Posts tagged ‘anonymous’

TorrentFreak: Google: Targeting Downloaders Not The Best Solution to Fight Piracy

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

google-bayIn recent years it has become more common for copyright holders to include settlement offers in the takedown notices that are sent to Internet providers.

While most large ISPs prefer not to forward these demands, Google Fiber decided it would.

A few days ago we highlighted the issue in an article. Before publication we reached out to Google for a comment, but initially the company didn’t reply. Now, a week after our first inquiry Google has sent a response.

Google explains that it’s forwarding the entire takedown notice including the settlement offers in an effort to be as transparent as it can be.

“When Google Fiber receives a copyright complaint about an account, we pass along all of the information we receive to the account holder so that they’re aware of it and can determine the response that’s best for their situation,” a Google spokesperson tells TF.

This suggests that the transparency is seen by Google as more important than protecting customers against threatening and sometimes inaccurate notices. Overall, however, Google notes that targeting pirates directly is not the best solution to deal with the issue.

“Although we think there are better solutions to fighting piracy than targeting individual downloaders, we want to be transparent with our customers,” Google’s spokesperson adds.

Google doesn’t say what these better options are, but previously the company noted that piracy is mainly a pricing and availability problem.

While transparency is often a good thing, in this case it doesn’t necessarily help Google Fiber customers. After receiving the notice they can either pay up or ignore it. If they choose the latter generally nothing happens, but recent history shows that there’s a legal risk involved.

Last week the news broke that Rotten Records, one of the companies which sends settlement requests to ISPs, sued Comcast subscribers for ignoring these infringement notices.

With the possibility of false accusations, it would probably be in the customers’ best interest if ISPs ignored the notices entirely, which some do.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Loses New Domain Name, Hydra Lives On

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

tpbhydraxEarlier this week the Stockholm District Court ordered the Pirate Bay’s .SE domains to be handed over to the Swedish state, arguing that they were linked to copyright crimes.

The Pirate Bay was fully prepared for the negative outcome and quickly redirected its visitors to six new domain names.

Since then the site has been accessible through the GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD domain names, without even a second of downtime.

Marking the change The Pirate Bay updated its logo to the familiar Hydra logo, linking a TLD to each of the heads. However, we can now reveal that one head has already been chopped off.

The site’s .GS domain name has been suspended by the registry, and ThePirateBay.gs is now listed as “ServerHold” and “Inactive.”

The Pirate Bay informs us that the .GS domain has indeed been lost, which didn’t come as a complete shock. In fact, one of the reasons to move to six domains was to see which ones would hold up.

“We have more domain names behind, if needed. We are stronger than ever and will defend the site to the end,” the TPB team tells us.

At this point it’s unclear for how long the other domain names will remain available. Hoping to find out more, we reached out to the respective registries to discover their policies on domains being operated by The Pirate Bay.

The Mongolian .MN registry informs TF that they will process potential complaints through ICANN’s Dispute Resolution Policy, suggesting that they will not take any voluntary action.

The VG Registry referred us to their terms and conditions, specifically sections 3.4 and 7.2, which allow for an immediate termination or suspension if a domain infringes on the rights of third parties. However, it could not comment on this specific case.

“We will review any complaint and act accordingly. Please understand that we cannot make any predictions based on theoretical options,” a VG Registry spokesperson says.

It won’t be a big surprise if several more Pirate Bay domain names are suspended during the days and weeks to come. That’s a Whac-A-Mole game the site’s operators are all too familiar with now, but one that won’t bring the site to its knees.

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

TorrentFreak: Supergirl Pilot Leaks to Torrent Sites, Six Months Early

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

supergirlAfter making an appearance as far back as 1958, Supergirl was intended to be a female counterpart to DC Comics’ Superman who first appeared 20 years earlier. While successful in her own right, she never quite reached the dizzy heights of the Clark Kent-based character.

This yeah, however, the world is braced for the return of Supergirl in a new CBS TV series. Featuring Melissa Benoist (Glee, Homeland, Law and Order) as Kara Zor-El, an alien who has hidden her powers since escaping from Krypton, the show will see her transform into Supergirl and “the superhero she was meant to be.”

After a commitment in September 2014, the series was officially picked up by CBS earlier this month. The pilot was scheduled to debut in November, but those plans have now massively unraveled after the episode leaked online, six months earlier than its planned debut.

Two ‘Scene’ release groups – DiMENSiON and LOL – competed to premiere the title first this morning, with the latter beating the former by around 90 seconds. LOL’s version is a convenient 400mb so likely to become the most sought after copy. On the other hand DiMENSiON’s is more than 15 times the size, but for 1080p connoisseurs it’ll be worth the wait.

Although it’s certainly possible that the pilot contains hidden watermarks, as far as visible identifiers go the 46 minute episode looks very clean. As illustrated by the image below, there are no tell-tale ‘property of’ warnings that are regularly seen on ‘screener’ copies of leaked movies.

supergirl-ss

The leak of the pilot came as a complete surprise a couple of hours ago so download stats on BitTorrent sites are a currently quite modest 25,000 or so. However, given the anticipated media snowball effect during the day the number of downloads is likely to increase dramatically, probably to more than a million by this time tomorrow.

The Supergirl leak comes just weeks after the first four episodes of the new series of Game of Thrones leaked online. That event triggered a piracy crazy that continues to this day.

Whether more episodes of Supergirl will leak online in the days to come is unknown but in any event it seems likely that CBS will try to stem the current tide. The company is a prolific sender of DMCA takedown notices and regularly sends more than 100,000 each week to Google alone.

Supergirl trailer

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

Schneier on Security: New Pew Research Report on Americans’ Attitudes on Privacy, Security, and Surveillance

This post was syndicated from: Schneier on Security and was written by: schneier. Original post: at Schneier on Security

This is interesting:

The surveys find that Americans feel privacy is important in their daily lives in a number of essential ways. Yet, they have a pervasive sense that they are under surveillance when in public and very few feel they have a great deal of control over the data that is collected about them and how it is used. Adding to earlier Pew Research reports that have documented low levels of trust in sectors that Americans associate with data collection and monitoring, the new findings show Americans also have exceedingly low levels of confidence in the privacy and security of the records that are maintained by a variety of institutions in the digital age.

While some Americans have taken modest steps to stem the tide of data collection, few have adopted advanced privacy-enhancing measures. However, majorities of Americans expect that a wide array of organizations should have limits on the length of time that they can retain records of their activities and communications. At the same time, Americans continue to express the belief that there should be greater limits on government surveillance programs. Additionally, they say it is important to preserve the ability to be anonymous for certain online activities.

Lots of detail in the reports.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Domain Seizures Are Easy in the United States

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

court1-featuredOne the biggest piracy-related stories of the year broke this week after Swedish authorities succeeded in their quest to take over two key Pirate Bay domains.

The court order, handed down Tuesday, will see ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se fall under the control of the Swedish government, provided no appeal is filed in the coming weeks. It’s been a long and drawn out process but given the site’s history, one with an almost inevitable outcome.

Over in the United States and spurred on by ‘rogue’ sites such as TPB, much attention has been focused on depriving ‘pirate’ sites of their essential infrastructure, domains included. Just last week the MPAA and RIAA appeared before the House Judiciary Committee’s Internet subcommittee complaining that ICANN isn’t doing enough to deal with infringing domains.

Of course, having ICANN quickly suspend domains would be convenient, but entertainment industry groups aren’t completely helpless. In fact, yet another complaint filed in the United States by TV company ABS-CBN shows how easily it is to take control of allegedly infringing domains.

The architect of several recent copyright infringement complaints, in its latest action ABS-CBN requested assistance from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The TV company complained that eleven sites (listed below) have been infringing its rights by offering content without permission. To protect its business moving forward ABS-CBN requested an immediate restraining order and after an ex parte hearing, District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas was happy to oblige.

