Posts tagged ‘Anti-Piracy’

TorrentFreak: MPAA Pays University $1,000,000 For Piracy Research

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

mpaa-logoLast week the MPAA submitted its latest tax filing covering 2013. While there are few changes compared to previous years there is one number that sticks out like a sore thumb.

The movie industry group made a rather sizable gift of $912,000 to Carnegie Mellon University, a figure that neither side has made public before.

This brings the MPAA’s total investment in the University over the past two years to more than a million dollars.

The money in question goes to the University’s “Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics” (IDEA) that researches various piracy related topics. During 2012 MPAA also contributed to the program, albeit significantly less at $100,000.

TF contacted IDEA co-director Rahul Telang, who told us that much of the money is spent on hiring researchers and, buying data from third parties and covering other research related expenses.

“For any substantial research program to progress it needs funding, and needs access to data and important stakeholders who care about this research. IDEA center has benefited from this funding significantly,” he says, emphasizing that the research applies to academic standards.

“All research is transparent, goes through academic peer review, and published in various outlets,” Telang adds.

While IDEA’s researchers operate independently, without an obligation to produce particular studies, their output thus far is in line with Hollywood’s agenda.

One study showed that the Megaupload shutdown boosted digital sales while another reviewed academic literature to show that piracy mostly hurts revenues. The MPAA later used these results to discredit an independent study which suggested that Megaupload’s closure hurt box office revenues.

Aside from countering opponents in the press, the MPAA also uses the research to convince lawmakers that tougher anti-piracy measures are warranted.

Most recently, an IDEA paper showed that search engines can help to diminish online piracy, an argument the MPAA has been hammering on for years.

The tax filing, picked up first by Variety, confirms a new trend of the MPAA putting more money into research. Earlier this year the industry group launched a new initiative offering researchers a $20,000 grant for projects that address various piracy related topics.

The MPAA sees academic research as an important tool in its efforts to ensure that copyright protections remain in place, or are strengthened if needed.

“We want to enlist the help of academics from around the world to provide new insight on a range of issues facing the content industry in the digital age,” MPAA CEO and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd said at the time.

The movie industry isn’t alone in funding research for ‘political’ reasons. Google, for example, heavily supports academic research on copyright-related projects in part to further its own agenda, as do many other companies.

With over a million dollars in Hollywood funding in their pocket, it’s now up to IDEA’s researchers to ensure that their work is solid.

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

TorrentFreak: Why Hollywood Director Lexi Alexander Sides With “Pirates”

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

lexIt’s pretty obvious that Lexi Alexander isn’t your average Hollywood director. Instead of parading on the red carpet sharing redundant quotes, she prefers to challenge the powers that rule Hollywood.

A few months ago Alexander campaigned to get Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde released from prison, pointing out that throwing people in jail is not going to stop piracy.

She believes that the MPAA and other pro-copyright groups are a bigger threat than casual pirates, and unlike some of her colleagues she is not afraid to tell the world.

Recently Alexander penned five reasons why she’s pro file-sharing and copyright reform. While she’s doesn’t agree with the “everything should be free” mantra of some anti-copyright activists, Alexander believes that file-sharing is mostly a symptom of Hollywood’s failures.

Over the past day or so this turned into a heated debate (e.g. 1, 2) between a movie industry workers on Twitter, where various anti-piracy advocates condemned the movie director and others for siding with “pirates.”

From a Hollywood perspective Alexander’s ‘balanced’ comments may indeed appear extreme, not least since like-minded voices keep quiet for career reasons. So why has she decided to jump on the barricades then? Today, Alexander explains her motivations to us in a short interview.

TF: What triggered you to discuss file-sharing and copyright related topics in public?

Lexi: It wasn’t my intent to be that outspoken about file-sharing, at first I just wanted to expose the hypocrisy of Hollywood going after anybody for any crime. But after I had published that first blog, I was suddenly exposed to a lot more information about the issue, either from people in the copyright reform movement or through outlets like yours.

Frankly, TorrentFreak has a lot to do with the extent of my outspokenness. Sometimes I see your headlines in my Twitter feed and I think I’m in some alternative universe, where I’m the only one who swallowed the red pill. “Another kid in prison for a file-sharing”, “Anti file-sharing propaganda taught in schools”, “torrent sites reported to the state department”, etc., etc. All done in the name of an industry that is infamous for corruption. I mean, doesn’t anybody see that? Hollywood studios shaking their finger at people who illegally download stuff is like the Vatican shaking their finger at pedophiles.

TF: What’s your main motivation to support file-sharing and copyright reform??

Lexi: Well, first and foremost I will not stand for young, bright minds being hunted and locked up in my name. And since I am still part of the film & TV industry, albeit not the most popular member at this point, these acts are done in my name. Even if I would agree with this ludicrous idea that everything to do with file-sharing or downloading is theft and should be punished with prison…then I’d still insist that everybody in Hollywood who has ever stolen anything or cheated anybody needs to go to prison first. If we could somehow make that rule happen with magical fairy dust…you’d never hear another beep about imprisoning file-sharers.

Secondly, I have said this a million times and it’s like I’m talking to the wall…horrible thieves (aka the four letter acronym) are stealing 92.5 % of foreign levies from filmmakers in countries outside of the US, breaking the Berne Convention in the process. It’s actually not legal for those countries to hand any money to anybody else but the creator. But somehow, some very smart con men duped these shady collection societies into handing them all the dough. Ask me again why I need copyright reform?

See, I wish more of my colleagues would come out of the fog…but that fog is made of fears, so it is thick and consistent. Fear to upset the decision makers, fear to get blacklisted and never get to make movies again, fear to get fired by your agents, fear to become unpopular with your film-industry peers, it’s so much easier to blame the British, pimple-faced teenager, who uploaded Fast and the Furious 6, for the scarcity we experience.

I used to get frustrated about my peers’ lack of courage, but lately I feel only empathy. I don’t like seeing talented storytellers ruled by fear. I don’t even enjoy the endless admissions I get anymore from producers or Executives who whisper in my ear that they’re pro file-sharing too (this is often followed by a demonstration of their illegally downloaded goods or their torrent clients, as if they’re trying to make sure I’ll put in a good word, if the power were to shift to the other side one of these days).

