Posts tagged ‘Anti-Piracy’

TorrentFreak: UK Anti-Piracy ‘Education’ Campaign Launched, Quietly

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

uk-flagIn an effort to curb online piracy, early last year the movie and music industries reached agreement with the UK’s leading ISPs to send ‘warnings’ to alleged pirates.

Under the new system copyright holders will monitor illegal P2P file-sharing activity with a strong focus on repeat offenders.

The warning program is part of the larger Creative Content UK (CCUK) initiative which also includes an educational component. Though various PR campaigns the coalition hopes to change people’s attitudes towards piracy.

CCUK was launched after years of negotiating and the plans were widely discussed in the media. However, when the first campaign launched a few weeks ago there was a remarkable silence.

The first education campaign is called “Get It Right from a Genuine Site.” It encourages people to stay clear from pirate sites and use licensed services instead, so that copyright holders and industry employees are properly compensated.

The campaign was promoted alongside an ad which aired during the UK version of The X-Factor and elsewhere late October. In the high-profile advertising spot, which isn’t cheap, viewers were encouraged to duck dodgy sites and go legit.

“Get the stuff you love from genuine sites and support creativity. Download or stream from dodgy sites and contribute nothing. It’s your choice,” it says.

Get It Right from a Genuine Site

CCUK is encouraging the public to use the hashtag #genuine to promote the initiative. However, thus far the response has been rather underwhelming with only a handful of tweets, mostly from industry insiders.

Today, the hashtag is mostly used in totally unrelated tweets and on other social media the project isn’t really taking off either. The official Facebook page of the campaign has only 114 likes.

The only Facebook comment responding to the campaign ad is not very encouraging either. “It’s not 2003. No one’s getting pirated music from IRC or whatever,” it reads.

In addition to the ad, CCUK is also backing a large street art project. It’s not entirely clear how this offline project relates to online piracy, but perhaps it’s an effort to appeal to the target audience.

TorrentFreak asked CCUK for a comment on the first campaign, but at the time of writing we haven’t heard back.

A CCUK spokesperson previously informed us that their ultimate goal is to bring down local piracy rates. During the months following the rollout the file-sharing habits of UK Internet users will be frequently polled to measure the impact of the campaign.

“The aim of Creative Content UK is to encourage greater use of legal content services and to reduce online copyright infringement. There will be regular measurements of legal and illegal consumption of content throughout the duration of the initiative, which will be compared with levels before the launch of the program,” CCUK told TF.

Considering the response and exposure thus far, there’s still a long way to go.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA ‘Softens’ Movie Theater Anti-Piracy Policy, Drops Bounty

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

recillegalThe MPAA sees illegally recorded movies as one of the biggest piracy threats and goes to extremes to stop it.

During pre-release screenings and premieres, for example, employees are often equipped with night-vision goggles and other spy tech to closely monitor movie goers.

In some cases members of the public have been instructed to hand over all recording-capable devices including phones and Google glasses.

Through these measures the MPAA hopes to prevent pirates from camcording movies or recording audio in theaters. The underlying policy is drafted in cooperation with the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), and a few days ago the most recent version was released.

At first sight not much has changed. The MPAA still recommends theater owners to keep an eye on suspect movie goers while prohibiting the use of any recording devices including phones.

“Preventative measures should include asking patrons to silence and put away their phones and requiring they turn off and stow all other devices capable of recording, including wearable technology capable of recording.

“If individuals fail or refuse to put any recording device away, managers—per your theater’s policy — can ask them to leave,” the recommendation reads.

There are several subtle changed throughout the document though, especially regarding the involvement of police. Previously, theater employees were encouraged to detain suspect visitors and hand them over to the authorities.

This is explicitly stated in the following snippet taken from the 2014 version of the best practices.

“Theater managers should immediately alert law enforcement authorities whenever they have clear indications that prohibited activity is taking place—the proper authorities will determine what laws may have been violated and what enforcement action should be taken.”

In the new document, however, it’s no longer a requirement to call the police. Instead, this is now optional.

“Theater managers have the option to immediately alert law enforcement authorities whenever they have clear indications that prohibited activity is taking place or managers can the stop the activity without law enforcement assistance.”

Similar changes were made throughout the document. Even reporting incidents to the MPAA no longer appears to be mandatory, which it still was according to last year’s text.

“After your theater manager has contacted the police, your theater manager should immediately call the MPAA 24/7 Anti-Camcording Hot Line to report the incident.”

The language above has now been changed to a less urgent option of simply reporting incidents, should a theater manager deem it appropriate.

“Your theater manager can also call the MPAA 24/7 Anti-Camcording Hot Line to report the incident.”

Aside from the softer tone there’s another significant change to the best practices. The $500 “reward” movie theater employees could get for catching pirates is no longer mentioned.

The old Take Action Award mention

In fact, the entire “take action award” program appears to have been discontinued. The NATO page where it was listed now returns a 404 error and the details on FightFilmTheft have been removed as well.

This stands in stark contrast to the UK where the rewards for a similar program were doubled just a few weeks ago, with officials describing it as a great success.

The question that remains unanswered is why the MPAA and NATO have implemented these changes. Could it be that there were too many false positives being reported to the police, or is there an image problem perhaps?

In recent years several questionable police referrals resulted in a media backlash. A 19-year-old girl was arrested for recording a 20 second clip from the movie “Transformers,” which she wanted to show to her brother, for example.

And just last year the FBI dragged a man from a movie theater in Columbus, Ohio, after theater staff presumed his wearing of Google Glass was a sign that he was engaged in camcorder piracy.

Meanwhile, reports of real pirates being apprehended in a similar fashion have been notable by their absence.

Best Practices to Prevent Film Theft

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

TorrentFreak: No Copyright Trolls, Your Evidence Isn’t Flawless

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

xmastrollEarlier this month TF broke the news that Sky Broadband in the UK were sending letters out to some of their customers, warning them they’re about to be accused of downloading and sharing movies without permission.

When they arrive the threats will come from Golden Eye International (GEIL), the company behind the ‘Ben Dover’ porn brand that has already targeted hundreds of people with allegations of Internet piracy.

“It’s likely that Golden Eye International will contact you directly and may ask you to pay them compensation,” the ISP warned.

In fact, GEIL will definitely ask for money, largely based on their insistence that the evidence they hold is absolutely irrefutable. It’s the same tune they’ve been singing for years now, without ever venturing to back up their claims in court. Sadly, other legal professionals are happy to sing along with them.

“Don’t do anything illegal and you won’t get a letter,” intellectual property specialist Iain Connor told The Guardian last week.

“Golden Eye will only have gotten details of people that they can prove downloaded content and so whether the ‘invoice’ demand is reasonable will depend on how much they downloaded that infringed copyright material.”

Quite aside from the fact that none of these cases are about downloading copyrighted material (they’re about uploading), one has to presume that Connor isn’t personally familiar with details of these cases otherwise he would’ve declared that interest. Secondly, he is absolutely wrong.

Companies like GEIL sometimes get it wrong, the anti-piracy trackers they use get things wrong, and ISPs get things wrong too. An IP address is NOT a person but innocent parties have to go to huge lengths to prove that. IT worker Harri Salminen did just that and this week finally managed to publicly clear his family’s name.

It started two years ago when his wife – the Internet account payer – was accused by an anti-piracy outfit (unconnected to GEIL) of pirating on a massive scale.

“They claimed that thousands of music tracks had been illegally distributed from our Internet connection,” Salminen told local media.

“The letter came addressed to my wife and she became very anxious, since she didn’t understand what this was all about. According to the letter, the matter was going to the court and we were advised to make contact to agree on compensation.”

Sound familiar? Read on.

The Salminen family has two children so took time to ensure they hadn’t uploaded anything illegally. Harri Salminen, who works in the IT industry, established that they had not, so began to conduct his own investigation. Faced with similar “irrefutable” IP address-based evidence to that presented in all of these ‘troll’ cases, what could’ve possibly gone wrong?

Attached to the letter of claim was a page from Salminen’s ISP which detailed the name of his wife, the IP address from where the piracy took place, and a date of infringement. This kind of attachment is common in such cases and allows trolls to imply that their evidence is somehow endorsed by their target’s ISP.

Then Salminen struck gold. On the day that the alleged infringement took place the IT worker was operating from home while logged into his company’s computer systems. Knowing that his company keeps logs of the IP addresses accessing the system, Salminen knew he could prove which IP address he’d been using on the day.

