Posts tagged ‘anonymous’

TorrentFreak: RIAA Labels Want $22 Million Piracy Damages From MP3Skull

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

skullEarlier this year a coalition of record labels including Capitol Records, Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records and Universal Music Group filed a lawsuit against MP3Skull.

With millions of visitors per month the MP3 download site had been one of the prime sources of pirated music for a long time.

Several months have passed since the RIAA members submitted their complaint and since the owners of MP3Skull failed to respond, the labels are now asking for a default judgement.

In their motion filed last Friday at a Florida District Court, the record labels describe MP3Skull as a notorious pirate site that promotes copyright infringement on a commercial scale.

“Defendants designed, promote, support and maintain the MP3Skull website for the well-known, express and overarching purpose of reproducing, distributing, performing and otherwise exploiting unlimited copies of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings without any authorization or license.

“By providing to the public the fruits of Plaintiffs’ investment of money, labor and expertise, MP3Skull has become one of the most notorious pirate websites in the world,” the labels add (pdf).

Besides offering a comprehensive database of links to music tracks, the labels also accuse the site’s operators of actively promoting piracy through social media. Among other things, MP3Skull helped users to find pirated tracks after copyright holders removed links from the site.

Based on the blatant piracy carried out by operators and users, the labels argue that MP3Skull is liable for willful copyright infringement.

Listing 148 music tracks as evidence, the companies ask for the maximum $150,000 in statutory damages for each, bringing the total to more than $22 million.

“Under these egregious circumstances, Plaintiffs should be awarded statutory damages in the full amount of $150,000 for each of the 148 works identified in the Complaint, for a total of $22,200,000,” the motion reads.

In addition the RIAA labels request a permanent injunction to make it harder for MP3Skull from continuing to operate the site. The proposed injunction (pdf) prevents domain name registrars and registries form providing services to MP3Skull and orders the transfer of existing domains to the copyright holders.

While a default judgment would be a big hit to the site, most damage has already been done. Last year MP3Skull was listed among the 500 most-visited websites on the Internet according to Alexa, but after Google downranked the site it quickly lost its traffic.


The site subsequently hopped from domain to domain and is currently operating from the .ninja TLD with only a fraction of the number of users it had before.

Given that MP3Juices failed to appear before the court it’s likely that the District Court will approve the proposed default judgment. Whether the record labels will ever see a penny of the claimed millions is doubtful though, as the true owners of the MP3Skull site remain unknown.

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

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Accuses U.S. of Unfair Tactics, Seeks Stay

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

After suffering ten postponements the extradition hearing of Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk was never likely to be a smooth, straightforward affair, even when it eventually got underway in the Auckland District Court.

The first few days of the hearing were spent by Crown lawyer Christine Gordon QC, who has been acting on behalf the U.S., painting a highly negative picture of the quartet. Incriminating correspondence, culled from their Skype accounts, suggested that there had been knowledge of infringement, she claimed.

After the U.S. finally wrapped up its case last Thursday, Judge Dawson was asked to decide when several applications filed by Dotcom’s team to drop the hearing would be heard. Would it be appropriate to deal with them before the accused took the stand to fight the extradition, or at another time?

In the event Judge Dawson decided that the stay applications – which cover the U.S. freeze on Dotcom’s funds and other ‘unreasonable’ behavior, plus allegations of abuse of process by Crown lawyers – should be heard first.

During this morning’s session defense attorney Grant Illingworth QC motivated the request to stay the case. Illingworth told the Court that due to the ongoing U.S.-ordered freeze on his clients’ funds (and the prospect that any funds sent to the U.S. would have the same fate), they are unable to retain experts on U.S. law.

“We say the issue is that they cannot use restrained funds to pay experts in US law, if those experts are not New Zealand citizens,” Illingworth said.

“Access to such expertise is necessary but being prevented by the US. It means not having the ability to call evidence but also the ability to get advice so counsel can present their case.”

Illingworth said the unfair tactics amounted to an abuse of process which has reduced New Zealand-based lawyers to a position of dealing with U.S. law on a “guess work” basis which could leave them open to accusations of being both negligent and incompetent.

“In any other case we would seek expert advice,” Illingworth said, but in this situation obtaining that is proving impossible. No defense means that the hearing is fundamentally unfair, he argued.

In this afternoon’s session, attention turned to claims by the United States that Bram van der Kolk uploaded a pre-release copy of the Liam Neeson movie ‘Taken’ to Megaupload and shared links with friends.

The U.S. says that nine people downloaded the thriller but lawyers for Van Der Kolk insist that whatever the case, the movie was not ‘pre-release’ since it was already available in more than two dozen countries during 2008. The movie was premiered in the United States during 2009. Pre-release movie piracy is a criminal offense under U.S. law.

The extradition hearing is now in its third week and is expected to last another three, but that could change. If the applications currently being heard are successful, the Judge could order a new case or might even stay the extradition hearing altogether.

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 – 10/05/15

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

jurassThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Jurassic World 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
1 (…) Jurassic World 7.2 / trailer
2 (1) Tomorrowland 6.6 / trailer
3 (2) Terminator Genisys 6.8 / trailer
4 (3) San Andreas 6.2 / trailer
5 (4) Avengers: Age of Ultron 7.8 / trailer
6 (…) Southpaw 7.6 / trailer
7 (5) Minions (Webrip) 6.7 / trailer
8 (6) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (HDRip) 7.7 / trailer
9 (9) Magic Mike XXL 5.9 / trailer
10 (…) Inside Out (HDrip) 8.5 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: The Confessions of a Camming Movie Pirate

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

Last week TF published an interview with Philip Danks, the West Midlands man handed the toughest ever UK sentence for recording a movie in a cinema and uploading it to the Internet. After receiving 33 months for his crimes, Danks’ message was one of caution.

“Simply put, prison isn’t worth the kudos you get from being the first to leak a movie, stay away from it all and be happy with your family!” he said last week.

But despite the words of warning, what Danks did is still pretty intriguing. So-called ‘movie camming’ is not only very dangerous but also shrouded in mystery. So what made this guy do what he did?

“My original motivation was to be the first to get a copy of a film worldwide, which would certainly drag thousands of new unique visitors to my website (Bit Buddy), increasing members and site activity, as at the time there was just over 200 members which is extremely small,” Danks informs TF.

“I decided on Fast 6 due to the popularity and demand for the film as it was by far the most highly anticipated and eagerly awaited film. It was hugely popular and I knew demand would be high for that film.”

After settling on a film to ‘cam’, Danks had to pick a location. In the end he chose a Showcase cinema, located not far from his Walsall home in central England.

Showcase – Walsall


“The cinema I chose was my local cinema just 4 – 5 miles away, and I chose the first available viewing with tickets available. I only decided on the day that I would do it, so it was spur and heat of the moment thing,” he explains.


“I went into town and brought a second hand camcorder from a pawn shop for £70, however it only had a 60 minute battery life and I had to return to get a better camcorder. The second one I chose had brilliant reviews online for battery life and quality, so I chose that one for £80.”

The digital camera had no storage medium, so to capture the whole thing in decent quality Danks had to spend a little extra on 16GB SD card. However, other problems quickly raised their head and would need attention if his cover wasn’t to be immediately blown.

“I realized quite quickly that the device was extremely visible in the dark, so I covered all LED lights with insulation tape,” Danks says.

Also proving troublesome was the brightness of the camera’s LCD screen. Covering that so early on would mean that focusing on the cinema screen would be a hit-and-miss affair and at worse a complete disaster. Danks decided to take the risk on the initial focusing setup and then used a small black bag to cover the LCD.

Location and position

As anyone who has watched a ‘cam’ copy will know, the positioning of the ‘cammer’ is vital to a decent recording. Too far to the left or right of the big screen and angles can creep in. Too far forward or back raises other issues, including other movie goers causing annoying black silhouettes every time they move in front of the camera.

To avoid the latter and of course detection, Danks decided to enroll some accomplices.

“I decided that a few friends in front, to the side and to the back of me, was enough cover to keep the staff from seeing me, so I invited a few friends along, one of which was Michael Bell, my co-defendant,” Danks says.

