Posts tagged ‘Anti-Piracy’

TorrentFreak: Japan to Crack Down on Anime and Manga Piracy

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

japanIn an effort to crackdown on Internet piracy, during October 2012 the Japanese government introduced new legislation targeted at file-sharers.

To support existing punishments of up to 10 years in prison for uploaders, knowingly downloading copyright-infringing material became an offense carrying a potential two years in jail. While it was hoped that these measures would encourage consumers to do the right thing, today the problems persist.

As a result, this week the Japanese government will act in order to preserve what it sees as one of its greatest cultural exports.

Anime and manga are now consumed in countries right around the world and Japan sees this interest in Japanese culture as useful to its relationships abroad. However, with that popularity comes piracy, much of it facilitated by unlicensed overseas sites.

In the hope of remedying the situation overseas, this Friday will see the launch of a massive anti-piracy campaign aimed at making a huge dent in anime and manga piracy.

The government and 15 leading producers and distributors will begin contacting an estimated 580 “overseas pirate sites” with demands that they mass-delete infringing content. The sites are located in various regions, but there will be a particular focus on China.

Whether those sites will comply will remain to be seen, but should pirate content become harder to find the campaign wants to be able to capitalize on that opportunity. According to NHK, a new site will direct fans to legal copies of the 250 affected works at a flat price of a few hundred yen.

“We want to create a project so that anime fans overseas can enjoy Japanese content legally and without infringement worries while the profits are paid to anime production companies and publishers,” a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry spokesman said.

It seems highly unlikely that overseas sites will comply fully with the requests of the Japanese. However, by attempting to serve the overseas markets with legal content it will at least make it easier for foreigners to open their wallets, should they feel inclined to do so.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Protects Chilling Effects From Takedown Notices

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

google-bayEach week many millions of DMCA-style copyright notices are sent to sites and services around the planet. Initially the process flew almost entirely under the radar, with senders and recipients dealing with complaints privately.

In 2001, that began to change with the advent of Chilling Effects, an archive created by activists who had become concerned that increasing volumes of cease-and-desist letters were having a “chilling effect” on speech.

In the decade-and-a-third that followed the archive grew to unprecedented levels, with giants such as Google and Twitter routinely sending received notices to the site for public retrieval.

However, while Chilling Effects strives to maintain free speech, several times a month rightsholders from around the world try to silence the archive in specific ways by asking Google to de-index pages from the site.

As can be seen from the tables below, Home Box Office has tried to de-index Chilling Effects pages 240 times, with Microsoft and NBC Universal making 99 and 65 attempts respectively.

Chilling1

The ‘problem’ for these copyright holders is two-fold. Firstly, Chilling Effects does indeed list millions of URLs that potentially link to infringing content. That does not sit well with copyright holders.

“Because the site does not redact information about the infringing URLs identified in the notices, it has effectively become the largest repository of URLs hosting infringing content on the internet,” the Copyright Alliance’s Sandra Aistars complained earlier this year.

However, what Aistars omits to mention is that Chilling Effects has a huge team of lawyers under the hood who know only too well that their archive receives protection under the law. Chilling Effects isn’t a pirate index, it’s an educational, informational, research resource.

Thanks to Google, which routinely throws out all attempts at removing Chilling Effects URLs from its indexes, we are able to see copyright holder attempts at de-indexing.

Earlier this month, for example, Wild Side Video and their anti-piracy partners LeakID sent this notice to Google aiming to protect their title “Young Detective Dee.” As shown below, the notice contained several Chilling Effects URLs.

chill2

Each URL links to other DMCA notices on Chilling Effects, each sent by rival anti-piracy outfit Remove Your Media on behalf of Well Go USA Entertainment. They also target “Young Detective Dee”. This is an interesting situation that offers the potential for an endless loop, with the anti-piracy companies reporting each others’ “infringing” links on Chilling Effects in fresh notices, each time failing to get them removed.

chilling3

The seeds of the “endless loop” phenomenon were also experienced by HBO for a while, with the anti-piracy company sending notices (such as this one) targeting dozens of Chilling Effects pages listing notices previously sent by the company.

While publishing notices is entirely legal, the potential for these loops really angers some notice senders.

On April 10 this year a Peter Walley sent a notice to Google complaining that his book was being made available on a “pirate site” without permission. Google removed the link in its indexes but, as is standard practice, linked to the notice on Chilling Effects. This enraged Walley.

chilling4

None of these rantings had any effect, except to place yet another notice on Chilling Effects highlighting where the infringing material could be found.

It’s a lesson others should learn from too.

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

TorrentFreak: American ISPs Receive 1.1 Million Piracy Settlements per Week

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

pirate-runningFebruary last year, five U.S. Internet providers started sending copyright alerts to customers who allegedly pirate movies, TV-shows and music.

During the first year they sent out 1.3 million educational notices, warning account holders that their connection was used to share pirated content. However, its scope pales in comparison to what others are doing.

TorrentFreak spoke with anti-piracy outfit CEG TEK, who also send out warning letters on behalf of copyright holders. However, their version comes with a sting.

In addition to the traditional slap on the wrist their notices also include a settlement proposal, which can reach hundreds of dollars. These emails are sent as regular DMCA notices which the ISPs then forward to their customers.

Little has been revealed about the scope of this program, but CEG TEK’s Kyle Reed now informs us that in 2013 they sent out 26 million notices to U.S. based Internet providers. The volume is expected to double this year as the company currently sends out 1.1 million notices per week.

It’s an impressive number, but since not all ISPs are happy with the process only a small fraction of their customers receive the settlement offer to the respective account holder.

CEG TEK currently sends out requests to 3,493 Internet providers and 342 of these forward the settlement offer, which is roughly 10%. This includes many small ISPs as well as companies and universities.

Some providers forward the notice but without the request for a settlement. Comcast, for example, is known to do this. While CEG TEK prefers it if providers forward the entire notice, the stripped ones are also of value to their clients.

“There are various levels of cooperation. Success doesn’t always mean getting a settlement from an account holder. Rightsholders are also happy when they can get their anti-piracy message out there,” CEG TEK’s Kyle Reed tells TorrentFreak.

Interestingly, there are also various ISPs who don’t forward anything. According to their interpretation of the DMCA they are not obliged to send the notices to their customers.

“Several Internet providers don’t comply at all. They simply ignore our notices,” Reed says.

CEG TEK is not the only company to send these settlement requests as a DMCA takedown notice, Rightscorp does the same. Both companies have increased their output in recent years and major rightsholders such as Warner Bros. are in on the scheme.

It’s an interesting trend, one that goes above and beyond the official Copyright Alert System. According to CEG TEK the approach is effective. The company has gathered data on how their notices influence piracy rates, which it plans to publish in the future.

Whether that will be enough to make a dent in piracy rates remains to be seen though.

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

TorrentFreak: Leaked Paper Reveals Aussie Anti-Piracy Crackdown Musings

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

In common with all countries heavily involved with the distribution of U.S.-sourced entertainment products, Australia us under continuous pressure to do something about the online piracy phenomenon.

Much of the negotiations have Attorney-General George Brandis at their core, with the Senator regularly being accused of lacking transparency.

This week Aussie news outlet Crikey obtained (subscription) a leaked copy of a discussion paper in which Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull seek industry feedback on new anti-piracy proposals.

The discussion paper

Dated July 2014, the paper begins by outlining the Government’s perception of the piracy threat, noting that all players – from content creators to ISPs and consumers – have a role to play in reducing the illegal consumption of content.

It continues with details of schemes operating in the United States (Six-Strikes), UK (VCAP) and New Zealand which aim to develop consumer attitudes through education and mitigation. Inevitably, however, the paper turns to legislation, specifically what can be tweaked in order to give movie studios and record labels the tools they need to reduce infringement

ISP liability

The 2012 High Court ruling in the iiNet case signaled the end of movie and TV studio litigation against service providers. With their dream of holding ISPs responsible for the actions of their pirating users in tatters, copyright holders would need new tools to pursue their aims. It’s clear that Brandis now wants to provide those via a change in the law.