In an order (pdf) handed down May 15 (one day after the complaint was filed) Judge Dimitrouleas acknowledges that the sites unlawfully “advertised, promoted, offered for distribution, distributed or performed” copyrighted works while infringing on ABS-CBN trademarks. He further accepted that the sites were likely to continue their infringement and cause “irreparable injury” to the TV company in the absence of protection by the Court.

Granting a temporary order (which will become preliminary and then permanent in the absence of any defense by the sites in question) the Judge restrained the site operators from further infringing on ABS-CBN copyrights and trademarks. However, it is the domain element that provokes the most interest.

In addition to ordering the sites’ operators not to transfer any domains until the Court advises, Judge Dimitrouleas ordered the registrars of the domains to transfer their certificates to ABS-CBN’s counsel. Registrars must then lock the domains and inform their registrants what has taken place.

Furthermore, the Whois privacy protection services active on the domains and used to conceal registrant identities are ordered to hand over the site operators’ personal details to ABS-CBN so that the TV company is able to send a copy of the restraining order. If no active email address is present in Whois records, ABS-CBN is allowed to contact the defendants via their websites.

Once this stage is complete the domain registrars are ordered to transfer the domains to a new registrar of ABS-CBN’s choosing. However, if the registrars fail to act within 24 hours, the TLD registries (.COM etc) must take overriding action within five days.

The Court also ordered ABS-CBN’s registrar to redirect any visitors to the domains to a specific URL (http://servingnotice.com/BL4G47/index.html) which is supposed to contain a copy of the order. At the time of writing, however, that URL is non-functional.

Also of interest is how the Court locks down attempts to get the sites running again. In addition to expanding the restraining order to any new domains the site operators may choose to move to, the Court grants ABS-CBN access to Google Webmaster Tools so that the company may “cancel any redirection of the domains that have been entered there by Defendants which redirect traffic to the counterfeit operations to a new domain name or website.”

The domains affected are: freepinoychannel.com, lambingan.to, pinoymovie.to, pinoynetwork.to, pinoytambayan-replay.com, pinoytambayantv.com, tambaytayo.com, tvnijuan.net, phstream.com, streampinoy.info and tambayanatin.com.

Despite the order having been issued last Thursday, at the time of writing all but one of the domains remains operational. Furthermore, and in an interesting twist, pinoymovie.to and pinoynetwork.to have already skipped to fresh domains operated by none other than the Swedish administered .SE registry.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Israeli ISPs to Block Popcorn Time Websites

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

popcorntBranded a “Netflix for Pirates,” the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people over the past year.

The application has some of the major media giants worried, including Netflix which sees the pirate app as a serious competitor to its business.

Since Popcorn Time is powered by BitTorrent it is hard to stop the downloads directly, but copyright holders can go after the websites that offer the application. In Israel the local anti-piracy outfit ZIRA went down this route.

The group, which represents several media companies, applied for an ex parte injunction ordering local Internet providers to block access to the websites of several Popcorn Time forks.

This week the Tel Aviv court granted the application, arguing that the application does indeed violate the rights of copyright holders.

The copyright holders are pleased with the outcome, which shows that services such as Popcorn Time are infringing even though they don’t host any files themselves.

“The Popcorn Time software provides users with a service to stream and download content on the Internet, including Israeli movies and foreign movies and TV series with English subtitles, without having any permission from copyright holders to do so,” attorney Presenti told local media.

The ISP blockades will prevent people from downloading Popcorn Time in the future. However, applications that have been downloaded already will continue to work for now.

To address this, ZIRA’s lawyers say the are considering additional steps including the option to block the ports Popcorn Time uses. While that may be effective, it may also block other traffic, especially if the app switches to more common ports such as port 80.

Israel is the second country to block access to Popcorn Time websites. Last month the UK High Court issued a similar order, which also targeted the domain names of various APIs the applications use.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Fiber Sends Automated Piracy ‘Fines’ to Subscribers

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

googlefiberlogoEvery month Google receives dozens of millions of DMCA takedown requests from copyright holders, most of which are directed at its search engine.

However, with Google Fiber being rolled out in more cities, notices targeting allegedly pirating Internet subscribers are becoming more common as well.

These include regular takedown notices but also the more controversial settlement demands sent by companies such as Rightscorp and CEG TEK.

Instead of merely alerting subscribers that their connections have been used to share copyright infringing material, these notices serve as automated fines, offering subscribers settlements ranging from $20 to $300.

The scheme uses the standard DMCA takedown process which means that the copyright holder doesn’t have to go to court or even know who the recipient is. In fact, the affected subscriber is often not the person who shared the pirated file.

To protect customers against these practices many ISPs including Comcast, Verizon and AT&T have chosen not to forward settlement demands. However, information received by TF shows that Google does take part.

Over the past week we have seen settlement demands from Rightscorp and CEG TEK which were sent to Google Fiber customers. In an email, Google forwards the notice with an additional warning that repeated violations may result in a permanent disconnection.

“Repeated violations of our Terms of Service may result in remedial action being taken against your Google Fiber account, up to and including possible termination of your service,” Google Fiber writes.

fiberwarning

Below Google’s message is the notification with the settlement demand, which in this example was sent on behalf of music licensing outfit BMG. In the notice, the subscriber is warned over possible legal action if the dispute is not settled.

“BMG will pursue every available remedy including injunctions and recovery of attorney’s fees, costs and any and all other damages which are incurred by BMG as a result of any action that is commenced against you,” the notice reads.

bmgwarning

Facing such threatening language many subscribers are inclined to pay up, which led some to accuse the senders of harassment and abuse. In addition, several legal experts have spoken out against this use of the DMCA takedown process.

Mitch Stoltz, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) previously told us that Internet providers should carefully review what they’re forwarding to their users. Under U.S. law they are not required to forward DMCA notices and forwarding these automated fines may not be in the best interest of consumers.

“In the U.S., ISPs don’t have any legal obligation to forward infringement notices in their entirety. An ISP that cares about protecting its customers from abuse should strip out demands for money before forwarding infringement notices. Many do this,” Stoltz said.

According to Stoltz these settlement demands are often misleading or inaccurate, suggesting that account holders are responsible for all use of their Internet connections.

“The problem with notices demanding money from ISP subscribers is that they’re often misleading. They often give the impression that the person whose name is on the ISP bill is legally responsible for all infringement that might happen on the Internet connection, which is simply not true,” he notes.

While Google is certainly not the only ISP that forwards these notices it is the biggest name involved. TF asked Google why they have decided to forward the notices in their entirely but unfortunately the company did not respond to our request for comment.

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

TorrentFreak: Netflix Needs BitTorrent Expert to Implement P2P Streaming

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

netflix-logoWith roughly 60 million subscribers globally, Netflix is a giant in the world of online video entertainment.

The service moves massive amounts of data and is credited with consuming a third of all Internet traffic in North America during peak hours.

Netlix’s data use is quite costly for the company and also results in network congestion and stream buffering at times. However, thanks to P2P-powered streaming these problems may soon be a thing of the past.

In a job posting late April, Netflix says it is looking to expand its team with the addition of a Senior Software Engineer. While that’s nothing new, the description reveals information on the company’s P2P-streaming plans.

“Our team is evaluating up-and-coming content distribution technologies, and we are seeking a highly talented senior engineer to grow the knowledge base in the area of peer-to-peer technologies and lead the technology design and prototyping effort,” the application reads.

The software engineer will be tasked with guiding the project from start to finish. This includes the design and architecture phase, implementation, testing, the internal release and final evaluation.

“This is a great opportunity to enhance your full-stack development skills, and simultaneously grow your knowledge of the state of the art in peer-to-peer content distribution and network optimization techniques,” Netflix writes.

A few weeks ago Netflix told its shareholders that it sees the BitTorrent-powered piracy app Popcorn Time as a serious threat. However, the job application makes it clear that BitTorrent can be used for legal distribution as well.