“I got the focus right while the camcorder was in my lap, meaning I could hold it with my legs and keep it fairly steady, also providing a little more cover from staff as I looked like I just had my hands in my lap.”

For readers putting themselves in Danks’ shoes, fear of getting caught during the next two hours would probably be high on the list of emotions. However, Danks says he wasn’t really concerned about being discovered and was more interested in the end result.

“While I was actually recording my only thoughts were whether or not the quality would be good enough for a release, and if the sound would be in sync with the video. I blocked out any thoughts of getting caught and just got on with the job at hand,” he explains.

The Great Escape

Soon enough the movie was over. Danks hadn’t been caught in the act but there was still a possibility that he’d been monitored and a welcoming party was waiting for him in the cinema lobby. With that in mind, he set about mitigating the risks.

“As soon as the movie was over I concealed the camcorder down my trousers and the memory chip was hidden in a separate place – in my sock. I knew cinema staff could not perform a search without a police officer present,” he says.

But what if staff were outside ready to give him a hard time? Danks had thought about that too and already had an escape strategy in mind.

“I planned to simply run if I got caught. I know that any attempt to detain me without the authorities would be unlawful arrest and kidnap, so that was no concern,” he says.

In the event his exit from the cinema was trouble free. All that remained was to get the video off the card and onto the Internet.

Conversion and uploading

“I had an SD card reader on my laptop, so transferring the file was no issue, although encoding was. I had problems with audio synchronization and had to adjust the sound offset by around 0.8s to get it just right after conversion to AVI,” he recalls.

“Another problem I ran into was file size. Because the movie was so long the total file was around 6GB separated into 1GB chunks, so I first had to use a video joiner to combine all the chunks in the right order before I could compress and reduce the final size. In total it took over six hours to convert and upload the file for the first person apart from me to have a copy.”

The whole point of recording Fast 6 was for Danks to be able to claim first place in the race to upload the movie to the Internet and he wanted his own site, Bit Buddy, to share in the glory.

“I decided to first upload the movie to Bit Buddy, date stamps would then prove my site was the first in the world to have a real copy. I then decided the best place for it to be picked up was on, KickAssTorrents and ThePirateBay, because I know dump sites scrape all three on a regular basis,” he says.

“Afterwards I simply went to sleep, but by this time it was 6am and I was back up at 10am to check on things. The amount of visitors to my site caused it to crash my home servers (three of them) because I simply wasn’t prepared for the traffic.”

So far so good

Danks says that in the aftermath he felt happy with what he’d done. The movie had been recorded, he hadn’t been caught, and his site had been placed on the map. That desire to be first had paid off with the feelings he’d expected.

“The next day I felt great. I felt like I had achieved something, something no one else could do, and that was get the tightest film of the year security-wise and plaster it over the Internet. By the time I checked it lunch time it had around 50,000 seeders and was on every worthy site going, so I was very proud,” he recalls.

Game over

As detailed in our earlier article, the Federation Against Copyright Theft had been watching Danks’ activities online. That led to an oversized police response and his subsequent arrest.

“It was only five days later when I was arrested that it dawned on me and I realized how much trouble I was in. However at the time I just simply didn’t care, I had one up on the fatcats in Hollywood and that was all I was bothered about,” he recalls.

“It wasn’t until over a year later when I was actually in court that I realized I was facing a lengthy custodial sentence for what I had done, and that the Hollywood fatcats had actually beaten me at my own game.

“Going to prison is technically the ultimate punishment, and that’s what they did to me. So really I was the one who lost out long term, losing my home, my job, my car and my freedom. That’s not winning.”

Moving on

Danks is now out of prison and on license, which means he has to be home by 7pm and cannot leave again until 7am. He spends his free time programming and playing poker in an attempt to build up his funds to pre-prison levels. And, since there has been so much interest in his case, he’s also hoping to commit his experiences to film via his own documentary.

Unless someone already in the field is interested in working with him, in which case TF will be happy to forward their details.

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

TorrentFreak: Thousands of “Spies” Are Watching Trackerless Torrents

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

spyThe beauty of BitTorrent is that thousands of people can share a single file simultaneously to speed up downloading. In order for this to work, trackers announce the IP-addresses of all file-sharers in public.

The downside of this approach is that anyone can see who’s sharing a particular file. It’s not even required for monitoring outfits to actively participate.

This ‘vulnerability’ is used by dozens of tracking companies around the world, some of which send file-sharers warning letters, or worse. However, the “spies” are not just getting info from trackers, they also use BitTorrent’s DHT.

Through DHT, BitTorrent users share IP-addresses with other peers. Thus far, little was known about the volume of monitoring through DHT, but research from Peersm’s Aymeric Vitte shows that it’s rampant.

Through various experiments Vitte consistently ran into hundreds of thousands of IP-addresses that show clear signs of spying behavior.

The spies are not hard to find and many monitor pretty much all torrents hashes they can find. Blocking them is not straightforward though, as they frequently rotate IP-addresses and pollute swarms.

“The spies are organized to monitor automatically whatever exists in the BitTorrent network, they are easy to find but difficult to follow since they might change their IP addresses and are polluting the DHT with existing peers not related to monitoring activities,” Vitte writes.

The research further found that not all spies are actively monitoring BitTorrent transfers. Vitte makes a distinction between level 1 and level 2 spies, for example.

The first group is the largest and spreads IP-addresses of random peers and the more dangerous level 2 spies, which are used to connect file-sharers to the latter group. They respond automatically, and even return peers for torrents that don’t exist.

The level 2 spies are the data collectors, some if which use quickly changing IP-addresses. They pretend to offer a certain file and wait for BitTorrent users to connect to them.

The image below shows how rapidly the spies were discovered in one of the experiments and how quickly they rotate IP-addresses.


Interestingly, only very few of the level 2 spies actually accept data from an alleged pirate, meaning that most can’t proof without a doubt that pirates really shared something (e.g. they could just be checking a torrent without downloading).

According to Vitte, this could be used by accused pirates as a defense.

“That’s why people who receive settlement demands while using only DHT should challenge this, and ask precisely what proves that they downloaded a file,” he says.

After months of research and several experiments Vitte found that there are roughly 3,000 dangerous spies. These include known anti-piracy outfits such as Trident Media Guard, but also unnamed spies that use rotating third party IPs so they are harder to track.

Since many monitoring outfits constantly change their IP-addresses, static blocklists are useless. At TF we are no fans of blocklists in general, but Vitte believes that the dynamic blocklist he has developed provides decent protection, with near instant updates.

This (paid) blocklist is part of the Open Source Torrent-Live client which has several built in optimizations to prevent people from monitoring downloads. People can also use it to built and maintain a custom blocklist.

In his research paper Vitte further proposes several changes to the BitTorrent protocol which aim to make it harder to spy on users. He hopes other developers will pick this up to protect users from excessive monitoring.

Another option to stop the monitoring is to use an anonymous VPN service or proxy, which hides ones actual IP-address.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Activities Get VPNs Banned at Torrent Sites

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

spyFor the privacy-conscious Internet user, VPNs and similar services are now considered must-have tools. In addition to providing much needed security, VPNs also allow users to side-step geo-blocking technology, a useful ability for today’s global web-trotter.

While VPNs are often associated with file-sharing activity, it may be of interest to learn that they are also used by groups looking to crack down on the practice. Just like file-sharers it appears that anti-piracy groups prefer to work undetected, as events during the past few days have shown.

Earlier this week while doing our usual sweep of the world’s leading torrent sites, it became evident that at least two popular portals were refusing to load. Finding no complaints that the sites were down, we were able to access them via publicly accessible proxies and as a result thought no more of it.

A day later, however, comments began to surface on Twitter that some VPN users were having problems accessing certain torrent sites. Sure enough, after we disabled our VPN the affected sites sprang into action. Shortly after, reader emails to TF revealed that other users were experiencing similar problems.

Eager to learn more, TF opened up a dialog with one of the affected sites and in return for granting complete anonymity, its operator agreed to tell us what had been happening.

“The IP range you mentioned was used for massive DMCA crawling and thus it’s been blocked,” the admin told us.

Intrigued, we asked the operator more questions. How do DMCA crawlers manifest themselves? Are they easy to spot and deal with?