“I looked into my employer’s system logs for IP-addresses over several weeks and I was able to show that our home connection’s IP address at the time of the alleged act was quite different from the IP address mentioned in the letter,” he explained.

So what caused Salminen’s household to be wrongly identified? Well, showing how things can go wrong at any point, it appears that there was some kind of screw-up between the anti-piracy company and Salminen’s ISP.

Instead of identifying the people who had the IP address at the time of the actual offense, the ISP looked up the people using the address when the inquiry came in.

“The person under employment of the ISP inputs a date, time, and IP-address to the system based on a court order,” anti-piracy group TTVK now explains.

“And of course, when a human is doing something, there is always a possibility for an error. But even one error is too much.”

Saliminen says that it was only his expertise in IT that saved him from having to battle it out in court, even though his family was entirely innocent. Sadly, those about to be accused by Golden Eye probably won’t have access to similar resources.

“We have only written to those account holders for whom we have evidence of copyright infringement,” Golden Eye’s Julian Becker said confidently last week.

Trouble is, Golden Eye only has an IP address and the name of the account holder. They have no evidence that person is the actual infringer, even presuming there hasn’t been a screw-up like the one detailed above.

“We have written to account holders accusing them of copyright infringement, even though it’s entirely possible they personally did nothing wrong and shouldn’t have to pay us a penny,” is perhaps what he should’ve said.

But that’s not only way too frank but a sure-fire way of punching a huge hole in GEIL’s bottom line. And for a troll like GEIL, that would be a disaster.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Group Stops Prolific KickassTorrent’s Uploader

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

KATNetherlands-based anti-piracy group BREIN is one of few such outfits to directly go after both the operators and users of pirate sites.

The Hollywood-backed group doesn’t target random file-sharers but focuses on prolific uploaders, who share hundreds or thousands of files.

This month these efforts led to another victory for the organization. A Breda court ruled in favor of BREIN in an ex-parte case against a 20-year-old student, who uploaded over 750 torrents to KickassTorrents.

Most torrents were targeted at the Dutch public, including a full season of The Walking Dead and the film Avengers: Age of Ultron, both with subtitles.

BREIN argued that the man’s infringing activities were causing irreparable damage for the various copyright holders involved. In addition, his efforts help frustrate the growth of legal services such as Spotify and Netflix.

The court agreed with BREIN’s assessment and ordered the uploader to stop sharing pirated content on KickassTorrents (pdf). Refusing to do so will result in a €2,000 fine per day, with a maximum of €50,000.

Responding to the verdict, the man, whose name is not made public, deleted his account as well as all uploads.

TorrentFreak tracked down what appears to be the user in question. This person frequently uploaded torrents with Dutch subtitles, some of which were mentioned in the case.

The deleted profile

BREIN notes that the student also agreed to pay compensation to the copyright holders as well as costs for the legal proceedings. While calculating the appropriate ‘damages’ figure BREIN took the man’s personal circumstances into account.

This means that the uploader has gotten off relatively unharmed, when compared to the million dollar claims we’ve seen elsewhere at least.

It’s not clear how BREIN tracked down the uploader. The anti-piracy group is known to scour the Internet for information that can identify infringers, some of whom are surprisingly easy to find.

In addition, BREIN also uses previously convicted file-sharers to gather intelligence, and rival uploaders also rat out their competitors voluntarily every now and then.

“We do get anonymous tips regarding offenders and from time to time it is clear that a tip comes from a ‘competitor. It’s just like with other crime on any turf,” BREIN’s Tim Kuik told us previously.

Looking ahead, BREIN is planning to intensify its efforts to hold prolific uploaders responsible. Not just those who upload to torrent sites, but also those who simply download and share.

Last week NOS reported that BREIN is preparing to monitor IP-addresses systematically to identify prolific sharers, which they then hope to identify through their Internet providers.

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

TorrentFreak: No Pirate Bay Blockade in Sweden, Court Rules

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

tpbThe Pirate Bay is blocked by dozens of ISPs around Europe but anti-piracy outfits have always hoped that one day the notorious site would be rendered inaccessible in Sweden, its country of origin.

To that end, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry teamed up in a lawsuit last year designed to force Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget (Broadband Company) to block the site.

They claimed that the ISP should be held liable for the infringements of its customers, unless it blocks Pirate Bay.

Bredbandsbolaget flat out refused to comply, stating categorically that its only role is to provide customers with Internet access while facilitating the free-flow of information. The case went to trial and was heard in the Stockholm District Court during October. After nearly a month the Court has handed down its decision and its a huge win for the ISP and, indirectly, two famous pirate sites.

In a ruling handed down just minutes ago, the Stockholm District Court completely rejected rightsholder demands that Bredbandsbolaget should block its subscribers from accessing The Pirate Bay and streaming portal Swefilmer.

The Court reports that the case was heard in light of an EU directive which notes that member states shall ensure that rightholders have the possibility to ask for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to commit copyright infringement.

The District Court says that in its opinion Swedish legislation meets the requirements of the Infosoc directive. Furthermore, the Court also considers that the actions of Bredbandsbolaget do not constitute participation in crimes in accordance with Swedish law.

“A unanimous District Court considers, therefore, that it is not in a position to authorize such a ban as the rights holders want and therefore rejects their request,” said presiding Chief Magistrate Anders Dereborg.

Of course, there are higher courts in Sweden and it is very likely that’s where this case will end up. Today’s decision can be taken to the Svea Court of Appeal no later than December 18, 2015.

In the meantime the plaintiffs in the case must pay Bredbandsbolaget’s costs, expected to exceed US$160,000.

Breaking news story, updates to follow

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

TorrentFreak: Supreme Court Opens Door for Pirate Site Blockades in Germany

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

stop-blockedDomain name blocking has become one of the entertainment industries’ go-to methods for reducing online copyright infringement.

Blocking requests from both the music and movie sector are widespread around Europe, but until now Germany has been excluded.

However, this may soon change. In a landmark ruling the Supreme Court has today opened the door to German pirate site blockades.

The origin of the ruling dates back seven years when German music rights group GEMA, known for its aggressive anti-piracy stance, found music tracks on major file-hosting sites being distributed via the music linking site

After GEMA failed in its efforts to contact 3DL’s operators to deal with the infringement, the music group tried another tactic.

In a subsequent complaint, GEMA demanded that in order to reduce further copyright infringement, leading German ISP Deutsche Telekom should take technical steps to stop its customers from accessing

The ISP refused, stating that as a mere ‘dumb pipe’ it has nothing to do with the infringement on the site. Furthermore, blocking one site would simply lead to increasing numbers of similar demands, the ISP argued.

Together with a similar lawsuit against the site, the case eventually ended up at the Supreme Court which ruled on the issue today.

In its order the court argues that an ISP blockade is warranted if copyright holders have exhausted all their options to identify the operators or hosting providers of pirate sites.

The court also noted that it doesn’t matter if users can circumvent blockades. Simply rendering sites more difficult for the general public to access is sufficient.

GEMA is delighted with the decision and says it will be a great tool to combat online piracy.

“We welcome the judgment of the Supreme Court. This landmark decision was long overdue, since it leads the way in protecting our copyrights in the digital music market,” GEMA CEO Harald Heker says.

“At last we have legal clarity about the fact that ISP blockades of websites that offer illegal copyrighted music works en masse, are permitted. An important step to combat Internet piracy,” he adds.

It’s expected that the first blocking requests will be filed in the near future. While is no longer online, other high-profile pirate sites including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents are probably high on GEMA’s wish list.

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

TorrentFreak: Judge Worries That Piracy Lawsuits Will Flood Courts

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

So-called ‘copyright-trolling’ is quite clearly big business as 2015 comes to a close. Often portrayed by content owners as a necessary evil designed to send a deterrent message to pirates, overall the practice is lucrative for the many companies involved.

The whole system relies on intimidating people into paying a ‘fine’ or settlement fee, often between a few hundred and a few thousand euros or dollars. The threat is to take cases to court if people don’t pay, alongside a clear suggestion that things will get more costly thereon in.

Over in Finland, Hedman Partners – a law firm acting on behalf of several movie, TV show and adult distributors – has been employing this exact tactic and after failing to get the desired number of pirates to pay, is now taking people to court.

