Posts tagged ‘Anti-Piracy’

TorrentFreak: Advocate General Doubts Legality of Pirate Bay Blockade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Drags CloudFlare into Piracy Lawsuit, Scolds LeaseWeb

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

cloudflareEarlier this month the long running lawsuit between the RIAA and Grooveshark came to an end.

Facing hundreds of millions in damages, the music streaming service settled the dispute for $50 million while offering an apology for the mistakes that had been made in the past.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: High Court Orders UK ISPs to Block eBook Sites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Thanks for the Really Counter-Productive DMCA Complaints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sher-1

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

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

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

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

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

ryu-dmca

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: WebHost Owner Cleared of Aiding Torrent Site Piracy

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

pirate bay flagFollowing a complaint from Swedish anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån, in November 2011 police carried out raids in two locations against private torrent site TTi, aka The Internationals.

In one location police targeted site owner Joel Larsson. In another, Patrik Lagerman, boss of web-hosting firm PatrikWeb, the company providing hosting for the torrent site.

The case against Larsson centered around the unlawful distribution of copyrighted video content by his site’s users. Lagerman was accused of aiding that infringement after he refused to take the site down following a request (not backed by a court order) from Antipiratbyrån.

The case dragged on for more than three and a half years but concluded earlier this month. The judgment was handed down yesterday and its one of mixed fortunes.

Larsson previously admitted to being the operator of TTi and also the person who accepted donations from site members, an amount equivalent to around US$12,000. He also insisted that he never controlled the content shared by his site’s users.

In its judgment, however, the court noted that files found on a confiscated PC revealed details of meetings with site staff indicating that Larsson fully understood that the site was involved in the exchange of infringing content.

The Court found Larsson guilty of copyright infringement and sentenced him to 90 hours community service. If prison had been suggested by the prosecutor he would have served three months.

The Court also seized several servers connected with the site but rejected a prosecution claim for the forfeiture of $12,000 in site donations after it was determined Larsson spent the same amount keeping the site running.

For Patrik Lagerman, the site’s host, things went much better. Despite finding that Lagerman had indeed been involved in the site’s operations by providing hosting and infrastructure, he was deemed not negligent for his refusal to take down the site without a court order. He was acquitted on all charges.

Commenting on the judgment, Sara Lindbäck at Rights Alliance told TorrentFreak that getting a conviction was the important thing in this case.

“The person responsible for the illegal service was found guilty. That is the important part in the ruling. The illegal services are causing tremendous damages to the rights holders,” Lindbäck said.

“In this case the person had also received substantial amounts in donations, in other words receiving money for content that somebody else has created.”

Speaking on Lagerman’s acquittal, Lindbäck acknowledged that the situation had been less straightforward.

“Regarding the hosting provider, the court did not find him responsible for copyright infringement. The legal aspects to the responsibility for hosting providers is of course interesting legally. We will now analyze the ruling further and see what consequences it can have in the future.”

Rights Alliance did not reveal whether it intends to appeal, but considering the amount of time already passed since the arrests in 2011, that seems unlikely.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Israeli ISPs to Block Popcorn Time Websites

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

popcorntBranded a “Netflix for Pirates,” the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people over the past year.

The application has some of the major media giants worried, including Netflix which sees the pirate app as a serious competitor to its business.

Since Popcorn Time is powered by BitTorrent it is hard to stop the downloads directly, but copyright holders can go after the websites that offer the application. In Israel the local anti-piracy outfit ZIRA went down this route.

The group, which represents several media companies, applied for an ex parte injunction ordering local Internet providers to block access to the websites of several Popcorn Time forks.

This week the Tel Aviv court granted the application, arguing that the application does indeed violate the rights of copyright holders.

The copyright holders are pleased with the outcome, which shows that services such as Popcorn Time are infringing even though they don’t host any files themselves.

“The Popcorn Time software provides users with a service to stream and download content on the Internet, including Israeli movies and foreign movies and TV series with English subtitles, without having any permission from copyright holders to do so,” attorney Presenti told local media.

The ISP blockades will prevent people from downloading Popcorn Time in the future. However, applications that have been downloaded already will continue to work for now.

To address this, ZIRA’s lawyers say the are considering additional steps including the option to block the ports Popcorn Time uses. While that may be effective, it may also block other traffic, especially if the app switches to more common ports such as port 80.

Israel is the second country to block access to Popcorn Time websites. Last month the UK High Court issued a similar order, which also targeted the domain names of various APIs the applications use.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Cuts More Jobs, Awards Bonuses to Execs

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

riaa-logoThe RIAA has just submitted its latest tax filing to the IRS, covering the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014. Time for us to see where the music industry’s anti-piracy arm stands.

In previous years the RIAA reported a massive decline in revenue after the record labels cut back on their membership dues, but this trend now appears to have stopped.

Total revenue according to the latest filing is $24.2 million, a slight increase from $24.1 million the year before. Despite the stabilizing income, which mostly comes from the record label’s membership dues, the RIAA continues to trim employees.

Over the past five years the number of employees at the RIAA has been slashed in half, dropping from 117 to just 55.

In its most recent filing the RIAA lists 55 people on the payroll compared to 58 the year before. In total these employees earned $11.7 million of which more than 25% went into the pockets of three top executives.

Interestingly, while more than half of the organization’s workers have been let go, the RIAA’s top employees have enjoyed salary increases year after year, including some healthy bonuses.

The top earner in the year ending March 2014 was CEO Cary Sherman with a $1.6 million a year payout for a working week of 50 hours. Sherman’s base salary is a cool million dollars, but that was boosted with a half million bonus and other compensation.

Other high income employees were Mitch Glazier (Senior Executive VP), Steve Marks (General Counsel) and Neil Turkewitz (EVP International) with $776,616, $728,959 and $657,952 respectively, including over a quarter million in bonuses.

