Posts tagged ‘Anti-Piracy’

TorrentFreak: Google Scolds MPAA’s “Cozy” Anti-Piracy Lobby in Court

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

googlepopLate last year leaked documents from the Sony hack revealed that the MPAA helped Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to revive SOPA-like censorship efforts in the United States.

In a retaliatory move Google sued the Attorney General, hoping to find out more about the secret plan. The company also demanded internal communication from the MPAA and its lawfirm Jenner & Block.

After the Hollywood group and its lawyers refused to provide all information Google asked for, a separate legal battle began with both sides using rather strong language to state their case.

The MPAA accused Google of facilitating piracy and objected to a request to transfer the case to Mississippi, where the underlying case was started. According to the movie industry group and its lawyers they are merely bystanders who want to resolve the matter in a Washington court.

This week Google responded to the MPAA opposition with a scathing reply, which outs the cozy relationship between the MPAA and the Attorney General’s office.

“Their rhetoric does not match reality,” Google responds (pdf) to the request not to transfer the case. “The MPAA and Jenner are no strangers to Mississippi.”

“The Subpoenaed Parties sought out Mississippi when they co-opted the state’s Attorney General for their anti-Google campaign. Documents withheld by the MPAA until last week reveal a stunning level of involvement in Mississippi’s affairs.”

According to Google it’s clear that the MPAA and its law firm were in “intimate contact” with the Attorney General, offered monetary donations, hosted fundraisers and also helped him to draft legal paperwork.

“According to the Subpoenaed Parties, they are strangers to Mississippi. But documents produced last week by the MPAA tell a very different story. The Subpoenaed Parties and their representatives made repeated visits to AG Hood’s office in Mississippi to guide his anti-Google work.”

“Even when they weren’t physically at AG Hood’s office, they may as well have been, getting together with him in Denver and Santa Monica and holding a fundraising dinner for him in New Orleans.”

And there is more. The emails the MPAA recently produced also reveal “remarkably cozy and constant communications” between the MPAA and the Attorney General’s office.

In one email the MPAA’s Brian Cohen greeted one of Hood’s staffers with “Hello my favorite” offering to share pictures of his vacation in New Zealand via Dropbox. In another email discussing a meeting with the AG’s staff, MPAA’s Cohen writes “OMG we spent 3 hours.”

favorite

According to Google the examples above clearly show that there’s a rather close relationship between the MPAA’s lobbyists and the Attorney General.

“This pattern of sustained, intimate contact is hardly the mark of a party that merely ‘communicated with Attorney General Hood’ ‘previously,’ as the MPAA characterizes itself.”

Throwing in a movie reference, Google further notes that transferring the case would be in line with Rule 45, which ties the subpoena to the Mississippi case.

“But it is not merely the Subpoenaed Parties’ starring role in the underlying events that warrants transfer of Google’s Motions to Compel to Judge Wingate in Mississippi; all of the Rule 45 factors support it as well,” Google notes.

The reply continues adding more support and arguments to transfer the case, using more strong language, and the sarcastic-aggressive tone continues throughout.

If we hadn’t seen enough evidence already, the filing makes it clear that the MPAA and Google are not on speaking terms, to say the least. And with the Attorney General case just getting started, things may get even worse.

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

TorrentFreak: Organized Crime Police Raid ‘Pirate’ Android TV Box Sellers

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

As highlighted in a TorrentFreak report earlier this month, anti-piracy outfits are running out of patience with the proliferation of software and devices that allow for movies, TV shows and sports to be pirated and streamed with ease.

Popcorn Time and Kodi/XBMC derivatives are the industry’s primary targets and their installation in hardware devices including cheap Android-style set-top boxes is clearly becoming a real thorn in its side. Earlier this month police carried out several raids in the UK and today comes news of yet more operations, complete with accompanying video.

After a joint investigation by the Metropolitan Police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) into the sales of set-top boxes programmed to provide access to movies, TV shows, live sports and subscription channels without permission, officers raided locations in the south and Midlands areas of the country.

In what appears to be the largest raid today, officers from the Metropolitan Police carried out raids in Feltham, Middlesex. A 48-year-old-man and a woman were arrested and more than 1,000 set-top boxes were seized.

Further north in the West Midlands town of Walsall, police seized “dozens” of pieces of electronics including set-top boxes, computers and sat nav systems. A 50-year-old man was voluntarily interviewed by police and FACT investigators.

While police and FACT involvement indicate that the authorities are taking these devices seriously, today raids were also assisted by officers from the West Midlands Regional Organized Crime Unit (ROCU) and the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN). Completing what the Brits might call a “full house”, Trading Standards officers were also involved in the operation.

“The proliferation of IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) and set-top boxes along with apps and add-ons that facilitate illegal streams have created new opportunities for piracy and the delivery of stolen content,” said FACT Director General Kieron Sharp.

“As today’s action demonstrates, we are working in close partnership with our colleagues in law enforcement on addressing these threats and are committed to bringing those responsible to account.”

GAIN Co-ordinator Jason Grove underlined the high level of agency cooperation evident in this morning’s raids.

“Today’s action is an excellent example of our multi-agency working across force boundaries to tackle serious and organized crime,” Grove said.

“These kinds of offenses cost the economy and in particular the film and television industry tens of thousands of pounds each year and today shows that we will take action against those involved.”

Finally, in a further indication that the authorities and FACT want these operations to be highly visible, a video of one of the raids.

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

TorrentFreak: Cloudflare Reveals Pirate Site Locations in an Instant

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

cloudflareFive years ago, discovering the physical location of almost any ‘pirate’ site was achievable in a matter of seconds using widely available online tools. All one needed was an IP address and a simple lookup.

As sites became more aware of the need for security, cloaking efforts became more commonplace. Smaller sites, private trackers in particular, began using tunnels and proxies to hide their true locations, hampering anti-piracy efforts in the process. Later these kinds of techniques were used on even the largest sites, The Pirate Bay for example.

In the meantime the services of a rising company called Cloudflare had begun to pique the interest of security-minded site owners. Designed to optimize the performance of sites while blocking various kinds of abuse, Cloudflare-enabled sites get to exchange their regular IP address for one operated by Cloudflare, a neat side-effect for a site wishing to remain in the shadows.

cloud-pir

Today, Cloudflare ‘protects’ dozens – perhaps hundreds – of ‘pirate’ sites. Some use Cloudflare for its anti-DDoS capabilities but all get to hide their real IP addresses from copyright holders. This has the potential to reduce the amount of DMCA notices and other complaints filtering through to their real hosts.

Surprisingly, however, belief persists in some quarters that Cloudflare is an impenetrable shield that allows ‘pirate’ sites to operate completely unhindered. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

In recent days a perfect example appeared in the shape of Sparvar (Sparrows), a Swedish torrent site that has been regularly hounded by anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance. Sometime after moving to Canada in 2014, Sparvar began using the services of Cloudflare, which effectively cloaked the site’s true location from the world. Well, that was the theory.

According to an announcement from the site, Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén recently approached Cloudflare in an effort to uncover Sparvar’s email address and the true location of its servers. The discussions between Rights Alliance and Cloudflare were seen by Sparvar, which set alarm bells ringing.

“After seeing the conversations between Rights Alliance and server providers / CloudFlare we urge staff of other Swedish trackers to consider whether the risk they’re taking is really worth it,” site staff said.

“All that is required is an email to CloudFlare and then [anti-piracy companies] will have your IP address.”

As a result of this reveal, Sparvar is now offline. No site or user data has been compromised but it appears that the site felt it best to close down, at least for now.

spar-down

This obviously upset users of the site, some of whom emailed TorrentFreak to express disappointment at the way the situation was handled by Cloudflare. However, Cloudflare’s terms and conditions should leave no doubt as to how the company handles these kinds of complaints.

One clause in which Cloudflare reserves the right to investigate not only sites but also their operators, it’s made crystal clear what information may be given up to third parties.

“You acknowledge that CloudFlare may, at its own discretion, reveal the information about your web server to alleged copyright holders or other complainants who have filed complaints with us,” the company writes.

The situation is further underlined when Cloudflare receives DMCA notices from copyright holders and forwards an alert to a site using its services.

“We have provided the name of your hosting provider to the reporter. Additionally, we have forwarded this complaint to your hosting provider as well,” the site’s abuse team regular advises.

While Cloudflare itself tends not to take direct action against sites it receives complaints about, problems can mount if a copyright holder is persistent enough. Just recently Cloudflare was ordered by a U.S. court to discontinue services to a Grooveshark replacement. That site is yet to reappear.

Finally, Sparvar staff have some parting advice for other site operators hoping to use Cloudflare services without being uncovered.

“We hope that you do not have your servers directly behind CloudFlare which means a big security risk. We hope and believe that you are also running some kind of reverse proxy,” the site concludes.

At the time of publication, Henrik Pontén of Rights Alliance had not responded to our requests for comment.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Outfits Boost Numbers With Bogus Takedown Notices

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

boostFour years ago Google decided to publish detailed statistics of all the takedown notices it receives for its search engine.