TF: Do you believe that your opinions on these topics may impact your career? If so, how?

Lexi: What do you think? LOL

But my opinions on these topics are based on facts, so therefore the question I have to ask myself next is: If I keep the truth to myself and watch innovators get sent to prison by actual criminals…how does that impact my soul?

I do realize how huge the giant I decided to criticize really is whenever I read about the amount of money that’s at play here.

At the moment I still have a TV show under option, which I am currently developing and I’m getting ready to pitch another one. A few things definitely fell through right after my first piracy post and I’m not sure how many people don’t consider me for projects because of my file-sharing stance. I can’t really worry about that. First and foremost I’m still a filmmaker, so if this shit gets too real I have to force my mind down the rabbit hole (filmmaker euphemism for escaping into your screenplays or movies).

TF: File-sharing also has its downsides of course. What’s the worst side of piracy in your opinion?

Lexi: The worst part is that there are a lot of people who suddenly feel entitled to do anything they want with our work, at any given stage. I spoke to a filmmaker the other day whose film got leaked during post production. It was missing the visual effects and it had a temp score (temporary music used as a filler before the real score is ready). Then reviews started popping up about this version of the film on IMDB, yet the people who posted those reviews had no fucking clue what they were judging, revealed by the many comments about “the director ripping off the Dark Knight score”. It was the Dark Knight score, you morons.

That was really heartbreaking and whoever doesn’t understand that can go to hell. I don’t think there’s anybody in the world who’d like their work, whatever it may be, stolen when it’s half way done and paraded around the world with their name on it.

I also will never be able to respect anybody who films or watches one of those shaky cam movies. I don’t buy that there’s anybody who enjoys a movie that way, I think this is all about trying to be the shit on some forum.

TF: In what way do you think file-sharing will (and has) change(d) the movie industry?

Lexi: I entered this industry right at the beginning of the transition to digital technology. I remember insisting to shoot my first two films on film stock, by then people were already dropping the “dinosaur” and “stone age” hints. We were all beaten into submission when it came to new digital technologies, because they reduced production and distribution costs. Then the powers started realizing that those same technologies also made unauthorized duplications much easier, so the narrative changed and now we were told to hate that part of it. It’s almost comical isn’t it?

I quickly realized that file-sharing would shatter borders and as someone who considers herself a citizen of the world, rather than of one country, this made me extremely happy. I have always wanted entertainment events to be global rather than national. This is good for the world.

The more the audience becomes familiar with foreign movies and TV shows (not synchronized and released months later, but subtitled and premiering simultaneously) the sooner we will start accepting, maybe even demanding shows and movies with a diverse, global cast from the get go. And since those are the shows I create… it cannot happen fast enough.

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Chief Describes University Piracy Fines as “Terrific”

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

wifi-dangerIn addition to their obligations under the DMCA, in 2010 a new requirement was put in place which meant that university funding in the U.S. was placed in jeopardy if establishments didn’t take their anti-piracy responsibilities seriously.

The policy hasn’t been repeated in any other key countries in Europe or elsewhere, but that hasn’t stopped educational institutions from introducing their own policies to deal with on-campus infringement. A particularly harsh example can be found in Australia.

The University of New South Wales, which is ranked among the top five universities in Australia, offers its students free Wi-Fi Internet access. Known as Uniwide, the system was upgraded last year to offer speeds of 1.3 Gigabits per second in order to cope with around 20,000 devices being regularly connected to the network.

With students achieving up to 10 megabits per second on their connections, it’s perhaps no surprise that some use the Wi-Fi network for downloading movies, TV shows and other copyrighted content. In order to curtail the practice the university has put in place tough punishments for those who flout the rules.

uniwide

While disconnections and up to $1,000 in fines are serious enough, it may come as a surprise that monies collected don’t go to compensate artists. University of New South Wales pumps the money back into “student amenities” instead.

“I just find it disturbing that a university has decided how it will enforce the laws of the Commonwealth,” Michael Speck, an independent anti-piracy investigator and former NSW policeman told The Age. “It’s quite disturbing and without too much natural justice.”

Adding fuel to the fire, two parties embroiled in the general piracy debate currently raging in Australia have also weighed in with their opinions.

Steve Dalby, chief regulatory officer of Internet provider iiNet, called the fines “very strange”. The response from Dalby is predictable. The ISP famously refused to pass on infringement notices to its customers when prompted to by movie company Village Roadshow, a spat that took the pair to court.

On the other hand, comments from Graham Burke, co-chief executive of Village Roadshow, reveal that the rivals are still just as far apart in their views. Burke said it was “terrific” that the university was fining students and being “proactive and taking responsibility for the users of its network.”

“We think it is more important for students to be educated about copyright by the university imposing these fines than it is for the rights holders to collect damages for the breaches that are occurring,” Burke told The Age.

“In fact the more I think about it this action by the university is helping the future of good citizenship of its many students.”

There can be little doubt that traditionally poor students would find themselves thinking deeply about copyright when landed with a $1,000 fine but whether that would put money back in the artists’ pockets long-term is another matter.

Fortunately not too many WiFi users are falling foul of the rules. According to the university, three students and one staff member have received punishments this year. All had their access suspended and two of the students were fined $480 each.

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

TorrentFreak: KickassTorrents Moves to Kickass.so 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) is one of the most used torrent sites. In recent months it has even rivaled The Pirate Bay in terms of traffic.

Over the years KAT has moved from domain to domain on a few occasions, to evade law enforcement and pressure from the entertainment industries. Most recently the site had been operating from the Kickass.to domain.

Starting today however, the site is serving its pages from the Somalian TLD Kickass.so.

Wondering whether the site may have run into issues with the .to registry we contacted the KAT team for further details. “It’s just annual domain rotation,” we were told in a brief reply.

An additional announcement posted on the site today assures the site’s users that there is nothing to worry about.

“We are moving to kickass.so now. As you know we change our domain regularly. Nothing more has been changed for you, so don’t worry, you can use Kickass as usually, it’s automatically redirected,” the KAT team writes.

Intended or not, the domain change will have some consequences on the anti-piracy front. 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, more than 1.6 million, will become accessible again under the new domain. This also means that Google’s new downranking algorithm will be bypassed, at least temporarily.

