Posts tagged ‘anonymous’

TorrentFreak: Developer Registers “Popcorn Time” Trademark to Prevent Abuse

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

popcornThe Popcorn Time phenomenon is one of the biggest piracy stories of the year thus far.

The software amassed millions of users by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface.

The original app was shut down by the developers after a few weeks, but the project was quickly picked up by others. This resulted in several popular forks that have each developed their own features, with most releasing their source code in public.

In recent months there has been some competition between the various forks. Several spin-offs have claimed the name “Popcorn Time” but thus far that hasn’t resulted in any serious issues.

Recently, however, one developer made a move to formalize his claim on the Popcorn Time brand. An application for the trademark was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and this week the case was assigned to an examiner.

The proposed trademark describes Popcorn Time as follows: “Downloadable computer software used for streaming multimedia content images, videos and audio from peer to peer.”

The trademark application lists the Canadian developer David Lemarier who filed his application through Legalforce. While some are worried about the development, it appears that Lemarier doesn’t have any nefarious plans.

A source at the main fork Popcorntime.io familiar with the reasoning behind the trademark application told TF that it was filed as a defensive move.

“We strongly believe in the open contributions to the Popcorn Time project and the filing of the trademark wasn’t designed to hinder or prohibit the further development of the official Popcorn Time or any other related forks,” the source says.

“It’s wise to attempt to protect the trademark from ‘giants’ who might come along, sweep up the name, and then bully contributors into non-existence.”

The nature of the ‘giants’ the Popcorntime.io team are concerned about is left open.

Time4Popcorn, one of the popular forks, is not happy with the trademark application. They describes it as “rude” and stress that the Popcorn Time name doesn’t belong to anyone.

“This is news to us and we’re still figuring out how to respond to this, but this is rude and it is something we take very seriously,” the Time4Popcorn team notes.

“We assure you that we will never ever do something like this, and we will not let this happen that someone else will claim that it is their trademark. Never. An open source project is for everyone. It does not belong to us or to anyone else!”

Then again, even if someone with bad intentions did obtain the trademark, not much will change. Given the nature of the Popcorn Time application it is unlikely that any of the popular forks will shut down over a trademark dispute.

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

TorrentFreak: Report Brands Dotcom’s Mega a Piracy Haven

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

profitThe most popular file-hosting sites, also known as cyberlockers, have millions of visitors per day.

In recent years many of these sites have gotten a bad reputation as they are frequently used to share copyrighted files.

Today the Digital Citizens Alliance released a new report (pdf) that looks into the profitability of these sites and services. Titled “Behind The Cyberlocker Door: A Report How Shadowy Cyberlockers Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions,” it offers insight into the money streams that end up at these alleged pirate sites.

The study, carried out by NetNames and backed by the entertainment industry, uses information from the busted Megaupload service to estimate the earnings of various other sites. Based on these and other assumptions it concludes that the top cyberlockers generate an average $3.2 million per site per year.

“Overall, total annual revenue across the thirty cyberlockers equated to $96.2 million or $3.2 million per site. One site gathered $17.6m per year in revenue,” the report notes, adding that it’s a conservative estimate.

Estimated revenue and profit per direct download cyberlocker
roguerev

The report brands these sites as piracy havens based on a sample of the files they host. All the sites that are listed are used predominantly for copyright infringement, they claim.

“The overwhelming use of cyberlockers is for content theft. Analysis of a sampling of the files on the thirty cyberlocker sites found that the vast majority of files were clearly infringing,” the report reads.

“At least 78.6 percent of files on direct download cyberlockers and 83.7 percent of files on streaming cyberlockers infringed copyright,” it adds.

Alleged “infringing” use per cyberlocker
rogueinfper

Here’s where the researchers make a crucial mistake. The sample, where the percentage of allegedly infringing files is based on, is drawn from links that are posted publicly online. These are certainly not representative for the entire site, at least not in all cases.

For Mega the researchers looked at 500 files that were shared online. However, the overwhelming majority of Mega’s files, which number more than 500,000,000, are never shared in public.

Unlike some other sites in the report, Mega is a rather traditional cloud hosting provider that’s frequently used for personal backup, through its desktop client or mobile apps for example. The files that are shared in public are the exception here, probably less than one percent of the total.

There is no denying that there are shady and rogue sites that do profit heavily from piracy, but lumping all these sites together and branding them with a pirate label is flat-out wrong.

Aside from “exposing” the estimated profitability of the cyberlockers the report also has a secondary goal. It puts out a strong call to the credit card companies Visa and MasterCard, and hosting providers such as Cloudflare, urging them to cut their ties with these supposed pirate havens.

“They should take a hard look at the checkered history of their cyberlocker partners. Simply put, the businesses that simply exploit and expropriate the creative efforts of others do not occupy a legitimate place in the Internet ecosystem,” the report notes.

“Content theft is a cancer on the Internet. It introduces viruses and malware to computers, robs creators who rely on the Internet to sell their products, damages brands by associating them with illegal and inappropriate content and provides seed money for criminals to engage in other illegal activities,” it adds.

Hopefully future reports will have more nuance. At minimum they should make sure to have all the facts right, as that’s generally more convincing.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Workers Demand Peter Sunde’s Dignity & Freedom

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

peter-sundeThe imprisonment of former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde has been going on since late May 2014, provoking a number of reports on the conditions under which he is being held.

Despite being accused of non-violent crimes, Peter is being held in a high-security unit and without concern for his dietary needs. As a result he’s literally wasting away.

Following the tragic death of his father who recently succumbed to a long-standing set of illnesses, the week delivered yet more bad news. Although the prison would allow him to attend the funeral, Peter was told he could expect to carry his father’s coffin wearing handcuffs.

Understandably the news provoked much outrage. Why would a non-violent and now-frail man with with just a few days left on his sentence try to escape from not one but two prison guards? As that improbable situation was discussed among supporters online, a much less traditional support group were asking the same questions.

Hollywood director Lexi Alexander has been a vocal supporter of Peter and earlier this year broke with the usual Tinseltown position by calling for his release.

While her outspoken approach is uncharacteristic of a Hollywood worker, it may come as a surprise that she is definitely not on her own. During recent weeks the director and actress, who has several movies under her belt, called for other like-minded individuals in Hollywood to make themselves known.

The result was the publication a few minutes ago of a video dedicated to the uncuffing, release and support of Peter Sunde.

“We created this video in solidarity with Peter as he attends his father’s funeral today,” Alexander told TorrentFreak.

“Originally I had planned to do this over the next few weeks, but when I heard about Peter’s father’s death yesterday, we scrambled and got it together within a few hours.”

lexi-peter

While a few of the people in the video have understandably chosen to remain anonymous, others have been very happy to show their faces. With the famous Hollywood sign in the background, first up, Julie Bush.

“Julie Bush was pro-piracy before I even knew what file-sharing meant,” Alexander told TF. “She used to be a writer on the show Sons of Anarchy and now she’s writing a major property for Universal Studios: Robert Ludlum’s The Sigma Protocol.”

JulieBush

Bush has written on a number of occasions about Hollywood’s “dumb” approach to piracy.

“Many showrunners and executives I know not only pirate stuff all the time but also privately endorse the idea that piracy is good for the industry, a great way to advertise, and essential to building a healthy audience,” she explained last year.

The gentleman holding up the sign calling for the un-cuffing of Peter is actor Ross McCall. He appeared in Band of Brothers, Alexander’s movies Green Street and Green Street 2, before moving on to star in TV series including Crash, White Collar and Luther.

uncuff-peter

“The pretty blonde [0m 53s] is producer Catrin Cooper. Very outspoken about her opposition to criminalizing file-sharing,” Alexander continues. Cooper has worked in several roles on movies including Casino Royale, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Batman Begins.

“The guy with ‘Free Peter Sunde’ on his shirt is a writer and actor named Edward DeRuiter, one of his movies was just released last month,” Alexander adds.

“Then there’s Brent Weichsel, who against my advice decided to put his name and union on the sign. He’s Local 600 Camera Assistant.”

It’s quite something and particularly brave for these individuals to put their name to the support of someone described by studio bosses as someone intent on the ruination of the industry. That said, and as clearly pointed out on one of the signs held up in the video, Hollywood workers are not only writers and directors, they’re also humans too.

The video, which features writers and authors, directors, producers, a screenwriter, a cinematographer, an engineer and a dialect coach, is embedded below and available on Lexi’s blog.