Since then, the number of requests have skyrocketed. The increase in notices is partly the result of their public nature, with anti-piracy groups proudly revealing how many URLs they have removed.

Over the past several years TF has spoken to insiders on condition of anonymity, and several mentioned that this PR-angle is hurting the validity of the requests. Some anti-piracy outfits are more concerned with the volume of requests than their accuracy.

“There are a number of automated services sending endless duplicate DMCA Notices to Google,” said ‘Jack,’ the owner of a boutique takedown company.

These duplicate requests include many URLs which have been removed previously (e.g. 1, 2, 3). This means that they don’t add anything in terms of effectiveness. However, Google does add them to the overall statistics.

“Consequently, anti-piracy companies can make it look like they’re doing far more work than they actually are and thus improve their business development, sales or PR story,” Jack added.

Whether the duplicate notices are intentional or just the result of a shoddy system will be hard to prove conclusively. But they do stand out, together with other dubious issues that boost the numbers.

Earlier this week the operator of popular MP3 search engine MP3Juices.is alerted us to an increasing number of fake notices, listing URLs that were never indexed by Google at all.

Instead of finding pages in Google’s search engine they list search terms such as the following from a recent takedown request:

http://mp3juices.is/search?q=Kay+One+Intro&hash=2accae5374d2477fnprt4f

These search pages are not indexed by Google, so can’t be removed. Also, MP3juices generates a unique hash for each search, but in the notices the same hash is used over and over again for different search terms.

This means that the search URLs are generated through a simple script instead of being the result of actual searches. In addition, the same keywords are used across different sites, as the image below shows.

musosearch1

“MUSO is the main offender, they’re sending dynamically generated (fake) URLs created by their poorly written script. They don’t even verify if the page exists,” MP3Juices informed TF.

In addition, and this is the case for many outfits, most notices sent to Google are not sent to the site which actually hosts or links to the content.

“Only a minority of the notices are directly sent to us, the vast majority are sent to Google even though we remove reported URLs quicker than Google does. We also replace the page with a message encouraging users to use Amazon MP3 as a legal alternative,” MP3Juices said.

MP3Juices is not happy with the bogus takedown notices and plans to report the false claims to Google, not least since Google uses the takedown numbers to downrank websites in its search results.

MUSO didn’t answer any of our specific questions regarding the non-existing pages and search results, but provided a generic statement.

“We analyse over 12 million pages of content daily, across thousands of different hosting, streaming, P2P or search sites,” a MUSO spokesperson said.

“We are focused on providing a fast, efficient and transparent solution, and we welcome correspondence with all sites with whom we work to remove content, including MP3Juices.”

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

TorrentFreak: Warning ‘Strikes’ Don’t Work Me, Movie Boss Admits

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

pirate-cardAs 2015 hits its mid-point, a handful of key strategies are clearly favored by the world’s largest entertainment companies.

Perhaps the most prominent this year thus far have been efforts to have sites blocked at the ISP level. Most recently Australia went through the months long process of introducing the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 and last week the Bill passed the Senate.

Earlier today the legislation received Royal Assent, meaning it is now firmly cast into local law.

With attention now turning to which copyright holders will bring the first site-blocking action (hint: movie industry, within six months), another anti-piracy strategy is almost ready to fly.

After the introduction of the United States’ “six strikes” program, in the coming months Aussie citizens are likely to be subjected to a similar “three strikes” regime. The idea is that after receiving an “educational” notice and then a “warning” notice, local Internet pirates will finally comply with the law before receiving a scary “final notice”.

This type of regime has the backing of some of the world’s largest entertainment companies, including the co-chief of Aussie movie giant Village Roadshow. However, despite giving the scheme his backing, Graham Burke has revealed that even people of his stature can be completely immune to government-backed educational efforts.

In an interview published by SMH this morning in which he again calls for action against piracy, Burke notes that society wouldn’t say “Hey we’re not going to have legislation against drunken driving or high-speed driving or legislation against stealing.”

Indeed, for driving offenses, Australia runs a demerit system, whereby each logged offense accumulates a set number of points. Get to 12 points and you’re at risk of getting your license suspended. But of course, the idea is that people will wise up before then and, more importantly, before they end up killing someone.

At its educational core the demerit program is similar to the “three strikes” system, albeit with much higher stakes. Trouble is, it doesn’t work on Burke. In fact, he appears completely immune to the numerous opportunities granted to him by the government.

“I got a note last night saying I’d been photographed by a camera in my car exceeding the speed limit and I’ve lost three points,” he told tech editor Ben Grubb. “As I’ve already lost nine points it’s rather worrying.”

While Burke faces having his license suspended for failing to heed the warnings, three-time piracy offenders face having their details handed over to copyright holders who may decide to sue. Of course, Village Roadshow are the major Hollywood-affiliated movie company in Australia, so Burke himself will almost certainly have a hand in who gets sued and when.

Fortunately, it seems that his company won’t make a habit of taking legal action. Burke says that they won’t be afraid to sue people “that act in a criminal way” but hopefully Village Roadshow “won’t have to sue too many people”.

Indeed, Burke will hope that ‘pirates’ take their warnings more seriously than he has done, even though he will have faced fines for his transgressions and they will not. He would’ve preferred some punishment, he reveals, but is satisfied with the direction of the scheme.

“A good agreement is when both sides are not deliriously happy but both sides are happy,” Burke says. “Am I thrilled? No. Do I think it’s a good code? Yes.”

So now all eyes turn to September 1, when the new “strikes” code is set to begin. Will the public respond to the warning notices? Or will they bury their heads in the sand like Burke has done until it’s too late?

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

TorrentFreak: Cox Wants Rightscorp’s Piracy Tracking Source Code

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

pirate-runningPiracy monetization firm Rightscorp has made quite a few headlines over the past year.

The company sends infringement notices to Internet providers on behalf of various copyright holders, including Warner Bros. These notices include a settlement proposal offering alleged downloaders an option to pay off their “debt.”

Not all ISPs are eager to forward these demands to their subscribers. Cox Communications, for example, labels Rightscorp’s practices as an “extortion scheme” and refuses to cooperate. As a result, several copyright holders who work with Rightscorp decided to sue the Internet provider over its inaction late last year.

Cox believes that this suit is an indirect way for Rightscorp to punish the company, as it explained to the court a few days ago (pdf).

“Cox refused to participate in Rightscorp’s extortion scheme,” Cox informs the court, arguing that “Rightscorp retaliated with this lawsuit.”

To mount a proper defense the Internet provider has demanded insight into the evidence gathering techniques employed by Rightscorp. Thus far, however, the company has failed to produce all requested information.

“Now, Rightscorp refuses to produce key categories of documents related to its core activities. Rightscorp has not produced all of its source code modules used for detection of alleged infringements,” Cox writes.

Evidence as presented in a Rightscorp letter
rightsevidence

The anti-piracy company maintains that it has already handed over all source code, but Cox says it can’t locate certain elements and points out that Rightscorp has made misleading statements in the past.

“Rightscorp has repeatedly represented that ‘all the code’ has been produced; yet, Cox’s expert has identified multiple components missing from the code that Rightscorp has then belatedly produced,” Cox explains.

In addition, Cox tells the court that Rightscorp failed to produce other documents that deal with how the company approaches alleged copyright infringers.

They include a script that is used to guide Rightscorp agents in their phone calls, a Rightscorp employee handbook, plus letter templates for Rightscorp’s communications with ISPs.

With various expert reports due soon, Cox has asked the court to issue an order compelling Rightscorp to immediately hand over all missing data and documents.

While Cox does not state how it will use the source code, it’s presumed that its experts will point out various flaws. For example, Rightscorp presumably lists repeated copyright infringers by IP-address, which is inaccurate since Cox regularly changes subscribers IPs.

Additional details on these and other issues are expected to be revealed this summer.

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

TorrentFreak: TorrentTags: A Database of ‘Risky’ Torrents

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

spyYou’ve spotted a hot music torrent in the top 100 most popular downloads on The Pirate Bay. You’re keen to obtain it but if you grab it now, the chances are that several anti-piracy companies will monitor the transaction.

Whether that decision will result in a strike on your ISP account, a $3,000 lawsuit, a $20 fine, or absolutely nothing at all, depends largely on a combination of luck and a collision of circumstances. However, a project currently in beta aims to better inform users whether the torrent they’re about to grab is of interest to anti-piracy companies.

Created by a team of Australian software developers in response to tougher anti-piracy legislation, TorrentTags is currently building a user-searchable database which aims to provide a level of ‘risk’ advice on any given torrent while helping to reduce piracy.

ttag-main

TorrentTags obtains its data in two ways. Firstly, it uses the Chilling Effects database to import the details of torrents that have already been subjected to a DMCA notice on feeder sites including Google search, Twitter and Facebook.

Second, and more controversially, the site is calling on rightsholders to submit details and hashes of content they do not want freely shared on BitTorrent. These can then be added to the TorrentTags database so that when people search for content, warnings are clearly displayed.

