Posts tagged ‘anonymous’

TorrentFreak: 4shared Demands Retraction Over Misleading Piracy Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Kim Dotcom Must Reveal Everything He Owns to Hollywood

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

dotcom-laptopKim Dotcom has been associated with many things over the years, but one enduring theme has been wealth – and lots of it.

Even in the wake of the now-infamous raid on his New Zealand mansion and the seizure of millions in assets, somehow Dotcom has managed to rake in millions. Or did he also have some stashed away?

It’s an important matter for Hollywood. The businessman’s continued lavish lifestyle diminishes the financial pot from where any payout will be made should they prevail in their copyright infringement battles against the Megaupload founder.

The studio’s concerns were previously addressed by Judge Courtney, who had already ordered Dotcom to disclose to the Court the details of his worldwide assets. The entrepreneur filed an appeal but that hearing would take place in October, a date beyond the already-ordered disclosure date.

Dotcom took his case to the Court of Appeal in the hope of staying the disclosure order, but in August that failed.

Dotcom complied with the ruling and subsequently produced an affidavit. However, he asked the Court of Appeal to overturn the decision of the High Court in order to keep the document a secret from the studios. That bid has now failed.

Following a ruling handed down this morning by the New Zealand Court of Appeal, Dotcom’s financial information will soon be in the hands of adversaries Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros.

Court of Appeal Judges John Wild, Rhys Harrison and Christin French ordered the affidavit to be released to the studios on the basis that the information could only be used in legal proceedings concerning the restraining of Dotcom’s assets. And with a confidentiality clause attached to the affidavit, the public will not gain access to the information.

Another setback for Dotcom came in respect of who pays the bill for proceedings. The Megaupload founder’s attempt at avoiding costs was turned down after the judges found that having already supplied the affidavit as required, Dotcom’s appeal was not likely to succeed.

And there was more bad news for Dotcom in a separate High Court ruling handed down in New Zealand today. It concerns the extradition cases against not only him but also former Megaupload associates Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram Van Der Kolk.

The theory put forward by Dotcom is that the United States and New Zealand governments had politically engineered his downfall in order to extradite him to the U.S. To gather evidence showing how that happened, Dotcom and the other respondents made a pair of applications to the extradition court (the District Court) requesting that it make discovery orders against various New Zealand government agencies, ministers and departments.

The District Court declined so the respondents sought a judicial review of that decision claiming that the Court acted unfairly and erred in law. In today’s ruling, Justice Simon France said there was no “air of reality” that political interference had been involved in Dotcom’s extradition case.

“It is, as the District Court held, all supposition and the drawing of links without a basis,” the Judge wrote.

“Nothing suggests involvement of the United States of America, and nothing suggests the New Zealand Government had turned its mind to extradition issues. These are the key matters and there is no support for either contention.”

Judge France said that as respondents in the case, the United States were entitled to costs.

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

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

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

22jumpThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

22 Jump Street is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (1) 22 Jump Street 7.6 / trailer
2 (…) How to Train Your Dragon 2 8.2 / trailer
3 (5) The Purge: Anarchy 6.6 / trailer
4 (3) Stretch 6.8 / trailer
5 (2) Transformers: Age of Extinction 6.1 / trailer
6 (…) Planes: Fire & Rescue 5.8 / trailer
7 (…) The Giver 6.7 / trailer
8 (…) Annabelle 5.9 / trailer
9 (4) Sex Tape 5.2 / trailer
10 (9) X-Men: Days of Future Past 8.4 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Illegal Copying Has Always Created Jobs, Growth, And Prosperity

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

copyright-brandedIt often helps to understand present time by looking at history, and seeing how history keeps repeating itself over and over.

In the late 1700s, the United Kingdom was the empire that established laws on the globe. The United States was still largely a colony – even if not formally so, it was referred to as such in the civilized world, meaning France and the United Kingdom.

The UK had a strictly protectionist view of trade: all raw materials must come to England, and all luxury goods must be made from those materials while in the UK, to be exported to the rest of the world. Long story short, the UK was where the value was to be created.

Laws were written to lock in this effect. Bringing the ability to refine materials somewhere else, the mere knowledge, was illegal. “Illegal copying”, more precisely.