In recent weeks KAT has lost a significant amount of traffic due to Google’s new anti-piracy measure, so intended or not, that may be an extra incentive to keep the yearly domain rotations going.

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

TorrentFreak: Liam Neeson Downloaders Face Anti-Piracy Shakedown

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

File-sharers in the United States, Germany and the UK are particularly familiar with the tactics of so-called copyright trolls. In recent years the lucrative nature of the business has attracted many companies, all out to turn piracy into profit.

Most countries have managed to avoid the attentions of these outfits, Sweden, the spiritual home of The Pirate Bay, included. However, in a surprise move the Scandinavian country has now appeared on the file-sharing lawsuit radar.

Along with Universal Pictures and Studio Canal, Check Entertainment is one of the companies behind the 2014 Liam Neeson movie, Non-Stop. According to latest figures from Box Office Mojo it has done very well, bringing in excess of $222 million on a $50 million budget.

Nevertheless, according to Dagens Media, Check Entertainment has hired lawfirm Nordic Law to go to court in Sweden to obtain the identities of individuals said to have downloaded and shared the action thriller.

The U.S.-based company has targeted subscribers of five local Internet service providers – Com Hem, Bredbandsbolaget, Banhof, Telia Sonera and Telenor – with the aim of forcing them to turn over the names and addresses of 12 of their Internet subscribers. Data on the alleged file-sharers was captured by German anti-piracy outfit Excipio.

At this point Check Entertainment says it wants to “investigate and prosecute” the subscribers for alleged copyright infringement but if cases in the rest of the world are any yardstick the aim will be a cash settlement, not a full court case.

Interestingly, one ISP from the five has indicated that its customers do not have to be concerned about possible lawsuits or shakedowns.

Service provider Banhof, a company long associated with subscriber privacy, says it is currently the only ISP in the Swedish market that does not store data on its customers’ Internet activities.

The development dates back to April when the EU Court of Justice declared the Data Retention Directive to be invalid. In response, many Swedish ISPs stopped storing data but since then most have reversed their decision to comply with apparent obligations under the Swedish Electronic Communications Act. Banhof did not, however.

This means that even if the ISP is ordered by the court to reveal which subscribers were behind a particular IP address at a certain time, it has no data so simply cannot comply.

“We have no such data. We turned off data storage on the same day that the EU judgment was handed down,” Banhof CEO Jon Karlung told Dagens Media.

While Sweden has a long tradition of file-sharing and the state regularly prosecutes large scale file-sharers, actions against regular sharers of a single title are extremely rare, ‘trolling’ even more so.

“It’s pretty rare,” Karlung says. “It has been quite a long time since it happened last.”

The big question now is whether the courts will be sympathetic to Check Entertainment’s complaint.

“We have submitted [our case] to the district court and now we want to see what the service providers say in response,” Nordic Law’s Patrick Andersson concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Firm Rightscorp On The Brink of Bankruptcy?

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

rightscorp-realFor years the entertainment industries have been complaining that online piracy hurts their revenues.

This problem has motivated people to start anti-piracy companies such as Rightscorp, a company that uses standard DMCA takedown requests to send settlement offers to alleged copyright infringers.

Rightscorp had big plans and went public last year on the NASDAQ exchange, aiming to help the biggest entertainment companies turn piracy into profit. Thus far, however, the results have been rather disappointing.

Despite teaming up with prominent names such as Warner Bros. and BMG, the company hasn’t been able to turn a profit.

In their latest SEC filing published earlier today the company reports a total loss of $2.2 million for the current year. This brings the total loss since its founding in 2011 to more than $6.5 million.

“The Company had a cumulative net loss from inception to September 30, 2014 of $6,540,194. The Company has not yet established an ongoing source of revenues sufficient to cover its operating costs and to allow it to continue as a going concern,” the SEC filing reads.

For Rightscorp to remain in business it desperately needs extra investment. The current revenue stream of $250,000 per quarter from piracy settlements doesn’t come close to covering operating costs.

In a word of caution to investors, Rightscorp warns that without extra funding the company may have to cease its operations.

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

Investors appear to have foreseen Rightcorp’s troubles as the companies stock price continues to nosedive, straight to the bottom. This week it reached a new low of 13 cents per share.

riht

One of Rightscorp’s problems is that they can only reach a fraction of U.S. Internet subscribers. Most large ISPs, including Comcast, have thus far refused to forward their settlement demands.

Several smaller providers are not eager to forward the “settlement” DMCA notices either. In an attempt to force them to do so the company recently obtained several DMCA subpoenas against local ISPs, but these are also being protested.

Whether Rightscorp will be able to survive these setbacks has yet to be seen. One thing’s for sure though, profiting from piracy is not as easy as they had hoped.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Boss Spent $50K in Brothels to ‘Protect Copyright’

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

Most commonly known as SGAE, the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers (Sociedad General de Autores y Editores) is Spain’s main collecting society for songwriters, composers and music publishers.

The group, which also acts as the leading music anti-piracy outfit in the country, has campaigned endlessly for tougher penalties for both file-sharing site operators and the unauthorized downloader at home.

SGAE’s position is to protect the rights of artists, but in 2011 a dark cloud fell over the organization. More than 50 police, tax officials and staff from Spain’s Audit Office raided SGAE’s headquarters in Madrid following allegations of fraud and misappropriation of funds.

One of those investigated was Pedro Farré, SGAE’s former head of corporate relations and the boss of its anti-piracy office. This week he was sentenced to 30 months in jail and the back story is quite extraordinary.

Farré’s problems stemmed from his penchant for spending time in the company of prostitutes. While some might argue that’s a personal matter that should remain private, it became a public interest story when Farré chose to mix his pleasures with the business of protecting copyrights.

To carry out his work the anti-piracy chief had been given a credit card by SGAE to cover legitimate business expenses. However, Farré ran up bills on the VISA card in numerous visits to brothels where he used it to withdraw cash from the premises which he spent on champagne and prostitutes.

According to Publico.es, evidence at trial revealed that on at least once occasion Farré had taken a booth at a brothel “..at five in the afternoon and left at six o’clock the next day, consuming drinks, champagne, and frequently changing girls.”

All told, Farré ran up bills of almost 40,000 euros ($50,000) on the SGAE card, falsifying receipts as he went. He claimed that money had been spent on meals with guests, entertaining the police commissioner, financing meetings with journalists and holding a university seminar.