Lawyer Joni Hatanmaa announced the first three cases against Finnish citizens last month and as previously promised, those people are now being told to expect big bills. However, according to the law firm things could get substantially worse.

Speaking with state-owned YLE, Hatanmaa now warns that his company is hoping to obtain the personal details of more than 10,000 alleged pirates in the coming year and if necessary will eventually take up to hundreds of cases to court.

The prospect of these kinds of copyright cases bogging down the legal system hasn’t been well received and already there a worries over where capacity to handle them will be found. Such cases are filed at the Market Court, a specialist venue hearing IP, competition and market law disputes, and its chief judge says a flood could prove problematic.

“If these cases become this plentiful, then how can we organize them with our existing resources? We already have an abundance of pending things here,” says Chief Judge Kimmo Mikkola.

While the Judge is right to express concern, history shows that in Europe there is less willingness to take cases to court than there is in the U.S., for example. Statutory damages in the United States mean that defendants could face bills of $150,000 for a single infringement if found guilty, an amount that serves to encourage early settlement.

In Europe the position is somewhat different, with alleged pirates more willing to take a chance on ignoring threatening letters while hoping the whole matter simply disappears. That does indeed happen in some cases, but precise and current numbers are impossible to come by. However, since ‘trolls’ keep coming back for more, the suggestion is that enough pay to keep the scheme going – and profitable.

In Finland it does appear that at least in limited numbers, Hedman Partners are prepared to take some cases to court to prove their point. However, some experts believe that it won’t be an easy ride.

Copyright specialist Herkko Hietanen of the Turre Legal law firm says that guilt will be difficult to prove since the court will require the copyright holder to show that the Internet account holder is the person liable for the infringement, since that’s who their claims are addressed to.

Judge Kimmo Mikkola agrees that identifying the precise infringer could be an issue.

“There is a problem of showing who has used the Internet connection. We can get clarity on these issues when we start to deal with them,” the Judge concludes.

That was certainly an issue for the Salminen family, who two years ago were accused of downloading and sharing thousands of songs. They’ve had an uphill struggle but have finally cleared their names after Mr Salminen, an IT expert, went all out to prove the case brought against them was false.

This week the family got the recognition they deserved when it was reported in local media that the anti-piracy group involved admitted that somewhere in the chain there had been an error and the wrong people had been accused.

“We had a lot of watertight, technical evidence backing us up that would be impossible for anyone other than someone in the IT field to gain access to,” Salminen said.

“If a letter like this would be delivered to a little old grandmother, how would she ever get this resolved?”

The truth is, people like this don’t have much of a chance. And trolls know it.

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

TorrentFreak: Busted Pirate Told to Get 200K YouTube Hits or Face Huge Fine

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

jakubfOver the past 15 years countless individuals have faced financial punishments due to online copyright infringement offenses. But what happens when a case is won by copyright holders but the alleged pirate simply cannot pay?

Answers to that question vary, but over in the Czech Republic the people at the Business Software Alliance (BSA) have come up with the most unusual solution so far to settle their case with a long-time pirate.

The case involves an individual known as Jakub F who was accused by the BSA of pirating software including Microsoft’s Windows. Over many years he uploaded links to various forums which allowed others to download content from file-hosting sites. The BSA took exception to that and tracked him down. Eventually the police ended up at Jakub’s house, confiscating his computer, DVDs and an external hard drive.

The case went to trial and in September Jakub was found guilty, with a district court handing him a three-year suspended sentence and ordering the confiscation of his equipment. But for Jakub the matter was not over yet.

Various companies involved in the lawsuit including Microsoft, HBO, Sony Music and Twentieth Century Fox estimated that Jakub had caused them around $373,000 in damages, with Microsoft alone calling for $223,000. However, it appears that the court wasn’t prepared to accept the companies’ somewhat hypothetical calculations.

Whether the companies ever intended to claw back these sums remains unclear but it now transpires that the plaintiffs and Jakub F reached agreement on what they describe as an “alternative sentence.”

Instead of paying out a small fortune to his tormentors at the BSA, Jakub F agreed to star in an anti-piracy PSA about his life as a pirate. The video, which is embedded below and titled “The Story of My Piracy”, is being promoted on, a site ostensibly setup by Jakub himself, with the aim of deterring others from following in his footsteps.


“I had to start this site because for eight years I spread pirated software and then they caught me. I thought that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I thought that it didn’t hurt the big companies. I didn’t even do it for the money, I did it for fun,” Jakub begins.

“I felt in the warez community that I meant something. I was convinced that I was too small a fish for someone to get to me. But eventually, they got me. Even for me, the investigators came to work.”

The video is a professional affair starring Jakub himself. Set to a dramatic soundtrack, Jakub talks about the fun he had on warez forums, sharing content for the pleasure of others. However, it all came crashing down when he was told that copyright holders wanted hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, damages he could never pay.

But while Jakub appears to have kept up his side of the bargain so far, the BSA say that the 30-year-old’s fate lies with how popular the video becomes. Unless the video gets 200,000 views on YouTube, there’s a suggestion that a huge fine will become payable.

“If I promote my story and my video gets at least 200 thousand views, I will only serve the general part of my sentence,” Jakub explains.

“In the video I play myself and this is really my story. I shot the video with a professional firm. Sharing is how this started and sharing is how I would like my story to end up.”

At the time of writing Jakub’s video has more than 80,000 views so he needs 120,000 more to clear his debt. Needless to say, this is one propaganda film video he’ll be hoping doesn’t get pirated.

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

TorrentFreak: BREIN Stops and Settles With Popcorn Time Developers

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

popcorntIn less than two years Popcorn Time has become a piracy icon as well as one of Hollywood’s main nemeses.

Through various enforcement actions around the world the major movie studios hope to eventually contain this threat.

They recently booked a major victory when the MPAA filed a lawsuit against several key developers of the popular fork in Canada. While this suit took down the associated website, there are several efforts to revive the project.

The problem for the movie studios is that Popcorn Time’s code is open source, allowing anyone to help out or distribute forks of their own. With minimal effort, developers can easily have their own improved version up and running.

While this results in a perpetual game of whack-a-mole, Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group BREIN has just announced a win.

The group reports that has tracked down two Dutch developers who helped to keep Popcorn Time alive, and urged them to stop their activities immediately.

“Since the recent action by the MPAA against, which took the website offline, various parties are breathing new life into the software, as were these two Dutch individuals,” the group says.

According to BREIN the pair used GitHub to submit code and Reddit to share news about their accomplishments.

Preventing a possible court case, the developers signed a settlement with the anti-piracy group in which they agreed to stop their Popcorn Time development. The pair face a fine of €2,000 per day if they breach the agreement.

The Dutch developers don’t seem to be part of the core development team of the .io fork, which could explain why they got off with a relatively mild warning.

The lawsuit against three of the main developers in Canada is still ongoing. They face millions in damages due to their involvement with the popular application and the associated service, which generated significant revenues.

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

TorrentFreak: Australian ISP Rejects ‘Pirate Site’ Blocking Attempt

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

ausFollowing pressure from entertainment industry groups, the Australian Government has implemented legislation which allows foreign ‘pirate’ sites to be blocked at the ISP level.

The law went into effect earlier this year but thus far no websites have been blocked. However, this may change in the near future as a small Aussie ISP recently received its first threat.

While the law mostly aims to target classic pirate sites such as The Pirate Bay and unauthorized streaming services, the first blocking demand targets a site operating in a different area.

Lawyers representing the local construction company Simonds Homes sent a request to a small ISP ordering it to block subscriber access to the website of its competitor CHM Constructions, claiming it infringes their copyrights.

The demand letter states that the ISP is obliged to take action under copyright law, citing that it may seek to enforce a blockade under Section 115’s blocking provisions, as the website is hosted abroad.

The letter is believed to be the first legal threat received by an ISP that mentions the new site blocking legislation. However, the Internet provider in question has no intention to comply.

TorrentFreak spoke with a senior employee of the ISP who asked us not to mention his name or that of his company. He told us that his company rejected the request because it’s overbroad.

“We did not honor the request because they were trying to by-pass an already flawed legislation. The copyright act of 1968, Section 115 lays out in clear terms the process a party is meant to follow,” he said.

The letter (full)

Since the construction company has yet to obtain a court order there is no legal requirement to block the site yet. Also, the case in question appears to apply to a trademark issue instead of a copyright infringement.