Let’s look at a particularly horrible criminal from that time, Samuel Slater. In the UK, he was even known as “Slater the Traitor”. His crime was to memorize the drawings of a British textile mill, move to New York, and copy the whole of the British textile mill from memory – something very illegal. For this criminal act, building the so-called Slater Mill, he was hailed as “the father of the American Industrial Revolution” by those who would later displace the dominance of the UK – namely the United States. This copy-criminal also has a whole town named after him.

Copying brings jobs and prosperity. Copying has always brought jobs and prosperity. It is those who don’t want to compete who try to legislate a right to rest on their laurels and outlaw copying. It never works.

We can take a look at the early film industry as well. That industry was bogged down with patent monopolies from one of the worst monopolists through industrial history, Thomas Edison and his Western Electric. He essentially killed off any film company that started in or at New York, where the film industry was based at the time. A few of the nascent film companies – Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, MGM – therefore chose to settle as far from this monopolist as possible, and went across the entire country, to a small unexploited suburb outside of Los Angeles, California, which was known as “Hollywoodland” and had a huge sign to that effect. There, they would be safe from Edison’s patent enforcement, merely through taking out enough distance between themselves and him.

Yes, you read that right – the entire modern film industry was founded on piracy. Which, again, lead to jobs and prosperity.

The heart of the problem is this: those who decide what is “illegal” to copy do so from a basis of not wanting to get outcompeted, and never from any kind of moral high ground. It’s just pure industrial protectionism. Neo-mercantilism, if you prefer. Copying always brings jobs and prosperity. Therefore, voluntarily agreeing to the terms of the incumbent industries, terms which are specifically written to keep everybody else unprosperous, is astoundingly bad business and policy.

I’d happily go as far as to say there is a moral imperative to disobey any laws against copying. History will always put you in the right, as was the case with Samuel Slater, for example.

For a more modern example, you have Japan. When I grew up in the 1980s, Japanese industry was known for cheap knock-off goods. They copied everything shamelessly, and never got quality right. But they knew something that the West didn’t: copying brings prosperity. When you copy well enough, you learn at a staggering pace, and you eventually come out as the R&D leader, the innovation leader, building on that incremental innovation you initially copied. Today, Japan builds the best quality stuff available in any category.

The Japanese knew and understand that it takes three generations of copying and an enormous work discipline to become the best in the world in any industry. Recently, to my huge astonishment, they even overtook the Scottish as masters of whisky. (As I am a very avid fan of Scottish whisky, this was a personal source of confusion for me, even though I know things work this way on a rational level.)

At the personal level, pretty much every good software developer I know learned their craft by copying other people’s code. Copying brings prosperity at the national and the individual levels. Those who would seek to outlaw it, or obey such unjust bans against copying, have no moral high ground whatsoever – and frankly, I think people who voluntarily choose to obey such unjust laws deserve to stay unprosperous, and fall with their incumbent master when that time comes.

Nobody ever took the lead by voluntarily walking behind somebody else, after all. The rest of us copy, share, and innovate, and we wait for nobody who tries to legislate their way to competitiveness.

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: The Soaring Financial Cost of Blocking Pirate Sites

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

On Friday news broke that luxury brand company Richemont had succeeded in its quest to have several sites selling counterfeit products blocked by the UK’s largest ISPs.

The landmark ruling, which opens the floodgates for perhaps tens of thousands of other sites to be blocked at the ISP level, contained some surprise information on the costs involved in blocking infringing websites. The amounts cited by Justice Arnold all involve previous actions undertaken by the movie and music industry against sites such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents.

The applications themselves

The solicitor acting for Richemont, Simon Baggs of Wiggin LLP, also acted for the movie studios in their website blocking applications. Information Baggs provided to the court reveals that an unopposed application for a section 97A blocking order works out at around £14,000 per website.

The record labels’ costs aren’t revealed but Justice Arnold said “it is safe to assume that they are of a similar magnitude to the costs incurred by the film studios.”

In copyright cases, 47 sites have been blocked at the ISP level = £658,000

Keeping blocked sites blocked

When blocking orders are issued in the UK they contain provisions for rightsholders to add additional IP addresses and URLs to thwart anti-blocking countermeasures employed by sites such as The Pirate Bay. It is the responsibility of the rightsholders to “accurately identify IP addresses and URLs which are to be notified to ISPs in this way.”

It transpires that in order to monitor the server locations and domain names used by targeted websites, the film studios have hired a company called Incopro, which happens to be directed by Simon Baggs of Wiggins.