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

TorrentFreak: Expendables 3 Downloaders Told To Pay Up – Or Else

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

Back in July a pretty much pristine copy of The Expendables 3 leaked online. It was a dramatic event for those behind the production as the movie’s premier on BitTorrent networks trumped its theatrical debut by several weeks.

Distributor Lionsgate was quick to react. Just days after the leak the entertainment company sued several file-sharing sites, which eventually resulted in the closure of file-hosting site Hulkfile. But more action was yet to come.

Doubling up on their efforts, Lionsgate also targeted hosting providers, domain registrars and seedboxes while at the same time sending thousands of DMCA takedown notices to have content and links to content removed.

However, a big question remained unanswered. Would the makers of The Expendables 3 start tracking down alleged file-sharers to force them into cash settlements as happened with previous iterations of the movie? It’s taken a few weeks but confirmation is now in.

Millennium Films, the production company behind The Expendables 3, is now shaking down individual Internet users they believe to have downloaded and shared the leaked movie without permission. What do they want? Hard cash, of course.

Interestingly, and at least for now, the company isn’t going through the courts filing subpoenas against ISPs to obtain downloaders’ personal details. In a switch of tactics the company is sending DMCA takedown notices to ISPs via CEG TEK International and requesting that the notices are forwarded to the customers in question instead. In addition to the usual cease and desist terminology, Millennium tag on cash settlements demands too.

Expendables 3-notice

As can be seen in the image above, the production company is giving notice recipients until October 5, 2014 to come up with the money – or else.

“If within the prescribed time period described above you fail to (i) respond or settle, or (ii) provide by email to support@cegtek.com written evidence of your having consent or permission from Millennium Films to use the Work in connection with Peer-to-Peer networks (note that fraudulent submissions may give rise to additional liabilities), the above matter may be referred to attorneys representing the Work’s owner for legal action,” the settlement offer reads.

Of course, whether people fill in CEG TEK’s settlement form or write to them with their personal details, the end result will be the same. The company will now have the person’s identity, something they didn’t previously have since at this stage ISPs have only forwarded the notices.

While the notices are real (CEG TEK have confirmed the action) little is known about how much money Millenium/CEG TEK are demanding to make a supposed lawsuit go away. However, TorrentFreak has learned that CEG TEK are simultaneously sending out settlement demands to alleged downloaders of The Expendables 2. A copy of the settlement page demand – $300 – is shown below.

expend2-demand

While some people will no doubt be worrying about how to deal with these demands and whether Millenium will follow through on its implied threat to sue, at least some of these notices will be falling on deaf ears. LiquidVPN, an anonymity company listed in our 2014 report, received one such notice but as a no-log provider, could not forward it to its customer.

Compare that to the despair of a user posting on KickassTorrents who got caught after relying on IP address blocking software (typos etc corrected).

“I woke up to this alongside four other notices from my ISP. I stopped downloading six days ago, but I’m receiving old notices about movies that were downloaded a month ago and I basically can’t do nothing about it since its old. I use PeerBlock and it’s a bunch of bullshit. What should I do with this October 5 deadline on a settlement? Please help!” he wrote.

Finally, and as Lionsgate, Millennium Films and CEG TEK shake down sites, hosting services, domain registrars, seedbox providers and now end users, the big mystery surrounding the most important questions remain unanswered.

Who – at Lionsgate, Millennium or one of its partners – had full access to a clean DVD copy of the movie? Who then put that copy in a position of being placed online? The FBI, who can crack the most complex of terrorist crimes, are reportedly involved and must’ve asked these questions. Yet the culprit still hasn’t been found……

Could it be that studios become less cooperative when blame falls too close to home?

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

TorrentFreak: AT&T Patents Technology to Keep Torrent Files Alive

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

attIn recent years the intellectual property division of AT&T has patented quite a few unusual inventions. Today we can add another to the list after the telecoms company was granted a patent which aims to keep torrent files available for as long as possible.

In the patent (pdf), which was awarded yesterday, the ISP points out that BitTorrent is a very effective way of sharing files online. However, AT&T also signals some drawbacks, including the fact that some torrent swarms stop working because there are no complete copies of the file available.

“As more and more peers download a complete copy of the file, the performance of the torrent deteriorates to the point that it becomes difficult for the file to be located and downloaded. As a result, current BitTorrent systems are not desirable for downloading older files,” the patent reads.

Since there are often many swarms downloading the same content via different trackers, it could be that the file lives on elsewhere. Similarly, other peers might be willing to start seeding the dead torrent again. AT&T’s patent pairs these sources to increase the availability of files downloaded via BitTorrent.

AT&T’s torrent patent
patent-att

The patent proposes to add “collaboration information” which may be obtained from each peer when it joins a torrent swarm. If a torrent has no active seeds available, this information can point the downloader to “dormant peers” or external trackers that still have active seeders.

“If the file is not available at an active peer, the tracker node has two options; it may contact some of the listed dormant peers to see if they are willing to make the file available, and/or it may contact a remote tracker node listed for the file,” the patent reads.

“If the file is made available by a dormant peer and/or at a remote torrent, the local peer can then establish a peer-to-peer communication with the dormant peer or a peer on the remote torrent, and download the file therefrom. As a result, the local peer can locate and download files that are not available on its current torrent from both dormant peers and peers in other torrents.”

The idea to point people to other trackers is not new. Most torrents come with multiple trackers nowadays to ensure that a file remains available for as long as possible. AT&T’s proposed invention would automate this feature.

The idea to contact “dormant peers” is more novel. In short, that means that people who previously downloaded a file, but are no longer seeding it, can get a request to make it available again.

Whether the ISPs has any real life applications for their invention is yet unknown. The current patent was granted this week, but the first application dates back to 2005, a time when BitTorrent wasn’t quite as mainstream as it is today.

The patent certainly doesn’t mean that the ISP encourages sharing copyrighted files. Among other anti-piracy innovations, AT&T previously patented systems to track content being shared via BitTorrent and other P2P networks and report those offenders to the authorities.

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

TorrentFreak: Copyright Holders Want Netflix to Ban VPN Users

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

netflixWith the launch of legal streaming services such as Netflix, movie and TV fans have less reason to turn to pirate sites.

At the same time, however, these legal options invite people from other countries where the legal services are more limited. This is also the case in Australia where up to 200,000 people are estimated to use the U.S. version of Netflix.

Although Netflix has geographical restrictions in place, these are easy to bypass with a relatively cheap VPN subscription. To keep these foreigners out, entertainment industry companies are now lobbying for a global ban on VPN users.

Simon Bush, CEO of AHEDA, an industry group that represents Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures and other major players said that some members are actively lobbying for such a ban.

Bush didn’t name any of the companies involved, but he confirmed to Cnet that “discussions” to block Australian access to the US version of Netflix “are happening now”.

If implemented, this would mean that all VPN users worldwide will no longer be able to access Netflix. That includes the millions of Americans who are paying for a legitimate account. They can still access Netflix, but would not be allowed to do so securely via a VPN.

According to Bush the discussions to keep VPN users out are not tied to Netflix’s arrival in Australia. The distributors and other rightsholders argue that they are already being deprived of licensing fees, because some Aussies ignore local services such as Quickflix.

“I know the discussions are being had…by the distributors in the United States with Netflix about Australians using VPNs to access content that they’re not licensed to access in Australia,” Bush said.

“They’re requesting for it to be blocked now, not just when it comes to Australia,” he adds.

While blocking VPNs would solve the problem for distributors, it creates a new one for VPN users in the United States.

The same happened with Hulu a few months ago, when Hulu started to block visitors who access the site through a VPN service. This blockade also applies to hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens.

Hulu’s blocklist was implemented a few months ago and currently covers the IP-ranges of all major VPN services. People who try to access the site through one of these IPs are not allowed to view any content on the site, and receive the following notice instead:

“Based on your IP-address, we noticed that you are trying to access Hulu through an anonymous proxy tool. Hulu is not currently available outside the U.S. If you’re in the U.S. you’ll need to disable your anonymizer to access videos on Hulu.”

It seems that VPNs are increasingly attracting the attention of copyright holders. Just a week ago BBC Worldwide argued that ISPs should monitor VPN users for excessive bandwidth use, assuming they would then be pirates.