“Rightsholders can inform torrent users about copyrighted torrents by sending claims to our database. This is likely to lead to a decrease in the number of downloads of those torrents,” the team informs TF.

However, the team also views the problem from another angle. Concerned by companies such as Dallas Buyers Club LLC using downloaders as a cash-settlement revenue stream, TorrentTags would like to see public declarations placed on their site to warn potential targets in advance.

“Without a public claim [by copyright holders] the monitoring of users’ activity with the goal of suing would be equivalent to ‘honeypot’ strategies. This is because, from a user’s perspective, any torrent without a public claim is indistinguishable from a torrent created by a copyright owner with the aim of operating a ‘honeypot’,” the team explain.

Warning: Dallas Buyers Club

tab-dbc

And herein lies a problem. While it seems unlikely that companies like DBC are operating their own ‘honeypots’, copyright trolls do rely on users sharing their content on BitTorrent in order to track and eventually demand settlement from them. It is therefore unlikely that the most ‘dangerous’ torrents would be voluntarily submitted to TorrentTags by those monitoring them.

It’s certainly possible for information to be added to the database once a lawsuit is made public, but by this time many downloaders will have already been caught. Of course, it may serve as assistance for the future, but it’s also worth noting that Dallas Buyers Club have been suing people publicly for years and still people continue to download the movie.

On the other hand, for companies that simply don’t want their content shared in public, submitting data to a site like TorrentTags might be a way to deter at least some people from downloading their content without permission. Whether they could be encouraged to do so in large volumes remains to be seen – a strong level of participation from a broad range of rightsholders will be required in order to maximize the value of the resource.

While certainly an interesting concept, the TorrentTags team have significant hurdles to overcome to ensure that users of the site aren’t inadvertently misled. Although the importation of millions of notices from Chilling Effects is a good start, the existence of a DMCA notice doesn’t necessarily mean that a torrent is being monitored by trolls. Equally, just because a torrent isn’t listed as ‘dangerous’ it shouldn’t automatically be presumed that it’s safe to download.

In some ways TorrentTags faces some of the same challenges presented to blocklist providers. Although some users swear by them, IP blockers are well-known for not only overblocking, but also letting through a significant number of IP addresses that they should’ve blocked. Time will tell how the balance will be achieved.

Nevertheless, if TorrentTags indeed develops in the manner envisioned by its creators, it could turn into a fascinating resource, not only for BitTorrent users but also those researching anti-piracy methods.

“We hope that TorrentTags will be able to serve as a comprehensive and easily accessible claim database for users. We also hope that TorrentTags will help dissolve the social stigma unjustly associated with Torrents and allow them to be widely used by society for file sharing purposes,” the team conclude.

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

TorrentFreak: When Piracy Gets Too Easy, Expect a Big Response

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

moviesAfter one and a half decades of mainstream file-sharing, millions of people now have little trouble finding and consuming unauthorized content online.

For many the process is no more difficult than browsing the web but due to its technical nature the majority still find it bewildering. Then along came Popcorn Time, software that turned viewing movies into child’s play for anyone with a PC, tablet or phone.

But the idea behind Popcorn Time isn’t new. Advanced users of the popular Kodi software (previously known as XBMC) have been enjoying a super-charged Popcorn Time rival for many years. However, that largely requires the mastering of an often confusing third-party addon system. Inevitably, of course, that became streamlined too.

Just as Popcorn Time works out of the box, custom installations of Kodi do too. These installers make the previously complex setup process a breeze and in doing so introduce a whole new audience of novices to piracy, just like Popcorn Time has.

Of course, this simplicity hasn’t gone unnoticed by anti-piracy outfits. Legal action against Popcorn Time was common in 2014 and continued in 2015. No surprise then that those peddling ‘pirate’ Kodi variants (which have nothing to do with the team behind the project) are now getting more attention.

The problem is availability and ease of use. Sold pre-configured in Android set-top box form on both eBay and Amazon, the devices are essentially a one-stop shop for not only pirate movies and TV shows, but also a streaming hub for live sports and PPV. Anyone can have one of these devices delivered next day and learn how to use it in under an hour. Oh, and they run Popcorn Time too. And Showbox.

As a result, piracy has never been easier and anti-piracy groups are scrambling to stem the tide. Just last week a seller of ‘pirate’ Android boxes was raided by police in the UK and just days ago Amazon overreacted by banning the entirely legal Kodi software itself, presumably after a copyright holder complaint.

Other attacks have been more targeted. Last year the Federation Against Copyright Theft filed a complaint against a popular live sports plugin for Kodi known as Sports Devil. But according to FACT, this was just the beginning of their crackdown on these piracy platforms.

“Those engaged in piracy have always been quick to take advantage of technological advances to create new methods to profit from delivering stolen content to a wider audience. The proliferation of IPTV and set-top boxes which can stream content is no exception,” the anti-piracy group told TF.

“We are working with our members and partners in law enforcement on addressing these threats and significant measures are being taken by all parties, including online market places, to address the availability of these devices, as well as the apps and add ons that facilitate illegal streams, and bring those responsible to account.”

The ‘custom Kodi’ epidemic hasn’t gone unnoticed in the Netherlands either. Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is currently engaged in legal action against Filmspeler.nl, a seller of “fully loaded” (a euphemism for “piracy configured”) Android boxes.

In fact, BREIN is so serious about ending the problem that the case is being sent to the European Court of Justice so that an opinion can be gained on whether streaming from illegal sources represents a breach of EU law. If BREIN wins it won’t end the problem, but it will draw a line in the sand in terms of how such products can be advertised and sold.

“We will always look at any system that is aimed at providing access to copyrighted content without consent of the right holders and by doing so is causing damage to the earning potential of right holders and licensed platforms,” BREIN chief Tim Kuik told TorrentFreak.

Finally, since these devices are increasingly being targeted at the non-tech savvy, is it possible that buyers are naive to the point that they don’t appreciate their dubious legal standing? Kuik thinks not.

“We see that people using such systems tend to be aware they are getting access to unauthorized content even if they don’t know how it works technically,” the BREIN chief concludes.

The big question now is what comes next, and what will be the industry’s response? That will become clear in the months and years to come but rest assured, the easier piracy becomes, the more vigorous the response will be.

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

TorrentFreak: Popular Torrents Being Sabotaged by IPv6 Peer Flood

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

utorrent-logo-newGenerally speaking, BitTorrent is a highly robust file-sharing protocol that’s not easily disrupted. However, in recent weeks there have been systematic efforts to prevent large groups of people from sharing popular pirated TV-shows and movies.

The sabotaging technique tries to make it impossible for downloaders to connect to other people by overwhelming BitTorrent swarms with IPv6 peers.

Because of its focus on IPv6, not all users are affected, but those who are sometimes see their download speeds grind to a halt. As a result it can take days to download a file, if at all.

In short the process works as follows. The attacker joins a popular torrent swarm with hundreds, if not thousands of IPv6 addresses. These fake peers request data from real downloaders, quickly filling up their request queues.

The fake peers never exchange any data but keep the client busy until they are banned, as is shown in the screenshot below.

ipv6f

The attack has been confirmed to affect the popular client uTorrent. After a few minutes uTorrent does ban the malicious peers, but this makes little difference as the attackers use so many different IP-addresses.

Because all the fake peers have filled up the connection slots, real peers can no longer connect. This means that hardly any real data is transferred.

“Got unchoke from µTorrent 3.4.3 (12.345.678.9:9999), can’t request immediately because request queue is full”

TF was tipped off by the operator of one of the largest torrent trackers, who informed us that this type of attack is rampant. Many people are complaining about slow download speeds or torrents that are stuck.

“This new method of peer flooding makes a lot of people think there are issues with torrents. From an anti-piracy point of view it is achieving the purposed effect,” the tracker operator, who prefers to remain anonymous, said.

We were able to replicate the effect, which indeed makes downloading nearly impossible. After testing all of the larger BitTorrent clients it appears that only uTorrent and BitTorrent Mainline are vulnerable to the attack. However, together these two clients are used by the majority of all BitTorrent users.

We informed BitTorrent Inc, who develop the two clients, about the vulnerability. The company informed us that they are currently looking into the issue and may comment later.

Without an immediate fix, the tracker operator is advising affected users to switch to a different client for the time being, or disable IPv6 in Windows, if that’s an option.

“People experiencing download slowness – torrents stuck at 0% for more than 10 minutes, in a case where there are seeds available, should immediately switch to a different client or disable IPv6 in Windows,” the tracker operator says.

It is unclear who is behind the attacks, but considering the fact that it targets nearly all new TV and movie torrents, it could very well be a novel anti-piracy strategy. In any case, it’s definitely one of the most effective attempts to disrupt BitTorrent downloads in recent years.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA: Google Assists and Profits from Piracy

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

google-bayLate last year leaked documents from the Sony hack revealed that the MPAA helped Mississippi State Attorney General Hood to revive SOPA-esque censorship efforts in the United States.