The judge did not buy Farré’s version of events and said it was “pure absurdity” that academics and those involved in protecting copyrights would go to a brothel to discuss the topic. Farré’s claims that he went to the brothels to check their music rights compliance was rejected as “pure nonsense”.

Former SGAE CFO Ricardo Azcoaga, who was also arrested in 2011, was jailed for 12 months after concealing Farré’s expenditure.

The sentences can be appealed.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Demands Tougher Penalties for Aussie Pirates

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

ausThe MPAA has published its latest submission to the U.S. Government. It provides an overview of countries the studios believe could better protect the interests of the copyright industry.

The movie group lists more than two dozen countries and describes which “trade barriers” they present.

In recent years the Obama administration has helped Hollywood to counter online piracy and with a letter, signed by MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd, the movie organization urges the Government not to drop the ball.

“The US government must not falter from being a champion of protecting intellectual property rights, particularly in the online market,” Dodd told the United States Trade Representative.

According to the MPAA there are more than two dozen countries that require special attention. This includes Australia, which has one of the highest online piracy rates in the world

“Australia has consistently ranked amongst the highest incidence of per capita P2P infringement of MPAA member company films in the region,” the MPAA chief writes.

One of the main grievances against Australia is the lack of thorough copyright laws. On this front the movie studios put forward a specific recommendation to draft legislation to deter ‘camming’ in movie theaters.

“Australia should adopt anti-camcording legislation. While illegal copying is a violation of the Copyright Act, more meaningful deterrent penalties are required,” the MPAA notes.

In recent years there have been several arrests of people linked to scene release groups who illegally recorded movies in theaters. However, instead of several years in jail they usually get off with a slap on the wrist.

“For instance, in August 2012, a cammer was convicted for illicitly recording 14 audio captures, many of which were internationally distributed through his affiliation with a notorious release group; his fine was a non-deterrent AUD 2,000,” the MPAA writes.

“These lax penalties fail to recognize the devastating impact that this crime has on the film industry,” they add.

The MPAA hopes that the U.S. Government can help to change this legal climate Down Under. The most recent anti-piracy plans of the Aussie Government are a step in the right direction according to the Hollywood group.

This is not the first time that the MPAA has become involved in Australian affairs. Previously a Wikileaks cable revealed that the American movie group was also the main force behind the lawsuit against iiNet.

In addition to Australia, the MPAA also points out various copyright challenges in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden. The latter country is seen as a “safe haven” for pirates and lacks effective enforcement, as The Pirate Bay remains online despite the convictions of its founders.

“The law [in Sweden] must also change in order to effectively curb organized commercial piracy, as evidenced by the difficulties thwarting The Pirate Bay – an operation the court system has already deemed illegal,” MPAA writes.

MPAA’s full list of comments and recommendations is available here.

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

TorrentFreak: Columbia Pictures Wants Anti-Piracy Policies Kept Secret, Indefinitely

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

columbiaIt’s been almost a year since Hotfile was defeated by the MPAA, but the case hasn’t yet gone away completely.

Earlier this year the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the court to unseal documents regarding the workings of Warner Bros.’ anti-piracy tools.

These documents are part of the counterclaim Hotfile filed, where it accused Warner of repeatedly abusing the DMCA takedown process. In particular, the EFF wants the public to know what mistakes were made and how these came to be.

In September the Court ruled that the sealed documents should indeed be made public, and the first information was released soon after. Among other things the unsealed records showed that Warner Bros. uses “sophisticated robots” to track down infringing content.

This week the MPAA submitted its proposed schedule (pdf) for the release of the other documents. With regards to Warner’s anti-piracy system they propose a wait of at least 18 months before more information is unsealed. By then Warner will have changed its systems significantly so that the information can no longer be used by pirates to circumvent detection.

In the case of Columbia Pictures, however, things are more complicated. The sealed information of the Sony Pictures owned studio would still be beneficial to pirates for decades to come, the court is told.

“Defendants have cited two specific pieces of information regarding Columbia’s enforcement policies that, if revealed to the public, could compromise Columbia’s ability to protect its copyrighted works,” the MPAA’s lawyers write.

In a sworn declaration Sony Pictures’ Vice President Content Protection, Sean Jaquez, explains that the redacted documents describe broad policy decisions regarding online copyright enforcement that are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

“Columbia intends to continue to implement these confidential copyright enforcement policies indefinitely,” Jaquez writes.

“These confidential enforcement policies will not become less sensitive over time because they reflect broad policy judgments, rather than specific implementation features of Columbia’s anti-piracy enforcement system that are likely to change as technology evolves or time passes,” he adds.

To keep these secrets out of the public eye, the MPAA asks the court to keep the records relating to Columbia Pictures under seal indefinitely. If that’s too much, the information should remain secret for at least ten years.

It’s now up to Judge Williams to decide whether the proposed timeframes are reasonable and whether Columbia can keep its anti-piracy secrets locked up forever.

To be continued.

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

TorrentFreak: Internet Pirates Always a Step Ahead , Aussies Say

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

aus-featAs the debate over Internet piracy sizzles Down Under, groups on all sides continue to put forward arguments on how to solve this polarizing issue.

The entertainment industries are clear. The current legal framework in Australia is inadequate in today’s market and tough new legislation is required to deter pirates and hold service providers more responsible for the actions of their users.

ISPs, on the other hand, are generally concerned at the prospect of greater copyright liability, with many viewing content availability at a fair price as the sustainable way to solve the piracy problem.

In order to better understand the opinions of the consumer, Aussie telecoms association the Communications Alliance has conducted a new study, the results of which were published this morning.

The survey, carried out among a sample 1,500 Australians, reveals a public split roughly 50/50 on whether piracy is “a problem” but one that also believes that it will eventually end up paying the bill for solving it.

A recurring theme for the prevalence of piracy in Australia is availability of content at a fair price, and the results of the survey appear to back up that belief. A total 60% of respondents said that improved entertainment product release strategies would lead to less piracy while 66% noted that cheaper, fairer pricing could achieve the same.

Just 19% felt that Government regulation resulting in stiff penalties for file-sharers would do the trick, and when it comes to pushing anti-piracy responsibilities onto service providers, almost three-quarters felt the approach would be ineffective.

