Posts tagged ‘anonymous’

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent Inc. Lays Off Close to a Third of its Workforce

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

bittorrent-new-logoDuring the past few years BitTorrent Inc. has grown at a surprising rate, taking on increasing numbers of employees to fill various roles at the expanding company.

On Thursday, however, things took a turn for the worse. Rumors began to spread that BitTorrent Inc. had laid off dozens of staff in its biggest shake up since 2008, yet no official statement was forthcoming from the company.

Then on Friday two separate sources, at least one of whom was a former employee at the San Franciso-based company, revealed the scale of the layoffs.

“About 40-45 people in their US office just got laid off which represents a large percentage of the US workforce,” one of the sources revealed. Another described the cutting of “around a third” of an estimated 150 U.S.-based employees.

“The Ads team has been gutted as have several other groups – more development work is being sent to the BitTorrent team in Minsk. Only one person from senior management was let go, as is often the case in these types of things,” an insider told TF.

In comments to Buzzfeed, BitTorrent Inc. put a positive spin on events, describing the layoffs as a “realignment” of the business.

“We’ve recently realigned resources based on a regular evaluation of the business,” a spokesperson said. “Regrettably, this did include some employee departures. The business however, remains healthy, profitable and growing.”

A source close to the company painted a slightly different picture, however.

“The whole point is to save money and to try and return the company to profitability since it expanded its headcount way too fast and based on very unrealistic revenue projections. The morale, as you can imagine, is pretty low just now,” the source said.

One person presumed to be safe is Christian Averill, who was promoted to Vice President, Communications & Brand last month.

“My efforts will be focused on having our brands such as Bundle and Sync stand on their own and have a strong mind share in the market,” he said.

Averill’s promotion suggests that BitTorrent intends to continue efforts to put Sync and its content distribution deals front and center of its business. Meanwhile, its uTorrent and BitTorrent clients will continue to generate most of the company’s revenues.

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

TorrentFreak: Scammers Take Over New EZTV Domain Name

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

eztv-logo-smallEZTV, the go-to place for many torrenting TV fans, has suffered its fair share of troubles in recent months.

In January the group lost its .it domain name, which was then taken over by impostors in March.

The torrent distribution group meanwhile continued to operate from the new EZTV.ch domain name, but during the past few hours this new home also became compromised.

Instead of hosting official EZTV torrents the .CH domain now links to the same content as the ‘hijacked’ EZTV.it site. While there are plenty of TV-torrents available, these are sourced externally from RARBG.

And there are more signs pointing to a hostile takeover. Users are not able to login for example, and the scam warning that was previously listed on the .ch domain in gone as well. In addition the site now serves various ads including popunders.

TF reached out to ETZV’s Novaking to find out more about the apparent takeover, but we have yet to receive a reply.

Upon close inspection it appears that the domain name was taken over at the registrar level. The WHOIS information was updated and now lists the UK-based “EZCLOUD LIMITED” as owner, which is the same company that registered the .it domain.

Novaking informed TF a few weeks ago that the same happened to one of his other domains.

eztvdomain

The scammers who’ve taken over EZTV are looking to cash in from the site. EZCLOUD director Hernandez Dominguez Emmanuel previously said that he offered to partner with EZTV or sell the domain for a profit.

“The business proposal to Novaking was straightforward: he pays us a slightly bigger amount than we have paid at the auction or we somehow partnership by uniting both entities: eztv.it and eztv.ch and we will earn in the course of the next months by percentage of the ads revenues,” Emmanuel told TF.

Novaking rejected this proposal and blocked the .it domain from using official EZTV torrents. EZCLOUD did not give up, however, and now appears to have taken complete control of ETZV’s new domain as well.

Breaking news, more updates may follow

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

TorrentFreak: New Russian Anti-Piracy Law Could Block Sites “Forever”

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

Following massive pressure from both local and international rightsholders, 21 months ago Russia took steps to improve its reputation of going soft on piracy.

On August 1, 2013, the country introduced a brand new intellectual property law which provided a mechanism through which sites could be blocked by intermediaries should they not comply with rightsholder takedown requests within 72 hours.

A year later telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor revealed that during the law’s first year of operation the Moscow City Court imposed preliminary interim injunctions against 175 sites following copyright complaints. It went on to block just 12 file-sharing domains for being unresponsive to takedowns, many of them BitTorrent trackers.

With complaints from copyright holders continuing to mount, Russia decided to make further amendments to the legislation. Initially only video content was covered by the law but with an expansion scheduled for May 1, 2015, all multimedia content (photographs excluded) will receive protection. Furthermore, the law also amends the provisions on preliminary injunctions.

Although it remains unclear how the new system will work in practice, the theory is that intermediaries (ISPs and webhosts) can be ordered by the Court to permanently block websites that continually host or provide access to infringing content. At least at this early stage it appears to be the kind of system U.S. copyright holders are pushing for elsewhere, one in which content that is taken down, stays down.

With the new law just over a week away, State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak has been underlining the legislation’s reach.

“The anti-piracy legislation that created the ability to block access to sites that distribute copyright-infringing films and TV shows entered into force on 1 August 2013. On May 1, 2015 amendments to the Act will come into force that apply to music, books and software,” Zheleznyak says.

“This development will mean that the systematic violation of intellectual property rights will result in sites providing access to stolen content being blocked forever.”

Putting operators of torrent and similar sites on notice, Zheleznyak issued a stern warning.

“I would like to warn those who are still abusing piracy: you have until May 1 to try to and enter into constructive dialogue with rightsholders. They are open to cooperation,” he said.

“Our common goal is to ensure that all work is adequately rewarded and that the benefit from successful books, music and wonderful computer programs is enjoyed by those who created them, and not those who stole them. If [site owners] are not interested in legal business, the response of the state will become quite obvious.”

Russia’s first attempt at site blocking legislation failed to produce the apocalyptic conclusion many predicted. Only time will tell what the results of these latest tweaks will mean for local sites.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Blockade Censors CloudFlare Customers

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

cloudflareLike any form of censorship web blockades can sometime lead to overblocking, targeting perfectly legitimate websites by mistake.

This is also happening in the UK where Sky’s blocking technology is inadvertently blocking sites that have nothing to do with piracy.

In addition to blocking domain names, Sky also blocks IP-addresses. This allows the site to stop https connections to The Pirate Bay and its proxies, but when IP-addresses are shared with random other sites they’re blocked too.

This is happening to various customers of the CDN service CloudFlare, which is used by many sites on the UK blocklist. Every now and then this causes legitimate sites to be blocked, such as CloudFlare customers who shared an IP-address with Pirate Bay proxy ilikerainbows.co.uk.

Although the domain is merely a redirect to ilikerainbows.co, it’s listed in Sky’s blocking system along with several CloudFlare IP-addresses. Recently, the CDN service received complaints from users about the issue and alerted the proxy owner.

“It has come to our attention that your website — ilikerainbows.co.uk — is causing CloudFlare IPs to be blocked by SkyB, an ISP located in the UK. This is impacting other CloudFlare customers,” CloudFlare wrote.

The CDN service asked the proxy site to resolve the matter with Sky, or else it would remove the site from the network after 24 hours.

“If this issue does not get resolved with SkyB though we will need to route your domain off CloudFlare’s network as it is currently impacting other CloudFlare customers due to these blocked IP addresses.”

cfemail

The operator of the “Rainbows” TPB proxy was surprised by Sky’s overbroad blocking techniques, but also by CloudFlare’s response. Would CloudFlare also kick out sites that are blocked in other countries where censorship is common?

