Posts tagged ‘Anti-Piracy’

TorrentFreak: Movie Studios and Record Labels Target Pirate Bay in New Lawsuit

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

tpbIn 2009, the IFPI and several local movie studios demanded that Norwegian ISP Telenor should block The Pirate Bay. The ISP refused and legal action commenced.

A subsequent ruling determined that there was no legal basis for site blocking and in 2010 a rightsholder appeal also failed. If sites were to be blocked, a change in the law was required.

In May 2011 the Ministry of Culture announced that it had put forward proposals for amendments to the Copyright Act, to include web blocking, and on July 1, 2013 the new law came into effect.

After more than two years of threats, local and international copyright holders have now made good on their promises to use the new legislation to stamp down on piracy.

In a lawsuit filed at the Oslo District Court, Disney, Warner Bros. and Sony plus local producers and representatives from the recording industry are teaming up to sue eleven local ISPs. Also targeted in the action are the alleged operators of eight ‘pirate’ sites.

Although the sites are yet to be publicly revealed, The Pirate Bay is among them and site co-founder Fredrik Neij is named as a party in the case.

According to Dagens Næringsliv, studios and labels filed an initial complaint with ISPs back in April via anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance. It was sent to the country’s largest ISP Telenor plus others including Get, NextGenTel and Altibox.

The rightsholders’ demands are familiar. All the main local ISPs must block The Pirate Bay and related sites so that subscribers can no longer access the domains directly.

“We understand licensees’ struggle for their rights. For us it is important that the court must take these decisions, and that we do not assume a censorship role,” says Telenor communications manager Tormod Sandstø.

Also of interest is how the legal process is being handled. The Oslo District Court is dealing with the case in writing so the whole process is completely closed to the public. After processing the case during the summer, early estimations suggest that the court will have made its decision within the next 10 days.

The news follows several key Norwegian anti-piracy developments in 2015. In March, an investigation by Rights Alliance culminated in a police raid against local pirate site Norskfilm.

In July, Rights Alliance placed the blame for a piracy explosion firmly on the shoulders of Popcorn Time, with the group announcing last week that up to 75,000 users of the application could now be contacted by mail. The message they will receive remains unclear but comments from Rights Alliance during the past few days have leaned away from lawsuits.

Interestingly, Popcorn Time related sites are not among the batch of domains currently under consideration by the Oslo District Court as the service was not considered a priority when the original Rights Alliance complaint was being put together. Should the current blocking attempt prove successful, expect Popcorn Time domains to appear in an upcoming lawsuit.

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

TorrentFreak: Universal: Smart Pirate Site Owners Get Round Restrictions

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

per-sundinFor many years Sweden was one of the most prominent battlegrounds in the global file-sharing wars, playing host to dozens of unlicensed sites including the notorious Pirate Bay. As a result, Universal Music Sweden MD Per Sundin knows a thing or two about piracy.

A key figure in the now-famous prosecution of The Pirate Bay, Sundin was one of the site’s harshest critics and one of many desperate to bring both the platform and its operators to their knees.

But despite a herculean effort from Sundin and others, The Pirate Bay not only lived through a trial and subsequent appeals, it outlived even its own founders who each served prison sentences for their crimes. Today the site may not quite hold the status it once did, but it’s certainly a major player in the file-sharing ecosystem.

If Sundin remains bothered by the Pirate Bay’s resilience he isn’t letting it show, but it’s clear that he’s picked up plenty of experience along the way. In an interview with MBW, Sundin suggests that no matter what obstacles are put in file-sharing’s way, pirates will always adapt.

“We will see piracy in the future,” Sundin says.

“The pirate site owners will get smarter and find ways around [restrictions]. If we close down one, another will pop up. That’s a fact of life.”

This admission from Sundin is not the usual thing one hears from high-powered music executives, especially those so close to the powerful anti-piracy forces of IFPI. However, Sundin is part of a revitalized local music market that projects Sweden’s success story onto the world stage, despite massive historical piracy.

According to figures from IFPI, the Swedish music revenues bounced from a low of US$144.8 million in 2008 to US$194.2 million in 2013. During the same period, digital music revenues increased from just 8% to a huge 70%, with subscription services accounting for 94% of the digital market.

“[In] 2009, we had The Pirate Bay trial and verdict; we had the [anti-piracy] enforcement directive implemented; and we had Spotify, which launched in October 2008. It was the perfect storm,” Sundin explains.

“Thanks to that – especially Spotify, I would say – we were taken out of the dark times. We went from bad boys to something much better.”

Despite Sundin’s comments concerning the difficulty of permanently blocking or shutting down sites, he remains optimistic about confronting piracy. However, rather than relying entirely on the stick, the industry veteran now openly acknowledges that beating the pirates at their own game is a better option.

“We have to help legal services, Spotify and others, be better,” Sundin says.

Interestingly – and this has been a talking point in recent weeks – Sundin also expresses concern surrounding the prevalence of ‘exclusives’ on legitimate services, such as those recently negotiated with Apple by Black Eyed Peas and Dr Dre.

“I think the exclusivity thing is dangerous – that’s my personal opinion. Hopefully we won’t see it so much,” Sundin says.

The Universal man’s thoughts are shared by Mark Dennis, Managing Director of Sony Music Sweden.

“We have to learn from what’s happened in the past: when people haven’t been able to consume music in the way they want, they turn to piracy. We’re just not learning!”

If piracy is to be kept under control long-term then such lessons will have to be learned, but whether the message will take a long or short time to sink in is another matter. History suggests later rather than sooner, but attitudes are changing.

Nevertheless, with appetites whetted, millions of people are now eagerly anticipating tomorrow’s super-advanced version of Spotify and other services that simply haven’t been envisioned yet. But whatever arrives, innovation is definitely the key, and one gets the impression that the Swedes really get that.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Blames Hollywood For Its Popularity

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

popcorntLast week several users of Popcorn Time were sued in the United States and this week a Norwegian anti-piracy group threatened to go after tens of thousands of local users.

It’s clear that copyright holders aren’t happy with the app, which allows people to stream pirated movies. However, according to the software’s developers Hollywood is to blame for its overwhelming success.

In a statement sent to TF the team behind the popular Popcorn Time .io fork say that film and TV-studios should compete with their app. That is, make a globally available streaming service where all the latest blockbusters and series are available.

“People are ready to pay a fee, but a lot of them currently refuse to pay for a petty catalog with country-specific restrictions,” the Popcorn Time team notes.

“The price can also be a hurdle for some people: $20 a month is not the same in Uganda and the United States. But obviously, the most problematic issue is the complete lack of legal availability in some places.”

Hollywood is still holding on to limited releases and regional roadblocks. This is something Netflix and other VOD providers are not happy with, and neither are consumers.

“Why would people in France wait two years to see a movie that’s already being broadcasted in the US, when they both are paying almost the same amount of money?”

According to Popcorn Time these artificial limitations drive people to break towards unofficial sources.

“The Internet has brought people closer, and they start to notice that some things aren’t acceptable. And then they turn to alternatives, even if it means diving into illegality.”

The developers themselves see the Popcorn Time software as a legitimate product but they realize that some users may be breaking the law. Ironically, the reason for breaking the law is so they can watch their favorite Hollywood entertainment.

Currently, this situation mostly benefits the popularity of Popcorn Time but with the right alternative for the right price, many won’t need to turn to piracy.

“Maybe it is time to consider the will of the people and offer them a legal, complete and useful service, no matter where they were born, instead of trying to punish people for… well, for wanting the see the content artists and industries are offering.

“Currently, piracy is fulfilling the demand of the people because the industry fails at the transition into the modern age. We think it’s as simple as that,” the Popcorn Time team concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Piracy: Hollywood’s Losing a Few Pounds, Who Cares?

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

factThis week it was revealed that Paul Mahoney, the former operator of streaming portal FastPassTV, is now facing a custodial sentence following his guilty plea before a Northern Ireland court.

After operating his sites for around six years, the prosecution claims that Mahoney made almost 410,000 euros ($471,500) in advertising revenue.

Extrapolating what was probably a good year for viewing numbers on FastPassTV, David Groome QC came to the conclusion that the 30-year-old potentially cost Hollywood around £120 million [$188m].