Unsurprisingly the issue of cost is important for consumers, with 69% holding the opinion that “identifying, monitoring and punishing” ‘pirate’ subscribers would eventually lead to more expensive Internet bills for everyone. When questioned, 60% of respondents felt that the bill for dealing with piracy should be paid by the rightsholders.

Privacy was also an issue for 65% of respondents who said that monitoring Internet users’ downloading habits would have “serious privacy implications.” However, the most popular reason for not shifting responsibility to ISPs is the fact that pirates are always a step ahead, with 72% believing that given rapidly changing technology, a way around any technical measures will always be found.

“This research comes as the Government considers responses to its discussion paper on online copyright policy options. It paints a picture not of a nation of rampant pirates, but rather a majority of people who agree that action taken should include steps to reduce the market distortions that contribute to piracy,” commented Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton.

While the entertainment companies have their tough demands and the ISPs have their objections, it seems likely that a solution will be found in the middle ground. Better pricing and availability will have an effect on the market while educational campaigns will help to sway some of those sitting on the fence. A total 59% of respondents favored the latter approach.

Whether ISPs will have to play a more active role remains to be seen, but given developments in the UK and United States, a notice-and-notice scheme to warn and educate consumers seems particularly likely.

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

TorrentFreak: ISP Protects Subscribers From Piracy “Fishing Expedition”

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

rightscorp-realWorking for prominent clients such as Warner Bros. and BMG, Rightscorp began sending DMCA subpoenas to dozens of smaller local ISPs in the United States this year.

Unlike regular subpoenas these are not reviewed by a judge and only require a signature from the court clerk. This practice raises questions because federal courts have long decided that DMCA subpoenas are not applicable to file-sharing cases.

Perhaps unaware of the legal precedent most ISPs have complied with the requests, but the tide is slowly changing. Earlier this year Texas provider Grande Communications protested a broad subpoena and now Atlanta-based ISP CBeyond has followed that lead.

CBeyond, owned by Birch Communication, is refusing to hand over its customer data. The ISP has filed a motion to quash the subpoena at a federal court in Georgia arguing that Rightscorp is on a piracy fishing expedition.

“Rightscorp served an invasive and overly broad Subpoena on CBeyond seeking personal identifying information of more than a thousand of CBeyond’s subscribers,” CBeyond writes.

“This Court should not allow Rightscorp to use the federal court system as a vehicle to embark on a fishing expedition, and instead should quash Rightscorp’s Subpoena,” the company adds.

Among other things the ISP points out that Rightscorp ignores federal precedent which states that DMCA-subpoenas are not applicable to P2P-filesharing cases, as the Internet provider itself doesn’t store any content.

This matter was previously decided in a case between Verizon and the RIAA more than a decade ago, and has been upheld in subsequent cases. The fact that Rightscorp ignores these cases warrants sanctions, according to CBeyond.

The Atlanta ISP further accuses Rightscorp of trying to exploit the lack of knowledge of smaller ISPs, pointing out that they have already obtained the personal details of many U.S. subscribers through these “fishing expeditions.”

“This year alone, Rightscorp has filed approximately 100 miscellaneous actions like this one, trying to force regional ISPs to disclose personal identifying information from their subscribers,” CBeyond writes.

“Rightscorp’s strategy is to gamble on regional ISPs being unaware that Section 512(h) does not support these subpoenas on a pass-through ISP, and to hope that regional ISPs will avoid involving counsel and incurring legal expenses to fight Rightscorp’s subpoenas,” they add.

The motion to quash from CBeyond is similar to that of Grande Communications earlier this year. However, where Rightscorp was quick to pull their subpoena in the Texas case, the anti-piracy company now intends to file a reply.

Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec previously told TF that the court made the wrong decision in the RIAA case and that they were willing to fight this in court.

“The issue has actually not been addressed by the vast majority of Circuit Courts. We believe that the decision you cite will be overturned when the issue reaches the Supreme Court,” Sabec told us.

Whether that’s the case has yet to be seen…

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

TorrentFreak: ISP Wants to Understand Technology Used to Track Pirates

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

Following a leak of the movie Dallas Buyers Club onto the Internet in January 2013, owner Voltage Pictures took the opportunity to extract cash payments from hundreds of US citizens said to have downloaded the movie.

The practice is lucrative, so much so that the company is now testing the Australian market. Among others, Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBCLLC) are targeting subscribers of iiNet, a local ISP with a reputation for defending its customers.

(DBCLLC) recently applied to the Federal Court to have iiNet and others reveal the identities of people they say have downloaded and/or shared their movie without permission, but to date iiNet (which also owns fellow targeted ISPs Internode and Adam) is opposing the application for discovery.

Earlier today the parties were in Federal Court in Sydney before Justice Nye Perram. DBCLLC wants iiNet to hand over its subscribers’ identities, but the ISP suspects that instead of giving targets their day in court the movie company simply wants to scare settlements out of them.

According to ZDNet, Barrister Richard Lancaster, SC representing iiNet, told Justice Perram that the ISP needs to know more about the anti-piracy tracking system that was used to track the alleged copyright infringers.

DBCLLC hired Stuttgart, Germany based outfit MaverickEye UG, an outfit that claims to provide “world-class surveillance” of intellectual property on the leading P2P networks including BitTorrent. The company also claims experience with other law firms operating similar pay-up-or-else business models.

“Maverickeye UG work very closely with several law firms focused on the protection of intellectual property and specialized in filing legal claims against people who infringe on your intellectual property,” the company says on its website.

It’s now also becoming clearer why DBCLLC selected iiNet as a target. In its prolonged legal battle with movie company Village Roadshow which concluded two years ago, iiNet said it would’ve handed over subscriber information had there been a successful application to the High Court. DBCLLC lawyer Ian Pike told the Court today that he will indeed be relying on those statements.

Next Monday will see another hearing, this time on the issue of security and costs. To ensure that it’s not left with a huge legal bill, iiNet has requested that DBCLLC deposit AUS$100,00 (US$86,700) into a holding account in the event the movie company loses in its bid to obtain the ISP’s customers’ details. That amount is already in dispute with DBCLLC reportedly prepared to put forward just AUS$30,000 (US$26,000).