“What do they do when Russia starts blocking sites under their system? Are they going to kick users off CloudFlare because there’s a Putin meme that the Russians don’t like?” Rainbows’ operator tells TF.

Instead of waiting for the domain to be switched off by CloudFlare he reverted it back to the domain registrar’s forwarding services. The main .co domain still uses CloudFlare’s services though, as does the official Pirate Bay site.

This is not the first time that CloudFlare customers have been blocked by mistake. Earlier this year the same thing happened to sites that shared an IP-address with The Pirate Bay. At the time we contacted Sky, who informed us that they do all they can to limit collateral damage.

“We have a process in place to monitor requested site blocks to limit the chances of inadvertently blocking sites, and in addition to this if we are advised by a site owner or Sky customer that a site is being inadvertently blocked we take the necessary steps to remove any unintended blocks,” a Sky spokeswoman said.

In addition to Sky we also contacted CloudFlare about the issue multiple times this year, but the company has yet to reply to our inquiries.

It’s clear though that despite cheers from copyright holders, website blocking is not all rainbows and unicorns. Without any significant change to Sky’s blocking setup, more of these inadvertent blocks are bound to happen in the future.

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

TorrentFreak: KickassTorrents Domain Seized Within 24 Hours, Next Stop .CR

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

kickasstorrents_500x500Since KickassTorrents (KAT) became the most visited torrent site on the Internet, various anti-piracy groups have been keeping a close eye on the site’s movements.

So when the KAT team announced a move to the new KickassTorrents.im domain yesterday, it’s likely that several copyright holders sprang into action.

The new domain belongs to the Isle of Man authorities and wasn’t an ideal choice for the torrent site since the local registry employs a “zero tolerance” policy towards copyright infringement.

Just a few hours after the switch the domain was taken down, forcing the KAT team to prepare a new move, this time to the Costa Rican .cr TLD.

“We have been seized by the Isle of Man domain registry. The new domain will be Kat.cr,” KAT admin Mr. Pink informs TF, adding that the new kat.cr domain is expected to go live soon.

It’s unclear if any copyright holder group or groups filed an official dispute, but the IM Registry confirms that the site violates its terms.

“The domain was in breach of the .im rules and has accordingly been revoked. I cannot correspond any further in relation to this domain name,” an IM registry spokesperson tells TF.

The KAT team wasn’t completely unprepared and has several domain names in reserve just in case. And so the Whac-a-Mole continues for now, until the site docks in a safe haven.

While the Isle of Man registry was quick to take action, others including the Icelandic .IS and the Swedish .SE registry will not revoke any domain names without a court order.

TF reached out to the .CR registry to find out what their policies are regarding domain name revocations, but at the time of publication we were yet to receive a response.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde Kills NSA-Proof Messenger App

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

hemlis-logoDuring the summer of 2013 the Internet was abuzz with the revelations of Edward Snowden. The PRISM scandal exploded and suddenly everyone had confirmation that everything they do online can be stored and monitored on a staggering scale.

As a direct result of this massive privacy breach, people around the world became motivated to fight back against what has developed into one of the biggest technology scandals of recent times.

One of those groups consisted of former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde, who together with friends and Flattr allies Linus Olsson and Leif Högberg began working on Hemlis, a messaging app for both iOS and Android. The aim of the game was for Hemlis (‘secret’ in Swedish) to provide absolute secrecy, with only the sender and recipient able to read messages – not middle men like prying governments.

“People act differently if they think someone is listening in to their conversation. That’s what Stasi taught us for instance. It’s one of many reasons why privacy is so vital,” Sunde told TF at the time.

But with hundreds of news articles behind them and the two-year anniversary of the project’s birth just around the corner, the Hemlis team have now delivered the ultimate in bad news.

“Lately we have been awfully quiet. The reasons are many, sad and non important right now. They have though made this project drag along and that made us understand a thing we feared for quite a while but neglected to accept. New messengers fail miserably,” the team said in a statement.

“Each new attempt has made us understand that our goal of creating a mass market messenger just based on the fact that it is private, secure and beautiful, is not nearly enough. As the only reason we are doing this is to give you viable huge scale alternative to the existing systems there is really only one thing to do at this stage. Accept our current roadmap and goals as defunct.”

While there were many reasons for the project to succeed, the challenges faced by the Hemlis team proved insurmountable.

At least initially, financing wasn’t a problem, with around $150,000 raised via a short crowd-funding campaign. Then disaster struck when around $30,000 disappeared after a bitcoin wallet was stolen from Hemlis’ bitcoin supplier. Keeping up with the budgets of the competition also took its toll.

“We decided to hire some people to help us out with the things we are not experts in. The process was slow and hit with lots of realizations that certain things would not work. The ideas were too complex and sometimes just too expensive,” Peter Sunde explains.

“We had a lot of money, but far away [from] the same amount (we’re talking millions or billions) that our competitors had access to… They’ve had more progress and financial support so they could speed up their process to the level that they’re now really good. Better than our messaging app could become right now. Ok, they’re missing on features but they have the ability and cash to resolve those issues. And our goal was always to ensure that the everyday users would be protected.”

But financial and technical issues aside, personal issues also played a big part in the project’s demise.

“In the middle of it all one of our team members got a kid and had to focus on that of course. I personally had other issues as I got kidnapped by the Swedish government and locked up for my work with another project – The Pirate Bay. In the middle of the kidnapping, my father died,” Sunde explains.

“I had no way of working on anything, and I’ve had a hard time with how I personally need to handle things. This project – as well as the other projects I’m involved in – were hit massively by my absence. And they still are, since I have not been able to get 100% on my feet yet. I’m getting there but just as with other things, it takes a lot of time.”

A few weeks ago Sunde said the team took a step back to assess its position. While decent apps for both iOS and Android exist semi-completed, Hemlis is far from a market-ready product. More time and money would be need to be pumped in for it to succeed.

“We decided that we could go two ways. We could ask for more money (a lot), either from the community or some investors. Or we could close down. Since we already got money from the community with way too little to show back from the expectations that felt wrong,” Sunde explains.

“And we don’t think that it would be a good idea to ask investors for money since we’d lose control over the project. So in the end, closing it down felt like the least bad thing to do.”

While many supporters of the project are supportive of the brave decision to close Hemlis down, others have been more critical. Some, having pumped money into the project and received nothing, are downright angry. Nevertheless, one of the big takeaways is that in some shape or form, Heml.is will be handed back to its backers.

“We’ll release the usable parts of the code as free software with the most free license we can. It belongs to the community (and the community paid for it),” Sunde says, adding that there may be other ways to achieve similar aims.

“I’m personally trying to influence people and politicians to make sure we don’t need systems like Heml.is. We should be protected by the governments instead of trying to protect ourselves from them. It’s a multi-angle attack needed, technology, political work and transparency,” Sunde concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: KickassTorrents Moves to Isle of Man Domain Name

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

kickasstorrents_500x500With millions of unique visitors per day KickassTorrents (KAT) has become the most-used torrent site on the Internet, even beating the almighty Pirate Bay.

Over the years KAT has moved from domain to domain on a few occasions. First to evade law enforcement and pressure from the entertainment industries, and later as a yearly ‘tradition.’

Continuing this domain shuffle the site moved to the Somalian .so TLD earlier this year, but this domain name was soon suspended forcing the site to switch back to Kickass.to.

Starting today, KAT is redirecting to yet another domain name. The site is now serving its pages from the Isle of Man TLD KickassTorrents.im.

Wondering whether the site may have run into issues with the .to registry we contacted the KAT team for further details. We were told that the change was “planned” and not a response to any registry problems.