“The Government believes that even when an ISP does not have a direct power to prevent a person from doing a particular infringing act, there still may be reasonable steps that can be taken by the ISP to discourage or reduce online copyright infringement,” the paper reads.

“Extending authorization liability is essential to ensuring the existence of an effective legal framework that encourages industry cooperation and functions as originally intended, and is consistent with Australia’s international obligations.”

Proposal 1 – Extending liability

Aus-disc1

“The Government is looking to industry to reach agreement on appropriate industry schemes or commercial arrangements on what would constitute ‘reasonable steps’ to be taken by ISPs,” the paper notes.

Website blocking

Given several signals on the topic earlier this year, it comes as no surprise that website blocking is under serious consideration. The paper outlines blocking mechanisms in Europe, particularly the UK and Ireland, which allow for court injunctions to be issued against ISPs.

Proposal 2 – Website blocking

aus-disc2

The Irish model, which has already blocked sites including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, is of special interest to the Australian Government, since proving that an ISP had knowledge of infringing conduct is not required to obtain an injunction.

“A similar provision in Australian law could enable rights holders to take action to block access to a website offering infringing material, without the need to establish that a particular ISP authorized an infringement,” the paper notes, adding that such provisions would only apply to websites outside Aussie jurisdiction.

It’s likely that most copyright holders will be largely in favor of the Government’s proposals on the points detailed above, but whether ISPs will share their enthusiasm remains to be seen.

Stakeholders are expected to return their submissions by Monday 25th August.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Targets ‘Pirate’ Searches to Promote Legal Content

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

googlepirateadOver the past few years the entertainment industries have repeatedly asked Google to step up its anti-piracy efforts.

One of the most often heard complaints is that pirated content sometimes ranks better than legal alternatives. Copyright holders want Google to remedy this situation by promoting legal content through higher placement in search results.

“Search engines should address the distortive search practices that result in listings and rankings that favor substantially infringing sites,” the MPAA complained earlier.

While it seemed that Google had rejected the boosting of legal offerings in results, it appears that the company is now taking measures to address copyright holder concerns.

Google has quietly rolled out an update that places banner ads for Google Play and other content platforms above the regular search results if people search for piracy related terms. The banners in question show up on searches for a title of a movie or TV-show in combination with keywords such as “torrent,” “BitTorrent,” or “DVDrip.”

As shown below, the first organic result is still a “pirate” site, but the legal options are now clearly visible through the inserted banner.

“Breaking Bad Torrent”
breakingtorrent

Initially these new ads were displayed in most of the US and UK. The availability was limited after TorrentFreak reached out to Google before the weekend, but they are still visible to us from a California IP-address.

It’s unknown how Google picks the keywords but the banner is also shown when searching for the video format “avi” and even “putlocker,” a popular file-hosting service.

The ads do not appear when searching for the movie or TV-show titles alone. They are specifically triggered by the extra ‘piracy’ keyword. For example, the banner shows up when searching for “Noah DVDrip” but not for “Noah DVD,” “Noah rent“, “Noah buy” or Noah paired with a random word.

Noah DVDrip
noahdvdrip1

In addition to piracy related keywords the ads also appear for more generic searches where pirate sites traditionally rank very high. These include words such as “download,” “watch,” “online” and “view” which often have unauthorized sites in the top results.

The “Noah watch” search below is a good example where a banner is placed above the first result, which in this case links to infringing material.

Noah Watch
noahwatch

TorrentFreak contacted Google but the company couldn’t say why the ads are displayed for these piracy related keywords. A spokesman did confirm that the ads appear for “various searches” and that they are the same format as the Knowledge Graph ads that were rolled out late last year.

“These ads will appear after various searches that include specific movie, TV, and music titles,” a Google spokesman told us.

Since the availability of the banners was limited overnight the company may still be experimenting with the setup. Unfortunately, Google couldn’t comment further on our findings.

Promoting legal content through ads would make sense for Google, as that would satisfy some of the copyright holders’ demands without changing the actual search results. On top of that, it can be quite useful to users as well.

Whether the banners will be able to steer people away from pirate sites has yet to be seen though.

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

TorrentFreak: BPI Rejects Use of Spotify-Owned “Stay Down” Pirate Tool

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

There are hundreds of millions of pirate files inhabiting the Internet and it’s fair to say that many of those are music tracks. As a result, the world’s leading record labels, who together claim 90%+ of the market, spend significant sums making those files more awkward to find.

For sites like The Pirate Bay, which point-blank refuses to remove any torrents whatsoever, the labels have little option than to head off to Google. There the search giant will remove Pirate Bay links from its indexes so that users won’t immediately find them.

However, rather than engaging a link whack-a-mole, the best solution by far is to remove the content itself. Perhaps surprisingly, many of the world’s leading file-lockers (even ones labeled ‘rogue’ by the United States), allow copyright holders direct back-end access to their systems so they can remove content themselves. It doesn’t really get any fairer than that, and here’s the issue.

This week, while looking at Google’s Transparency Report, TF noticed that during the past month massive file-hosting site 4shared became the record labels’ public enemy number one. In just four weeks, Google received 953,065 requests for 4shared links to be taken down, the majority of them from record labels. In fact, according to Google the BPI has complained about 4shared a mind-boggling 6.75 million times overall.

So, is 4shared refusing to cooperate with the BPI, hence the group’s endless complaints to Google? That conclusion might make sense but apparently it’s not the case. In fact, it appears that 4shared operates a removal system that is particularly friendly to music companies, one that not only allows them to take content down, but also keep it down.

“Throughout the years 4shared developed several tools for copyright owners to protect their content and established a special team that reacts to copyright claims in timely manner,” 4shared informs TorrentFreak.

“We don’t completely understand BPI’s reasons for sending claims to Google instead of using our tools. From our point of view the best and most effective way for copyright holders to find and remove links to the content they own is to use our music identification system.”

To find out more, TF spoke with the BPI. We asked them to comment on 4shared’s takedown tools and in the light of their existence why they choose to target Google instead. After a few friendly back-and-forth emails, the group declined to comment on the specific case.

“We prefer to comment on our overall approach on search rather than on individual sites, which is to focus on known sources of wide scale piracy and to use a number of tools to tackle this problem,” a BPI spokesman explained.

“Notice-sending represents just one part of the measures available to us, along with site blocking and working with the Police to reducing advertising on copyright infringing sites.”

We asked 4shared to reveal other copyright holders using their system, but the site declined on privacy grounds. However, it’s clear that the BPI isn’t a user and 4shared have their own ideas why that might be.

“It’s possible that BPI goes for quantity not quality,” TF was told.

“If they are trying to increase the number of links in reports or for PR reasons, they probably use a bot to harvest and send links to Google despite the fact that such an approach may also result in false claims.”

The “PR” angle is an interesting one. Ever since Google began publishing its Transparency Report rightsholders have used it to demonstrate how bad the piracy problem is. Boosting those numbers certainly helps the cause.

But is it possible, perhaps, that the BPI doesn’t trust the 4shared system. They didn’t answer our questions on that front either but it seems unlikely since 4shared uses EchoPrint, a solution purchased by Spotify earlier this year.

“Our music identification system which is based on Echoprint technology will not only find all matching content but will also restrict sharing of all potential future uploads of such content,” 4shared concludes.

Take-down-and-stay-down is the Holy Grail for anti-piracy companies. It’s a solution being pushed for in the United States in the face of what rightsholders say is a broken DMCA. On that basis there must be a good reason for the BPI not wanting to work with 4shared and it has to be said that the company’s “PR” theory proves more attractive than most.

The volume of notices in Google’s Transparency Report provide believable evidence of large-scale infringement and it’s certainly possible that the BPI would prefer to have 4shared blocked in the UK than work with the site’s takedown tools.

We’ll find out the truth in the months to come.

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

TorrentFreak: UK ISPs and Copyright Holders Praise New Piracy Warning System

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

pirate-cardIn an effort to curb online piracy, earlier this year the movie and music industries reached agreement with the UK’s leading ISPs to send warnings to alleged copyright infringers.

