Posts tagged ‘anonymous’

TorrentFreak: Manhunt Underway For “Possibly Armed” Kinox, BitShare and FreakShare Operators

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

Just a few days ago news broke that police in Germany had carried out raids in several areas of the country.

They were looking for four suspects believed to be the key individuals behind a range of sites including Kino.to replacement Kinox.to, file-hosting sites FreakShare.com and BitShare.com, plus linking sites Boerse.sx and MyGully.com. Even streaming giant Movie4K was thrown into the mix.

While two people were arrested in Neuss and Dusseldorf, two brothers from a village near to the northern city of Lübeck evaded police and are said to be on the run. It is those two men who are now grabbing the headlines.

Police have just taken the somewhat unusual step of announcing a public manhunt for the brothers, publishing mugshots and their full names alongside details of their alleged crimes. This is something only usually carried out in exceptional and serious cases.

kinox-susp1Pictured right is Kastriot Selimi. Born in 1989, the 25-year-old was born in Kosovo and later became a German citizen.

According to police he is one of the founders of the “criminal organization” behind Kinox, FreakShare and BitShare. He also has connections to a range of other sites including stream4k.to, shared.sx, mygully.com and boerse.sx.

Kastriot Selimi’s alleged crimes include predatory blackmail, armed robbery, extortion, arson, copyright infringement and tax evasion. Police warn that he should be considered violent and could be armed.

kinox-susp2Pictured right is Kreshnik Selimi. Born in 1992, the 21-year-old was born in Sweden and later became a German citizen. He is the younger brother of Kastriot.

Kreshnik is accused of founding and operating the same sites as his sibling and is covered by the same international arrest warrant. He is being classified as violent and police are warning the public that he too could be armed.

Kreshnik Selimi’s alleged crimes include predatory blackmail, armed robbery, extortion, arson, copyright infringement and tax evasion.

According to information received by German publication Spiegel, the arson and extortion charges relate to alleged crimes carried out by the brothers against one of their former or even current business partners.

A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office earlier revealed that the brothers had “made great efforts” to get rid of their competitors in the piracy market. “Sometimes even a car burst into flames,” he said.

According to the Attorney General’s office the brothers have evaded 1.3 million euros in taxes, which suggests that overall revenues were in excess of 6.5 million euros. Even if that amount is overblown, it seems likely that the pair have considerable resources at their disposal.

The brothers’ whereabouts aside, the big mystery is why the sites named above are still in operation. All remain online, despite their alleged operators being subjected to an international manhunt.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Site Operator Slapped With $10 Million in Damages

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

piracy-crimeIn August we reported how ABS-CBN was going after several website owners who link to pirated streams of its programming.

The Philippines-based company filed a lawsuit at a federal court in Oregon looking for millions of dollars in damages from two local residents, husband and wife.

The five sites they operated, including Pinoymoviefan.com and Watchfilipinotv.com, barely had any visitors. According to the main suspect, Jeff Ashby, he created them for his wife so she could enjoy entertainment from her home country.

‘I created these websites for my wife who is from the Philippines, so she and others who are far from the Philippines could enjoy materials from their culture that are otherwise unavailable to them, Jeff Ashby wrote to the court.

The sites in question didn’t store copies of the infringing media but merely provided links to other websites, and Ashby shut them down voluntarily as soon as he heard about the lawsuit.

Nevertheless, ABS-CBN branded Ashby a hardcore criminal. In one of their own news report they managed to get the L.A. police to agree with them.

“[Piracy is] supporting their ability to buy drugs and guns and engage in violence. And then, the support of global terrorism, which is a threat to everybody,” LA County Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers told an ABS-CBN news outlet.

Now, just a few weeks later the case is over. The Oregon District Court ‘ruled’ in favor of ABS-CBN and ordered Jeff Ashby to pay a mind-blowing $10 million in damages.

The company nevertheless praises the ‘unprecedented’ victory in its own news coverage and warns that they will continue to pursue action against pirate sites.

“Jeff Ashby is the first of many pirates that we are pursuing,” says Elisha Lawrence, ABS-CBN’s Associate Vice President of Global Anti-Piracy.

“We have begun a relentless campaign to enforce against all pirate websites due to the numerous reports that these sites contain dangerous malware which cause substantial harm including identify theft of financial information and phishing attacks.”

While the $10 million may do well for PR purposes, the media conglomerate fails to mention that this isn’t a regular verdict. Instead, it’s a consent judgment (pdf) between ABS-CBN and Ashby which the court signed off on.

In other words, the $10 million in damages reported in public is a figure both parties agreed on, without putting up a fight. Needless to say, it’s likely that a separate deal was made behind the scenes.

In fact, a month before the consent judgment the court had already been informed that both parties had settled the case.

Most telling, perhaps, is the response of Jeff Ashby after he was ‘hit’ by the $10 million judgment. Instead of characterizing the damages as unfair and overblown, he now warns others not to mess with ABS-CBN.

“I wish to warn anyone who may be copying and/or publishing content owned by ABS-CBN without their permission, to stop immediately. Continuing without authorization can and will lead to very serious consequences,” Ashby comments.

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

TorrentFreak: Gottfrid Svartholm Found Guilty in Hacking Trial

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

After being arrested in his Cambodian apartment in September 2012 it took two years before Gottfrid Svartholm went on trial in Denmark.

The Swede and his 21-year-old co-defendant stood accused of hacking computer mainframes operated by US IT giant CSC. It developed into the largest case of its kind ever seen in the Scandinavian country.

The case broadly took shape along two lines. The prosecution insisted that Gottfrid and his Danish accomplice, both experts in computer security, had launched hacker attacks against CSC back in April 2012 and maintained access to those systems until August that same year.

The defense claimed it was a case of mistaken identity and that others had carried out the crimes, remotely accessing Gottfrid’s computer after comprising its security.

Evidence was produced by the prosecution which showed discussion taking place between hackers with the names “Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat” and “My Evil Twin”. The topic in hand was the security and setup of CSC’s databases and systems. These people were Gottfrid and his IT consultant co-defendant, the prosecution said.

From the beginning, Gottfrid’s position was that his computer, from where the attacks had taken place, had been compromised. This version of events was supported by respected security expert Jacob Appelbaum who gave evidence for the defense not only in this case, but also in Gottfrid’s Swedish trial, a case in which he was partly acquitted.

Speaking with Denmark’s TV2 earlier today, Gottfrid’s lawyer Luise Høj said that her client should be found not guilty since it had been established that third parties had carried out the crimes.

“My recommendation has always been that the investigation has focused on finding clues that point to my client, even though the tracks have also pointed in another direction,” Høj said.

“I have recommended that the court dismiss the case based on the remote access argument. It is clear that my client’s computer has been the subject of remote control, and therefore he is not responsible.”

But it wasn’t to be. This morning the Court of Frederiksberg found both Gottfrid and his accomplice guilty of hacking into the systems of CSC. Both unlawfully accessed confidential information including police drivers’ license records, social security information plus criminal records.

Dismissing the remote control defense, Judge Ulla Otken said the hacking of CSC had been both “systematic and comprehensive.”

All three judges and four of six jurors returned guilty verdicts. Two jurors voted to acquit after concluding that the remote access defense could not be ruled out.

Following his extradition from Sweden, Gottfrid has spent 11 months behind bars in Denmark. His Danish accomplice, who refused to give evidence to the police and maintained silence right up until his trial in September, has spent 17 months in jail.

Breaking news, article will be updated.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Glass Now Banned in US Movie Theaters Over Piracy Fears

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

Google Glass poses a significant threat to the movie industry, Hollywood believes. The advent of the wearable technology has sparked fears that it could be used for piracy.

This January the FBI dragged a man from a movie theater in Columbus, Ohio, after theater staff presumed his wearing of Google Glass was a sign that he was engaged in camcorder piracy.

At the time the MPAA shrugged off the incident as an unfortunate mistake, claiming that it had seen “no proof that it is currently a significant threat that could result in content theft.” This has now changed.

Starting today Google Glass is no longer welcome in movie theaters. The new ban applies to all US movie theaters and doesn’t include an exception for prescription glasses.

The MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) stress that they welcome technological innovations and recognize the importance of wearables for consumers. However, the piracy enabling capabilities of these devices can’t be ignored.

“As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown,” MPAA and NATO state.

“As has been our long-standing policy, all phones must be silenced and other recording devices, including wearable devices, must be turned off and put away at show time. Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave,” they add.

Cautioning potential pirates, the movie groups emphasize that theater employees will take immediate action when they spot someone with wearable recording devices. Even when in doubt, the local police will be swiftly notified.

“If theater managers have indications that illegal recording activity is taking place, they will alert law enforcement authorities when appropriate, who will determine what further action should be taken.”

The wearable ban is now part of the MPAA’s strict set of anti-piracy practices. These instruct movie theater owners to be on the lookout for suspicious individuals who may have bad intentions.

Aside from the wearables threat, the best practices note that all possible hidden camera locations in the theater should be considered, including cup holders. In addition, employees should be alert for possible concealed recording equipment, as often seen in the movies.