During December another hearing will determine whether iiNet will be able to call Maverick Eye’s Daniel Macek as a witness to determine whether the company’s anti-piracy tracking system is up to the job of identifying an infringer.

Then, during February 5 and 6, 2015, the full case will be heard. A win for iiNet could mean a significant setback for DBCLLC, while a victory could signal a green light to other companies plotting similar action. In the United States, DBCLLC demands payment of up to US$7,000 (AUS$8,000) from each person it targets.

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

TorrentFreak: Comcast Sent 1,000,000 Copyright Alerts to ‘Pirating’ Subscribers

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

comcast-logoFebruary last year the MPAA, RIAA and five major Internet providers in the United States launched their “six strikes” anti-piracy plan.

The main goal of this Copyright Alert System is to educate the public. Through various notifications subscribers are informed if their connections are being used to share copyrighted material without permission, and told where they can find legal alternatives.

Thus far the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), which oversees the program, has only released details of the number of warnings that were sent out during the first 10 months. During this period 1.3 million anti-piracy alerts were sent out.

This year the number of notices are expected to double, but no exact details have yet been released. However, based on information received last week we can now report that Comcast sent out its one millionth warning recently.

A million warnings translates to a little under 2,000 notices per day, a similar rate to the one we reported earlier this year. The ISPs and copyright holders previously agreed to cap the Copyright Alert volume, which may hover around this number.

TorrentFreak asked Comcast to verify our findings, but the Internet provider would neither confirm nor deny that it has sent out 1,000,000 alerts.

“We have no official data to disclose at this time,” a Comcast spokesperson wrote in a brief emailed reply.

Part of Comcast’s initial Copyright Alertcomcast-copyright-alert

So what’s in store for those who receive an alert? ISPs and copyright holders have stressed that the focus of the Copyright Alerts lie in education, but repeat infringers face a temporary disconnection from the Internet or other mitigation measures.

For example, Comcast has chosen a browser “hijack” which makes it impossible for customers to browse the Internet, but without interrupting VOIP and other essential services.

“If a consumer fails to respond to several Copyright Alerts, Comcast will place a persistent alert in any web browser under that account until the account holder contacts Comcast’s Customer Security Assurance professionals to discuss and help resolve the matter,” Comcast writes.

How quickly customers will be able to resolve the matter and what they will have to do is unknown, but Comcast stresses that no accounts will be terminated under the Copyright Alert program.

“We will never use account termination as a mitigation measure under the CAS. We have designed the pop-up browser alerts not to interfere with any essential services obtained over the Internet.”

Thus far there’s no evidence that Copyright Alerts have had a significant impact on piracy rates. However, the voluntary agreement model is being widely embraced and similar schemes are in the making in both the UK and Australia.

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

TorrentFreak: AVG Monitors Torrenting Habits to Advise Heavy Downloaders

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

avglogoIn recent years anti-piracy vendors have shown a keen interest in file-sharing and online piracy issues.

Symantec, for example, has developed a technology that allows it to spot fake torrents and malware before they’re downloaded.

On the other hand, rival McAfee have taken an anti-piracy approach by inventing a system that can detect and block pirated material from any website and present users with authorized and legal alternatives instead.

This week we learned that AVG, another major player in the anti-virus business, is keeping an eye on BitTorrent traffic as well. Not to detect intruders or stop piracy, but to give users some friendly advice.

BitTorrent traffic can chew up a lot of bandwidth and cripple one’s local network, especially with badly configured clients. This can slow down web browsing to a crawl, something AVG is alerting its users to.

The following alert pops up for some BitTorrent users. In this case related to traffic generated by uTorrent, but it may appear for other clients as well.

Hey torrenter…
avgtorrent

While not everyone may like the fact that their anti-virus software has begun commenting on their torrenting habits, the advice may be useful to some. As far as we know AVG is not looking at what people download, just the network load generated by the application.

Those who want to get rid of the notifications can tick the ‘AVG Advisor Notification’ box in the software settings.

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Chief: Obama is Scared to Push Google, ISPs on Piracy

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

obamaLate July a near perfect copy of The Expendables 3 leaked out onto file-sharing networks a full three weeks before the title was due to appear in theaters.

Within hours 100,000 copies had been downloaded, a figure that developed into millions in the weeks that followed. According to Nu Image, the company behind Expendables 3, more than 10 million people grabbed an illegal copy of the movie before its official August release.

Now, according to Nu Image CEO and founder Avi Lerner, that leak and subsequent box office flop has translated into serious financial implications for the company.

“Everyone wants to hide what happened on Expendables 3, especially the domestic distributors. ‘Don’t talk about it!’ But I’ll tell you there is about $250 million in box office we lost,” Lerner says.

Describing piracy as the “worst situation that ever happened” to the industry, Lerner told HR that something big needs to be done or there won’t be anything left to save.

“The whole film business is going to be the same as the music business. Within five years, we’re not going to have a business,” he said.

Of course, Hollywood tried to “get something done” in 2012 by lobbying intensively for the now-defunct SOPA anti-piracy legislation. But by asking for too much, too quickly, the possibility of knock-on consequences almost universally spooked the tech sector. The result was a huge backlash and the ruination of any chance of passing not only SOPA, but any other similar variant in the near future.

Still, Lerner feels that the buck needs to stop somewhere, and in this case it should be right at the top. Barack Obama isn’t doing enough, the Nu Image CEO says, and that stems from the President’s fear of upsetting the Internet.

“It’s sad because if we had a good president that cared about the film industry he would pass a very simple law, an anti-piracy law, but they don’t want to stop it because they are scared of Google, and he’s scared of all the ISPs,” Lerner says.

Google’s power and money not only scares off the President but Congress too, Lerner adds. Furthermore, plenty of that revenue is coming piracy-related sources, so the company has no incentive stop it.

“Google has no interest to stop [piracy] because the more people download the movie the more traffic they get. And without traffic they don’t get revenue from advertising. So they’re happy there’s piracy in the world,” Lerner insists.

Of course, Google has made some recent anti-piracy overtures with a fairly drastic modification of its search engine algorithms, changes that have hit torrent sites particularly hard. But while Google might have the power and the money, it is not the gatekeeper of the Internet and leaks of movies like The Expendables 3 will happen regularly, with or without the gaming of search engine results in Hollywood’s favor.