As we previously revealed, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) will only apply to P2P file-sharing and will mainly focus on repeat infringers.

The monitoring will be carried out by a third-party company and unlike other warning systems there won’t be any punishments. The main purpose of the warnings is to alert and educate copyright infringers, in the hope they will move over to legal alternatives.

The program was officially announced today and received support from all parties involved, including the UK Government which is financially backing the measures. Without exception they all praise the warning system and the accompanying educational campaign.

“It is fantastic that the UK creative community and ISPs have come together in partnership to address online copyright infringement and raise awareness about the multitude of legitimate online services available to consumers. We are also grateful to the UK Government for backing this important new initiative,” the MPA’s Chris Marcich comments.

Thus far BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have agreed to send warnings to customers whose connections are being used for unauthorized file-sharing. Commenting on the collaboration, all four ISPs praised the educational nature of the VCAP program.

“BT is committed to supporting the creative industries by helping to tackle the problem of online piracy while ensuring the best possible experience for its customers. That’s why we’ve worked very hard with rights-holders and other leading ISPs to develop a voluntary programme based on consumer education and awareness which promotes the use of legal online content.” BT Consumer CEO John Petter says.

Lyssa McGowan, Director of Sky Broadband, is equally delighted by the anti-piracy agreement.

“As both a content creator and ISP, we understand how vital it is to tackle online copyright infringement in order to protect future investment in content. As a result, we’re pleased [...] to help make consumers aware of illegal downloading and point them towards the wide range of legitimate sites where they can enjoy great content,” she notes.

The comments from the other ISPs, copyright holder groups, and the Government, are all variations on the same theme. The parties praise the new awareness campaign and note that the main goal is to convert consumers to legal alternatives through education.

The question that remains, however, is how genuine all this positivity really is.

While the scheme is being overwhelmed with praise, the parties also announced that the first warning emails will not be sent out before next summer, possibly even later. These delays are a thorn in the side of both copyright holders and the Government, suggesting that negotiations behind the scenes are less uplifting.

This also shows in earlier comments from the Prime Minister’s IP advisor Mike Weatherly who said that it’s already time to think about VCAP’s potential failure. He suggested that the program needs to be followed by something more enforceable, including disconnections, fines and jail sentences.

More background and details on the planned piracy warning are available in our previous VCAP overview article.

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

TorrentFreak: Dotcom’s MEGA Blocked in Italy Over Piracy Concerns

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

mega Italian authorities and the local entertainment industry are continuing their war on piracy with yet another round of broad website blockades.

This week Court of Rome Judge Constantino De Robbio ordered all local Internet providers to restrict access to 24 websites including Kim Dotcom’s Mega.co.nz. The list further includes several other cloud storage sites such as Firedrive (formerly known as Putlocker) and even Russia’s largest email provider Mail.ru.

The broad anti-piracy measures were requested by a small independent Italian movie distributor Eyemoon Pictures. The company complained that the sites in question distributed two films, “The Congress” and “Fruitvale Station,” before they were released in Italian cinemas.

It appears that the injunction was issued without a very careful investigation of the true nature of the sites. Kim Dotcom’s Mega.co.nz is known to be very responsive to takedown notices, and the targeting of Russia’s largest email providers is even more baffling.

In a comment Mega CEO Stephen Hall tells TorrentFreak that Mega views the blockade as disproportionate and illegal. The company operates an EU and DMCA compliant takedown process which allows copyright holder to remove infringing files swiftly.

“We believe that the blockade adopted by the Italian Prosecutor is illegal. The blocking order was placed on the basis of a complaint by a small distributor for two films and the effect of the total block is obviously disproportionate,” Hall says.

Hall further points out that the measures are easily circumvented by using Google DNS or any other non-ISP DNS provider. However, the company hopes that it can have the blockade reversed via soon-to-be-filed appeal.

“Mega is taking steps to ensure that our Italian customers regain access to their files without first having to fiddle with their nameserver settings by filing an appeal next week,” Hall adds.

TorrentFreak contacted Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer specialized in Internet and copyright disputes, who told us that the scope of the preliminary injunction is rather broad.

“This is the second-largest website blocking order in Italy, but certainly the most important one considering the names involved,” Sarzana says.

The lawyer is opposed to the measures and welcomes site owners who want to appeal the blockades.

“I see website blocking through DNS and IP-address as a form of censorship. The block can not distinguish between licit and illicit files. It’s like using a bomb broad-spectrum to hit only one person, the collateral damage is very obvious,” Sarzana notes.

The sites affected in today’s actions have an option to appeal the Court’s decision, which has been done before with success.

Earlier this year Rome’s Court of Appeals recalled a blocking order against the video streaming site Filmakerz.org, arguing that it was too broad. In its order the Court specified that partial blocking of a specific URL is preferred over site-wide bans, and that copyright-infringing sites must have a for-profit angle.

The full list of blocked domain names is as follows:

cineblog01.net, cineblog01.tv, ddlstorage.com, divxstage.eu, easybytez.com, filminstreaming.eu, filmstream.info, firedrive.com, mail.ru, mega.co.nz, movshare.sx, nowdownload.ag, nowdownload.sx, nowvideo.sx, piratestreaming.net, primeshare.tv, putlocker.com, rapidvideo.tv, sockshare.com, uploadable.ch, uploadinc.com, video.tt , videopremium.me and youwatch.org

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Firm Wants to Fine Aussie and Canadian File-Sharers

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

pirate-runningFor more than a decade copyright holders have been monitoring pirated downloads of their work on various file-sharing networks.

Traditionally these efforts have focused on the United States where ISPs are required to forward takedown notices to their account holders.

A recent trend has seen these notices become more than mere warnings. Companies such as CEG TEK and Rightscorp also tag on settlement requests, hoping to recoup some of the damages allegedly caused by file-sharers.

Since these requests are sent as DMCA notices, copyright holders do not have to involve the courts. Nonetheless, the ‘fines’ can be as high as several hundred dollars per shared file. Thus far these “automated fines” have been limited to the United States, but soon they will expand to Japan, with Australia and Canada next on the list.

TorrentFreak spoke with CEG TEK’s Kyle Reed who confirmed that they will soon start their piracy monetization service in Japan. At the same time the company will run various tests to see how Aussie and Canadian Internet providers respond to their notices.

“Increased coverage for our monetization clients in additional countries has always been top of mind. We have a base of international clients, some of which call these countries home,” Reed tells TorrentFreak

“Canada and Australia are both hot topics with rights owners and the market conditions afford us the opportunity to initiate ISP compliance testing,” Reed adds.

If the notice forwarding goes well with the ISPs, and there are decent response rates, the company will also begin sending out settlement requests in Australia and Canada.

Internet providers have to be tested in advance, because the settlement scheme fails if ISPs ignore or modify the notices. For example, in the U.S. many of the larger ISPs forward the notice without the actual settlement offer.

CEG TEK is not the only piracy monetization service to consider international expansion. Previously Rightscorp announced that it was interested in offering its services in Canada.

Whether Internet providers in Australia and Canada are willing to cooperate has yet to be seen. In Canada there is currently no legal obligation for ISPs to cooperate, although this will change soon. Australia has a notice and takedown policy but this doesn’t require ISPs to forward the settlement requests.

According to CEG TEK their settlement services are superior to traditional anti-piracy warnings since they stop more unauthorized transfers while making money in the process.

“In the United States and around the world, traditional peer-to-peer anti-piracy methods have proved to be largely ineffective. We have the only peer-to-peer solution shown to decrease infringements and repeat offenders, as well as return monetary settlements to rightful copyright owners,” Reed says.

The irony is of course that these companies will render themselves obsolete if they become too effective, but for now there are still plenty of pirates around.

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

TorrentFreak: 9% of French Internet Subscribers Accused of Piracy

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

warningFrance was one of the first countries in the world to consider implementing a “three strikes” style regime for dealing with online piracy. The system was implemented four years ago and ever since has been under scrutiny as both rightsholders and critics assess its efficacy.

Hadopi, the authority responsible for administering the scheme, has just published its latest report presenting its key figures to July 1 this year and they make interesting reading.