In addition to maintaining a database of 10,000 ‘pirate’ domains, Incopro also operates ‘BlockWatch’. This system continuously monitors the IP addresses and domains of blocked sites and uses the information to notify ISPs of new IPs and URLs to be blocked.

“Incopro charges a fee to enter a site into the BlockWatch system. It also charges an ongoing monthly fee,” Justice Arnold reveals. “In addition, the rightholders incur legal costs in collating, checking and sending notifications to the ISPs. Mr Baggs’ evidence is that, together, these costs work out at around £3,600 per website per year.”

If we assume that the music industry’s costs are similar, for 47 sites these monitoring costs amount to around £169,200 per year, every year.

Costs to ISPs for implementing blocking orders

The ISPs involved in blocking orders have been less precise as to the costs involved, but they are still being incurred on an ongoing basis. All incur ongoing costs when filtering websites such as those on the Internet Watch List, but copyright injunctions only add to the load.

Sky

The cost of implementing a new copyright blocking order is reported as a “mid three figure sum” by Sky, with an update to an order (adding new IP addresses, for example) amounts to half of that. Ongoing monitoring of blocked domains costs the ISP a “low four figure sum per month.”

BT

According to the court, BT says that it expends 60 days of employee time per year implementing section 97A orders via its Cleanfeed system and a further 12 days employee time elsewhere.

Each new order takes up 8 hours of in-house lawyers’ time plus 13 hours of general staff time. Updates to orders accrue an hour of costs in the legal department plus another 13 hours of blocking staff time.

EE

For each new order EE expends 30 minutes of staff time and a further three hours of time at BT whose staff it utilizes. Updates cost the same amount of time.

EE pays BT a “near four figure sum” for each update and expends 36 hours employee time each year on maintenance and management.

TalkTalk

TalkTalk’s legal team expends two hours implementing each new order while its engineers spend around around two and a half. Updates are believed to amount to the same. The company’s senior engineers burn through 60 hours each year dealing with blocking orders amounting to “a low six figure sum” per annum.

Virgin

Virgin estimates that Internet security staff costs amount to a “low five figure sum” per year. Interestingly the ISP said it spent more on blocking this year than last, partly due to its staff having to respond to comments about blocking on social media.

And the bills are only set to increase

According to Justice Arnold several additional blocking orders are currently pending. They are:

- An application by Paramount Home Entertainment Ltd and other film studios relating to seven websites said to be “substantially focused” on infringement of copyright in movies and TV shows

- An application by 1967 Ltd and other record companies in respect of 21 torrent sites

- An application by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp and other film studios in respect of eight websites said to be “substantially focused” on infringement of copyright in movies and TV shows

But these 36 new sites to be blocked on copyright grounds are potentially just the tip of a quite enormous iceberg now that blocking on trademark grounds is being permitted.

Richemont has identified approximately 239,000 sites potentially infringing on their trademarks, 46,000 of which have been confirmed as infringing and are waiting for enforcement action.

So who will pick up the bill?

“It is obvious that ISPs faced with the costs of implementing website orders have a choice. They may either absorb these costs themselves, resulting in slightly lower profit margins, or they may pass these costs on to their subscribers in the form of higher subscription charges,” Justice Arnold writes.

Since all ISPs will have to bear similar costs, it seems likely that the former will prove most attractive to them, as usual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fromhot1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The disclaimer
attention

Photo via

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

TorrentFreak: Uploaded.net Liable For Failing to Delete Copyright Content

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

uploaded-logoHaving content removed from the Internet is a task undertaken by most major entertainment industry companies. While laws differ around the world, the general understanding is that once notified of an infringement, Internet-based companies need to take action to prevent ongoing liability.

A case in Germany involving popular file-hosting service Uploaded.net has not only underlined this notion, but clarified that in some instances a hosting service can be held liable even if they aren’t aware of the content of a takedown notice.

It all began with anti-piracy company proMedia GmbH who had been working with their record label partners to remove unauthorized content from the Internet. The Hamburg-based company spotted a music album being made available on Uploaded so wrote to the company with a request for it to be removed.

“In the case at hand, a notice with regards to some infringing URLs on the file-hosting site was sent to the given abuse contact of the site,” Mirko Brüß, a lawyer with record label lawfirm Rasche Legal, told TorrentFreak.

However, three days later the album was still being made available so the lawfirm sent Uploaded an undertaking to cease and desist. When the file-hosting site still didn’t respond, Rasche Legal obtained a preliminary injunction against Uploaded.