Among the qualification requirements Netflix lists experience with BitTorrent and other P2P-protocols. Having contributed to the open source torrent streaming tool WebTorrent or a similar project is listed as a preferred job qualification.

In other words, existing Popcorn Time developers are well-suited candidates for the position.

– You have experience with peer-to-peer protocols such as the BitTorrent protocol

– You have strong experience in the development of peer-to-peer protocols and software

– You have contributed to a major peer-to-peer open source product such as WebTorrent

– You have strong experience in the development of web-based video applications and tools

Moving to P2P-assisted streaming appears to be a logical step. It will be possible to stream videos in a higher quality than is currently possible. In addition, it will offer a significant cost reduction.

BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen will be happy to see that Netflix is considering using his technology. He previously said that Netflix’s video quality is really terrible, adding that BitTorrent-powered solutions are far superior.

“The fact is that by using BitTorrent it’s possible to give customers a much better experience with much less cost than has ever been possible before. It’s really not being utilized properly and that’s really unfortunate,” Cohen said.

While the job posting is yet more evidence that Netflix is seriously considering a move to P2P-powered streaming, it’s still unclear whether the new technology will ever see the light of day.

The job posting
netflix-torrent

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

TorrentFreak: Voltage Pictures Sued For Copyright Infringement

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

godz-smallThere are dozens of companies engaged in so-called “copyright trolling” worldwide, the majority connected with adult movie companies.

While most are generally dismissed as second-rate companies out to make a quick buck, U.S. producer Voltage Pictures has developed a reputation for making fairly decent movies and being one of the most aggressive ‘trolls’ around.

The company has targeted thousands of individuals in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and most recently Australia. The company has largely prevailed in these actions but a new case filed this week in the U.S. sees the company on the receiving end of procedures.

The spat concerns Voltage’s plans for a new movie. Starring Anne Hathaway and titled ‘Collosal‘, the flick sees a giant lizard-like creature stomping its way over Tokyo. It sounds an awful lot like Godzilla, recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest-running movie franchise ever. Toho, the Japanese movie studio behind the Godzilla brand, noticed the similarities too.

In a lawsuit filed yesterday in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Toho highlights the hypocrisy of Voltage’s actions.

Describing the company as a “staunch advocate for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights” after filing hundreds of copyright suits involving its movies The Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club, Toya says that Voltage began promoting its new movie via email at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month.

As can be seen from the screenshot below, the email features three large photos of Godzilla, actress Anne Hathaway, and a giant robot.

voltage-godz

“Gloria is an ordinary woman who finds herself in an extraordinary circumstance. Tokyo is under attack by Godzilla and a giant robot and, for some strange reason, Gloria is the only person who can stop it,” the email reads.

Predictably Toho is upset at Voltage’s use of the Godzilla character and associated breaches of the company’s copyrights and trademarks. Only making matters worse is the fact that the image of Godzilla used by Voltage is actually taken from promotional material published by Toho to accompany the release of its 2014 movie, Godzilla.

“Godzilla is one of the most iconic fictional characters in the history of motion pictures. Toho Co., Ltd., the copyright owner of the Godzilla character and
franchise of films, brings this lawsuit because defendants are brazenly producing,
advertising, and selling an unauthorized Godzilla film of their own,” Toho begin.

“There is nothing subtle about defendants’ conduct. They are expressly informing the entertainment community that they are making a Godzilla film and are using the
Godzilla trademark and images of Toho’s protected character to generate interest in
and to obtain financing for their project,” the company continues.

“That anyone would engage in such blatant infringement of another’s intellectual property is wrong enough. That defendants, who are known for zealously protecting their own copyrights, would do so is outrageous in the extreme.”

Noting that at no stage has Voltage ever sought permission to exploit the Godzilla character, Toho says it asked Voltage to cease and desist but the company refused.

“Upon learning of Defendants’ infringing activities, Toho demanded that Defendants cease their exploitation of the Godzilla Character, but Defendants refused to do so,” Toho writes.

In response Toho filed suit and is now demanding that all profits generated by Voltage as a result of its “infringing activities” should be handed over to the Japanese company. That, or payment of $150,000 in statutory damages for each infringement of Toho’s copyrights. Trademark issues are at stake too, with Toho demanding preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against Voltage’s use of the Godzilla marks.

Being on the wrong end of a copyright infringement lawsuit will be a novel experience for Voltage Pictures.

After recently winning a case to reveal the identities of thousands of alleged pirates in Australia, the company is currently engaged in negotiations with a Federal court over how its first letters to the accused should be worded.

With a hearing scheduled for tomorrow, the studio is still experiencing resistance against what is perceived as a so-called “speculative invoicing” business model. Local ISP iiNet is providing comprehensive advice to its customers affected by Voltage’s action and is even working with a law firm prepared to provide pro-bono services.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Moves to GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD Domains

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

tpb-logoThe Pirate Bay has long been associated with Sweden but soon the popular torrent site will stop using a Swedish domain name.

Earlier today the Stockholm District Court ordered the seizure of both thepiratebay.se and piratebay.se, arguing that they were linked to copyright crimes.

Potential appeals aside the domains in question will be handed over to the Swedish Government, but the ruling is unlikely to hamper Pirate Bay’s availability, quite the contrary.

The TPB team informs TF that they have already begun redirecting the .SE address, rotating it to six new domain names.

As of now, the notorious torrent site is available through new GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD domain names.

Pirate Bay homepage (.VG didn’t fit the hydra)
tpblogo

This means that all the effort that went into the lawsuit, as well as at least $40,000 in legal costs, have done very little to stop the site.

“Congratulations to Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad. Two years hard work to get us to change two little letters at a cost of $20,000 per letter,” the TPB team tells TF in a comment.

“He could have given us $35,000 and we would have left the domain, thus saving the Swedish tax payer $5,000. All he had to do was ask nicely,” they add.

With six new domains one can argue that The Pirate Bay has become even more resilient. There will undoubtedly be attempts to seize or suspend the new domains, but there are also plenty more domains TPB can register.

And so the Whack-a-Mole continues.

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

TorrentFreak: Key Pirate Bay Domains Must Be Seized, Court Rules

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

tpb-logoIn keeping with a global strategy to disrupt the operations of unauthorized file-sharing sites by attacking their infrastructure, Swedish authorities have been eying two domains operated by the notorious Pirate Bay.

In 2013, Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, the man behind the operation that took the site down in December, filed a motion targeting ThePirateBay.se (the site’s main domain) and PirateBay.se (a lesser used alternative).

Filed against Punkt SE, the organization responsible for Sweden’s top level .SE domain, the case reasoned that since The Pirate Bay is an illegal operation, its domains are tools used by the site to infringe copyright. Noting that Punkt SE supplies and controls the domains and is therefore liable for their (mis)use, the domains should be dealt with in the same way that other criminal tools would be, Ingblad argued.

Punkt SE, on the other hand, took the position that holding a registry responsible for infringement has no basis in law. Furthermore, disabling domains is an ineffective way to deal with infringement.

After two years preparation the case was heard at the end of April 2015 and just a few minutes ago the decision was handed down.

After a week-long delay the Stockholm District Court ruled that The Pirate Bay will forfeit its Sweden-based domains – ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se.

For now, however, The Pirate Bay will continue business as usual. An insider informs TorrentFreak that the site has plenty of other domains in reserve and will make a switch when required.

Both the domain registry and prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad are preparing statements for TorrentFreak and this article will be continuously updated as soon as further details become available.

Breaking news story

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

Krebs on Security: St. Louis Federal Reserve Suffers DNS Breach

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

The St. Louis Federal Reserve today sent a message to the banks it serves alerting them that in late April 2015 attackers succeeded in hijacking the domain name servers for the institution. The attack redirected Web searches and queries for those seeking a variety of domains run by the government entity to a Web page set up by the attackers in an apparent bid by cybercrooks to hijack online communications of banks and other entities dealing with the regional Fed office.

fedstlouisThe communique, shared by an anonymous source, was verified as legitimate by a source at another regional Federal Reserve location.