RIAA top earners
990riiarev

While these incomes are significant, they are relatively modest compared to other industry groups. For example, MPAA boss Chris Dodd earns $3.3 million, while its former General Counsel Henry Hoberman earned close to a million.

Looking at other expenses reported in the tax return we see that the RIAA spent $2.3 million on lobbying, a figure that has remained relatively stable over time.

The same cannot be said for the group’s legal fees, which dropped from $16.50 to $1.28 million in a few years. In part, this is because the expensive lawsuits against individual file-sharers and services such as Limewire have ended.

Most recently the RIAA started another lawsuit, this time targeting the music linking site MP3Skull, so perhaps the amount spent will increase again in future years.

The full 2013/2014 filing is available here.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Complained So We Seized Your Funds, PayPal Says

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

paypaldeniedFor several years PayPal has been trying to limit how much business it does with sites involved with copyright infringement. Unsurprisingly torrent sites are high up on the payment processors “do not touch” list.

For that reason it is quite rare to see PayPal offered as a donation method on the majority of public sites as these are spotted quite quickly and often shut down. It’s unclear whether PayPal does its own ‘scouting’ but the company is known to act upon complaints from copyright holders as part of the developing global “Follow the Money” anti-piracy strategy.

This week Andrew Sampson, the software developer behind new torrent search engine ‘Strike‘, discovered that when you have powerful enemies, bad things can happen.

With no advertising on the site, Sampson added his personal PayPal account in case anyone wanted to donate. Quickly coming to the conclusion that was probably a bad idea, Sampson removed the button and carried on as before. One month later PayPal contacted him with bad news.

“We are contacting you as we have received a report that your website https://getstrike.net is currently infringing upon the intellectual property of Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.,” PayPal began.

“Such infringement also violates PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy. Therefore your account has been permanently limited.”

Strike-paypal

It isn’t clear why PayPal waited for a month after donations were removed from Strike to close Sampson’s six-year-old account but the coder believes that his public profile (he doesn’t hide his real identity) may have led to his issues.

“It seems someone at the MPAA realized I took donations using PayPal from some of my other LEGAL open source projects (like https://github.com/Codeusa/Borderless-Gaming) and was able to get the email of my account,” the dev told TF.

While Sampson had regularly been receiving donations from users of his other open source projects, he says he only received $200 from users of Strike, a small proportion of the $2,500 in his personal account when PayPal shut it down.

“That money was earned through legitimate freelance work and was going to be used specifically for my rent/car payment so it kind of sucks,” he says.

While it’s going to be a painful 180 day wait for Sampson to get his money back from PayPal, the lack of options for receiving donations on his other projects could prove the most damaging moving forward. Sampson does accept Bitcoin, but it’s nowhere near as user-friendly as PayPal.

Of course, this is all part of the MPAA’s strategy. By making sites like Strike difficult to run, they hope that developers like Sampson will reconsider their positions and move on. And in this case they might just achieve their aims.

“I’ve allowed someone else to manage the site for the time being. It will operate as it normally does but I need a bit to clear my head and don’t want anything to do with it as it’s become quite stressful,” Sampson says.

“I think the MPAA is playing low ball tactics against a developer who just wanted a better search engine. I don’t condone piracy, but I sure as hell understand why it happens.”

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

TorrentFreak: Comcast Users Sued After Ignoring Piracy Notices

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

comcast-newThrough various programs, such as the “six strikes” scheme in the United States and the fledgling Canadian program launched earlier this year, warning notices are delivered to BitTorrent users suspected of distributing content online.

While most are relatively benign, other warning notices come with a price tag attached. The most common are sent by anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp which routinely adds $20 settlement demands to ISP-delivered infringement notices.

The key with these notices is that Rightscorp and its clients don’t know the identities of the people they’re targeting so in the vast majority of cases these cash demands can be ignored. However, it now transpires that’s not always the best strategy.

In a lawsuit filed at the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Rightscorp client Rotten Records is suing a Comcast user who allegedly downloaded and shared When the Kite String Pops, the 1994 debut album from sludge metal band Acid Bath.

In a second filed at the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Rotten Records is suing another Comcast user who allegedly downloaded and shared Definition, the sixth album from crossover thrash band D.R.I.

According to both lawsuits, Rotten Records hired Rightscorp to monitor BitTorrent networks for infringement. The company connected to the defendants’ BitTorrent clients and downloaded a full copy of each of the albums, later verifying that they were identical to the original copyright works.

Distancing themselves from any accusations of wrongdoing, the lawsuits state that neither Rotten Records nor Rightscorp were the original ‘seeders’ of the album and at no point did Rightscorp upload the albums to any other BitTorrent users. However, the company did send warnings to the Comcast users with demands for them to stop sharing the album.

“Rightscorp sent Defendant 11 notices via Defendant’s ISP Comcast Cable
Communications, Inc. from March 26, 2015 to April 4, 2015 demanding that Defendant stop illegally distributing Plaintiff’s work. Defendant ignored each and every notice and continued to illegally distribute Plaintiff’s work,” the Acid Bath lawsuit reads.

While eleven notices is significant, that number pales into insignificance when compared to the D.R.I case.

“Rightscorp sent Defendant 288 notices via their ISP Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. from December 14, 2014 to May 12, 2015 demanding that
Defendant stop illegally distributing Plaintiff’s work. Defendant ignored each and every notice and continued to illegally distribute Plaintiff’s work,” the complaint reads.

In closing, Rotten Records demands an injunction forbidding further online infringement in both cases in addition to the deletion of both albums from each Comcast user’s computer.

Unsurprisingly the record label also wants statutory damages (potentially $150K per work if any infringement is deemed willful) plus attorneys’ fees.

The cases are interesting ones for a number of reasons, not least the decision to target Comcast customers. The ISP routinely strips settlement demands from notices sent by Rightscorp, so it’s possible a message is being sent here.