The cornerstone of the scheme is the warning system, with great importance attached to the first notices sent to subscribers. If the anti-infringement message can be successfully delivered at this stage, fewer follow-ups will be required.

Hadopi reveals that since it sent the very first warning notice in 2009, the agency has gone on to send 3,249,481 first warnings to Internet subscribers. It’s a sizable amount that represents almost 9% of all Internet users in France.

The big question, however, is how many took action to avoid receiving a second warning. According to Hadopi, during the same period it sent 333,723 second phase warnings by regular mail, a re-offending rate of just over 10%.

Those who receive first and second warnings but still don’t get the message go on to receive a third notice. Hadopi says that a total of 1,502 Internet subscribers received three warnings, just 0.45% of those who were sent a second.

The agency’s figures state that a large proportion of this group, 1,289 overall, had their cases examined by Hadopi’s committee. Of these, 116 cases went before a judge. Most received yet another warning.

Also of interest are the reactions of 31,379 subscribers who telephoned Hadopi after receiving an infringement notice.

According to the agency, 35% “spontaneously agreed” the accuracy of the facts set out in their warnings, with around 25% engaging or offering to take measures to avoid content being made available from their connections in the future. Reportedly less than 1% challenged the facts as laid out.

On the education front, over the past six months around 72,000 users have accessed an information video on the Hadopi website, while 49,000 sought information on what to do after receiving a warning.

The figures presented by Hadopi French, (pdf) clearly show a low re-offending rate, with an impressive gap between those receiving first and second warnings. Hadopi sees this as an indicator of the system’s success, although there is always the possibility that subscribers wised-up on security and safer methods of downloading after getting the first notice.

That being said, the agency counters this notion by citing figures from a small poll carried out among letter recipients which found that 73% of those who received a warning did not subsequently shift to another method of illegal downloading. However, that doesn’t mean they all jumped on the iTunes bandwagon either.

“Receiving a warning does not result in a massive shift towards legal offers,” Hadopi explains.

Overall, 23% of respondents who received a warning said they went on to use a legal service. That suggests that three quarters simply dropped off the media consumption radar altogether, which doesn’t sound like a realistic proposition.

Next year will see half a decade of graduated response in France. Will media sales have gone through the roof as a result? Time will tell, but it seems highly unlikely.

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

TorrentFreak: ‘Pirate’ Site ISP Blockades Reversed By Court

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

In the eyes of the United States, Spain still needs to do more in the battle against unlawful file-sharing. The country has been making progress though, and in some instances has actually gone much further than any U.S. court would dare.

Following action by the MPAA-affiliated Anti-Piracy Federation (FAP), in May 2014 a court in the city of Zaragoza ordered local ISPs including Vodafone, Movistar and Orange, to block several sites allegedly engaged in copyright infringement.

Within days, SpanishTracker, PCTorrent.com, NewPCT.com, PCTestrenos.com, Descargaya.es and TumejorTV.com were rendered inaccessible. The injunctions were not permanent, however, and could be appealed by the sites’ operators.

As can be seen in the Alexa statistics shown below, direct traffic to NewPCT took a huge hit following the court order. However, the site quickly set up alternative domains and there were several reports in local media indicating that proxies and VPNs had quickly become popular with those looking to regain access to the site.

NewPCT

But while the court order was cheered by rightsholders keen to see Spain dispel ideas that the country is a safe-haven for file-sharing sites, the celebrations were to be short-lived.

The site blocks, championed by both FAP and the police Computer Security Brigade, were this week lifted by a court in Zaragoza.

A judge sitting in Court of Instruction No.10 found that there “insufficient grounds” for maintaining the domain blockades to protect property rights, “especially when it is not absolutely necessary for the continuation of the investigation.”

El Mundo reports that when the case was being processed back in 2013, a court already found that “the facts alleged did not constitute a crime.”

The ISP blockades against the domains are expected to be lifted in the coming days, leaving local and international rightsholders to ponder whether changes in Spanish legislation due this year will help solve the piracy conundrum.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Processes Millions of Useless DMCA Notices

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

A major Internet anti-piracy strategy is to trawl the Internet for infringing content in order to send sites a DMCA-style notice. This, if all goes to plan, results in the content, or at the least a link to it, being removed from availability.

The world’s largest recipient of these notices is Google and in the interests of transparency the company publishes a report detailing the requests it receives. But while the majority of the requests are processed without further issue, increasing numbers serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever.

Last year alone, Google discarded 21 million takedown requests, either because the claims were invalid or were duplicates of previously sent notices.

In 2014 the duplication problem appears to be getting worse, with even the BPI (who in all fairness are more accurate than most with their takedowns) sending large volumes of notices that contain high percentages of links that have already been taken down.

BPI-dup

Across the Atlantic, Fox – which is the fifth all-time greatest sender of notices (28 million) – is also having difficulty remembering which URLs it has already asked to be erased. How Google can remember what takedowns Fox has already sent and why the studio cannot isn’t clear, but the high percentages in the refusal column suggests the numbers are significant.

Fox-dup

That being said, these numbers should be put into perspective. The BPI has asked Google to take down more than 86 million URLs and Fox 28 million, so even many tens of thousands of duplicates are a relatively low percentage of the total. However, there is a far more depressing trend that suggests that some anti-piracy companies don’t check to see if the links they’re complaining about are actually infringing copyright at all.

The image below shows a selection of notices sent to Google this month by NBC, with a percentage of each rejected by Google. The reason for that is that they’re directed at isoHunt.com, a site that was shut down by NBC’s Hollywood allies last year. The links and the site itself simply do not exist.

Iso-notice

Another instance, shown below, lists several TV and movie companies plus software companies Adobe and Lynda looking to take down URLs from another allegedly infringing site. Except this one, Hotfile.com, is not only dead, but was actually taken down by the studios themselves. For reference, these notices were sent four days ago and Hotfile closed down last December.

hot-notice

To see how prevalent this problem is we dug through the TorrentFreak archives to find sites that have been closed by copyright holders or the police in the last couple of years, to see if anti-piracy companies have updated their records.

Despite huge publicity, even now plenty of companies are wasting Google’s time with notices for content hosted on Megaupload, even though it has been closed for two and a half years. Just last month on the Usenet front, publisher Lynda targeted dead-since-last-year NZBsRus.

Also living in the past are the people at Viacom, who this month sent a flurry of notices asking for content to be removed from BTjunkie, a site that shut down 30 months ago in the wake of the Megaupload fiasco. Viacom are definitely not on their own though, as this link shows.

Finishing up, Warner Bros., whose UK-based anti-piracy group FACT shut down streaming site SurftheChannel in 2012 and helped to get its owner jailed, sent a notice to Google in March asking for it to remove links to The Big Bang Theory.

And Fox (shown earlier to be sending lots of duplicates), plus HBO, Evil Angel, NBC and Viacom are apparently still unaware that the UK Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit shut down Filecrop back in May.

Why this activity continues is anyone’s guess, but these takedowns either aren’t subjected to scrutiny or are deliberately passed with the knowledge that they’re invalid. Both options are causing unnecessary workloads for those employed to process them and putting money in the pockets of anti-piracy companies in return for zero effectiveness.

Some might argue that’s nothing new.

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

TorrentFreak: File-Sharing Doesn’t Hurt Box Office Revenue, Research Finds

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

piracy-progressResearch into online piracy comes in all shapes and sizes, often with equally mixed results. Often the main question is whether piracy is hurting sales.

A new study conducted by economist Koleman Strumpf is one of the most comprehensive on the subject so far.

Drawing on data from a popular BitTorrent tracker and revenue projections from the Hollywood Stock Exchange he researches how the release of a pirated movie affects expected box office income.

The research covers 150 of the most popular films that were released over a period of seven years, and the findings reveal that the release of pirated films on file-sharing sites doesn’t directly hurt box office revenue.

“There is no evidence in my empirical results of file-sharing having a significant impact on theatrical revenue,” Strumpf tells TorrentFreak in a comment.