The notice from the St. Louis Fed stated that the “the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has been made aware that on April 24, 2015, computer hackers manipulated routing settings at a domain name service (DNS) vendor used by the St. Louis Fed so that they could automatically redirect some of the Bank’s web traffic that day to rogue webpages they created to simulate the look of the St. Louis Fed’s research.stlouisfed.org website, including webpages for FRED, FRASER, GeoFRED and ALFRED.”

Requests for comment from the St. Louis Fed so far have gone unreturned. It remains unclear what impact, if any, this event has had on the normal day-to-day operations of hundreds of financial institutions that interact with the regional Fed operator.

The advisory noted that “as is common with these kinds of DNS attacks, users who were redirected to one of these phony websites may have been unknowingly exposed to vulnerabilities that the hackers may have put there, such as phishing, malware and access to user names and passwords.”

The statement continues:

“These risks apply to individuals who attempted to access the St. Louis Fed’s research.stlouisfed.org website on April 24, 2015. If you attempted to log into your user account on that date, it is possible that this malicious group may have accessed your user name and password.

The St. Louis Fed’s website itself was not compromised.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we wanted to alert you to this issue, and also make you aware that the next time you log into your user account, you will be asked to change your password. In addition, in the event that your user name and password are the same or similar as those you use for other websites, we highly recommend that you follow best practices and use a strong, unique and different password for each of your user accounts on the Internet. Click https://research.stlouisfed.org/useraccount/forgotpassword/step1 to change your user account password now.”

According to Wikipedia, the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) is a database maintained by the Research division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis that has more than 247,000 economic time series from 79 sources. The data can be viewed in graphical and text form or downloaded for import to a database or spreadsheet, and viewed on mobile devices. They cover banking, business/fiscal, consumer price indexes, employment and population, exchange rates, gross domestic product, interest rates, monetary aggregates, producer price indexes, reserves and monetary base, U.S. trade and international transactions, and U.S. financial data.

FRASER stands for the Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research, and reportedly contains links to scanned images (PDF format) of historic economic statistical publications, releases, and documents including the annual Economic Report of the President. Coverage starts with the 19th and early 20th century for some economic and banking reports.

According to the Federal Reserve, GeoFred allows authorized users to create, customize, and share geographical maps of data found in FRED.

ALFRED, short for ArchivaL Federal Reserve Economic Data, allows users to retrieve vintage versions of economic data that were available on specific dates in history.

The St. Louis Federal Reserve is one of twelve regional Fed organizations, and serves banks located in the all of Arkansas and portions of six other states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. According to the reserve’s Web site, it also serves most of eastern Missouri and southern Illinois.

No information is available at this time about the attackers involved in this intrusion, but given the time lag between this event and today’s disclosure it seems likely that it is related to state-sponsored hacking activity from a foreign adversary. If the DNS compromise also waylaid emails to and from the institution, this could be a much bigger deal. This is likely to be a fast-moving story. More updates as they become available.

TorrentFreak: EZTV Shuts Down After Hostile Takeover

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

eztv-logo-smallDuring the spring of 2005 several large TV-torrent sites were knocked offline, leaving a gaping void that was soon filled by a new torrent distribution group, EZTV.

For a decade EZTV has been one of the leading TV distribution groups. It turned into one of the most visited torrent sites, but today this run comes to an end.

Facing a hostile takeover the group’s founder and main operator NovaKing has called it quits.

Initially it remained vague how EZTV’s demise came to be, not least because NovaKing could not be reached. However, with help from several EZTV staffers including sladinki007 we can now explain what happened.

The group’s troubles started earlier this year when the .IT registry suspended EZTV’s domain name because of inaccurate Whois information. A few weeks later the .IT registry put the domain back on the market and it was snapped up by scammers.

The people who took over the domain name came in well-prepared. They registered the UK company EZCloud LIMITED, which is the same company name as EZTV used. Initially the takeover wasn’t much of a problem, as EZTV had already moved to a new domain name at EZTV.ch, but things quickly turned from bad to worse.

Using the EZCloud company details and by faking the director’s name, the scammers also managed to take over the EZTV.se domain through the EuroDNS registrar. NovaKing tried to prevent this from happening by alerting the registrar, but according to an EZTV staffer he was told to get a court order if he wanted his domain back.

The .se domain was linked to the mailbox of EZTV founder NovaKing, which allowed them to access the domain registrar account and various other services for which they quickly reset all passwords. As a result, NovaKing was locked out, losing control of virtually all of his domain names.

Initially, there was also the possibility that the servers were compromised as well. This prompted a thorough security audit and a site lockdown last month.

Eventually, even the new EZTV.ch domain fell into the hands of the scammers, completing the hostile takeover.

Sladinki007 says that NovaKing must have been devastated by what happened. A life’s work was completely ruined in a few days and access to personal domain names was gone as well.

While EZTV could technically start over using a new name the group’s founder decided to throw in the towel. Too much had already been lost. The group had always been a “fun” non-profit project, and the recent troubles took the fun away.

The scammers, meanwhile, continue to operate both the .it and .ch domain names and are now distributing their own torrents (sourced elsewhere) with the hijacked EZTV brand. They pretend to be the real deal, sending out misleading and false status updates, but they’re not.

Having control over NovaKing’s email address the scammers even reached out to other torrent site operators, claiming that EZTV was back in business. However, most knew better not to fall for it and have retired official EZTV uploader accounts.

A Pirate Bay moderator informs TF that they have suspended the EZTV user account. Many of the older torrents are still on the site, but TPB has added a warning urging people to stay away from the compromised domain.

TPB’s EZTV warning
tpbwarning

Other torrent sites such as KickassTorrents, BT-chat and Rarbg have also disabled or suspended the official EZTV accounts after hearing about the takeover. In addition, KickassTorrents and BT-chat have added the same warning as TPB. This way they hope to keep people away from the compromised EZTV site, which is now serving various ads including pop-unders.

Former EZTV staffers also urge people to stay away from all EZTV sites and to inform others to do the same. The real EZTV is no longer active.

EZTV’s forced retirement marks the and of an era. While there are still plenty of TV-torrents around, the group will be dearly missed by millions.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Helps Puts Sweden on the Map, Govt. Agency Says

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

tpb-logoAs countries fight for prominence on the international stage, being recognized among trading partners and the global general public is an important part of the battle.

For example, London imagery and the royal family are powerful overseas marketing tools for the UK while superstar movie and music icons ensure that United States branding is funneled into hundreds of millions of overseas homes every single day.

In Sweden the government has its own agency tasked with understanding overseas cultures and promoting Sweden and Swedish issues globally. Founded in 1945, the Swedish Institute has approximately 140 employees.

This morning the Swedish Institute made an appearance at the Swedish consulate in Istanbul as part of a Curators of Sweden event discussing freedom of expression, the Internet and democracy. As part of a slideshow the organization highlighted a number of Swedish brands responsible for raising Sweden’s profile on the world stage.

As can be seen from the slide below (thanks Erkan Saka) some of Sweden’s most iconic companies sit front and center. Adorned in Sweden’s national colors, furniture giant IKEA makes a key appearance, closely followed by clothing outlet H&M and motoring legend Volvo. The final three need little introduction.

si-istanbul

Interestingly, all three of the tech companies above have close connections to the file-sharing scene.

First up is Swedish-founded communications software Skype. While millions have used the tool since its launch in August 2003, most probably aren’t aware that its backend was first utilized by infamous P2P tool Kazaa. Indeed, Niklas Zennström co-founded them both.

And Spotify has close connections to file-sharing too. In addition to publicly admitting its service was “designed from the ground up” to be a product with appeal to pirates, one of its engineers is Ludvig Strigeus (Ludde), a Swedish programmer best known for developing BitTorrent client µTorrent.