“If you see 15,000 requests from the same IP address after integrity checks on the IP’s browsers for the day, you can safely assume its a [DMCA] bot,” the admin said.

From the above we now know that anti-piracy bots use commercial VPN services, but do they also access the sites by other means?

“They mostly use rented dedicated servers. But sometimes I’ve even caught them using Hola VPN,” our source adds. Interestingly, it appears that the anti-piracy activities were directed through the IP addresses of Hola users without them knowing.

Once spotted the IP addresses used by the aggressive bots are banned. The site admin wouldn’t tell TF how his system works. However, he did disclose that sizable computing resources are deployed to deal with the issue and that the intelligence gathered proves extremely useful.

Of course, just because an IP address is banned at a torrent site it doesn’t necessarily follow that a similar anti-DMCA system is being deployed. IP addresses are often excluded after being linked to users uploading spam, fakes and malware. Additionally, users can share IP addresses, particularly in the case of VPNs. Nevertheless, the banning of DMCA notice-senders is a documented phenomenon.

Earlier this month Jonathan Bailey at Plagiarism Today revealed his frustrations when attempting to get so-called “revenge porn” removed from various sites.

“Once you file your copyright or other notice of abuse, the host, rather than remove the material at question, simply blocks you, the submitter, from accessing the site,” Bailey explains.

“This is most commonly done by blocking your IP address. This means, when you come back to check and see if the site’s content is down, it appears that the content, and maybe the entire site, is offline. However, in reality, the rest of the world can view the content, it’s just you that can’t see it,” he notes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bailey advises a simple way of regaining access to a site using these methods.

“I keep subscriptions with multiple VPN providers that give access to over a hundred potential IP addresses that I can use to get around such tactics,” he reveals.

The good news for both file-sharers and anti-piracy groups alike is that IP address blocks like these don’t last forever. The site we spoke with said that blocks on the VPN range we inquired about had already been removed. Still, the cat and mouse game is likely to continue.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Sites Remove Millions of Links to Pirate Content

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

deleteEntertainment industry groups including the RIAA and MPAA view BitTorrent sites as a major threat. The owners of most BitTorrent sites, however, believe they do nothing wrong.

While it’s common knowledge that The Pirate Bay refuses to remove any torrents, all of the other major BitTorrent sites do honor DMCA-style takedown requests.

Several copyright holders make use of these takedown services to remove infringing content, resulting in tens of thousands of takedown requests per month.

Bitsnoop is one of the prime targets. The site boasts one of the largest torrent databases on the Internet, more than 24 million files in total. This number could have been higher though, as the site has complied with 2,220,099 takedown requests over the years.

The overview below shows that most of the takedown notices received by Bitsnoop were sent by Remove Your Media. Other prominent names such as the RIAA and Microsoft also appear in the list of top senders.


As one of the largest torrent sites, KickassTorrents (KAT) is also frequently contacted by copyright holders.

The site doesn’t list as many torrents as Bitsnoop does, but with tens of thousands of takedown notices per month it receives its fair share of takedown requests.

The KAT team informs TF that they removed 26,060 torrents over the past month, and a total of 856,463 since they started counting.

Torrent sites are not the only ones targeted. Copyright holders also ask Google to indirectly remove access to infringing torrents that appear in its search results. Interestingly, Google receives more requests for Bitsnoop and KAT than the sites themselves do.

Google’s transparency report currently lists 3,902,882 Bitsnoop URLs and several million for KickassTorrents’ most recent domain names. The people at TorrentTags noticed this as well and recently published some additional insights from their own database.

Despite the proper takedown policies it’s hard for torrent sites to escape criticism. On the one hand users complain that their torrents are vanishing. On the other, copyright holders are not happy with the constant stream of newly uploaded torrents.

Not all torrent sites are happy with the takedown procedure either. ExtraTorrent doesn’t keep track of the number of takedown requests the site receives, but the operator informs TF that many contain errors or include links that point to different domains.

Still, most torrent sites feel obligated to accept takedown notices and will continue to do so in order to avoid further trouble.

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

TorrentFreak: Comcast User Hit With 112 DMCA Notices in 48 Hours

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

Every day, DMCA-style notices are sent to regular Internet users who use BitTorrent to share copyrighted material. These notices are delivered to users’ Internet service providers who pass them on in the hope that customers correct their behavior.

The most well-known notice system in operation in the United States is the so-called “six strikes” scheme, in which the leading recording labels and movie studios send educational warning notices to presumed pirates. Not surprisingly, six-strikes refers to users receiving a maximum of six notices. However, content providers outside the scheme are not bound by its rules – sometimes to the extreme.

According to a lawsuit filed this week in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (pdf), one unlucky Comcast user was subjected not only to a barrage of copyright notices on an unprecedented scale, but during one of the narrowest time frames yet.

The complaint comes from Rotten Records who state that the account holder behind a single Comcast IP address used BitTorrent to share the discography of Dog Fashion Disco, a long-since defunct metal band previously known as Hug the Retard.

“Defendant distributed all of the pieces of the Infringing Files allowing others to assemble them into a playable audio file,” Rotten Records’ attorney Flynn Wirkus Young explain.

Considering Rotten Records have been working with Rightscorp on other cases this year, it will come as no surprise that the anti-piracy outfit is also involved in this one. And boy have they been busy tracking this particular user. In a single 48 hour period, Rightscorp hammered the Comcast subscriber with more than two DMCA notices every hour over a single torrent.

“Rightscorp sent Defendant 112 notices via Defendant’s ISP Comcast from June 15, 2015 to June 17, 2015 demanding that Defendant stop illegally distributing Plaintiff’s work,” the lawsuit reads.

“Defendant ignored each and every notice and continued to illegally distribute Plaintiff’s work.”


While it’s clear that the John Doe behind IP address shouldn’t have been sharing the works in question (if he indeed was the culprit and not someone else), the suggestion to the Court that he or she systematically ignored 112 demands to stop infringing copyright is stretching the bounds of reasonable to say the least.

trolloridiotIn fact, Court documents state that after infringement began sometime on June 15, the latest infringement took place on June 16 at 11:49am, meaning that the defendant may well have acted on Rightscorp’s notices within 24 hours – and that’s presuming that Comcast passed them on right away, or even at all.

Either way, the attempt here is to portray the defendant as someone who had zero respect for Rotten Record’s rights, even after being warned by Rightscorp more than a hundred and ten times. Trouble is, all of those notices covered an alleged infringing period of less than 36 hours – hardly a reasonable time in which to react.

Still, it’s unlikely the Court will be particularly interested and will probably issue an order for Comcast to hand over their subscriber’s identity so he or she can be targeted by Rotten Records for a cash settlement.

Rotten has targeted Comcast users on several earlier occasions, despite being able to sue the subscribers of any service provider. Notably, while Comcast does indeed pass on Rightscorp’s DMCA takedown notices, it strips the cash settlement demand from the bottom.

One has to wonder whether Rightscorp and its client are trying to send the ISP a message with these lawsuits.

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

TorrentFreak: Copyright Trolls Announce UK Anti-Piracy Invasion

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

trollsignSo-called copyright trolls were a common occurrence in the UK half a decade ago, when many Internet subscribers received settlement demands for allegedly downloading pirated files.

After one of the key players went bankrupt the focus shifted to other countries, but now they’re back. One of the best known trolling outfits has just announced the largest anti-piracy push in the UK for many years.

The renewed efforts began earlier this year when the makers of “The Company You Keep” began demanding cash from many Sky Broadband customers.

This action was spearheaded by Maverick Eye, a German outfit that tracks and monitors BitTorrent piracy data that forms the basis of these campaigns. Today, the company says that this was just the beginning.

Framed as one of the largest anti-piracy campaigns in history, Maverick Eye says it teamed up with law firm Hatton & Berkeley and other key players to launch a new wave of settlement demands.

“Since July this year, Hatton & Berkeley and Maverick Eye have been busy working with producers, lawyers, key industry figures, investors, partners, and supporters to develop a program to protect the industry and defend the UK cinema against rampant piracy online,” Maverick Eye says.

“The entertainment industry can expect even more from these experts as they continue the fight against piracy in the UK.”