“The domain name change is a planned move which KickassTorrents does every six months. Nothing special,” the KAT team tells TF.

The.to domain name is currently redirecting and remains available, so the site can switch back if needed.

The site’s operators gave no particular reason why they chose the .im domain name, or if it’s considered a safe haven.

Commenting on the prominent move, the IM Registry informs us that they can’t respond to individual cases. The registry doesn’t suspend or terminate domain names proactively. Instead, possible disputes are reviewed by a representative of the local Government.

However, the organization stresses that it has a “zero tolerance” policy regarding copyright infringement.

“… each case is reviewed separately by the Designated Official within the Isle of Man Government. It should be noted though that we have a zero tolerance policy on copyright infringement,” a IM Registry spokesperson says.

Potential registry troubles aside, in the short-term the domain change will also have positive consequences in terms of accessibility. For example, the site will become accessible again in most countries where it has been blocked previously.

In addition all the URLs that were blocked by Google through DMCA notices, nearly 2 million, will become accessible again under the new domain. This also means that Google’s new downranking algorithm will be bypassed, at least for a while.

In recent months many “pirate” sites have lost a significant amount of traffic due to Google’s new anti-piracy algorithm. So it’s not unlikely that we will see more regular domain name rotations in the future.

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

TorrentFreak: Cinema Staff Catch Movie Cammers, Pick Up Cash Rewards

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

While the Internet provides an unrivaled distribution mechanism for illicit digital goods, cinemas themselves are often depicted as the front line against pre-release piracy.

Just as the latest blockbusters air for the first time to an eager public, in their midst are individuals who aim to record movies and place them online for the enjoyment of others. And even as discerning consumers seek out pristine high-definition content, third-rate ‘cammed’ copies of movies are still gobbled up online.

In an effort to mitigate the number of titles that end up on the Internet from UK sources, the Hollywood-funded Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) promotes the Take Action initiative. In place since 2006, this anti-piracy scheme is funded by UK film distributors via the Film Distributors’ Association (FDA) and encourages local cinema staff to catch ‘cammers’ in the act.

In its latest report, FACT says that staff from four of the UK’s largest cinema chains – Cineworld, Odeon, Vue and Showcase cinemas – stepped in during the past six months to interrupt those suspected of recording movies including The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey and The Theory of Everything.

In all 11 cinema employees were involved in a total of 11 incidents. Police reportedly attended on all occasions, leading to four cautions and three arrests.

cambustersFor their efforts the cinema staff pictured right were invited to a ceremony hosted by Universal Pictures where they were presented with certificates and cash rewards. The precise amounts aren’t being released but the maximum is £500, down from the £700 offered during 2012.

While the cash amounts have certainly dwindled over the past three years, FACT reports that for a limited time more money is on the table. Any cinema staff who prevent and report unauthorized recording between 20th April and 30th June 2015 can expect to get paid a maximum of £1000.

“FACT’s strategy, funded by the film distributors and put into action by cinema staff across the UK, seeks to identify and prevent the initial recording that seeds piracy globally,” says FACT Director General Kieron Sharp.

“We continue to work together with UK cinema operators to support the success of the cinema experience and to allow continued investment by FACT’s members in exciting entertainment for all audiences.”

Despite the successes, the number of incidents in the current reporting period is up on the previous set of figures published last year.

Stats released in September 2014 reveal that there were seven “incidents”, all of which were attended by the police. In five incidents the alleged cammers accepted police cautions, with just one incident leading to an arrest. Nine cinema staff picked up rewards.

During the reporting period April 2013 to December 2013, a dozen alleged cammers of major movies were spotted in UK cinemas resulting in five arrests but no prosecutions. A total of 15 cinema workers picked up rewards.

Although groups like FACT have a vested interest in publicizing the negative fates of alleged cammers, those with less than favorable outcomes are largely avoided. The most recent involved the November 2013 arrest and early 2014 trial of a man accused of attempting the world’s first in-cinema 3D recording of the movie Gravity. It didn’t go well.

The case fell apart, with the judge commenting that “It ought to have been absolutely clear there was no legal basis for it.” Although the defendant, a Birmingham-based student, did enter a cinema with camera equipment, he did not record a moment of the film. Nevertheless, he was reported by cinema staff who called in the police. It’s not clear whether any reward was paid in that case.

Also of interest is a December 2014 incident when staff at a Cineworld cinema dialed the national 999 emergency number after spotting a group of 12-year-old girls with iPhones and iPads at a showing of The Hunger Games, a movie mentioned in the most current rewards report.

After a police search at the scene turned up nothing incriminating the girls were allowed back in. However, the teens waited outside, reportedly in tears, until their parents came to pick them up. It is not clear whether any cinema staff were given a reward for this incident either.

While a little extra cash will no doubt be welcomed by some cinema staff and effective hindering of real pirates greatly appreciated by the studios, there is always a risk that the money available will cloud judgement. Nevertheless, police seem ever more willing to get involved.

Documents previously obtained by TorrentFreak revealed that in 2008 there were 50 UK camming incidents, with police attending on just two occasions. If current figures are to be believed, in today’s climate they are almost guaranteed to respond.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Anti-Piracy Initiative Requires a VPN Outside the U.S.

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

At the same time as the Hollywood studios complain endlessly about piracy, the counter argument that they simply haven’t done enough to make content available legally online persists.

Without a similarly complex system of release windowing and geo-restriction, the music industry has largely overcome those obstacles. Meanwhile, however, Hollywood appears largely hamstrung by its own business model, leaving itself open to criticism that it hasn’t done enough to provide legal alternatives to torrent and streaming sites.

In an attempt to dispel claims that content simply isn’t available, the MPAA came up with WhereToWatch, a searchable database listing where movies and TV-shows can be watched legally. Due to poor coding the site initially proved impossible for Google and Bing to index, a situation that has improved somewhat since last November.

Yesterday during a speech at CinemaCon, MPAA chief Chris Dodd again urged theater owners and customers alike to spread the word that in order in to protect the industry and its workers, consumers need to access content from legal resources.

“That’s why we at the MPAA created WhereToWatch.com – a one-stop shop, guiding your audiences to content quickly, simply, and – most importantly – legally. And if what they’re looking for is online, WhereToWatch.com will show which sites and at what prices that film is available,” Dodd said.

“On a broader level, this effort is also a crucial recognition of the changing technological landscape, and the need to continue evolving to meet the demands of our consumers,” he continued.

“That will mean finding new ways to enable audiences to see movies where and how they want, while maintaining the magic and unrivaled appeal of the theater-going experience that has been this industry’s driving force for well over a century.”

But while recognizing that consumers should be able to see content at a time and place of their choosing – a major complaint that has persisted for well over a decade – consumers wanting to find out where to watch that content legally are also faced with a dilemma.

Since its triumphant launch in November last year, the operators of WheretoWatch have now chosen to give it the same treatment that Hollywood bestows on its movies – by geo-restricting it.

wheretowatch

For the hundreds of millions of citizens outside the United States who are also expected to consume film and TV content legally, the above message is nothing less than they’ve come to expect. Free and equal access to content is not something the major studios and their distributors are good at, and that is now reflected by the very resource that former senator Dodd spent so long championing yesterday.

But never fear. Thanks to the wonders of tunneling technology, last evening TF was able to find a VPN exit node in Seattle that enabled us to sneak past the MPAA guard dogs. Once on WhereToWatch.com we were able to search for a number of films and find out where we could obtain them legally. The irony was headache inducing.

Overall it’s a ridiculous situation. The music industry largely managed to solve these issues years ago but for as long as users are forced to jump through hoops to obtain or even learn about the availability of legal content (not to mention waiting for extended periods, Australian style), piracy will persist.