Considering the above we can expect the calls for VPN bans to increase in the near future.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder “Will Wear Handcuffs” to Carry Father’s Coffin

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

While most people have been enjoying the summer months, Peter Sunde has been locked away in a Swedish prison. After his Pirate Bay-related sentence was made final in 2012, Sunde remained at large, a man wanted by Interpol for aiding copyright infringement offenses.

During the final day of May 2014, a two-year hunt came to its conclusion. A special Swedish police unit tasked with tracking down fugitives carried out a raid at a farm in Skåne, a rural area near Malmö, Sweden.

Despite continued protestations that he had committed no crimes, Sunde was transferred to the high-security Västervik Norra prison to begin an eight-month sentence. A month later Sunde applied to be moved to a lower security unit, a place more in keeping with his alleged white-collar crimes. His application was rejected.

With his release date now less than 50 days away, Sunde should have reason to be looking to the future, but instead a family tragedy has marked his final weeks in prison. After succumbing to a long illness, Sunde’s father has passed away. The event has prompted Peter’s brother, Mats Kolmisoppi, to speak out on the Pirate Bay founder’s imprisonment conditions for the first time.

“I have deliberately said very little about what happened to my brother, Peter Sunde, the last few months. Partly because he can speak for himself and does not have difficulty being heard, even though he sits in a prison with a high safety rating in Västervik,” Mats wrote on Facebook.

The problem, Mats says, is with a system that has forgotten that its job is to support offenders in order to ensure that they never return to prison.

That system has deemed that despite his non-violent crimes, Sunde should be detained in a high-security prison, a placement that was allocated to him even before a guilty verdict had been passed down and in spite of an official assessment that he presented a non-existent violence or escape risk.

As a result, Sunde has paid the price. After a continued struggle with the food provided, Mats Kolmisoppi reports that his brother has now lost 13kgs in weight. When a smiling head of department visited Sunde to deliver information on his earlier transfer request he was told: “I have good news for you Peter, your application is rejected.”

Kolmisoppi documents a long list of systematic and casual cruelties such as these, but few are as disturbing as the one he now reports.

For some time Peter and Mats’ father had been seriously ill. This summer he ended up in hospital with a catalog of issues including suspected cancer in his remaining lung. While persistent applications to see his father failed, Peter was eventually granted permission to make a hospital visit. Mats’ says that he and Peter discussed when to say goodbye to their father – they decided that should be at the funeral.

Shortly after, Peter and Mat’s father passed away. Coinciding with an incident at the prison which resulted in heightened security measures, this meant more bad news for Peter. While he would be allowed to attend the funeral, two guards would accompany him – but on the condition that he remains handcuffed.

“But I will carry my father’s coffin,” Mats’ reports Peter as saying.

“You can not count on it,” the guards responded. “You will be wearing handcuffs.”

Peter is a non-violent prisoner accused of copyright infringement offenses who at 13kgs lighter in weight represents an even lower risk of flight than his 50 days left in custody might suggest. And while there will be those in the entertainment industries who argue he deserves his punishment, the effects of his custody spread well beyond the former file-sharing site spokesman.

“As the Swedish criminal system is designed it punishes not only my brother. It punishes me, it punishes my now dead father, it punishes my mother, my family, my relatives and my friends,” Mats’ writes.

While these sad events cannot be undone, Peter is at least likely to receive a warm reception following his release. He is undoubtedly bright and has a future, as his work with micro-donation service Flattr and the NSA-proof messenger app Heml.is has shown. Indeed, he already appears to have plans. And with all the vegan food he can eat less than two months away, November can’t come soon enough.

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

TorrentFreak: Search Engines Can Diminish Online Piracy, Research Finds

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 believe that the search engine isn’t doing enough to limit piracy, and have demanded more stringent measures.

One of the suggestions often made is to remove or demote pirate sites in search results. A lower ranking would lead fewer people to pirate sources and promoting legal sources will have a similar effect.

Google previously said it would lower the ranking of sites based on DMCA complaints, but thus far these changes have had a limited effect. A few weeks ago the company also began promoting legal options but this effort is in the testing phase for now.

The question that remains is whether these changes would indeed decrease piracy. According to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, they can.

In a paper titled “Do Search Engines Influence Media Piracy?” the researchers ran two experiments where they let participants use a custom search engine to find a movie they wanted to watch. The respondents could pick from a list of 50 titles and received a $20 prepaid virtual Visa card as compensation.

All search results were pulled from a popular search engine. In the control category the results were not manipulated, but in the “legal” and “infringing” conditions the first page only listed “legal” (e.g Amazon) and neutral (e.g IMDb) sites or “infringing” (e.g. Pirate Bay) and neutral sites respectively.

While it’s quite a simple manipulation, and even though users could still find legal and pirated content in all conditions, the results are rather strong.

Of all participants who saw the standard results, 80% chose to buy the movie via a legal option. This went up to 94% if the results were mostly legal, and dropped to 57% for the group who saw mostly infringing results on the first page.

To Pirate or Not to Pirate
resulttable

TorrentFreak contacted Professor Rahul Telang who says that the findings suggest that Google and other search engines have a direct effect on people’s behavior, including the decision to pirate a movie.

“Prominence of legal versus infringing links in the search results seem to play a vital role in users decision to consume legal versus pirated content. In particular, demoting infringing links leads to lower rate of consumption of pirated movie content in our sample,” he notes.

In a second study the researchers carried out a slightly modified version of the experiment with college students, a group that tends to pirate more frequently. The second experiment also added two new conditions where only the first three results were altered, to see if “mild” manipulations would also have an effect.

The findings show that college students indeed pirate more as only 62% went for the legal option in the control condition. This percentage went up gradually to 76% with a “mild legal” manipulation, and to 92% in the legal condition. For the infringing manipulations the percentages dropped to 48% and 39% respectively.

To Pirate or Not to Pirate, take two
table2

According to Professor Telang their findings suggest that even small changes can have a significant impact and that altering search algorithms can be instrumental in the fight against online piracy.

“The results suggest that the search engines may play an important role in fight against intellectual property theft,” Telang says.

It has to be noted that Professor Telang and his colleagues received a generous donation from the MPAA for their research program. However, the researchers suggest that their work is carried out independently.

As a word of caution the researchers point out that meddling with search results in the real world may be much more challenging. False positives could lead to significant social costs and should be avoided, for example.

This and other caveats aside, the MPAA and RIAA will welcome the study as a new piece of research they can wave at Google and lawmakers. Whether that will help them to get what they want has yet to be seen though.

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

TorrentFreak: Kiwi Prime Minister’s Party Sued For Pirating Eminem Track

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

eminemWhen it comes to polarizing figures standing accused of copyright infringement in New Zealand, there can be few more famous than Kim Dotcom. The entrepreneur and now political activist is in a bitter battle with not only the New Zealand and US governments, but also the world’s largest entertainment companies.

That’s why the news today that the ruling National Party is being sued for copyright infringement has somewhat amused the German-born businessman. The party is led by political rival Prime Minister John Key, one of Dotcom’s most vocal critics and a leader who the Megaupload founder says played a key role in having him arrested in 2012.

The lawsuit, filed by Eminem’s publishers, follows allegations that the song “Lose Yourself” was used in a 2014 New Zealand General Election advertising campaign run by the National Party.

Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated told local media that Eminem’s publishers were not approached to use the songs.

“It is both disappointing and sadly ironic that the political party responsible for championing the rights of music publishers in New Zealand by the introduction of the three strikes copyright reforms should itself have so little regard for copyright,” the publishers told 3News.

“We do not hesitate to take immediate action to protect the integrity of Eminem’s works, particularly where a party, as here, has sought to associate itself with Eminem and his work.”

The National Party insists that it obtained all necessary licenses by purchasing the track from official sources known to work with the film and entertainment industry. However, in order to try and calm down the complaint by the publishers use of the song by the party was withdrawn two weeks ago, an unusual thing to do if money had indeed been invested in a legitimate license.

“We think it’s pretty legal, we think these guys are just having a crack and have a bit of an eye for the main chance because it’s an election campaign. I think they’re just trying to shake us down for some money before the election,” said National’s campaign manager Steven Joyce.

While “pretty legal” probably isn’t the standard required by Eminem’s publishers, Kim Dotcom was already made up his mind on how to end the dispute. Posting on Twitter, the Internet Party founder didn’t let a golden opportunity pass to take a shot at his arch political rival.

“Extradite John Key,” he wrote.