In a retaliatory move Google sued the Attorney General, hoping to find out more about the secret effort. As part of these proceedings Google also demanded internal communication from the MPAA, but the Hollywood group has been hesitant to share these details.

After several subpoenas remained largely unanswered Google took the MPAA to court earlier this month. The search giant asked a Columbia federal court to ensure that the MPAA and its law firm Jenner & Block hands over the requested documents.

The MPAA and its law firm responded to the complaint this week, stressing that Google’s demands are overbroad. They reject the argument that internal discussions or communications with its members and law firm will reveal Attorney General Hood’s intent, not least due to the Attorney General not being part of these conversations himself.

According to the Hollywood group, Google’s broad demands are part of a public relations war against the MPAA, one in which Google inaccurately positions itself as the victim.

“Google portrays itself as the innocent victim of malicious efforts to abridge its First Amendment rights. In reality, Google is far from innocent,” the MPAA informs the federal court (pdf).

The MPAA notes that Google is knowingly facilitating and profiting from distributing “illegal” content, including pirated material.

“Google facilitates, and profits from, the distribution of third-party content that even Google concedes is ‘objectionable.’ ‘Objectionable’ is Google’s euphemism for ‘illegal’,” the MPAA writes.

The opposition brief states that for a variety of reasons the subpoenaed documents are irrelevant to the original lawsuit and are far too broad in scope. The MPAA’s initial searches revealed that 100,000 documents would likely require review, many of which it believes are protected by attorney-client privilege.

The MPAA says that Google is trying to leverage the information revealed in the Sony hack to expose the MPAA’s broader anti-piracy strategies in public, and that this is all part of an ongoing PR war.

“The purpose of these Subpoenas is to gather information — beyond the information that was already stolen via the Sony hack on which it relies — on the MPAA’s strategies to protect its members’ copyrighted material and address violations of law on the Internet affecting its members’ copyrights and the rights of others,” they write.

“Moreover, Google openly admits that it opposes any order to keep these discovery materials in confidence, revealing its goal to disseminate these documents publicly as part of its ongoing public relations war.”

Positioning itself as the victim, the MPAA goes on to slam Google for going after anyone who “dares” to expose the search engine’s alleged facilitation of piracy and other unlawful acts.

“…the most fundamental purpose of these Subpoenas is to send a message to anyone who dares to seek government redress for Google’s facilitation of unlawful conduct: If you and your attorneys exercise their First Amendment right to seek redress from a government official, Google will come after you.”

In conclusion, the MPAA and its law firm ask the court to reject Google’s broad demands and stop the “abuse” of the litigation process.

It’s now up to the judge to decide how to proceed, but based on the language used, the stakes at hand and the parties involved, this dispute isn’t going to blow over anytime soon. It’s more likely to blow up instead.

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

TorrentFreak: Man Pleads Guilty to Costing Film Industry “Millions” Through Piracy

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

fastpasstvIn May 2011, police reported seizing £83,000 and computer equipment following a raid in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The operation was a culmination of an investigation carried out by the Hollywood-funded anti-piracy group Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

By the end of the month more details began to emerge, with TorrentFreak sources confirming that an operator of video streaming site known as ‘FastPassTV’ had been arrested.

With hundreds of thousands of daily visitors the site was a significant player in the streaming market. However, FastPassTV did not store any content of its own, instead linking to movies hosted elsewhere.

“Fast Pass TV does not host, store, or distribute any of the videos listed on the site and only link to user submitted content that is freely available on the Internet,” a notice on the website read.

Somewhat typically the case dragged on through the legal system and it took more than four years to come to court. However, the case was more complex than it first appeared.

At his arraignment in February 2015, Paul Mahoney from Carnhill, Londonderry, was not only charged with offenses connected with FastPassTV but also BedroomMedia, a discussion and linking forum he also operated. It’s alleged that the man generated £82,390 in advertising revenue from the criminal operation of both sites.

Mahoney was also charged with two further offenses of conspiring with individuals known online as ‘Hunter Grubbs’ and ‘ADigitalOrange’ to defraud the movie industry. The 28-year-old pleaded not guilty to all charges and was bailed to appear at a later date.

This week, however, Mahoney was back in court with an apparent change of heart, pleading guilty to all four charges. In what’s being described as the first prosecution of its type in Northern Ireland, Mahoney was re-arraigned Monday.

He pleaded guilty to a charge that between April 2008 and May 2011 he conspired with others to operate websites which allow the public to view copyrighted movies without permission from rightsholders.

Mahoney also pleaded guilty to a charge of generating £82,390 in advertising revenue between April 2010 and April 2013 from this websites FastPassTV and BedroomMedia.

Finally, the 28-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring with ‘Hunter Grubbs’ and ‘ADigitalOrange’ between May 2011 and April 2013.

“Paul Mahoney operated websites over a number of years which knowingly provided illegal access to thousands of films, generating significant income for himself and causing the film industry millions of pounds of loses,” Kieron Sharp, Director General of FACT, informs TorrentFreak.

Unusually, however, there will be no claim for compensation. FACT hopes that Mahoney’s prosecution alone will send a clear message to others thinking of embarking on the same line of business.

“Websites of this kind cause untold harm to the UK’s creative industries. We hope that this prosecution will serve as a deterrent to others engaging in this type of criminality, and look forward to Mr Mahoney’s sentencing on 25th August,” Sharp concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Amazon Bans Kodi/XBMC App Over Piracy Concerns

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

kodiTaking “infringing” apps out of popular app stores is one of Hollywood’s key anti-piracy priorities for the years to come.

Various entertainment industry groups frequently report “piracy-enabling” apps to Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, alongside requests for the stores to take them offline.

The stores themselves also screen for potentially problematic software. Apple, for example, has notoriously banned all BitTorrent related apps.

Increasingly, Amazon is also policing its app marketplace for possibly infringing content. A few days ago, this led to the removal of the popular media center Kodi, previously known as XBMC.

“In reviewing your app, we determined that it can be used to facilitate the piracy or illegal download of content. Any facilitation of piracy or illegal downloads is not allowed in our program,” Amazon wrote to Kodi.

“Please do not resubmit this app or similar apps in the future,” Amazon’s support team added.

TF spoke with XBMC Foundation board member Nathan Betzen, who was surprised to hear Amazon’s decision. In recent months the project has worked hard to distance their brand from piracy, so Amazon’s accusation is a huge disappointment.

The Kodi software itself is an entirely legal media center that doesn’t come with any infringing features or content. However, there are many third-party addons that allow users to stream pirated movies and TV-shows.

The Kodi team is actively pursuing infringing addons and sellers who abuse the brand, and is also trying to obtain a trademark so they can go after these piracy promoters more effectively.

“Most importantly, we’re working to finalize our trademark filing. Once our trademark is registered, it becomes dramatically easier to issue takedown requests with the various organizations that provide voice for these groups advertising and selling pirate boxes,” Betzen tells TF.

“We always say we don’t care what our users do with the software, and we stand by that position. But we sure do hate it when companies destroy the name of our software in order to make a profit.”

For Amazon to ban the app is “absurd” according to the Kodi team, because the company is still allowing vendors to sell boxes that are giving the software this bad reputation.

“I assume I don’t have to tell you how absurd it is that Amazon won’t let us into their appstore, but they have no problem selling the boxes that are pushing the reason they won’t let us into their app store,” Betzen says.

Removing Kodi may also hurt Amazon in the long run, according to Betzen. The application allowed many other third-party services that are currently not on Amazon, available to Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick users.

“This is a bad decision on Amazon’s part simply because Kodi is one giant reason people buy Amazon Fire TVs and Amazon Fire TV Sticks. Compatibility with our software makes for a really simple backdoor for entering the Amazon ecosystem.”

“I personally have sideloaded Kodi onto Amazon sticks for a number of my family members, who then found themselves also using Amazon Prime and many other Amazon services,” he adds.

kodiandroid

Coincidentally, around the same time Amazon booted Kodi from their market, Google decided to include it in the Play Store. According to the Kodi team this is yet another reason for people to leave Amazon hardware behind.

“It’s going to be extraordinarily difficult for Kodi users to justify going down the Amazon hardware path and recommending the Amazon path to others,” Betzen concludes.

People who are interested in trying out Kodi’s media player, which is available on most operating systems, can head over to the official site.

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

TorrentFreak: Warner Bros. Inflate TV Show Piracy ‘Fines’ By 50%

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

warnerpirateMost companies attempting to “turn piracy into profit” seek to scare ‘pirates’ by billing them for alleged downloads. These ‘fines’ can reach many thousands of dollars but companies like U.S. based Rightscorp took a decision to hit the bottom end of the market with demands of just $20 per shot.

While this has attracted giants such as Warner Bros. to the fold, Rightscorp can’t seem to make money. Year after year the company expands the amount of business it’s doing, but at no point has the company been able to turn a profit, quite the opposite in fact.

Just last month after the publication of its most recent financial results, TF noted that if Rightscorp is put under severe pressure it may have to increase its $20 fines to something more practical. We didn’t have to wait long.