“Movie thieves are very ingenious when it comes to concealing cameras. It may be as simple as placing a coat or hat over the camera, or as innovative as a specially designed concealment device,” it warns.

To increase vigilance among movie theater employees, a $500 bounty is being placed on the heads of those who illegally camcord a movie.

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

TorrentFreak: Joker is Cool But Not the New Popcorn Time

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

While BitTorrent’s underlying technology has remained mostly unchanged over the past decade, innovators have found new ways to make it more presentable. Torrent clients have developed greatly and private tracker systems such as What.cd’s Gazelle have shown that content can be enhanced with superior cataloging and indexing tools.

This is where Popcorn Time excelled when it debuted earlier this year. While it was the same old torrent content underneath, the presentation was streets ahead of anything seen before. With appetites whetted, enthused BitTorrent fans have been waiting for the next big thing ever since.

Recently news circulated of a new service which in several headlines yesterday was heralded as the new Popcorn Time. Joker.org is a web-based video service with super-clean presentation. It’s premise is straightforward – paste in a magnet link or upload a torrent file from your computer then sit back and enjoy the show.

joker-1

Not only does Joker work, it does so with elegance. The interface is uncluttered and intuitive and the in-browser window can be expanded to full screen. Joker also provides options for automatically downloading subtitles or uploading your own, plus options for skipping around the video at will.

While these features are enough to please many visitors to the site, the big questions relate to what is going on under the hood.

Popcorn Time, if we’re forced to conduct a comparison, pulls its content from BitTorrent swarms in a way that any torrent client does. This means that the user’s IP address is visible both to the tracker and all related peers. So, has Joker successfully incorporated a torrent client into a web browser to enable live video streaming?

Last evening TF put that question to the people behind Joker who said they would answer “soon”. Hours later though and we’re still waiting so we’ll venture that the short answer is “no”.

Decentralized or centralized? That is the question..

The most obvious clues become evident when comparing the performance of popular and less popular torrents after they’ve been added to the Joker interface. The best seeded torrents not only tend to start immediately but also allow the user to quickly skip to later or earlier parts of the video. This suggests that the video content has been cached already and isn’t being pulled live and direct from peers in a torrent swarm.

Secondly, torrents with less seeds do not start instantly. We selected a relatively poorly seeded torrent of TPB AFK and had to wait for the Joker progress bar to wind its way to 100% before we could view the video. That took several minutes but then played super-smoothly, another indication that content is probably being cached.

joker-2

To be absolutely sure we’d already hooked up Wireshark to our test PC in advance of initiating the TPB AFK download. If we were pulling content from a swarm we might expect to see the IP addresses of our fellow peers sending us data. However, in their place were recurring IP addresses from blocks operated by the same UK ISP hosting the Joker website.

Conclusion

Joker is a nice website that does what it promises extremely well and to be fair to its creators they weren’t the ones making the Popcorn Time analogies. However, as a free service Joker faces a dilemma.

By caching video itself the site is bound by the usual bandwidth costs associated with functionally similar sites such as YouTube. While Joker provides greater flexibility (users can order it to fetch whichever content they like) it still has to pump video directly to users after grabbing it from torrent swarms. This costs money and at some point someone is going to have to pay.

In contrast, other than running the software download portal and operating the APIs, Popcorn Time has no direct video-related bandwidth costs since the user’s connection is being utilized for transfers. The downside is that users’ IP addresses are visible to the outside world, a problem Joker users do not have.

Finally and to address the excited headlines, comparing Joker to Popcorn Time is premature. The site carries no colorful and easy to access indexes of movies which definitely makes it a lot less attractive to newcomers. That being said, this lack of content curation enhances Joker’s legal footing.

Overall, demand is reportedly high. The developers told TF last evening that they were “overloaded” and were working hard to fix issues. Currently the service appears stable. Only time will tell how that situation develops.

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

TorrentFreak: Dotcom Tries To Reclaim Millions Seized in Hong Kong

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

For many months the New Zealand courts have been dealing with the thorny issue of Kim Dotcom. The entrepreneur’s case has traversed the legal system, with claim and counterclaim, decision followed by appeal.

The key topic of Dotcom’s possible extradition to the United States aside, much of the courtroom action has centered around the Megaupload founder’s assets. On the one hand Dotcom has been trying to reclaim his property, and on the other United States-based entertainment companies have been trying to lock it down in preparation for any future damages payout.

But as the fight simmers in New Zealand and largely stalls in the U.S., Dotcom’s legal representatives are fighting to reestablish control of his wealth in a third territory.

Over in Hong Kong, lawyers for Dotcom are attempting to take back HK$330 million (US$42.55m) in assets that were seized by local authorities when Megaupload was shut down in January 2012.

While Dotcom’s servers were being sealed off in the United States and his mansion raided in New Zealand, the Megaupload chief’s Hong Kong offices were being raided by 100 customs officers following allegations of copyright infringement and money laundering.

The seized assets are being held under a restraining order but Dotcom’s legal team are arguing that it should be set aside. In April 2014, Megaupload initiated legal action against the government and now its legal team is accusing the secretary for justice of failing to provide a “full and frank disclosure” of the facts when the application for seizure was made.

“We are applying for [the order] to be set aside because the court has misrepresented the true position,” Dotcom lawyer Gerard McCoy SC told SCMP yesterday.

In a feature that has become a hallmark of the pre-shutdown activity surrounding Megaupload, the Hong Kong restraining order was made ex parte, meaning that the defendants in the case were not allowed to put their side of the story. Dotcom’s lawyers say that in such circumstances the prosecution is under obligation to exercise additional caution

“Did the secretary for justice put his cards on the table face up? This application is a clear example of the duty either being ignored or simply misunderstood,” McCoy said.

According to the lawyer the prosecution deliberately withheld crucial information from the court when applying for the restraining order, not least the fact that Megaupload could not be served with a criminal complaint in the United States as it did not have a US mailing address.

“None of this was ever brought to the attention of the judge. It was all put to one side and never raised,” McCoy said.

In an interview with TorrentFreak in December 2011 before the raid, Dotcom spoke warmly of Hong Kong. “I should write a book about doing business in Hong Kong, that’s how good it is,” he said. “People there leave you alone and they are happy for your success.”

But according to McCoy, one month later the fate of Dotcom, his co-defendants, and his Megaupload empire was sealed in a matter of minutes.

“In about six or seven minutes, the applicant has dealt with the position of nine defendants and managed to freeze a massive amount of money. There is not one word about Megaupload, not a jot, not a tittle,” he told the court.

If the case goes in Dotcom’s favor there could be big implications for the entrepreneur. Not only could he regain tens of millions of dollars in wealth, but he could also be in a position to file a multi-billion dollar civil claim for damages. Before its shutdown, Megaupload was valued at a cool two billion dollars.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA: The Pirate Bay Assaults Fundamental Human Rights

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

tpbfistFollowing in the footsteps of Hollywood’s MPAA, the RIAA has now submitted its overview of “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

These submissions help to guide the U.S. Government’s position toward foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement. The RIAA’s report (odt) includes more than 50 alleged pirate sites, but it is the introduction that draws most attention.

Neil Turkewitz, RIAA Executive Vice President, informs the Government that some of the rogue websites, and their supporters, falsely argue that they aid freedom of speech and counter censorship.

Specifically, the RIAA describes The Pirate Bay and other pirate sites as an assault on our humanity, suggesting that the right to protect one’s copyrights trumps freedom of expression.

“Some observers continue to suggest that the protection of expression is a form of censorship or restriction on fundamental freedoms, and some pirate sites cloak themselves in the language of freedom to justify themselves—sites like The Pirate Bay…” Turkewitz writes.

“We must end this assault on our humanity and the misappropriation of fundamental human rights. If the protection of expression is itself a restriction on freedom of expression, then we have entered a metaphysical Wonderland that stands logic on its head, and undermines core, shared global values about personhood,” he adds.

The RIAA says it’s hopeful that the piracy threat can be addressed if society and legitimate companies stop doing business with these sites. To do so, the public must stop conflating anti-piracy measures with censorship.

“We may not be able to eradicate piracy—there will always be an isolated number of individuals or enterprises who are prepared to steal whatever they can, but we can—and must—stop providing moral cover by conflating copyright enforcement with censorship, or by misapplying notions of Internet freedom or permissionless innovation so that they extend to an embrace of lawlessness.”

In recent months copyright holders have often hammered on payment processors and advertising networks to stop doing business with pirate sites. The RIAA reiterates this in their USTR submission, but also points a finger at the ISPs, at least indirectly.

According to the RIAA, BitTorrent indexing sites make deals with hosting providers to pay lower fees if they have more traffic. While this is standard business for most ISPs, the industry group frames it as an indirect source of revenue for the pirate sites.

“Indexing services can, and usually do, generate revenue from one or more of the following: advertising, user donations and suspected arrangements with ISPs whereby reduced fees are offered in return for increased traffic on the sites. The particular financial model, structure and approach vary from site to site,” Turkewitz notes.