And when other MPAA strategies such as site-blocking and “three strikes” systems are already being exported to all corners of the globe at huge expense, one has to wonder why the obvious solution isn’t being taken first.

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

TorrentFreak: Game of Thrones Piracy Surges to New High

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

got5More than a week after the opening episode of the new Game of Thrones season aired it’s evident that piracy is still rampant.

The good news for HBO is that the official broadcast broke ratings records. However, pirated releases have also done the same.

TorrentFreak received some extensive data from media intelligence firm Tru Optik, covering both public and private BitTorrent trackers.

With the four leaked episodes and the “A Day in the Life” documentary included, the company found that there were 32 million downloads across 18 million IP-addresses during the first week.

The first episode generated most interest and was downloaded over 13 million times, which is significantly more than last year. Interestingly, the data for the post broadcast torrent also shows that most downloaders grabbed high quality copies.

The 720p version was most popular with 43.5 percent of post broadcast downloads, followed by the 480p and 1080p copies with 35.1% and 31.4 percent respectively.

In part, this tendency towards high quality content can be explained by the fact that many fans of HD content skipped the lower quality pre-release leak.

GOTqual

Looking at countries from where the downloads were actioned we see that the United States comes out on top. More than 10 percent came from the U.S. followed by France, Brazil, China, Russia, UK, India, Canada, Australia and Spain.

Australia has the most downloaders per capita from that list, and it also has a relatively high piracy ratio compared to legal views.

Of all ‘viewers’ in Australia during the first three days, 32 percent are pirates. In the U.S. the rates are much lower at 8 percent, and the UK and Canada are in the middle with 22 and 19 percent respectively.

gotcountriesCommenting on the findings, Tru Optik notes that there are a lot of potential customers out there, if HBO can connect with them.

“In the US alone, nearly one million consumers downloaded Episode 1, which translates to $44 million in unmonetized demand potential if each of these viewers subscribed to HBO Now for the 3-month duration of GoT Season 5.”

“Many of these viewers are prime prospects for unbundled services like HBO Now,” the company adds.

Over the past three years Game of Thrones has been the most pirated TV-show. Based on the number of downloads over the past week, the same result will be achieved in 2015.

Now let’s see if they can break the “quarter million” swarm record of last year’s season finale.

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

TorrentFreak: Court: Google Can See Emails About MPAA’s Secret ‘SOPA Revival’

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

mailgIn backroom meetings the MPAA and Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood discussed a plan to bring website blocking and search engine filtering back to the table after the controversial SOPA law failed to pass.

The plan, dubbed “Project Goliath,” became public through various emails that were released during the Sony Pictures leaks. In a response Google said that it was “deeply concerned” about the developments.

To counter the looming threat Google filed a complaint against Hood last December, asking the court to prevent Hood from enforcing a subpoena that addresses Google’s failure to take down or block access to illegal content, including pirate sites.

This resulted in a victory for Google with District Court Judge Henry Wingate putting the subpoena on hold. At the same time Google requested additional details from the Attorney General on his discussions with Hollywood.

During an oral hearing earlier this month Google requested various documents including an email conversation between MPAA’s Senior Vice President State Legislative Affairs Vans Stevenson and the Attorney General.

In addition, Google asked for copies of Word files titled Google can take action, Google must change its behavior, Google’s illegal conduct, CDA, and any documents gathered in response to a request previously submitted by Techdirt’s Mike Masnick .

After a careful review District Court Judge Henry Wingate sided with Google, ordering Attorney General Hood to hand over the requested information before the end of the month.

Judge Wingate’s order
hoodorder

The documents will help Google to get to the bottom of the censorship efforts and to determine what role the MPAA played and what its contributions were.

Various emails that leaked after the Sony hack already revealed that the MPAA’s long-standing law firm Jenner & Block had drafted a subpoena and other communication the Attorney General could use against Google.

Many of the “Project Goliath” emails and documents are readily available after Wikileaks released them late last week, but nearly all details had already been made public after the leaks first surfaced.

Interestingly, in one email the MPAA’s Vans Stevenson linked to a New York Times piece on how lobbyists court State Attorneys to advance their political agendas.

“FYI, first is a series of articles,” Stevenson wrote to several high level executives involved, not knowing that a follow-up would include “Project Goliath.”

Perhaps fittingly, New York Times’ journalist Eric Lipton won a Pulitzer prize for the series yesterday, for reporting “how the influence of lobbyists can sway congressional leaders and state attorneys general, slanting justice toward the wealthy and connected.”

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

TorrentFreak: Fate of Pirate Bay Domains Hang in the Balance

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

Some of the key strategies employed by anti-piracy groups around the world involve attacking the infrastructures of so-called pirate sites.

Pressuring hosting companies to cut off sites is one of the oldest and perhaps easiest method of disrupting activities, but finding a new host – even for the most blatant of infringers – is usually countered in a few hours. It’s a nuisance, but one that can be handled relatively easily.

Blocking domains at the ISP level presents more of a problem for sites but actually seizing a domain or rendering it entirely useless really takes things to the next level. It’s a strategy being actively pursued in a number of cases, most recently by the RIAA in an important case against MP3Skull reported here yesterday.

Next week in a separate action, a Swedish court will be required to decide whether The Pirate Bay will be allowed to keep control of two of its most important domains.

ThePirateBay.se (the site’s main domain) and PirateBay.se (a lesser used alternative) are being targeted by Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, the man behind the now-famous operation that took the site down in December.

Filed back in 2013 at the District Court of Stockholm, the motion targets Punkt SE, the organization responsible for Sweden’s top level .SE domain.

Ingblad’s position is that since The Pirate Bay has been deemed an illegal site, its domain names are assisting in those crimes and should be subject to action, just like a tool used in any other crime

In a case against both the .SE registry and former Pirate Bay operator Fredrik Neij, Ingblad wants the Court to order the domains to be forfeited.

“That is, in practice, that the state should take them over, or at least that .SE should not rent them out again, Ingblad says.

In parallel The Pirate Bay is also facing its first web blocking action in Sweden. Last November, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry filed a lawsuit against Swedish service provider Bredbandsbolaget. The ISP intends to fight the demand.

In the meantime the blocking case is certainly one to watch, with Punkt SE CEO Danny Aerts framing the action as unique in Europe.

“There are no previous cases of states suing a registry for abetting criminal activity or breaching copyright law,” Aerts notes.

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

TorrentFreak: Dotcom Appeals Extradition Delay Ruling, Colleague Lawyerless

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

megaupload-logoThe now three-year cases of Kim Dotcom versus the New Zealand and United States governments have developed into a massive legal grind.

Almost every adverse decision affecting either side finds itself subjected to appeal wherever possible, with neither of the opposing parties prepared to concede defeat.

For Dotcom, the purposes of the battles are obvious. While trying to recoup as much of his seized wealth as possible, the Megaupload founder is determined to avoid extradition to the United States where he faces the largest copyright-focused case in history.

On four occasions the German-born businessman has succeeded in having his extradition hearing delayed but last month his luck appeared to have run out. With a June 2015 hearing looming, Dotcom’s legal team asked the North Shore District Court for an adjournment until October, claiming that the time remaining was not enough to prepare for such a complicated case.

dotcom-laptopIn the event the court refused to grant a delay to a hearing that will decide whether Dotcom and co-defendants Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk should be sent to the United States to stand trial. The decision led to Dotcom’s lawyers applying for a judicial review.