Following Mahoney’s guilty plea it’s unlikely that those numbers will ever be challenged. As a result, when the authorities and anti-piracy group FACT get their conviction, the public deterrent they’ve been looking for will be home and dry.

But despite looking forward to what is likely to be billed as a historic judgment, it appears that the industry still has work to do to get the man in the street onside. That became evident during an appearance by FACT Director General Kieron Sharp on the local BBC Radio Foyle

After discussing the background to the case, Sharp was confronted with an uncomfortable truth.

“I would imagine the problem for you Kieron in your job is that a lot of people out there – and we’re already seeing it in fact in the [listener] texts to the show this morning – is that [the public] don’t really see the victim in all of this,” the BBC presenter said.

“They see this as Hollywood losing a few pounds – who cares?”

If industry figures are to be believed, around 20% of the populations of several European countries are accessing content from sites such as Mahoney’s, so some lack of sympathy shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. That being said, Sharp’s response only raises more questions.

“Yes I know, that’s an unfortunate way of looking at things really. The big problem about this is that these people are all film fans. They want to watch films and television programs,” he said.

“The best example I can give you is Game of Thrones which is made in Northern Ireland as you know. Huge success story for Northern Ireland, for the people who are working there and getting employment in the film industry.

“They’re the sort of programs that won’t get made in the future if you think that all this is about is a few quid out of the pockets of those in Hollywood.”

While choosing Game of Thrones as an example makes sense from a local perspective, it’s a confusing selection from a piracy standpoint.

As pointed out here on dozens of occasions, Game of Thrones is the most pirated TV show in history. Yet season after season the show returns, each time bringing in more and more legitimate viewers despite smashing several piracy records. Even the show’s director thinks that piracy doesn’t hurt the production.

Nevertheless, when challenged by the interviewer Sharp maintained his position.

“An ordinary film coming out of Hollywood costs $60m to $100m to make and they have to make a return on that. If these films don’t get made then people won’t have jobs, it’s as simple as that. It’s quite straightforward, absolutely no doubt about it whatsoever,” he said.

Sharp wouldn’t be drawn on whether Mahoney should be sent to prison when he’s sentenced next month, noting that’s for the court to decide. But whatever happens to him, problems persist, not only with the countless other people like Mahoney scattered around the globe, but also with public perception. Still, FACT is hopefully that people can be persuaded to do the right thing.

“They can be [prosecuted] but we’re more interested in converting those people into paying customers,” Sharp said. “They’re film fans, we want them to enjoy the product at its best and not from some cheap ripoff copy.”

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

TorrentFreak: Aussie Piracy Notices Delayed But Lawsuits Are Coming

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

warningAfter years of wrangling, on September 1, 2015, Australian ISPs will take the historic step of implementing a new anti-piracy scheme, one that will see Internet users issued with escalating warning notices designed to bring a halt to their pirating ways.

Well, at least that was the plan when a draft anti-piracy code was laid down in April. Almost predictably, however, that deadline will come and go without event.

The problem – and this will come as zero surprise to those who have followed this process for the past several years – is one related to costs.

Money, money, money

Since the beginning of negotiations, rightsholders have insisted that ISPs should pick up varying percentages of the bills incurred when sending piracy warnings to their subscribers. Equally, ISPs have insisted that if rightsholders want notices sent out, they should be the ones to pay.

This dispute has brought the parties to deadlock several times during years of negotiations, and has derailed talks completely more than once, most recently in 2012. However, this year – with the government breathing down their necks – rightsholders and ISPs agreed most aspects of how the notices would be handled, but left the issue of costs until another day.

That day has now arrived and still there are disputes. With the launch of the scheme supposedly just next week, ITNews reports that during an industry briefing this morning it was revealed that the parties are still arguing over who will pay for the 200,000 notices set to go out in the scheme’s first year.

For their part, rightsholders think that the ISPs should help with the costs, in part because it is their customers carrying out the infringements. They also believe that if ISPs foot part of the bill, they will be keen to keep costs down.

On the other hand, ISPs insist that if the notices prove effective in cutting piracy and driving up sales, rightsholders will get the benefit so should therefore pay the bill.

Countering, rightsholders also point to the bigger picture, one in which ISPs are increasingly becoming the conduit for providing entertainment content to subscribers.

“As ISPs increasingly become content providers, the business imperative to make sure people are valuing those services will become more and more important [to them],” says Foxtel director of corporate affairs Bruce Meagher.

So how much is the whole thing likely to cost? According to figures obtained by ITNews, there is dispute there too.

Too expensive to reduce piracy?

ISPs say that the bill could amount to $27 per IP address targeted, while rightsholders suggest that the figure would be more like $6. A report commissioned by the parties earlier this year concluded that the cost will be closer to the $27 suggested by the ISPs.

That cost is too high. As previously seen in New Zealand, “strikes” schemes with high costs are rendered pointless.

“We saw that in New Zealand where the government mandated $25 per IP address, and no-one used the scheme,” Meagher says. “We’ve got to work out a way of setting a price that encourages the scheme to be used.”

If in doubt, send the lawyers out

But even though agreement could take a while to reach, there are those in the entertainment industry already looking ahead to what might happen once people start receiving warning notices. Speaking with SBS, Village Roadshow co-founder Graham Burke says that if the notices don’t prove enough of a deterrent, legal action will be the next step.

“Yes, [piracy] is wrong. [Downloaders] have been warned, and sent notices that they’re doing the wrong thing. Yes we will sue people,” Burke said.

Asked by interviewer Marc Fennell whether there is any fear of a backlash should the industry start suing single parents and grandmothers (as they have done in the past), Burke dismissed the concerns.

“It was really just a couple of instances of a bad news day, where [the press] picked up a couple of instances of a single pregnant mother,” he said.

But would just a couple of those stories prove damaging?

“Not if it’s seen in the context that it is theft, and they have been doing the wrong thing, and they’ve been sent appropriate notices, and they’ve been dealt with accordingly. We’re certainly not going to be seeking out single pregnant mothers,” Burke said.

Confronted with the likelihood that some people will simply hide their activities by using a VPN, Burke played down the fears.

“I think that if people are appealed to in the right way, they’ll react appropriately,” he said.

Site blocking

Finally, after site-blocking legislation was passed earlier this year, Burke has now confirmed that his company will take action soon.

“We are going through the legal preparation at this stage and will be ready in October to go to the courts and ask them to block sites,” he concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Streaming Site Operator Accused of £120m ‘Piracy Fraud’

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

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

In February 2015, Paul Mahoney from Carnhill, Londonderry, was charged with offenses connected with operating now-defunct streaming links site FastPassTV and discussion and linking forum BedroomMedia. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and was bailed to appear at a later date.

In June, 30-year-old Mahoney changed direction, pleading guilty to all four charges against him including allowing the public to view copyrighted movies without rightsholder permission, conspiracy, and generating hundreds of thousands in illegal advertising revenue.

Mahoney was up in court again yesterday for a pre-sentence hearing and its becoming increasingly clear how much trouble he’s in.

After operating various sites for around six years, the prosecution claims that Mahoney made almost 410,000 euros ($471,500) from his endeavors, while simultaneously claiming state benefits worth around 12,000 euros ($13,800). When his house was raided, police found almost £82,400 ($129,000) in cash hidden away.

fastpass

During the hearing in Derry’s crown court, prosecutor David Groome QC laid out the alleged scale of the 30-year-old’s offending while describing the financial implications as “staggering”.

Taking a single six-month period during which visitors to Mahoney’s sites viewed movies 1.1 million times illegally, Groome took the figures and ran with them, painting a somewhat scary picture for the court.

“During the six-year life of defendant’s business that equates to something like movies being viewed on 12 million occasions. If you consider it is about £10 to go to the cinema or about £10 to buy a brand new DVD upon its release, it means the defendant’s websites enabled users of it to view about £120 million [$188m] worth of property,” Groome said.

While acknowledging that not every view would represent a lost sale, the prosecution noted that Mahoney had taken a number of actions since 2007 to avoid having his sites closed down. Cease and desist notices issued by FACT appear to have been ignored and police arrested him twice, yet still he continued with his operations.