“After it was served in Switzerland, the file-hoster objected and the court had an oral hearing in September,” Brüß explains.

In its response Uploaded appealed the injunction claiming it had never been aware of the takedown notices from proMedia GmbH. Lars Sobiraj of Tarnkappe told TF that Uploaded claimed to have received an empty Excel spreadsheet so didn’t react to it, preferring instead to receive plain text documents or complaints via its official takedown tool.

Rasche Legal later sent another email but Uploaded staff reportedly didn’t get a chance to read that either since an email server identified the correspondence as spam and deleted it.

“We did not believe this ‘story’ but thought they had just failed to process the notice expeditiously,” Brüß tolf TF.

In its judgment on the case the Hamburg District Court found that while service providers have no general obligations to monitor for infringing content on their services, the same cannot be said of infringements they have been made aware of.

However, the big question sat on Uploaded’s claims that it had never been aware of the infringements in question since it had never received the notices relating to them. In the event the Court found that sending the emails to Uploaded was enough to notify the service that infringements were taking place and that it must take responsibility for ending them.

“The Court followed our reasoning, meaning it is sufficient that the file-hoster actually receives the notice in a way that you can expect it to be read under normal circumstances,” Brüß says.

“There is a similar jurisdiction with regards to postal mail, where it is sufficient that the letter has reached your inbox and it is not necessary that you actually read the content of the letter in order for it to take legal effect. So here, we had proved that the takedown notice did reach the file-hoster’s mailserver, they only failed to act upon it.”

A ruling in the opposite direction would have opened up the possibility of other companies in a similar position to Uploaded blaming technical issues each time they failed to take down infringing content, Brüß explains. Instead, file-hosters are now required to respond quickly to complaints or face liability.

“So in essence, file-hosters need to make sure that they attain knowledge of all notices sent to them and act upon these notices expeditiously, or they face secondary (or even primary) liability. Also, the court stated that it does not matter by which means the notices are sent,” Brüß concludes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ushostpirate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: High Court Orders ISPs to Block Counterfeiting Websites

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

Following successful action by the world’s leading entertainment companies to have file-sharing sites blocked at the ISP level, it was perhaps inevitable that other companies with similar issues would tread the same path.

Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A. owns several well-known luxury brands including Cartier and Mont Blanc and for some time has tried to force sites selling counterfeit products to close down. Faced with poor results, in 2014 the company wrote to the UK’s leading ISPs – Sky, TalkTalk, BT, Virgin Media, EE and Telefonica/O2 – complaining that third party sites were infringing on Richemont trademarks.

Concerned that Richemont hadn’t done enough to close the sites down on its own and that blocking could affect legitimate trade, the ISPs resisted and the matter found itself before the High Court.

This morning a decision was handed down and it’s good news for Richemont. The ISPs named in the legal action must now restrict access to websites selling physical counterfeits in the same way they already restrict file-sharing sites.

The websites mentioned in the current order are cartierloveonline.com, hotcartierwatch.com, iwcwatchtop.com, replicawatchesiwc.com, 1iwc.com, montblancpensonlineuk.com, ukmontblancoutlet.co.uk . In addition, Richemont identified tens of thousands of additional domains that could be added in the future.

A Richemont spokesperson told TorrentFreak that the ruling represents a positive step in the fight to protect brands and customers from the sale of counterfeit goods online.

“We are pleased by this judgment and welcome the Court’s recognition that there is a public interest in preventing trade mark infringement, particularly where counterfeit goods are involved. The Courts had already granted orders requiring ISPs to block sites for infringement of copyright in relation to pirated content. This decision is a logical extension of that principle to trade marks,” the company said.

Wiggin LLP, the lawfirm at the heart of website blocking action for the entertainment industry, acted for Richemont in the case. The company says that today’s judgment holds benefits for both rightsholders and consumers.

“In a comprehensive judgment, the court has considered the enforcement methods that are presently available to trade mark owners when tackling infringement online. The court has concluded that Internet Service Providers play ‘an essential role’ and that the court can and should apply Article 11 of the Enforcement Directive to require the application of technical measures to impede infringement of trade marks,” Wiggin said.

According to a comment sent to TF by Arty Rajendra, Partner at IP law firm Rouse Legal, the decision is likely to be appealed.

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

TorrentFreak: New Github DMCA Policy Gives Alleged Infringers a Second Chance

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

githubLike other highly-trafficked domains relying heavily on user contributed content, coding and collaboration platform Github now publishes its own transparency report detailing copyright-related complaints received by the company.