This morning the parties were back in court yet again, arguing that a four-month delay is necessary in order for Dotcom and his associates to prepare their cases. Led by top lawyer Ron Mansfield, the High Court welcomed the German’s legal team to hearing set to last two days

At least for now, Dotcom’s cash situation doesn’t appear to be hindering his defense. According to 3News the German had a 10-strong legal team behind him this morning. The same could not be said about Megaupload co-defendant Finn Batato, however.

batatoA fellow German and former chief marketing officer at Megaupload, Batato arrived at the High Court this morning without a lawyer in tow. Famously filmed tearing around the Nürburgring circuit with Dotcom and racing driving Kimi Raikkonen, Batato told the court he would be representing himself.

After allowing Batato to move from the public gallery to sit among Dotcom’s lawyers, the Court heard that Batato had made an application for legal aid, a system of government funding designed to ensure people aren’t denied justice because they can’t afford a lawyer.

Grant Illingworth, QC, a 30-year legal veteran with more than 30 Court of Appeal cases under his belt, argued that the complexity of the extradition and Batato’s legal position meant that the hearing should be delayed.

“Mr Batato is waiting on a legal aid application. He has no lawyer and won’t have one unless legal aid is granted,” he said.

According to NZHerald, Illingworth told the Court that not enough information had been supplied relating to how charges from the US matched with crimes under New Zealand law .

“We’re in a hopeless position as far as complying with the timetable… we can’t comply with it,” he said.

If the appeal is successful it will be the fifth time that the extradition hearing has been delayed since the now-infamous Megaupload shutdown of 2012. In the meantime Dotcom awaits a decision on whether an undisclosed dangerous driving offense will affect his residency in New Zealand.

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

TorrentFreak: Major Record Labels Sue MP3Skull Over Mass Piracy

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

skullUnauthorized MP3 download sites have been a thorn in the side of the music industry for many years, and a group of well-known labels are now targeting one of the biggest players in the market.

The coalition of record labels including Capitol Records, Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records and Universal Music Group have filed a lawsuit against MP3Skull, currently operating from the Tonga based .to domain name.

In the complaint filed at a Florida District Court (pdf) the studios describe MP3Skull as a business that’s designed and operated to promote copyright infringement on a commercial scale.

“MP3Skull is a website that is devoted to the infringement of copyrighted sound recordings on a massive scale, from which Defendants derive substantial revenue every year,” the complaint reads.

“At the core of MP3Skull is a database that, according to Defendants, contains millions of links to MP3 music files from around the Internet,” it adds.

MP3Skull has been around for several years and lists links to popular music tracks scattered around the web, free of charge. The operators of the site are not publicly known but the labels note that the Russian Monica Vasilenko was previously listed in the site’s Whois information.

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

“MP3Skull’s official Twitter and Facebook pages contain several communications from Defendants openly encouraging users to download obviously infringing files, links to which were removed following takedown requests from copyright owners,” the labels write.

“On several occasions, Defendants outlined various workarounds that users could employ to download MP3 files because the site was ‘forced’ to ‘remove a huge amount of our searches’ following takedown requests from copyright organizations,” the add.

As a result of its allegedly infringing activities the site has gathered a broad audience of millions of users, resulting in significant losses from the record labels.

“As a direct result of Defendants’ widespread and brazen infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works, MP3Skull has become one of the most popular illicit music download sites on the Internet, attracting millions of users from the United States and generating significant revenue for Defendants.”

The complaint list more than 100 popular tracks that are freely available on MP3Skull. This means that the site’s operators face over $15 million in statutory damages.

Perhaps more importantly, given the anonymous nature of the site’s operators, is the broad preliminary injunction the record labels request.

Among other things, the proposed measures would prevent domain registrars, domain registries, hosting companies, advertisers and other third-party outfits from doing business with the site. If granted, the MP3Skull operators will have a hard time keeping the site afloat in its current form.

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

TorrentFreak: HBO Cracks Down on Paying VPN “Pirates”

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

hboIn an effort to gain more subscribers HBO launched its standalone “HBO Now” service earlier this year.

The subscription allows Americans to access HBO’s content, including Game of Thrones, without the need to have a television subscription.

With the offer HBO hopes to drive people away from pirate sites, but it also created a new form of unauthorized use. As with Netflix and Hulu, many people outside the U.S. signed up for the service through VPNs and other geo-unblocking tools.

Although they are paying customers, using HBO Now from outside the U.S. is not permitted under the company’s terms of use.

While Netflix is still fairly lax about geo-unblocking, HBO is now cracking down on the practice. A few days ago thousands of VPN and proxy “pirates” started to receive worrying email warnings.

“It has come to our attention that you may have signed up for and viewed video content on the HBO NOW streaming service from outside of the authorized service area (the United States, including D.C. and certain US territories),” HBO writes.

“We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the HBO NOW streaming service is only available to residents of the United States, for use within the United States. Any other access is prohibited by our Terms of Use.”

HBO Now warning
HBO-disco

The emails in question target users all over the world, including Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia. Unless they were flagged by mistake, HBO will terminate the accounts of affected subscribers within days and without the option of a refund.

HBO is cracking down on VPN and proxy pirates to protect the value of their licensing deals. If millions of foreigners use the U.S. version, local partners in these countries are going to complain.

However, since legal options are often lacking there’s little doubt that many ‘unauthorized’ viewers will find less official ways to access the shows they love to watch. This time, however, HBO will not get a dime.

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

TorrentFreak: VPN and Site Blocking Attacked By Consumer Group

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

ausAfter Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked the Australian Cabinet to approve the development of a new legal mechanism allowing rightsholders to obtain site-blocking injunctions, legislation was introduced to parliament last month.

What followed is a still-current six-week consultation period for additional submissions, with various groups invited to voice their opinions and concerns.

While the site-blocking elements of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 are likely to please rightsholders, concerns remain that not only will the legislation fail to achieve its aims, but may also have unintended consequences that could stifle consumer choice.

In its submission the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the body that represents the interests of consumers on communications issues including broadband and emerging Internet services, three key issues are raised – VPN use, efficacy and cost of blocking, plus consumer interests.

The VPN problem

ACCAN is concerned over some of the wording employed in the amendments. Instead of referencing “website blocking”, the legislation speaks about “online locations”. While this appears to be an effort to future-proof the Bill, it also has the potential for additional consequences should rightsholders decide to exploit the ambiguity.

“Our first concern relates to the scope of activities that may be picked up by an interpretation of an ‘online location’ which ‘facilitates an infringement’ of copyright,” ACCAN writes.

“Without clear legal precedent, there is ambiguity under the Copyright Act about what constitutes infringement in relation to the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to gain access to geo-blocked products and services. If this ambiguity is not cleared up, this amendment may have the unintended consequence of blocking these services and in turn harm competition and consumer choice.”

And confusion does exist. On his website Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull says that the Copyright Act does not make it illegal to use a VPN to access overseas content. On the other hand, the Australian Copyright Council believes that using a VPN to download content licensed overseas is “likely to be an infringement of copyright in Australia.”

While it was previously reported that the Bill had been delayed due to modifications aimed at protecting VPN-like services, ACCAN says that it would prefer clarity on the matter.

“While this ambiguity exists there is a risk that rights holders will attempt to use this injunctive power to block VPN websites and limit consumer access to paid content overseas,” the group writes.

And the threat is real. As reported last week, New Zealand based media companies report that they are on the verge of suing local ISPs who provide VPN services designed to unlock overseas content. Avoiding the same thing Down Under is a priority for ACCAN.

Protecting the public interest

In most countries where rightsholders have demanded site blocking on copyright grounds, ISPs have refused to block voluntarily and have insisted on a court order. This has resulted in processes where movie and recording industry companies become the plaintiffs and ISPs the defendants. The sites themselves aren’t involved in the process, and neither are their users.