The other angle is money. Sure, Rotten Records can probably come away with a few thousand dollars by way of settlement, but for Rightscorp the cases could prove much more valuable.

Despite warning that not settling for $20 could have a much worse outcome for an alleged pirate, it’s become relatively common knowledge that the company hardly ever shows its teeth. Victory in a case like this could be just what it needs to force settlements from greater numbers of notice recipients.

Keep an eye out for forthcoming (and noisily high-value) settlement announcements. They could make $20 sound like a bargain and boost Rightscorp’s failing bottom line.

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

TorrentFreak: Mega Rolls Out Legal Heavyweights to Refute Piracy Claims

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

mega_logoIn September 2014, NetNames published a report titled Behind The Cyberlocker Door: A Report How Shadowy Cyberlockers Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions. It accused New Zealand-based cloud-storage site Mega of being a “cyberlocker” and profiting from “content theft”.

Mega reacted angrily to the report, branding it defamatory and warning of further action.

This morning Mega revealed it had commissioned international law firm Olswang to critique the NetNames report, an interesting move considering the firm’s pedigree. In 2014 Olswang worked with the UK government’s IP advisor to publish a set of anti-piracy recommendations. They were later endorsed by the MPAA.

The report

“Olswang was asked to analyse the evidence and data used by NetNames in order to establish whether there was any factual basis for the claims. Olswang is renowned for its deep experience in the technology, media and telecoms sector,” Mega says.

The result is a 42-page teardown of the NetNames report, clarifying Mega’s business and legal practices while leaving the brand company with plenty of questions to answer.

“The NetNames report has been extremely damaging to Mega,” Oslwang begins. “Most notably, it has been relied upon by United States Senator Patrick Leahy to apply pressure to major payment providers and credit card companies to withdraw their services from those identified in the NetNames report.”

Allegedly infringing content

One of NetNames’ key claims is that the majority of the files stored on Mega are infringing. Olswang attacks both the claim and the company’s methodology.

Describing the analysis file sample as “inherently biased towards finding infringing content”, the law firm notes that only publicly available files were examined while the vast majority of files stored on Mega (encrypted and not publicly shared) were ignored.

“In September 2014, when the NetNames report was published, Mega had approximately 2.5 billion files stored on its servers. This means that the sample of files analysed represents just 0.00002% of the total number of overall files,” Olswang reports.

The law firm adds that NetNames took no steps to determine whether content was actually infringing. Instead, filenames were used as the lone indicator of illegality.

Business model

After holding NetNames to its own definition of an “illegal cyberlocker”, Olswang found no similarities with Mega, noting that the company’s business model is “entirely at odds with NetNames’ own description of those used by cyberlockers.”

Noting that Mega’s basic service is similar to those provided by many other major legitimate cloud-hosting providers, Olswang addresses NetNames’ claims that rogue cyberlockers limit download speeds in order to encourage users to pay to upgrade to higher speeds.

“Mega operates a bandwidth limit in the same way as other legitimate storage providers and does not limit download speeds,” the law firm notes.

And then to advertising.

“The NetNames report acknowledges that Mega does not host advertising and is therefore an ‘exception’ to the other 29 cyberlocker companies named. However it still categorizes Mega as a cyberlocker despite it being clear that Mega’s primary sources of revenue do not share any of the characteristics ascribed to cyberlockers. We therefore see no possible basis on which such a conclusion can be drawn,” the report adds.

Aggressive affiliate programs, which are considered by some to be one of the hallmarks of a rogue file-hosting site, are also tackled by Olswang in the clearest possible terms.

“The NetNames report estimates that Mega pays out $66,789 per month to affiliates. The source of this figure is unexplained, and it is entirely false. To date, Mega has not finalized any affiliate relationships and therefore has never paid any commission or retainer to any affiliate,” the law firm notes.

Legal

Of primary importance is whether Mega complies with the law, both locally in New Zealand and elsewhere internationally. The Olswang report highlights no deficiencies while noting that Mega’s policies are “fully compliant with the New Zealand Copyright Act 1994 and the equivalent intermediary liability regimes provided for in the US DMCA and European ECommerce Directive.”

The company takes down infringing content on demand and reports deleting 131,377 files in the first quarter of 2015, a figure representing just 0.003% of all files stored on Mega. Site users are subjected to a “5 strikes” regime, meaning that after five reports of infringement accounts are suspended.

“At the time of writing 29,290 user accounts had been suspended by Mega for this reason, comprising less than 0.16% of total Mega users,” Olswang notes.

Conclusion

“Having reviewed the NetNames report and undertaken analysis of Mega’s service, Olswang has found no evidence to conclude that Mega can be considered a cyberlocker, or that it knowingly, willingly or even passively assists in or condones wide scale copyright or other infringement,” the law firm writes.

“In summary, Olswang has concluded that the allegations in the NetNames report are highly defamatory of Mega and appear to have no factual basis whatsoever. The NetNames report contains numerous factual inaccuracies and methodological errors and draws conclusions that are entirely wrong.

“[All] of Mega’s characteristics are consistent with those of a legitimate cloud storage provider in the same way as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud, Dropbox and many other similar providers,” Olswang concludes.

Mega says it is pleased with the findings of the report and is now considering its legal position.

“It is quite clear from the comprehensive review conducted by Olswang that the assertions about Mega in the NetNames report are totally without foundation and are defamatory. We are now taking legal advice on this serious attack against Mega,” says Mega CEO Graham Gaylard.

“Olswang’s credentials on anti-piracy issues are impeccable, and their conclusions totally refute the allegations made in the NetNames report.”

Thus far NetNames has ignored requests for comment on the inclusion of Mega in its report. With pressure building as it now is, the company could soon be left with little choice.

The full report can be downloaded here (pdf).