In a new notice targeting an alleged sharer of the TV show ‘Arrow’ this week, Rightscorp delivers a message from its client Warner Bros. Noting that the company understands that the recipient is likely a fan of the show, the notice warns of serious consequences.

“Your ISP service could be suspended if this matter is not resolved. You could also be liable for substantial civil penalties for copyright infringement,” it reads.

In all previous notices seen by TF, Rightscorp asks for $20 to make a potential lawsuit disappear. However, they’re now asking for $30 for “legal release” and the opportunity to “receive future digital content offers from [Warner Bros], should you choose to receive them.”

At this stage it’s too early to assess whether this ‘pricing’ change will be applied across the board or if it will have any negative effect on the numbers of people choosing to settle. However, 50% more revenue would be welcome. During the past two years Rightscorp has reportedly closed 200,000 cases of infringement – at $30 rather than $20 each that’s a potential $2m extra in revenue.

That being said, an additional factor concerns how much money Rightscorp will hand back to companies like Warner Bros. Previously a $20 ‘fine’ was split 50/50, with the content holder getting $10 and Rightscorp desperately trying (and failing) to make a profit from the remaining $10. Keeping the full $10 increase would be better news for the anti-piracy company although at current rates that alone won’t be enough for it to turn its losses around. However, help is on the horizon.

Earlier this month Rightscorp announced the appointment of a new CFO. Cecil Bond Kyte will oversee capital raising and investor development with the goal of “maximizing shareholder value and strengthening the company’s balance sheet.”

Finally, there are signs that Rightscorp may be expanding its targets. The company already sends hundreds of thousands of notices to household ISPs such as Charter and Comcast, but this week TF has seen evidence that at least one server hosting company has also received a ‘fine’ to pass on to a customer.

“I am a web developer and recently my VPS was compromised by attackers who were using my VPS as a seedbox. Needless to say, I got a notice from my ISP [REDACTED] via a support ticket they opened,” a reader told TF.

In this case Rightscorp also asked for $30 to settle a case involving a TV show but the person targeted won’t be paying the fine. Instead he quickly informed his provider that his server had been hacked and immediately had it shut down to avoid any further issues.

“[Rightscorp] have no idea who I am, due to the fact that they were asking me to fill in my name, email, phone number and credit card info on their payment page!

“It’s almost like knowingly jumping in a well,” our source concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Nintendo Seizes “Pirated” Cookies to Protect Fans

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

via weheartitWhile not often in the news, Nintendo has a dedicated anti-piracy division that cracks down on unauthorized use of the company’s properties.

The anti-piracy unit keeps a close eye on Internet piracy and the sale of hacked and counterfeit products which endanger the company’s revenues.

However, there’s also a threat of a whole different kind: baked goods. A few months ago Nintendo spotted a surge of copyright-infringing cookies which were illicitly manufactured in China.

Fearing that the ingredients posed a risk to the health of gaming fans, the company decided to take swift action.

“After receiving a report of cookies being manufactured in China featuring Nintendo’s copyrighted characters, Nintendo took steps to protect consumers,” Nintendo announces in its quarterly update.

The gaming company took its health concerns to the Chinese manufacturer and requested a halt to the baking process as soon as possible.

“Out of concern that unauthorized cookies could pose possible health and safety issues to consumers, Nintendo contacted the manufacturer to immediately cease manufacturing and distributing the unauthorized cookies,” the company explains.

This effort was successful and Nintendo reports that the manufacturer stopped producing the copyright infringing cookies, making the world a safer place for gaming fans.

marioh

In addition to crushing the pirated cookies, the company also seized more than a thousand counterfeit Super Mario products in Asia.

This includes the phone cover and backpack pictured on the right.

“Nintendo of Korea provided vital support in a seizure of more than 1,400 pieces of counterfeit Super Mario merchandise at Incheon Customs in [the first quarter of] 2015,” Nintendo reports.

It’s unclear whether the counterfeit goods were also health hazards, or if they were seized to protect Nintendo’s revenues instead.

TF contacted Nintendo for more details on the exact health threats the cookies posed, as well as other anti-piracy efforts, but the company did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

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

TorrentFreak: TV Giant CANAL+ Hacked, Hits Github With DMCA Complaint

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

canal+ logoWhile the majority of DMCA copyright complaints are sent to hinder the online distribution of music, movies and TV shows, the legislation can also be used to deal with code and software issues.

Just last week, Indian blogger Thejesh GN discovered that an ISP was injecting javascript into customers’ browsing sessions. This led to lawyers representing the script writers to send a DMCA notice to Github, where Thejesh GN had published the code.

Now Github finds itself in the spotlight again, this time over a serious matter involving one of its users and Viacom-owned TV giant Canal+.

The trail of the story began mid-week when Github published a DMCA notice received from the “Legal Manager” of the Industrial Protection Department of CANAL+ Group. The person, whose name was redacted, explained that he/she is in charge of anti-piracy at the company and was seeking the urgent assistance of the code repository.

“All the data and codes published and contained in this [now deleted] directory are confidential and could be used to steal personal data in our CRM [Customer Relationship Management system],” the complaint reads.

The Legal Manager added that the ‘codes’ are connected to a confidential CANAL+ project titled “Kiss deploy” and asked for their urgent removal.

“We request you to remove immediately all the data and files contained in this repository,” the notice adds.

canal-dmca

With the repository removed (shown above), CANAL+ were probably happy with Github’s response. However, there were indications that this wasn’t the first correspondence that Github had received from CANAL+ on the matter. We did some digging, were proved right, and were surprised at what we found.

Earlier correspondence between CANAL+ and Github obtained by TorrentFreak reveals a much more serious situation at the TV company and criminal allegations being made against the Github user.

“The 22d of May 20015, we had a compromission [sic] on our AWS project with an access key in order to create bitcoin. The 26th of May 2015, we have found our access key on [the above mentioned] Github repository,” the same legal manager reveals.

“After analysis of this repository, we can state that all the code and the secrets contained in this repository are about Canal+ project.”

According to the complaint, CANAL+ asked Github on four separate occasions to remove “illicit content” published on the site by a user called “hooperp” who the TV company claims has committed serious crimes against them.

“As we have explained, ‘hooperp’ has hacked one of our servers and stole all the data and codes of our new CRM [Customer Relationship Management] software project: ‘Kiss deploy’,” CANAL+’s head of anti-piracy revealed.

“All the data and codes published and contained in his [now removed directory] are confidential and could be used to steal personal data in our CRM.”

Ouch.

With our efforts to track down ‘hooperp’ stalled, we contacted CANAL+ for an official statement. That wasn’t straightforward though, with the company requiring the press to first sign up for an account.

Nevertheless, we did so successfully and received the following email in response. Considering the hacking allegations above, it shines unwanted light on the company’s security procedures. In case anyone is wondering, the blocked-out area hides a plain-text password.

canal-plaintxt

CANAL+ Group did not respond to TorrentFreak’s requests for a statement. Github declined to comment.

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

TorrentFreak: ICANN Refuses to Play Piracy Police

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

cassetteIn recent years copyright holders have demanded stricter anti-piracy measures from ISPs, search engines and payment processors, with varying results.

Continuing this trend, various entertainment industry groups are now going after organizations that manage and offer domain name services.

The most influential organization in this industry is without a doubt ICANN, the main oversight body for the Internet’s global domain name system.

Among other things, ICANN develops policies for accredited registrars to prevent abuse and illegal use of domain names. Still, various copyright groups believe that the organization isn’t doing enough.

In recent months the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright industry groups have encouraged the organization to strengthen its anti-piracy policies.

However, ICANN is not eager to take on the role of piracy police. Earlier this week ICANN president Fadi Chehadé noted that “everybody” is asking the organization to police content, which is a trend they hope to change.

Speaking out on the issue for the first time, ICANN’s Chief Contract Compliance Officer Allen Grogan emphasizes that they are not going to police the Internet to protect copyright holders.

“ICANN has no role in policing content – it’s entirely out of our scope,” Grogan informs TF.

“Our mission is to coordinate, at the overall level, the global Internet’s systems of unique identifiers, and in particular, to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifiers,” he adds.

While various copyright lobby groups suggest that ICANN has the ability and authority to take action against pirate sites, the organization itself clearly disagrees.

“ICANN was never granted, nor was it ever intended that ICANN be granted, the authority to act as a regulator of Internet content,” Grogan says.

Instead of letting the domain name industry decide what is allowed and what is not, copyright holders should fight their battles in court. According to ICANN, there are sufficient means to take on infringing sites through other venues.

“It’s important people understand this and direct their content complaints to the institutions that are already in place to handle these issues, such as law enforcement, regulatory agencies and judicial systems,” Grogan notes.

ICANN’s comments will be a disappointment to the MPAA and RIAA, who would have preferred an easy way to target the domain names of pirate sites. For now, their best option is to go through the courts, something we’re seeing more and more often these days.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Party Adopts Torrent Tracker to Fight Legal Pressure

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

pirate_party_logoIn recent years Coppersurfer.tk has quickly become one of the most used BitTorrent trackers.