Some of these DMCA notices have been reported here on TF in recent months, including one sent by the MPAA which effectively ended Popcorn Time’s presence on the site and another sent by Microsoft targeting an Xbox music app.

Now, in a move to bring more transparency and clarity to its copyright processes, Github has announced significant changes to the way it handles DMCA complaints. The company says that three major changes have been implemented in order to improve on-site experience and better serve users.

In the first instance, copyright owners will need to conduct their investigations as usual and send a properly formatted takedown notice to Github. Presuming it meets statutory requirements, Github will publish it in their transparency report and pass a link to the user in question.

At this point Github’s new policy begins to take effect. Previously the company would’ve immediately taken down the complained-about content but Github now says it wants to provide alleged infringers with a chance to put things right “whenever possible.”

24 hours to take action

To this end, Github says users will have the opportunity to modify or remove content within 24 hours of a complaint. Copyright holders will be notified that Github has given the affected user this leeway and it will be down to the user to inform Github within the allotted period that the appropriate changes have been made. Failure to do so will see the repository removed.

Despite this wiggle room, not all complaints will result in the luxury of a 24 hour ‘action’ period. Should a DMCA notice claim that the entire contents of a repository infringe, the repository in question will be removed “expeditiously.”

Forks will not be automatically disabled

The second significant change is that when Github receives a copyright complaint against a parent repository, it will not automatically disable project forks. For that to happen any complaint will have to specifically include not only the parent’s URL, but also the locations of all related forks.

“GitHub will not automatically disable forks when disabling a parent repository. This is because forks belong to different users, may have been altered in significant ways, and may be licensed or used in a different way that is protected by the fair-use doctrine,” Github explains.

Fighting back: Counter-notices

As required by law, users affected by takedown notices have a right of reply if they believe they’ve been wrongly targeted. Sufficiently detailed counter notices can be submitted to Github for forwarding to complaining rightsholders. They will also be published in the site’s transparency report.

This right of reply is very important and one that appears to be under utilized. Earlier this month Github published a complaint which targeted and took down a wide range of addons for the popular media player XBMC.

Apparently sent by ‘DMCA Secure’, a company that has no immediately visible web presence, the notice claimed to represent a wide range of copyright holders including Sony, Fox, Dreamworks, NFL and WWE, to name just a few.

The notice is unusual. While it’s common for the first three companies to team up, we’d never seen a notice featuring such a wide range of diverse rightsholders before. Also, while the functionality of the code could give rise to copyright issues, none of those companies own the copyrights to the code in question.

TF put it to Github that the complaint looked unusual and might even be bogus, but the company declined to comment on specific cases. Like many companies in similar positions, it appears Github has to take notices on face value and relies on users to submit counter-notices to air their complaints. None of the repositories in question have done so.

Github’s revamped DMCA policy can be found here, along with how-to guides on submitting takedown and counter notices.

While Github is well-known in the technology sector, it may come as a surprise just how popular the service is. Around seven million people use the site and according to Alexa, Github.com is the 127th most-visited domain in the world.

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

TorrentFreak: Leaked TPP Draft Reveals Tough Anti-Piracy Measures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is, if an agreement is ever reached.

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

TorrentFreak: Pre-Release Music Pirate Plead Guilty in Landmark Case

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

Earlier this month it was revealed that following the lead of the Federation Against Copyright Theft, the BPI would begin their own private prosecution against alleged content pirates.

Their case involves former members of now-defunct file-sharing links forum Dancing Jesus. The site was taken down in 2011 following an investigation carried out by the BPI and IFPI, with assistance from the US Department of Homeland Security.

Two people were arrested by City of London Police, the owner of the site and the forum’s top uploader. Homeland Security assisted UK police by seizing a Dancing Jesus server hosted in the United States.

The trial, which began on October 6, took place at Newcastle Crown Court. One defendant, site owner and admin Kane Robinson of South Shields, had already pleaded guilty to illegally distributing music back in January 2014.

Richard Graham, the site’s alleged top uploader, went into the trial with a “not guilty” plea, but after evidence was presented in court earlier this week the Leicestershire man changed his plea to guilty.

“The guilty verdict confirms that posting illegal online links to music is a criminal offense which economically harms musicians and the labels that support them,” said David Wood, Director of BPI’s Copyright Protection Unit.