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

TorrentFreak: How Publisher Harper Collins Tackles eBook Piracy

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

harperOne of the key elements leading to ease of piracy is file-size. Since music files are relatively small, unauthorized content can be distributed and accessed using a wide array of methods, from torrents and direct storage sites through instant messaging and humble email.

If music files are small, ebooks definitely share the same kind of characteristics. As a result, ebooks are widely pirated and made available on thousands of sites and services in a wide range of convenient formats. By attacking the problem from a number of different directions, this is something publisher HarperCollins is trying to do something about.

As part of its latest drive, this week the company announced a collaboration with LibreDigital, a leading provider of distribution and fulfillment services for ebook retailers. Together they adopted a new watermarking solution from anti-piracy company Digimarc.

Called Guardian Watermarking for Publishing, the system embeds all but invisible markers into ebooks. Then, Digimarc trawls the web looking for leaked content containing the watermarks. Once found, the anti-piracy company reports the unique identifiers back to Harpercollins who can match them against their own transaction records. This enables the company to identify the source of that material from wherever it occurred in the company’s supply chain.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, HarperCollins said that tracking these pre-consumer leaks provides intelligence to prevent them happening again.

“We have had leaks in the past in the final stages of our supply chain – via isolated instances of early releases by retailers. We therefore intend to be able to track these potential leaks in the future – especially now that our digital supply chain extends to many partners in many markets,” a spokesperson said.

“[The system] empowers us to go back to the source of the problem (ie identify the source) and find solutions to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Of course, pirates are known to attack watermarks by utilizing various methods including transcoding of files. Speaking with TF, Digimarc say their system is up to the challenge.

“The embedded identifiers are designed to survive conversion and manipulation,” a spokesperson said.

Interestingly, HarperCollins are going out of their way to ensure consumers that these watermarks won’t affect their privacy.

“This solution does not facilitate tracing back to the individual purchaser, only to the sales channel through which it was purchased,” a spokesperson explained. “And Digimarc itself stores absolutely no personally identifiable information or purchase information in the implementation of the watermark.”

That’s not to say that consumer leaks aren’t part of the problem though, they are, but HarperCollins says it employs separate strategies for pre and post-consumer piracy.

“Both [types of piracy] merit being addressed and we have different solutions for each. For the supply chain we will watermark; for the end consumer the retailers are applying DRM and we are employing Digimarc to issue takedowns and ensure site compliance – to protect our authors’ content,” the company said.

Like many content companies, HarperCollins regularly sends takedown notices to many websites but those it sends to Google are the most visible. To date the company has sent more than 250,000 to the world’s leading search engine, but what effect has that had on availability?

“The aim of our participation in Google’s copyright removal program is to reduce the visibility and availability of infringing content. The desired effect is clearing illegal download links from its SERP. We believe this to be an effective way to discourage piracy,” the company told TF.

We asked HarperCollins how it would rate Google in terms of anti-piracy cooperation, but the publisher declined to comment. The company also wouldn’t be drawn on how many notices it sends to other search engines and ‘pirate’ sites.

“We do not comment on the amount of notices – but we do want to assure authors that their entire catalog is covered by our work with Digimarc,” they said.

As eBooks continue to gain traction, publishers like HarperCollins will be keen not fall into the same traps as the music industry. It could be argued that actioned properly, takedowns are the most consumer friendly option. And watermarking shouldn’t become too unpopular, as long as it doesn’t extend to identifying the public. DRM, however, is rarely appreciated by the paying public.

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

TorrentFreak: ISP Wants Court to Sanction Piracy Monitoring Firm

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

rightscorp-realFor several months Rightscorp has been sending DMCA subpoenas to smaller local ISPs in the United States.

Unlike regular subpoenas, these are not reviewed by a judge and only require a signature from the Court clerk. This practice raised questions because DMCA subpoenas are not applicable to file-sharing cases, which is something courts determined more than a decade ago.

Perhaps unaware of the legal precedent, most ISPs have complied with the requests. Until last week, when small Texas provider Grande Communications stood up in court after it was asked to reveal the account details connected to 30,000 IP-addresses/timestamp combinations.

Soon after Grande filed its objections Rightscorp decided to drop the request entirely. While ISP is pleased that its customers no longer have to be exposed, the company is not letting Rightscorp off the hook.

In an advisory to the court (pdf) the ISP notes that Rightscorp’s actions suggest that it’s merely trying to avoid having a judge look at their dubious efforts.

“The abrupt withdrawal of the Subpoena is consistent with the apparent desire of Rightscorp and its counsel to avoid judicial review of their serial misuse of the subpoena power of the federal courts,” Grande’s attorneys write.

The ISP still wants Rightscorp to pay for the costs run up thus far. In addition, Grande also believes that sanctions for misusing the federal court’s subpoena powers may be in order.

“The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California may consider ordering Rightscorp and its counsel to show cause why they should not be sanctioned for misusing the federal court’s subpoena powers,” the advisory reads.

The ISP points out that if it hadn’t challenged the subpoena, the personal details of hundreds or thousands of subscribers would have been shared based on a faulty procedure. Since similar requests are being sent to other ISPs, the matter warrants further investigation.

“It appears clear that Rightscorp and its counsel are playing a game without regard for the rules, and they are playing that game in a manner calculated to avoid judicial review. Hopefully, they will not be permitted to continue much longer,” Grande’s attorneys conclude.

Rightscorp’s withdrawal of the subpoena also contradicts earlier comments the company’s CEO Christopher Sabec made to TorrentFreak.

Sabec told us that the company believes that earlier decisions on the legitimacy of DMCA subpoenas in file-sharing cases were wrong, and will be overturned should the issue reach the Supreme Court.

Apparently, this was a veiled threat, perhaps to discourage Internet providers from starting a battle that could get very expensive. Instead, with possible sanctions pending, things may now get expensive for Rightscorp.

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

TorrentFreak: Email: Warner Bros Conspired with New Zealand Over Kim Dotcom Extradition

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

Ever since the raids of 2012, Kim Dotcom has pointed to what he sees as a contract shutdown of Megaupload. Designed by Hollywood and carried out by their partners in the Obama administration and the New Zealand Government, Dotcom claims that his fate was pre-determined and a result of corruption.

One of his claims is that despite the reservations of those in New Zealand’s intelligence departments, Dotcom was allowed to become a resident of the country. This, the entrepreneur says, was carried out to pin him down in a friendly location so that he could be dealt with by the United States.

This morning, at his Moment of Truth event, Dotcom rolled out big guns including journalist Glenn Greenwald, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and even Edward Snowden himself to deliver his “bombshell”. The latter appeared via video links, connections which Dotcom said we’re being run through a new encrypted browser-based platform under development at Mega.

Moment

Much of the discussion centered around the alleged unlawful domestic surveillance of New Zealand citizens by their own Government, but the panel frequently weaved in elements of Dotcom’s own unique situation.

“We share the same prosecutor, so I understand what is going on there, on a very personal level,” Julian Assange said of Dotcom.

“[The United States Government] is trying to apply US law in as many countries as possible, applying their law in New Zealand to coerce and pluck out people to other states,” Assange said.

“When you are able to control their police forces you have succeeded in annexing that country. It’s a problem for me personally and it’s a problem for Kim Dotcom.”

Dotcom’s human rights lawyer Robert Amsterdam spoke at length on the perils of the Trans Pacific Partnership and criticized the New Zealand Government for its treatment of Dotcom.

“What they did [to Kim Dotcom during the 2012 raid] is so beyond the pale that the leader of that democratic government should have resigned on the spot that day,” Amsterdam said.

The event was highly polished and was well received by those in attendance, but failed to deliver on one key front. Dotcom previously said that he would present “absolutely concrete” evidence that Prime Minister John Key knew about him earlier than he had claimed. In the event, nothing remotely of that nature was presented.

However, several hours before the Moment of Truth got off the ground, New Zealand media began reporting that Dotcom would reveal an email at the event, one that would prove that Hollywood had an arrangement with Key to allow Dotcom into the country in order to extradite him to the United States.

The email in question, dated October 27, 2010, was allegedly sent by current Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara to Michael Ellis of the MPA/MPAA.

Tsujihara is one of the Warner executives the company sent to New Zealand in 2010 to deal with a dispute that was putting at risk the filming of the Hobbit movies in the country. During his visit Tsujihara met John Key and the email purports to report on one of those meetings.

“Hi Mike. We had a really good meeting with the Prime Minister. He’s a fan and we’re getting what we came for,” the leaked copy of the email reads.