In general, the ISP is not happy with the new site blocking regulation. It will make it quite costly for smaller ISPs to defend themselves against dubious claims to favor a few large entertainment industry companies.

The ISP hopes that this example will reveal how problematic the new legislation can become and he hopes that it will lead to less abusive demands in the future.

“Section 115 is a flawed policy to appease the people who donate large sums of monies to a certain political party. The legislation places an unfair financial strain on the ISP industry which is already a cut-throat industry.

“I am extremely hopefully that my actions here lead to less unwarranted blocking attempts. The legislation itself has led to this situation today however by a small ISP standing up for themselves, I am hopeful others will follow,” the ISPs senior employee concludes.

The ISP’s concerns are shared by Internet Australia, a non-profit organization which defends the rights of Internet users and businesses.

“The problem for smaller ISPs is the potential costs involved in defending a matter like this and so they simply may not bother,” Australia’s CEO Laurie Patton told ABC.

“The risk is that sites will be blocked without having been tested at law. So innocent sites could be victims of malicious actions, say, by competitors or aggrieved customers.”

It’s expected that more site blocking attempts will arrive during the months to come. Faced with this first flawed attempt, ISPs will be eager to prevent any further abuse.

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

TorrentFreak: Operator of U.S. Music Piracy Sites Jailed For Three Years

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

In 2010, U.S. authorities launched Operation in Our Sites, an anti-piracy campaign aimed at taking copyright-infringing sites offline.

After targeting thousands of domains linked to counterfeit goods and making several arrests connected to file-sharing sites, renewed efforts last year saw the closure of two large music sites.

During October 2014, and were taken offline to be replaced by the ICE – Homeland Security Investigations seizure banner.

Founded in 2011, RockDizMusic had acted as an index for popular new music while RockDizFile was a file-storage site serving as a storage facility for the former.

During the period of quiet following their shutdown it transpired that their operator, Rocky P. Ouprasith of Charlotte, N.C., had been arrested following the execution of an HSI search warrant.

Papers filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia last August claimed that both sites had been operated for profit, with Ouprasith sourcing pirated content online, uploading it to RockDizFile, and offering it for download on RockDizMusic.

According to the RIAA, in 2013 RockDizFile emerged “as the second largest online file-sharing site in the reproduction and distribution of infringing copies of copyrighted music in the United States.” Court documents placed the market value of the content pirated by the site at more than $6 million.

In response, Ouprasith entered a guilty plea, admitting one count of criminal copyright infringement. In return he risked five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. Yesterday the 23-year-old was sentenced and it’s bad, but not as bad it could’ve been.

According to the Department of Justice, Ouprasith was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith of the Eastern District of Virginia to serve a total of 36 months in prison.

In addition, Ouprasith was sentenced to two years supervised release and was ordered to forfeit almost $51,000 and pay more than $45,000 in restitution. The latter will become payable 60 days after his release at the rate of $200.00 per month or 25% of net income, whichever is greater. No fines were imposed.

The DoJ said that Ouprasith admitted obtaining copyrighted songs and albums, some pre-release, and uploading them to RockDizFile while encouraging affiliates to do the same. Ouprasith further admitted that he paid those affiliates based on the number of times their content was downloaded from his websites.

Another apparently aggravating factor was how Ouprasith handled copyright complaints. Instead of taking down content as required, according to the DoJ he either ignored the requests or simply pretended to take remedial action.

Ouprasith’s attorney, Bobby Howlett Jr. of Norfolk, told the Washington Post that while he’s never happy with a custodial sentence, in this instance he’s satisfied with the conclusion of the case.

“I’m happy with the outcome — of course, I don’t want many of my clients to go jail and I hate that he’s a young kid with no criminal history facing this, but it could’ve been worse,” Howlett said.

The RIAA welcomed the sentence and said that Ouprasith’s incarceration should serve as a warning to others thinking of embarking on a similar venture.

“We congratulate the Department of Justice and Homeland Security Investigations and thank them for their diligence and hard work to bring to justice those who cause millions of dollars in damage to music creators,” said Brad Buckles, EVP of Anti-Piracy.

“This sentence should send a message that operating a flagrantly illegal business that steals from others by engaging in criminal activity online has real consequences.”

While three years is a long time inside for a young man, the Court did recommend that the Bureau of Prisons allow Ouprasith to “further his education towards obtaining his college degree” in a facility as “close as possible” to North Carolina.

The 23-year-old will also get time to put his affairs in order and spend Christmas with family and friends. His sentence is set to begin on January 4, 2016.

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

TorrentFreak: Rightscorp Burns $4 For Every Dollar Pirates Pay in Fines

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

rightscorpThe idea is a relatively simple one. Every day millions of pirates are downloading content online without permission, so tracking them down and asking them to pay a fine should enable rightsholders to make a few extra bucks.

Of course, there are countless millions of infringements every day so those small payments soon add up, an attractive proposition for people doing business with Rightscorp, the US-based anti-piracy company hoping to turn piracy into profit.

There’s little doubt that Rightscorp’s clients are making at least some money from the deal. To date the anti-piracy company reports closing more than 230,000 cases of infringement, so at $20 and more recently $30 a shot, that’s a bit more than chump change.

However, as Rightscorp’s most recent filing reveals, the numbers in the whole package simply don’t add up.

For the three months ended September 30, 2015 the company generated revenues of $215,196, that’s 13% down on the $248,387 it made during the same period last year.

Not great, but since copyright holders get roughly 50% of collected revenues, Rightscorp paid them $107,598, a nice little return for doing very little. That said, it’s less than the $124,194 they received during the same period in 2014.

After paying out 50% of its revenues, Rightscorp not only has to run a business with what’s left, but also turn a profit. To date the company has not been able to do that. Its latest filing reveals a continuation of that trend and a set of issues that could hinder the company on a long term basis.

The rot starts with the company’s basic running costs. For the three months ended September 30, Rightscorp’s bill for wages and related expenses stood at $345,449, an amount way in excess of its total revenues for the same period. That, however, is just the beginning.

As previously reported Rightscorp has managed to get itself bogged down in several legal battles and they are costing the company dearly.

“Legal fees related to various matters totaled $295,865 for the three months ended September 30, 2015, compared to $90,552 for the three months ended September 30, 2014,” the company reports.

Overall, Rightscorp’s general and administrative expenses for three months ended September 30, 2015 amounted to $1,116,589. That means that the company recorded a net loss of $424,168. Bad, but certainly an improvement over the same period last year when it lost $894,241.

The totals, however, paint a dismal picture. Although revenues were up in the first nine months of 2015 versus the same period last year ($756,916 vs $688,801), the company’s costs ($1,355,407 on wages, $3,967,527 general and admin) meant the company managed to lose substantially more money.

“During the nine months ended September 30, 2015, we recorded a net loss of $3,120,197 compared to a net loss of $2,299,522 for the nine months ended September 30, 2014,” Rightscorp reveals.

As noted above, legal fees are a major problem. After spending ‘just’ $326,985 in the first nine months of last year, during the same period in 2015 Rightscorp burned through $1,058,188.

But the costs incurred are only part of the problem. Rightscorp says the time being spent on legal matters is having a negative effect on its core business.

“The decrease in revenues [during the last quarter] was due to a disproportionate amount of time being spent by the Company supporting clients in legal matters,” the company says.

Overall, Rightscorp’s position this year thus far can be boiled down to one sad statistic – for every dollar paid in fines by pirates, Rightscorp loses $4. That’s definitely not turning piracy into profit.

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

TorrentFreak: EU Court of Justice to Decide on Legality of Pirate Bay Blockades

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.

The Pirate Bay was unblocked by all local ISPs after the decision while local anti-piracy organization BREIN took the matter to the Supreme Court.

Today, the Court decided to postpone its final decision. Following a recommendation from the Advocate General it decided to stay the proceedings and refer two key questions to the EU Court of Justice, seeking clarification.

The first question that requires a European review is whether The Pirate Bay is actually communicating illegal content to the public.

More specifically, whether the operator of a website is communicating copyrighted works to the public if the site doesn’t host any content, but merely links to and categorizes meta-information so users can download the linked files.

If this question is answered negatively then the EU Court should clarify whether ISPs can be ordered to block a site if the operator facilitates copyright infringement in this way.