“My best guess estimate is that file sharing reduced the first month box office by $200 million over 2003-2009, which is only three tenths of a percent of what movies actually earned. I am unable to reject the hypothesis that there is no impact at all of file-sharing on revenues.”

So while there is a small negative effect, this is limited to three tenth of a percent and not statistically significant.

Interestingly, the data also reveals that movie leaks shortly before the premiere have a small positive impact on expected revenues. This suggests that file-sharing may serve as a form of promotion.

“One consistent result is that file-sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue. One explanation is that such releases create greater awareness of the film. This is also the period of heaviest advertising,” Strumpf notes.

One of the advantages of this study compared to previous research is that it measures the direct effect of a movie leak on projected box office revenues. Previous studies mostly compared early versus late leaks, which is less accurate and may be influenced by other factors.

“For example, suppose studios added extra security to big budget movies which then have a delayed arrival to file-sharing networks. Then even if file-sharing has no impact at all, one would find that delayed arrival on file-sharing leads to higher revenues,” Strumpf tells us.

Another upside of the research lies in the statistical precision. The data includes thousands of daily observations and relatively precise estimates, something lacking in most previous studies.

The downside, on the other hand, is that the expected box office impact is estimated from the Hollywood Stock Exchange. While this has shown to be a good predictor for actual revenues, it’s not a direct measurement.

In any case, the paper suggests that file-sharing might not be the biggest threat the movie industry is facing.

Even if the negative effects were twice as big as the data suggests, it would still be less than the $500 million Hollywood spent on the MPAA’s anti-piracy efforts during the same period.

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

TorrentFreak: Suing File-Sharers Doesn’t Work, Lawyers Warn

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

pirate-runningFor more than a decade copyright holders and the U.S. Government have been trying to find the silver bullet to beat piracy.

This week the American Bar Association joined the discussion with a 113-page white paper. With their “call for action” the lawyers encourage Congress to draft new anti-piracy legislation and promote voluntary agreements between stakeholders.

Among the options on the table is the filing of lawsuits against individual file-sharers, something the RIAA did extensively in the past. Interestingly, the lawyers advise against this option as it’s unlikely to have an impact on current piracy rates.

According to the lawyers these type of lawsuits are also financially ineffective, oftentimes costing more than they bring in. In addition, they can create bad PR for the copyright holders involved.

“While it is technically possible for trademark and copyright owners to proceed with civil litigation against the consuming public who [...] engage in illegal file sharing, campaigns like this have been expensive, do not yield significant financial returns, and can cause a public relations problem for the plaintiff in addressing its consuming public,” the lawyers write.

“The [American Bar Association] does not believe that legislative action directly targeting consumers would prove effective in reducing piracy or counterfeiting at this time,” the white paper adds.

While the above may be true for any of the cases that go to trial, various copyright trolls might tend to disagree as they have shown that targeting file-sharers can be quite lucrative.

Pirates shouldn’t be too quick to cheer on the lawyers though, as the white paper also contains some pretty draconian suggestions.

The American Bar Association says that future legislation should target infringing websites, and it names The Pirate Bay as an example. Since site owners are often unknown and therefore hard to prosecute in America, they advise a series of more indirect tactics.

The lawyers are in favor of a “follow the money” principle where anti-piracy measures are targeted at strangling the finances of pirate sites. They call for legislation that makes it easier to cut off advertising, and to seize funds through banks or payment processors.

In addition, the white paper calls for new legislation that would allow copyright holders to obtain injunctions against the hosting companies of pirate sites. The American Bar Association also considered similar injunctions against domain registrars and search engines, but it couldn’t reach agreement on these issues.

Overall copyright holders will be pleased to see the recommendations put forward in the white paper, but it’s doubtful whether lawmakers will be quick pick them up.

Several of the suggestions were previously listed in the SOPA and PIPA bills, so if these are ever drafted into legislation Congress can expect a lot of public backlash.

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

TorrentFreak: News Corp Wants to Hold ISPs Responsible For Piracy

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

throttleRupert Murdoch’s News Corporation spin-off not only owns several major newspapers, but also has a stake in Foxtel, the Australian pay TV network that airs Game of Thrones.

The hit TV show has become a pivotal talking point in the copyright debate, so it comes as little surprise that News Corp is now regularly throwing its own anti-piracy opinions into the mix.

Last month, News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson fired shots at Google for operating sophisticated algorithms that “know ­exactly where you are and what you’re doing” yet at the same time “pleading ignorance” on piracy.

“[It's an] untenable contradiction,” Thomson said.

Now the media outfit is making its feelings known again in a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade, regarding the Free Trade Agreement between the governments of Australia and South Korea.

Specifically, News Corp doesn’t like the fact that following the failed Hollywood legal onslaught against iiNet, Aussie ISPs are able to distance themselves from the pirating habits of their subscribers.

“As News Corp Australia has expressed previously, we are concerned that the amendments made to the Copyright Act 1968 in 2004 regarding secondary liability of ISPs do not operate as intended,” the company writes.

“Specifically, the provisions of the Act – although intended to do so – do not provide rights holders with means to protect rights online as the provisions are technology specific and ineffective in dealing with online copyright infringement as it manifests today, nor as it may manifest in the future.”

The law as it stands, News Corps adds, is not “readily suited to enforcing the rights of copyright owners in respect of widespread infringements occasioned by peer-to-peer file sharing, as occurs with the BitTorrent system.”

Looking towards a solution, News Corp supports the position taken by Attorney-General George Brandis back in February when the Senator noted that Section 101 of the Copyright Act should be reformed so that an ISP which authorizes the copyright infringements of others can more effectively be held liable for those infringements.

“News Corp Australia supports the Attorney-General’s approach to the issue of online copyright infringement, and looks forward to contributing to ensuring domestic copyright protection provisions function as intended, and the balance between obligation (secondary liability) and benefit (safe harbour) is re-established,” the company concludes.

Whether ISPs will relish taking on more responsibility is up for debate, but it’s safe to say that one – Hollywood nemesis iiNet – definitely won’t. The company’s Chief Regulatory Officer Steve Dalby has been in the press on numerous occasions in the past few weeks taking a particularly aggressive stance against most government and entertainment industry proposals.

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

TorrentFreak: Adobe Says Piracy is Down, But Photoshop Still Rules Pirate Bay

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

There can be little doubt that Adobe products are a crowd pleaser among digital creatives. Designers love them, photographers and videographers do too, and Adobe’s Photoshop, Flash and Acrobat brands are recognized worldwide.

But while millions of people use Adobe’s premium products, not everyone pays for that privilege. Unauthorized Photoshop releases have been appearing on computers worldwide for 25 years and other Adobe products are regularly pirated close to their launch. Over time this has led Adobe to invest substantial sums of money on anti-piracy measures including DRM and even legal action. But there are other ways to deal with the problem.

In May last year and much to the disappoint of Adobe’s millions of pirate ‘customers’, the company announcemend that it would be changing the way it does business. Boxed products, a hangover from the last decade and earlier, would be phased out and replaced with a cloud-based subscription model.

On the one hand, many pirates heard the word “cloud” and associated that with a lack of local machine control, something that can cause issues when trying to run unlicensed software. Adobe, on the other hand, appeared to be looking at product development and the piracy problem from a different angle.

While attempts at hacking its cloud service would present another technical barrier to piracy, with its new offering the tech giant also looked towards making its product more affordable. A few dollars a month rather than $700 in one go was aimed at providing an economic reason for even the most budget-restricted not to pirate. But has the strategy worked?

According to new comments from Fabio Sambugaro, VP of Enterprise Latin America at Adobe, unauthorized use of the company’s products is definitely down since the cloud switch.

“Piracy has fallen,” Sambugaro says. “It’s hard to measure, but we’ve seen many companies seeking partnerships that in the past wouldn’t have done so.”

According to information released to investors last month, Adobe exited quarter two this year with 2,308,000 subscribers of its Creative Cloud service, an increase of 464,000 over the first quarter of 2014. The company attributed 53% of the company’s quarter two revenue to “recurring sources” such as its Creative and Marketing Cloud services.

So have the pirates given up on Adobe? In a word, no.