“Pre-release piracy, in particular, robs musicians of artistic control, leaving them with no say in when and how their music – which has taken blood, sweat and tears to produce – is released.

The case is significant in a number of ways, not least the scale of online infringement connected to the pair’s guilty plea. Add in the fact that Dancing Jesus was particularly well-known as a venue to obtain pre-release content and this becomes the most important UK music industry case since the failed 2010 prosecution of the infamous OiNK BitTorrent tracker.

Graham and Robinson will be sentenced under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Their fate will be determined by Judge Sherwin early next month.

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

TorrentFreak: Freedom-Friendly Iceland Blocks The Pirate Bay

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

In 2013, copyright groups including the local equivalents of the RIAA (STEF) and MPAA (SMAIS) reported the operators of The Pirate Bay to Icelandic police. It had zero negative effect on the site.

So, with a public anti-piracy awareness campaign under their belts, STEF and SMAIS embarked on a strategy successfully employed by copyright holders in the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and other European countries. The groups issued demands for local ISPs to block not only The Pirate Bay, but also Deildu.net, Iceland’s most popular private torrent tracker.

Modifications to the country’s Copyright Act in 2010 authorized injunctions against intermediaries, so the chances of success seemed good. However, this was Iceland, a country strongly associated with freedom of speech. Could protection of copyrights trump that?

“This action doesn’t go against freedom of expression as it aims to prevent copyright infringement and protect the rights and income of authors, artists and producers,” the rightsholders insisted.

Initial legal action against ISPs faced issues, with one blocking request rejected on a procedural matter. Another featuring four plaintiffs was reduced to three when in May this year the Supreme Court decided that only music group STEF had the rights to claim injunctive relief.

But despite the setbacks, this week the rightsholders achieved the ruling they had been hoping for. The Reykjavík District Court handed down an injunction to ISPs Vodafone and Hringdu forcing them to block several domains belonging to The Pirate Bay and Deildu.

STEF Director of Policy Gudrun Bjork Bjarnadóttir told local media that the decision of the Court is an important event that will smooth the way for much-needed additional blockades.

“We will never reach a final victory in the battle so it makes sense for people to realize that it’s likely that new sites will spring up. However, following similar actions abroad visitor numbers to such sites have declined significantly,” Bjarnadóttir said.

The domains to be blocked include thepiratebay.se, thepiratebay.sx and thepiratebay.org, plus deildu.net and deildu.com. Currently the injunction applies to just two ISPs and it’s unclear whether there will be an attempt at expansion, but in the meantime the effort is likely to be a symbolic one.

The block against The Pirate Bay will be circumvented almost immediately due to the wide range of reverse proxy sites available and Deildu has already taken evasive action of its own. Within hours the private tracker announced a brand new domain – Iceland.pm – one that isn’t listed in the court order.

ISP Hringdu says that the Court ruling runs counter to company policies.

“It is clear that [the ruling] is not in harmony with Hringdu’s policy regarding net freedom,” director Kristinn Pétursson told Vísir. “The company has placed great emphasis on the idea that our customers should have unrestricted access to the internet.”

Neither of the ISPs has yet indicated an appeal to the Supreme Court.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Removes Pirate Bay Search Box and Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pirate Bay search box and sitelinks
tpbsitelinks

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

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

Pirate Bay ….
google-sitelinks-gone-tpb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Pirates Become Biggest Political Party in Local Czech Election

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

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

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

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

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

Pirate Party seats in Mariánské lázně
czp

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Teen Pirates Pay For Movies More Often Than Non-Pirates

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

sadpirateOver the past few years Australia has been labeled one of the world’s hotspots when it comes to online piracy, with movie and TV show companies criticizing the public for obtaining content without paying for it.

Countering, Australians have complained fiercely about being treated as second-class consumers, with products often appearing months after their debut in other territories. There are signs that entertainment companies are beginning to listen, but piracy will probably be a difficult habit to break in the short term.

A new study published today claims that not only are the numbers of pirates increasing, but they’re also pirating more frequently.

Commissioned by the IP Awareness Foundation which counts the MPA, Foxtel and other key industry players among its members, the study found that 29% of Aussie adults aged between 18-64 are regular or occasional pirates, up from 25% last year.

The anonymous study also reveals some interesting trends as teens progress towards adulthood. In the 12 to 13 year-old group active pirates made up 14% of respondents but just a year later this doubles. Among 14 to 15 year-olds, active pirates increased to 29%.