“Your groundwork in New Zealand is paying off. I see strong support for our anti-piracy effort. John Key told me in private that they are granting Dotcom residency despite pushback from officials about his criminal past. His AG will do everything in his power to assist us with our case. VIP treatment and then a one-way ticket to Virginia.

“This is a game changer. The DOJ is against the Hong Kong option. No confidence in the Chinese. Great job,” the email concludes.

keymail

But while an email of this nature would have indeed warranted a “bombshell” billing, the Moment of Truth concluded without it or any other similar evidence being presented. Even before the event began, Warner Bros were on record describing the email as a fake.

“Kevin Tsujihara did not write or send the alleged email, and he never had any such conversation with Prime Minister Key,” said Paul McGuire, Warner Bros.’ senior vice president for worldwide communications.

“The alleged email is a fabrication,” he added.

The lack of the promised big reveal is fairly dramatic in itself. It’s certainly possible that Dotcom’s team lost confidence and pulled the reveal at the last minute, which would be a wise move if its authenticity was in doubt.

If the email is indeed proven to be a fake, big questions will need to be answered by the person who provided it because up until very recently Dotcom was staking his shirt on it. If it’s genuine, and proving that will be easier said than done now, we’ll definitely hear more as the weeks unfold.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 09/15/14

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

maleThis week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Maleficent is the most downloaded movie, again.

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 (2) Maleficent 7.4 / trailer
2 (1) How To Train Your Dragon 2 8.3 / trailer
3 (7) Edge Of Tomorrow (Webrip) 8.1 / trailer
4 (…) The Giver 6.9 / trailer
5 (5) The Fault in Our Stars 8.3 / trailer
6 (3) A Million Ways To Die In The West 6.2 / trailer
7 (4) Godzilla (Webrip) 7.1 / trailer
8 (…) Plastic 5.8 / trailer
9 (6) X-Men: Days of Future Past (HDrip/TS) 8.4 / trailer
10 (8) Divergent 7.2 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Censorship Is Not The Answer to Online Piracy

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

This is a guest post written by Simon Frew, Deputy President of Pirate Party Australia.

The Australian Government recently called for submissions into its plans to introduce a range of measures that are the long-standing dreams of the copyright lobby: ISP liability, website blocking for alleged pirate sites and graduated response.

The Government’s discussion paper specifically asked respondents to ignore other Government inquiries into copyright. This meant ignoring an inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) into copyright in the digital economy and an IT pricing inquiry. These reviews both covered important aspects of sharing culture in the 21st century, yet they were completely ignored by the Government’s paper and respondents were instructed to ignore issues covered in them.

The ALRC review examined issues around the emerging remix culture, the ways the Australian copyright regime limits options for companies to take advantage of the digital environment and issues around fair dealing and fair use. It recommended a raft of changes to update Australian copyright law to modernize it for the digital age. Whilst the recommendations were modest, they were a step in the right direction, but this step has been ignored by the Australian Parliament.

The IT pricing inquiry held last year, looked into why Australians pay exorbitant prices for digital content, a practice that has been dubbed the Australia Tax. Entertainment and Tech companies were dragged in front of the inquiry to explain why Australians pay much more for products than residents of other countries. The review found that, compared to other countries, Australians pay up to 84% more for games, 52% more for music and 50% more for professional software than comparable countries. The result of this review was to look at ways to end geographic segmentation and to continue to turn a blind eye to people using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to circumvent the higher prices in Australia.

Between the Australia Tax and the substantially delayed release dates for TV shows and movies, Australians don’t feel too bad about accessing content by other means. According to some estimates, over 200,000 people have Netflix accounts by accessing the service through VPNs.

Pirate Party Australia (PPAU) responded to the latest review with a comprehensive paper, outlining the need to consider all of the evidence and what that evidence says about file-sharing.

To say the Government’s discussion paper was biased understates the single-mindedness of the approach being taken by the Government. A co-author of the Pirate Party submission, Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer summed it up:

The discussion paper stands out as the worst I have ever read. The Government has proposed both a graduated response scheme and website blockades without offering any evidence that either of these work. Unsurprisingly the only study the discussion paper references was commissioned by the copyright lobby and claims Australia has a high level of online copyright infringement. This calls into question the validity of the consultation process. The Government could not have arrived at these proposals if independent studies and reports had been consulted.

The entire review was aimed at protecting old media empires from the Internet. This is due in part, to the massive support given to the Liberal (Conservatives) and National Party coalition in the lead-up to the 2013 federal election which saw Murdoch owned News Ltd media, comprising most major print-news outlets in Australia, actively campaign for the in-coming Government. There is also a long history of media companies donating heavily to buy influence. Village Roadshow, one of Australia’s largest media conglomerates, has donated close to four million dollars to both major parties since 1998: in the lead up to the 2013 election alone, they donated over $300,000 to the LNP.

The sort of influence being wielded by the old media is a big part of what Pirate parties worldwide were formed to counter. The Internet gives everyone a platform that can reach millions, if the content is good enough. The money required to distribute culture is rapidly approaching zero and those who built media empires on mechanical distribution models (you know, physical copies of media, DVDs, cassettes etc) want to turn the clock back, because they are losing their power to influence society.

Much of the Pirate Party response centred on the need to allow non-commercial file-sharing and dealing with the wrong, bordering on fraudulent assumptions, the paper was based on. From the paper:

Digital communications provide challenges and opportunities. Normal interactions, such as sharing culture via the Internet, should not be threatened. Creators should seize the new opportunities provided and embrace new forms of exposure and distribution. The Pirate Party believes the law should account for the realities of this continually emerging paradigm by reducing copyright duration, promoting the remixing and reuse of existing content, and legalising all forms of non-commercial use and distribution of copyrighted materials.

The discussion paper asked, ‘What could constitute ‘reasonable steps’ for ISPs to prevent or avoid copyright infringement?’ This was of particular concern because it is aimed at legally overturning the iiNet case, which set a legal precedent that ISPs couldn’t be sued for the behavior of their users. This section was a not-so-subtle attempt to push for a graduated response (‘three strikes’) system which has been heavily criticized in a number of countries.

The agenda laid out in this discussion paper was very clear, as demonstrated by Question 6: “What matters should the Court consider when determining whether to grant an injunction to block access to a particular website?”

The Pirate Party obviously disagrees with the implication that website blocking was a foregone conclusion. Censorship is not the answer to file-sharing or any other perceived problem on the Internet. Government control of the flow of information is not consistent with an open democracy. The Pirate Party submission attacked website blocking on free speech grounds and explained how measures to block websites or implement a graduated response regime would be trivial to avoid through the use of VPNs.

On Tuesday September 9, a public forum was held into the proposed changes. The panel was stacked with industry lobbyists, no evidence was presented while the same tired arguments were trotted out to try to convince attendees that there was need to crack down on file-sharing. It wasn’t all bad though, with the host of the meeting, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, flagging a Government re-think on how to tackle piracy after the scathing responses to the review from the public.

Despite signalling a re-think, the Australian Government is still intent on implementing draconian copyright laws. Consumers may have won this round, but the fight will continue.

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

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent: Our Users Buy 33% More Music Albums Online

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

bittorrent-crimeBitTorrent Inc, the company behind the successful uTorrent and BitTorrent file-sharing clients, has been making huge efforts in recent times to shed the false image that the company is synonymous with online piracy.

One of the key ways it’s changing this perception is by partnering with well-known artists such as De La Soul, Moby and Madonna, and showing that BitTorrent is an ideal tool to connect artists with fans.

To provide some examples of what it can do, BitTorrent Inc. has made a distribution and advertising deck with success stories. Thus far more than 10,000 artists have used BitTorrent’s bundles, generating over 100 million downloads which convert into real sales.

Slide from BitTorrent’s advertising deck (via Digiday)
bittorrents-pitch-deck

Aside from listing its successes the company also reports some intriguing statistics on the consumer behavior of its community.

On slide 12 BitTorrent Inc. notes that its community is 33% more likely to buy albums online, makes 34% more DVD purchases, watches 34% more movies in theater and is twice as likely to have a paid music subscription.

BitTorrent’s community
community

Because BitTorrent Inc provides no source for the data provided in this last slide we contacted the company last week to find out more. Unfortunately, we haven’t received a response thus far.