Defending Mahoney, Martin Rodgers QC said his client’s partial blindness meant that he was bullied at school, events that led to him becoming a virtual bedroom recluse for around 10 years.

“His constant and only companion during that period of time was in fact his computer. In one sense, he essentially lived in a bubble for a period of time,” Rodgers said.

Interestingly, the defense addressed the prosecution’s claims that Mahoney generated large revenues from advertising companies by questioning why they weren’t being prosecuted too.

“They entered into agreements that if anyone visited the site they would pay, even though from a cursory view of the site it would be apparent this was facilitating criminal offenses,” Rodgers said.

But despite the claims of massive profits, Mahoney’s lawyer rejected the notion that his client had enjoyed the high-life.

“There were no Rolex watches, no Ferraris outside and no evidence of an extravagant lifestyle. This enterprise took on a life of its own and became far more successful than this defendant ever envisaged,” he said.

While Mahoney faces a potential custodial sentence next month, FACT says that there will be no claim for compensation. Instead, they hope that the prosecution alone will send a clear message to others considering a similar path.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police ‘Hijack’ Ads on 251 Pirate Sites

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

cityoflondonpoliceOver the past two years City of London Police’s PIPCU unit has been working with the music and movie industries to target sites that provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

Under the banner “Operation Creative”, last year they struck a deal with online advertising companies with the goal of replacing ads on suspected pirate sites with police banners.

The banners in question inform users that “illegal downloading is a crime” and stress the site they’re browsing has been reported to the authorities.

Police banner
pipcu-ad-mp3

The campaign has been active for more than a year but PIPCU only selectively releases information about its scope. However, thanks to a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request we now know how many sites are on the “Infringement Watch List.”

PIPCU informs TF that 151 domain names are being targeted by the advertisement replacement effort. These domains have been reported to the police by copyright holder groups, which is also the case for PIPCU’s other anti-piracy initiatives.

Last year we sent a similar FOI request and at the time 74 sites were included, meaning that the number being targeted has doubled over the past year. Unfortunately, the police are not willing to share the actual domain names as this may increase the number of visitors to these sites.

“This is an ongoing investigation and disclosure to the public domain would raise the profile of those sites unlawfully providing copyright material. This would enable individuals to visit the sites highlighted and unlawfully download copyright material and increase the scale of the loss,” we were told.

PIPCU further informed us that 134 advertising agencies are participating in the program, up from 84 last year. All of these companies have a UK presence but many operate internationally.

It remains unclear what percentage of the total ads on pirate sites are being replaced. The banners appear rarely in the wild so we assume that the volume is relatively low.

A few weeks ago PIPCU released some statistics on the effectiveness of the campaign. Based on a small sample they concluded that the UK’s top ad spending companies decreased their ‘pirate’ advertising by 73%.

Whether this made any serious impact on the overall revenue of pirate sites is unknown, but PIPCU’s Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe praised the collaboration.

“Working closely with rights holders and the advertising industry, PIPCU has been able to lead the way with tackling copyright infringing sites by successfully disrupting advertising revenue,” he said.

Next year we’ll see if the program continues to expand, and if so, at what rate.

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

TorrentFreak: 75,000 Popcorn Time Users in Crosshairs of Anti-Piracy Group

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

Less than 18 months since its original launch in 2014 and the controversial Popcorn Time software is still making headlines. The application’s colorful and easy to use interface has proven a hit with users and now anti-piracy groups in the United States and Europe are fighting back.

Last month Norwegian anti-piracy group Rettighets Alliansen (Rights Alliance) blamed Popcorn Time for a piracy explosion in the country and warned that it was monitoring pirates. More information is now being made available.

Norway has a population of just over 5.1m and it’s estimated that around 750,000 obtain video from illegal sources. However, it’s now being claimed that a third of those – 250,000 – are using Popcorn Time on a weekly basis. Rights Alliance says it has been watching them closely.

According to Rights Alliance chief Willy Johansen, his organization is now in possession of database containing information on between 50,000 and 75,000 suspected Popcorn Time pirates. The only question now is what the group will decide to do with the data.

“We are sitting today with a record of some users of [Popcorn Time] in Norway. These are records we can lawfully use, and it could be that someone gets a little surprise in the mail in the form of a letter. It’s probable that something will happen in the fall,” Johansen says.

If Rights Alliance follows through with its threats it will mark the first time that regular users have been targeted since copyright law was tweaked two years ago.

In 2013 a change in legislation enabled copyright holders to apply to the government for permission (granted to the Hollywood in Nov 2013) to scan file-sharing networks for infringements. Other changes mean that harvested IP addresses can now be converted to real-life identities with the help of the courts and ISPs.

But according to Bjørgulv Vinje Borgundvåg at the Ministry of Culture, yet more changes could be on the way.

“Two years ago, Parliament adopted an amendment providing Rights Alliance and the people who own these intellectual property rights to take action, and to ask the court for compensation for abuse of their intellectual property. We are now considering making further legislative changes to protect intellectual property from being abused online,” Borgundvåg told NRK.

In the meantime, however, groups like Rights Alliance, the MPA and their Hollywood affiliates have to deal with the law as it stands today. They have been granted permission to harvest IP address information by the country’s Data Inspectorate but obtaining the identities behind those addresses will require further work.

“In relation to the legislation we have in Norway, Rights Alliance is fully entitled to collect IP addresses of Popcorn Time users. This is not problematic as we see it,” explains Inspectorate Director Bjorn Erik Thon

“Rights Alliance may collect IP addresses, but to find out the identities of who is behind them requires a trial,” he notes.

However, according to law professor Olav Torvund, even getting that far is likely to provide headaches.

“This is not straightforward,” Torvund explains.

“Rights Alliance must determine which IP addresses have been used. Most Norwegian users have [regularly changing] dynamic IP addresses which do not necessarily identify the user.”

And even if users are successfully identified, legal problems persist.

“One must have acted intentionally or negligently and known or understood that material is being shared with others [when using Popcorn Time],” Torvund says

“It is not necessarily so easy to prove. In other words, it’s a long way to the finish and there are several problems to overcome.”

While Rights Alliance are known to go after both site owners and users elsewhere in Scandinavia (there were arrests in Denmark last week), it seems unlikely that they will take a troll-like stance with Popcorn Time users in the way that the makers of Dallas Buyers Club have.

Still, the fall isn’t too far away, so time will soon tell.

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

TorrentFreak: This Anti-Piracy Campaign Will Leave You Speechless

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

facepalm-featuredEarlier this month an anti-piracy campaign from many years ago was resurrected by DMN.

Created for Universal Music, the 2007 campaign featured severed body parts alongside the line ‘Stop Destroying the Band You Like, Say No to Music Piracy.’

The gory manner in which the message was presented certainly touched a nerve but when compared to a new anti-piracy campaign just completed for Virgin Radio, the graphic images barely feel controversial.

Titled ‘If you knew what went into it, you wouldn’t steal it’, the campaign is the brainchild of Leo Burnett, one of the largest U.S. ad agencies with several thousand employees and dozens of offices worldwide.

Aimed at printed media and outdoor ads, the campaign features imagery and backstories associated with the lives of Marvin Gaye, Elvis Presley and Amy Winehouse. Those expecting fun and nostalgia can move along now though as things are about to get very dark indeed.

In fact, the ads are so provocative that many will need assurance that this isn’t some kind of twisted prank. Sadly the campaign is absolute real and deadly serious – in more ways than one.

piracy-amy

piracy-elvis

piracy-marvin

“The goal was to create a connection to each musician and the blood, sweat and tears that created the now-legendary music,” said Leo Burnett in a statement.

While readers will certainly form their own opinions on the campaign, Leo Burnett have already given it their gold seal of approval.

Using a 10-point assessment mechanism known as the “HumanKind Scale”, the company’s Global Product Committee has rated ‘If you knew what went into it, you wouldn’t steal it’ a 7.3.

“Work that receives a 7-point rating is considered to be the benchmark for excellence in craft,” the company says.

Feel free to leave your own ratings in the comment section below.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Trackers Ban Windows 10 Over Privacy Concerns

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

win10Since the release of Windows 10 last month many media reports have focused on various privacy intrusions.