Finally, the RIAA admits that some torrent sites process DMCA takedown notices, but believes that this is only an attempt to “appear” legitimate. In reality the infringing content is re-uploaded almost instantly, so the problem remains.

“As a result, copyright owners are forced into an endless ‘cat and mouse’ game, which requires considerable resources to be devoted to chasing infringing content, only for that same infringing content to continually reappear,” the report reads.

Without specifying what, Turkewitz notes that torrent site owners have to do more if they really want to become legitimate services.

“It is imperative that BitTorrent site operators take reasonable measures to prevent the distribution of infringing torrents or links and to implement measures that would prevent the indexing of infringing torrents,” he writes.

In addition to torrent sites the submission also lists various cyberlockers, blogs and linking sites which allegedly deserve the label “notorious market.”

Below is the RIAA’s full list as it was reported to the USTR. These, and the other submissions will form the basis of the U.S. Government’s Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, which is expected to come out later this year.

- vKontakte
- EX.UA
- The Pirate Bay
- KickAss.to
- Torrentz.eu
- Bitsnoop.com
- ExtraTorrent.cc
- Isohunt.to
- Zamunda
- Arena.bg
- Torrenthound.com
- Fenopy.se
- Monova.org
- Torrentreactor.net
- Sumotorrent.sx
- Seedpeer.me
- Torrentdownloads.me
- 4shared.com
- Uploaded.net
- Oboom.com
- Zippyshare.com
- Rapidgator.net
- Turbobit.net
- Ulozto.cz
- Sdílej.cz
- Hell Spy
- HellShare
- Warez-dk.org
- Freakshare.com
- Bitshare.com
- Letitbit.net
- 1fichier.com
- Filestube.to
- Music.so.com
- Verycd.com
- Gudanglagu.com
- Thedigitalpinoy.org
- Todaybit.com
- Chacha.vn
- Zing.vn
- Songs.to
- Boerse.to
- Mygully.com
- Wawa-mania.ec
- Bajui.com
- Goear.com
- Pordescargadirecta.com
- Exvagos.com
- Degraçaémaisgostoso.org
- Baixeturbo.org
- Hitsmp3.net
- Musicasparabaixar.org
- Sapodownloads.net
- Sonicomusica.com
- Jarochos.net
- Rnbexclusive.se
- Newalbumreleases.net

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Site Uses Google To Resurrect Taken Down Content

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

Founded in 2003, UK-based FileSoup was one of the original torrent sites but in 2009 two former administrators of the site were arrested following a FACT investigation.

Two years later, however, the case collapsed and the men were free to go. Now, more than three years on, the FileSoup domain has been resurrected.

It’s a search engine / proxy, but not as we know it

The new site has no connections to the original owner, but there are several unique aspects to the relaunch of FileSoup that make for an interesting project.

On a basic level FileSoup acts as a meta-search engine variant. It covers four major torrent sites – The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, Torrentz and ExtraTorrent – each selectable via a drop-down box. It also acts as a reverse proxy for these sites to unblock them in countries where they are inaccessible, the UK for example.

filesoup

Improving on search results

But FileSoup is no ordinary proxy. Instead of simply mirroring the content it finds on sites such as KickassTorrents, it actually attempts to improve on the results by caching third party site indexes.

“Let’s say Kickass.to receives a [DMCA] notice and deletes the content. We are not simply proxying but also caching the site. This means we can provide the page content even if Kickass.to has deleted the URL due to a DMCA complaint,” FileSoup informs TorrentFreak.

So in theory (and given time to cache – the site is still getting off the ground), FileSoup should be able to provide access to content previously taken down from other sites it proxies. To see whether it’s anywhere near to that goal, we conducted a search for one of the most talked-about franchises of the year – Expendables.

The images below show the results from FileSoup and KickassTorrents for exactly the same search. FileSoup returned 139 results while KickAss returned 115. Also notable, aside from the inserted ads, is the prominence of highly-seeded Expendables 3 results in the top placed positions on FileSoup.

file-v-kick

kick-v-file

Other searches produced varied results but since FileSoup is just getting off the ground it will need more time to cache significant amounts of taken-down content. But what happens when FileSoup itself is subjected to takedown notices of its own?

“When FileSoup receives a DMCA abuse notice we create a new URL address for the same content. After that this URL lives till the next DMCA abuse notice,” the team explain.

The Necromancer – using Google DMCA notices bypass Google’s takedowns

The operators of FileSoup also addressed indirect search engine takedowns. Every week rightsholders force Google to remove torrent listings from its search results. For this problem FileSoup says it has a solution, and a controversial one it is too.

The team behind the site say they have developed a web crawler designed to pull the details of content subjected to DMCA notices from two sources – Google’s Transparency Report and the Chilling Effects Clearing House. From here the links are brought back to life.

“We created a technology that crawls DMCA notices and resurrects the torrent webpage under a different URL so it can appear in search results again. It was rather complicated to sharpen it, but eventually it works pretty well. We will use it on FileSoup.com for all the websites we proxy,” FileSoup explain.

“It will lead to a situation when KickaAss.FileSoup.com (for example) will have more pages indexed in Google than the original Kickass.to because we will revive pages banned by DMCA within Google search results. We call this technology the Necromancer.”

The idea of manipulating publicly available sources of copyright notices to reactivate access to infringing content is not new but this is the first time that a site has publicly admitted to putting theory into practice. Whether FileSoup will be able to pull this off remains to be seen, but if it does it could signal the biggest game of whac-a-mole yet.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Reports The Pirate Bay to The U.S. Government

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

mpaa-logoResponding to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the MPAA has sent in its annual list of rogue websites.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the MPAA’s latest submission. The Hollywood group targets a wide variety of websites which they claim are promoting the illegal distribution of movies and TV-shows, with declining incomes and lost jobs in the movie industry as a result.

These sites and services not only threaten the movie industry, but according to the MPAA they also put consumers at risk through identity theft and by spreading malware.

“It is important to note that websites that traffic in infringing movies, television shows, and other copyrighted content do not harm only the rights holder. Malicious software or malware, which puts Internet users at risk of identity theft, fraud, and other ills, is increasingly becoming a source of revenue for pirate sites,” MPAA writes.

Below is an overview of the “notorious markets” the MPAA reported to the Government. The sites are listed in separate categories and each have a suspected location, as defined by the movie industry group.

Torrent Sites

BitTorrent remains the most popular P2P software as the global piracy icon, MPAA notes. The Pirate Bay poses one of the largest threats here. Based on data from Comscore, the MPAA says that TPB has about 40 million unique visitors per month, which appears to be a very low estimate.

“Thepiratebay.se (TPB) claims to be the largest BitTorrent website on the Internet with a global Alexa rank of 91, and a local rank of 72 in the U.S. Available in 35 languages, this website serves a wide audience with upwards of 43.5 million peers,” MPAA writes.

“TPB had 40,551,220 unique visitors in August 2014 according to comScore World Wide data. Traffic arrives on this website through multiple changing ccTLD domains and over 90 proxy websites that assist TPB to circumvent site blocking actions.”

For the first time the MPAA also lists YIFY/YTS in its overview of notorious markets. The MPAA describes YTS as one of the most popular release groups, and notes that these are used by the Popcorn Time streaming application.

“[Yts.re] facilitates the downloading of free copies of popular movies, and currently lists more than 5,000 high-quality movie torrents available to download for free,” MPAA writes.

“Additionally, the content on Yts.re supports desktop torrent streaming application ‘Popcorn Time’ which has an install base of 1.4 million devices and more than 100,000 active users in the United States alone.”

The full list of reported torrent sites is as follows:

- Kickass.to (Several locations)
- Thepiratebay.se (Sweden)
- Torrentz.eu (Germany/Luxembourg)
- Rutracker.org (Russia)
- Yts.re (Several locations)
-Extratorrent.cc (Ukraine)
-Xunlei.com (China)

The mention of Xunlei.com is interesting as the Chinese company signed an anti-piracy deal with the MPA earlier this year. However, according to the MPAA piracy is still rampant, and there is no evidence that Xunlei has fulfilled its obligations.

Direct Download and Streaming Cyberlockers

The second category of pirate sites reported by the MPAA are cyberlockers. The movie industry group points out that these sites generate million of dollars in revenue, citing the recently released report from Netnames.

Interestingly, the MPAA doesn’t include 4shared and Mega, the two services who discredited the report in question. As in previous submissions VKontakte, Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, is also listed as a notorious market.

- VK.com (Russia)
- Uploaded.net (Netherlands)
- Rapidgator.net (Russia)
- Firedrive.com (New Zealand)
- Nowvideo.sx and the “Movshare Group” (Panama/Switzerland/Netherlands)
- Netload.in (Germany)

Linking Websites

The largest category in terms of reported sites represents linking websites. These sites don’t host the infringing material, but only link to it. The full list of linking sites is as follows.