“[We] remain concerned that a judge in an ex parte hearing will not have the requisite evidence at hand to weigh the public interest against those of rights holders,” ACCAN writes.

“The amendment creates no right for legitimate users of a site to present evidence on any adverse consequences of an injunction. There should be a presumption in the Bill in favor of allowing parties to become interveners or amicus curiae in the context of these injunction applications.”

Efficacy and costs of blocking

Like many other similarly focused groups, ACCAN is concerned that not only will site / online location blocking prove ineffective when it comes to stopping infringement, but the bill for the exercise will ultimately fall at the feet of the consumer.

Citing Dutch studies which found that blocking The Pirate Bay enjoyed only short-lived success, ACCAN voices concerns that once one site is blocked, users will simply migrate elsewhere.

“This research confirmed the findings in other studies which found that legal action against file sharing often has an immediate effect, but this typically fades out after a period of six months as new sources for pirated content emerge. ACCAN’s concern is that this website blocking bill may devolve into an expensive game of ‘whack-a-mole’, which consumers will end up paying for through higher internet bills,” the group writes.

Similar fears over consumers picking up costs for online infringement enforcement have been voiced across Europe and in the United States, but in no cases has that caused a court to deny rightsholders the opportunity to protect their copyrights. It is guaranteed that one way or another – via their Internet bill or through the cost of media – Aussies will eventually pay for the proposed enforcement measures

The Bill is currently under review by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, with a report due in a little under a month.

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 – 04/20/15

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

furi7This week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Furious 7 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) Furious 7 (CAM/TS) 8.8 / trailer
2 (3) Interstellar 8.8 / trailer
3 (2) Taken 3 6.1 / trailer
4 (…) The Boy Next Door 4.4 / trailer
5 (…) Camp X-Ray 7.2 / trailer
6 (8) The Gambler 6.1 / trailer
7 (…) Mortdecai 5.4 / trailer
8 (…) The Water Diviner 7.4 / trailer
9 (5) Last Knights 6.2 / trailer
10 (4) The Wedding Ringer 6.8 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Beating Internet Censors With BitTorrent’s Maelstrom Browser

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

bittorrent-logoSan Francisco-based BitTorrent Inc. already has a few popular applications in its catalog, including uTorrent and Sync. However, with its new “people-powered” browser it hopes to spark another revolution.

Project Maelstrom, as it’s called, is still in the early stages of development but the company has decided to push a Beta out to the public so developers can start building tools and services around it.

In short, Maelstrom takes Google’s Chromium framework and stuffs a powerful BitTorrent engine under the hood, meaning that torrents can be played directly from the browser. More excitingly, however, Maelstrom also supports torrent-powered websites that no longer have to rely on central servers.

By simply publishing a website in a torrent format the website will be accessible if others are sharing it. This can be assisted by web-seeds but also completely peer-to-peer.

For example, earlier this week Wikileaks published a controversial archive of documents and emails that leaked after the Sony hack. If the hosting provider was forced to take the files down they would disappear but with Maelstrom-supported sites, users would be able to keep it online.

The same is true for torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay, which suffered weeks of downtime recently after the site’s servers were raided.

BitTorrent powered page
meal

At the moment there are very few websites that support Maelstrom. There is an early WordPress plugin and others are experimenting with it as well, but wider adoption will need some time.

That said, traditional magnet links work too, so people can play video and audio from regular torrent sites directly in the browser.

BitTorrent Inc. informs TF that the main goal is to provide a new and open publishing platform. It’s now up to developers to use it to their advantage.

“We believe in providing an alternative means for publishing that is neutral and that gives ownership back to those publishers. But one of our biggest goals with this release is just to get it out and into the hands of developers and see what emerges,” Maelstrom’s project lead Rob Velasquez says.

And in that respect momentum is building. BitTorrent Inc. says that a community of more than 10,000 developers and 3,500 publishers has already been established, with tools to bring more on board now available via Github.

While Maelstrom can bypass Internet censors, it’s good to keep in mind that all shared files are visible to the public. Maelstrom is caching accessed content to keep it seeded, so using a VPN might not be a bad idea. After all, users leave a trail of their browsing history behind.

On the upside, Maelstrom can be more private for publishers as they don’t have to share any personal details with hosting companies or domain registrars.

“The BitTorrent protocol remains the same, but it does mean that you no longer have to hand over personal, private data to domain registrars or hosting companies to put up a simple website,” Velasquez notes.

The idea for a BitTorrent-powered browser is not new. The Pirate Bay started work on a related project last year with the aim of keeping the site online even if its servers were raided.

It will be interesting to see if Maelstrom can get some traction. There’s still a long way to go, but the idea of an open and censorship-free web does sound appealing.

With a Mac version still under a development, Project Maelstrom (beta) can be downloaded for Windows here.

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

TorrentFreak: Leaked: The MPAA’s iPad Piracy Potential Analysis

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

ipadAfter years of numerous hardware companies flirting and largely failing with the format, half a decade ago the revolution the tablet market had been waiting for finally arrived.

With a huge fanfare of publicity on April 3, 2010 Apple launched its now iconic iPad. The convenient, functional and practical era of tablets had well and truly arrived and for millions of consumers around the globe the device became the computing weapon of choice.

With new hardware came new opportunities and for the major Hollywood studios the iPad and its beautiful screen had the potential to be both friend and foe. An analysis made available following last year’s Sony hack and Wikileaks’ refreshed publication yesterday provides a sneak insight into the MPAA’s assessment of the device.

Titled “The iPad – From a Content Protection Perspective” the document lists the positive and potential negatives for the device.

The positives

On the plus side the MPAA was predictably pleased with Apple’s ‘walled-garden’ approach to DRM-protected premium content supply.

“Novice user will opt for ‘iTunes and App store’ type of use,” the document reads, noting that the iPad “allows for some technical protection measures as well as e-Commerce environments that allow for digital rights management.”

The MPAA was also impressed with the educational potential of the iPad and App Store, noting that the pair together promote the notion that content needs to be paid for.

“The iPad essentially acts as a digital wallet (a multifunctional credit card) so users will be much more aware that digital content can have a value,” the report notes.

Of course, Apple’s notoriously tough security also achieved a tick in the plus column but not without a reminder that things can be undone by the determined hacker.

“The iPad, like the iPhone may not be too appealing to the pirate type due to its closed (technological) environment. On the other hand, the iPhone has been ‘jailbroken’ and the iPad will share the same fate,” the report correctly predicts.

The negatives

Most of the negatives listed by the MPAA center around the conversion of media obtained in one format and then converted for use on the iPad. With relatively generous storage capacity by 2010 standards, that could amount to a few dozen pirate films on a device.

“Converting existing movies (Pirated, Blu-ray or DVD) to the .m4v format suitable for the iPad will take about 1 hr per movie using application such as ‘Handbrake’,” the report reads.

“The typical ripped Blu-ray file, made ready for the iPad, will take up 1.5 Gigabyte of disk space. On average a 64 GB iPad will be able to carry 40 high quality rips.”

But the MPAA feared the risks wouldn’t end there. Once obtained on one device, pirate content could then spread to another.

“Although the above steps may only be taken by those accustomed to pirating content, the nature of this platform will smoothen large-scale exchanges of clusters of movies (iPad to iPad),” the report reads.

“Although most pirates will tend to go and download content illegally, to first put it on desktop computer and only then convert it to the iPad, it is not difficult to foresee a future wherein they may go and enable inter-iPad file sharing or file streaming.”