The WiFi password sharing feature, for example, or the extensive sharing of personal data and information back to Microsoft’s servers. The list goes on and on.

While we’re the last ones to defend these policies, it is worth pointing out that many other large tech companies have similar privacy violating policies. Reading rants about Windows 10 privacy on Facebook is particularly ironic.

This week things took a turn for the worse. Slowly but steadily reports started pouring in that Windows 10 has a built-in piracy kill switch. If we were to believe some of the reports, Microsoft would nuke all torrents downloaded from The Pirate Bay.

The truth is nowhere near as dystopian though. The controversy originates from a single line in Microsoft’s Service Agreement which allows the company to download software updates and configuration changes that may prevent people from “playing counterfeit games.”

This change isn’t limited to Windows 10 but covers many services. Also, there is no indication that this will ever be used to target third-party games, which is highly unlikely.

Still, the recent privacy concerns have some torrent tracker staffers worried. During the week TF received reports informing us that several private trackers have banned Windows 10, or are considering doing so.

The staffers at iTS explain that Windows 10 is off-limits now because of the extensive amount of data it shares. This includes connections to MarkMonitor, the brand protection company which is also involved in the U.S. Copyright Alert System.

“Unfortunately Microsoft decided to revoke any kind of data protection and submit whatever they can gather to not only themselves but also others. One of those is one of the largest anti-piracy company called MarkMonitor,” iTS staff note.

“Amongst other things Windows 10 sends the contents of your local disks directly to one of their servers. Obviously this goes way too far and is a serious threat to sites like ours which is why we had to take measures,” they add.

While this may sound scary, Microsoft has been working with MarkMonitor for years already. Among other things, the company helps to keep scammers at bay.

There is no evidence that any piracy related info is being shared. Still, the connection is raising red flags with other tracker operators as well. More trackers reportedly ban Windows 10 and others including BB and FSC are consider to follow suit.

“We have also found [Windows 10] will be gathering information on users’ P2P use to be shared with anti piracy group,” BB staff writes to its users.

“What’s particularly nasty is that apparently it sends the results of local(!!) searches to a well known anti piracy company directly so as soon as you have one known p2p or scene release on your local disk … BAM!”

The same sentiment is shared at FSC where staff also informed users about the threat.

“As we all know, Microsoft recently released Windows 10. You as a member should know, that we as a site are thinking about banning the OS from FSC. That would mean you cannot use the site with the OS installed,” FSC staff writes.

While a paranoid mindset is definitely not a bad thing for people in the business of managing a torrent community, banning an operating system over privacy concerns is a bit much for most. Especially since many of the same issues also affect earlier versions of Windows.

Luckily, the most invasive privacy concerns can be dealt with by configuring Windows properly. Or any other operating system, application or social network for that matter.

Instead of banning something outright, it may be a good idea to inform the public on specific dangers and educate them how they can be alleviated.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Seeks New Global Anti-Piracy Vice President

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

Due to opposing beliefs over how content should be consumed online, there is a war being waged on the Internet, one in which the guerilla forces of the file-sharing masses take on the world’s leading content companies and their armies of lawyers.

As a result, Hollywood and the major recording labels are committed to pouring endless millions into content protection, with the aim of affecting consumer behavior by any means – and by force if necessary.

To that end the MPAA is currently hoping to boost its already sizable anti-piracy team with the addition of a new Vice President of Global Content Protection.

The position – advertised externally this week – is an important one and will see the new recruit working with Hollywood studios to “define and execute” the MPAA’s global online content protection strategies.

“This position is primarily responsible for developing and executing a global Internet strategy for combating piracy, managing multiple projects simultaneously, managing staff and keeping apprised of technological developments in the piracy ecosystem and user behaviors online,” the MPAA’s listing reads.

The post is central to the MPAA’s entire anti-piracy operation. Responsibilities include directing international investigations of “websites, operators and business entities engaged in or associated with copyright infringement” while monitoring and reporting on emerging trends and threats.

Legal action is a large part of the MPAA’s work and the role requires the successful candidate to develop and manage relationships “with high-level law enforcement officials in key regions and countries” while helping to develop the movie group’s global civil litigation policy.

Also falling within the job description are key elements of the so-called “Follow the Money” approach to online piracy.

Along the lines of several collaborative initiatives already underway (six strikes etc), the new VP will be expected to develop relationships with intermediaries such as hosting providers, advertising companies, payment processors, domain name registrars and social networks such as Facebook.

He or she will also be responsible for providing technical assistance, research, data and training to government agencies, lobbyists and other rights holders concerning content protection issues.

As should be clear from the above, it’s a big job that will only be suitable for a limited number of applicants. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, candidates will need a graduate degree and experience in content protection intelligence, investigation and enforcement under their belts.

Naturally the MPAA only seeks the technically adept when it comes to piracy-related vacancies. Candidates should have plenty of experience with various content distribution methods including “streaming video, online file hosting and peer-to-peer sharing.”

For a group determined to hold third parties responsible for the infringements of others, it should comes as no surprise that applicants are also expected to have a sterling understanding of the relationships between “ISPs, domain names, IP addresses, and hosting providers, and technical infrastructure of such online resources.”

Finally, the MPAA insists that their ideal applicant will know right from wrong.

“[We require] a team player who has the utmost moral and ethical character to support the content protection team and to implement sound strategies that will benefit the motion picture industry today and tomorrow,” the MPAA concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Piracy Police Asked Domain Registrars to Shut Down 317 Sites

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

cityoflondonpoliceFor most police departments online piracy has no priority, but in recent years City of London Police have made copyright infringement one of their main targets.

In September 2013 the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit was founded, marking the start of a broad enforcement campaign to decease online piracy rates.

PIPCU initially began by sending out warning letters to pirate site owners, asking them to go legit or shut down. Soon, this was followed by a campaign targeted at domain registrars, asking them to suspend the domain names of several “illegal” sites.

To find out the scope of both campaigns, TorrentFreak filed a Freedom of Information request asking for further details. While the police didn’t want to mention any names, fearing that this would promote piracy, we did receive some interesting statistics.

Since the launch of the unit two years ago PIPCU says it has sent warning letters to the operators of 377 ‘pirate’ sites. All of these sites were referred by entertainment industry groups and include most of the popular file-sharing domains.

The number of warning letters increased from 107 last year, suggesting that PIPCU intensified its efforts. While these warnings may have yielded results at smaller sites, we are not aware of any larger ones that shut down in response.

In addition to contacting site owners directly, PIPCU also approached domain name registrars with requests to suspend these pirate sites. In total, police sent out suspension requests for 317 domain names, up from 75 around the same time last year.

Interestingly, PIPCU notes that it has no information on the effectiveness of these requests. In other words, police don’t know how many sites were subsequently suspended by domain name registrars.

This is quite surprising as one would expect that the efficiency of their campaigns is being measured somehow. Also, the records we requested were available last year. At the time, police told us that only 5 of the 75 requests to domain registrars had been successful.

EasyDNS CEO Mark Jeftovic is one of the people who denied the PIPCU requests. While he is not against domain name suspensions, he stressed that his company wouldn’t take action just because the request is sent on police letterhead.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always thought it was something that gets decided in a court of law, as opposed to ‘some guy on the internet’ sending emails. While that’s plenty reason enough for some registrars to take down domain names, it doesn’t fly here,” he said.

Although the hundreds of voluntary warnings and suspension requests have not resulted in the downfall of any large pirate sites, the UK Government is happy with the progress made thus far.

Last fall Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Neville-Rolfe secured PIPCU’s future until at least 2017. With a fresh £3 million cash boost the unit will continue its anti-piracy efforts during the years to come.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders 20 Big Piracy Sites Blocked in Denmark

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

According to many of the world’s leading anti-piracy groups, site blocking is one of the most effective tools when it comes to reducing instances of online piracy. It’s a technique employed in a growing list of countries around the world, in Europe in particular.

After pioneering work seven years ago (Denmark was one of the first countries to block The Pirate Bay back in 2008), subsequent action by anti-piracy group Rettigheds Alliancen (Rights Alliance) ended in a 2011 ISP blockade of now-defunct music streaming service Grooveshark.