- Free-tv-video-online.me (Canada)
- Movie4k.to (Romania)
- Primewire.ag (Estonia)
- Watchseries.lt (Switzerland)
- Putlocker.is (Switzerland)
- Solarmovie.is (Latvia)
- Megafilmeshd.net (Brazil)
- Filmesonlinegratis.net (Brazil)
- Watch32.com (Germany)
- Yyets.com (China)
- Cuevana.tv (Argentina)
- Viooz.ac (Estonia)
- Degraçaemaisgostoso.org (Brazil)
- Telona.org (Brazil)

The inclusion of Cuevana.tv is noteworthy as the website stopped offering direct links to infringing content earlier this year. Instead, it now direct people to its custom “Popcorn Time” equivalent “Storm.”

Finally, the MPAA lists one Usenet provider, the German based Usenext.com. This service was included because, unlike other providers, it allegedly heavily markets itself to P2P users.

Later this year the US Trade Representative will use the submissions of the MPAA and other parties to make up its final list of piracy havens. The U.S. Government will then alert the countries where these sites are operating from, hoping that local authorities take action.

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

TorrentFreak: Big Pirate Sites ‘Raided’, Admins on the Run

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

policedownloadIn June 2011, police across Europe coordinated to carry out the largest anti-piracy operation the continent had ever seen. Their target was Kino.to and its affiliates, a huge illegal movie streaming operation with links to Spain, France and the Netherlands.

Ultimately several people went to jail and Kino.to disappeared, but it didn’t take long for replacement site Kinox.to to take up the slack. It’s been clear for some time that anti-piracy groups have had their eyes on the popular site and now action appears to have been taken.

Last week investigators acting on behalf of the Attorney General carried out raids in several regions of Germany looking for four main suspects.

A raid on a house in a village near to the northern city of Lübeck aimed to secure two brothers, aged 21 and 25 years-old. This pair, who reportedly live with their parents, are said to be the main operators of Kinox.to. According to Der Spiegel, the raid drew a blank.

In total, six homes and businesses were searched and arrest warrants were successfully executed in Neuss and Dusseldorf. Two individuals, said to key players, were detained.

According to prosecutor’s office spokesman Wolfgang Klein, a Berlin-based payment service used by the suspects was also raided to ensure their “tax liability” – a reported 1.3 million euros – is met.

In addition to commercial copyright infringement and tax evasion, the defendants are accused of a range of other crimes including fraud, extortion and arson.

Klein said the defendants had “made great efforts” to get rid of their competitors in the piracy market, utilizing verbal tactics and those of a more direct nature.

“They used all means and also carried out threats,” he said. “Sometimes even a car burst into flames.”

And from here the plot only thickens.

According to a letter sent by anti-piracy outfit GVU to its members, the people behind Kinox.to are also behind a string of other sites including streaming giant Movie4K.to. The ring of services is said to extend to pirate linking sites Boerse.sx and MyGully.com, and GVU even connects file-hosting services FreakShare.com and BitShare.com to the operation.

The prosecutor’s office says “lots of data” and “assets” were secured following the raids but at this point the location of the missing brothers remains unknown. Some reports suggest that they may have even left Germany a while back. Adding to the confusion, Lars Sobiraj at Tarnkappe says his sources suggest that the brothers in control of Kinox are in fact much older and 21 and 25.

Nevertheless, whether it was published by the brothers or someone else, an update has appeared on Kinox.to mocking GVU and thanking them for the attention.

“GVU: You make yourself more ridiculous than you are. But THANK YOU again for the extreme (priceless) advertising !!” the post reads.

And that’s one of the key points. Along with all of the other mentioned sites, Kinox.to and Movie4K remain operational. In fact, as far as we can see, not a single site is down.

Perhaps inevitably this has led to speculation that some kind of honey pot could be in operation, but according to lawyer Christian Solmecke, that seems unlikely.

“From my perspective, the users of kinox.to have committed no offense, because the pure consumption of streaming services is not illegal [in Germany]. This is certainly the case whenever any copy of the stream is produced on your own computer,” Solmecke says.

“In addition, the GVU – which here apparently launched the criminal complaint – is also known normally to tackle the problem at its root. This means that the company is going in against the big fish, which has been shown again with the current raids too.”

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 10/27/14

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

letsbecopsThis week we have five newcomers in our chart.

Let’s Be Cops 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 (…) Let’s Be Cops 6.7 / trailer
2 (…) Step Up All In 6.1 / trailer
3 (2) How to Train Your Dragon 2 8.2 / trailer
4 (…) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 6.3 / trailer
5 (1) 22 Jump Street 7.6 / trailer
6 (…) A Most Wanted Man 7.2 / trailer
7 (…) The Expendables 3 6.2 / trailer
8 (8) Annabelle 5.9 / trailer
9 (3) The Purge: Anarchy 6.6 / trailer
10 (9) Sex Tape 5.2 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: FACT Wipes ‘Pirate’ Sport Streaming Software From Github

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

sportsdevThere are dozens, perhaps hundreds of sites offering either illegal sports streams viewable via embedded players or indexes of links to the same. It is these resources that were leveraged by SportsDevil, a piece of open source software popular in the various XBMC/Kodi and TVMC communities.

Under development at Github, SportsDevil’s aim is to present its tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of users with links to external video sources via a convenient interface, covering everything from live NFL, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey and motorsports, combat sports such as UFC and boxing, plus football and soccer from both sides of the Atlantic.

This week, however, SportsDevil’s reign on Github was brought to an end following action from UK-based anti-piracy group Federation Against Copyright Theft. While FACT is closely affiliated with Hollywood studios, it also represents the rights of major sports broadcasters and rightsholders including The Premier League, British Sky Broadcasting Ltd and BT Sport.

FACT-SD

In its takedown notice, FACT explains what SportsDevil does and why it should be taken down.

“The files found at the following locations facilitate linking to sites known to provide access to streams of infringing content. The sites are subsequently scraped for links to various broadcasts including those whose copyrights belong to FACT members,” the group explains.

In addition to the ZIP files for the project, FACT targeted 47 configuration files enabling SportsDevil to pull links to content from sites such as FirstRowSports, Wiziwig.tv and Cricfree, a site that was targeted by PIPCU earlier this year.

TorrentFreak contacted FACT about the takedown and asked if this was the first piece of software to be taken down by the group.

“This is not the first time and with development of technology, we don’t anticipate it will be the last,” FACT told TF.

factWe also put it to FACT that although it’s pretty clear what SportDevil is designed to do, the tool itself is often far removed from actual infringing content and could be several steps down the linking chain. Does that present issues?

“That’s the point of what we’re doing. The tool is creating alternative ways of accessing content, and we view that as a likely offense,” FACT said.

Also of interest is the formatting of FACT’s takedown notice, which references neither UK law where its members are based nor US law where Github is located.

“Our takedown notices are modeled on DMCA notices. In this particular case, they were adapted to comply with Github DMCA policy,” FACT confirmed.

It’s worth noting that Github recently updated its takedown processes to give projects more time to ‘fix’ any issues following a DMCA complaint but it appears SportsDevil’s creators didn’t take up that opportunity.

TF spoke with an expert on this type of software who told us that while its removal from Github will be a setback, it won’t mean the end of the tool.

“If an addon’s repository is removed from GitHub, the addon author loses the ability to push further updates to the addon, so unless users install the author’s new repository (which they would have to do manually) further automated updates won’t take place,” he explained.

Finally, we asked FACT if it intends to target more software tools in future.

“Where we see a threat to our members’ content, we’ll continue to seek appropriate ways of dealing with it,” FACT conclude.

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

TorrentFreak: Kelly Brook Wants Fappening Nudes Removed From Google

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

brookSince late August hundreds of photos of naked celebrities have leaked online in what’s now known as “The Fappening.”

The leaks resulted in a massive takedown operation targeted at 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.

Several celebrities threatened legal action against Google for its “unlawful activity,” demanding tgat the company should zap all their images. Others, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, used DMCA requests to remove the images from the public eye.

The famous UK actress, model and TV presenter Kelly Brook now joins this group as one of the latest Fappening victims.

Brook’s pictures leaked onto the Internet early October and last week she asked Google to remove three links to her pictures from search results, claiming that she holds the copyrights to the selfies.

The images are allegedly hosted on thefappening.so, and according to Google’s transparency report the request is still “pending”. However, during this week something unusual happened.

brook

For reasons unknown, Google has decided to remove all URLs of thefappening.so from its search results. Whether the pages were removed because of the leaked pictures, or for another reason, is unknown.

Kelly Brook is not the only celebrity to ask Google to remove thefappening.so links, Argentinian singer Melina Lezcano did the same last week.

TorrentFreak asked Google whether the removal of the entire domain name is due to its content or if there’s another reason, but we have yet to receive a response.

Whatever the reason, Brook and Lezcano’s takedown requests are moot. Whether they will be relieved is doubtful though, as most of the Fappening photos are still being shared through thousands of other sites.

