttacks on torrent sites are a regular occurrence. That’s been the case for well over a decade and isn’t likely to end anytime soon. As a result people are increasingly looking at ways to make them more resilient.

Proxies and mirrors, for example, helped keep The Pirate Bay accessible in the face of countless web blockades. And today, projects like Open Bay and other sundry clones keep the spirit of the site alive even during its prolonged downtime.

While these projects are of interest, they all rely on other people taking the initiative. A new open source tool, however, brings torrent site preservation into the hands of everyone with a PC.

The idea behind BitCannon is straightforward. The software allows users to download and import torrent site contents into a database hosted on a local machine. From there users are able to browse and search torrents using a web browser in much they same way as they can on the site itself. Torrents can then be downloaded using magnet links and any compatible torrent client.

cannon-title

After getting a local copy of KickassTorrents up and running, TorrentFreak caught up with BitCannon creator Stephen Smith for the lowdown.

“I’m a self taught web developer currently in college studying computer science. I’ve always been fascinated by BitTorrent and its decentralized nature,” Stephen told TF.

“With BitCannon, I am hoping to reduce the incentive of taking down torrent sites by encouraging users to utilize the site archives, and I hope this will also encourage more torrent sites to offer full site archives.”

Currently only a handful of sites offer these archives (notably KickassTorrents and Demonoid) but they are offered openly and are easy to download and use once BitCannon has been installed.

Downloaded site databases, which be viewed in any web browser, are presented in a straightforward and clean format. The image below shows BitCannon running a KickassTorrents dump of all torrents uploaded in the past 24 hours.

kick-daily

BitCannon is certainly fast. While tests with a 24 hour dump of KickassTorrents were impressive, Stephen says searches on a database of 6 million torrents can be completed in about 10ms, plenty quick enough for most users.

Unsurprisingly BitCannon is open source and currently available on Github. Stephen says the decision to go this route was an obvious one.

“I want BitCannon to be useful to people, and I want it to be clear that I don’t intend to profit off of it, although I decided to have a donate button because the domain did cost money and I’m a college student,” he says.

“I also want to allow people to use BitCannon as they please without any restrictions, in hopes that even if someone wanted to rebrand it and use it to host their own public torrent site, they may do so with minimal trouble.”

And that’s the other trick up BitCannon’s sleeve. Stephen says in addition to personal use he hopes that BitCannon will prove flexible enough to provide public facing versions of cloned websites to lower the barrier of entry for those brave enough to host their own torrent sites.

BitCannon works well but is still in development, so there are some issues to be ironed out. The installation process could be more automated and the browse page can take a while to load when databases contain more than one million torrents. Seeder/leecher counts are also on the to-do list as is a fully embedded database rather than MongoDB.

“What would be ideal, I think, is if more torrent sites allowed users to download archives AND if more users downloaded these archives. Taking down torrent sites would then have less and less of an impact,” Stephen says.

BitCannon’s creator is grateful for the invaluable help he’s received from friend Casey Nordcliff and is now is calling on the community to help the project along.

“BitCannon isn’t 100% production ready, but I’d like to invite BitTorrent enthusiasts to try it out and provide feedback on how I can make it more useful and easier to use,” Stephen concludes.

BitCannon can be downloaded for Windows, Linux and Mac here with instructions found here. For initial testing we advise use of a daily dump rather than full site databases.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wants to Censor OpenCulture’s Public Domain Movies

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

opencultureDespite the growing availability of legal services in many countries, movie studios face a constant stream of pirated films.

In an attempt to deter these infringements, the MPAA and individual movie studios send thousands of takedown notices to Internet services every month. Most of these requests are directed at Google.

When it comes to takedown notices the MPAA has a dubious track record. The movie industry group has got into the habit of asking Google to remove the homepages of allegedly infringing sites instead of individual pages where the infringing movies are listed.

A few days ago, for example, the MPAA asked Google to remove the homepage of the most popular torrent site Kickass.so, alongside several other torrent and streaming sites. As with previous requests Google declined to do so as the request was too broad.

kickmpaa

The same takedown notice includes another unusual and perhaps more worrying request. Between all the “pirate sites” the MPAA also targeted Open Culture’s list of public domain movies.

For those unfamiliar with the project, Open Culture offers an archive of high-quality cultural & educational media. With Stanford University’s Dan Colman as founder and lead editor, the content listed on the site is selected with great care.

The MPAA, however, appears to have spotted a problem with the list and has asked Google to remove the entire page (containing 700 movies) from its search results, as shown in the image below.

openculturedown

So why would MPAA target content that’s seemingly in the public domain?

The full details of the takedown notice have yet to be published, but there is a good chance that the request was sent in error.

In any case, the notice doesn’t look good for the MPAA. Over the past seferal months the MPAA has lobbied Google to block entire domains from its search results, but mistakes like these are a reminder for Google to remain cautious.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Admins Get Probation But Face Millions in Damages

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

disney-pirateFive years ago, pressure was building against Swedish private torrent tracker ‘eXcelleNT’. The site, known to its users as XNT, had been on the radar of local anti-piracy outfits for some time, but had chosen not to shut down.

Behind the scenes, Swedish anti-piracy group Rights Alliance (then Antipiratbyrån) was closing in and early 2011 the group filed an official police complaint.

In May that year authorities pounced, arresting a man in Borlänge, Sweden, and another in the Stockholm area a day later. The site’s server was seized in Germany.