One only has to scour the indexes of the world’s most popular torrent sites to see that Photoshop, Photoshop Lightroom, Illustrator, Premiere, Indesign, After Effects and Acrobat Pro all take prominent places in the charts of most-popular torrents. No surprise then that on The Pirate Bay, Photoshop CS6 – the last version of Photoshop before the cloud switch – is king of the software downloads by a long way.

Also, and contrary to fears aired by pirates alongside Adobe’s original strategy change announcement, the cloud has not made it impossible to run unauthorized versions of Photoshop CC 2014, for example. Expected functional restrictions aside, torrent sites have plenty of working copies of Creative Cloud releases, but is this necessarily a bad thing?

There are those who believe that some level of piracy is useful as a try-before-you-buy option on a traditionally expensive product such as Photoshop. But what makes this notion even more interesting today is that Adobe’s switch to the cloud – and its much lower price point for entry – may see people investing a few dollars a month for increased functionality and a simple life, instead of one spent jumping through hoops with an inferior and oftentimes awkward product.

And Adobe knows it.

“I do not think people who pirate our software do it because they are bad people, or because they like to steal things. I just think that they decided that they can not afford it,” said Adobe’s David Wadhwani previously.

“And now, with the switch to subscriptions and with the ability to offer software at a cheaper price, we see that the situation is beginning to change and we’re excited.”

Richard Atkinson, Corporate Director of Worldwide Anti-Piracy, admitted last year that the company would move away from “enforcement-led anti piracy” to a “business-focused pirate-to-pay conversion program.”

If the company is to be believed, that is now paying off.

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

TorrentFreak: Copyright Education Needed in Every School, Parliament Hears

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

The idea that the copyright wars can be won through education is nothing new, but it’s a notion that’s likely to gain more traction in the coming years.

Suing the hell out of file-sharers might currently be popular with trolls, but the mainstream entertainment companies are increasingly opting to “educate” consumers via emailed warnings instead.

However, getting into the hearts and minds of young people before they become budding adult pirates is also an option, some believe.

The likes of the RIAA and MPAA have been dabbling in this area for many years and just last year it was revealed that the group behind the U.S. “six-strikes” program had developed a curriculum targeted at kids from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Yesterday ideas along the same lines were put forward by UK authors during a debate in the House of Commons. Bemoaning the state of renumeration for writers and authors in the UK, Joanne Harris MBE, the author of the Oscar-winning movie Chocolat starring Johnny Depp, said that downloading literature from the Internet was not “sticking it to the man”.

If children could understand that not everyone is as lucky or rich as J.K. Rowling, and that “real” people are behind these works, progress might be made, Harris said.

“Authors and creators should go into schools. Let children see what an author is like, let them go out into the community and talk to people, let them understand that we have children, we have mortgages; we do not simply get showered with Hollywood money because we happened to write a little story about wizards one day,” Harris said.

Award-winning poet Wendy Cope OBE was in agreement, noting that a general failure to do anything effective against illegal downloading meant that educating children about copyright is the only solution left.

“There is a need of education, because so many people are so completely ignorant of the basic fact of copyright. It seems to me it would take five minutes to explain, once a year in assembly, that there is such a thing as the law of copyright,” Cope said.

“Assemblies in every school in the country that such a thing of copyright exists – so these people who tell me I have photocopied your poem and sent it to all my friends know that they are breaking the law.”

And herein lies a problem.

While Cope undoubtedly works very hard to produce her poetry, one might think that the sharing culture facilitated by today’s social media phenomenon would be a useful ally, not a foe, when it comes to getting her noticed by young people. But Cope was born in the 1940s and clearly still views photocopying (Xeroxing) as something to be concerned about, so there’s a bit of a disconnect here.

Also, when one compares Cope’s views with those of Paulo Coelho, one of the most widely read authors in the world, who loves BitTorrent and people pirating his books, it becomes clear that the failure of an author to gain an audience won’t be overcome by talking about copyright in a classroom once a year.

Finally, Cope’s idea of informing children that illegal downloading is the same as stealing sweets or candy presumes that children can not only tell the difference between a legal and illegal copy of her poems, but also between a purchased Paulo Coehlo book and a ‘pirated’ one – and all the shades of fair-use gray in between.

Whether copyright proponents and anti-piracy outfits will care about those subtle shades once they’re allowed inside a classroom is another matter entirely – especially if they only get five minutes.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Director Slams “Pathetic” Anti-Piracy Crusade

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

lexi2It’s not every day that you see a Hollywood director holding up a “Free Peter Sunde” sign, but Lexi Alexander is on a mission.

With her support for the Pirate Bay founder who’s currently locked up in a Swedish prison, Alexander hopes to reach out to the “other side” with whom she shares a common goal.

Alexander is not a fan of the anti-piracy crusade the MPAA and other groups are waging against file-sharers. The massive losses that are claimed due to piracy are “bullshit” according to her. In fact, she believes that piracy may do more good than harm.

“I get a little upset when I hear how hard my industry jumps into action, sparing neither time, manpower or resources, as soon as someone even hints at potential loss to the crown estate,” Alexander notes.

“Piracy has NOT been proven to hurt box-office numbers, on the contrary, several studies say it may have boosted the bottom line,” she adds.

In recent years the movie industry has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into expensive anti-piracy measures, nearly all of which are counterproductive according to Alexander.

For example, as a German living in Hollywood she can’t watch German news online due to geographical restrictions and the same is true for U.S. shows when she’s visiting Germany. But thanks to the pirates, Hollywood director can easily bypass these restrictions.

“But guess what, for every IP block, DRM and who-knows-what security feature Hollywood spends thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on, some piracy kid will undo it for free and within a couple of minutes.”

“And this is my favorite part: I am 100% certain that the hacking of entertainment industry’s security features provides better entertainment for these kids than the entertainment we’re trying to prevent them from stealing. Let that sink in for a second, then try not to bust up laughing.”

hulu-sorry

In a recent interview with Daily Record, Alexander describes criminalization of file sharing as “pathetic.” It is mostly an issue that keeps Hollywood’s “Fat Cats” busy, but not so much independent filmmakers.

“The people who complain most about piracy in Hollywood are Fat Cats who did little to deserve their wealth or position. I doubt you’ll find many people on the anti-piracy train amongst film crews or indie filmmakers, unless they’re being paid a retainer,” she says.

Contrary to what the MPAA and others may lead the public to believe, Alexander says that piracy is rather common among filmmakers. She herself admits to downloading films when there are no legal options available.

“I download stuff myself, so do many of my colleagues here in Hollywood. Usually we do it only when we can’t find something on mainstream streaming services,” Alexander says.

gsh

The movie director uses pirate sites to grab movies that are relevant for an upcoming meeting for example, something which has saved her on a few occasions.

“I cannot tell you how often my ass was saved by some torrent site in those situations. And I assume that 99% of my Hollywood filmmaker colleagues or their poor assistants have found themselves on a piracy site for just that reason (if they deny it, they’re lying. The end.)”

Despite her own piracy habits, Alexander doesn’t endorse the existing piracy status quo. In a blog post on her own site she notes that many of the people running pirate sites are just as motivated by greed as the people in Hollywood.

The movie director considered reaching out to Kim Dotcom but concluded that his luxurious lifestyle makes him just like the Hollywood elite. The Pirate Bay team was second on the list, but this was scrapped after learning about historical connections with right-winger Carl Lundström.

The movie director is nonetheless reaching out to all pirates with good intentions who put art and talent before the dollar signs. An “Occupy Hollywood movement,” as she describes it, and calling for Peter Sunde’s release, is her way to reach out to those who support this cause.

So will the real pirates please stand up?

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

TorrentFreak: Singapore Passes Pirate Bay-Blocking Anti-Piracy Law

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

tpb-logoThe battle to stop Internet users from downloading copyrighted material is one that can never be won, but that hasn’t stopped a growing list of countries from having a go.

Domain blocking is now one of the preferred methods of reducing copyright infringement around Europe and is endorsed by none other than MPAA chief Chris Dodd.