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

TorrentFreak: Lawfirm Chasing Aussie ‘Pirates’ Discredited IP Address Evidence

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

There are many explanations for the existence of online piracy, from content not being made available quickly enough to it being sold at ripoff prices. Unfortunately for Australians, over the years most of these complaints have had some basis in fact.

The country is currently grappling with its piracy issues and while there’s hardly a consensus of opinion right now, most of the region’s rightsholders feel that suing the general public isn’t the way to go. It’s painful for everyone involved and doesn’t solve the problem.

That said, US-based Dallas Buyers Club LLC are not of the same opinion. They care about money and to that end they’re now attempting to obtain the identities of iiNet users for the purpose of extracting cash settlements from them.

Yesterday additional information on the case became available. An Optus spokeswoman told SMH that it had been contacted by Dallas Buyers Club about handing over subscriber data but its legal representatives had backed off when it was denied. The movie outfit didn’t even try with Telstra – but why?

So-called copyright trolls like the easiest possible fight and through iiNet they know their adversaries just that little bit better. According to Anny Slater of Slaters Intellectual Property Lawyers, documents revealed in the ISP’s earlier fight with Village Roadshow show that Telstra could well be a more difficult target for discovery.

The business model employed by plaintiffs such as Dallas Buyer’s Club LLC (DBCLLC) requires a minimum of ‘difficult’ since difficulties increase costs and decrease profits. To that end, part of the job of keeping things straightforward will fall to DBCLLC’s lawfirm, Sydney-based Marque Lawyers.

Unfortunately for DBCLLC, Marque Lawyers have already shot themselves in the foot when it comes to convincing DBCLLC’s “pirate” targets to “pay up or else.”

In 2012, Marque published a paper titled “It wasn’t me, it was my flatmate! – a defense to copyright infringement?” which detailed the company’s stance on file-sharing accusations. The publication provided a short summary of cases in the US where porn companies were aiming to find out the identities of people who had downloaded their films, just as Dallas Buyers Club – Marque’s clients – are doing now.

“To find out the actual identities of the users, the [porn companies] asked the Court to force the ISPs to reveal the names and addresses of each of the subscribers to which the IP addresses related. The users went on the attack and won,” Marque explained.

And here’s the line all potential targets of Dallas Buyers Club and Marque Lawyers should be aware of – from the lawfirm’s own collective mouth.

“The judge, rightly in our view, agreed with the users that just because an IP address is in one person’s name, it does not mean that that person was the one who illegally downloaded the porn.

As the judge said, an IP address does not necessarily identify a person and so you can’t be sure that the person who pays for a service has necessarily infringed copyright.

This decision makes a lot of sense to us. If it holds up, copyright
owners will need to be a whole lot more savvy about how they identify and pursue copyright infringers and, perhaps, we’ve seen the end of the mass ‘John Doe’ litigation.”

So there you have it. Marque Lawyers do not have faith in the IP address-based evidence used in mass file-sharing litigation. In fact, they predict that weaknesses in IP address evidence might even signal the end of mass lawsuits.

Sadly they weren’t right in their latter prediction, as their partnership with Dallas Buyers Club reveals. Still, their stance that the evidence is weak remains and will probably come back to bite them.

The document is available for download from Marque’s own server. Any bill payers wrongly accused of piracy by the company in the future may like to refer the lawfirm to its own literature as part of their response.

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

TorrentFreak: Embedding Is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules

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

carembedOne of the key roles of the EU’s Court of Justice is to interpret European law to ensure that it’s applied in the same manner across all member states.

The Court is also called upon by national courts to clarify finer points of EU law to progress local cases with Europe-wide implications.

This week the Court of Justice issued a landmark ruling on one such case that deals with a crucial and integral part of today’s Internet. Is it legal to embed copyrighted content without permission from the rightsholder?

The case in question was referred to EU’s Court of Justice by a German court. It deals with a dispute between the water filtering company BestWater International and two men who work as independent commercial agents for a competitor.

Bestwater accused the men of embedding one of their promotional videos, which was available on YouTube without the company’s permission. The video was embedded on the personal website of the two through a frame, as is usual with YouTube videos.

While EU law is clear on most piracy issues, the copyright directive says very little about embedding copyrighted works. The Court of Justice, however, now argues that embedding is not copyright infringement.

The full decision has yet to be published officially by the Court’s website but TorrentFreak has received a copy (in German) from the defendants’ lawyer Dr. Bernhard Knies, who describes it as a landmark victory.

The Court argues that embedding a file or video is not a breach of creator’s copyrights under European law, as long as it’s not altered or communicated to a new public. In the current case, the video was already available on YouTube so embedding it is not seen as a new communication.

“The embedding in a website of a protected work which is publicly accessible on another website by means of a link using the framing technology … does not by itself constitute communication to the public within the meaning of [the EU Copyright directive] to the extent that the relevant work is neither communicated to a new public nor by using a specific technical means different from that used for the original communication,” the Court’s verdict reads.

The Court based its verdict on an earlier decision in the Svensson case, where it found that hyperlinking to a previously published work is not copyright infringement. Together, both cases will have a major impact on future copyright cases in the EU.

For Internet users it means that they are protected from liability if they embed copyrighted videos or images from other websites, for example. In addition, it may also protect streaming sites who use third-party services to embed videos, even if the source is an infringing copy.

During the days to come the Court of Justice is expected to issue official translations of the ruling as well as a press release. Many legal experts have been waiting for the decision and further analysis of the verdict’s implications is expected to follow soon after.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Blockade Set For Icelandic Expansion

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

In common with many countries around Europe, the movie and music industries in Iceland have been working hard to cut down on copyright infringement online. To this end copyright groups including the local equivalents of the RIAA (STEF) and MPAA (SMAIS) have targeted the leader of the usual suspects, the notorious Pirate Bay.

After complaints to the police failed, STEF and SMAIS turned to web-blocking in the hope of achieving similar results to those netted by rightsholders in the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.

Following setbacks STEF decided to go it alone and earlier this month achieved the result they’d been looking 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, a private torrent site popular with locals.

Just two weeks later and it’s now becoming clear that STEF won’t be happy until all of Iceland’s leading ISPs are blocking too.

Earlier this week the rights group demanded responses from ISPs including Sím­inn, Tal and 365 Media as to whether the companies will agree to block Pirate Bay and Deildu in the wake of the Vodafone decision. Threatening legal action, STEF gave the ISPs until Wednesday to respond.

According to local news outlet MBL, 365 Media informed STEF it was willing to at least consider the idea but both Sím­inn and Tal appear to have rejected voluntary blocking, preferring official action through the courts instead.

Sím­inn said that it is not the role of communications companies to decide which sites should be closed and which should remain open so it would need to be presented with a formal injunction in order to block Pirate Bay and Deildu. In broad terms, Tali said the same.

As a result, lawyer Tóm­as Jóns­son says that STEF will now press ahead with its efforts to obtain injunctions against the ISPs that have raised objections. Procedural issues aside, which have dogged previous efforts, it’s likely that sooner or later STEF will achieve its aims.

Finally, there has been a trend recently for under-pressure sites to look at Icelandic hosting and local .IS domains in the belief they offer improved security over those available elsewhere.

While that may indeed be true, Iceland’s domain registry has just canceled an .IS domain that was operated by people with links to Islamic State.

“This is in fact a sad day for IS­NIC. We are very sad over this. It was not an easy de­ci­sion to do this. We had a rep­utaion for never hav­ing sus­pended a do­main name. That is not the re­al­ity any­more. These peo­ple have ru­ined that for us,” said ISNIC director Jens Pé­tur Jensen.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Sends 100,000 New Users to “Free” VPN

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

froot-vpnWith an increasing number of BitTorrent users seeking solutions to hide their identities from the outside world, VPN services have seen a spike in customers in recent years.

Pirate Bay users also have a great interest in anonymity. A survey among the site’s users previously revealed that nearly 70% already had a VPN or proxy or were interested in signing up with one.

For this last group The Pirate Bay has an interesting promotion running. For the past few days the site has replaced its iconic logo with an ad for FrootVPN, a new startup that offers free VPN accounts.

The promo has has been seen by millions of people, many of whom very interested in the costless offer.

Since VPNs are certainly not free to run, many people are wondering if there’s a catch behind this rather generous offer. Previously TPB advertised an adware ridden client so this suspicion is understandable.

TorrentFreak contact the Pirate Bay team for more information, and they informed us that the FrootVPN promotion is not a paid ad. It’s merely a friendly plug for a startup run by some guys they know.

While that’s assuring, it doesn’t explain how they can offer their service for free. We contacted the FrootVPN operators to find out more, and they told us that they started the free VPN to counter the commercialization of the VPN business.

“The whole idea behind FrootVPN was to provide a free simple VPN service without any bandwidth limitations. Of course the maintenance isn’t free but we had some resources over from our other projects from which we were able to launch FrootVPN.”

“We are a bunch of guys who support freedom of speech and don’t like the idea that VPN providers charge so much money for just a simple proxy, especially since the bandwidth costs nowadays is so cheap,” FrootVPN tells us.