And last – but certainly not least – sits the infamous The Pirate Bay. As famous for pirating music in 2015 as Swedish pop sensation ABBA were for creating it 40 years earlier, the site has certainly raised the profile of Sweden around the globe. Of course, some will argue that boost hasn’t always been for the best.

At the same time as gathering tens of thousands of headlines focusing on Sweden, the country’s connections to The Pirate Bay have also strained relations with key allies, including the United States.

However, what cannot be denied is how the site has raised global interest in Sweden and ensured that when it comes to discussion and progression in the digital age – especially concerning entertainment distribution – this small Scandinavian country (currently 90th in the world by population) remains at the cutting edge.

Soon, however, the Swedish legal system will decide whether to sever the country’s ties with the infamous file-sharing system. It’s unlikely the country’s overseas profile will diminish as a result though – that part of history has already been written and won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 05/18/15

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

machinaThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Ex Machina is the most downloaded movie.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (…) Ex Machina 8.0 / trailer
2 (…) Project Almanac 6.3 / trailer
3 (1) Jupiter Ascending 5.8 / trailer
4 (2) Furious 7 (Subbed/cropped HDRip) 8.8 / trailer
5 (4) Kingsman: The Secret Service 8.1 / trailer
6 (3) American Sniper 7.4 / trailer
7 (…) Chappie 7.2 / trailer
8 (5) Run All Night 6.9 / trailer
9 (…) Focus 6.7 / trailer
10 (7) Fifty Shades of Grey 4.2 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Cuts More Jobs, Awards Bonuses to Execs

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

riaa-logoThe RIAA has just submitted its latest tax filing to the IRS, covering the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014. Time for us to see where the music industry’s anti-piracy arm stands.

In previous years the RIAA reported a massive decline in revenue after the record labels cut back on their membership dues, but this trend now appears to have stopped.

Total revenue according to the latest filing is $24.2 million, a slight increase from $24.1 million the year before. Despite the stabilizing income, which mostly comes from the record label’s membership dues, the RIAA continues to trim employees.

Over the past five years the number of employees at the RIAA has been slashed in half, dropping from 117 to just 55.

In its most recent filing the RIAA lists 55 people on the payroll compared to 58 the year before. In total these employees earned $11.7 million of which more than 25% went into the pockets of three top executives.

Interestingly, while more than half of the organization’s workers have been let go, the RIAA’s top employees have enjoyed salary increases year after year, including some healthy bonuses.

The top earner in the year ending March 2014 was CEO Cary Sherman with a $1.6 million a year payout for a working week of 50 hours. Sherman’s base salary is a cool million dollars, but that was boosted with a half million bonus and other compensation.

Other high income employees were Mitch Glazier (Senior Executive VP), Steve Marks (General Counsel) and Neil Turkewitz (EVP International) with $776,616, $728,959 and $657,952 respectively, including over a quarter million in bonuses.

RIAA top earners
990riiarev

While these incomes are significant, they are relatively modest compared to other industry groups. For example, MPAA boss Chris Dodd earns $3.3 million, while its former General Counsel Henry Hoberman earned close to a million.

Looking at other expenses reported in the tax return we see that the RIAA spent $2.3 million on lobbying, a figure that has remained relatively stable over time.

The same cannot be said for the group’s legal fees, which dropped from $16.50 to $1.28 million in a few years. In part, this is because the expensive lawsuits against individual file-sharers and services such as Limewire have ended.

Most recently the RIAA started another lawsuit, this time targeting the music linking site MP3Skull, so perhaps the amount spent will increase again in future years.

The full 2013/2014 filing is available here.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Complained So We Seized Your Funds, PayPal Says

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

paypaldeniedFor several years PayPal has been trying to limit how much business it does with sites involved with copyright infringement. Unsurprisingly torrent sites are high up on the payment processors “do not touch” list.

For that reason it is quite rare to see PayPal offered as a donation method on the majority of public sites as these are spotted quite quickly and often shut down. It’s unclear whether PayPal does its own ‘scouting’ but the company is known to act upon complaints from copyright holders as part of the developing global “Follow the Money” anti-piracy strategy.

This week Andrew Sampson, the software developer behind new torrent search engine ‘Strike‘, discovered that when you have powerful enemies, bad things can happen.

With no advertising on the site, Sampson added his personal PayPal account in case anyone wanted to donate. Quickly coming to the conclusion that was probably a bad idea, Sampson removed the button and carried on as before. One month later PayPal contacted him with bad news.

“We are contacting you as we have received a report that your website https://getstrike.net is currently infringing upon the intellectual property of Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.,” PayPal began.

“Such infringement also violates PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy. Therefore your account has been permanently limited.”

Strike-paypal

It isn’t clear why PayPal waited for a month after donations were removed from Strike to close Sampson’s six-year-old account but the coder believes that his public profile (he doesn’t hide his real identity) may have led to his issues.

“It seems someone at the MPAA realized I took donations using PayPal from some of my other LEGAL open source projects (like https://github.com/Codeusa/Borderless-Gaming) and was able to get the email of my account,” the dev told TF.

While Sampson had regularly been receiving donations from users of his other open source projects, he says he only received $200 from users of Strike, a small proportion of the $2,500 in his personal account when PayPal shut it down.

“That money was earned through legitimate freelance work and was going to be used specifically for my rent/car payment so it kind of sucks,” he says.

While it’s going to be a painful 180 day wait for Sampson to get his money back from PayPal, the lack of options for receiving donations on his other projects could prove the most damaging moving forward. Sampson does accept Bitcoin, but it’s nowhere near as user-friendly as PayPal.

Of course, this is all part of the MPAA’s strategy. By making sites like Strike difficult to run, they hope that developers like Sampson will reconsider their positions and move on. And in this case they might just achieve their aims.

“I’ve allowed someone else to manage the site for the time being. It will operate as it normally does but I need a bit to clear my head and don’t want anything to do with it as it’s become quite stressful,” Sampson says.

“I think the MPAA is playing low ball tactics against a developer who just wanted a better search engine. I don’t condone piracy, but I sure as hell understand why it happens.”

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

TorrentFreak: Comcast Users Sued After Ignoring Piracy Notices

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

comcast-newThrough various programs, such as the “six strikes” scheme in the United States and the fledgling Canadian program launched earlier this year, warning notices are delivered to BitTorrent users suspected of distributing content online.

While most are relatively benign, other warning notices come with a price tag attached. The most common are sent by anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp which routinely adds $20 settlement demands to ISP-delivered infringement notices.

The key with these notices is that Rightscorp and its clients don’t know the identities of the people they’re targeting so in the vast majority of cases these cash demands can be ignored. However, it now transpires that’s not always the best strategy.

In a lawsuit filed at the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Rightscorp client Rotten Records is suing a Comcast user who allegedly downloaded and shared When the Kite String Pops, the 1994 debut album from sludge metal band Acid Bath.

In a second filed at the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Rotten Records is suing another Comcast user who allegedly downloaded and shared Definition, the sixth album from crossover thrash band D.R.I.

According to both lawsuits, Rotten Records hired Rightscorp to monitor BitTorrent networks for infringement. The company connected to the defendants’ BitTorrent clients and downloaded a full copy of each of the albums, later verifying that they were identical to the original copyright works.

Distancing themselves from any accusations of wrongdoing, the lawsuits state that neither Rotten Records nor Rightscorp were the original ‘seeders’ of the album and at no point did Rightscorp upload the albums to any other BitTorrent users. However, the company did send warnings to the Comcast users with demands for them to stop sharing the album.

“Rightscorp sent Defendant 11 notices via Defendant’s ISP Comcast Cable
Communications, Inc. from March 26, 2015 to April 4, 2015 demanding that Defendant stop illegally distributing Plaintiff’s work. Defendant ignored each and every notice and continued to illegally distribute Plaintiff’s work,” the Acid Bath lawsuit reads.

While eleven notices is significant, that number pales into insignificance when compared to the D.R.I case.