Earlier this year the anti-piracy group took fresh action that resulted in the blocking of 12 large sites including KickassTorrents, RARBG and streaming site Tubeplus. Now Rights Alliance is back again, with its biggest blocking effort yet.

After obtaining an order from the District Court in Frederiksberg yesterday, an additional 20 piracy sites will now be blocked at the ISP level.

Rights Alliance hasn’t yet revealed their names but speaking with TorrentFreak the anti-piracy group says that they’re the 20 most popular sites among local users and targeting them all at once has two distinct aims.

“By choosing 20 sites in one action it is really just adapting the means available to the internet and its ‘swarm activities’. Blocking one site at a time would make but a little disturbance, just redirecting the user request to other likewise illegal sites.” Rettigheds Alliancen CEO Maria Fredenslund informs TF.

“Swarm blocking provides a more massive intervention in the user flow, combined with positive communication nudging the users to legal sites, so it’s in fact possible to have an impact on user behavior.”

While Rights Alliance still needed to obtain a court order to have the latest batch of sites blocked, the process has been streamlined somewhat by a code of conduct signed by ISPs in 2014.

The agreement ensures that when a court issues an injunction against a single ISP ordering it to implement DNS blocking against a ‘pirate’ site (or in this case a large batch), within days all rival ISPs voluntarily implement similar blockades.

And for Danish users, the blocking won’t stop here. Maria Fredenslund says that the effort will continue for as long as the anti-piracy group views it as an effective tool to combat infringement.

“We have seen a 40% decrease in the use of Danish films in the BitTorrent network in the same period when we did the last ‘blocking wave‘. As with road signs in traffic, blocking signs – when placed and communicated right – can guide users away from illegal platforms,” the CEO says.

“Also, as experienced with the Popcorn Time action this week, the police are now also using blocking as an enforcement instrument,” Fredenslund concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Studio Sues Popcorn Time Users In The U.S.

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

cobblerOver the past several years hundreds of thousands of Internet subscribers have been sued in the United States for allegedly sharing copyrighted material, mostly video.

The cases are generally targeted at “BitTorrent” users in general, not focusing on any client in particular.

However, this week the makers of the 2014 comedy “The Cobbler” decided to single out Popcorn Time users.

Popcorn Time also uses BitTorrent under the hood but unlike traditional clients it allows users to browse through a library of films and stream these from within the application.

Popcorn Time is by no means private as users connect to public BitTorrent swarms, which makes it easy for monitoring firms and copyright holders to track down pirates.

This also happened to 11 Popcorn Time users who allegedly viewed and shared “The Cobbler.” The makers of the movie filed a complaint (pdf) at a Oregon District Court requesting a subpoena to compel Comcast to hand over the personal details of the associated account holders.

“Each defendant’s IP address has been observed and confirmed as both viewing and distributing plaintiff’s motion picture through Popcorn Time,” the complaint explains.

The Popcorn Time defendants
popcob

The reason for singling out Popcorn Time users is unclear. The same filmmakers have launched lawsuits against BitTorrent users before, but they may believe that the infringing image of Popcorn Time bolsters their case.

“Popcorn Time exists for one purpose and one purpose only: to steal copyrighted content,” they write, adding that the defendants should have been well aware of this.

The Popcorn Time website and application repeatedly informs users that its use may be against the law. For example, the Popcorn Time website has a clear warning on its homepage and in the FAQ.

“Without a doubt, each user of Popcorn Time is provided multiple notices that they are downloading and installing software for the express purpose of committing theft and contributing the ability of others to commit theft by furthering the Bit Torrent piracy network,” the complaint explains.

Popcorn Time warning
popwarning

The filmmakers demand a permanent injunction against the defendants ordering them to stop pirating their movies. In addition, they request statutory damages of up to $150,000.

In reality, however, they are likely to approach the defendants for a settlement offer of a few thousands dollars, as is common in these type of “copyright troll” cases.

The developers of the Popcorn Time app that was targeted inform TF that users are indeed repeatedly warned that using their application to download pirated films can lead to legal trouble.

“Popcorn Time isn’t illegal. However, the use people make of the application can be illegal, depending on their country and local laws,” they tell TF.

“You’d think with all our warnings, the anti-piracy laws, the explanations given in the media and the common sense, users would be aware of their actions by now. Pinning a a ‘Popcorn Time’ label over such a lawsuit seems a little inflated,” they add.

The Court has yet to issue an order following the subpoena request. Based on previous cases the account holders connected to the 11 IP-addresses listed above can expect a settlement offer in the mail soon.

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

TorrentFreak: Rightscorp’s DMCA Subpoena Effort Crashes and Burns

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

In an effort to unmask file-sharers’ identities on behalf of clients including Warner Bros. and BMG, last year anti-piracy company Rightscorp began sending DMCA subpoenas to dozens of smaller ISPs in the United States.

The practice proved controversial. Although several ISPs complied with the anti-piracy company’s demands, DMCA subpoenas aren’t considered applicable in file-sharing cases, not least since they can by signed by a court clerk and are not reviewed by a judge.

In 2014, Rightscorp targeted ISP CBeyond with such a subpoena, but parent company Birch Communications refused to compromise the security of its customers. The company filed a motion to quash the subpoena arguing that Rightscorp was on privacy-invading fishing expedition.

In May, Birch Communications celebrated victory.

“CBeyond contends that the section does not apply to service providers that act only as a conduit for data transferred between other parties and that do not store data. The court agrees,” wrote Magistrate Judge Janet King in her ruling.

But for Rightscorp the matter wasn’t over. The company took the case to appeal in the hope of a better result, but that effort has now ended in another defeat for the struggling anti-piracy outfit.

In a statement sent to TorrentFreak, Tim Phelps, Director of Marketing Communications at Birch, reveals what happened.

“The DMCA did not provide any basis to require an Internet Service Provider in Birch’s position to open its files to private litigants,” Phelps explains.

“Rightscorp dropped its appeal of the May 2015 decision and the Court issued an entry of dismissal in the case.”

Christopher Bunce, Birch Senior Vice President and General Counsel, says that the company examines all applications for personal information and deals with them strictly in accordance with the law.

“Birch scrutinizes every demand from both private parties and the government, complying only with properly served subpoenas, warrants and court orders, refusing to comply with demands such as those served by Rightscorp, and always maintaining an eye toward protecting our customers’ interests,” Bunce says.

The tough stance taken by Birch in defense of customer privacy is not only to be commended but should also be noted by other ISPs. The Rightscorp case shows that companies are prepared to seek confidential data by inappropriate means and should be confronted whenever possible.

The outcome of this case represents yet another blow to Rightscorp, who recently revealed they are still hemorrhaging cash following yet another disappointing set of results.

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

TorrentFreak: Police Arrest Men For Spreading Popcorn Time Information

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

popcorntMore than a year after its 2014 launch and the popularity of the now famous Popcorn Time video streaming application is showing no signs of fading away.

However, since millions of people use the various forks of the software every day, Popcorn Time is increasingly attracting the attention of copyright holders, anti-piracy groups and law enforcement agencies.

While neither of the main forks have yet been targeted, others around them are feeling the heat. In fact, the latest news coming out of Denmark suggests that the authorities are even prepared to hit those barely on the perimeter.

Following a court order dated June, local police report that yesterday morning they arrested two men in their thirties said to be the operators of a pair of Popcorn Time related websites. Popcorntime.dk and Popcorn-time.dk have now been shut down, with their domains placed under the control of the state prosecutor.

“The Danish State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime is presently conducting a criminal investigation that involves this domain name,” reads the seizure notice.

“As part of the investigation the state prosecutor has requested a Danish District Court to transfer the rights of the domain name to the state prosecutor. The District Court has complied with the request.”

While arrests of file-sharers and those running sites that closely facilitate infringement are nothing new, this week’s arrests appear to go way beyond anything seen before. The two men are not connected to the development of Popcorn Time and have not been offering copyrighted content for download.

Both sites were information resources, offering recent news on Popcorn Time related developments, guides, FAQ sections and tips on how to use the software. The screenshot below shows PopcornTime.dk.

popcorndk

Those looking for a clearer (and live) idea of what the site looked like before it was taken down should check out getpopcorntime.co.uk, which was previously promoted by PopcornTime.dk as an English language version of their site.