Today, Singapore can be added to the list of site-blocking countries after passing freshing amendments to its Copyright Act. The news, unpopular with many Internet users, caused the term ‘piracy’ to trend on Twitter.

SingaporeTrend

The Bill was put before Parliament yesterday but was pushed over to today after time ran out. The newly-passed legislation will allow copyright holders to obtain High Court orders to force local service providers to block access to websites that “flagrantly infringe” copyright. How that will be determined is not yet clear.

The new tool will be a useful one for music and movie companies. Previously content was taken down or blocked by ISPs on a case-by-case basis but now wholesale site blocking will become the favored weapon. Local media suggests that the new mechanism could allow sites to be blocked within eight weeks of a successful application.

In a statement, Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah said the new amendments will help reduce piracy and boost legal alternatives.

“The prevalence of online piracy in Singapore turns customers away from legitimate content and adversely affects Singapore’s creative sector,” Rajah said.

“It can also undermine our reputation as a society that respects the protection of intellectual property.”

Unsurprisingly The Pirate Bay is first on the list of sites set to be targeted by copyright holders, with KickassTorrents reportedly a close second. The law could come into force by the end of August so it’s possible that both sites – and most probably more – will be blocked before the end of the year.

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

TorrentFreak: Uptobox Bans Americans After Visa and MasterCard Pressure

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

uptoboxAfter failed attempts to introduce tougher anti-piracy legislation in the United States, Hollywood and the major record labels focused their efforts on strangling revenue of so-called rogue sites.

Payment services are among the key intermediaries and the entertainment industries previously helped negotiate an anti-piracy agreement between VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, PaySafeCard and several other key players.

As a result several major file-hosting services have had trouble accepting payments from their users. The popular cyberlocker Uptobox is among the latest casualties of this effort, TorrentFreak has learned.

“Our payment processors have received a notification from Visa and MasterCard telling them to stop accepting credit card payments for our service, subject to penalties,” Uptobox operator Guillaume informs us.

“These measures are the result of pressure from movie studios on Visa and Mastercard,” he adds.

Uptobox is currently still able to accept credit card payments through a reseller, but decided to cut all ties with the United States to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

This means that U.S. visitors are no longer allowed to access the site. Instead they receive the following notice. “Sorry, Uptobox.com is not available in your country.”

Uptobox block

uptobox-block

Uptobox will consider lifting the ban if a European payment provider is willing to directly accept credit card payments for them. However, considering Visa and MasterCard’s tight grip on the situation this may prove to be difficult.

According to Guillaume, MasterCard previously complained to payment processors Hipay and Allopass as well, following a request from Disney. In addition, PayPal has rejected Uptobox’s requests to become an authorized file-hosting service.

According to statistics released last year more than 1,500 “pirate” merchants were cut off from payment providers between 2011 and 2013, and this list continues to expand week after week.

Despite the setbacks Uptobox is determined to keep its business going. The cyberlocker is currently exploring several alternative payment methods including Bitcoin.

“Processing payments for our users is hard right now, but we are sure we will find a suitable payment processor. We’re also considering to support Bitcoin and other payment methods such as SMS,” Guillaume tells us.

“For now, the service is not in danger, we still have a bright future ahead of us,” the Uptobox operator concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Services Among 472 Sites Blocked For World Cup ‘Piracy’

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

With the World Cup now heading to its semi-final stages, FIFA and its distribution partners are pushing hard to stem the tide of unauthorized content.

While FIFA has even gone as far as taking action against Twitter avatars, news today shows that its affiliates are also prepared to disrupt the activities of hundreds of sites and countless millions of Internet users if that means protecting their copyrights.

The development follows legal action initiated by Multi Screen Media PVT Ltd, a Sony Entertainment Television subsidiary in India. Earlier this year the company obtained a license from FIFA to broadcast the 2014 World Cup to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Of course, content is now being made available elsewhere without permission, so the company has decided to do something about that.

In a statement to the High Court in Delhi, counsel for Multi Screen Media explained that “various websites are indulging in hosting, streaming, providing access to” infringing content causing substantial loss of revenue not just for the company, but also to the government due to lost tax on TV subscription fees.

The list of ‘infringing’ sites supplied to the High Court is huge – 479 sites in all – and contains well known sharing sites including The Pirate Bay, torrent storage site Torrage, 1337x, Demonoid, and dozens of file-hosting sites.

Quite amazingly, however, the list also contains entirely legitimate sites including Google Docs, Google Video, Google URL shortener Goo.gl, and Kim Dotcom’s Mega.co.nz. None escape the criticism of Sony or the High Court.

“Learned counsel for the plaintiff submits that many of the websites [in the list] are anonymous in nature and it is virtually impossible to locate the owners of such websites or contact details of such owners. It is further submitted that many of these Rogue Websites also hide behind domain privacy services offered by various domain name Registrars,” the judge wrote in his decision.

“[Websites] listed below, or any other website identified by the Plaintiff are restrained, from in any manner hosting, streaming, broadcasting, rebroadcasting, retransmitting, exhibiting, making available for viewing and downloading, providing access to and / or communicating to the public, displaying, uploading, modifying, publishing, updating and/or sharing (including to its subscribers and users), through the internet, in any manner whatsoever,” he continued.

With that Judge V. Kameswar Rao issued an order for the country’s ISPs to block the 479 sites in question – Google’s included – plus “such other websites that may subsequently be notified by the Plaintiff to be infringing of its exclusive rights.”

While the Judge granting a blocking order against Google is bad enough, one has to question how the company’s services ended up on the High Court application in the first place. That is the responsibility of local anti-piracy company Markscan, who compiled the list for Multi Screen Media. Markscan were featured in a TorrentFreak article last month when they sent dozens of erroneous takedown notices to Google, again on behalf of a Sony company.

“We want to assure you that we deploy technology, in addition to best efforts of our teams, to ensure that we do not impact legal content on yours, or any other website,” they told us at the time. Users of Google Docs, Goo.gl and Google Video may beg to differ.

While some local ISPs have already initiated blockades, Google told Indian news outlet Medianama that there had been “no interruption of our services mentioned in the order.”

The High Court order was issued June 23, alongside an instruction to distribute the summons to the defendant sites by July 22, 2014.

Update: MediaNama is reporting that it has obtained a copy of an updated court order that isn’t yet available on the Delhi High Court website. The update reveals blocking requests for 219 sites, down from the 472 in the original order. No Google websites are in the updated list but many torrent and other file-sharing sites remain.

Original List of 472 Sites to Be Blocked

1. cdn.playwire.com

2. embedupload.com

3. 1fichier.com

4. crocko.com

5. multiupload.nl

6. uppit.com

7. solidfiles.com

8. bayfiles.net

9. tusfiles.net

10. bitshare.com

11. muchshare.net

12. mega.co.nz

13. share-online.biz

14. sendspace.com

15. real4download.com

16. telugump3.biz

17. wapkafiles.com

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

TorrentFreak: 140 U.S. Internet Providers Disconnect Persistent File-Sharers

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

dont-pirateFor more than a decade copyright holders have been sending ISPs takedown notices to alert account holders that their connections are being used to share copyrighted material.

These notices are traditionally nothing more than a warning, hoping to scare file-sharers into giving up their habit. However, anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp has been very active in trying to make the consequences more serious.

The company monitors BitTorrent networks for people who download titles owned by the copyright holders they work for, and then approaches these alleged pirates via their Internet providers. The ISPs are asked to forward Rightscorp’s settlement demands to the alleged infringer, which is usually around $20 per shared file.

The settlement approach is a bigger stick than the standard warnings and according to Rightscorp it’s superior to the six-strikes scheme. And there’s more. The company also wants Internet providers to disconnect subscribers whose accounts are repeatedly found sharing copyrighted works.

Christopher Sabec, CEO of Rightscorp, says that they have been in talks with various Internet providers urging them to step up their game. Thus far a total of 140 ISPs are indeed following this disconnection principle.

“We push ISPs to suspend accounts of repeat copyright infringers and we currently have over 140 ISPs that are participating in our program, including suspending the accounts of repeat infringers,” Sabec says.