The companies have yet to announce which copyright holders are involved, but Maverick Eye is already working with the makers of the movies Dallas Buyers Club, The Cobbler and Survivor in other countries.

Most recently, they supported a series of lawsuits against several Popcorn Time users in the U.S., and they also targeted BitTorrent users in Canada and Australia.

Hatton & Berkeley commonly offers administrative services and says it will provide “essential infrastructure” for the UK anti-piracy campaign.

“Hatton and Berkeley stands alongside our colleagues in an international operation that has so far yielded drastic reductions in streaming, torrenting and illegal downloads across Europe,” the company announces.

In the UK it is relatively easy for copyright holders to obtain the personal details of thousands of subscribers at once, which means that tens of thousands of people could be at risk of being targeted.

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

TorrentFreak: Verizon Fights Copyright Troll Demands in Court

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

verizon-progressMalibu Media, the Los Angeles based company behind the ‘X-Art’ adult movies, is one of the most active copyright trolls in the United States.

The company has filed thousands of lawsuits in recent years, targeting Internet subscribers whose accounts were allegedly used to share Malibu’s films.

These cases generally don’t go to trial. Instead, the adult movie studio obtains a subpoena from the court so it can ask Internet providers to expose the accused subscribers.

Verizon is one of the ISPs which is often targeted, and the company has responded to thousands of subpoenas from Malibu alone, without complaining. However, a broad subpoena that arrived a few days ago is a bridge too far for Verizon.

The subpoena was issued in a case currently before the Southern District of New York.

To prove that a Verizon subscriber is guilty, Malibu Media requested additional information from the ISP including private communications with the subscriber, technical details about its modems and a deposition of Verizon employees.

Verizon, however, does not plan to comply and has asked the court for support. The ISP begins its reply with a general overview of how copyright trolls work, noting that their practices cost providers a lot of time and resources.

“These ‘Doe’ cases impose undue burdens upon the ISPs, including Verizon, who have been asked to respond to thousands of subpoenas from Malibu Media. The subpoenas have required a large amount of Verizon’s employees’ time to evaluate and respond to competing and sometimes overlapping requests for information,” the ISP writes (pdf).

Verizon points out that these piracy lawsuits are increasingly being scrutinized by the courts, some of which have compared it to an “extortion scheme.”

Aside from the general burdens Verizon notes that Malibu should not be allowed to call in Verizon employees from another state for a deposition on such a short notice.

“The subpoena here improperly demanded that Verizon’s employees, who work in Arlington, Virginia, and reside nearby, travel to San Angelo, Texas, on short notice for a deposition and to bring documents with them.”

In addition, the information requested by Malibu Media is not relevant or outside the scope of the Cable Act, which prevents certain privacy sensitive data from being shared.

“The additional information now sought by Plaintiff’s subpoena — correspondence between Verizon and the subscriber, information about the rental of modems or other equipment, and Verizon’s general policies and procedures — is either irrelevant, more properly sought from a party to litigation, or outside the scope of discovery contemplated by the Cable Act,” Verizon writes.

The above clearly shows that Verizon is taking a stand. This could mean that Malibu Media’s request may hurt the company’s litigation efforts in the long run, as copyright troll watcher SJD suggests.

“The critical gear of the well-oiled extortion machine is the relationship between the troll and ISPs. We see a small crack in this gear, and I really hope this crack will grow over time,” she writes.

Currently, Verizon and other ISPs don’t oppose subpoenas that request personal details of subscribers based on an IP-address, but this may change in the future.

It’s now up to judge Katherine Forrest to decide whether the requested subpoena for additional information indeed goes too far. Forrest previously likened Malibu’s practices to “harassment,” which may be factored into the decision.

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Suffers Downtime

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

pirate bayThe Pirate Bay has become unreachable since this morning.

It’s currently not clear what’s causing the problems. There was a similar outage yesterday which lasted a few hours.

What we do know is that the site’s domain names are not the culprit.

The Pirate Bay currently displays a CloudFlare error message across all domain names, suggesting that TPB’s servers are unresponsive.


With the raid of last year still fresh in memory some fear the worst, but these concerns are unwarranted for now.

In fact, the site is still accessible via the Tor network (through http://uj3wazyk5u4hnvtk.onion/), including the popular Pirate Browser.

The Tor traffic goes through a separate server and works just fine.

TorrentFreak reached out to The Pirate Bay team for a comment on the situation and we will update this article if we hear back.

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

TorrentFreak: Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Microsoft ‘Shamed’ as Piracy Sponsors

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

ford-logoAs part of increasing efforts by the world’s largest entertainment companies to crack down on Internet piracy, various initiatives are seeking to deprive so-called ‘pirate’ sites of their income.

In addition to making it difficult for sites to process payments using credit card companies such as Visa and Mastercard, and receive and pay out funds using PayPal, pressure is also being applied to advertisers. Since many sites rely on advertising for much of their income the theory is that once those funds dry up, sites will begin to close.

The latest country indicating a readiness to take action on this front is Russia. Despite having a reputation for harboring dozens of large unlicensed sites, the Russian government says it is now preparing to ‘out’ some of the world’s largest companies as sponsors of piracy portals.

In the weeks to come the Ministry of Communications says it will publish a list of 100 companies that often advertise on pirate sites but in the meantime has provided a small sample of the kind of international businesses people should expect to find on the list.

Car manufacturers including Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Mazda and Volvo are all being accused of being pirate sponsors by the government, alongside technology giant Microsoft and personal grooming product company Gillette.

“We encourage people to come to their senses. Brands are proud of the fact that they are white and fluffy. We will publish a list of all those who advertise on pirate sites,” says Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin.

The Ministry says that together with representatives from the media industry it will create a “board of shame” which will publicize the names of companies who fail to pull their ads from sites.

The revelations were made during the ‘Cinema Expo’ film industry conference in St. Petersburg this week, where it was claimed that advertisers such as those detailed above are pumping in excess of $70m per year into local unlicensed sites.

In order to stop ads from reaching such sites in future, the government says it is ready to draw up a list of ‘banned’ domains.

“We are ready to take responsibility and to establish a commission at the Ministry, which, at the request of holders, will make sites blacklisted,” Minister Volin said.

A new industry group called “Media” formed by the Russian Association of Electronic Communications says it will then negotiate with agencies to stop them placing ads on sites appearing on the blacklist.

“If we can agree with the agencies, the pirate business will die by itself,” says Media chief Marina Surygina.

While the government and local industry may indeed succeed in forcing large companies to withdraw their support for pirate sites, there are plenty of smaller operations that are only too willing to take up the slack.

Emails recently obtained by TorrentFreak reveal that several ad networks are proudly promoting their partnerships with pirate sites and are very happy to take on more.

It has to be said, however, that the products these networks help advertise have much less kudos than those advertised by the companies detailed above. Ads for Ford cars are much more desirable than the typical ‘male enhancement’ offer, and Gillette definitely offers a better kind of close-shave than the kind associated with a barrage of aggressive popups.

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

TorrentFreak: Paramount Pictures Fails to Silence uTorrent Discussions

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

paramountWeek in and week out copyright holders scour the Internet to detect and report millions of alleged infringements.

Most attention goes out to Google which receives around a dozen million takedown requests per week for its search engine alone.

Many of the reported links are from torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and point to pirated content. However, some of the URLs copyright holders complain about to Google are not infringing at all.

Last week Paramount Pictures asked for the removal of various discussions at the forums of the popular torrent client uTorrent. The notices claim that the discussions are “infringing” but the threads themselves show no evidence of that.

For example, Paramount sent a takedown notice to protect the 2009 movie “Imagine That.” The list of allegedly infringing URLs includes a uTorrent forum thread, as shown below.


After reading the topic we could find no mentions of a pirated movie. Instead, the only mention of “imagine that” was in the post below, which doesn’t appear to be infringing at all.


The same error was repeated several times in other targeted discussions on One notice lists a forum thread that allegedly offers an infringing copy of “Ghost,” but again the topic itself is completely unrelated to the movie.


This also happened to a thread where a user pointed out that he was “clueless” about something. This apparently rang alarm bells at Paramount’s content protection company who assumed that this person was referring to a pirated copy the film “Clueless.”