“Rightscorp sent Defendant 288 notices via their ISP Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. from December 14, 2014 to May 12, 2015 demanding that
Defendant stop illegally distributing Plaintiff’s work. Defendant ignored each and every notice and continued to illegally distribute Plaintiff’s work,” the complaint reads.

In closing, Rotten Records demands an injunction forbidding further online infringement in both cases in addition to the deletion of both albums from each Comcast user’s computer.

Unsurprisingly the record label also wants statutory damages (potentially $150K per work if any infringement is deemed willful) plus attorneys’ fees.

The cases are interesting ones for a number of reasons, not least the decision to target Comcast customers. The ISP routinely strips settlement demands from notices sent by Rightscorp, so it’s possible a message is being sent here.

The other angle is money. Sure, Rotten Records can probably come away with a few thousand dollars by way of settlement, but for Rightscorp the cases could prove much more valuable.

Despite warning that not settling for $20 could have a much worse outcome for an alleged pirate, it’s become relatively common knowledge that the company hardly ever shows its teeth. Victory in a case like this could be just what it needs to force settlements from greater numbers of notice recipients.

Keep an eye out for forthcoming (and noisily high-value) settlement announcements. They could make $20 sound like a bargain and boost Rightscorp’s failing bottom line.

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

TorrentFreak: Facebook Shuts Down ExtraTorrent’s Official Page

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

etfacebookWith regular competitions and frequent status updates ExtraTorrent has a very active community on Facebook.

Or had, we should say.

After sailing clear for nearly three years, Facebook decided to pull the plug on the site this morning citing a third-party copyright complaint.

“We have removed or disabled access to the following content that you have posted on Facebook because we received a notice from a third-party that the content infringes their copyright(s),” Facebook wrote.

According to Facebook the ExtraTorrent page was considered to be a repeat copyright infringer, but the staff of the torrent site refutes this characterization.

ExtraTorrent’s staff tells TF that they were careful not to link directly to infringing content after Facebook warned them two years ago. However, Google cache does show occasional links to pages that list pirated movies.

Facebook’s takedown message
extratorrent-facebook-page-removed

The last notice ExtraTorrent received from Facebook came in yesterday. This takedown notice complained about a post from two years ago which linked to a torrent of the film Elysium.

“This post was published in 2013. It’s very curious. Looks like Facebook removed the ExtraTorrent Page because of a post from 2013,” ET’s staff tells us.

This is not the first time that ExtraTorrent has been kicked from Facebook. The same happened three years ago when the site’s official page had roughly 140,000 fans.

Despite the new setback, the torrent site is not giving up on Facebook just yet. They quickly launched a new page which quickly gathered thousands of followers, and many more are sure to follow.

Extratorrent’s new Facebook page
extraface

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

TorrentFreak: Record Labels Sue ‘New’ Grooveshark, Seize Domains

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

groovesharkEarlier this month the long running lawsuit between the RIAA and Grooveshark came to an end.

Facing hundreds of millions in damages, the music streaming service settled the dispute for $50 million while offering an apology for the mistakes that had been made in the past.

The record labels celebrated the outcome as a victory, but after a few days they had a new Grooveshark problem on their hands. A person naming himself “Shark” had launched a new music service using the familiar Grooveshark brand.

Contrary to most press reports proclaiming a near-complete return of Grooveshark, the site itself appeared to be mostly an MP3Juices clone. However, the use of the Grooveshark name was enough to have the record labels worried.

In a complaint filed under seal at the Southern District of New York, the labels are now suing the people behind Grooveshark’s reincarnation.

The labels accuse the site’s operators of counterfeiting, trademark infringement, cybersquatting and copyright infringement and immediately applied for countermeasures to shut the site down.

Earlier this week District Court Judge Deborah Batts sided with the labels, issuing the requested temporary restraining order as well as a seizure order directed at the site’s operators, hosting providers and domain registrar NameCheap.

“There is good cause to believe that, unless the Defendants are restrained and enjoined by Order of this Court, immediate and irreparable harm will result from the Defendants’ ongoing violations,” the Judge writes.

Under the temporary restraining order the site’s operators are barred from using Grooveshark trademarks and logos and it also prohibits hosting providers from working with the site. In addition, NameCheap was ordered to seize the domain until further notice.

Letter to Namecheap
newgroove

Namecheap swiftly complied with the order and as a result the site’s domain names including Grooveshark.io are now inaccessible.

The operator of the ‘new’ Grooveshark, however, is not impressed by the legal fireworks and will continue to run the site from the new Grooveshark.vc domain name that was just launched.

“I have one message for those responsible for this hostile take over: You will not stop us. We won’t give in to this type of bullying,” Shark informs us.

“On the contrary! The harder you come at us the stronger we’ll fight, and now after this hit we’re more determined than ever to keep Grooveshark alive and kicking,” he adds.

In addition to relocating to a new domain name Shark says he’s added several developers to his team. A few days ago the team released the much requested playlist feature and in the near future he hopes to make the entire project Open Source.

And so a new game of Whac-A-Mole has started.

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

TorrentFreak: Top BitTorrent Tracker Pressured to Ban Infringing Hashes

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

demoniiAt any given point in time, millions of people are sharing files via BitTorrent. The most used trackers process millions of requests per minute, serving between 15 and 30 million people at once.

Demonii is one of these top BitTorrent trackers. The standalone tracker offers no torrents but merely coordinates communication between people who share files via sites such as The Pirate Bay.

Technically speaking a tracker is similar to a DNS provider, it’s a ‘phone book’ which points people to content without knowing what it is. However, according to German lawfirm Rasch, trackers have a responsibility to block infringing hashes if they are asked to.

Earlier this year the lawfirm took action against the hosting companies of several standalone trackers after they failed to block “infringing” hashes. The operator of Demonii, currently the most used BitTorrent tracker, informed us that they were contacted too.

“First we received an email from Rasch asking us to remove about five torrent hashes for one music artist. Since the firm is merely an agent and not the actual copyright owner, I asked for proof that he is the lawful agent,” Demonii’s operator explains.

The lawfirm provided the requested paperwork and to avoid problems with the hosting company, Demonii blocked the five hashes. This was the first time that Demonii had ever blocked content, which is nothing more than filtering a piece of HEX string.

However, it soon became clear that Rasch was just getting started. In the weeks that followed the company filed complaints against 10,000 allegedly infringing hashes which pointed to content from various copyright holders.

Again, Demonii requested proof that the firms was acting as a lawful agent, but this time Rasch declined. Instead, Rasch lawyer Mirko Brüß told the operator that anyone can report copyright infringements.

“Anybody can notify you of an infringement, even if they are in no way affiliated with the rights owner. Please understand that we will not go above and beyond what is provided by the law in order to satisfy your personal requests,” Brüß wrote in an email.

“It is your decision to act upon the information sent to you. But with regards to blocking content wrongfully, the content owners could approach us with claims for damages for sending a false notice to you,” he added.

The Demonii operator disagrees with this assessment and calls out the claim as incorrect.

“If what he is saying is right, in theory, I can go send an email to his hosting provider to remove their site? After all I am not the owner and no way legally affiliated, but I can still claim the take down?! — No.. I can’t, and neither should he,” he tells TF.

However, with pressure shifting to the tracker’s hosting service (which had given the tracker 24 hours to comply), Demonii was eventually forced to block all reported hashes.

Describing the lawfirm’s tactics as “bullying”, the operator decided to move away from its hosting company to one that may be more resistant to this type of pressure.

“We have moved to a different hosting provider, one which we hope will take the matter more seriously and not just bend over backwards for any outrageous claim and takedown request where ownership can not be proven,” Demonii’s operator says.

The previous hash blocks have also been lifted, so Demonii is starting over fresh and uncensored again. The move hasn’t stopped the lawfirm from sending more blocking requests, but for the time being the tracker is opting to ignore these.

The tracker stresses that it respects copyright law. However, it will only respond to correct takedown notice and not to “bullying” tactics.