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 where The Pirate Bay and other torrent sites are blocked as well.

After the questions are resolved at the EU Court the Dutch Supreme Court will make its final decision.

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

TorrentFreak: Filmmakers Sue Dutch State Over Lost Piracy Revenue

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

pirate-cardCompared to many other countries around the world, pirating movies and TV-shows is hugely popular in the Netherlands.

Up to a third of the population is estimated to download and stream copyrighted content without paying for it.

This high percentage is not surprising as the Netherlands has traditionally been a relative safe haven for pirates. Downloading movies without permission was not punishable by law until last year when the European Court of Justice spoke out against the tolerant stance.

In response the Dutch Government quickly outlawed unauthorized downloading but breaking the habits of a large section of the population will take more than that and local piracy rates remain high.

According to the Dutch Association of Professional Film Entrepreneurs (VPSO) and several independent distributors, the local Government is not doing enough to enforce the ban on unauthorized file-sharing.

As a result the filmmakers today announced plans to sue the Dutch state over its weak enforcement. The VPSO estimates that the local movie industry is losing hundreds of millions of euros per year, in part due to the Government’s lax stance on the issue.

The group argues that the Government should follow Germany’s lead when it comes to anti-piracy enforcement. German authorities frequently prosecute pirate site operators, which is one of the reasons why VOD and DVD sales are rising again, the filmmakers state.

In addition, this year Dutch film companies have increasingly hinted that they’re prepared to take civil action against online pirates.

A few weeks ago the distribution company Dutch Filmworks registered the local Popcorn Time trademarks for possible future enforcement actions and the company also said it is considering going after individual file-sharers.

Earlier this year Dutch filmmakers’ association SEKAM submitted a claim for piracy damages to the Ministry of Security and Justice, but this was denied.

The timing of the announced lawsuit doesn’t appear to be a coincidence. This coming Friday the Ministry of Security and Justice will organize a consultation on how to tackle illegal downloading, and today’s news will certainly heat up the debate.

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

TorrentFreak: Destroyed Piracy Tracking Code Should End Lawsuit, Cox Says

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

rightscorpLast year BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music sued Cox Communications arguing that the ISP fails to terminate the accounts of subscribers who frequently pirate content.

The companies, which control publishing rights to songs by Katy Perry, The Beatles and David Bowie among others, claim that Cox gave up its DMCA safe harbor protections due to this inaction.

The case revolves around data gathered by Rightscorp and Cox believes that the anti-piracy company is the driving force behind it, in part to retaliate for Cox’s refusal to forward their infringement notices.

Both parties have been preparing for trial but Cox now believes that one isn’t needed. A few weeks ago the court ruled that Rightscorp spoiled evidence by failing to preserve historical versions of its piracy tracking code. As a result, Cox insists that the entire case should now be dropped.

According to the ISP all evidence of direct copyright infringement relies on Rightscorp’s system. Without the option to assess the accuracy of the tracking technology, it’s impossible to review the reliability and accuracy of the accusations.

“Cox cannot analyze, and the jury cannot assess, the operation or accuracy of Rightscorp’s pivotal systems. That is because Rightscorp intentionally destroyed every version of its technological systems that existed prior to July 15, 2015,” the ISP writes in its motion (pdf).

According to Cox’s legal team the copyright holders and Rightscorp’s failure to keep track of the code changes did not occur by accident.

“Despite actively planning this lawsuit for over three years, Plaintiffs and their litigation agent, Rightscorp, knowingly and intentionally failed to preserve the most critical evidence in the case.”

“As a result of that misconduct, as Judge Anderson found, it is literally impossible for Cox or the jury ‘to know how the Rightscorp system operated during the relevant time period’,” Cox adds.

While Magistrate Judge Anderson ruled that Rightscorp did indeed spoil crucial evidence, he referred a decision of specific evidentiary sanctions to District Court Judge O’Grady.

In its motion Cox is clear about what the final decision should be. The ISP sees a dismissal of the entire case as the most fitting outcome. It’s impossible for a jury to review how reliable some of the most crucial evidence is, so the case should be dismissed, Cox argues.

“In these circumstances, the most appropriate sanction is dismissal, particularly given that Judge Anderson’s factual findings effectively defeat Plaintiffs’ claims in
any event. For the many reasons Cox addresses below, this case should end now,” the motion reads.

The motion will be discussed at an upcoming hearing. In a reply, BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music have already objected to the request, describing it as an untimely motion for summary judgment.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA OK With Copyright Law But Seeks Allies For Piracy Fight

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

As Europe conducts a reassessment of copyright law and its ability to keep pace with technology, the United States is doing likewise.

In a speech during the World Intellectual Property Day celebrations at the Library of Congress in April 2013, Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced that the House Judiciary Committee would carry out a comprehensive review of United States copyright law.

“I am announcing today that the House Judiciary Committee will hold a comprehensive series of hearings on U.S. copyright law in the months ahead. The goal of these hearings will be to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age,” Goodlatte said.

As of mid-October 2015 the Committee had held 20 hearings on various topics, from the scope of copyright protection and Fair Use, the preservation and reuse of copyright works, to the first sale doctrine and music licensing.

With additional meetings with hearing witnesses now underway, the House Judiciary Committee is conducting a “listening tour” to gather input from those involved in the creative process. After stopping off in Nashville, Goodlatte and other members of the Committee appeared at Santa Clara University in Northern California yesterday. Today they’re hosting a roundtable discussion at the University of California, Los Angeles.

In addition to Google’s senior copyright counsel Fred von Lohmann, Dean Marks, the MPAA’s chief of global content protection, is also expected to attend. Neil Fried, SVP, Government and Regulatory Affairs, says that while the MPAA welcomes the discussion to Hollywood, changes to copyright law aren’t high on its agenda.

“Although not perfect, the Copyright Act is fulfilling its mission of promoting the production and dissemination of creative works,” Fried says.

“In 2014 alone, viewers used lawful online services to access 66.6 billion television episodes and 7.1 billion movies. We expect these TV and film numbers to reach 101.6 billion and 11.7 billion by 2019. Clearly the market and copyright law are working.”

But while the MPAA says it’s broadly satisfied with the law, it insists that more must be done to combat piracy. Cooperation with other stakeholders will provide the solutions the industry is looking for, the movie group says.

“The Internet’s decentralized nature allows anyone around the world to contribute to its content and architecture, but that also means no single entity can solve problems that arise, like piracy,” Fried says.

“That is why we are currently focusing our attention on forging cross-industry, voluntary initiatives to ensure a safe and innovative digital environment, rather than seeking a legislative rewrite of copyright policy.”

And to date there have indeed been significant developments on this front.

In addition to attempting to choke the finances of pirate sites by forging closer relationships with processors including PayPal, MasterCard and Visa, there have been national and international campaigns to ensure that big brands avoid placing their ads on pirate sites. Users have been targeted too.

“The motion picture and recording industries have also partnered with the five largest ISPs to create the Copyright Alert System, a progressive system of alerts that is used to make consumers aware of possible infringing activity that has occurred over peer-to-peer networks using their Internet accounts, provide them with information on how to prevent such activity from happening again, and also inform them of the wide range of legal online alternatives,” Fried adds.

But while some ISPs, processors and advertising networks may be on board, bigger challenges lie ahead for the development of voluntary agreements. For example, the MPAA is desperate to find a simple way to stop pirate sites from easily registering and then using domain names for infringing purposes.

“Even though the terms of service for domain name registrars and registries almost uniformly prohibit the use of domain names for illicit activities, these provisions are rarely enforced,” Fried explains.

To date progress on this front has been slow and in some cases responses have been somewhat hostile.

And of course, the MPAA will be pleased that Fred von Lohmann is expected at today’s roundtable. The Hollywood group is still not happy with how easy it is for Internet users to find infringing content using Google search. Google previously stated that people tend to find infringing content because they’re specifically looking for it, but the MPAA sees things somewhat differently.

“Nearly 60 percent of the queries that led to stolen content contained only generic or title-specific keywords, indicating consumers were not specifically seeking pirated material,” Fried says.

With the heat of the Project Goliath debacle still simmering beneath the surface, the MPAA’s current tone is certainly measured. Only time will tell whether its claimed satisfaction with copyright law will continue longer term should Google and others decide not to play ball.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA: Online Privacy Hurts Anti-Piracy Enforcement

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

mpaa-logoEvery year the United States Trade Representative (USTR) inventorizes what problems local industries face when doing business abroad.