Talking about clueless, the same notice also targets the Disqus profile of the user “Clueless°,” simply because he or she shares a name with the movie title.


The most likely explanation for the errors is a lack of oversight. Paramount’s content protection company scans the Internet for keyword combinations and when movie titles are used in combination with other ‘suspicious’ terms such as “torrent,” URLs may be flagged automatically.

Unfortunately these mistakes are not isolated incidents. In recent years we’ve highlighted countless examples of takedown requests that censor legitimate content, often hurting traffic for the affected sites.

The good news is that Google appears to have white-listed several domains, including and Disqus. This means that while the links reported on behalf of Paramount Pictures were not removed, less prominent sites may not be so lucky.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA and RIAA’s Megaupload Lawsuits Delayed Until 2016

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

megaupload-logoNearly four years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown but aside from Andrus Nomm’s plea deal there has been little progress in the criminal proceedings.

Dotcom and several of his fellow Megaupload defendants are currently in the midst of an extradition hearing to determine whether they will be sent to the U.S. to stand trial.

But regardless of the outcome there’s more legal trouble ahead for Kim Dotcom and the defunct file-hosting service. In addition to the criminal case, Megaupload and Dotcom were sued last year by the major record labels and Hollywood’s top movie studios.

Fearing that they might influence criminal proceedings, Megaupload’s legal team previously managed to put these civil actions on hold and this week it requested another six month stay.

Yesterday U.S. District Court Liam O’Grady granted Megaupload’s request in the RIAA lawsuit under the same conditions as the earlier orders.

Judge O’Grady’s order


A similar order is also expected in the MPAA case, as the movie studios haven’t objected to another extension.

The ruling means that both the MPAA and RIAA cases will now be delayed until April 2016, given that the criminal proceeding has progressed by then. A stay was also granted in a third civil suit filed by the music group Microhits on similar grounds.

Considering the legal action on multiple fronts and the fact that civil cases can take over half a decade to complete, Megaupload is likely to be tied up in legal proceedings for years to come.

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

TorrentFreak: Rightscorp Retains Dallas Buyers Club Copyright Troll Lawyer

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

When the anti-piracy activities of Rightscorp became a topic for public discussion around four years ago (under the name Digital Rights Corp), the company was taking a fresh look at solving the piracy problem.

Rather than going down the RIAA route of aggressive and ruinous litigation, the company began asking for $10 from Internet users found to be downloading and sharing their clients’ content.

Ten bucks was hardly a big deal but it took just 12 months for the fees to be increased to $20 when the company felt account holders could be squeezed for a bit more cash.

The company is currently going through a financial crisis and as a result wants $30 for each alleged offense. The escalation is an indication of a business under pressure and a fresh announcement from Rightscorp suggests that it’s about to get even more aggressive in order to force settlement.

Yesterday the company revealed it has signed an agreement with lawyer Carl D. Crowell of Crowell Law in Salem, Oregon. While he works with other companies too, Crowell is perhaps best known for his work with notorious copyright troll Dallas Buyers Club.

According to Rightscorp, Crowell will be working with the anti-piracy firm’s clients to raise awareness and “educate people” about the effects of piracy. He will also be sending notices to infringers while pursuing litigation against “persistent and egregious infringers.”

Retaining Crowell might be the clearest sign yet that Rightscorp understands the current limitations of its “pay $30″ business model. Rightscorp sends its notices via ISPs and has no idea of the true identity of the people they’re trying to force a payment from. As a result and without a credible threat of litigation, Rightscorp’s targets are simply free to ignore the company’s emailed threats.

Should they subsequently receive correspondence from Mr Crowell, however, who has a track record with companies like Dallas Buyers Club, then the situation could very well take on a more urgent tone, forcing a payment and keeping Rightscorp and its clients happy.

“Crowell has been recognized by the courts for his successful targeting of the worst offenders that illegally download films and TV shows to make sure they are held accountable for their actions with dozens of judgments and injunctions against infringers,” says Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec.

“This agreement will be beneficial to both parties and our clients and we hope with our continued efforts to see an increase in public awareness and recognition of the problems with online piracy and greater respect and appreciation for the value and work of the artists we represent.”

The team up with Crowell, who last month claimed it was impossible for BitTorrent users to remain anonymous online, is the second legal partnership publicly announced by Rightscorp.

In August the company said it had signed an agreement with lawfirm Flynn Wirkus Young to target users who ignore DMCA notices and settlement offers sent by copyright holders. Cases filed earlier in the year on behalf of Rotten Records targeted Comcast users, among others.

While Rightscorp appeared to start out with fresh ideas, it appears that the company is now well and truly on the path to becoming yet another aggressive copyright troll outfit. The big question now is how this new approach will sit with ISPs in the United States, many of whom willingly forward Rightscorp DMCA notices settlement threats to their customers.

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

TorrentFreak: RUTracker Says Copyright Holders Can Moderate its Torrents

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

rutrackerLast week Russian telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor marked the two-year anniversary of a 2013 amendment to copyright legislation by releasing details of how many times the law has been used to block sites.

Since August 1, 2013, Roskomnadzor received 189 copyright-related complaints from rights holders and access to 282 sites was restricted as a result.

Unsurprisingly, several torrent sites have been targeted over the past 24 months including The Pirate Bay, the world’s most controversial index. This week, however, the spotlight falls on Russia’s most popular torrent site.

Known as before a controversial domain seizure in 2010, RUTracker is a huge site with a thriving community. According to Alexa it is the 17th most popular site in the whole of Russia and as a result attracts a lot of attention.

This week the National Federation of the Music Industry (NFMI), a group which counts Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI among its members, will attempt to have RUTracker permanently blocked by local ISPs. According to NFMI CEO Leonid Agronov, his group tried to negotiate with RUTracker over the removal of content but the effort came to nothing, leaving legal action as the only option.

Nevertheless, RUTracker says the site is still prepared to work with NFMI, initially on the basis of traditional notice-and-takedown, in an effort to stave off a nationwide blockade.

“Of course, we are ready for talks, but it is not clear what we can arrange. If we receive from rightsholders links to the data that violates their rights, we can remove them during the day,” a site spokesperson said.

“If copyright holders act in accordance with established practices, by sending us an email notice referencing the items that violate their rights, we would long ago have removed them, as we do in thousands of similar cases. But they chose the court instead.”

However, RUTracker says it is actually prepared to go way beyond standard takedowns, by effectively giving copyright holders torrent moderation rights on the site.

“If there are many links [that breach copyright] we can give the rightsholders their own special account, and they can remove links that violate their rights. Similar to [the system available] on YouTube, for example,” the source added.

At this late stage it seems unlikely that the record labels will back away from their efforts to have RUTracker blocked, but even if successful that may only serve to discourage the site from cooperating fully on takedowns in the future.

In any event, RUTracker appears prepared for the long haul. After being founded in 2004 the site has just celebrated its 11th birthday, a somewhat rare achievement in the torrent world.

“Over the years everything has happened – bad and good,” the site said in a statement.

“We’ve tried to block the whims of some copyright holders, although we are always ready for constructive cooperation on copyright, and most of them have reached a compromise that would accommodate the interests of both the authors of the content and its consumers.

“They are trying to drown out the various computer hooligans, but our friends help us to cope with it. We are told that ‘RUTracker is not the same, and will die soon’, and we smile at the skeptics, increasing our audience with petabytes of content!” the site concludes.

RUTracker is mostly popular with Russians although on-site language options now encourage visits by many thousands of users from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. English speakers are also enjoying the tracker in increasing numbers, thanks to Google Translate and a little patience.

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

TorrentFreak: Russian Facebook Ordered to Crack Down on Piracy

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

In 2014, Universal Music and Warner Music ran out of patience with Russian social networking giant VKontakte.

Alongside claims that VK facilitates large-scale copyright infringement, the labels filed a copyright complaint with the Saint Petersburg & Leningradsky Region Arbitration Court.

“VK’s music service, unlike others in Russia, is an unlicensed file-sharing service that is designed for copyright infringement on a large-scale. To date the company has taken no meaningful steps to tackle the problem,” IFPI’s Frances Moore said at the time.