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

TorrentFreak: Mega Rolls Out Legal Heavyweights to Refute Piracy Claims

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

mega_logoIn September 2014, NetNames published a report titled Behind The Cyberlocker Door: A Report How Shadowy Cyberlockers Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions. It accused New Zealand-based cloud-storage site Mega of being a “cyberlocker” and profiting from “content theft”.

Mega reacted angrily to the report, branding it defamatory and warning of further action.

This morning Mega revealed it had commissioned international law firm Olswang to critique the NetNames report, an interesting move considering the firm’s pedigree. In 2014 Olswang worked with the UK government’s IP advisor to publish a set of anti-piracy recommendations. They were later endorsed by the MPAA.

The report

“Olswang was asked to analyse the evidence and data used by NetNames in order to establish whether there was any factual basis for the claims. Olswang is renowned for its deep experience in the technology, media and telecoms sector,” Mega says.

The result is a 42-page teardown of the NetNames report, clarifying Mega’s business and legal practices while leaving the brand company with plenty of questions to answer.

“The NetNames report has been extremely damaging to Mega,” Oslwang begins. “Most notably, it has been relied upon by United States Senator Patrick Leahy to apply pressure to major payment providers and credit card companies to withdraw their services from those identified in the NetNames report.”

Allegedly infringing content

One of NetNames’ key claims is that the majority of the files stored on Mega are infringing. Olswang attacks both the claim and the company’s methodology.

Describing the analysis file sample as “inherently biased towards finding infringing content”, the law firm notes that only publicly available files were examined while the vast majority of files stored on Mega (encrypted and not publicly shared) were ignored.

“In September 2014, when the NetNames report was published, Mega had approximately 2.5 billion files stored on its servers. This means that the sample of files analysed represents just 0.00002% of the total number of overall files,” Olswang reports.

The law firm adds that NetNames took no steps to determine whether content was actually infringing. Instead, filenames were used as the lone indicator of illegality.

Business model

After holding NetNames to its own definition of an “illegal cyberlocker”, Olswang found no similarities with Mega, noting that the company’s business model is “entirely at odds with NetNames’ own description of those used by cyberlockers.”

Noting that Mega’s basic service is similar to those provided by many other major legitimate cloud-hosting providers, Olswang addresses NetNames’ claims that rogue cyberlockers limit download speeds in order to encourage users to pay to upgrade to higher speeds.

“Mega operates a bandwidth limit in the same way as other legitimate storage providers and does not limit download speeds,” the law firm notes.

And then to advertising.

“The NetNames report acknowledges that Mega does not host advertising and is therefore an ‘exception’ to the other 29 cyberlocker companies named. However it still categorizes Mega as a cyberlocker despite it being clear that Mega’s primary sources of revenue do not share any of the characteristics ascribed to cyberlockers. We therefore see no possible basis on which such a conclusion can be drawn,” the report adds.

Aggressive affiliate programs, which are considered by some to be one of the hallmarks of a rogue file-hosting site, are also tackled by Olswang in the clearest possible terms.

“The NetNames report estimates that Mega pays out $66,789 per month to affiliates. The source of this figure is unexplained, and it is entirely false. To date, Mega has not finalized any affiliate relationships and therefore has never paid any commission or retainer to any affiliate,” the law firm notes.

Legal

Of primary importance is whether Mega complies with the law, both locally in New Zealand and elsewhere internationally. The Olswang report highlights no deficiencies while noting that Mega’s policies are “fully compliant with the New Zealand Copyright Act 1994 and the equivalent intermediary liability regimes provided for in the US DMCA and European ECommerce Directive.”

The company takes down infringing content on demand and reports deleting 131,377 files in the first quarter of 2015, a figure representing just 0.003% of all files stored on Mega. Site users are subjected to a “5 strikes” regime, meaning that after five reports of infringement accounts are suspended.

“At the time of writing 29,290 user accounts had been suspended by Mega for this reason, comprising less than 0.16% of total Mega users,” Olswang notes.

Conclusion

“Having reviewed the NetNames report and undertaken analysis of Mega’s service, Olswang has found no evidence to conclude that Mega can be considered a cyberlocker, or that it knowingly, willingly or even passively assists in or condones wide scale copyright or other infringement,” the law firm writes.

“In summary, Olswang has concluded that the allegations in the NetNames report are highly defamatory of Mega and appear to have no factual basis whatsoever. The NetNames report contains numerous factual inaccuracies and methodological errors and draws conclusions that are entirely wrong.

“[All] of Mega’s characteristics are consistent with those of a legitimate cloud storage provider in the same way as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud, Dropbox and many other similar providers,” Olswang concludes.

Mega says it is pleased with the findings of the report and is now considering its legal position.

“It is quite clear from the comprehensive review conducted by Olswang that the assertions about Mega in the NetNames report are totally without foundation and are defamatory. We are now taking legal advice on this serious attack against Mega,” says Mega CEO Graham Gaylard.

“Olswang’s credentials on anti-piracy issues are impeccable, and their conclusions totally refute the allegations made in the NetNames report.”

Thus far NetNames has ignored requests for comment on the inclusion of Mega in its report. With pressure building as it now is, the company could soon be left with little choice.

The full report can be downloaded here (pdf).

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

Krebs on Security: Mobile Spy Software Maker mSpy Hacked, Customer Data Leaked

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

mSpy, the makers of a dubious software-as-a-service product that claims to help more than two million people spy on the mobile devices of their kids and partners, appears to have been massively hacked. Last week, a huge trove of data apparently stolen from the company’s servers was posted on the Deep Web, exposing countless emails, text messages, payment and location data on an undetermined number of mSpy “users.”

mSpy has not responded to multiple requests for comment left for the company over the past five days. KrebsOnSecurity learned of the apparent breach from an anonymous source who shared a link to a Web page that is only reachable via Tor, a technology that helps users hide their true Internet address and allows users to host Web sites that are extremely difficult to get taken down.

The Tor-based Web site hosting content stolen from mobile devices running Mspy.

The Tor-based Web site hosting content stolen from mobile devices running mSpy.

The Tor-based site hosts several hundred gigabytes worth of data taken from mobile devices running mSpy’s products, including some four million events logged by the software. The message left by the unknown hackers who’ve claimed responsibility for this intrusion suggests that the data dump includes information on more than 400,000 users, including Apple IDs and passwords, tracking data, and payment details on some 145,000 successful transactions.

The exact number of mSpy users compromised could not be confirmed, but one thing is clear: There is a crazy amount of personal and sensitive data in this cache, including photos, calendar data, corporate email threads, and very private conversations. Also included in the data dump are thousands of support request emails from people around the world who paid between $8.33 to as much as $799 for a variety of subscriptions to mSpy’s surveillance software.

Mspy users can track Android and iPhone users, snoop on apps like Snapchat and Skype, and keep a record of every key the user types.

mSspy users can track the exact location of Android and iPhone users, snoop on apps like Snapchat and Skype, and keep a record of every word the user types.

It’s unclear exactly where mSpy is based; the company’s Web site suggests it has offices in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, although the firm does not appear to list an official physical address. However, according to historic Web site registration records, the company is tied to a now-defunct firm called MTechnology LTD out of the United Kingdom.

Documents obtained from Companies House, an official register of corporations in the U.K., indicate that the two founding members of the company are self-described programmers Aleksey Fedorchuk and Pavel Daletski. Those records (PDF) indicate that Daletski is a British citizen, and that Mr. Fedorchuk is from Russia. Neither men could be reached for comment.

Court documents (PDF) obtained from the U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Fla. regarding a trademark dispute involving mSpy and Daletski state that mSpy has a U.S.-based address of 800 West El Camino Real, in Mountain View, Calif. Those same court documents indicate that Daletski is a director at a firm based in the Seychelles called Bitex Group LTD. Interestingly, that lawsuit was brought by Retina-X Studios, an mSpy competitor based in Jacksonville, Fla. that makes a product called MobileSpy.