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

TorrentFreak: YouTuber Sues Google, Viacom Over Content ID Takedowns

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

While in previous years people were simply grateful to have somewhere to host their own vides, these days a growing number of YouTube users rely on the site to generate extra cash.

Earning money with YouTube is now easier than ever, with some ‘YouTubers’ even making enough to invest in a mansion.

For others, however, the environment created by the Google-owned video platform is far from perfect, with complaints over the company’s Content ID anti-piracy system regularly making the news. Now YouTuber Benjamin Ligeri is adding his name to the disgruntled list.

In a lawsuit filed at the US District Court for the District of Rhode Island which lists Google, Viacom, Lionsgate and another YouTuber as defendants, Ligeri bemoans a restrictive YouTube user contract and a system that unfairly handles copyright complaints.

Ligeri says that he has uploaded content to YouTube under the name BetterStream for purposes including “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and/or research,” but never in breach of copyright. Nevertheless, he claims to have fallen foul of YouTube’s automated anti-piracy systems.

One complaint details a video uploaded by Ligeri which he says was a parody of the film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It was present on YouTube for a year before a complaint was filed against it by a YouTube user called Egeda Pirateria.

“Defendant Pirateria is not the rightful owner of the rights to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, nor did the Plaintiff’s critique of it amount to copying or distribution of the movie,” Ligeri writes.

However, much to his disappointment, YouTube issued a copyright “strike” against Ligeri’s account and refused to remove the warning, even on appeal.

“YouTube, although Defendants Pirateria or Lion’s Gate lacked any legal claim
to any copyright to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, denied the Plaintiff’s appeal pertaining to his account’s copyright strike,” the complaint reads.

Ligeri says Viacom also got in on the action, filing a complaint against his “critique” of the 2014 remake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

“A claim was made with YouTube on behalf of Defendant Viacom. Defendant Viacom does not have a legal or valid copyright to TMNT. Defendant YouTube allowed Viacom the option to mute, disable or monetize the Plaintiff’s Fair Use content,” Ligeri adds.

Although the fair use argument could be up for debate, in 2009 Nickelodeon acquired the global rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand. Nickelodeon’s parent company is Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures.

“Content ID is an opaque and proprietary system where the accuser can serve as the judge, jury and executioner,” Ligeri continues.

“Content ID allows individuals, including Defendants other than Google, to steal ad revenue from YouTube video creators en masse, with some companies claiming content they don’t own deliberately or not. The inability to understand context and parody regularly leads to fair use videos getting blocked, muted or monetized.”

Noting that YouTube exercises absolute power through its take-it-or-leave-it user agreement, Ligeri says the agreement and Content ID combined result in non-compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

“Normally, under DMCA, there would be a process where the reported content
would be removed for 10-14 days so any dispute could be resolved by way of notice and counter-notice,” Ligeri writes.

“Content ID and YouTube’s adhesion contract are not compliant with DMCA
because, at a minimum, the software’s algorithm fails [to] recognize when content may or may not be violating copyright.”

Ligeri says that rather than acting as a neutral party, YouTube favors larger copyright holders using Content ID over smaller creators who do not.

“This software and YouTube’s terms of use circumvent DMCA by creating a
private arbitration mechanism. Further, a party claiming copyright infringement has no burden of proof under this private arbitration mechanism,” he notes.

In conclusion, Ligeri is demanding an injunction which compels Google/YouTube to restore the content taken down via the allegedly bogus complaints and “otherwise comply with the DMCA.”

Ligeri also seeks declaratory judgments that he did not infringe the copyrights of the defendants and that YouTube’s terms of use are void on several counts, including that they ignore or fail to comply with the DMCA.

A claim for nominal damages of $10,000, ‘special’ damages of $1,000,000 plus unspecified punitive damages and costs conclude the filing.

This is not the first time Ligeri has personally targeted YouTube. In 2008 he unsuccessfully sued the company in an effort to obtain a 1/500th share in the revenue generated by the video site.

The self-styled “#1 Most Viewed YouTube Icon” also appears to enjoy representing himself. In addition to the current case his Linkedin profile describes him as a “human rights activist private litigator” with previous experience working in a public defender’s office for the criminally insane.

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

TorrentFreak: “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme Is a Sham, Filmmakers Say

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

pirate-runningTo counter the ever increasing piracy threat a group of smaller movie studios launched a new coalition last month, the Internet Security Task Force (ISTF).

ISTF, which includes Voltage Pictures, Millennium, Bloom, Sierra/Affinity and FilmNation Entertainment among its members, is poised to be more aggressive than the MPAA.

Today the group unveils its first point of action. According to the group it’s time to end the voluntary “six strikes” Copyright Alert System, the voluntary anti-piracy agreement between the RIAA, MPAA and several large U.S. Internet providers.

ISTF presents data which reveals that the six strikes warnings are not getting the desired result, describing the system as a “sham”.

According to Millennium Films President Mark Gill his studio sent numerous piracy notices directed at ‘Expendables 3′ pirates under the scheme, but only a tiny fraction were forwarded by the participating ISPs.

“We’ve always known the Copyright Alert System was ineffective, as it allows people to steal six movies from us before they get an educational leaflet. But now we have the data to prove that it’s a sham,” Gill comments.

“On our film ‘Expendables 3,’ which has been illegally viewed more than 60 million times, the CAS only allowed 0.3% of our infringement notices through to their customers. The other 99.7% of the time, the notices went in the trash,” he adds.

As part of the Copyright Alert System ISPs and copyright holders have agreed to send a limited number of notices per month, so anything above this threshold is not forwarded.

ISTF’s data on the number of ‘Expendables 3′ infringements suggests that the Copyright Alerts are in fact less effective than the traditional forwarding schemes of other providers.