The major Hollywood studios, represented by the MPAA, just submitted their latest overview listing trade barriers across the globe.

The MPAA points out that many countries don’t do enough to deter piracy. This is also a common theme in Europe, where privacy laws and regulations make it harder for copyright holders to go after online pirates.

“Privacy has always been a major issue in the European Union. EU Member States have implemented a number of privacy directives to protect individuals’ personal data,” MPAA writes.

According to the MPAA, European privacy rules are extremely complex and difficult. As a result they are often used against efforts that could help to prevent copyright infringement.

For example, IP-addresses are protected as private personal information in several countries including Italy, where they can only be used in criminal cases.

“All EU Member States have detailed data protection laws. These rules, often very strict, are subject to the interpretation of the national data protection authorities,” MPAA notes (pdf).

“Most of them consider IP addresses as personal data and believe that the privacy rules apply to their use,” they add.

The MPAA points out that privacy rights of citizens often trump the rights of copyright holders, which they believe is a “very problematic” development.

As a result, Internet providers often refuse to cooperate with copyright holders claiming that this violates the privacy of their users. This makes it hard for the content industries to cooperate with these companies in various anti-piracy efforts.

“Telecommunications operators and ISPs constantly invoke data protection rules to avoid any meaningful cooperation with the content sector,” MPAA writes.

“Such restrictive interpretations preclude meaningful cooperation with Internet intermediaries, such as telecommunications operators and ISPs, in particular cooperation to combat IP theft.”

In addition, the MPAA is not happy with the EU Court of Justice decision to no longer make data retention mandatory. As a result, many ISPs no longer keep extensive IP-address logs.

The movie studios believe that data retention is an important law enforcement tool, suggesting that it’s harder to track down online pirates without logs.

“Data retention remains a very valuable tool for law enforcement. Rights holders have always claimed the need for reasonable rules and legal certainty. This decision has created even more legal uncertainty in this field.

“Member States have started to respond to the consequences of this decision with legislation and some have invalidated their rules,” MPAA adds.

The data retention argument is not new, but it’s worth noting that the U.S. itself has no mandatory data retention laws. This makes it hard for the U.S. Government to demand that other countries adopt them.

It’s clear though, that the MPAA is not happy with the increased interest in online privacy. With or without help from the U.S. government, they will continue to try and minimize the impact it has on their enforcement efforts.

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

TorrentFreak: Leaked Draft Reveals EU Anti-Piracy Enforcement Plan

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

The EU Commission is currently working on proposals for the modernization of copyright with the aim of providing a framework more suited to the digital age.

The EU’s plan was set to go public exactly a month from today but just before the weekend IPKat said it had obtained a leaked copy of the draft communication from a ‘Brussels insider’.

“EU copyright rules need to be adapted so that all market players and citizens can seize the opportunities of this new environment. A more European framework is needed to overcome fragmentation and frictions within a functioning single market,” the leaked draft reads.

The document, which could be subject to change before its release next month, advises that the Commission will issue legislative proposals for content portability during the Spring of 2016.

“As a first step, the Commission is presenting together with this Communication a proposal for a regulation on the ‘portability’ of online content services, to ensure that users who have subscribed to or acquired content in their home country can access it when they are temporarily in another Member State,” the report reads.

But in addition to making life easier for citizens, the Commission also wants to make life more difficult for pirates. Noting that creative rights have little value if they cannot be enforced, the Commission calls for a “balanced civil enforcement system” to enable copyright holders to fight infringement more cheaply and across borders.

“A ‘follow-the-money’ approach, which sees the involvement of different types of intermediary service providers, seems to be a particularly promising method that the Commission and Member States have started to apply in certain areas,” the draft reads.

“It can deprive those engaging in commercial infringements of the revenue streams (for example from consumer payments and advertising) emanating from their illegal activities, and therefore act as a deterrent.”

On this front the Commission says it intends to take immediate action to set up a “self-regulatory mechanism” with a view to reaching agreement next spring. While voluntary, the EU says the mechanism can be backed up by force if necessary.

“Codes of conduct at EU level could be backed by legislation, as required to ensure their full effectiveness,” the draft notes.

By the fall of next year the Commission says it will have assessed its options in respect of an amended legal framework covering a number of enforcement issues. No additional details are provided but one of the key items in the draft concerns the rules for the identification of infringers.

The document also highlights a need to address “the (cross-border) application of provisional and precautionary measures and injunctions”. Clarification is needed, but this appears to be a reference to EU-wide site blocking.

Furthermore, the EU indicates it will examine the rules for copyright takedowns and the potential for illicit content to be taken down and remain down.

“The Commission is also carrying out a comprehensive assessment and a public consultation on online platforms, which also covers ‘notice and action’ mechanisms and the issue of action remaining effective over time (the ‘take down and stay down’ principle),” the draft reads.

Finally, Julia Reda MEP is raising alarms over the Commission’s intent to clarify the legal definition of ‘communication to the public’ and of ‘making available’.

“The Commission is considering putting the simple act of linking to content under copyright protection,” Reda writes.

“This idea flies in the face of both existing interpretation and spirit of the law as well as common sense. Each weblink would become a legal landmine and would allow press publishers to hold every single actor on the Internet liable.”

The full document can be downloaded here.

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

TorrentFreak: Portugal Rapidly & Voluntarily Blocks Dozens More ‘Pirate’ Sites

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

stop-blockedIn July, Portugal’s Ministry of Culture announced the signing of a memorandum between its own General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC), ISP group APRITEL, rightsholders, the body responsible for administering Portugal’s .PT domain and representatives from the advertising industry.

The memorandum laid out the framework for a voluntary site-blocking mechanism which would see sites with more than 500 infringing links and those whose indexes contain more than 66% infringing content quickly subjected to a nationwide ISP blockade.

After The Pirate Bay was blocked back in March via court order, the new process paved the way for rapid site blocking and it didn’t take long for the first batch to be processed.

Last month the country blocked more than 50 sites including KickassTorrents (, ExtraTorrent, Isohunt, YTS and RARBG, no court order required. And, just as predicted, the country is now preparing its second wave of blockades.

Almost 40 sites are included and unsurprisingly torrent sites feature prominently. BitSnoop, YourBitorrent, SeedPeer, Torlock, Torrentfunk, TopTorrent and head up the list, with ‘release blog’ favorites RLSlog and Sceper making an appearance.

Streaming sites will also be blocked as part of the current action, including ProjectFreeTv and TubePlus on the video front and MP3Skull in audio. The full list, courtesy of Tek, can be found below.

While blocking sites is hardly a new activity, the way it’s being carried out in Portugal is raising concern.

Since the process is voluntary there’s no unwieldy court process to navigate, which is certainly a plus for local anti-piracy outfit MAPINET. However, there are those who feel that the system is too streamlined and that judicial oversight is an absolute must if there is to be no abuse. Questions are also being raised over the legality of the scheme itself.

The other issue of concern is the sheer number of sites that could end up on Portugal’s blocklist. Currently, rightsholders can only file two complaints with the government each month but each complaint can carry up to fifty domains.

That means that if all sites are accepted as infringing and MAPINET works to capacity, more than 1200 allegedly infringing sites could be blocked by this time next year.

That would make Portugal the world leader in ‘pirate’ site blocking and a shining example of what entertainment companies could aim for if bypassing the courts became an option elsewhere.

The full list for November 2015
avxhome. is

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

TorrentFreak: Google’s “Pirate Update” Fails to Punish Streaming Sites

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

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

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

Last year Google made changes to its core algorithms aimed at lowering the visibility of “pirate” sites. Using the number of accurate DMCA requests as an indicator, these sites are now demoted in search results for certain key phrases.

This “Pirate Update” hit torrent sites hard, as early analysis previously showed. However, new research from streaming search engine JustWatch shows that the effect is limited.

Using search engine visibility data from SearchMetrics as well as SimilarWeb’s page statistics, the company evaluated how much search engine traffic the top torrent and streaming sites received before and after the algorithm change.

The findings confirm that torrent sites did indeed lose a lot of Google traffic. The graph below shows the search engine visibility ranking for the top 20 torrent sites including The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and Torrentz.