While a free VPN sounded like a good idea, the VPN service has become a victim of its own success. They gained 100,000 users in less than a week and admit that it’s not sustainable to keep the service free forever.

“The word has spread rapidly and we thank all our promoters including TPB for supporting us. We got 100,000 users within a week, which we never expected. However, this does indicate that we will be forced to charge something for the service in order to maintain it,” FrootVPN says.

FrootVPN’s VPN servers are currently hosted at Portlane, who have been very helpful in accommodating the growth. During the weeks to come they hope to increase their capacity and FrootVPN has already bought several new servers to keep the quality of the service on par.

“We have 20x servers running currently with 2x10Gbps total capacity. We have now additionally bought 40x more servers and 4x10Gbps bandwidth from Portlane which will be ready within a week or two. We hope that after this upgrade the quality of our service will be much better,” they say.

While they may have to charge a few dollars in the future, one of the main motivations of the FrootVPN team remains in line with The Pirate Bay’s original philosophy. That is, to provide tools that help to bypass censorship and promote freedom of speech.

“FrootVPN supports freedom of speech and want the Internetz to be an uncensored place,” they say.

Although free VPNs are often not the fastest, especially not when they are growing with tens of thousands of users per day, FrootVPN says it will try to keep up. In any case, “free” is an offer that’s hard to refuse for those who are on a tight budget.

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

TorrentFreak: Porn Piracy Cash Threats to Hit Virgin Media Customers

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

trolloridiotIt’s been more than seven years since so-called copyright trolls first tried their luck with the British public. UK lawfirm Davenport Lyons, a company that attempted to mislead future targets with a semi-bogus high-profile damages ‘ruling’, went into administration early 2014 but not before its partners were disciplined for targeting innocent people.

The follow-up debacle involving ACS:Law was widely documented, with owner Andrew Crossley being forced to close down his business after being suspended by the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority for misconduct. After misleading the courts, bankruptcy was just the icing on the cake.

None of this was a deterrent to porn outfit GoldenEye International. They embarked on a similar scheme, sending letters to alleged file-sharers and demanding hundreds of pounds in settlements to make supposed lawsuits go away. However, GoldenEye learned from its predecessors by proceeding with caution and staying largely under the radar. But quite predictably and despite legal bluster and empty threats, the company took not a single case to court.

So today, quite possibly due to the tendency of the public to pay up rather than become linked with embarrassing porn movie titles, the porn trolls are back once again in the UK.

TorrentFreak has learned that last year four porn producers teamed up in an effort to force ISP Virgin Media to hand over the names and addresses of more than 1,500 subscribers said to have downloaded and shared adult content without permission.

The companies, none of which appear to be based in the UK, teamed up with Wagner & Co, the London lawfirm also working with GoldenEye. They are Mircom International Content Management & Consulting Ltd, Sunlust Pictures, Combat Zone Corporation and Pink Bonnet, Consultores de Imagem LDA.

Mircom International Content Management & Consulting Ltd are active in Europe, particularly when it comes to demanding cash settlements from alleged file-sharers in Germany. Sunlust Pictures is an adult movie company founded in 2009 by former porn actress Sunny Leone, who – entirely unsurprisingly – has featured in copyright trolling cases in the United States. Combat Zone Corporation is an adult movie company based in California. They’re no strangers to the cash settlement model either.

TorrentFreak contacted Mark Wagner at Wagner & Co to find out what his clients hope to achieve in the UK, but unfortunately our emails went unanswered. The company doesn’t appear to have a working website and its address relates to a house in residential area.

Fortunately, Virgin Media were rather more accommodating. In the past the ISP has been criticized for not doing more to protect its subscribers’ personal details but it turns out the battle with Wagner & Co has been going on for some time.

“We have contested the validity of Wagner & Co’s claims (ongoing for 12 months), asking the Judge to thoroughly review the application and the supporting evidence. We have challenged the reliability of the software used to obtain evidence of infringement (FileWatchBT) and the accuracy of the data collected,” spokesperson Emma Hutchinson told TF.

But despite Virgin Media’s efforts the High Court took the decision to side with Wagner & Co and order the ISP to hand over the details of its subscribers. While the situation is pretty grim, things could have been worse.

“The original request was for double the number of addresses than we have been forced to disclose, now fewer than 800,” Virgin explain.

“We advise any of our customers who receive a speculative letter from Wagner & Co, who also represented Golden Eye International in action against O2 customers last year, to seek independent advice from organizations such as Citizens Advice,” the ISP concludes.

Restrictions placed on GoldenEye in previous procedures indicate that initial letters sent to Virgin customers by Wagner & Co and its clients will not be as aggressive as the ones sent out by ACS:Law and will not contain a precise settlement amount. However, it is guaranteed that cash will be requested at some point.

Upon receipt of these “speculative invoices” there will be those who panic and pay up, and that’s their prerogative. But it’s highly likely that those who admit nothing and stand firm will pay what they’ve always paid in UK cases – absolutely nothing.

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

TorrentFreak: Google’s New Search Downranking Hits Torrent Sites Hard

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

google-bayIn recent years Hollywood and the music industry have taken a rather aggressive approach against Google. The entertainment industry companies have accused the search engine of not doing enough to limit piracy, and demanded more stringent anti-piracy measures.

One of the suggestions often made is the removal or demotion of pirate sites in search results. A lower ranking would lead fewer people to pirate sources and promoting legal sources would have a similar effect, rightsholders argue.

While Google already began changing the ranking of sites based on DMCA complaints in 2012, it announced more far-reaching demotion measures last week. According to Google the new alghorithm changes would “visibly” lower the search rankings of the most notorious pirate sites, and they were right.

TorrentFreak has spoken with various torrent site owners who confirm that traffic from Google has been severely impacted by the recent algorithm changes. “Earlier this week all search traffic dropped in half,” the Isohunt.to team told us.

The drop is illustrated by a day-to-day traffic comparison before and after the changes were implemented, as shown below. The graph shows a significant loss in traffic which Isohunt.to solely attributes to Google’s recent changes.

Torrent site traffic drop
traffic drop

The downranking affects all sites that have a relatively high percentage of DMCA takedown requests. When Google users search for popular movie, music or software titles in combination with terms such as “download,” “watch” and “torrent”, these sites are demoted.

The new measures appear to be far more effective than previous search algorithm changes, and affect all major ‘pirate’ sites. Below is an overview of the SEO visibility of several large torrent sites in the UK and US, based on a list of 100 keywords.

Google SEO visibility torrent sites
seo-visibility

The true impact varies from site to site, depending on how much it relies on Google traffic. Confirming their earlier stance, The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak that they are not really concerned about the changes as they have relatively little traffic from Google.

“That Google is putting our links lower is in a way a good thing for us. We’ll get more direct traffic when people don’t get the expected search result when using Google, since they will go directly to TPB,” they said.

To get an idea of how the search results have changed we monitored a few search phrases that were likely to be affected. The before and after comparisons, which are only three days apart, show that popular ‘pirate sites’ have indeed disappeared.

A search for “Breaking Bad torrent” previously featured Kickass.to, Torrentz.eu and Isohunt.com on top, but these have all disappeared. Interestingly, in some cases their place has been taken by other less popular torrent sites.

old – “Breaking Bad torrent” – new
breaking bad torrent

The top torrent sites have also vanished from a search for the movie The Social Network. “The Social Network download” no longer shows results from Kickass.to, ThePirateBay.se and Movie4k.to but shows the IMDb profile on top instead.

old – “The Social Network download” – new
the social network download

Searches for music tracks have changed as well. The phrase “Eminem lose yourself mp3″ no longer shows links to popular MP3 download sites such as MP3Skull.com, but points to legal sources and lesser known pirate sites.

old – “Eminem lose yourself mp3″ – new
eminemp3

The traffic data and search comparisons clearly show that Google’s latest downranking changes can have a severe impact on popular “pirate” sites. Ironically, the changes will also drive a lot of traffic to smaller unauthorized sources for the time being, but these will also be demoted as their takedown notice count increases.

Rinse and repeat.

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

TorrentFreak: Record Labels Obtain Orders to Block 21 Torrent Sites

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

stop-blockedHaving ISPs block file-sharing sites is a key anti-piracy strategy employed by major rightsholders in the UK. Both Hollywood-affiliated groups and the recording labels have obtained High Court orders alongside claims that the process is an effective way to hinder piracy.

Last week these rightsholders were joined by luxury brand owner Richemont, which successfully obtained orders to block sites selling counterfeit products. The outcome of that particular case had delayed decisions in other blocking applications, including one put forward by the record labels. Today the High Court ended its hiatus by processing a new injunction.

The application was made by record labels 1967, Dramatico Entertainment, Infectious Music, Liberation Music, Simco Limited, Sony Music and Universal Music. The labels represented themselves plus the BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) and PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) which together account for around 99% of all music legally available in the UK today.