Cox and Charter, two ISPs who do not participate in the Copyright Alert System, saw a 25.47% decrease in reported infringements between November 2014 and January 2015. However, the ISPs who sent six strikes notices saw a 4.54% increase over the same period.

“These alarming numbers show that the CAS is little more than talking point utilized to suggest these five ISPs are doing something to combat piracy when in actuality, their customers are free to continue pirating content with absolutely no consequences,” Voltage Pictures CEO Nicolas Chartier notes.

“As for its laughable six strikes policy, would any American retailer wait for someone to rob them six times before handing them an educational leaflet? Of course not, they call the cops the first time around,” he adds.

While it’s clear that ISTF is not happy with the Copyright Alert System, they seem mistaken about how it works. Customers don’t have to be caught six times before they are warned, they get an educational notice the first time they’re caught.

The “six strikes” terminology refers to the graduated response scheme, in which customers face stronger punishments after being caught more times.

Interestingly, the filmmakers promote the Canadian notice-and-notice system as a better alternative. Since earlier this year, Canadian ISPs are obligated to forward infringement notices to their subscribers, and ISTF notes that it has been instrumental in decreasing piracy.

Since the beginning of 2015, Bell Canada has seen a 69.6% decrease in infringements and Telus (54.0%), Shaw (52.1%), TekSavvy (38.3%) and Rogers (14.9%) all noted significant reductions.

The data presented is collected by the monitoring outfit CEG TEK. This American company sends infringement notices paired with settlement requests on behalf of copyright holders, sometimes demanding hundreds of dollars from alleged pirates.

Needless to say, these threats may in part be the reason for the reported effectiveness.

In the United States, ISPs are currently not obliged to forward copyright infringement notices. Some ISPs such as Comcast do so voluntarily, but they also strip out the settlement demands.

ISTF hopes this will change in the near future and the group has sent a letter to the MPAA, RIAA and the major ISPs urging them to expire the Copyright Alert System, and switch to the Canadian model instead.

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

TorrentFreak: Rightscorp Fails in Bid to Unmask Pirates Using DMCA

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

rightscorpWorking on behalf of various copyright owners including Warner Bros. and BMG, last year anti-piracy company Rightscorp began sending subpoenas to dozens of smaller ISPs in the United States. The aim, as usual, was to unmask alleged file-sharers so that they could be pursued for cash settlement.

While many ISPs complied with the requests, the practice was controversial. Such subpoenas aren’t considered applicable in file-sharing cases and largely avoid scrutiny since they can by signed by a court clerk and are not reviewed by a judge.

In 2014, telecoms company Birch Communications kicked back by refusing to hand over customer details of subsidiary ISP, CBeyond. The company filed a motion to quash Rightscorp’s subpoena arguing that the anti-piracy outfit had embarked on a fishing exercise with no legal basis.

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

Faced with this setback Rightscorp filed objections to the ruling and sought to have it overturned. The company has now failed in that effort. Last week the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia adopted the earlier ruling and quashed Rightscorp’s subpoena.

“We safeguard our customer information and take privacy issues seriously,” Birch President and Chief Executive Officer Vincent Oddo said in a statement.

“The U.S. District Court did the right thing by backing our view, and we’re very pleased to see that this case will serve to help protect our customers’ private information.”

Birch Senior Vice President and General Counsel Christopher Bunce says the company’s first response is to always protect subscriber privacy.

“Our first order of business when anyone requests access to a customer’s private information is to refuse, absent a valid subpoena or court order, which we then scrutinize as we did with Rightscorp’s illegal subpoena in this matter,” Bunce says.

According to Gardiner Davis who acted as lead litigation counsel for Birch, Rightscorp’s interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was far too liberal.

“They had not even filed a copyright infringement lawsuit,” Davis said. “So this attempt was essentially a fishing expedition and I think this ruling was correctly and wisely decided. The court interpreted the statute as Congress intended.”

The defeat represents another blow to an embattled Rightscorp. The company’s latest financial report reveals a company hemorrhaging cash, despite substantial year-on-year growth.

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

TorrentFreak: Google, Microsoft, Mastercard & ISPs Sign Anti-Piracy Agreement

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

pirate-cardWhile action against online infringement takes place on many levels, parallel large-scale initiatives with broader aims are increasingly being employed by entertainment industry companies.

Outside of “three strikes” style programs, “follow the money” is perhaps the next best well-known. This type of initiative, carried out with the assistance of big brands, advertising companies and payment processors, aims to strangle the finances of ‘pirate’ sites.

As seen last week, there are also tandem efforts to portray unauthorized sites as “unsafe” places for netizens to frequent. The overall message is that pirate sites are run by criminals, consumers should not support them, and money is best spent with legitimate content providers.

Denmark has become the latest country to embrace these ideals via a Memorandum of Understanding titled ‘Code to Promote Lawful Behavior on the Internet’ signed by some of the world’s biggest online players.

Google and Microsoft are the most recognizable international technology signatories and all the big Hollywood studios make a proxy appearance via anti-piracy group Rights Alliance. Broadcasters and cinema companies are also represented.

The interests of more than 40,000 composers, songwriters and music publishers are served by rights group Koda and payment companies including MasterCard and Diners Club are also on board. Local ISPs have signed through the Tele Industrien group.

dan-mou

According to the Ministry of Culture the MoU represents the beginning of a collaborative mechanism designed to tackle digital challenges on five key issues.

1. To help make the Internet a safe and legal platform for consumers and businesses.
2. To stress that copyright is an important cornerstone for growth and innovation.
3. To work together to reduce financial crime, based on copyright violations.
4. To work together to promote the dissemination of legal products.
5. To contribute to efficient processes that can help to reduce copyright violations and associated crimes.

In keeping with voluntary anti-piracy initiatives currently underway in other countries, signatories will also participate in discussion aimed at identifying new areas of cooperation.