In addition to concerns that iPad owners might start adding “PVR type” TV broadcasting recordings to their devices, the MPAA was also developing fears over the iPad’s ability to connect to large screen devices.

“Although quite cumbersome (at least three different video adapters are
available and each has different functionalities) it is possible to display content on external devices such as projectors and TVs. It is also possible to both display and stream content from a desktop computer to an iPad,” the report adds.

And with Airplay video landing later in 2010, the MPAA correctly predicted it would take off.

“The wired and wireless streaming of iPad data to external (remote) screens is expected to become very popular,” the report notes.

Finally – the big positive and big negative, all in one

The very first positive point in the MPAA’s piracy assessment of the iPad is the type of video delivery system the device is optimized for.

“Device aimed at users of streaming services,” the number one plus point reads.

While undoubtedly excellent for viewing streaming content (the Netflix iPad app debuted on the iTunes App Store at the device’s launch in April 2010), little did the MPAA know that almost exactly five years later it would be greeted with the following headline:

Popcorn Time Releases iOS App Tomorrow, No Jailbreak Needed.”

Five years is definitely a long time in technology terms….

Further reading on the studios’ iPad studies courtesy of Wikileaks, here and here.

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

TorrentFreak: HBO Targets Torrent Users Over Game of Thrones Leak

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

got5Last week’s pre-release leak of four Game of Thrones episodes is one of the most prominent piracy cases in TV history.

The first copies, leaked from a review screener, quickly spread across public torrent sites and were downloaded millions of times.

While most piracy occurred through BitTorrent, HBO seemed mostly concerned with a few dozen people who watched a shoddy stream via Twitter’s Periscope. Behind the scenes, however, BitTorrent pirates were targeted as well.

Over the past week HBO sent out a flurry of takedown notices to those who shared the controversial leaks in public. TF has seen several notices, which all come in the standard format.

Through its anti-piracy partner IP-Echelon, HBO instructs Internet providers to relay the alerts to the account holder associated with the infringing IP-address.

“1. Contact the subscriber who has engaged in the conduct described above and take steps to prevent the subscriber from further downloading or uploading HBO content without authorization.”

In addition, ISPs may want to take additional measures such as disconnecting the accounts of repeat infringers.

“2. Take appropriate action against the account holder under your Abuse Policy/Terms of Service Agreement.”

As is always the case with DMCA notices, HBO doesn’t know the identity of the alleged pirates, so there are no legal strings attached.

gotpirateNonetheless, HBO hopes that the warnings will deter some from downloading future episodes. And indeed, some users may panic when they see that their downloads were flagged.

Not all warnings are effective though. Some DMCA notices were directed at VPN users who can’t be identified and never get to see the warnings in question.

It’s clear that containing the Game of Thrones leaks is important for HBO, but the DMCA notices themselves are nothing new. The company has been sending these out for various shows over the years, they just never got much attention.

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

TorrentFreak: GTA V Plunders More Data Than Game of Thrones Pirates

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

gtav-covGrand Theft Auto V is one of the most eagerly anticipated PC game releases of 2015 and this week the tension was finally over. For most the wait for desktop version of the 2013/2014 smash hit was totally worth it, with overwhelmingly positive reviews circulating online.

For others, however, the week has been one of tooth-gnashing, nail-biting tension, largely spent worrying over whether the mighty DRM-defeating piracy overlords would find it in their hearts to throw a cracked version to the masses.

And in parts it was a pretty ugly thing to behold.

Endless warez and torrent forums (and more public affairs such as Reddit) were flooded with requests for a cracked version of the iconic game, leading to anger over the umpteenth duplicate thread among those who’d answered the same questions dozens of times already.

But the real desperation was to be found in numerous chat channels occupied by people hoping to get an early heads-up on where to find the first free (and functioning) online copies.

On the day of the game’s release TF spent time in a few of them and for the most part it was an absolute car crash, largely due to people posting links to all manner of bogus content.

While the pictures of crack (cocaine) and the odd meme weren’t particularly hostile, the links to renamed .exe files and people running them there and then, with no apparent concern for the well being of their computers, was something to behold.

“Don’t forget to disable your anti-virus before running,” was the sterling advice given on a number of occasions.

At least twice people claimed to have received errors on their screen after running what they thought was a genuine crack, only to immediately disappear from chat, never to return. With the air thick with schadenfreude, much dark hilarity ensued among the link spammers.

By Wednesday it became clear that Chinese group 3DM would probably be the first to put out a crack for the popular title and sure enough a few hours later the much-anticipated code began to propagate. Suitable only for Windows 7 machines in the first instance, a later version claimed to cater for Windows 8 installations too.

3dm-crack-v2

But for some the few hours wait between official GTA V launch and the subsequent crack release had been too much. With a level of impatience not often seen in the gaming world, countless users publicly declared “enough is enough” and reported buying the game on Steam instead. They’re probably still stuck in Los Santos now, robbing and killing their way to infamy.

Nevertheless, many thousands more with either more patience, less disposable income, or both, proceeded to obtain the game and its crack through less official channels. By very early Thursday at least 20,000 people had obtained the game using BitTorrent, a not inconsiderable feat considering the huge size of the files involved.

While the updates and cracks weighed in at less than 400mb, the game files themselves were changing hands in archives ranging from 40GB to 60GB, with warnings that the compressed version could take four hours or more to decompress and install, even after the mammoth download.

But despite the waiting and hoop jumping, by early Thursday a staggering one petabyte of data had been exchanged on the most popular GTA V torrents, an amount equal to all U.S. Internet traffic during a single day in 2000. Or, to put it another way, more data than was consumed by the million Game of Thrones pirates who downloaded the first leaked episode in the hours following last week’s surprise release.

Nevertheless, even after all the head-scratching, waiting, downloading, decompressing and other shenanigans, many users are still having problems running the cracked version of the game. Others, on the other hand, report no problems at all and have heaped praise on 3DM for their amazing work.

“I love this game! Is there any way to donate to 3DM?” a user on one site asked.

“How about sending money to the Rockstar devs instead?” came a dry response.

And indeed, some pirates intend to do just that.

“It’s definitely impressive [to have cracked the game] in such a short time. I appreciate the efforts a lot,” wrote one.

“My only real goal was to gauge how well it runs on my PC before I plunk down $60 for it. Now that I know it runs fine I’ll be buying it after work today.”

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Reopens Registrations, Months After Raid

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

pirate baySlowly but surely things are returning back to normal at the beleaguered Pirate Bay.

After weeks of downtime the site came back online late January, recovering from a raid that hit the site hard. The notorious torrent site has burned through several hosting companies since its return but the site is now relatively stable.

With many of the old moderators back on board the spam problems are under control as well. All this time, however, there was still one major feature missing from the site. Users were not able to register an account so they can publish content.

This last barrier was removed a few hours ago when TPB formally reopened user registrations.

“The registrations remained closed as a security precaution. But now that the mods are back and stable, new accounts won’t flood the site with fakes,” Pirate Bay’s Winston tells TF

Registrations are open
tpbreg

Over the past couple of months the moderator team undertook a thorough cleanup of all suspicious user accounts. Pretty much all fakers and scammers were removed, a number that ran into the thousands.

“A lot of the dormant accounts have been used up now,” long time TPB moderator Agricola tells TF, noting that fakers and scammers are more prevalent than most people believe.

“In my time on The Pirate Bay I have 30,000+ kills on my name, which is how we refer to deleted accounts. You are talking hundreds of accounts a day.”

So while the reopened registration feature is good news for users who want to join the six million strong army of Pirate Bay users, it means all hands on deck for the moderator team.