Importantly, neither site hosted the Popcorn Time software, instead choosing to link to other sites where the application could be downloaded instead. Nevertheless, this doesn’t appear to have saved them from the Danish authorities.

Both stand accused of distributing knowledge and guides on how to obtain illegal content online and are reported to have confessed.

In fact, according to court documents the pair are suspected of such gross violations of copyright law that they could warrant punishment under section 299b of the penal code – offenses which carry a maximum prison term of six years.

Inspector Michael Hellensberg from the Danish police Fraud Squad told local media that the case is a significant one in a number of respects.

“The case is important because, firstly, it shows that [site operators] can be revealed by the police. This has consequences and it also conveys the message that this behavior is illegal,” Hellensberg said.

“Thus there is hopefully a deterrent effect against feeling confident that you can sit wherever you want and try to implement such things.”

Earlier this year, six websites setup as Popcorn Time “fan pages” were shut down by anti-piracy outfit BREIN. None were affiliated with the official project and all reached a financial settlement with the group.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Ducks Censorship Battle With Google, Twitter and Facebook

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

movietubeLast month the MPAA sued several popular movie streaming websites which all operated under the MovieTube flag.

As part of the lawsuit the major movie studios asked for a preliminary injunction ordering several third-party companies to stop linking or providing services to the sites.

For several tech companies this request went too far. Last week Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo explained to the court that it could result in broad Internet censorship, similar to the blocking provisions that were listed in the controversial SOPA bill.

The filing appeared to be the start of a new standoff between Hollywood and the tech companies, but a letter submitted by the MPAA yesterday puts it on hold.

The MPAA informed the court that a preliminary injunction is no longer required as the MovieTube sites have been offline for several weeks already.

“Plaintiffs are no longer seeking preliminary injunctive relief at this time but will seek permanent relief as soon as possible,” the MPAA’s lawyers write.

The decision to drop the request may very well have been triggered by the Amici Curiae brief of the tech companies. After all, the MovieTube sites were already offline when the MPAA submitted the injunction request weeks ago.

In their letter to the court the MPAA stress that the opposition brief should no longer be considered now that they have pulled their request for an injunction.

“…because Plaintiffs have withdrawn their motion for preliminary injunctive relief, the arguments offered by Amici Curiae in opposition to that motion are not ripe for consideration and are otherwise inapplicable.”

“To the extent Amici are requesting what amounts to an advisory opinion, such a request is improper and should not be entertained,” they add.

It appears that it’s a strategic move from the MPAA not to challenge the tech companies, for now. However, the movie industry group has made it clear that website blocking is one of their main anti-piracy priorities so we can expect this battle to reignite in the future.

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

TorrentFreak: Desperate Rightscorp Burns Through More Piracy Millions

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

rightscorpThere are millions of Internet users grabbing content from file-sharing networks each and every day. These mainly BitTorrent bandits cost copyright holders millions in lost revenues but with a little trickery it’s possible to make them pay.

We’re paraphrasing, but this is the basic marketing message of anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp, the company that tracks down file-sharers and demands up to $30 compensation to make supposed lawsuits go away.

It’s meant to be a profitable little number but the company simply cannot make it work. After going public two years ago, the company lost $3.4 million in 2014. In the first quarter of 2015, things hadn’t improved. While generating revenues of $307,904 in the first three months of the year, Rightscorp still managed to lose $929,768.

Now the company has published its results for Q2 2015 and the financial picture is bleaker than ever before. First up (and despite claiming to represent increasing numbers of clients and copyrights) Rightscorp revenues are down.

In the three months ended June 30, the total amount Rightscorp was able to squeeze out of millions of file-sharers was down to just $233,816. That represents a 7% decrease when compared to the same period in 2014 but a 24% drop in revenues when compared to Q1 2015. The company blames the revenue decrease on the “disproportionate amount of time” it spent “supporting clients in legal matters”.

Of course, the selling point of the entire Rightscorp operation is to monetize file-sharing by generating revenue for copyright holders. However, in the past three months the company paid just $116,908 to its clients, that’s down on the $125,740 it paid out during the same period in 2014.

But if falling revenues represent a headache for Rightscorp, its operating costs are an unrelenting migraine. In Q1 2015 Rightscorp’s operating costs exceeded $1.2m but in Q2 things really got out of hand with the company burning through almost $1.96m.

General and administrative fees for the three months ended June 30, 2015 totaled almost $1.8m, uncomfortably close to a million more than the $832,334 spent during the same period in 2014. Two main factors are behind this huge bill.

In Q1 2014, Rightscorp spent $241,347 on wages and related expenses but in the same period this year those costs had increased to $335,073. In the most recent quarter the company spent $674,885, despite dwindling revenues and paying less to copyright holders than before.

However, the big shock comes from the money being burned on legal action. Rightscorp is currently being sued over the methods it uses to collect cash from alleged pirates and that appears to be taking its toll.

“Legal Proceedings totaled $579,780 for the three months ended June 30, 2015, compared to $122,190 for the three months ended June 30, 2014, related to certain legal actions taken against the Company,” Rightscorp explain.

The bottom line is that the company made an operating loss of $1,722,507, close to a million more than the $743,599 it lost in the same period last year. That brings Rightscorp’s 2015 losses thus far to a little over $2.65m.

Should it continue to perform at the current rate, Rightscorp will make an operating loss of more than $5m this year, $1.6m up on the $3.4m it lost in 2014. However, there are at least some signs that the company is taking measures to improve revenue.

Firstly, reports suggest that Rightscorp is now seeking $30 from alleged infringers, up from the $20 it charged previously.

There are also indications that the company is becoming more aggressive with alleged pirates who refuse to settle for relatively small amounts of money.

After teaming up with a law firm, Rightscorp says that its data is now being used to take repeat infringers to court, such as the handful of Comcast users targeted earlier this year.

While this may bring in some additional revenue, the action could also be useful to scare more Rightscorp targets into settling for small amounts rather than becoming tangled in expensive legal action. But whatever the results from these tweaks, Rightscorp clearly needs to do something soon.

“The Company has not yet established an ongoing source of revenues sufficient to cover its operating costs and to allow it to continue as a going concern. The ability of the Company to continue as a going concern is dependent on the Company obtaining adequate capital to fund operating losses until it establishes a revenue stream and becomes profitable,” Rightscorp writes.

“If the Company is unable to obtain adequate capital it could be forced to cease operations. Accordingly, these factors raise substantial doubt as to the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Site Uploaders Agree to Snitch on Colleagues

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

snitchBack in April, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN obtained ex parte court orders (defendants didn’t appear) against members of a piracy release group.

Known online as ‘Dutch Release Team’, the group specialized in making available subtitled films and TV shows. In their absence the courts ordered three leaders of the group to stop their infringement or face the consequences – a fine of 2,000 euros per day or 2,000 euros per infringing upload, to a maximum fine of 50,000 euros.

According to BREIN the group members not only moderated their own website where they uploaded their latest releases, they were also involved in uploading content to torrent sites including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents.

In the wake of the April rulings it now appears that the trio have come to a settlement agreement with BREIN. Not only have they removed their torrents from KickassTorrents and agreed to pay a cash settlement, they have also promised to hand over information about other group members to BREIN.

While it’s unclear what details have been handed over, it’s fairly unusual for ‘snitching’ to be publicly revealed as part of a piracy settlement deal. It’s not unheard of (it happened in the United States last year) but it certainly piqued our interest. Is this a common thing for BREIN?

“The bulk of what – and who – we get is a result of our own investigations, but it is true that once we have identified an offender we are interested to hear about accomplices,” BREIN chief Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak.

Interestingly, the anti-piracy boss also implies that those looking for an easier ride could get more favorable settlement terms if the information they hand over to BREIN proves to be of value.

“Depending on circumstances, useful information may be reflected in the terms of settlement,” Kuik explains.

But it’s not only those looking to get themselves out of trouble who pass information to the anti-piracy group. In some cases the tip-offs come from rivals in the piracy scene.

“Also we do get anonymous tips regarding offenders and from time to time it is clear that a tip comes from a ‘competitor’,” Kuik says. “It’s just like with other crime on any turf.”