The shape of this Danish initiative looks familiar, with rightsholders applying the pressure and search engines, ISPs, payment processors and advertisers falling into step. While the emphasis is on consumer safety, it is clear that companies are being advised to do everything they can to disassociate themselves from “criminal enterprises” on the Internet.

As part of the MoU, signatories agree not to “finance criminal activities” by offering support of any kind including giving them “exposure”, providing advertising revenue or payment processing services.

“The companies and organizations that are part of this Code want to counter that their companies are associated with economic crime, based on copyright violations,” the code reads.

In a statement announcing the signing of the MoU, the Ministry of Culture stressed the aims and importance of the broad agreement.

“The code reflects a common desire to make a determined effort to ensure that the Internet is a safe and economically sustainable marketplace. It will help to create better conditions for growth and innovation for legitimate businesses and security and transparency for the users,” the Ministry said.

Time will tell how far each signatory will be prepared to go and on what basis, but the companies involved are the biggest players around and having them all at the same table will be a powerful tool.

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

TorrentFreak: Trial of Torrent Site Admin and Hosting Provider Concludes

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

In 2009 during the wake of the original Pirate Bay trial and the jail sentences for its operators, Swedish anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån sent out a batch of warnings to other sites hosted in Sweden.

One of the sites that initially decided to shut down was known as The Internationals, or TTi for short. In the event the closure was short-lived and just a month later the 26,000 member site was back online and operating largely as usual. The return lasted for more than two years, but then it all fell apart.

A police investigation led to November 2011 raids against TTi in two locations in Sweden, Borås and Växjö. In addition to the seizure of servers housing the site’s tracker and community data, two men were also arrested.

The man detained in Borås was the alleged operator of TTi but interestingly the second individual, Patrik Lagerman from Växjö, was the person providing TTi’s webhosting.

The owner of local web-hosting outfit Patrikweb, Lagerman previously gained worldwide attention for being involved in bandwidth supply to The Pirate Bay.

In the TTi case, Lagerman was handed a demand by Antipiratbyrån to disconnect the tracker. He requested a court order but none was forthcoming. The reaction almost a year later was an 06:30am alarm call carried out by five police officers followed by several hours of questioning.

“Trying to prosecute the hosting provider for assisting [in infringement] shows just how stupid they are,” Lagerman said at the time.

But this week that’s exactly what happened when Lagerman and the as-yet unnamed TTi sysop went on trial for their alleged crimes. The hearing lasted for two days.

“Two men were prosecuted,” prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad informs TorrentFreak.

“The alleged main administrator of the TTi site and the second one – Lagerman – was prosecuted for aiding and abetting the infringement, by renting out server space, Internet services etc, and helping the administrators in some other ways (as an intermediary).

“The rights holders contacted [Lagerman] and informed him of the site and the infringement, but he still continued with his services to the site owner,” the prosecutor notes.

Although the site tracked many more titles including plenty of Hollywood blockbusters, the case itself now involves just 28 Swedish films.

TorrentFreak spoke with Lagerman who said he’d hold back on a comment until the verdict is handed down in two weeks time. Fortunately for both defendants he should be able to do that as a relatively free man since the prosecution are not pressing for custodial sentences.

“Due to the long time that has passed since the crimes (the investigation unfortunately took a bit too long), I didn´t request for an unconditional imprisonment,” Ingblad says.

“I requested for a conditional sentence and community services for the alleged main administrator, and a conditional sentence plus fines for Mr. Lagerman.”

The case is an intriguing one and the eventual decision will be of great interest to other local ISPs in similar positions.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Urged Cameron to Keep DVD Ripping Illegal

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

uk-flagTo most consumers it’s common sense that they can make a backup copy of media they own, but in the UK this was illegal until late last year.

After consulting various stakeholders the Government decided that it would be in the best interests of consumers to legalize copying for personal use.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, not all copyright holders were in favor of the legal changes. In fact, emails published from the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack reveal that Hollywood wanted to stop the plans by urging UK Prime Minister David Cameron to keep Hollywood’s interests in mind.

The first email mentioning the issue was sent January last year. Here, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton was informed that MPAA boss Chris Dodd wanted him to give Cameron a call.

“Essentially, Dodd thinks (and we agree) it would be helpful for you to call Prime Minister Cameron if you are willing in order to ensure our position is fully considered,” the email from Sony’s Keith Weaver reads.

According to Weaver it was still uncertain whether Hollywood’s concerns would be properly heard in Parliament.

“This is because prior interactions with the U.K. government over the last few months have left us with no certainty that our concerns will be addressed in the proposal that will be presented to Parliament for an up or down vote in February,” he explained.

Hollywood’s stance is that copying for private use should remain illegal if there are legal options available.

“A private copy exception must not apply in the event there are commercially available services that achieve the same need,” Weaver wrote.

Examples such as UltraViolet show that there is no market failure in the UK, and that private copying exceptions aren’t needed, in Hollywood’s view.

On the contrary, technical protections and restrictions are needed for legal services to flourish.

“We need to rely upon a legal framework that respects the technical protections necessary launch new consumer-oriented commercial services – this is key to our ability to make investments in films and great new TV shows,” Weaver added.

From the emails it’s not clear whether or not Sony’s CEO called Prime Minister Cameron at the time.

However, a few months later in June 2014 Lynton and Cameron had a meeting where the issue was prominently listed on the agenda, along with other anti-piracy issues.

Despite the lobbying efforts at the highest level, the protests of the MPAA and Sony Pictures were not successful. After a brief delay the private copying exceptions eventually became law in October.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Measures Putting Internet Users at Risk

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

danger-p2pWhile it’s not entirely clear when the theory first appeared, the notion that cutting the head off one file-sharing site results in the creation of several others has been in circulation for many years.