Today, more than a year later, a decision has been handed down. According to Russian news agency TASS, the Court largely upheld the claims of the labels. As a result, VKontakte is now obliged to implement “effective” filtering technology to prevent infringement of Universal’s and Warner’s rights.

According to IFPI this means that VK will not only need to remove the labels’ music from its service, but also prevent the re-uploading of the same in the future.

“This is a very important and positive decision for the Russian music market and for music creators in Russia. VK’s infringing music service has been a huge obstacle to the development of a licensed business in Russia, making available hundreds of thousands of copyright infringing tracks to more than 70 million daily users,” says IFPI CEO Frances Moore.

“Now, the Russian court has ordered VK to use technology to stop infringements. This is good news for rights holders in Russia. We now look to VK to implement the court’s decision and stop these ongoing infringements.”

While the labels will be content with what could amount to a significant victory, they didn’t have things entirely their own way. The Court rejected their calls for 36 million rubles ($547,000) in compensation.

Sony Music was originally involved in the action against VKontakte but dropped out after agreeing a confidential settlement last summer.

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

Krebs on Security: ATM Skimmer Gang Firebombed Antivirus Firm

This post was syndicated from: Krebs on Security and was written by: BrianKrebs. Original post: at Krebs on Security

It’s notable whenever cybercime spills over into real-world, physical attacks. This is the story of a Russian security firm whose operations were pelted with Molotov cocktail attacks after exposing an organized crime gang that developed and sold malicious software to steal cash from ATMs.

molotovThe threats began not long after December 18, 2013, when Russian antivirus firm Dr.Web posted a writeup about a new Trojan horse program designed to steal card data from infected ATMs. Dr.Web received an email warning the company to delete all references to the ATM malware from its site.

The anonymous party, which self-identified as the “International Carders Syndicate,” said Dr.Web’s ATM Shield product designed to guard cash machines from known malware “threatens activity of Syndicate with multi-million dollar profit.”

The threat continued:

“Hundreds of criminal organizations throughout the world can lose their earnings. You have a WEEK to delete all references about ATM Skimmer from your web resource. Otherwise syndicate will stop cash-out transactions and send criminal for your programmers’ heads. The end of Doctor Web will be tragic.”

In an interview with KrebsOnSecurity, Dr.Web CEO Boris Sharov said the company did not comply with the demands. On March 9, 2014, someone threw a Molotov cocktail at the office of a third-party company that was distributing Dr.Web’s ATM Shield product. Shortly after that, someone attacked the same office again. Each time, the damage was minimal, but it rattled company employees nonetheless.

Less than two weeks later, Dr.Web received a follow-up warning letter:

“Dear Dr.Web, the International carder syndicate has warned you about avoidance of interference (unacceptable interference) in the ATM sphere. Taking into account the fact that you’ve ignored syndicate’s demands, we employed sanctions. To emphasis the syndicate’s purpose your office at Blagodatnaya st. was burnt twice.

If you don’t delete all references about atmskimmer viruses from your products and all products for ATM, the International carder syndicate will destroy Doctor Web’s offices throughout the world, In addition, syndicate will lobby the Prohibition of usage of Russian anti-viruses Law in countries that have representation offices of the syndicate under the pretext of protection against Russian intelligence service.”

After a third attack on the St. Petersburg office, a suspect who was seeing running away from the scene of the attack was arrested but later released because no witnesses came forward to confirm he was the one who threw the bomb.

Meanwhile, Sharov said Dr.Web detected two physical intrusions into its Moscow office.

“This is an office where we have much more security than any other, but also many more visitors,” he said. “We had been on high alert after the fire bombings, and we’ve never had intrusions before and never had them after this. But during that period, we had three attempts to enter the perimeter and to do something bad, but I won’t go into details about that.”

Sharov said Dr.Web analysts believe the group that threatened the attacks were not cyber thieves themselves but instead an organized group of programmers that had sold — but not yet delivered — a crimeware product to multiple gangs that specialize in cashing out hacked ATM cards.

“We think this group got very nervous by the fact that we had published exactly what they’d done, and it was very untimely for them, they were really desperate,” Sharov said. “We believe our reports came out just after development of the ATM Trojan had finished but before it was released to customers.”

Sharov said he also believes that the group of malware programmers who sent the threats weren’t the same miscreants who threw the Molotov cocktails. Rather, Dr.Web maintains that those attacks were paid for and ordered over the Internet, for execution by strangers who answered a criminal help wanted ad.

“We are completely sure it was ordered [over the] Internet, through a black market where you can order almost any crime,” Sharov said, again declining to be more specific. “What we saw was some people from St. Petersburg throwing Molotov cocktails, running away from the guards. But those people were not from the IT criminal environment. All the attacks had been ordered by Internet. And since they never succeeded against our office, it showed us that not much money was paid for these attacks.”

Dr.Web believes the criminal programmers who hired the attacks on its properties and partners were operating out of Ukraine, in part because of the facts surrounding another fire in its Kiev office on April 14, 2014. Sharov said that fire was not started intentionally, but instead was the result of an electrical issue on a floor not occupied by Dr.Web.

“The fire squad came quickly and our office was just damaged a little bit by the water,” he recalled. “Very soon after that, we received another threat with a photograph of entrance to the Kiev office, and it said another fire was set there. That photograph gave away for us the fact that the team was somewhere in the Ukraine. Nobody had any published any photograph of the attacks on St. Petersburg or Moscow. The fact that they published that and tried to present the case that it was their [doing], they were not well informed.”

Not long after that incident, Sharov said his office got confirmation from a bank in Moscow that the team behind on the ATM Trojan that caused all the ruckus was operating out of Kiev, Ukraine.

In the 18 months since then, the number of ATM-specific Trojans has skyrocketed, although the attackers seem to be targeting mainly Russian, Eastern European and European banks with their creations. For more the spread and sophistication of ATM malware, see:

Spike in Malware Attacks on Aging ATMs

Thieves Planted Malware to Hack ATMs

Thieves ‘Jackpot’ ATMs With ‘Black Box’ Attack

Gang Hacked ATMs from Inside Banks

TorrentFreak: Dutch Filmmakers Claim Piracy Damages From Government

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

pirate-cardCompared to many other countries around the world, pirating movies and TV-shows is hugely popular in the Netherlands.

Up to a third of the population is estimated to download and stream copyrighted content without paying for it.

This high percentage is not surprising as the Netherlands has traditionally been a relative safe haven for pirates. Downloading movies without permission was not punishable by law until last year when the European Court of Justice spoke out against the tolerant stance.

As a result the Dutch Government quickly outlawed unauthorized downloading. However, breaking the habits of a large section of the population will take more than that and local piracy rates still remains high.

This prompted Dutch filmmakers’ association SEKAM to hold the Government responsible and demand compensation for the piracy losses they claim to have suffered.

FD reports that SEKAM submitted their claim to the Ministry of Security and Justice earlier this year. The request was denied but the filmmakers intend to press on. They maintain that their demands are legitimate and want the Government to compensate them for 10 years of piracy damages.

SEKAM lawyer Bas Le Poole points out that despite the new ban on illegal downloading, not much has changed. Piracy is still rampant and there haven’t been any prosecutions of individual downloaders.

This stance is shared by film producer San Fu Maltha. He notes that the Government has actually encouraged the public to pirate, costing the industry millions in revenue.

“Downloading pirated movies has only been outlawed recently in the Netherlands. Previously, the Government not only tolerated but even encouraged illegal downloading. As a result the industry has been severely damaged”

Critics often argue that the film industry itself can do more to counter piracy by making sure that content is widely available for a decent price. Maltha admits that improvements can be made on the supply side but adds that this should coincide with stronger enforcement.

“The Government has already decided that consumers should not be prosecuted. I understand that it’s not a popular move and electoral suicide, but they shouldn’t rule it out,” he says.

SEKAM is now calling for an accurate estimate of the damages the industry has suffered. Determining this is hard, but the association points to a recent Considerati study which estimated the losses at 78 million euros per year.

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

TorrentFreak: Aurous Dev Fires Back at “Fearmongering, Babbling” Rightscorp

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

aurous-logoEarlier this month, news of an upcoming piece of music software began to cause waves.