Running on the beerware-licensed Opentracker software, the standalone tracker offers a non-commercial service which doesn’t host or link to torrent files itself.

Despite the content neutral setup, the tracker and its hosting providers have become the targets of various copyright holder groups in recent months.

In April, Coppersurfer was forced to leave its Dutch hosting provider following a complaint from Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN. The tracker then moved its service to a German hosting provider, but that didn’t end the trouble.

The tracker’s operator recently informed TF that a German court ordered the tracker’s hosting provider to disclose the personal details of the associated account holder. The request came from the German lawfirm Rasch, who act on behalf of several major music labels.

The order (pdf) came as a surprise to Coppersurfer’s operator as he complied with previous takedown requests from the same lawyers, and even offered them a hash blocking tool.

The copyright holder, however, appeared determined to shut the site down. Facing this mounting pressure the operator decided to look for help, which he found in the Pirate Party of Greece (PPGR).

The Greek Pirates inform TF that they have decided to officially adopt the tracker to protect it from further threats, by any means necessary.

“The owner of the tracker has faced the absurd requests of the copyright lobby many times in the past, even though he was being wholly lawful. After these attacks we decided to adopt the tracker,” the PPGR board tells us.

“Our decision gives political support to the tracker, which is very important in this context,” they add.

The party also informed the German Pirate Party and MEP Julia Reda about the recent court order, and will see if there are any options to get it overturned. Meanwhile, the tracker is hosted in another European country, operating in accordance with local laws.

The Greek Pirates aren’t under the illusion that the tracker will be shielded from legal pressure under their wings. However, they are prepared to fight the “copyright lobby” in order to protect the free flow of information.

“Unfortunately, our experience, but also our knowledge of similar cases so far predisposes us to believe that we will see this kind of incident again. But they can’t scare us. On the contrary, it gives us courage to work harder in order to achieve a free society,” the PPGR board says.

“A society where the exchange of ideas, files and information will be treated as what they really are: a basic human need,” they add.

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

TorrentFreak: EU: Copyright Legislation is Pushing People to Piracy

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

Last month the European Commission adopted a new Digital Single Market strategy with the aim of improving consumer access to digital goods and services. Among other things the Commission says it plans to end the “discriminatory practice” of “unjustified” geo-blocking.

“I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe,” Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

Another part of the strategy is to modernize European copyright law to enable consumers to more easily enjoy online content, such as accessing content they purchased at home in other countries across the EU.

Speaking at music industry event Midem in Cannes yesterday, former Estonian prime minister Andrus Ansip who serves as Vice President for the Digital Single Market shared his vision for the strategy.

“Our people have to get the possibility to buy content [across Europe] like they do at home and our businesses must get the possibility to sell across the European Union like they do at home,” Ansip said.

“Today, we don’t have a Digital Single Market in the European Union. We have 28 relatively small markets and for small European companies it’s practically impossible to understand those 28 different [sets of] regulations.”

Ansip underlined that what is possible in the offline world must be possible in the online world and key issues must be addressed if parity is to be achieved.

“Today, the four basic freedoms in the EU – free movement of people, goods, services, capital – it’s a reality in a physical [world] but it’s not reality in the online world,” Ansip said.

Describing the music industry as a “pioneer” that has grown out of disruption to largely abandon geo-blocking by enabling cross-border access, Ansip addressed concerns that the EU’s plans for modernization of copyright law are something to be feared by content creators.

“I don’t think people here in this room or elsewhere have to be worried. Today, I would like to enjoy [film] masterpieces created by creators. I am ready to pay but because of copyright restrictions, because of geo-blocking, they are not accepting my money,” Ansip said.

“Our aim is to create a win-win situation. I would like to enjoy, I will pay, creators will get more money. This is our way. We don’t want to destroy the whole copyright system based on a principle of territoriality. We have to allow cross-border access to digital content to all people, we have to allow portability.”

Ansip said there are 100 million Europeans who would like to access content in other members states but they can’t because of geo-blocking. Around 271 million cross-border trips with at least one overnight stay are carried out by Europeans each year yet those people cannot always get access to the content they bought legally back home while doing so.

This is just one indication that the law needs to change, but piracy itself will be challenged.

“According to public opinion polls, 68% of film viewers say they are using [illegal] downloads. 20% of Internet users in the European Union are using VPNs to get access to digital content. That’s a huge amount of money that our creators are losing today, so of course we will pay more attention to ‘Follow the Money’ [anti-piracy strategy],” Ansip said.

Assuring content holders that the EU Commission is not hostile towards copyright and rightsholders, Ansip asked the Midem audience to consider the 30% of Canadian Netflix users who use a VPN to access the U.S. version of the service.

“In the European Union our creators are losing huge amounts of money because of piracy but honestly, somehow our legislation is pushing people to steal,” he said.

“Take Spotify, for example. We can say that if somebody is able to provide services with better quality with higher speed, then people prefer to act as honest people. They are ready to pay. They don’t want to steal.”

Highlighting the success of Norway in slashing piracy rates, Ansip says that was achieved by first offering access to quality legal services.

“The European Commission wants to protect the rights of creators but first we have to provide legal access to digital content to all people. Then it will be more fruitful to tackle piracy,” Ansip said.

When confronted with the reality that licensed services such as Spotify and Deezer exist while piracy persists, coupled with the perception that the EU Commission isn’t exactly “pro copyright”, Ansip responded enthusiastically.

“I can’t agree with you! I’m talking about 68% of [film viewers who pirate] who couldn’t care about this copyright because we are not providing legal access to digital content,” he said.

“Some people say that if [the EU] cares about copyright then let’s deal only with law enforcement. To put 68% of people in jail is not really a good idea. I think that reforms are really needed.”

It’s clear that the debate on the Digital Single Market is far from over and while it should end up as a positive for consumers, only time will tell how cooperative rightsholders will be throughout the process.

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

TorrentFreak: SurfTheChannel Admin Facing Jail Again Over Unpaid Piracy Debt

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

Three years after its birth in 2007, SurfTheChannel.com was among the most-visited streaming link websites on the Internet. The site enjoyed more than six million visits a day from 400,000 users who were mainly looking for the latest movies and the most popular TV shows.

The site soon became the focus of an MPAA investigation carried out by the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft. As previously documented the anti-piracy groups went to extraordinary lengths to pin down site operator Anton Vickerman and present their evidence to the police.

After the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service declined to take on the case, the MPAA and FACT brought a private criminal prosecution against Vickerman. Accusing him of being involved in a Conspiracy to Defraud the Movie Industry, the tactic paid off. In August 2012 Vickerman was sentenced to an unprecedented four years in jail.

surfthechannel

Following an unsuccessful appeal that was rejected a year after his conviction, Vickerman was eventually freed in August 2014. But for the MPAA the matter was from over.

Just months later in December 2014, Vickerman was called before the courts again under the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). It was argued that the money Vickerman made from the site was a proceed of crime and whatever hadn’t already been disposed of must be forfeited to the state – if any could be found.

While Vickerman insisted that all of the money was long gone, police financial investigators said the former site operator had placed money not only in the UK, but also other countries including Spain, Latvia, Cyprus and Tanzania.

“Vickerman moved the money he made out of the UK and into accounts around the globe, but working closely with FACT we were able to unravel his trail of bank transfers running across international borders and demonstrate to the court that six years on this convicted criminal still had access to assets worth over £73,000,” said Claudia Celentano from the City of London Police Asset Recovery Team.

Following a court ruling last December which ordered Vickerman to pay back £73,055.79, the clock has been ticking for the former site operator. He now has little over a week to repay the full amount or face being thrown back into jail for a further 21 months.

Surf the Channel’s Anton Vickermanvickerman-lg

In desperation, Vickerman’s family and friends have launched a GoFundMe campaign to try and raise the money.

“As anyone who knows [Anton] personally will tell you he is a man who has been financially ruined by the legal battle with the powers against him and is not a man who has any money. Currently he lives on a council estate in the North West of England with his fiance working multiple jobs to try and put food on the table,” the appeal reads.

“This means that on June 16 [Anton] will be sent back to prison for another ten and a half months which, when added together with his first unjust sentence brings the total to a six year prison sentence [Anton] will have served for the victimless ‘crime’ of owning and running a search engine.”

If Vickerman can’t raise the money by next Tuesday, he will be sent to prison. However, that still won’t be the end of the matter. The 21 month sentence (with half deducted for good behavior) will not cancel out the requirement to settle the debt.

“The debt is for life and survives bankruptcy, it never goes away,” his family explain.

“On release [Anton] can look forward to being regularly dragged back before the courts to explain why he hasn’t paid in full, attachment of all earnings he makes, regular visits from bailiffs to seize any goods (not that he has any now having sold everything he could to pay some of the POCA debt) and, finally, further prison sentences if the UK Government decides that the interest on the debt has risen to a level that justifies more prison time.”

FACT declined to comment for this article but Director General Kieron Sharp previously thanked police for their assistance in the confiscation proceedings.