While instances of ‘snitching’ are most certainly under publicized, some anti-piracy groups thrive on this kind of intelligence gathering. The UK’s Federation Against Software Theft runs a so-called “grass hotline” where people can inform on companies for using under licensed software.

FAST rely on two human traits to gather information on targets – greed (informants get paid) and a desire for revenge. According to FAST, many of their snitches are ex-employees with a grudge against their former bosses.

There can little doubt that snitching on fellow Internet users is frowned upon by many file-sharers but at the same time intense pressure from copyright holders and threats of punishing legal action have the ability to force most hands. It’s an intelligence conduit that will always remain useful to groups like BREIN, even if most cases aren’t made public.

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

TorrentFreak: Should Web Browsers Block Copyright Infringing URLs?

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

stop-blockedWith more than 150 million active users per month uTorrent is without a doubt the most popular file-sharing application.

Many people use the software to download pirated material, which worries copyright holder groups such as the RIAA.

Earlier this month the music group sent a letter to uTorrent’s parent company BitTorrent Inc. urging it to do something about this unauthorized use. Ideally, the RIAA would like infringing hashes to be banned so that users can no longer share these files.

“We are willing to establish a process to share the hashes with BitTorrent Inc. on a regular basis so that BitTorrent Inc. can use the information to deter further infringement of those files via its goods and services,” the RIAA wrote in a letter to the company.

Technically speaking it’s quite easy to block hashes. Several BitTorrent trackers already do this to keep copyright holders appeased, but thus far this has been a bridge too far for the company behind uTorrent.

BitTorrent Inc. hasn’t responded to our repeated requests for comment, but in a brief statement provided to Venturebeat the company notes that the protocol is open source, legal and that they themselves don’t host any infringing content. This is true, but the response also misses the main point.

The RIAA’s request isn’t about the protocol or the technology. It’s about adding a piracy prevention mechanism to a neutral piece of software. Should BitTorrent be obliged to do that?

Legally speaking BitTorrent Inc isn’t required to take any action. Browser developers don’t have to block infringing URLs either, even though hundreds of millions of people use their software to download or stream pirated content.

However, the RIAA’s letter shows that the music group is trying to shift this obvious boundary, and they are not only focusing on BitTorrent.

TF has learned that the RIAA and MPAA are pushing for automated pirate site blocking/warning technology. Outright takedown requests to browser vendors are not going to happen anytime soon, but subtle changes may appear.

The RIAA previously noted that it would like Google to expand Chrome’s malware warning system to cover pirate sites. This would mean that users see a red warning screen when they attempt to visit known piracy sites.

For its part the MPAA is actively lobbying for “site scoring” tools behind closed doors. A leaked copy of the group’s anti-piracy strategies lists site scoring services, which identify pirate sites, as a high priority.

The Hollywood group writes that these pirate site lists can then be used as a blocking tool by advertisers, payment processors, domain name registrars, hosting providers and search engines. Web browsers are not mentioned specifically, but it’s not hard to imagine these also appearing on the MPAA’s wish list.

In any case, the efforts outlined above show that copyright holders would like to extend anti-piracy measures beyond traditional service providers to software vendors. Today it’s BitTorrent clients but browser vendors may be next.

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

TorrentFreak: Piracy Stunt Studio ‘Overwhelmed” By Positive Feedback

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

dying-sucks“What the fuck do you think you are doing?”

While a chillingly familiar phrase to anyone who has dismantled an oily motorcycle engine on a family kitchen table, that’s actually the scolding voice of Madonna preaching to her fans more than a decade ago.

It’s been 12 long years since those infamous words were first heard by shocked would-be pirates of Madonna’s album American Life. But even today the decision to embed the singer’s anger into MP3 tracks on early file-sharing networks makes little sense.

Aggressive lecturing of pirates has never worked and is never likely to. Whether entertainment companies like it or not, pirates are human beings. Talking to them like children and/or thieving scum might be tempting, but befriending, nurturing and entertaining (even through gritted teeth) is a much better strategy.

This week came news of another effort at converting pirates into paying customers, with NoodleCake Studios confessing that it uploaded a special version of its game Shooting Stars! to torrent sites. The game was playable for a while but had an unbeatable boss which preceded a message to support the developers and buy the game.

Of course, these kinds of scheme aren’t new and it’s a path well-trodden by many software developers in recent times. However, what NoodleCake brought to the table this week were huge helpings of honesty and a desire to use inevitable piracy as a point of leverage.

First off, the studio made it clear up front that the whole thing wasn’t designed to piss off Android pirates. It was a straight up and good-humored marketing stunt.

“Being spiteful really isn’t our style to be honest. We know that piracy exists and is an issue, but it is also something that we have just come to accept as part of the digital age,” NoodleCake’s Ryan Holowaty informs TF.

“So instead we thought it would be fun to embrace piracy and see if we could turn it into something positive from a press stand point. The overwhelming response we have gotten from media on this approach has proven the experiment a success, far beyond driving any additional sales via the in-game messaging to purchase the premium version.”

Intrigued by the positive approach to a decades old problem, TF asked the company about its views on people who download their content for free.

“Pirates come in all shapes and sizes and because of that, we don’t classify them as really anything but pirates. Some will become future customers if they like our products, others can be considered a wash and never will purchase anything,” Holowaty explains.

“But even just having someone play our games, be it paid or not, is a small victory in itself. We aren’t here to lecture anyone on the ethicacy of pirating. Instead we wanted to tell a fun story using piracy as the medium.”

And the studio appears to have done just that, thankfully without the kind of aggressive stance employed by Madonna all those years ago.

“I think there is a fine line you can walk and perhaps aggressively calling out fans of your music isn’t the best way to do it. In our case we poke fun at the situation by parodying the music industry and using less aggressive messaging by saying that piracy sucks and if you want, please support us,” Holowaty notes.

“I believe strongly in karma and that the world gives back what you put into it. So if you are throwing vitriol at you fans because they wanted to experience your product, odds are they might send it right back at you. Then you end up in a flame war and no one wants that.”

While refraining from lectures and bitter rhetoric, in the end NoodleCake are pragmatic about their anti-piracy marketing efforts.

“I think doing stunts like we did show that we are aware of piracy but aren’t here to try and change how DRM or anti-piracy policy works in any way. Just like our fans who pay for our games, we want to build a relationship with anyone playing our games, paid or not,” Holowaty adds.

“If even one person buys the game because they appreciated or ‘got’ what we were doing with the fake pirated version, then that is a win for us. I have seen a number of people commenting on the story saying that they purchased the game because of what we did.

“The positive feedback has been kind of overwhelming to be honest,” he concludes.

Intro

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

TorrentFreak: Warner Bros. Obtains Injunction Against 16 Torrent Sites

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

warner_brosFor the past several years Russia has been making increased efforts to protect content creators. This includes a legal process through which copyright holders can obtain a blocking injunction against sites that are unresponsive to takedown demands.

On August 6, 2015, Warner Bros. filed such a lawsuit at the Moscow City Court in an effort to stop (or at least limit) the unlawful distribution of the movie Entourage. The action targeted 16 separate torrent sites including one of Russia’s most popular, Rutor.org.

The sites had previously been approached to delete the infringing content as Russian law requires but according to a source close to Warner cited by Vedomosti, all failed to respond.

A day later on August 8, the Court upheld Warner’s claims and initiated provisional interim measures against the pages of the sites from where Entourage was being distributed.

This represents the first time that a U.S. based movie company has used Russia’s anti-piracy blocking system directly without enlisting the assistance of a local rightsholder. Nevertheless, Warner did get some help in court from local anti-piracy outfit WebKontrol.

“Warner wants viewers who want to see the movie, to see it in theaters in the best quality, not via a poor-quality illegal copy,” WebKontrol lawyer Lina Gevorgyan told Vedomosti.

“Ultimately, we hope that these sites will comply with Russian law and remove the illegal content.”

The full list of sites affected by the Warner injunction is Bobfilm.net, Kinozadrot.net, Kinokrad.net, Kinomassa.net, BigCinema.tv, My-hit.org, NNM-Club.me, Tushkan.net, Kino-Serial.net, Kinozal.tv, Kinoprosmotr.net, Kinogo.co, Wood-Film.ru, Zerkalo-Rutor.org, 8films.net and Rutor.org.