In the meantime Google will keep getting blamed for other people’s problems, and not even the White House will be able to do anything about that.

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

TorrentFreak: VKontakte Asks U.S. To Remove “Pirate Site” Stamp

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

vkThe Russian social network VKontakte (VK) has long been criticized for its passive approach to piracy. The site has millions of users, some of whom use it to share copyrighted content.

As a result the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has labeled the site a “notorious market” on several occasions, and last week the MPAA and RIAA advised the Government to maintain this listing in its upcoming report.

The movie studios and record labels claim that VK is still not doing enough to address the piracy issue. However, in a letter (pdf) to the USTR, VK director Dmitry Sergeev disagrees.

VK’s director admits that the social network has a history of being used for piracy, especially audio. However, in recent years the company has put a lot of effort into its anti-piracy measures, often in cooperation with rightsholders.

“Over the last years, especially in 2013 and 2014, VK took numerous steps to address copyright holders’ concerns. These steps were part of the VK long-term plan of improvement and cooperation with the rightsholders and copyright industry associations,” Sergeev notes.

Sergeev says that his company can’t control all information that’s uploaded to the site. Scanning all uploaded files for possible copyright infringement is therefore not a realistic option.

“VK does not have the technical capability to pre-moderate, filter, or otherwise prevent the uploading of works due to the enormous volume of information being uploaded by users on a daily basis and the fact that VK does not have reliable information confirming violation of copyright in advance,” he notes.

However, VK has clear terms of service that forbid sharing of unauthorized material. In addition, users have to agree that they are authorized to share a file every time they upload something.

The company also processes DMCA-style takedown notices. This means that copyright holders can make files inaccessible if they spot infringing content. This is similar to how other large Internet services work and more than 450,000 notices have been submitted so far.

While the MPAA and RIAA label VK as a piracy haven, VK emphasizes that plenty of content is shared legally. Many starting artists in Russia use it as the most important platform to promote their work, and many established musicians are happy to share their work as well.

“A very large amount of VK’s content is uploaded absolutely legitimately. For instance, lots of famous musicians, singers, authors and other IP owners enthusiastically use VK.com for their own purposes of promotion,” he says.

VK’s director lists several examples of popular artists that have official profiles, including Tiësto, Armin Van Buren, Shakira, Moby, Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys.

And there’s more. VK says it has reached agreements with various copyright holders to share revenue and it’s currently negotiating licensing deals with Sony/ ATV, Warner Chappell and Music Publishing Group and others.

In addition, the company also implemented a fingerprinting technology that automatically prevents uploads of infringing audio files for which it already received a takedown notice. This measure aims to prevent the takedown “groundhog day” the RIAA complained about.

Considering its long list of anti-piracy initiatives VK asks the United States Trade Representative not to include the site in the upcoming 2014 Out of Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. Whether this will be the case or not, will become clear in a few weeks.

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

TorrentFreak: German Police Raid 121 Homes in Massive Pirate Site Crackdown

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

boerseLast week news broke that police in Germany had carried out raids looking for the operators of Kinox.to, a manhunt that’s still ongoing.

The police actions are part of a large investigation into the local piracy scene in Germany which are today followed by one of the largest anti-piracy raids in history, involving the link forum Boerse.bz.

Police headquartered in Cologne have just announced that they carried out raids on 121 homes across the country. The police are gathering evidence on the operators of the popular linking forum and many of the raided homes are connected to active contributers to the site.

The police raids involved around 400 police officers who seized numerous computers, hard drives and other storage media. No arrests have been made thus far but some suspects have reportedly been willing to cooperate.

According to the authorities the suspects have shared a considerable number of movies, music albums, software and e-books via various cyberlockers and Boerse.bz over a long period of time.

These files were shared among an estimated 2.7 million Boerse.bz users and the uploaders reportedly earned referral commissions of up to several thousand euros per month through various cyberlockers.

The raids are the result of a criminal complaint filed by German anti-piracy outfit GVU. According to GVU, Boerse.bz is offering more than 100,000 files without permission from rightsholders, including 61,776 movies and 13,560 TV-shows.

Most of the evidence the police acted on was provided to the police by GVU, who say that Boerse.bz is a highly structured operation with a clear division of labor.

Despite the massive police force that was used in today’s raids and those of last week, both Kinox.to and Boerse.bz remain online. The alleged operators of the sites are still on the run.

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

TorrentFreak: Make Thousands of Dollars From Piracy, The Timothy Sykes Way

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

Turning lead into gold used to be the business of the alchemist, but today the Internet is awash with ‘proven’ techniques allowing anyone to go from rags to riches, if only they have the right knowledge.

One person prepared to share his skills with the world is Timothy Sykes. In 1999, while still in school, Sykes reportedly took just over $12,000 in Bar Mitzvah money and began trading penny stocks, transforming his investment into $1.65m before he hit 21.

With dozens of articles documenting his fame and fortune, in 2011 Sykes launched his own website, TimothySykes.com. It is here that others wishing to emulate his success are brought onboard with tempting offers such as the one below.

sykes1

Of course, the kind of knowledge that enables people to get rich super quick doesn’t come cheap. A few initial ‘lessons’ aside, Sykes sells DVD titles such as “TIMfundamentals” for $397+ shipping. TIMTactics weighs in at a few bucks shy of $500, as do others. Sykes promises that by following his techniques the money invested can be recouped with single good trade, but there are people out there who prefer to make money without the initial outlay.

These people find happiness on The Pirate Bay where all Sykes’ content can be found just by searching for his name. But the money man is unhappy with people getting rich without the appropriate investment so he’s cooked up a new money-making scheme of his own in response.

In a series of lawsuits filed at the Illinois Northern District Court, Sykes’ Millionaire Media, LLC is now suing eleven BitTorrent users who allegedly downloaded and shared his works without permission. Currently, all targets appear to be Comcast users.

One of the lawsuits reveals that an individual was tracked by German anti-piracy company Excipio. He or she is accused of copyright infringement in the most aggressive terms.

“Defendant is an egregious online infringer of Plaintiff’s copyrights. Indeed,
Defendant’s IP address….was used without authorization to illegally distribute seven different copyrighted works owned by Plaintiff…,” the court filing reads.