“FACT would like to thank the City of London Police for their assistance in pursuing confiscation proceedings against Anton Vickerman,” Sharp said.

“This private criminal prosecution produced many difficulties, not least of which was how to uncover Vickerman’s hidden criminal assets without the authorized powers of a financial investigator.”​​​​

Whether raising such a large sum of money in a week is a realistic proposition remains to be seen, but if Vickerman is to get any closure the debt (which is subject to interest at 8% per annum) simply has to be cleared. He’s managed to reduce it by £6,000 by “selling anything he owns of value” but that still leaves £67,000.

“Help us stop this never ending persecution of a man who just wants the chance to rebuild his life and start afresh,” his family concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Study: Swedes View 280m ‘Pirate’ Movies & TV Shows Annually

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

pirate-cardAs the spiritual home of The Pirate Bay and the birthplace of some of the world’s most hardcore file-sharers, Sweden has definitely earned its place in the history books. If Swedes can be converted to legal offerings, just about anyone can, one might argue.

A new study just published by the Film and TV Industry Cooperation Committee (FTVS) in collaboration with research company Novus reveals some interesting trends on local media consumption habits.

Covering both legal and illegal services, the survey is based on 1,003 interviews carried out between Feb 27 and March 9 2015 among citizens aged 16 to 79-years-old.

Legal and illegal consumption

On the legal TV and movie consumption front, Sweden appears to be doing well. A decent 71% of respondents said they buy services such as Netflix and HBO, with a quarter using such services every day and 35% watching several times each week.

In comparison, 29% of all respondents admitted to using illegal services to watch film and television. Perhaps unsurprisingly the activity is most prevalent among the young, with 60% of 16 to 29-year-olds confessing to using pirate sites.

The survey found that around 280 million movies and TV shows are watched illegally in Sweden each year, with respondents indicating they would have paid for around a third of those if illegal services weren’t available.

With torrents extremely popular around Europe, it’s interesting to note that downloading of content is now taking second place to online streaming. The survey found that 19% of respondents stream content illegally, while 17% download. When users engage in both streaming and downloading, streaming is the more popular activity.

The study notes that dual users (those that use both legal and illegal services) watch every third movie or TV show illegally, an average of four films and seven TV shows every month.

Attitudes

The survey also polled respondents on their attitudes to piracy. Six out of ten respondents said they think that using ‘pirate’ sites to watch movies and TV shows is “wrong”. Four out of ten agreed, but previously used these services anyway.

On the thorny question of what to do about piracy, respondents were asked what they thought would be the best solution.

Somewhat conveniently for an anti-piracy focused report, 43% of respondents indicated that ISPs should play a part in reducing the numbers of user visiting illegal services, with 24% opting for site blocking measures and 19% suggesting a warning notice scheme.

However, when it comes to the heavy hand of the law, a minority of respondents show an interest. Just 10% believe that boosting law enforcement and judicial resources will solve the problem while a tiny 4% think that harsher punishments will bring results.

Commenting on the report, Per Strömbäck of FTVS says that the situation in Sweden is far from satisfactory.

“There is a common misconception that piracy is less of a problem today because we have a wide range of legal options. On the contrary, the problem of illegal services is greater than ever,” Strömbäck says.

“The situation is not sustainable. For us to be able to continue to produce, distribute and show films and TV audiences want to see and pay for, we need a functioning digital market and measures to stop the illegal competition.”

With site blocking firmly on the agenda in Sweden, entertainment industry groups will be pinning their hopes on success in the courts since there is clearly no appetite for punishing the public.

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

TorrentFreak: Cloudflare: We’re Not Aiding and Abetting Piracy

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

cloudflareAfter Grooveshark shut down earlier this month it was quickly replaced by a “new” Grooveshark, much to the annoyance of the major record labels.

Headed by the RIAA, the operators of the new site were quickly taken to court.

The group filed a sealed application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) targeting the site’s domain name and hosting services.

The court granted the RIAA’s request earlier this month, allowing the music group to demand that hosting companies and registrars stop offering their services to the ‘rogue’ site.

Namecheap swiftly complied and seized the initial domain name. However, popular CDN service CloudFlare refused to take any action, claiming that the TRO doesn’t apply to them.

The new Grooveshark, meanwhile, moved to another domain and is still using CloudFlare’s services.

Hoping to compel CloudFlare to comply with the order, the RIAA asked the court to expand it by specifying that the CDN service has to take action. According to the RIAA, CloudFlare is “aiding and abetting” piracy.

However, in an opposition brief CloudFlare clearly disagrees. With help from the EFF, the company argues that even if it terminates its services, the ‘Grooveshark’ site would remain available.

“Even if CloudFlare—and every company in the world that provides similar services—took proactive steps to identify and block the Defendants, the website would remain up and running at its current domain name,” CloudFlare argues (pdf).

The request to include CloudFlare in the restraining order goes way too far, the company believes. If granted, this may lead to a snowball effect of orders against automated Internet services that are not actively assisting illegal activity.

“Given that CloudFlare clearly is not in ‘active concert or participation’ with Defendants, it appears Plaintiffs are effectively attempting to expand the traditional boundaries of Rule 65,” the lawyers write.

“That attempt, if accepted by this Court, could have implications well beyond this case. Other parties may seek the same remedy, using allegations of trademark or copyright infringement to obtain orders against the world.”

The RIAA is demanding SOPA-like powers with its request, CloudFlare argues. The company highlights that the SOPA bill was turned down after heavy criticism, but that the RIAA is now acting as if it’s become law.

“The [SOPA] bill was met with widespread public criticism from Internet users, technology companies, law professors, and software pioneers who helped create the Internet. Congress tabled the bill and did not advance it further,” CloudFlare notes.

“Here, Plaintiffs ask the Court to construe its injunction power as though H.R. 3261 had in fact become law. But lacking explicit statutory authority for such an order against a nonparty, the TRO cannot be construed to reach so far.”

CloudFlare therefore asks the court not to expand the restraining order. The company warns that any contrary ruling could set a dangerous precedent, putting many infrastructure providers and other services at risk.

For the RIAA and other copyright holders the case is an important test for future anti-piracy efforts against other pirate sites. The new Grooveshark is barely getting any visitors after the initial hype, but it has certainly triggered a crucial legal battle.

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

TorrentFreak: Advocate General Doubts Legality of Pirate Bay Blockade

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

pirate bayEarly last year The Court of The Hague handed down its decision in a long running case which had previously forced two Dutch ISPs, Ziggo and XS4ALL, to block The Pirate Bay.

The Court ruled against local anti-piracy outfit BREIN, concluding that the blockade was ineffective and restricted the ISPs’ entrepreneurial freedoms.

Responding to the verdict the two ISPs quickly unblocked the site and various other Dutch ISPs followed suit.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood-backed group took its case all the way to the Supreme Court and today Advocate General Van Peursem published his conclusion after a careful review.

The Advocate General advises the Supreme Court to stay the proceedings between BREIN and the Internet providers in order to seek clarification from the EU Court of Justice on several matters.

The first question that requires a European review is whether The Pirate Bay is actually communicating illegal content to the public. If this isn’t the case then the EU Court should rule whether ISPs can be ordered to block the site on other grounds.

A decision at the European level will be important, as it may also affect court orders in other countries, such as the UK, Italy and Belgium.

When the questions are resolved at the EU Court, the Advocate General advises to redo the entire trial noting that The Court of The Hague was too strict when it concluded that the blockade was ineffective and disproportional.

The Advocate General’s advice is not binding so it’s not yet certain whether the case will be referred to the EU Court of Justice. However, in most cases the recommendations are followed by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is expected to release its verdict on October 9th.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Drags CloudFlare into Piracy Lawsuit, Scolds LeaseWeb

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

cloudflareEarlier 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 RIAA heralded the outcome as a major victory, but the joy didn’t last long. A few days after Grooveshark shut down unknown persons launched a new music service using the familiar Grooveshark brand.

Recognizing the new Grooveshark.io service as a considerable threat, the RIAA didn’t waste any time taking countermeasures. The group filed a sealed application for temporary restraining and seizure orders, targeting the site’s domain name and hosting services.

The court granted the RIAA’s request earlier this month and this week the documents were unsealed. They reveal how the music group intends to drag both Cloudflare and hosting provider LeaseWeb into the fight.

In his declaration, RIAA’s VP Online Anti-Piracy Mark McDevitt describes the new Grooveshark as a “blatantly illegal” site that hides its true location behind CloudFlare’s service.

“Because of the presence of CloudFlare’s servers, it is impossible to identify the location of the actual server supporting those aspects of the website absent the disclosure of this information by CloudFlare,” McDevitt writes (pdf).

While CloudFlare doesn’t host any of the infringing files, it’s accused of helping Grooveshark to evade detection. The RIAA alerted CloudFlare of this role early May and asked the company to take action, without the desired result.

“In response to this notice, CloudFlare informed the RIAA that it had notified the operator of the Grooveshark.io website of the RIAA’s complaint, but did not discontinue providing its services to the website,” McDevitt writes.