However, while writing this article we found that the numbers reported in the pitch deck trace back to one of our own articles. The data reported by BitTorrent Inc. comes from music industry group IFPI and details the buying habits of music pirates. BitTorrent Inc subsequently used these piracy statistics to sell its “community” to potential partners.

This is interesting for a variety of reasons. First, IFPI’s research doesn’t mention BitTorrent users, but file-sharing music pirates in general. Furthermore, since when does BitTorrent see “music pirates” as its community? Perhaps that’s the reason why the source for the data isn’t provided in the pitch deck (IFPI was mentioned as source in an earlier pitch deck).

That said, BitTorrent Inc is right to point out that file-sharers tend to be more engaged fans than the average person. Even the RIAA was willing to admit that.

It’s good to see that more and more artists, including many big names, are beginning to recognize this potential too. Even U2, whose former manager is one of the most vocal anti-piracy crusaders, has now decided to give away its latest album for free hoping that it will increase sales of older work. Without piracy, that would have never happened.

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

TorrentFreak: Jacob Appelbaum Gives Testimony in Gottfrid Svartholm Trial

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

The hacking trial of Gottfrid Warg and his alleged 21-year-old Danish accomplice continued this week in Copenhagen, Denmark. While the Pirate Bay founder answered questions during week one, this Wednesday marked the first day the 21-year-old answered questions.

The man, whose identity is being protected, told the Court that while he’s had no formal IT training, he is indeed a computer security expert who had been involved in testing computer systems to see how they hold up to external threats. He admitted working for American, Australian and Danish companies.

The 21-year-old Dane refused to say whether he knows Gottfrid on the grounds that he could be attacked in prison. He did admit to having previously heard about Gottfrid, however.

“Most people in the IT sector have heard of him,” he said.

The Dane also admitted to traveling to Cambodia to visit friends and smoke cannabis, but denied that he went there to meet Gottfrid at his apartment.

The prosecution also presented some emails in which the man said that CSC, the IT company involved in the hack, was owned by the CIA, but he dismissed that comment as a joke.

Discussion also returned to the IRC conversations referenced in the first week of the trial which reportedly took place between ‘My Evil Twin’ (allegedly Gottfrid) and ‘Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat’ (allegedly the 21-year-old).

mysterMuch was made in week one of potentially altered Internet Relay Chat (IRC) logs presented by the prosecution. This week the Dane admitted that he had been involved in some conversations and had actually met ‘My Evil Twin’. That person was not Gottfrid, he said.

In respect of the content of some chats, the Dane said the topic had indeed centered around the security of IT systems but he insisted that there we no plans to hack CSC or any other companies’ computers. Usernames and passwords of CSC systems that were allegedly exchanged during the IRC chats had been found using Google, he added.

Also of note during the day’s proceedings was the Dane’s continued refusal to provide police with encryption keys to examine the contents of his laptop.

“There is no material on my computer. I can not see how it would make this a better situation,” he told the court.

However, DR.dk reported that during the day, due to the nature of the evidence being presented, it became clear that police had managed to retrieve some information without access to the keys.

appelbaumAfter a day’s break in proceedings, on Friday renowned activist and security expert Jacob Appelbaum appeared as an expert witness for the defense. Appelbaum also appeared in Gottfrid’s Swedish trial, a case in which he was partly acquitted.

The prosecution previously complained that Appelbaum knows Gottfrid personally, so was unsuitable as an expert witness. The American denied that was the case.

“I’ve only talked a little with Gottfrid as he is not known as a sociable guy. He is not easy to approach and the times that I’ve seen him in social situations it has always been about computer security,” Appelbaum said.

Echoing his testimony in the Swedish case, Appelbaum told the Court that it certainly would have been possible for outsiders to have controlled Gottfrid’s computer to carry out the hack of CSC.

It’s unclear for how long the trial will continue but hearings have been allocated until the end of October.

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

TorrentFreak: UFC Pirate Apologizes & Settles Following $32m Lawsuit

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

ufcAccording to fans around the world, MMA is the fastest growing sport, bar none. The planet’s premier MMA production company is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, more often known as simply UFC.

In addition to events broadcast on regular TV, each month the UFC puts on special PPV cards. These cards attract a lot of attention and are a major money spinner for the martial arts organization. However, there are thousands of fans out there who prefer not to pay to view. For them, torrent sites are the answer.

Until the first few months of this year one of the most prolific releasers of UFC content was an individual known online as Secludedly. However, during April his activities came to an abrupt halt after he was targeted in a $32 million lawsuit filed by UFC parent company, Zuffa.

Secludedly was soon revealed to be Steven A. Messina, a 27-year-old from Staten Island, New York.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t understand the laws and all that around this type of thing, so I’m a little lost here and overwhelmed,” Messina told TorrentFreak at the time. “I don’t even know what is going on. I think people on the Internet know more than me.”

With a default judgment looming TorrentFreak further interviewed Messina who told us that he’d decided to launch a funding campaign to defend himself against Zuffa. He raised a few hundred dollars, nowhere near enough to take on the multi-billion valued company.

Then the inevitable happened. On June 4, 2014, a default judgment was entered against Messina and his fight with the UFC was over. The question now was how badly they’d choose to beat him up financially after the final bell.

All went quiet until early September when Zuffa filed for a permanent injunction to stop Messina pirating UFC content in the future. Behind the scenes the UFC and their arch-enemy had settled their case, with the only public record being the injunction jointly signed by the martial arts organization and Messina.

As can be seen from the excerpt from the injunction below, the UFC are keen to learn from Messina’s operation, and that means collecting all data they can from the New Yorker.

“This Court hereby enters an injunction requiring Defendant, Steven A Messina, to turn over to the plaintiff, Zuffa..[..].. any readily available information, processes, records accounts, bills received for the purchase of any UFC event, user profile names and identifications, domains utilized by Defendant and any user information for any website or computer used by, owned or controlled by Defendant that was used or assisted in the unauthorized access, streaming, copyright, uploading, downloading, distributing or public performance of any UFC event, including, but not limited to, the events that are the subject of the instant litigation,” the injunction reads.

Also of interest to Zuffa is the equipment used by Messina to pirate their content. The injunction cites a 2013 TorrentFreak article in which Messina explained how he captured super-smooth video. All equipment related to that must be surrendered to Zuffa including various pieces of software, scripts and storage devices.

In addition to restraining Messina from future piracy acts, the UFC are also allowed to check up on him to ensure compliance.

“Plaintiff shall be entitled to conduct all discovery permitted under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for the period of six (6) months from the date of the filing of this stipulation for the purpose of monitoring Defendant’s compliance with the terms of this permanent injunction,” the injunction reads.

There is no mention of a cash settlement and even if there was one it wouldn’t amount to much, certainly not $32 million. However, to act as a deterrent, the UFC has had Messina come out in public to both apologize and warn others away from the perils of piracy.

“I apologize to the UFC for any damages incurred as a result of my actions in illegally distributing copyrighted UFC broadcasts. As a result of my confession for piracy of UFC’s protected content, I fully accept the terms of the settlement with the UFC,” Messina said.

“I now realize the harm caused by my actions. It is my hope that I can use this difficult period as a learning experience as I move on with my life. I would also like to tell anyone pirating UFC broadcasts, either through illegal downloading or non-authorized streaming, that it is illegal and not worth the risk.”

Kirk Hendrick, UFC’s Chief Legal Officer, said the MMA organization was satisfied with the result.

“The UFC organization is pleased with the outcome of this case and Messina’s willingness to assist the UFC’s efforts in protecting our intellectual property and broadcasts. With Messina’s apology and understanding, the UFC organization will learn more to help us continue uncovering illegal distribution of our content.”

But while Messina may have been brought under control, the lawsuit against him has done nothing to stop content appearing online. Following last weekend’s Jacare vs Mousasi card, no less than five separate release groups uploaded the event online.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Movie Group Members Set to Face FACT in Court

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

There’s a good case to argue that the UK’s Federation Against Copyright (FACT) Theft is the most aggressive anti-piracy group operating in the West today.

While the MPAA softens its approach and becomes friendly on its home turf, FACT – a unit funded by Hollywood – is acting as a proxy overseas in the United Kingdom.

Later this year FACT will take another private prosecution to a criminal court in the UK. According to a press release issued yesterday, five men will face charges that they coordinated to action the unauthorized online distribution of recently released films.

Other than noting that the men were arrested in 2013, FACT provided no other details and due to legal reasons declined further comment. However, TorrentFreak has been able to confirm the following.