The analogy, regularly referred to as the file-sharing ‘hydra’, is often deployed in response to action taken by entertainment companies and local authorities. Tripping off tongues somewhat easily, the defensive reaction paints anti-piracy measures as a futile waste of time.

Nevertheless, the outrage these measures often provoke suggest that they do have some impact, if only the raising of blood pressure and gnashing of teeth among site users. Whether or not they reduce overall piracy rates long-term remains to be seen, but right now these strategies are almost certainly undermining the safety of Internet users.

Domain attacks – blocks

Attacks against site domains come in various shapes and sizes but all are designed to limit a site’s ability to remain operational. While they are undoubtedly an annoyance to site owners, they also cause problems for site users.

For example, many leading ‘pirate’ sites are blocked by ISPs in the UK. The blocks are easily circumvented using a VPN but in the case of some of the bigger sites, hundreds of proxy and mirror sites have appeared to facilitate access.

The end result is that there are now dozens of Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents clones, lookalikes, mirrors and proxies. Long live the hydra, right? Well not quite.

We’ve already seen the chaos and confusion these sites can cause and the situation isn’t getting any better. It is now very likely that hundreds of thousands of casual users think they are using a relatively trustworthy known site when they are not. Sadly, many clones are filled with aggressive and sometimes malicious ads not present on the original site.

Domain attacks – suspensions and seizures

As documented on many previous occasions, a key strategy of the entertainment industries is to put pressure on domain companies and registries to stop them providing domains to pirate sites. One of the sites hit on a number of occasions is KickassTorrents (KAT).

KAT has lost several domains in recent years including KAT.ph (music industry action), Kickass.so (unconfirmed) and more recently KickassTorrents.im.

Currently the site is operating from KAT.cr (Costa Rica) but ever since the last switch a steady stream of apparently confused site users have been writing to TF and posting on sites including Reddit.

“I never had to sign up for KAT before, why is it asking me to now?” one asked.

“Why is Kickass asking for my credit card details?” questioned another.

Obviously one of these questions is more serious than the other, but both have straightforward explanations. Some users are so confused about which domain the site is operating from they are using any number of fake sites instead, some of which are asking for credit card details.

It’s a horrible situation provoked entirely by action against the official site’s domains, but are so many casual users being affected?

Search engine downranking

For years Hollywood and the recording industry have been placing immense pressure on Google to stop presenting ‘pirate’ sites in its search results. After resisting for some time, Google began tweaking it algorithms to downrank sites that have the most copyright complaints logged against them.

In October 2014, Google made its biggest changes yet which resulted in traffic to torrent and other file-sharing sites taking a nosedive. And now, thanks to decisions made by Google, a simple search for KickassTorrents presents listings that do not include the real site at all, but fake sites looking for money instead.

kick-goog1

Deliberate disruption – but at what cost?

While blocks are easily circumvented, it is clear that forcing sites from domain to domain undermines their reputation with users. To those not keeping up with the news on a regular basis, disappearing sites seem unreliable due to their own incompetence. When they are ‘found’ using Google but then start asking for credit card details, users must really begin to think the worst.

While this must be music to the ears of Hollywood and the music industry, one has to question how many innocent victims are getting caught up in this mess.

“I registered for a free trial to obtain pdf of washing machine manual but ended up with free trial of Fat Games which is all games, so had to ring this number to cancel trial,” said a user of the dubious service running hand-in-hand with fake site KickassTorrents.to.

Living in the ghetto

The instances detailed above are just the tip of the iceberg. With every new seizure, suspension and blockade, more scammers will see opportunities to make money by tricking users to sign up to bogus services while obtaining their credit card details by deception.

Of course, none of these problems can be blamed directly on the music or movie companies since they aren’t the ones running the scams. That being said, whenever concern is expressed for the well-being of Internet users supposedly exposed to malware on pirate sites, at some point that concern should be extended to those subjected to malware and identity fraud as a result of anti-piracy strategies.

Yeah, don’t hold your breath.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrents Are Good for a Quarter of All Encrypted Traffic

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

spyIn recent years it has become apparent that BitTorrent users are increasingly searching for options to hide their download footprints.

Thus far, however, there was little information available on how much of all encrypted traffic is file-sharing related. A new report published by Sandvine now provides some insight into this.

To find out how much of all Internet traffic is encrypted, and what the most popular sources are, last month the company gathered data in collaboration with a North American fixed access network.

The findings reveal that nearly 30% of all downstream traffic is encrypted. The majority of the traffic remains unencrypted (65%), and the small remainder has yet to be identified.

sand

Looking at the individual sources of encrypted traffic we see that YouTube currently accounts for most of it. More than 11% of all downstream traffic comes from encrypted YouTube data, which is nearly 40% of all encrypted traffic.

BitTorrent transfers come in second place with 7.2% of the total downstream traffic, which is good for nearly a quarter of all encrypted data.

It’s worth noting that the report only looks at downstream traffic. BitTorrent’s share of upstream traffic is usually much higher, so the total percentage of all encrypted traffic will be well over 25 percent.

sandenc

Another fact worth mentioning is that before YouTube made the transition to support secure data transfers, BitTorrent was the number one source of encrypted traffic according to Sandvine.

With Netflix poised to move to encryption by default, the relative share of BitTorrent will probably drop even further in the near future. Absolute traffic is expected to keep growing, however.

In response to various anti-piracy initiatives and monitoring schemes around the world, BitTorrent users are increasingly turning to anonymizing services such as encrypted VPNs.

It will be interesting to see how this trend develops during the years to come.

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Studios Give ‘Pirate’ Sites a 24h Shutdown Ultimatum

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

pirate-runningIn recent years Hollywood has tried several tactics to deal with so-called pirate sites.

Through lawsuits against isoHunt, Hotfile and Megaupload, for example, or by targeting intermediaries such as search engines, Internet providers and hosting companies.