Centered around a media player supporting a wide array of audio formats, Aurous will leverage content on the BitTorrent network and other web sources to bring a Spotify-like experience to users.

With its clean and tidy interface, it’s no wonder that Aurous has already been likened to a “Popcorn Time for music”, a branding that could yet prove to be both blessing and curse in equal amounts, depending on one’s perspective.

The software, which TF tested in pre-alpha, is not yet available to the public but that hasn’t stopped anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp jumping into the fray with both feet. Last Friday the troubled company issued a press release, claiming to have a solution to the threat supposedly posed by Aurous.

Highlighting the decentralized approach taken by developer Andrew Sampson, Rightscorp warned potential customers that Aurous could not be dealt with by regular means. Monetizing piracy will be their only chance, the company argued.

“Aurous’ technology will be unaffected by take-down notices, site blocking and will not use Pirate Bay or any domain names that can be blocked,” the company warned.

“It will distribute the music search metadata via the peer-to-peer networks, allowing the ability to stream large amounts of free music illegally and providing a very easy-to-use interface to the BitTorrent network.”


Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec added that there is a “lot of concern” over the impending Aurous launch but noted that his company can provide a solution.

“The Aurous app allows for access to a large amount of free music, acting like a Spotify, however, offering zero payments to the rightsholder,” Sabec said.

“Rightscorp’s ability to get individual seeders to stop seeding will be the only scalable way to stop this next explosion of free music,” he added.

TorrentFreak asked Sampson to comment on Rightscorp’s announcement and the somewhat irritated developer responded.

“Rightscorp has no idea how our technology works, nor our plans at protecting right holders from copyright infringement and giving copyright holders the tools for managing their content, monetizing and/or protecting work their work,” he told TF.

“We announced earlier through Twitter [well before the Rightscorp announcement] that we will be creating a content-id system and DMCA portal so we can ensure Aurous does not infringe on anyone’s copyrights. Because this system is still so premature in its development, we can’t give more details, however, we can assure you Rightscorp is wrong.”

Sampson insists that first and foremost Aurous is a music player, albeit one with search engines that leverage existing APIs from “completely legal and licensed services” backed up by the power of P2P.

“The P2P portion of Aurous is nothing more than a comprehensive and cached list of these searches so results can be delivered faster to users as spoken about in our tech blog. While you can search across P2P, it is not a default option, our P2P search option is there for hard to find copy-left content, but in that regard, is still a search engine.”

Sampson feels that by announcing an anti-piracy solution for a product that hasn’t even been released yet Rightscorp has jumped the gun somewhat. However, the likelihood that this is almost certainly an attempt to grab publicity isn’t lost on the developer.

“The fear mongering by Rightscorp is nothing more than babble and attempts to garner clients to ‘protect’ them from our application which hasn’t even been released,” Sampson says.

“Maybe Rightscorp should read this piece. A French economist predicted the current state of music 40 years ago. The music industry is killing itself. We live in a world were licensed material can be streamed close to 200,000,000 times from Spotify and the writer for that song receives a pitiful $5,600.

“But according to many studies, sells are still at an all time high. Aurous is here to change the music industry for the better,” Sampson concludes.

This isn’t the first time that Rightscorp has attempted to ride on the tails of a ‘new’ sharing phenomenon. Late August the company launch its Popcorn Time ‘mitigation service’ but in reality its offering was the same old model with a new coat of promotional paint.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Finally Free After Three Years

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

gottfridGottfrid Svartholm, also known as Anakata, was a founding member of The Pirate Bay and played a key role during the site’s early years.

He has spent the last three years in prisons in Sweden and Denmark, for a variety of offenses. Last month his prison time in Denmark ended and after serving a final month in Sweden he is now a free man.

At this time Gottfrid and his family prefer not to make any public statements, which is understandable considering all that’s happened, but his mother just confirmed the good news.

His release marks the end of a tough time with several consecutive setbacks.

It all started in 2011 when Gottfrid received a one-year prison sentence for his involvement with the notorious site, which he initially avoided.


September 2012 he was arrested by Cambodian police in Phnom Penh, the city where he had been living for several years. A few days later he was transferred to Sweden to serve his sentence, but that was only the start.

Soon after his release the Pirate Bay founder was accused of several hacking and fraud offenses.

The case went to trial in 2013 and Gottfrid was subsequently found guilty of hacking, aggravated fraud and attempted aggravated fraud, which resulted in a two-year prison sentence. The Pirate Bay founder always maintained his innocence and went on to appeal the verdict.

The Appeal Court agreed in part and cleared Gottfrid of hacking the Nordea bank. The court still found him guilty of hacking IT company Logica but decided to reduce his sentence from two years to one.

While he was serving the Swedish hacking sentence Denmark also went after Gottfrid. Despite public protests and an appeal to the Supreme Court in Sweden, he was extradited during the fall of 2013 and held in solitary confinement for weeks on end.

In Denmark the Pirate Bay founder stood accused of hacking into the mainframe computers of IT company CSC. Gottfrid denied these allegations and during trial he pointed out that Sweden previously acquitted him of a similar offense.

Despite the “not guilty” plea and expert witness testimonies in his favor, Gottfrid was sentenced to another 3.5 years in prison, which was affirmed following an appeal to the High Court.


As in many other countries, well-behaved convicts only have to serve part of their sentence in Denmark so Gottfrid was released last month.

That’s also when the latest setback was announced. Shortly after his release he was arrested again to serve one remaining month of his hacking sentence in Sweden.

Today Gottfrid is truly a free man again. While prison wasn’t easy for him and his family, the future is finally looking a bit brighter.

Over the past years Gottfrid has received a lot of support from the public, but first and foremost from his mother Kristina, who stood beside him every step of the way and always was kind enough to answer questions and have her son’s voice heard outside of prison.

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

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Paid Prolific Pirates Thousands in Rewards, U.S. Says

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

megaupload-logoAs the extradition hearing of Kim Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues enters a second week, a lawyer acting for the United States government has continued to make the case against the Internet entrepreneur and co-defendants Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk.

With Dotcom and friends due to have their right of reply later in proceedings, thus far media attention has been focused on a totally one-sided version of events. Today that pattern continued, with Christine Gordon QC focusing on the rewards scheme operated by Megaupload between 2006 and 2011.

Just like YouTube does today, Megaupload rewarded users whose videos were downloaded thousands of times. However, the U.S. suggests that Dotcom and his colleagues were well aware that the users that brought the most traffic to the site – and earned the most in rewards – did so by uploading infringing content.

A user known only as “TH” is reported to have been paid more than $50,000 in rewards between 2006 and 2011, despite his sharing being in the spotlight of copyright holders.

“So far TH has provided us 18 million download pageviews [and] US$112,257 premium sales to users who have downloaded at least 15 of his files,” Mathias Ortmann wrote to Kim Dotcom in 2007.

However, the company also received a significant number of copyright complaints against “TH” – 1,200 in all – which were processed by Bram van der Kolk. According to the lawyer, Megaupload failed to terminate the user’s account, instead offering him additional server space. In a 2008, another conversation centered around whether infringers should continue to get paid.

“Growth is mainly based on infringement anyway,” Van der Kolk said via Skype.

“What if we modulate our tolerance according to sales triggered?” Ortmann responded.

According to NZHerald, 77% of Megaupload’s members had received at least one takedown notice against their accounts, with 56% receiving 10 or more. Even today, however, single strikes against user accounts are tolerated by YouTube, for example, while users of some of the main ISPs in the United States have amassed dozens of infringement notices without being terminated.

During the summer of 2011, Megaupload discontinued its rewards program, a move that proved unpopular with the site’s uploaders. According to U.S., Dotcom then took the opportunity to contact PayPal with complaints about his competitors who continued to “illegally” pay such bonuses to their users.

“They pay everyone no matter if the files are pirated or not and they have NO repeat infringer policy, and they are using Paypal to pay infringers,” Dotcom wrote.

In court today, Christine Gordon pointed out that Megaupload had run a similar program for more than half a decade.

“They describe the payments as illegal but Megaupload had done that for six years,” she said.

While Dotcom and associates will eventually enjoy a full right to reply, lawyer Ron Mansfield raised objections against the U.S. citing evidence from users such as “TH” who have allegedly provided evidence against Dotcom while being allowed to remain anonymous.