U.S. regulators and law enforcers have taken a dim view of companies that offer mobile spyware services like mSpy. In September 2014, U.S. authorities arrested a 31-year-old Hammad Akbar, the CEO of a Lahore-based company that makes a spyware app called StealthGenie. The FBI noted that while the company advertised StealthGenie’s use for “monitoring employees and loved ones such as children,” the primary target audience was people who thought their partners were cheating. Akbar was charged with selling and advertising wiretapping equipment.

“Advertising and selling spyware technology is a criminal offense, and such conduct will be aggressively pursued by this office and our law enforcement partners,” U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said in a press release tied to Akbar’s indictment.

Akbar pleaded guilty to the charges in November 2014, and according to the Justice Department he is “the first-ever person to admin criminal activity in advertising and selling spyware that invades an unwitting victim’s confidential communications.”

Unlike Akbar’s StealthGenie and some other mobile spyware products, mSpy advertises that its product works even on non-jailbroken iPhones, giving users the ability to log the device holder’s contacts, call logs, text messages, browser history, events and notes.

“If you have opted to purchase mSpy Without Jailbreak, and you have the mobile user’s iCloud credentials, you will not need physical access to the device,” the company’s FAQ states. “However, there may be some instances where physical access may be necessary. If you purchase mSpy for a jailbroken iOS phone or tablet, you will need 5-15 minutes of physical access to the device for successful installation.”

A public relations pitch from mSpy to KrebsOnSecurity in March 2015 stated that approximately 40 percent of the company’s users are parents interested in keeping tabs on their kids. Assuming that is a true statement, it’s ironic that so many parents have now unwittingly exposed their kids to predators, bullies and other ne’er-do-wells thanks to this breach.

TorrentFreak: Shutting Down Pirate Sites is Ineffective, European Commission Finds

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

eucommtechreportA few years ago Europe witnessed the largest piracy-related busts in history with the raid of the popular movie streaming portal Kino.to.

Police officers in Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands raided several residential addresses, data centers and arrested more than a dozen individuals connected to the site.

The operation wiped out the largest unauthorized streaming portal in Europe and was praised as a massive success. However, new research from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre shows that the effect on end users was short-lived and relatively limited.

In a working paper titled “Online Copyright Enforcement, Consumer Behavior, and Market Structure” researchers examined clickstream data for a set of 5,000 German Internet users to see how their legal and illegal consumption habits changed in response to the shutdown.

One of the main conclusions is that the kino.to raid led to a short-lived decrease in piracy, after which piracy levels returned to normal. At the same time, the researchers observed only a small increase in the use of legal services.

“While users of kino.to decreased their levels of piracy consumption by 30% during the four weeks following the intervention, their consumption through licensed movie platforms increased by only 2.5%,” the paper reads.

Based on the above the researchers conclude that if the costs of the raids and prosecution are factored in, the shutdown probably had no positive effect.

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“Taken at face value, these results indicate that the intervention mainly converted consumer surplus into deadweight loss. If we were to take the costs of the intervention into account, our results would suggest that the shutdown of kino.to has not had a positive effect on overall welfare,” the researchers write.

Perhaps more worrying is the fact that Kino.to was soon replaced by several new streaming services. This so-called “Hydra” effect means that a landscape which was previously dominated by one site, now consists of several smaller sites that together have roughly the same number of visitors.

The researchers note that Movie2k.to and KinoX.to quickly filled the gap, and that the scattered piracy landscape would make future shutdowns more costly.

“Our analysis shows that the shutdown of kino.to resulted in a much more fragmented structure of the market for unlicensed movie streaming,” the paper reads.

“This potentially makes future law enforcement interventions either more costly – as there would not be a single dominant platform to shutdown anymore – or less effective if only a single website is targeted by the intervention”

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One of the policy implications could be to advise against these type of large piracy raids, as they do very little to solve the problem at hand.

However, the researchers note that the results should be interpreted with caution. For example, it doesn’t include any data on offline sales. Similarly, back in 2011 there were relatively few legal options available, so the effects may be different now.

That said, the current findings shed an interesting light on the limited effectiveness of international law enforcement actions directed at piracy sites. Also, it’s the first research paper we know of that provides strong evidence for the frequently mentioned Hydra effect.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA & RIAA Demand DNS Action Against ‘Pirate’ Domains

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

stopstopOne of the key aims of the now infamous SOPA legislation that failed to pass several years ago was the takedown of domains being used for infringing purposes. The general consensus outside of the major copyright groups was that this kind of provision should be rejected.

However, within the movie and music industries the spirit of SOPA is still alive, it’s just a question of how its aims can be achieved without giving alternative mechanisms the same name. Yesterday, during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee’s Internet subcommittee, domains were firmly on the agenda.

One group in attendance was the Coalition for Online Accountability. COA’s aim is to improve online transparency and to encourage “effective enforcement against online infringement of copyrights and trademarks.”

No surprise then that its members consist of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA).

COA counsel Steve Metalitz’s testimony called for domain name registrars to deal with complaints effectively.

Domains

“In recent months, there have been increasing calls from many quarters for domain name registrars to recognize that, like other intermediaries in the e-commerce environment, they must play their part to help address the plague of online copyright theft that continues to blight the digital marketplace,” Metalitz said.

“Under the 2013 revision of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), domain name registrars took on important new obligations to respond to complaints that domain names they sponsor are being used for copyright or trademark infringement, or other illegal activities.”

However, according to Metalitz, registrars are not responding. The COA counsel said that the RAA requires registrars to “investigate and respond appropriately” to abuse reports and make “commercially reasonable efforts” to ensure that registrants don’t use their domain names “directly or indirectly” to infringe third party rights. But there has been little action.

“Well-documented reports of abuse that are submitted to registrars by right-holders, clearly demonstrating pervasive infringement, are summarily rejected, in contravention of the 2013 RAA, which requires that they be investigated,” he said.

As an example, Metalitz highlighted a Romanian-hosted ‘pirate’ music site using the domain Itemvn.com.

“By August of last year, RIAA had notified the site of over 220,000 infringements of its members’ works (and had sent similar notices regarding 26,000 infringements to the site’s hosting providers). At that time, RIAA complained to the domain name registrar (a signatory of the 2013 RAA), which took no action, ostensibly because it does not host the site,” he explained. A complaint to ICANN was also dismissed, twice.

It’s clear from Metalitz’s testimony that the MPAA, RIAA and ESA are seeking an environment in which domains will be suspended or blocked if they can be shown to be engaged in infringement. But the groups’ demands don’t end there.

WHOIS

WHOIS databases carry the details of individuals or companies that have registered domains and registrars are required to ensure that this information is both accurate and up to date. However, since WHOIS searches often reveal information that registrants would rather keep private, so-called proxy registrations (such as Whoisguard) have become increasingly popular.

While acknowledging there is a legitimate need for such registrations (albeit in “limited circumstances”), the entertainment industry groups are not happy that pirate site operators are playing the system to ensure they cannot be traced.

As a result they are aiming for a situation where registrars only deal with proxy services that meet certain standards on issues including accuracy of customer data, relaying of complaints to proxy registrants, plus “ground rules for when the contact points of a proxy registrant will be revealed to a complainant in order to help address a copyright or trademark infringement.”

In other words, anonymity should only be available up to a point.

In a letter to the Committee, the EFF warned against the COA’s proposals.

“As advocates for free speech, privacy, and liberty on the global Internet, we ask the Committee to resist calls to impose new copyright and trademark enforcement responsibilities on ICANN. In particular, the Committee should reject proposals to have ICANN require the suspension of Internet domain names based on accusations of copyright or trademark infringement by a website,” the EFF said.

“This is effectively the same proposal that formed the centerpiece of the Stop Online Piracy Act of 2011 (SOPA), which this Committee set aside after millions of Americans voiced their opposition. Using the global Domain Name System to enforce copyright law remains as problematic in 2015 as it was in 2011.”

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