By the ages of 16 and 17 this figure had grown even further to 36%.

teen-pirates

It’s clear that the industry would like to have the older generation influence its children to download less or not at all and the study suggests that parental influence carries the most weight with teens.

Overall, 67% of respondents said it is their parents who provide the most guidance on how to behave online, with 19% citing schools and teachers. Interestingly, just 7% mentioned peers as an influence with 1% or less mentioning the government.

However, while parents appear to carry the most influence, the perils of illegal downloading aren’t at the top of their concerns. Not releasing personal details online was the most discussed topic, followed by virus and malware, unsuitable (18+) websites and care over financial details.

Although the topic of illegal downloading was last on the list overall, those who don’t pirate said their parents discussed the subject more than those who pirate regularly.

teen-parent

Whether the parental discussions over malware paid off isn’t clear, but 63% of teen pirates said they were aware that ads on pirate sites could contain malicious software. But while aware of the risks, most had experienced no problems, with just 13% claiming an infection when downloading movies or TV shows or clicking ads on a pirate site.

Perhaps of most interest is the finding that teen pirates engage in legal media consumption habits at similar or improved levels to their illegal ones. Furthermore, teens who don’t pirate appear to consume less content legally than their pirating counterparts.

For instance, while around 35% of active downloaders obtain a movie from the Internet at least once each month without paying, 38% also rent a movie or TV show legally. Among non-pirates, this figure is just 27%.

Equally, while 37% of pirates admit to illegally streaming content at least once a month, 69% pay to see movies at the cinema. Among the non-pirates, the figure is just 49%.

teen-download

The findings also show that pirates are more engaged when it comes to consuming legal media online digitally. Some 46% of teen pirates said they download movies and TV shows from services such as iTunes each month while among non-pirates the figure is just 29%.

In respect of finding illegal content, just two main methods are cited by the teen respondents. A total of 59% said they go directly to their favorite sites to find movies and TV shows, while 22% said they used a search engine such as Google or Bing.

The study concludes by suggesting that anti-piracy education should be focused on the younger generation, to educate children before they reach 13 years-old when peer pressure kicks in and parents have less involvement.

A good balance might also be to work out how to get non-pirating teens as involved in buying legal content as their pirating counterparts.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Group Plans to Block In Excess of 100 Sites

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

stop-blockedWhen copyright holders turn to the courts for a solution to their problems it’s very rare that dealing with one site, service or individual is the long-term aim. Legal actions are designed to send a message and important decisions in rightsholders’ favor often open the floodgates for yet more action.

This is illustrated perfectly by the march towards large-scale website blocking in several regions around the world.

A topic pushed off the agenda in the United States following the SOPA debacle, web blockades are especially alive and well in Europe and living proof that while The Pirate Bay might the initial target of Hollywood and the record labels, much bigger plans have always been in store.

A typical example is now emerging in Austria. Having spent years trying to have streaming sites Kino.to, Kinox.to and Movie4K blocked at the ISP level, anti-piracy group VAP has just achieved its aims. Several key local ISPs began blocking the sites this month but the Hollywood affiliated group has now admitted that they’ve had bigger plans in mind all along.

Speaking with DerStandard, VAP CEO Werner Müller has confirmed that his group will now work to have large numbers of additional sites banned at the ISP level.

Using a term often used by Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, Müller says his group has compiled a list of sites considered by the movie industry to be “structurally infringing”. The sites are expected to be the leaders in the torrent, linking and streaming sector, cyberlockers included. IFPI has already confirmed it will be dealing with The Pirate Bay and two other sites.

The VAP CEO wouldn’t be drawn on exact numbers, but did confirm that a “low three digit” number of domains are in the crosshairs for legal action.

Although Austria is in the relatively early stages, a similar situation has played out in the UK, with rightsholders obtaining blocks against some of the more famous sites and then streamlining the process to add new sites whenever they see fit. Dozens of sites are now unavailable by regular means.

If VAP has its way the blockades in Austria will be marginally more broad than those in the UK, affecting the country’s eighth largest service providers and affecting around 95% of subscribers.

Of course, whenever web blockades are mentioned the topic of discussion turns to circumvention. In Austria the blockades are relatively weak, with only DNS-based mitigation measures in place. However, VAP predicts the inevitable expansion towards both DNS and IP address blocking and intends to head off to court yet again to force ISPs to implement them.