“I’m just inquiring whether the US is prepared to identify the users so we are at least in the position of knowing who the users are and making some inquiry in relation to these conversations,” he said.

“In my submission it’s unfair that the identities of relevant parties are being withheld.”

Today’s evidence comes on the heels of revelations during last Friday’s session in which conversations between Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk suggested that the pair knew the company might get into trouble over rewards.

“That’s the big flaw in the rewards program: we are making profit off more than 90 per cent infringing files,” Van der Kolk said.

The hearing is expected to continue for another three weeks.

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 – 09/28/15

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

tomorrowlandThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Tomorrowland 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
1 (10) Tomorrowland 6.6 / trailer
2 (…) Terminator Genisys 6.8 / trailer
3 (…) San Andreas 6.2 / trailer
4 (1) Avengers: Age of Ultron 7.8 / trailer
5 (2) Minions 6.7 / trailer
6 (…) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation 7.7 / trailer
7 (3) Mad Max: Fury Road 8.4 / trailer
8 (4) Vacation (Subbed WEBRip) 6.3 / trailer
9 (…) Magic Mike XXL 5.9 / trailer
10 (7) Fantastic Four (Subbed HDrip) 4.0 / trailer

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TorrentFreak: Piracy Isn’t Worth The Risk of Prison, Freed Cammer Says

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

cammer1On May 23, 2013, five unmarked cars containing 10 police officers and representatives from the Federation Against Copyright Theft tracked down UK-based Philip Danks.

From Walsall in the West Midlands, then 24-year-old Danks had cammed Fast and Furious 6 at a local Showcase cinema before uploading it to the Internet. A year later the computer programmer was handed an unprecedented 33 months in prison.

Following a successful appeal to the Ministry of Justice, Danks is now on home detention after serving one year and 18 days of his sentence. Earlier this week he read a TF piece which covered FACT’s warning to potential cammers of the upcoming Bond film ‘Spectre’. We suggested that releasing the movie in the UK almost two weeks before the U.S. launch was a recipe for piracy. Danks agrees.

“The movie industry do staggered releases to build up suspense with a movie but I for one know this does not work. As you know movies are (usually) released in the company they are created in, hence James Bond and Fast 6 being released here in the UK first,” Danks told TF.

“However, this just creates an unnecessary window for pirates to grab the film before anyone else. It gives them the opportunity to obtain maximum results from being the first group or person to leak the movies online because people who cannot watch it at the cinema will be wanting a pirate copy to give them their movie fix.”

That escalated quickly

That urge to be first was what put Danks on the radars of FACT and then the police. After his arrest and subsequent conviction Danks was initially sent to HMP Hewell, a Category B prison in Worcestershire, later being transferred to the low-to-medium risk HMP Oakwood. But despite committing only white-collar crime, Danks was placed alongside those with a thirst for violence.

“I was locked up with all sorts of people, including murderers, bank robbers etc. I remember one guy who I worked with in the kitchens who had been sentenced to 18 years for killing someone. He got out and within six hours was arrested again for killing his victim’s friend,” Danks explains.

Easy prison life…..for a celebrity

Given comments made last week by Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde who said that he’d been asked to sign autographs in prison, it’s interesting that Danks enjoyed a similar reception.

“To be honest I was somewhat of a celebrity in prison, amongst both prisoners and staff alike. Not one person (including my offender manager) thought the punishment fit the crime,” he reveals.

Overall, however, Danks says that prison itself wasn’t that bad.

“Personally I believe locking people up will not work, prison is easier now than ever. I had (which everyone gets) a 22in Sharp TV with 135 channels, a phone in my cell, a kettle, and my own shower and bathroom facilities.

“In all honesty prison was comfortable, I was never scared or even worried about the people around me. So no, prison does not work. Prison isn’t a deterrent for the most heinous acts of crime, let alone ‘copyright theft’.”

Worth it then? Absolutely not…

Despite having an easy life in prison, Danks told TF that the whole punishment package amounts to something a lot more than just being denied freedom for a while. The personal costs outside the prison walls were considerable.

“Prison has affected my life dramatically. I lost my home due to not being able to keep up with rent, I lost my car, job, and everywhere I go I’m not recognized as someone who does good things, I’m just ‘that guy who’s been in prison’,” he explains.

“I applied for a job at a sports shop last week, where I have worked before and known the manager for 13 years. His response was ‘we do not employ ex-cons’. So it’s even difficult to gain employment.”

Family strain

Having no way to make real money, Danks said that his family were always under pressure to send cash for things like phone credit – and then found themselves worrying when he didn’t manage to call them.

“Life was more of a strain on my family then on me,” he notes. Tragically, his family became significantly smaller during his time in prison.

“Whilst I was in prison I sadly lost two of my uncles and my grandad, all of whom I never got to say goodbye to because I was refused leave to go to funerals. I am not a religious man but was forced to pray at the chapel because it was the only way to say goodbye.”

Just not worth it

Overall, it’s clear that Danks is still upset about what happened to him. He admits that he’s done wrong but blames FACT for an aggressive prosecution and a court system ill-equipped to deal with cases like his.

“Crown Courts are meant for criminals, those who hurt people or are a danger to the public, not for civil cases brought to a criminal trial because the government are in the back pocket of the movie industry. They have their priorities all wrong and favor corporations over consumers,” he says.

Not even Danks’ lawyer escapes criticism.

“My solicitor never actually defended me. He simply sat back and let the prosecution bludgeon me to the point of no return,” he explains.

Thinking of camming? Think again

“People really need to think twice. Going to prison is an extremely tough strain not on yourself, but on your family. You will lose respect from loved ones, friends and work colleagues. Prison never has a happy ending, it will always hang over you wherever you go.”

“Simply put, prison isn’t worth the kudos you get from being the first to leak a movie, stay away from it all and be happy with your family!”

One last thing

The work of movie cammers is often talked about in the media but how they operate is often shrouded in secrecy. Join us next week for an A to Z reveal of Danks’ activities, from selecting movies, locations and equipment, to staying undetected in the cinema and making a clean getaway.

To get a year’s worth of things of his chest, Danks has taken to YouTube. His rant is embedded below.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Party Runs Privacy Campaign Ads on YouPorn

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

ppausAside from promoting copyright reform, Pirate parties worldwide are fierce defenders of online privacy.

Their position is no different in Austria where local politicians are slowly trying to increase state surveillance. Through the new State Protection Act which will increase monitoring, for example.

With elections coming up in the Linz region next week the party decided to advertise their policy, but not on the regular outfits most political parties prefer. The Austrian Pirates picked YouPorn as their prime adverting platform instead.

Personal preferences aside, people generally prefer not to be snooped on while they’re viewing porn sites. However, in this case they can’t escape the prying eyes of Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Austria’s Minister of the Interior

“Johanna wants to watch you!” the banner ad alerts YouPorn visitors.

“Johanna wants to watch you!”

The advertisements are written in German and targeted at Austrians, many of whom were surprised to see the Minister ‘snooping’ on their private moments. Exactly the effect the Pirate Party was looking for.

“We want to prevent the Orwellian dystopia – 1984 was not a guide to action,” says Claus-Peter Wiesinger, top candidate of the Pirates in Linz.

“We are aware that political issues are uncommon on sites like YouPorn. But as a young party we want to seize the opportunity to break into the comfort zone of Internet users there, to address the threat of mass surveillance,” he adds.

Visitors who click on the YouPorn banner are directed to a dedicated campaign site with more details and other useful tips against surveillance.

The party says it chose the minister’s image because she is the driving force behind the escalating surveillance efforts in Austria, through the new State Protection Act and by backing the reintroduction of data retention, for example.

The Pirates encourage people to speak out against these developments by voting for the party in the municipal elections in Linz or by signing the petition against the new State Protection Act.

“Strengthened by a council mandate in Linz, we want to continue our fight against the surveillance state. With 1.7% of the vote we are in,” Wiesinger says, referring to the upcoming election.

After this week’s successful campaign the Pirates are hoping to continue their advertising efforts on porn sites. They have already started a crowdfunding drive for the next round of ads which is on its way to reach the €600 goal.

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