Posts tagged ‘anonymous’

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

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

TorrentFreak: Microsoft: We’ve Always Had Freemium, It’s Called Piracy

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

microsoft-pirateIn recent years the ‘freemium’ business model has gained much traction in many areas from gaming to software services. But while the portmanteau describing the phenomenon is a relatively new addition to our language, the idea behind the business model is not.

In the 1980s, those with access to Bulletin Board Systems would download programs and share them with their friends, all with the full encouragement of the software’s creators. Shareware, as it was known, often encouraged users to send off a snail-mailed registration fee in return for a code to unlock premium features. Although basic, freemium had been born.

Today the concept has gone way beyond those humble roots. The App Store and Google Play are awash with free-to-play games with premium addons, and services such as Spotify and Dropbox offer decent free levels of service to get users onboard and primed to start parting with real cash.

If Joe Public was pressed into a snap judgment, Microsoft would probably be more associated with premium than free, with the company historically charging sizable amounts for its Windows and Office products, for example. However, speaking with CNBC, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says that the company has always had an eye on the freemium experience.

The idea, the CEO notes, is to get people on board with a product they find useful. Then, when it becomes clear how users are utilizing the service, options to monetize become available alongside their demands for improved service. He uses the company’s cloud-storage service as an example.

“We want everybody to use OneDrive. And then when you are starting to use it for business, that’s when we want to monetize. So we do not want to have you only start using us when you have a business license or subscription. We want to have you use us when you just want to save any file or any document, any artifact of yours. And then have a natural way for us to monetize as you use more of it in the commercial context,” Nadella explains.

By now millions of people online are familiar with ‘freemium’ in one shape or another but comments from Nadella suggest that while this business model has been leveraged by Microsoft for quite some time, the company had it forced upon them.

“Well, we’ve always had freemium. Sometimes our freemium was called piracy,” Nadella reveals.

“[The] thing that I don’t want us as a company to shy away from is usage first. Because I think if anything, the new competition has taught is that, you know, what matters is do not try to equate revenue and usage day one.”

The ‘piracy is promotion’ angle is something rarely spoken about by company execs, probably in fear of endorsing an illegal activity and validating it in the eyes of piracy proponents. However, by speaking of it alongside ‘freemium’, Microsoft’s CEO appears to have confirmed what many have been saying all along, that getting people on board for free – via piracy if necessary – is one the first steps on the monetization trail.

Indeed, this belief his held so strongly in some quarters that there are some who insist that it’s preferable for people to pirate the software of company ‘A’ than switch to the opposition, whether paid or not.

That said, what Microsoft does not want is people selling pirated copies of its premium products – that kind of ‘promotion’ is never welcome. If people use a free sample of Microsoft products at home, the company isn’t likely to kick down the door. Do the same in a business environment, however, and things aren’t anywhere near as open-minded.

There are no signs that Microsoft is going soft on piracy but as business models change, as they have with Adobe’s Creative Cloud, free tiers attractive to would-be pirates will become more commonplace. And that can only mean one thing for piracy rates.

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

TorrentFreak: 4shared Demands Retraction Over Misleading Piracy Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Kim Dotcom Must Reveal Everything He Owns to Hollywood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22jumpThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

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

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

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TorrentFreak: The Soaring Financial Cost of Blocking Pirate Sites

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

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

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

The applications themselves

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

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

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

Keeping blocked sites blocked

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

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

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

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

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

Costs to ISPs for implementing blocking orders

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

Sky

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

BT

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

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

EE

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

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

TalkTalk

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

Virgin

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

And the bills are only set to increase

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

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

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

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

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

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

So who will pick up the bill?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fromhot1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The disclaimer
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Photo via

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ushostpirate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: High Court Orders ISPs to Block Counterfeiting Websites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24 hours to take action

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

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

Forks will not be automatically disabled

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

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

Fighting back: Counter-notices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Leaked TPP Draft Reveals Tough Anti-Piracy Measures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is, if an agreement is ever reached.

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