Torrent site search engine visibility

However, while Google’s update had a dramatic effect on torrent sites, frequently visited streaming portals are seemingly unaffected by the change.

The graph below shows that on average the top streaming sites increased their search engine presence. This means that these streaming portals, including Solarmovie, Couchtuner and Movie4k, remain frequently featured in the top search results.

Streaming sites remain strong

While SearchMetrics data doesn’t directly measure traffic, the report estimates that the visibility of streaming sites is 15 times larger than that of torrent sites.

Translated to a traffic number, JustWatch estimates that roughly a third of all visits to the top streaming sites come from search engines, which number nearly three billion since Google’s “pirate” update.

Search engine traffic to illegal streaming sites

The critique is not new. In recent months several entertainment industry groups have urged Google to improve its downranking methods or completely remove pirate sites from search results.

Google, however, has stated that removing entire domain names goes too far and could possibly be counterproductive.

As a streaming search engine JustWatch of course has a significant interest in the results they report. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they also encourage Google to improve.

“Google should stand by their word to use the DMCA takedown requests per domain and factor it stronger into their ranking signals,” JustWatch CEO David Croyé tells TF.

According to JustWatch pirate streaming sites still dominate the top search results when people enter phrases such as “300 watch online”

Croyé understands that the algorithms want to rank pirate sites higher, because this is actually what people are looking for. However, that makes it harder for legal services to compete.

“We are a self funded startup that wants to connect fans with their favorite movie content worldwide and make it easier also for Google to show more legal offers. We’ve already aggregated them in a structured way for them”

“So it’s in our own interest as a startup to be able to compete with free, but illegal alternatives on Google,” Croyé adds.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Sites and Their Users Are Suffering a Trademark Crisis

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

trademarkAnti-piracy activities often get plenty of negative press and when they’re overreaching and cynical, why shouldn’t they? However, in much the same way as one might have reluctant admiration for a brilliant but criminal genius, occasionally an anti-piracy strategy is also capable of generating a wry smile.

At first view the purpose of ‘pirate’ domain seizures and blocking seems obvious. Take away or reduce the effectiveness of a site’s most visible asset and that will not only hit its traffic but will also undermine its standing with users. Based on the fact that no site anywhere wants its domain screwed with, the strategy must be at least partially effective.

Nevertheless, the effect of seizures and blockades can be mitigated. Sites can get a new domain in a matter of minutes. Proxies and mirrors can be set up to allow blocked users to access sites again. It’s a never-ending game of whac-a-mole, a never-ending game of cat-and-mouse.

And it’s making a huge mess.

While plenty of people know that The Pirate Bay is still accessible on its .SE domain, fewer will be able to recall the other domains that the site now redirects to. Certainly, .la has less ring than most other TLDs, and by the time one gets to .mn and .gd, the memorable factor almost completely disappears.

Add in the fact that The Pirate Bay now has hundreds of proxies, mirrors and clones, all of which look just like the real site but are operated independently, and it’s clear to see that the real, original Pirate Bay has a branding crisis. What started off as a genuine intent to mitigate anti-piracy measures, has ended up creating a digital quagmire where nothing is quite what it seems.

But The Pirate Bay is not the only ‘victim’. There are copies of almost every key pirate site around today, some with good intentions, some with bad. There are few people out there, experts included, who can quickly and definitively tell the difference in all cases. This means that the brand images of all the major sites are being eroded by shady impostors on a daily basis.

If only there was a mechanism to stop people passing off their fake product or site as the real deal (he said without a hint of irony). Well, there is of course, but trademark protection isn’t a thing that any torrent site is going to invest much time in. Turning up in court for any kind of legal battle is well down their bucket lists, guaranteed.

But in the absence of such protection, users of those sites (or rather their nefarious clones) will suffer.

During the past week, in the wake of the YTS/YIFY closure, TF received a steady stream of emails from people who believed the operation was still running. Some pointed to sites with YIFY in the title, others pointed to dubious Facebook pages. All of them were fake, with each and every one abusing the YTS and YIFY ‘trademarks’ to further their own goals.

And of course, anti-piracy groups love this. They know that when fake sites appear they undermine the brand reputation of the genuine sites. They know that when malware gets offloaded or dodgy signups are required, people lose faith in the sites they’re trying to kill. When one thinks about it, people pirating pirate sites are doing their work for them.

With specialist branding/anti-piracy companies like MarkMonitor onboard, rest assured entertainment industry companies fully understand the value of undermining pirate branding. Their strategy is both cunning and clever too, since pirates are completely unable to protect their trademarks in the way that a normal company might. Popcorn Time tried – it didn’t get them very far.

It’s truly ironic then that if sites themselves could get trademark and copyright protection, they would be in a much stronger position than they are today. Failing that, consumers are left to try and understand which are the fakes sites and which ones are real. And for the layman that is getting more and more difficult every day.

Equally, some unlicensed services (such as Popcorn Time and Stremio covered yesterday) are difficult to tell apart from authorized products such as Netflix. Who would’ve imagined that both sides of the copyright wars would end up having the same weaknesses and vulnerabilities?

…and their respective branding efforts undermined by pirates….

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

TorrentFreak: Minister Asks Indian ISPs to Permanently Block Hundreds of ‘Pirate’ Sites

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

blockedFor several years, filmmakers in India have sought to protect their content from unauthorized online distribution. That has mainly taken the form of so-called ‘John Doe’ orders.

Back in May 2015 one such order not only targeted The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, Torrentz and TorrentFunk, but also video streaming site Vimeo. As a result, local ISPs were given just 24 hours to stop their subscribers from accessing the sites.

While it seems relatively easy to obtain these kinds of court orders, they have to be obtained each time a film is released to the public. That clearly has cost implications for those obtaining the orders and in recent months there have been calls for a more suitable system to be put in place.

During a meeting yesterday between representatives from the film industry, government, police and ISPs, the discussion centered around the “grave threat” posed by online piracy and what actions can be taken against it.

Highlighting measures taken elsewhere, particularly in Europe, the notion of a national ‘pirate site’ blacklist was put on the table. Information Technology Minister K.T. Rama Rao was also briefed on the actions being taken by City of London Police and was asked to consider similar measures.

A slide shown in India yesterday


Industry figures told the minister that piracy carried out on a core 240 websites costs them millions of dollars.

“If government could take action against all these websites, then piracy could be controlled,” said producer Suresh Babu.

The appeal appeared to resonate with Minister K.T. Rama Rao who responded with a promise of government action. He also called on the ISPs present to block the offending sites, which according to one report could number 1000.

The ISPs are said to have responded positively with an indication that they wish to play no part in illegal activities. However, they also urged the government to provide clear official instructions detailing their requirements.

In response to the industry calls the Minister promised to react quickly, with the creation of a special police unit and action against the main sites within 30 days.

“Unlike before, piracy has taken new shape. Even educated professionals, engineering students are resorting to the crime of movie piracy which is not good for society. I’m happy that Mr KT Rao is seriously looking into the issue,” said producer Suresh Babu.

It will be interesting to see how the Indian government will push through tough anti-piracy measures in such a short time-frame and how it will do so without punishing sites such as Vimeo who are clearly engaged in legitimate business.

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

TorrentFreak: Legality of Voluntary ‘Pirate’ Site Blocking Regime Under Fire

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

In September 2013, a coalition of Portuguese copyright trade groups announced they would file for an injunction to prevent ISPs from providing access to The Pirate Bay. They argued it would not pose a problem, since ISPs already filter to prevent access to criminal content such as abusive images.

It took more than 18 months for the Association for Copyright Management, Producers and Publishers (GEDIPE) to get its way but eventually the Intellectual Property Court gave ISPs Vodafone, MEO and NOS just 30 days to block The Pirate Bay.

While GEDIPE had its victory, the battle was still not won. Each time the group needed a site blocked in future it would have to take ISPs to court, an expensive and time-consuming process. Warning that it would do so if necessary, GEDIPE advised ISPs to enter into discussions to form a voluntary site-blocking mechanism instead.

“It is time to sit down and negotiate blocking measures that don’t require the courts to get involved,” GEDIPE boss Paulo Santos said.

ISPs initially objected to the idea saying that legitimate content could become blocked without legal oversight. Nevertheless, by this summer they were singing a very different tune.

In July the Ministry of Culture announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding between its own General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC), the Portuguese Association of Telecommunication Operators (APRITEL), various rightsholder groups, the body responsible for administering Portugal’s .PT domain and representatives from the advertising industry.