Through their legal action the labels hoped to disrupt the activities of sites and services they believe to be enabling and facilitating the unlawful distribution of their copyright works. In this case the key targets were the 21 torrent sites listed below:

(1) bittorrent.am, (2) btdigg.org, (3) btloft.com, (4) bts.to, (5) limetorrents.com, (6) nowtorrents.com, (7) picktorrent.com, (8) seedpeer.me, (9) torlock.com, (10) torrentbit.net, (11) torrentdb.li, (12) torrentdownload.ws, (13) torrentexpress.net, (14) torrentfunk.com, (15) torrentproject.com, (16) torrentroom.com, (17) torrents.net, (18) torrentus.eu, (19) torrentz.cd, (20) torrentzap.com and (21) vitorrent.org.

As usual the UK’s leading Internet service providers – Sky, Virgin, TalkTalk, BT and EE – were named as defendants in the case. The ISPs neither consented to nor opposed the application but participated in order to negotiate the wording of any order granted.

In his ruling Justice Arnold noted that the sites listed in the application function in a broadly similar way to The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, sites that are already subjected to blocking orders. Perhaps surprisingly, efforts by some of the sites to cooperate with rightsholders meant little to the Court.

“All of [the sites] go to considerable lengths to facilitate and promote the downloading of torrent files, and hence infringing content, by their users,” Justice Arnold wrote.

“Although a few of the Target Websites pay lipservice to copyright protection, in reality they all flout it. Although a few of the Target Websites claim not to, they all have control over which torrent files they index.”

Also of interest is that Court didn’t differentiate between sites that allow users to upload torrents, those that store them, or those that simply harvest links to torrents hosted elsewhere.

“Thirteen of the Target Websites (bittorrent.am, btdigg.org, btloft.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, torrentdb.li, torrentdownload.ws, torrentexpress.net, torrentproject.com, torrentroom.com, torrentus.eu, torrentz.cd and vitorrent.org) do not permit uploads of torrent files by users, but gather all their links to torrent files using ‘crawling’ technology. No torrent files are stored on these websites’ own servers,” Justice Arnold explained.

“Nevertheless, the way in which the torrent files (or rather the links thereto) are presented, and the underlying technology, is essentially the same as in the cases of the other Target Websites.”

The Judge also touched on the efficacy of website blockades, citing comScore data which suggests that, on average, the number of UK visitors to already blocked BitTorrent sites has declined by 87%.

“No doubt some of these users are using circumvention measures which are not reflected in the comScore data, but for the reasons given elsewhere it seems clear that not all users do this,” Justice Arnold wrote.

bpiSpeaking with TF the BPI said that the 21 sites had been selected for blocking on the basis that they are amongst the most infringing sites available in the UK today. BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said that having them rendered inaccessible would help both the music industry and consumers.

“Illegal sites dupe consumers and deny artists a fair reward for their work. The online black market stifles investment in new British music, holds back the growth of innovative legal services like Spotify and destroys jobs across Britain’s vital creative sector,” Taylor said.

“Sites such as these also commonly distribute viruses, malware and other unsafe or inappropriate content. These blocks will not only make the internet a safer place for music fans, they will help make sure there is more great British music in years to come.”

Finally, and mirroring a decision made in the Richemont case, Justice Arnold said that Internet subscribers affected by the block will be given the ability to apply to the High Court to discharge or vary the orders. Furthermore, when blocked site information pages are viewed by ISP subscribers in future, additional information will have to be displayed including details of the parties who obtained the block.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Police PIPCU Secure Govt. Funding Until 2017

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

In a relatively short space of time City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit has stamped its mark on the online piracy space in a way few other organizations have managed.

Since its official launch in September 2013 the unit has tackled online copyright infringement from a number of directions including arrests, domain seizures and advertising disruptions. PIPCU has shut down several sports streaming and ebook sites plus a large number of proxies.

In June 2013 when the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills announced the creation of PIPCU, Viscount Younger of Leckie noted that the Intellectual Property Office would provide an initial £2.56 million in funding to the unit over two years.

However, this funding was allocated on a temporary basis and was set to expire in 2015, a situation which prompted the Prime Minister’s former Intellectual Property Advisor Mike Weatherley to call for additional support.

This morning the government confirmed that additional funding will indeed be made available to PIPCU enabling it to operate until at least 2017.

Speaking to the national crime unit at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group Conference in London, Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Neville-Rolfe said that PIPCU would be boosted by £3 million of funding from the public purse.

“We’ve seen significant success in PIPCU’s first year of operation. This extra support will help the unit to build on this impressive record in the fight against intellectual property crime, which costs the UK at least £1.3 billion a year in lost profits and taxes,” Baroness Neville-Rolfe said.

“With more money now being invested in ideas than factories or machinery in the UK, it is vital that we protect creators and consumers and the UK’s economic growth. Government and industry must work together to give long-term support to PIPCU, so that we can strengthen the UK’s response to the blight of piracy and counterfeiters.”

City of London Police Commander Steve Head, who is the Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime, welcomed the cash injection.

“The government committing to fund the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit until 2017 is fantastic news for the City of London Police and the creative industries, and very bad news for those that seek to make capital through intellectual property crime,” Head said.

“Since launching a year ago, PIPCU has quickly established itself as an integral part of the national response to a problem that is costing the UK more than a billion pounds a year. Much of this success is down to PIPCU moving away from traditional policing methods and embracing new and innovative tactics, to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks responsible for causing huge damages to legitimate businesses.”

PIPCU, which is closely allied with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), is a 21-strong team comprised of detectives, investigators, analysts, researchers, an education officer and a communications officer.

The unit also reports two secondees – a Senior Intelligence Officer from the IPO and an Internet Investigator from the BPI. The latter role was previously filled by the BPI’s Mark Rampton but according to his Linkedin profile he left his position last month. No announcement has been made detailing his replacement.

While PIPCU is definitely leaving its mark, not all operations have gone to plan. In one of its highest-profile actions to date, last month the unit shut down what it described as an illegal and “industrial scale” sports streaming service in Manchester. However, in mid October all charges were dropped against its alleged operator.

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

TorrentFreak: Photographer Who Sued Imgur Now Has a Pirate Bay Problem

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

boffoli1When it comes to online piracy most attention usually goes out to music, TV-shows and movies. However, photos are arguably the most-infringed works online.

Virtually every person on the Internet has shared a photo without obtaining permission from its maker, whether through social networks, blogs or other services.

While most photographers spend little time on combating piracy, Seattle-based artist Christopher Boffoli has taken some of the largest web services to court for aiding these infringements

Boffoli has filed lawsuits against Twitter, Google and others, which were settled out for court under undisclosed terms. Last month he started a new case against popular image sharing site Imgur after it allegedly ignored his takedown requests.

The photographer asked the court to order an injunction preventing Imgur from making 73 of his photos available online. In addition, he requested millions of dollars in statutory damages for willful copyright infringement.

Imgur has yet to file an official reply to the complaint. In the meantime, however, Boffoli’s actions appear to have triggered another less welcome response.

A few days ago a user of The Pirate Bay decided to upload a rather large archive of the photographer’s work to the site. The archive in question is said to hold 20,754 images, including the most famous “Big Appetites” series.

A torrent with 20,754 images
tpb-boffoli

The image archive, which is more than eight gigabytes in size, had to be partly wrapped in an .iso file because otherwise the .torrent file itself would have been too large.

The description of the archive mentions Boffoli’s recent actions against Imgur, which could have triggered the upload. One of the commenters points out that the Imgur lawsuit may have done more harm than good, and a new Internet meme was born.

“Sued for 73 images, got 20,754 uploaded to TPB, LOL. About the Big Appetites series, if I ever get my hands on a copy, I’ll scan it at 600 dpi and upload it here, have fun trying to censor the internet, Boffoli,” the commenter notes.

TorrentFreak asked Boffoli for a comment on the leak and whether he will take steps to prevent the distribution, but we have yet to hear back.

While not everyone may agree with the lawsuit against Imgur piracy can impact photographers quite a bit. It’s usually not the average Pirate Bay user that’s causing the damage though, but rather companies that use professional photos commercially without a license.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Government Shuts Down Music Sharing Sites

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

IPRC_SeizedDuring the spring of 2010 U.S. authorities started a campaign to take copyright-infringing websites offline.

Since then Operation in Our Sites has resulted in thousands of domain name seizures and several arrests. While most of the sites are linked to counterfeit goods, dozens of “pirate” sites have also been targeted.

After a period of relative calm the authorities appear to have restarted their efforts with the takedown of two large music sites. RockDizFile.com and RockDizMusic.com, which are connected, now display familiar banners in which ICE takes credit for their demise.

“This domain has been seized by ICE- Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court under the authority of 18 U.S.C. §§ 981 and 2323,” the banner reads.

TorrentFreak contacted ICE yesterday for a comment on the recent activity but we have yet to receive a response.

The domain names are now pointing to the same IP-address where many of the previously seized websites, such as torrent-finder.com and channelsurfing.net, are directed. Both domain names previously used Cloudflare and had their NS entries updated earlier this week.

Despite the apparent trouble, RockDizFile.com and RockDizMusic.com’s Twitter and Facebook pages have remained silent for days.