During a presentation at the Anti-Piracy Summit in Los Angeles Rightscorp recently pitched this disconnection angle to several interested parties.

Rightscorp presentation slide
solution

By introducing disconnections Rightcorp hopes to claim more settlements to increase the company’s revenue stream. They offer participating ISPs a tool to keep track of the number of warnings each customer receives, and the providers are encouraged to reconnect the subscribers if the outstanding bills have been paid.

“All US ISPs have a free Rightscorp website dashboard that identifies these repeat infringers and notifies the ISPs when they have settled their cases with our clients. We encourage the ISPs to restore service once the matter has been settled and there is no longer an outstanding legal liability,” Sabec told TorrentFreak.

Cutting off repeat infringers is also in the best interests of ISPs according to Rightscorp, who note that it is a requirement for all providers if they are to maintain their DMCA safe harbor.

Rightscorp is indeed correct in stating that Internet providers have to act against repeat infringers. The DMCA requires ISPs to “… adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network who are repeat infringers.”

However, legal experts and Internet providers interpret the term “repeat infringer” differently.

For example, AT&T previously said that it would never terminate accounts of customers without a court order, arguing that only a court can decide what constitutes a repeat infringement. Comcast on the other hand, previously told us that they are disconnecting repeat infringers, although it’s not clear after how many warnings that is.

Nevertheless, Rightscorp claims that their approach has been a great success and proudly reports that 140 ISPs are actively disconnecting subscribers. So does this mean that all U.S. Internet subscribers are at risk of receiving a settlement request or losing their Internet access?

Well, not really.

Most of the larger Internet providers appear to ignore Rightscorp’s settlement notices. Comcast, for example, does forward the notice but takes out the settlement offer. Verizon, AT&T and other major ISPs appear to do the same. Thus far, Charter seems to be the only major provider that forwards Rightscorp’s requests in full.

The 140 ISPs Rightscorp is referring to are mostly smaller, often local ISPs, who together hold a tiny market share. Not insignificant perhaps, but it’s a nuance worth adding.

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

TorrentFreak: Cyberlocker Blocked After Police Discover “Criminal Network”

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

In the file-hosting and file-linking worlds there are laws in place to protect site operators from liability for their users’ actions.

When a site operator is informed via a valid notice that content being hosted or linked to is infringing copyright, removing or disabling access to that content ensures protection under relevant U.S. and EU legislation. That said, there are some gray areas which turn the tables on liability.

Some sites, often forum-style indexes that link to copyright movies, music and software hosted elsewhere, have more than just casual links with the external sites where the content is actually hosted. In fact, some anti-piracy outfits claim that many are operated by the same owners, or so close as to make little difference.

The idea is that one site provides the content while the other supplies links and valuable eyeballs. Acting together the pair collect all the revenue from advertising, affiliate schemes, and subscription payments, while maintaining in public that they still qualify for safe harbor.

Being able to prove that this is the reality behind the scenes is another matter, but this week Italian police say they managed to do just that. Reportedly exposing the connections between a linking site and an associated cyberlocker, police presented evidence to the authorities and obtained a domain blocking injunction from a local court.

As a result DDLStorage, a file-hosting site that has grown substantially in the past 15 months serving 460 million files while allegedly pocketing 1.3 million euros, is now inaccessible by direct means in Italy.

“This is a really important case for the anti-piracy battle,” says Luca Vespignani, General Secretary of anti-piracy group FPM.

“For the first time in Italy we can unequivocally reveal the presence of a direct and illegal connection between a pirate website and its cyberlocker. It is essential to investigate the organization of these structures to seriously disrupt digital piracy.”

The investigation into DDLStorage found that the site started in Italy and had 120 servers located first in France and then the Netherlands.

“Just 3 per cent of users on the platform uploaded files and only 0.2 per cent were receiving revenues for the content they uploaded,” FPM said in a statement. “Uploaders were paid the more their content was downloaded by other users, with individual payments running up to €40,000 per year.”

TorrentFreak contacted DDLStorage and asked them for a response to the allegations that they’re involved in a criminal enterprise.

“We are not in Italy, we are not an Italian company,” the site told us. “We are online without any problems. We are working to resolve this problem with the Italian users.”

DDLStorage is indeed online, as the injunction only relates to Italian ISPs. However, the site’s comments suggest that it could be attempting to find a workaround to continue serving not only the world market, but the Italian market again too.

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

TorrentFreak: UK PM’s IP Advisor Won’t Stand For Re-Election

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

In September 2013, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced the appointment of Mike Weatherley MP as his brand new advisor on intellectual property matters.

As the founder of Parliament’s Rock the House competition and member of the All-Party Parliamentary Intellectual Property Group launched in 2003 to raise awareness and rally against copyright and related infringement, Weatherley seemed like the ideal candidate.

The then 56-year-old quickly offered his support to the recently formed Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and promised to assist the government to focus on anti-piracy enforcement issues aimed at protecting the creative industries.

By December of 2013, Weatherley was making it clear that ISPs should be held responsible for their customers’ infringing downloads and just weeks later suggested jail sentences for persistent file-sharers. Greater accountability for companies such as Google became a recurring theme in the MP’s work.

But while Weatherley has made quite an impact in his unpaid position, his role as a Conservative Member of Parliament will come to an end in the first quarter of 2015. In an announcement today Weatherley confirmed that he will not be standing at next year’s General Election.

Noting the enjoyment he’s had serving the people of his constituency in the south of England, Weatherley also touched on his role as Cameron’s IP advisor.

“Over the past year, I have taken immense pride in serving as your Intellectual Property Adviser. I am sure that you will agree that we have made huge steps towards really getting politicians and industry talking – which is key to making the most of our country’s wealth of creative talent,” the MP told the Prime Minister.

If Weatherley keeps to his own predictions then he will step down as an MP before May 2015 but he also hints that he would like to remain involved in government IP matters.

“It would be a privilege to continue offering my assistance in this regard,” he told David Cameron.

Interestingly, local media is reporting that Weatherley is believed to be returning to the creative industries. The 57-year-old was formerly the European vice-president of the Motion Picture Licensing Company and also worked as the finance director of record producer Pete Waterman’s empire.

A revolving door situation, where Weatherley heads out of government into a position with a large entertainment group, hardly seems out of the question given his history, but for solid information the world will have to wait. In the meantime his work in government will continue, with some of his time devoted to the industry he’ll soon be re-joining.

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

TorrentFreak: Parents of Pirate Site Admin Sentenced For Money Laundering

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

flag-italyBack in February 2012, Italian media began reporting on the sudden closure of two popular file-sharing sites said to have 270,000 users.

Acting on a court order, the Guardia di Finanza (financial police) seized the domains of Scaricolibero.com and Filmgratis.tv and ordered ISPs to block the IP addresses of the sites’ servers in the Netherlands. The order also authorized seizure of bank accounts connected to the site.

The order was granted based on allegations of copyright infringement from local entertainment companies and claims of receiving stolen goods/money laundering. At the time the sites were said to be making around $300 a day from advertising.

IT-seized

It’s taken more than two years but this week the Italian legal system finally wrapped up the case against the sites’ former operator and his family accomplices, finding all three guilty as charged.

Fortunately the now 23-year-old will not spend any time behind bars, having been handed a 22 month suspended sentence after generating around 137,000 euros from the sites. Interestingly, his parents also became involved in the case after allowing their bank account to be used to collect advertising revenue.

“The parents, who owned the bank account where the money from ads were allocated, were sentenced for money laundering,” Enzo Mazzo of music industry group Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana informs TorrentFreak.

The couple received a 10 month suspended sentence after benefitting to the tune of 48,000 euros.

“It’s a very good decision,” Mazza adds. “Our anti-piracy team FPM assisted during the case and we are really satisfied with the decision which has shown clear evidence of the link between piracy and the collection of money through advertisements.”

In the future FIMI and its local associates will be looking to take a more proactive approach by stopping revenue reaching pirate sites in the first place. Earlier this month a new Italian coalition announced its plans to continue the “follow-the-money” theme being played out around Europe and the United States.

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