What followed was a wait of more than three years as the authorities prepared their case and in December the men went on trial. The pair were accused of making available more than 1,000 different movies and TV shows without permission from rightsholders including Warner Bros. and Disney.

Yesterday the verdict was handed down by the Falu District Court and it’s mixed news for the pair.

Although 1,050 titles were referenced in the case (an unusually large amount), the court only found the men guilty of copyright infringement in 28 cases. In the remaining 1,022 cases there was no proof that infringement had been committed.

This meant that rather than the hefty jail sentences demanded by the prosecutor, the 24 and 25-year-olds received probation and were ordered to complete 120 hours of community service instead.

Speaking with DN.se, prosecutor Frederick Ingblad, the man also running the case against The Pirate Bay, says he has not decided if he will appeal the decison.

“I think the sentence was low, but it’s good that they still got community service and not just probation,” Ingblad said.

But while probation is probably a relief to the men, another significant challenge lies ahead.

The judgment reveals that film company Nordisk Film has also filed a claim for damages amounting to some 18 million kronor ($2.2 million). This will be dealt with through a separate legal process handled by Rights Alliance.

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

TorrentFreak: 95% Of Oscar Contenders Leaked on Pirate Sites Already

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

oscartorrentsThe Oscars is the biggest award show of the year and is closely followed by hundreds of millions of movie fans.

This week the new nominees were announced and as usual that triggered a spike in sales, theater visits and illegal downloads.

The interest of torrent users for Best Picture nominee “The Theory of Everything” quadrupled almost instantly, and several other titles saw similar spikes.

With help from Andy Baio, who has been collecting detailed piracy stats for the Oscar-nominees since 2003, we can also reveal how many of the films are already available along with some other interesting trends.

What stands out immediately is how widely available the films are. Of all 2015 nominees, except documentary and foreign films, 34 of the 36 films (95%) are present on pirate sites.

Only the animated feature film “Song of The Sea” and best original song nominee “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” have yet to appear online.

The films that are available don’t all come in perfect quality of course. “Beyond the Lights,” for example, only leaked in a CAM (camcorded) version. Most, however, are available in relatively decent screener, DVDRip or comparable quality.

Ironically enough, nearly all of the pirated screener copies appear to have been leaked from Academy sources.

The data further shows that it takes an average of 25 days until first leak appears online. In 2015 retail DVDs leaked faster than in previous years, in part due to shorter release windows.

“Two Days One Night” leaked the earliest, with a DVD quality copy of the movie becoming available more than two months before its official U.S. release date. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” took the longest with a total of 88 days.

While relatively unknown films see a serious spike in downloads after the nominations, most interest goes out to the traditional blockbusters. Of all nominees The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies remains the most popular with more than two million downloads over the past week.

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

TorrentFreak: Hotline Miami 2 Censored – So Pirate It, Devs Say

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

miami2Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is a 2D top-down video game developed by Dennaton Games and published by Devolver Digital. It’s the follow-up to the original Hotline Miami which developed into a fan favorite shifting hundreds of thousands of units in its first weeks on sale.

While HM2 is set to ride on its predecessor’s successes, its nature means that the some gamers will not be seeing the game on shelves, virtual or otherwise. The problem lies with HM2’s depiction of sex and violence, often in the same scenes.

Kotaku, for example, has a report on one particular scene which involves lots of killing rounded off with what appears to be rape. While this scene isn’t the only culprit, it’s all been too much for the Australian Classification Board, the body tasked with ensuring titles are suitable for a local audience.

According to government guidelines, publications that “depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified” will not be classified.

hotline

As a result the Australian Classification Board has now effectively banned Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number in Australia meaning that Aussies won’t be able to get their hands on the title. Well not by official means of course.

Normally this kind of situation would see gamers disappearing off to torrent sites hoping to obtain the title without being caught. However, thanks to HM2’s developers they can not only still do the former but can do so without any fear of the latter.

The move was uncovered by Reddit user Max Cartwright who wrote to Jonatan Söderström, co-creator of Hotline Miami, expressing disappointment at the game being banned.

“As you obviously are aware, Hotline Miami 2 has been refused classification in Australia. This killed me, knowing that there is no legitimate way to purchase one of my most anticipated games,” Cartwright began.

“My question to you is, how would you, as the developer, most prefer me to obtain your game? I was thinking maybe I could torrent it and donate to you directly, but I’m not a fan of torrenting games and I don’t want to get in legal trouble.”

Söderström responded, and it was everything Cartwright could’ve hoped for.

“If it ends up not being released in Australia, just pirate it after release,” Söderström said. “No need to send us any money, just enjoy the game!”

With the email confirmed as genuine it now seems that Australians will not only be able to bypass the censors but do so with permission – a somewhat unique situation for commercially available title.

For their part, Devolver Digital have expressed disappointment at the decision not to classify but say they have no plans to censor the title.

“We are concerned and disappointed that a board of professionals tasked with evaluating and judging games fairly and honestly would stretch the facts to such a degree and issue a report that describes specific thrusting actions that are not simply present in the sequence in question and incorrectly portrays what was presented to them for review,” the company said.

This isn’t the first time that the creators of Hotline Miami have rubbed shoulders with pirates. In 2012 the developer took the decision to give customer support and a special patch to users of The Pirate Bay who had downloaded the game without paying for it.

Playing nice with pirates worked out well two years ago. Let’s see how that pans out second time around.

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