The most direct option, however, is to simply contact the site owners directly. This is what the MPAA’s European branch has been doing lately.

During recent weeks various sources have informed TorrentFreak about emails received from Jan van Voorn, the MPA’s Vice-President Global Content Protection, Internet Operations. The emails all use standardized language and have been sent to a wide variety of services ranging from some of the biggest torrent indexes, to linking sites and hosting services.

The MPA mail puts the site operators on notice and alerts them to European jurisprudence under which they may be held liable for linking to pirated movies and TV-shows.

“Without prejudice to our contention that you are already well aware of the extensive infringements of copyright, this Notice fixes you with actual knowledge of facts and circumstances from which illegal activities […] are apparent,” Van Voorn writes.

Among other things the email mentions that Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive requires sites to stop offering infringing material. In addition, the Hollywood group cites other recent cases supporting their claim.

Without making a specific threat, the MPA demands that site operators stop offering infringing material within 24 hours.

“This Notice requires you to immediately (within 24 hours) take effective measures to end and prevent further copyright infringement. All opportunities provided by the Website to download, stream or otherwise obtain access to the Entertainment Content should be disabled permanently,” the email reads.

Interestingly, the movie studios are not just worried about pirated films. Towards the end of the email they also point out that some sites are using movie posters without permission.

“Finally, we draw your attention that any use of the artwork of the Entertainment Content (e.g. movie or TV show posters) (‘Artwork’) is prohibited without authorization of the rights holder. Since the MPA Members haven’t authorized the Website to publish the Artwork, the Website is infringing copyright on that basis as well,” Van Voorn writes.

For now the threats haven’t made too much of an impact. Only one site that we know of has shut down after receiving the email recently, and that’s the relatively unknown link site micromkv.com.

TF contacted the movie industry group for more details on the efficiency of the campaign. The MPA didn’t provide any details but informed us that the emails are standard notices sent to websites that carry infringing content.

“These notices ask respectfully that effective measures be taken to stop further infringement,” an MPA spokesperson says.

“This activity is part of the MPA’s ongoing strategy to curb copyright infringement, encourage consumers to use legal sources of content and increase the viability and quality of those services that actually pay creators for their work.”

It remains unclear whether the MPA will take legal action against the warned sites, or if the group will focus its anti-piracy efforts elsewhere.

One of MPA’s emails is posted in full below.

mpamail

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

TorrentFreak: Leaked Piracy Report Details Fascinating Camcording Investigations

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

spyThis week the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) released its latest report detailing the rewards presented to cinema workers who disrupt so-called movie “cammers”. FACT is the main group to release this kind of report and no equivalent is regularly made available from any other English speaking countries.

While the insight is useful to build a picture of “anti-camming” activity in the UK, FACT is obviously selective about the information it releases. While big successes receive maximum publicity, relative failures tend to be brushed under the carpet. Something else the group would like to keep a secret are presentations made to Sony Pictures in 2010, but thanks to a trove of leaked emails that is no longer possible.

The presentation begins with FACT stating that it’s the “best known and most respected industry enforcement body of its kind in the UK” and one that has forged “excellent relationships with “public enforcement agencies and within the criminal justice system”.

fact1

FACT goes on to give Sony several examples of situations in which it has been involved in information exercises sharing with the authorities. The exact details aren’t provided, but somewhat surprisingly FACT says they include murder, kidnap and large-scale missing persons investigations.

But perhaps of most interest are the details of how the group pursues those who illegally ‘cam’ and then distribute movies online. The presentation focuses on the “proven” leak of five movies in 2010, the total from UK cinemas for that year.

Vue Cinemas, North London

First up are ‘cams’ of Alice in Wonderland and Green Zone that originated from a Vue Cinema in North London. Noting that both movies had been recorded on their first day using an iPhone (one during a quiet showing, the other much more busy), the presentation offers infra-red photographic evidence of the suspect recording the movies.

Alice in Wonderland camming

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Green Zone camming

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Cineworld – Glasgow

The documentation behind this Scotland-based investigation is nothing short of fascinating. FACT determined that their suspect was the holder of a Cineworld Unlimited pass which at the time he had used 14 times.

On three occasions the suspect had viewed the movie Kick-Ass, including on the opening day. The ‘cammed’ copy that leaked online came from that viewing. The suspect also viewed Clash of the Titans, with a camcorded version later appearing online from that session. The man also attended three Iron Man 2 viewings at times which coincided with watermarks present on the online ‘cammed’ copies.

Working in collaboration with the cinema, FACT then obtained CCTV footage of the man approaching a cash desk.

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Putting it all together

The most interesting document in the entire presentation is without doubt FACT’s investigative chart. It places the holder of the Cineworld Unlimited pass together with a woman found as a friend on his Facebook page. Described as IC1 (police code for white/caucasian), FACT note that the pair attended the Cineworld Cinema together on at least one occasion.

The unnamed female is listed at a property in Glasgow and from there things begin to unravel. An IP address connected with that residence uploaded a copy of Kick-Ass which was later made available by an online release group. The leader of that group was found to have communicated with the unknown cammer of the movie but who FACT strongly suspected to be the man in the images taken at the cinema. He was later arrested and confessed to his crimes.

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The full document provides a fascinating insight into FACT’s operations, not only in camming mitigation but also in bringing down websites. Another notable chart shows the operations of an unnamed “video streaming” site.

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While no names are mentioned, a later edition of the same presentation blanks out key details, suggesting a level of sensitivity. However, after examining the chart it appears likely that it refers to Surf the Channel, the site previously run by Anton Vickerman.

Considering the depth and presentation of the above investigations it will come as no surprise to most that many FACT investigators are former police officers. For the curious, the full document can be found here on Wikileaks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: KickassTorrents Moves to Isle of Man Domain Name

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wheretowatch

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

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

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

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

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