The agreement would see local anti-piracy group MAPINET filing copyright complaints with the Ministry of Culture which in turn would conduct an assessment and then order ISPs to block sites. Importantly, no expensive courtroom argument would take place and no legal judgments would be handed down.

This week the agreement began to bite when 51 domain names connected to sites including KickassTorrents (, ExtraTorrent, Isohunt, YTS and RARBG were ordered to be blocked. However, there are now concerns over the legality of the process.

Speaking with the Economic Daily, intellectual property law expert Leonor Chastre, a partner at the Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira lawfirm, says he has doubts over the agreement and the actions taken under it.

“There are a number of entities that have signed the memorandum but it does not legitimize the role of the two main entities [the government and MAPINET] so they will not be able to determine what is legal and illegal in this field. The latter is a private entity, susceptible to external influences. What is the representativeness of that association and what is its intention?” he questions.

The argument that only a court is able to decide on the legality of a site is a common one that has played out in countries across Europe. Prolonged legal battles on that very topic have taken place in the Netherlands, Austria and currently Sweden, to name a few, so concerns that Portuguese authorities might be overstepping the mark are hardly a surprise.

Interestingly, MAPINET has a rather different perspective. The anti-piracy group says that laws already exist in the EU for blocking content when it’s deemed to be infringing copyright.

“The implementation of the E-Commerce Directive already includes procedures for removing illegal content,” MAPINET’s Miguel Carretas argues, adding that the purpose of the memorandum is to “regulate the application” of this legal provision.

“[ISPs] already had the power to block access to sites where illegitimacy is demonstrated,” Carretas says.

In response, Vodafone says that it “acts in accordance with the provisions of the law and the Memorandum of Understanding.” Other ISPs, MEO and Cabovisão, declined to comment.

The question now is how these concerns will develop. The most logical route for an intervention is for a site subjected to blocking to take the matter to court. That would be an expensive affair though and could involve challenging not only the government but also copyright holders and ISPs.

Nevertheless, a challenge is not without precedent. In 2013 Rapidgator was blocked in Italy following a broad crackdown on copyright infringement. The company hired local counsel to object and eventually won its case.

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

TorrentFreak: Aurous Offers to Shut Down But RIAA Isn’t Interested

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

It’s been an eventful month for music discovery tool Aurous. Within days of its October 10 launch, Aurous Group and developer Andrew Sampson were being sued by the RIAA.

“This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale,” the RIAA said.

Shortly after the labels demanded a temporary restraining order. The request, filed by plaintiffs Atlantic Records, Warner Bros, UMG, Sony and Capital Records, was quickly granted by a Florida district court.

Judge Jose E. Martinez declared that Sampson and everyone else associated with the Aurous project were forbidden from “infringing, or causing, enabling, facilitating, encouraging, promoting and inducing or participating in the infringement of, any of Plaintiffs’ copyrights protected by the Copyright Act, whether now in existence or hereafter created.”

Those restrictions including any further making available of the Aurous software in any form but there are now claims that Sampson has already breached the order.

According to a motion filed yesterday by the labels, on October 23 following a request from defendants’ counsel, it was agreed that the defendants would be given more time (until November 13) to respond to the original complaint. In the meantime the temporary restraining order (TRO) would remain in force.

However, the RIAA says that less than two days after the extension was agreed, the defendants “flagrantly violated [the TRO], in the most damaging way possible.”

“Shortly after 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 25, Defendants announced that they had publicly released the core ‘back-end’ source code for Aurous, which contains the instructions for exactly how the Aurous software finds, retrieves, and downloads (copies) unauthorized copies of recorded music,” the labels write.


“At 1:07 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, Defendants sent a tweet from the official Aurous Twitter account announcing that Aurous was now an ‘open source project available on Github’ and providing a link to the Aurous source code repository on the website”

The tweet and Github posting have both since been removed. However, in their court filing the labels says that they managed to secure copies while characterizing the deletions as an attempt to destroy evidence.


Describing the ‘core’ as the “critical ‘back-end’ source code” powering Aurous, the labels say that by posting the code Sampson breached the terms of the TRO. Furthermore, the labels claim that the release proves that Sampson continued working on Aurous after the TRO was issued in an effort to improve its ability to retrieve and download infringing content.

“There can be no doubt that Defendants did so with the intent of releasing an improved version of the software to the public, notwithstanding this Court’s explicit and unambiguous prohibition against doing so,” they write.

Following the Github release the labels contacted Aurous demanding an end to the violation of the TRO. They also advised the music service that their consent to a delay for the preliminary injunction hearing should now be considered withdrawn.

Counsel for Aurous responded by noting that the breach of the TRO had been accidental and even offered to throw in the towel completely on behalf of his clients.

“Our clients are willing to transfer control of the Aurous domain and anything else you may require including closing the site and all operations (which may have been done already) provide access to their github and social media accounts as early as tomorrow if this proposed settlement can be kept forthwith,” Aurous counsel wrote in an email.

“Our clients have acted in good faith to uphold the proposed settlement agreement and not violate the TRO. Again this is only a misunderstanding that should be bridged in order to serve the best interests of all parties.”

In response the labels dismissed the offer, insisting that the breach had been both intentional and damaging.

“During the five hours or more that Defendants willfully made the core Aurous source code available to the public, while brazenly urging their Twitter followers and other members of the public to visit the repository where it was housed, an unknown number of third parties accessed and copied the source code,” the labels explain.

In the background of this current dispute is Aurous’ response to the RIAA’s allegations that it offers an illegal service.

“The allegations that the purpose of this website is to pirate music is false
and unfounded. Aurous exists for the purposes of bringing together multiple sites all with DMCA takedown capabilities and anti-piracy bylaws,” Aurous’ counsel informed the court.

“Aurous in no way encourages, the downloading or playing of copyrighted music.
Additionally, Defendant maintains a DMCA takedown email. To date, Plaintiff has not submitted any DMCA takedown requests, and simply initiated a lawsuit within days of the website’s publication.”

Aurous says that if the RIAA removed the illegal content from the third-party sites, the Aurous software would not be able to play it. It also claims that the source code released on Github was an old and obsolete version of the software. Nevertheless, the RIAA seems entirely disinterested and is currently overwhelming Aurous with its legal might.

As a result the labels are now asking for Aurous Group and Sampson to be held in contempt of court and punished via monetary sanctions. Perhaps of concern for those who downloaded it, the labels also ask the court to force the defendants to provide a “precise description of when, where, and to whom they disseminated the Aurous application and source code” after the TRO was granted October 15.

While the case is not over yet, the Aurous dream seems well and truly dead. All that remains is to discover how painful it will for those behind the project.

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

TorrentFreak: Portugal Blocks Popular Torrent and Streaming Sites

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

stop-blockedRather than taking site operators to court, copyright holders increasingly demand that Internet providers should block access to ‘pirate’ domains instead.

As a result, courts all around the world have ordered ISPs to block subscriber access to various pirate sites. But there are other ways.

In Portugal a voluntary process has recently been formalized through an agreement between several parties including the Ministry of Culture and the Association of Telecommunication Operators.

Earlier this year local Internet Providers were already ordered to block access to The Pirate Bay and under the new agreement it would be possible to add new pirate sites without a court intervention.

This weekend the new site blocking mechanism was used for the first time, with ISPs adding 51 new domain names connected to copyright-infringing sites.

The list (posted in full below) includes popular torrent sites including as KickassTorrents (, ExtraTorrent, Isohunt, YTS and RARBG, as well as streaming portals and linking sites such as, Watchseries and Primewire.

In addition to several new targets, Pirate Bay’s alternative domain name and unofficial proxy were also added. Users who try to access any of the domain names now get a notice informing them that the site has been blocked.

“The site you try to access is blocked in compliance with a notification from the Regulatory Authority,” the translated message reads.

The 51 domain names are just the start, as the various parties previously announced that hundreds of sites will eventually be blocked. Under the agreement copyright holders can file two complaints each month, each of which can target up to 50 websites.

All sites are added following complaints from copyright holders. The reported sites are investigated by local anti-piracy group MAPINET and will end up on the blocklist if there’s enough evidence of systematic infringing activity.


The full list of blocked domain names, as reported by Exame Informatica, is as follows.


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