According to Agricola this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, that’s what they have been doing all along.

“We’re pretty much going back to the way it was before the raid,” Agricola says.

Looking back at the past few months we can conclude that things have pretty much returned to normal at TPB. The site took a hit in terms of traffic and is no longer the most used torrent site, but the ship is still afloat.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wants Private Theaters in U.S. Embassies to Lobby Officials

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

screeningYesterday Wikileaks published a searchable database of the emails and documents that were released from the Sony hack.

While a lot of ground was already covered after the initial breach, some new information is now bubbling up to the surface.

One of the conversations that caught our eye mentions a request from MPAA boss and former U.S. senator Chris Dodd.

In an effort to get foreign policy makers onside, the movie group asked its member studios to help fund an upgrade of the screening rooms in various U.S. embassies around the world.

In an email from Sony Pictures Entertainment Head of Worldwide Government Affairs Keith Weaver to CEO Michael Lynton last March, Weaver explains that the studio had been asked for rather a sizable contribution.

“I wanted to make you aware of a recent MPAA request, as Senator Dodd may contact you directly,” Weaver’s email begins.

“Essentially, the request is for the member companies to consider upgrading screening rooms at U.S. Embassies in various countries (Germany, Spain, Italy, UK, and Japan)…”

These rooms could then be used by the ambassadors to show off Hollywood content to invited high-level officials.

“…the idea being that these upgraded screening rooms would allow American ambassadors to screen our movies to high level officials (and, thus, inculcate a stronger will to protect our interests through this quality exposure to our content),” Weaver adds.

In other words, the MPAA wants to pay for an upgrade of the embassies’ private theaters, to indirectly protect the interests of U.S. movie studios abroad.

It’s a rather interesting lobbying effort and one that doesn’t come cheap. The estimated cost for the project is $165,000 per studio, which means the total budget for the project is close to a million dollars.

Unfortunately for the MPAA, Weaver suggested giving the project a miss and in a reply Lynton agreed.

“While studios have supported efforts like this in the past, my inclination is that we pass on this financial commitment at this time (of course, applauding the idea/effort),” Weaver noted.

In an email a few months later the issue was addressed again with additional details.

In this conversation Weaver notes that the request is “not unusual” and that the studio supported a similar request years ago. “Apparently, donations of this kind are permissible,” Weaver writes.

Again, Lynton replied that he was not inclined to support the project. It’s unclear whether any of the other members chipped in, or if the plan has been canceled due to a lack of financial support.

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

TorrentFreak: TV Companies Will Sue VPN Providers “In Days”

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

As Internet users demand more freedom online alongside an ability to consume media in a manner of their choosing, tools allowing them to do so are gaining in popularity.

Notable has been the rise of VPN services, which not only provide an increased level of privacy but also allow users to appear in any country they choose. This opens up a whole new world of content availability – such as better service from Netflix – often at better prices than those offered on home turf.

While popular with consumers, this behavior is frowned upon by distribution companies that spend huge sums of money on content licensing deals specific to their regions of coverage. Losing customers to overseas providers isn’t part of their plan and now some are doing something about it.

Earlier this month media companies SKY, TVNZ, Lightbox and MediaWorks told several Kiwi ISPs that if they don’t stop providing VPN services to their subscribers, legal trouble would be on the horizon.

Within days one of their targets, Unlimited Internet, pulled its VPN service after receiving a letter from a lawfirm claiming breaches of the Copyright Act. However, CallPlus and Bypass Network Services have no intention of caving in to the media giants’ demands.

“To receive without warning a grossly threatening legal letter like that from four of the largest companies in New Zealand is not something we are used to,” wrote Bypass CEO Patrick Jordan-Smith in a letter to the media companies.

“It smacks of bullying to be honest, especially since your letter doesn’t actually say why you think we are breaching copyright.”

Pulling no punches and describing his adversaries as a “gang”, Jordan-Smith likens the threats to those employed by copyright trolls in the United States.

“Your letter gets pretty close to the speculative invoicing type letters that lawyers for copyright owners sometimes send in the US ‘pay up or shutdown or else were are going to sue you’! Not fair,” he writes.

“We have been providing the Global Mode facility for 2 years. In all that time, none of your Big Media Gang have ever written to us. We assumed they were OK with Global Mode and we continued to spend money innovating the facility and providing innovative NZ ISPs with a service that their customers were telling them they wanted – a service that lets people pay for content rather than pirate it.”

The response from Bypass hasn’t been well received by the media companies who now say they will carry through with their threats to sue over breaches of copyright.

“Our position has not changed and unless they remove the unlawful service we will begin court action in the next few days,” says TVNZ chief executive, Kevin Kenrick.

“Each of our businesses invests significant sums of money into the rights to screen content sourced legitimately from the creators and owners of that copyrighted material. This is being undermined by the companies who profit from promoting illegitimate ways to access that content.”

Claiming that the action is aimed at defending the value of content rights in the digital world, Kenrick says that the legal action is not consumer focused.

“This is not about taking action against individual consumers or restricting choice, indeed each of our businesses are investing heavily in more choice so New Zealanders can have legitimate access to the latest TV shows and movies,” the CEO concludes.

While the commercial position of the TVNZ chief is understandable, his claim that this legal action isn’t aimed at reducing choice simply doesn’t stack up. Kiwis using Netflix locally get access to around 220 TV series and 900 movies, while those using a VPN to tunnel into the United States enjoy around 940 TV series and 6,170 movies, something which Bypass Networks believes is completely legal.

“[We provide our service] on our understanding that geo-unblocking to allow people to digitally import content purchased overseas is perfectly legal. If you say it is not, then we are going to need a lot more detail from you to understand why,” Jordan-Smith informs his adversaries.

“Simply sending us a threatening letter, as frightening as that may be, does not get us there and is not a fair reason for us to shut down our whole business.”

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij Can’t Play Nintendo Classics In Prison

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

fredrik-neijFredrik Neij, also known as Tiamo, was one of the key operators of The Pirate Bay and often referred to as one of the site’s co-founders.

In 2010 Fredrik received a prison sentence for his involvement with the notorious site, which he initially avoided.

Last November he was eventually arrested by Thai immigration authorities and later transferred to a prison in Skänninge, Sweden.

Under the circumstances, Fredrik has been doing relatively well. However, prison life lacks distraction and entertainment, not to mention a digital connection to the outside world.

To kill time The Pirate Bay’s former operator put in a request to play games on an old Nintendo 8-bit console. Not the most advanced gaming experience, but a real treat for someone with virtually no access to entertainment.

Unfortunately, however, Fredrik’s request was outright denied by the prison administration. While gaming isn’t against the rules, they state that there’s no way to open the box to check it for concealed items.

“The console is sealed in such a way that it can not be opened without the machine being destroyed,” the prison wrote in a reply.

In light of this, the institution can’t implement the necessary control of the game console and it is therefore impossible to ensure that it does not contain prohibited items.”

Fredrik doesn’t agree with the decision decided to appeal the case before the administrative court.

Pirate Bay’s former operator doesn’t believe that a game console from the 80s without any network connectivity poses a threat, and points out that the prison only has to buy a simply screwdriver to check the box.

“That the institution lacks a screwdriver which costs 100 kroner can not be considered reasonable,” Fredrik writes.

“One has to wonder how many other victims there are when all video-game units of the brand Nintendo have the same screwdriver,” he adds.

This isn’t the first time that Fredrik has appealed a decision from the prison. Earlier this month he filed an appeal after the institution denied a request to print three documents.

TF note: The Nintendo case can actually be opened with a pen and a cigarette lighter

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