RockDizMusic presented itself as an index of popular new music. Artists were encouraged to use the site to promote their work, but the site also featured music being shared without permission, including pre-release tracks.

RockDizMusic.com
rockdizmusic

RockDizFile used a more classic file-hosting look, but with a 50MB limit it was mostly used for music. The site offered premium accounts to add storage space and remove filesize and bandwidth limitations.

RockDizFile.com
rockdizfile

Both websites appear to have a strong focus on rap and hip-hop music. This is in line with previous ICE seizures which targeted RapGodFathers.com, RMX4U.com, OnSmash.com and Dajaz1.com.

The latter was seized by mistake. The record labels failed to deliver proof of alleged infringements to the authorities and after a long appeal the domain was eventually returned to its owners.

This incident and the general lack of due process of ICE’s domain seizures has led to critique from lawmakers and legal scholars. The authorities are nevertheless determined to keep Operation in Our Sites going.

“Operation In Our Sites’ enforcement actions involve federal law enforcement investigating and developing evidence to obtain seizure warrants from federal judges,” ICE states on its website.

Once a credible lead comes in ICE says it “will work with the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute, convict, and punish individuals as well as seize website domain names, profits, and other property from IP thieves.”

At this point it’s unclear whether ICE has targeted any of the individuals connected to RockDizFile.com and RockDizMusic.com or whether the unit has taken down any other sites in a similar fashion.

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

TorrentFreak: Australians Face ‘Fines’ For Downloading Pirate Movies

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

Much to the disappointment of owner Voltage Pictures, early January 2013 a restricted ‘DVD Screener’ copy of the hit movie Dallas Buyers Club leaked online. The movie was quickly downloaded by tens of thousands but barely a month later, Voltage was plotting revenge.

In a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Texas, Voltage sought to identify illegal downloaders of the movie by providing the IP addresses of Internet subscribers to the court. Their aim – to scare those individuals into making cash settlements to make supposed lawsuits disappear.

Now, in the most significant development of the ‘trolling’ model in recent times, Dallas Buyers Club LLC are trying to expand their project into Australia. Interestingly the studio has chosen to take on subscribers of the one ISP that was absolutely guaranteed to put up a fight.

iiNet is Australia’s second largest ISP and the country’s leading expert when it comes to fighting off aggressive rightsholders. In 2012 the ISP defeated Hollywood in one of the longest piracy battles ever seen and the company says it will defend its subscribers in this case too.

Chief Regulatory Officer Steve Dalby says that Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBCLLC) recently applied to the Federal Court to have iiNet and other local ISPs reveal the identities of people they say have downloaded and/or shared their movie without permission.

According to court documents seen by TorrentFreak the other ISPs involved are Wideband Networks Pty Ltd, Internode Pty Ltd, Dodo Services Pty Ltd, Amnet Broadband Pty Ltd and Adam Internet Pty Ltd.

Although the stance of the other ISPs hasn’t yet been made public, DBCLLC aren’t going to get an easy ride. iiNet (which also owns Internode and Adam) says it will oppose the application for discovery.

“iiNet would never disclose customer details to a third party, such as movie studio, unless ordered to do so by a court. We take seriously both our customers’ privacy and our legal obligations,” Dalby says.

While underlining that the company does not condone copyright infringement, news of Dallas Buyers Club / Voltage Pictures’ modus operandi has evidently reached iiNet, and the ISP is ready for them.

“It might seem reasonable for a movie studio to ask us for the identity of those they suspect are infringing their copyright. Yet, this would only make sense if the movie studio intended to use this information fairly, including to allow the alleged infringer their day in court, in order to argue their case,” Dalby says.

“In this case, we have serious concerns about Dallas Buyers Club’s intentions. We are concerned that our customers will be unfairly targeted to settle any claims out of court using a practice called ‘speculative invoicing’.”

The term ‘speculative invoicing’ was coined in the UK in response to the activities of companies including the now defunct ACS:Law, which involved extracting cash settlements from alleged infringers (via mailed ‘invoices’) and deterring them from having their say in court. Once the scheme was opened up to legal scrutiny it completely fell apart.

Some of the flaws found to exist in both UK and US ‘troll’ cases are cited by iiNet, including intimidation of subscribers via excessive claims for damages. The ISP also details the limitations of IP address-based evidence when it comes to identifying infringers due to shared household connections and open wifi scenarios.

“Because Australian courts have not tested these cases, any threat by rights holders, premised on the outcome of a successful copyright infringement action, would be speculative,” Dalby adds.

The Chief Regulatory Officer says that since iiNet has opposed the action for discovery the Federal Court will now be asked to decide whether iiNet should hand over subscriber identities to DBCLLC. A hearing on that matter is expected early next year and it will be an important event.

While a win for iiNet would mean a setback for rightsholders plotting similar action, victory for DBCLLC will almost certainly lead to others following in their footsteps. For an idea of what Australians could face in this latter scenario, in the United States the company demands payment of up to US$7,000 (AUS$8,000) per infringement.

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

TorrentFreak: Retired Scene Groups Return to Honor Fallen Member

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

ripTo many people the Warez Scene is something mythical or at least hard to comprehend. A group of people at the top of the piracy pyramid.

The Scene is known for its aversion to public file-sharing, but nonetheless it’s in large part responsible for much of the material out there today.

The goal of most Scene groups is to be the first to release a certain title, whether that’s a film, music or software. While there is some healthy competition The Scene is also a place where lifelong friendships are started.

A few days ago, on October 17, the Scene lost Goolum, a well-respected member and friend. Only in his late thirties, he passed away after being part of the Scene for more than a decade.

As a cracker Goolum, also known as GLM, was of the more experienced reverse engineers who worked on numerous releases.

Through the years Goolum was connected to several groups which are now retired, some for more than a decade. To honor their fallen friend, the groups ZENiTH, Lz0, SLT and MiDNiGHT have made a one-time comeback.

Below is an overview of their farewell messages, which honor him for his cracking skills but most of all as a friend. Our thoughts go out to Goolum’s friends and family.

ZENiTH: THUNDERHEAD.ENGINEERING.PYROSIM.V2014.2.RIP.GOOLUM-ZENiTH (NFO)

ZENiTH, a group that retired around 2005, mentions Goolum’s loyalty and the love for his daughter.

“Goolum has been in and around the scene since the Amiga days but had never been a guy to jump from group to group, but stayed loyal and dedicated to the few groups he was involved in.”

“We are all proud to have been in a group with you, to have spent many a long night sharing knowledge about everything, learning about your daughter who you where very proud of, and all the projects you were involved in.”

ZENiTH’s in memoriam
zenith1

Lz0: CEI.Inc.EnSight.Gold.v10.1.1b.Incl.Keygen.RIP.GOOLUM-Lz0 (NFO)

Lz0 or LineZer0, split from the Scene last year but many of its members are still actively involved in other roles. The group mentions the hard time Goolum has had due to drug problems. LzO also highlights Goolum’s love for his daughter, and how proud he was of her.

“We all knew that he struggled in life – not just economical but also on a personal level and not the least with his drug issues. One of the things that kept him going was his wonderful daughter whom he cherished a lot. He often talked about her, and how proud of her he was. He was clear that if there was one thing in life he was proud of – it was that he became the dad of a wonderful girl.”

“We’re shocked that when finally things started to move in the right direction, that we would receive the news about his death. It came without warning and we can only imagine the shock of his family. It’s hard to find the right words – or words for that matter. Even though it might have appeared as that he was lonely – with few friends, he knew that we were just a keyboard away.”

Lz0′s in memoriam
Lz0mem

SLT: PROTEUS.ENGINEERING.FASTSHIP.V6.1.30.1.RIP.GOOLUM-SLT (NFO)

SLT or SOLiTUDE has been retired since 2000 but returns to remember Goolum. The group notes that he will be dearly missed.

“You will be missed. It is not easy to say goodbye to someone who you have known for over a decade, trading banter, laughs, advice and stories. You leave behind a daughter, a family and a group of friends, who will miss you dearly.”

“As the news have spread, the kind words have poured in. Solitude is releasing this in honor of you, to show that the values we founded the group on is the exact values you demonstrated through your decades of being in the scene. Loyalty, friendship and hard work. Our thoughts are with you, wherever you may be.”

SLT’s in memoriam
SLT

MiDNiGHT: POINTWISE_V17.2.R2_RIP_GOOLUM-MIDNIGHT (NFO)

MiDNiGHT hasn’t been active for nearly a decade but have also honored Goolum with a comeback. The group mentions that he was a great friend who was always in for a chat and a beer.

“Life won’t ever be the same again my friend. We could sit and chat for hours and hours, and even then we knew each other well enough that nothing more was required than a beer, a rant and a small *yarr* and we’d know it would all be good.”

“This time it’s not good mate. I am here, you are not. I can’t even begin to express how this makes me feel – except an absolute sadness.”

MiDNiGHT’s in memoriam
midnight

RIP Goolum 1977 – 2014

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