Following an investigation into the “sourcing and supply” of pirated films on the Internet, February last year FACT and police from the economic crime unit targeted four addresses in the West Midlands.

Image from the raid

Raid

Four men, then aged 20, 22, 23 and 31, were arrested on suspicion of offenses committed under the Copyright Act, but exactly who they were was never made public.

However, TF discovered that the men were members of a pair of P2P movie release groups known as 26K and RemixHD, a former admin of UnleashTheNet (the site run by busted US-based release group IMAGiNE) and an individual from torrent site The Resistance.

The image below shows the final movie releases of RemixHD, the last taking place on January 29, 2013. The raids took place on February 1, 2013.

RemixHD

FACT now report that five men, one more than originally reported, will face charges at Wolverhampton Crown Court later this year. While men from the two release groups are set to appear, it is unclear whether the former torrent site admins are still in the frame, although it is possible that FACT are referring to them collectively as a release group.

Aside from the fact that this will be the first time that a release group case has ever gone to court in the UK, the case is notable in two other respects.

Firstly, FACT – not the police – are prosecuting the case. Second, nowhere does FACT mention that the five will face charges of copyright infringement – it appears that the main charge now is conspiracy to defraud.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Refuses to Remove Links to Kate Upton’s “Fappening” Photos

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

uptonNearly two weeks have passed since hundreds of photos of naked celebrities leaked online. This “fappening” triggered a massive takedown operation targeting sites that host and link to the images, Google included.

A few days ago Google received a request to remove links to Kate Upton’s stolen photos The request was not sent by Upton but by her boyfriend Jason Verlander, who also appears in a few of the leaked images.

The notice includes hundreds of URLs of sites such as thefappening.eu where the photos are hosted without permission.

It’s quite unusual for Google’s takedown team to be confronted with a long link of naked celebrity pictures. This may explain why it took a while before a decision was reached on the copyright-infringing status of the URLs, a process that may involve a cumbersome manual review.

Yesterday the first batch was processed and interestingly enough Google decided to leave nearly half of all URLs untouched. The overview below shows that with 16 of the 444 links processed, only 45% were removed.

The big question is, of course, why?

Verlander’s takedown request

upton-google-fappening

Google doesn’t explain its decision keep the links in question in its search results. In some cases the original content had already been removed at the source site, so these URLs didn’t have to be removed.

Other rejections are more mysterious though. For example, the thefappening.eu URLs that remain online all pointed to stolen images when we checked. Most of these were not nudes, but they certainly weren’t posted with permission.

One possible explanation for Google’s inaction is that Verlander most likely claimed to own the copyright on the images, something he can only do with pictures he took himself. With Upton’s selfies this is hard to do, unless she signed away her rights.

While browsing through the reported URLs we also noticed another trend. Some sites have replaced Upton’s leaked photos with photos of other random naked women. Google’s takedown team apparently has a sharp eye because these were not removed by Google either.

Chilling Effects, who host Google’s takedown requests, just posted a redacted version of the original notice with Upton’s name removed. Unfortunately this doesn’t offer more clues to resolve this takedown mystery, so for now we can only guess why many of the links remain indexed.

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

Beyond Bandwidth: High Availability Networks: The Test Question

This post was syndicated from: Beyond Bandwidth and was written by: Aaron Ballew, PhD. Original post: at Beyond Bandwidth

Unstated, mismatched assumptions are the source of many disagreements among reasonable people who would otherwise converge on identical conclusions. A recent snafu of my own doing serves as an illustration. A couple of months ago, I planted this question in an anonymous survey that went out to employees in our company who had just taken…

The post High Availability Networks: The Test Question appeared first on Beyond Bandwidth.

TorrentFreak: Cinema Staff Rewarded For Spotting Movie Cammers

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

Every few months the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) reports on a scheme designed to cut down on the instances of camcorded movies appearing on the Internet.

The Take Action initiative, which has been in place since 2006, is funded by UK film distributors via the Film Distributors’ Association (FDA). In addition to funding educational campaigns and school resources on copyright, the project also provides night-vision goggles for catching potential pirates in the act.

In a new bulletin FACT and FDA report that nine members of staff from Cineworld, Odeon and Vue cinemas have become the latest to be commended for disrupting unauthorized movie recording in the UK.

“FDA is delighted to recognize the on-going vigilance of our colleagues in cinema exhibition across the UK,” said FDA Chief Executive Mark Batey.

“They are at the frontline of the fight against film theft, and a vital part of our programme to make the UK as secure a market in which to release movies as possible.”

The cammer catchers

camcatchers

In addition to general recognition, the individuals pictured above were presented with certificates and unspecified cash rewards. Although not quantified by FACT this time around, in the past rewards have varied, from up to £700 per person in 2012 down to £500 per person in 2013.

FACT reports that the nine individuals were involved in seven ‘incidents’, all of which were attended by the police. In five incidents the alleged cammers accepted police cautions, with one incident leading to an arrest.

The latest statistics are down on figures last reported by FACT, both in terms of overall incidents and people being rewarded. During the reporting period April 2013 to December 2013, a dozen alleged cammers of major movies were spotted in UK cinemas resulting in five arrests but no prosecutions. A total of 15 cinema workers picked up rewards.

It’s noteworthy, however, that apprehending those who record movies and then illegally distribute copies online doesn’t have to start and end in the cinema. FACT’s recent private prosecution of a man who recorded Fast and Furious 6 led to a prison sentence of almost three years, even though he managed to record the movie without being spotted. FACT are quick to recount this cautionary tale.

“As the recent sentencing of Philip Danks to a 33 month custodial sentence demonstrates, the illegal recording of films is a serious crime which carries serious consequences, both for the perpetrators and the industry they violate,” said FACT Director General Kieron Sharp.

The latest camming figures reported by FACT vary enormously from events six years ago. Documents previously obtained by TorrentFreak revealed that in 2008 there were 50 camming incidents in UK cinemas, with police attending on just two occasions. One resulted in a couple receiving official cautions but in the majority of cases people observed camming simply left the building.

It’s unclear whether today’s lower figures indicate a growing reluctance to test out the patience of both FACT and the police. However, even for those who do get away with the initial recording, recent events show that subsequently uploading that content to the Internet has the potential to elicit a big response.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA: We’re Not Going to Arrest 14 Year Olds, We Educate Them

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

mpaa-logoThree years ago, Hollywood had a dream. That dream centered around new legislation that would deal a body blow to Internet piracy, one that would starve sites of their revenue and seriously cut visitor numbers.

But in early 2012, following a huge backlash from the public and technology sector, the dream turned into a nightmare. SOPA was not only dead and buried, but Hollywood had made new enemies and re-ignited old rivalries too.

In the period since the studios have been working hard to paint the technology sector not as foes, but as vital partners with shared interests common goals. The aggressive rhetoric employed during the SOPA lobbying effort all but disappeared and a refocused, more gentle MPAA inexplicably took its place.

Yesterday, in ongoing efforts to humanize the behind-the-scenes movie making industry as regular people out to make a living, “Beyond the Red Carpet: TV & Movie Magic Day” landed on Capitol Hill.

Among other things, the event aimed to show lawmakers that those involved in the movie making process are not only vital to the economy, but are the real victims when it comes to piracy. The message is laid out in this infographic from the Creative Rights Caucus.

Behind

As co-chair of the caucus, U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. will be hoping to maintain momentum on issues such as tax incentives to keep film production in California, but yesterday the words of MPAA CEO Chris Dodd provided the most food for thought.

In comments to The Wrap, Dodd said that the MPAA is no longer seeking anti-piracy legislation from Congress.

“The world is changing at warp speed. We are not going to legislate or litigate our way out of it,” Dodd said.

For an organization that has spent more than a decade and a half tightening up ‘Internet’ copyright law in its favor, the admission is certainly a notable one, especially when the favored alternatives now include winning hearts and minds through education.

“We are going to innovate our way out by educating people about the hard work of people,” the MPAA CEO said.

“In this space everyone has to contribute to ensure that peoples’ content can be respected. Instead of finger pointing at everybody and arresting 14-year olds, the answer is making our product accessible in as many formats and distributive services as possible at price points they can afford. We are discovering that works.”

This tacit admission, that the industry itself has contributed to the piracy problems it faces today, is an interesting move. Over in Australia content providers and distributors have also been verbalizing the same shortcomings and they too have offered promises to remedy the situation.