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

TorrentFreak: Vimeo Intervenes to Fix ‘Pixels’ DMCA Disaster

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

vimeoAfter watching the situation play out during last week, this past weekend TF published an article detailing a disastrous copyright notice.

Working on behalf of Columbia Pictures, UK-based anti-piracy outfit Entura International sent an unfortunate DMCA notice to Vimeo demanding that the video hosting site take down several works that allegedly infringed their client’s copyrights. Trouble was, none of them did. In fact, their only crime was to have the word ‘Pixels’ in their titles.

Quite remarkably, among the videos taken down was an award-winning movie by Patrick Jean. Published in 2010 and also titled Pixels, this was the work that actually inspired Columbia’s movie. In fact, Jean even has a credit in Pixels 2015.

Behind the scenes TorrentFreak was in discussion with one of the affected parties. Concerned about a legal process they had little experience of, they asked to remain off the record. But what became clear is that while Entura were permitted to issue a complaint and take down content immediately, the counter-notice procedure was much more drawn out. In fact, several days later no videos had been restored.

Yesterday, however, all that changed. Vimeo informs TorrentFreak that after becoming aware of serious issues with Entura’s DMCA notice, the video hosting company decided to intervene.

“Late last week, Vimeo removed certain videos pursuant to a DMCA takedown notice filed by Entura International claiming that the videos contained copyrighted content from the film Pixels,” Vimeo told TF.

“After users informed us that their videos did not contain any Pixels content, we reached out to Entura. Entura has since withdrawn its takedown notice. As a result, we have now restored the affected videos.”

A check of all ten affected videos reveals that they have indeed been restored to their former glory, which is obviously very good news for the parties involved. However, Vimeo’s response to the problem – i.e getting directly involved – is somewhat unique.

Mostly users are left to fend for themselves when a wrongful complaint is filed against their account. Does this interaction with Entura signal a new approach by Vimeo and can we expect similar action in future?

“We handle DMCA notices on a case-by-case basis,” Vimeo told us.

“It’s our policy to inform users of their rights and give them the ability to file a counter-notice or reach out to the complaining party to request that a notice be withdrawn. In this case, it appeared that the complaining party had made a mistake, so we reached out.”

But while Vimeo is to be commended for taking action, the system remains flawed.

Without providing any evidence, Entura was not only able to have ten entirely non-infringing videos removed from the service, but in response Vimeo issued each of its affected customers with a ‘strike’ against their account. If the users were to receive a couple more of these they could be classified as serial offenders and find themselves banned from Vimeo altogether.

While acknowledging that a repeat infringer policy is considered important for U.S.-based services, we put it to Vimeo that there might be a better way to deal with ‘strikes’. Perhaps delaying the issuing of a strike against a customer account until they’ve been given a chance to appeal (thereby giving them the benefit of the doubt) might be an option?

“To answer your other question, when a video is restored — whether due to a counter-notice or the withdrawal of a DMCA notice — the associated strike on the member’s account is removed,” Vimeo said.

So, in summary, anti-piracy companies issuing wrongful takedowns can easily have a strike placed against a user’s account, but the onus remains on the user to fight his corner in order to have the strike removed. That’s not always straightforward.

While things ended well in this case, there can be little doubt that less publicized cases on Vimeo, YouTube and dozens of other services will end badly, with users picking up strikes they don’t deserve. Thanks to ChillingEffects, however, many of the problems are made public and can be tackled. Expect more in the future – many more.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Recruits Software Programmer to Combat Piracy

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

mpaa-logoIn its quest to stamp out piracy, the MPAA continues to evolve its anti-piracy strategies and tools.

It’s no secret that the movie industry group often hires outsiders to track down pirates, but it’s now also recruiting fresh blood to bring some of this technology in-house.

The MPAA currently has several open positions including one for a Software Programmer. This is an interesting job application as it reveals a bit more about what the MPAA is up to behind the scenes.

The person hired for the programmer job will work under the supervision of Vice President of Internet Content Protection and will be tasked with developing monitoring tools and investigating piracy trends.

Among other things, the MPAA is looking for candidates who can create tools to automatically gather large amounts of data. This could be related to the sending of DMCA notices, for example, which the MPAA hasn’t done much of recently.

“They will develop and use automated tools for gathering large amounts of data from online websites and resources, and generate meaningful statistics to help guide and bolster enforcement actions,” the application reads.

The key responsibilities also reveal other anti-piracy tasks, such as forensic analysis of websites, monitoring and reporting infringements, and gathering intelligence on pirate sites.

– Monitor, investigate and report on copyright infringement occurring online via established and emerging content distribution technologies.
– Develop scripts for conducting automated scrapes of online information for intelligence gathering and enforcement purposes.
– Conduct detailed forensic analysis of online content, including reviewing technical infrastructure of online platforms and sites.

mpaa-keyresponse

Another job opening at the MPAA that’s worth a mention is that of Cisco Network Engineer. This is another tech position and a crucial one as it involves the operation and management of the MPAA’s local network and file-storage services.

With the recent Sony hack in mind, this is quite a sensitive job and the Hollywood group points out that applicants must possess the “highest level of work ethics and integrity” and be able to “maintain confidential information.”

Both positions are still vacant so readers looking for a job at one of the best known anti-piracy firms are welcome to respond.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Group Hits Indie Creators For Using the Word ‘Pixels’

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

abortretryfailTens of millions of DMCA-style notices are sent to online services every week complaining about copyright infringement. While most are accurate, some contain errors.

Some take screwing up to a whole new level.

This week anti-piracy group Entura International sent a notice to Vimeo in what first appeared to be an effort to stop piracy of the Columbia movie ‘Pixels’. Not only did it fail to do that in every way possible, it hit a number of indie creators and filmmakers instead.

Founded in November 2004, NeMe describes itself as a non-profit NGO and an ‘Independent Museum of Contemporary Art’.

“Our NGO has just received a DMCA notice for a video we produced in 2006 entitled ‘Pixels’,” the group told Vimeo this week.

“The video was directed by a Cypriot film-maker using his own photos and sounds/music on a shoestring budget and infringes no copyright.”

Sadly for NeMe, however, it has now been resigned to history.

pixels-dmca

But upsetting the NGO was just the tip of the iceberg. The notice goes on to hit an embarrassing array of entirely non-infringing works.

“Life Buoy is my project for my degree at the National University of Arts from Bucharest,” creator Dragos Bardac explains.

“The film was made in mid 2010 and it is a music video for the song Life buoy by the band The Pixels. I used a mix of stop motion animation techniques in order to tell the story.”

But it doesn’t stop there.

Published on Vimeo in 2011, “Pantone Pixels” is described by creator Rob Penny as a “personal project that took me a very long time”.

Thanks to Entura, however, the image below now greets users of his website.

pixels-pantone-gone

And it gets worse.

‘Pixels’ is a 2010 award-winning short film created by Patrick Jean. Its tagline “8Bit creatures are invading New York City” only tells half the story of this extremely cool short movie. It’s now wiped out on Vimeo but luckily YouTube still retains copies which together have been viewed millions of times.

Also falling victim is VJLoops.com, a royalty free stock footage & media site. They put up a video on Vimeo titled ‘Love Pixels’ which turned out to be a big mistake. Same goes for a 42 second video concerning this year’s Pixels Festival in Mons, Belgium.

Last, but certainly not least, Entura rounded off this disaster by taking down the official Pixels movie trailer, even though their very own notice lists their errors clearly.

pixels-notice

Of course, in addition to the hassle of having had their content wrongfully taken down, each person subjected to a notice from Entura will have a ‘strike’ placed against their Vimeo account.

“The notice we received says that this is strike 1 which we do not accept for the aforementioned reasons. It also says that for Vimeo to accept to return the video online we have to give our name address and an assortment of statements,” the NeMe project told Vimeo in a response.

“I’d suggest filling a counter notice,” Mark from the company responded. “This is in the hands of our trust and safety team and unfortunately our support team cannot help you with this issue.”

Sorry folks, apparently you’re on your own.

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