Describing the Internet as a “great machine” featuring good and bad sides, Müller says that when ordering website blocks the courts will always appreciate the right to freedom of expression.

“But there’s no human right to Bruce Willis,” he concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: TVMC Battles Popcorn Time Via Google Play

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

After months of prime-time exposure the various Popcorn Time apps have become some of the most talked about file-sharing applications around today. Almost every other week the application, in one guise or another, becomes a newsworthy event.

However, the idea of presenting content in a pretty interface is not new. XBMC, now officially known as the Kodi Entertainment Center, has been a popular choice amongst movie and TV show fans for many years. While the app itself provides little direct access to content, a myriad of third-party plugins streamlines the process massively.

That being said, in terms of simplicity Popcorn Time has the market sewn up. The straightforward install and configuration process is a snap for almost anyone and while a fully-loaded XBMC/Kodi setup beats it in many respects, getting that setup right is not easy for beginners.

With that in mind the people at TVAddons think they have a solution. Currently only available on Android, TVMC is XBMC/Kodi but in a convenient and almost ready-to-go package. Once the software is installed the user is guided through a no-fail setup process to activate the main plugins that provide access to a wide range of movies, TV shows and sports.

Despite the smooth setup, it’s still not quite Popcorn Time in terms of simplicity of interface, but content-wise it appears to hold all the cards with direct access to PrimeWire, Project Free TV, IceFilms, USTVnow and Veetle, among others. Legal content is available from all of these sites, but the decision of what to view will be down to the user.

While Popcorn Time is BitTorrent-based, TVMC pulls content from streaming sites. This, its creators say, means their system is more secure for users.

“Unlike the popular app Popcorn Time which gives you access to similar
content, through torrent technology instead of streaming links, TVMC does
not turn the end-user’s device into a server, it simply streams content
directly from file hosts such as GorillaVid, NovaMov, Billion Uploads,” TVAddons say.

The other slight advantage TVMC has over Popcorn Time is availability. Unlike its rival, TVMC is currently sitting on Google Play’s store ready for download. At $0.88 its affordable, but definitely not as cheap as the current free version of Android Popcorn Time. However, for those prepared to do a manual install, TVMC is available for free via the TVAddons site.

Overall, TVMC is really XBMC for beginners but the big question now is how long the software will remain accessible on Google Play. History tells us that if it’s still downloadable this time next week, that will be a major achievement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Police Drop Charges Against Industrial-Scale ‘Pirate’

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

cityoflondonpoliceEarly September news broke of another significant anti-piracy action carried out by City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit.

After traveling 200 miles from their London base, PIPCU officers were assisted by Greater Manchester Police in raid carried out on a residential address in the Cheetham Hill area.

Their target was Zain Parvez, a 27-year-old whom police believed was the operator of a series of websites (CoolSport.se, CoolSport.tv and KiwiSportz.tv) which allegedly offered unauthorized access to subscription-only TV services, including matches from the Premier League.

Following Parvez’s arrest, police used the word “industrial” to describe the scale of the operation, having seized 12 servers said to have illegally streamed sports globally. The picture below was released to the press to underline the gravity of the situation.

Coolraid

Instead of releasing him on bail, Parvez was kept in custody under suspicion of offenses under the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988, engaging in money laundering, conspiracy to defraud and possessing or controlling an article for use in fraud.

But now, six weeks later, a surprising development appears to have undermined the case. After an appearance before magistrates the case went to Manchester Crown Court, at which point it was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

“Following consultations with the CPS, a decision has been made to cease the initial charges put before the court in relation to a man arrested by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit on September 1 in Manchester,” a PIPCU spokesperson said.

PIPCU says the investigation into Parvez’s alleged operation is still ongoing but with all the main charges now dropped, it’s unclear where the case can now go.

Parvez’s detention marked the third occasion an alleged streaming site operator had been arrested in the UK, but to date there has been no news of a successful prosecution.

The domains previously operated by Parvez are now all redirecting to a suspicious-looking site promoting Alibaba share deals, not City of London Police’s ‘seized site’ banner as previously might have been expected.

TorrentFreak contacted Parvez for comment and will update this article with any response.

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

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

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

22jumpThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

22 Jump Street is the most downloaded movie.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

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

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

TorrentFreak: Twin Peaks Piracy Surges In Anticipation of Comeback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few Twin Peaks downloads
twinp

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

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

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

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

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