But the development of new services doesn’t exist in a vacuum and time and again, across the United States to Europe and beyond, the insistence by Hollywood is that for legal services to flourish, use of pirate sources must be tackled, if not through legislation, by other means.

And here’s the key. Successfully humanizing the industry with lawmakers will provide Hollywood with much-needed momentum to push along its agenda of cooperation with its technology-focused partners.

ISPs will be encouraged to engage fully with the six-strikes “educational” program currently underway across America and advertising companies and big brands will be reminded to further hone their systems to keep revenue away from pirate sites.

But perhaps the more pressing efforts will entail bringing companies like Google on board. Voluntary agreements with the search sector can certainly be influenced by those on Capitol Hill, but with Google’s insistence that Hollywood moves first, by providing content in a convenient manner at a fair price, the ball is back in the movie industry’s court.

Dodd, however, is now promising just that, so things should start to get interesting. And in the meantime the MPAA can continue to fund groups such as the Copyright Alliance, a non-profit which regularly testifies before Congress on copyright and anti-piracy matters and of which the MPAA is a founding member.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police Shut Down MP3 Search Engine MP3Juices

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

mp3juicesOver the past few months City of London Police have been working together with copyright holders to topple sites that provide or link to pirated content.

The police started by sending warning letters to site owners, asking them to go legit or shut down. Late last year this was followed by a campaign targeted at domain registrars, asking them to suspend the domain names of several “illegal” sites.

Most registrars have denied these suspension requests because they lack any legal basis, but some are cooperating. Yesterday another site fell victim to the police’s campaign after MP3Juices.com had its domain name suspended.

The MP3 search engine was relatively popular with well over a million visitors per month. For now, these visitors will have to find an alternative as the site currently displays a prominent police banner.

“You have tried to access a website that is under criminal investigation by the UK: Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) This site is being investigated for online copyright infringement,” the banner reads.

pipcu

The domain was suspended by domain name registrar Internet.bs, who previously suspended the domains of several other sites including Cricfree.tv. Interestingly, the latter was allowed to transfer its domain to another registrar after it threatened to take legal steps.

TorrentFreak asked PIPCU for a comment on the latest domain suspension but we have yet to hear back.

Increasingly, owners of alleged pirate sites are looking for safe registrars that won’t give in to complaints from authorities overseas. The Canadian registrar EasyDNS appears to be a safer choice, as the company protests PIPCU’s efforts fiercely.

PIPCU is not happy with these non-cooperative registrars and a few weeks ago the police sent EasyDNS a threatening letter, suggesting that the company itself could be held liable for aiding and abetting a criminal operation.

TorrentFreak spoke with a source who has been following the response of site owners to the recent domain perils, and he suggested that bypassing registrars altogether may become a new trend.

“Cutting out the registrar and going directly to the TLD’s registry is the best way. Through Iceland for example. ISNIC would only respond to a court order in Iceland, not threats from police,” we were told.

Iceland’s ISNIC would indeed be a safe option. The organization previously told us that it will not take any action without a court order, and later condemned PIPCU’s domain suspension requests.

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

TorrentFreak: Largest Pirate Bay Proxy & More Blocked By UK ISPs

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

After years of legal action, arrests, and placing people like Gottfrid Svartholm and Peter Sunde behind bars, it became clear to copyright holders that trying to directly shutdown The Pirate Bay would not be easy.

Instead they decided to target ISPs, companies that are responsive to legal threats in most corners of the world. In time, court orders rendered The Pirate Bay and similar sites blocked, but not for long. Proxy sites enabling access to the world’s largest torrent indexes soon began to thrive, but their time would also come.

The biggest proxy battle anywhere on the planet is taking place in the UK, a country where it’s become almost a formality to have sites blocked at the ISP level. Today we can report that yet another silent round of blockades are being put in place.

One of the main targets is PirateProxy, an extremely popular proxy service that’s particularly well known in the UK. The site was previously accessible at PirateProxy.net but moved to a new domain earlier in the year after its domain was blocked.

PirateProxy.net

The site switched to PirateProxy.in during April and successfully maintained its traffic. As can be seen from the Alexa chart below, PirateProxy is the 125th most popular domain in the entire country, an impressive feat for a site that offers nothing but a Pirate Bay block workaround.

PirateProxyin

Notable too is the site’s placing in Ireland, where The Pirate Bay is also blocked by ISPs. As of this morning PirateProxy was the country’s 131st most-popular domain.

However, visitors to the site through the major UK ISPs are now beginning to see the familiar “domain blocked” message. The example from Virgin Media, which confirms the existence of a court order, is shown below.

VirginBlock

Also under attack are the various proxy services available through Come.in, a portal which facilitates access to a wide range of torrent and other similar sites blocked by numerous European ISPs.

In addition to sundry others, at the moment the site’s PirateBay, KickassTorrents, ExtraTorrent, YTS/YIFY, TorrentReactor, BitSnoop and 1337x proxies are being subjected to UK blockades.

This is the second time this year that multiple Come.in proxies have been targeted by rightsholders. Back in June its EZTV and YTS proxies were blocked in the UK but were re-established by the site’s operators who vowed to keep putting up new services to maintain service.

cityoflondonpoliceWhile blocking proxies continues to be a key weapon of choice, proxies with UK-based operators have greater concerns. As reported in August, City of London police’s PIPCU unit arrested the operator of Immunicity and several other proxies.

According to a police response to a Freedom of Information request obtained by TorrentFreak, he now stands accused of a wide range of crimes including breaches of the Serious Crime Act 2007, Possession of Articles for Use in Fraud, Making or Supplying Articles for use in Frauds and money laundering.

While plenty of proxies still exist (including several which rotate at the bottom of The Pirate Bay homepage under ‘proxy’), others aren’t doing so well.

Visitors to sites including TorrentProxies, Torrenticity, FenopyReverse, FirstRowProxy, GetPirate, H33tUnblock, KatProxy, LivePirate, Metricity, ProxyCentral, KickassUnblock and YifyProxy are greeted with a message from PIPCU that the domains are under police investigation.

Finally, and despite efforts by the BBC to have all VPN users labeled as pirates, use of such services to evade blockades and enable geo-unblocking continues.

The BPI, PirateProxy and Come.in were not immediately available for comments but we’ll update this report when they arrive.

Update: The operator of PirateProxy informs us that a new domain is up and operational at PirateProxy.bz

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

TorrentFreak: Spotify: Aussie Music Piracy Down 20%

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

spotify-blackSince its launch Spotify always had a very clear goal in mind. Compete with piracy and make it obsolete.

To see how the company is faring on this front Spotify regularly researches piracy rates in countries where they enter the market. Thus far the results have been rather positive.

In 2012 the streaming service entered the Australian market and Spotify’s own research now shows that music piracy via BitTorrent dropped significantly during the following year.

In a keynote speech at the BIGSOUND music conference today, Spotify’s Director of Economics Will Page reveals that the volume of music piracy has decreased 20% between 2012 and 2013. Similarly, the number of people sharing music via BitTorrent in Australia has gone down too.

“It’s exciting to see that we are making inroads into reducing the music piracy problem within such a short space of time in this market,” Page says.

“It shows the scope for superior legal services (offered at an accessible price point) to help improve the climate for copyright online,” he adds.

While the overall volume is down not all pirates are giving up their habit. The research found that it’s mostly the casual file-sharers who stop sharing, while the hard-core pirates remain just as active as before.

Also worth noting is that interest in illegal music downloads pales in comparison to that of other media. The research found that the demand for TV-shows and movies is four times that of music.

Spotify suggests that it’s partly responsible for the drop in music piracy, but doesn’t say to what extent. It’s also not clear how the demand for and volume of other forms of piracy changed in the same time period.

Page sees the drop in music piracy as an encouraging sign, but notes that more has to be done. While Spotify’s Director of Economics doesn’t comment on specific anti-piracy proposals the Government has put forward, he does stress that both carrots and sticks are required to address the issue.

“Let’s be clear, Australia still faces a massive challenge in turning around its much talked about media piracy challenge, and it always has, and always will, take a combination of public policy and superior legal offerings,” page says.

“The downward trend in piracy volume and population suggests superior music legal services like Spotify are making a positive impact, and this has proven to be the case in Scandinavia, but it will take both carrots and sticks to turn the market around.”

The research seems to suggest that services like Spotify are reasonably good carrots, but what the sticks look like will have to become clear in the months to come.

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