In an email seen by TF, CloudFlare informs the RIAA that it’s merely a pass-through provider, and that they’re not offering any hosting services.

“Please be aware CloudFlare is a network provider offering a reverse proxy, pass-through security service. We are not a hosting provider. CloudFlare does not control the content of our customers,” the company replied.

Even today, the new Grooveshark remains active on the Grooveshark.li domain name, and it’s still hiding behind CloudFlare. The site did lose its original domain name, which Namecheap seized after receiving the court order, but new domains are easily registered.

It’s unclear at this point whether CloudFlare is actively refusing to comply with the restraining order that’s targeted at Grooveshark’s Internet service providers, but the company’s counsel did attend a court hearing yesterday to discuss the matter.

Besides CloudFlare, the RIAA also names web company LeaseWeb, which they suspect of offering hosting services to the new Grooveshark. In its presentations to the court the RIAA lashes out hard against the Dutch company.

“LeaseWeb has a long history of hosting major pirate sites. For example, LeaseWeb once hosted the notorious (and now shuttered) pirate website ‘MegaUpload,’ which was the subject of the largest criminal copyright law enforcement action ever undertaken,” McDevitt writes.

“Other examples of LeaseWeb’s involvement with pirate sites are also well known in the antipiracy community,” he adds, after summing up several other examples.

Neither CloudFlare nor LeaseWeb are named as defendants, but the language used makes clear that the RIAA isn’t happy with how they respond to copyright complaints.

While Grooveshark.li is a relatively small fish, the case may set a crucial precedent for future anti-piracy efforts. With relative ease the Court has issued temporary restraining and seizure orders. If these hold up, more sites may be targeted in a similar fashion.

This outlook may also be the reason for CloudFlare to have their say in the matter. As a service provider to some of the largest piracy havens, including The Pirate Bay, there’s a lot at stake.

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

TorrentFreak: High Court Orders UK ISPs to Block eBook Sites

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

stopstopRather than tackling unauthorized sites with direct legal action, major entertainment industry companies are increasingly attempting to disrupt ‘pirate’ operations with broader strokes.

One of the favored tools is site blocking, a technique that has gathered considerable momentum in Europe and the UK in particular. More than 120 domains are currently blocked by the country’s major ISPs, largely thanks to action taken by the movie and music industries plus soccer body The Premier League.

This week the pool of organizations to succeed in site-blocking legal action deepened with the addition of The Publishers Association (PA). The group, which has more than 100 members with combined revenues of £4.7 billion, went to the High Court to demand the blocking of several eBook focused download sites.

They are: Ebookee, LibGen, Freshwap, AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre and Freebookspot.

According to the PA its investigations found that over 80% of the material made available by the sites infringes copyright. In total the sites are said to offer in excess of 10 million titles.

In response the PA and its members claim to have sent close to one million takedown notices directly to the sites and requested that Google remove 1.75 million related URLs from its search results.

In common with all previous similar actions initiated by the MPAA and BPI, The Publishers Association (with support from the Association of American Publishers) sued the UK’s leading ISPs – BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE – under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Presenting a case which demonstrated mass infringement on the eBook sites in question alongside evidence that the major ISPs have “actual knowledge” that their subscribers are infringing copyright, the PA argued that the sites should be blocked without further delay.

After consideration, yesterday the High Court handed down its ruling in favor of the publishers. The outcome was never really in question – UK ISPs have long since given up defending these cases.

“We are very pleased that the High Court has granted this order and, in doing so, recognizes the damage being inflicted on UK publishers and authors by these infringing websites,” says Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of The PA.

“A third of publisher revenues now come from digital sales but unfortunately this rise in the digital market has brought with it a growth in online infringement. Our members need to be able to protect their authors’ works from such illegal activity; writers need to be paid and publishers need to be able to continue to innovate and invest in new talent and material.”

The ISPs listed in the injunction now have 10 days in which to implement a blockade.

High Court injunctions represent a new anti-piracy tool for The Publishers Association. In addition to its regular takedown work with search engines such as Google, The PA is also involved in City of London Police’s Operation Creative, run out of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU). Last year PIPCU acted on The PA’s behalf by taking down a domain operated by eBook site OnRead.

The full list of sites to be blocked in the UK is now as follows:

New: Ebookee, LibGen, Freshwap, AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre and Freebookspot.

Previously blocked: popcorntime.io, flixtor.me, popcorn-time.se, isoplex.isohunt.to, watchonlineseries.eu, axxomovies.org, afdah.com and g2g.fm, Bursalagu, Fullsongs, Mega-Search, Mp3 Monkey, Mp3.li, Mp3Bear, MP3Boo, Mp3Clan, Mp3Olimp, MP3s.pl, Mp3soup, Mp3Truck, Musicaddict, My Free MP3, Plixid, RnBXclusive, STAFA Band, watchseries.lt, Stream TV, Watchseries-online, Cucirca, Movie25, watchseries.to, Iwannawatch, Warez BB, Ice Films, Tehparadox, Heroturko, Scene Source,, Rapid Moviez, Iwatchonline, Los Movies, Isohunt, Torrentz.pro, Torrentbutler, IP Torrents, Sumotorrent, Torrent Day, Torrenting, BitSoup, TorrentBytes, Seventorrents, Torrents.fm, Yourbittorrent, Tor Movies , Demonoid, torrent.cd, Vertor, Rar BG, bittorrent.am, btdigg.org, btloft.com, bts.to, limetorrents.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, seedpeer.me, torlock.com, torrentbit.net, torrentdb.li, torrentdownload.ws, torrentexpress.net, torrentfunk.com, torrentproject.com, torrentroom.com, torrents.net, torrentus.eu, torrentz.cd, torrentzap.com, vitorrent.org.Megashare, Viooz, Watch32, Zmovie, Solarmovie, Tubeplus, Primewire, Vodly, Watchfreemovies, Project-Free TV, Yify-Torrents, 1337x, Bitsnoop, Extratorrent, Monova, Torrentcrazy, Torrentdownloads, Torrentreactor, Torrentz, Ambp3, Beemp3, Bomb-mp3, Eemp3world, Filecrop, Filestube, Mp3juices, Mp3lemon, Mp3raid, Mp3skull, Newalbumreleases, Rapidlibrary, EZTV, FirstRowSports, Download4all, Movie2K, KickAssTorrents, Fenopy, H33T and The Pirate Bay.

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

TorrentFreak: Thanks for the Really Counter-Productive DMCA Complaints

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

picarddmcaOne of today’s favored anti-piracy methods is to have Google de-index alleged pirate links from its search results. The theory is that if users don’t find content on search pages 1, 2 or 3, there’s more chance of them heading off to an official source.

The trouble is, Google’s indexes are massive and therefore return a lot of data. This results in copyright holders resorting to automated tools to identify infringing content en masse and while for some people these seem to work well (the UK’s BPI appears to have a very good record), others aren’t so good at it.

Errors get made and here at TF we like to keep an eye out for the real clangers – obviously it’s of particular interest when we become the targets. After being wrongfully accused by NBC Universal eight times in February, we had to wait until April for the world-famous Web Sheriff to ride into town.

In a DMCA notice sent on behalf of The Weinstein Company, Web Sheriff tackles dozens of domains for alleged offering the company’s content for download. However, for reasons best known to the gun-slinging Sheriff, he told Google that TF’s list of the most popular torrent sites of 2015 is infringing on his client’s copyrights.

We weren’t the only targets though. The Sheriff also tried to have three pages removed from business networking site Linkedin and one each from movie promo sites ComingSoon and Fandango (which are both legitimately advertising Weinstein movies).

However, the real genius came when the Sheriff tried to take down the Kickstarter page for Weinstein’s own movie, Keep On Keepin’ On. Fortunately, Google is on the ball and rejected every attempt.

sher-1

This month we were targeted again, this time by Markscan, a company that made the headlines during last year’s soccer World Cup when it failed in an attempt to silence the articles of several leading news outlets.

In a new DMCA notice the company bizarrely targets a TF article from December 2006 in which we promoted the availability of 2,000 Creative Commons music albums available on the Jamendo platform.

Bad enough, of course, but made even worse by the targeting in the same notice of the official BitTorrent Inc. torrent client available for download on Softonic and another random freeware torrent client published by DVDVideoSoft.

Finally, TF was targeted a couple of days ago by anti-piracy outfit Unidan acting on behalf of Japanese talent agency and entertainment company AKS Co. Ltd. It’s clear from their complaint that they have a problem with plenty of file-hosting sites.

One of them is RyuShare, a Vietnamese-based site whose owners were arrested last year and eventually jailed. However, for some strange reason Unidam didn’t want us to get the word out on that story, instead asking Google to remove it from its search results.

ryu-dmca

While it’s pretty irritating to be wrongfully targeted by these companies, it’s important to recognize the valuable role Google plays here. Without the company’s transparency report the world would be largely blind to the sloppy actions of some anti-piracy companies.

Admittedly these outfits have a tough job, but if they have the time to send these notices out and take the money, they should take the time to check that they aren’t stepping on innocent toes.

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