The seven files – PennyStocking, PennyStocking Part Deux, ShortStocking, TIMFundamentals, TIMFundamentals Part Deux, TIMRaw and TIMTactics – were all wrapped up a single torrent. The court papers don’t provide evidence of distribution of all of those titles but note that the defendant distributed a small “bit” of the whole package in “multiple infringing transactions.”

“Through each transaction, Defendant distributed a ‘bit’ of the Infringing File. The PCAP shows Defendant’s IP address, and the ‘bit’ that was distributed. Excipio verified that the ‘bit’ that was distributed belongs to the Infringing File by calculating its hash value,” the papers read.

Interestingly the hash of the file – 4f7fa6edd6bb1e13b5af478fbae4daafab968f51 – reveals an error in the evidence presented to the court.

“The Infringing File is a zip file that contains a variety of both text and video files owned by Plaintiff,” adding “Excipio further downloaded a full copy of the Infringing File, unzipped it, and reviewed each of the seven works contained in it.”

However, a cursory view of the hash in question reveals there are no ZIP files whatsoever inside the torrent, just plain video, audio and documents.

Technicalities aside, it seems fairly clear what will happen next. Sykes’ chosen lawfirm – Schulz Law – are well known in copyright trolling circles. In fact, lawyer Mary Schulz was sanctioned by the court in a Malibu Media case, something she is now required to report to courts in which she is admitted to practice.

For each infringed work, Sykes’ Millionaire Media, LLC demand statutory damages, attorneys’ fees and costs. While the company “demands a trial by jury on all issues so triable” it seems likely that they’ll actually be looking for settlements from the 11 individuals they’ve targeted so far.

Another way to turn a small investment into big money, then.

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

TorrentFreak: MP3Juices Recovers From UK Police Shutdown With New Domain

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

mp3juicesOver the past few months City of London’s PIPCU anti-piracy unit has been working together with copyright holders to topple sites that provide or link to pirated content.

One of the most-used tactics is to contact domain name registrars, asking them to suspend allegedly infringing domain names. This has resulted in the “shutdown” of a few pirate sites, with the MP3 search engine MP3Juices one of the most recent targets.

With millions of visitors each month MP3Juices was one of the largest sites of its kind, but that changed in September when the site lost its domain name. After the suspension weeks went by without a sign of life from the operators, until this weekend.

Yesterday MP3Juices returned using a new .to domain name. The surprise comeback was announced through the site’s official Facebook page. “We are back:) www.mp3juices.to. Have fun, post any errors/problems below,” the status update reads.

The unexpected resurrection was welcomed by many of the site’s followers, who were delighted to see their favorite MP3 search engine back in action.

MP3Juices is back
facebook-comments

At the moment it’s unclear why it took more than a month for the site to move to a new domain. TorrentFreak asked the MP3Juices team for a comment on the comeback and their future plans, but they have yet to respond.

While PIPCU’s domain name suspension was bypassed by MP3Juices, it certainly wasn’t without damage. The site has lost most of its users, with many going to MP3Juices.cc, a site that launched last month.

The MP3Juices.cc team informed TF that they created their site for those who miss the old site. It offers a search engine similar to the original service, and has grown to 150,000 daily visitors in just a few weeks.

So the end result of PIPCU’s actions is that they damaged one site, but inspired the launch of another. Whether the actions of the police have actually resulted in less copyright infringement is doubtful, as availability of pirated content has increased.

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

TorrentFreak: BitShare Hits Back at Police ‘Kinox’ Allegations

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

bitshareLast week a quite extraordinary drama unfolded in Germany. Local police announced that they had carried out raids in several areas of the country with the aim of netting the operators of movie site Kinox.to.

Police did make two arrests but their main targets, two brothers said to be the founders of Kinox, remain at large. Subsequently police upped the ante by taking the unusual step of naming the pair and launching an international manhunt.

Ever since news broke that the pair were being pursued, police, the attorney general, and local piracy outfit GVU have linked the brothers to a string of other file-sharing related sites. Among them are streaming portal Movie4K and file-hosting sites BitShare and FreakShare.

All sites mentioned by the police remain operational. However, the anti-piracy group responsible for the investigations now wants something done about that.

GVU director Dr. Matthias Leonardy claims that BitShare receives 1.5 million users per day and FreakShare 750,000. Continuing with his fiery rhetoric, Leonardy says the sites operate from datacenters in the United States so GVU now requires international assistance to shut them down.

“This is by far the most serious case of organized economic crime with structurally infringing online services in Germany. The current case clearly shows that the illegal exploitation of creative content on the net is now firmly in the hands of criminals,” Leonardy says.

But while GVU and the police appear acutely interested in these sites, when TorrentFreak spoke to BitShare just before the weekend, we were given a different picture. Mark Girak, the site’s CEO, who was clearly annoyed at being associated with the mounting chaos. He agreed to answer some questions to put his side of the story.

Firstly, we asked Girak if anti-piracy outfit GVU or the police had ever been in contact with BitShare over the Kinox situation.

“GVU never contacted us, nor did the police or any other company,” Girak said. “They are just putting our name everywhere and trying to make life hard for us. They are completely ignoring our brand and our company.”

We then asked Girak if BitShare had any historical links with Kinox or its operators, and if so, to explain their nature.

“We never had any contact with Kinox guys, they were once affiliates of us, but since two years they have not been using our website at all,” Girak said. “Our site is most probably being linked to that website because we offer a streaming feature for some of our users.”

Finally, we asked Girak if BitShare has any pending legal problems in respect of Kinox or any other copyright matter. The answer was a clear “no”.

And Girak isn’t the only one with doubts over the way the case is being presented by the authorities in Germany. The alleged ‘Kinox Brothers’, Kastriot and Kreshnik Selimi, are being portrayed as violent and rich individuals at every opportunity, but speaking to local media their lawyer questioned the allegations.

“There is no evidence that the pair are dangerous,” said Stefan Tripmaker.

“The family lives modestly and both brothers were still living in the rooms they had as children [at their parents’ house]. It is a mystery to me where the money could be.”

So all eyes now turn to the United States {if GVU is correct} to see whether something will be done there. In the meantime the controversy – and apparent mystery – continues.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Takedown Requests Surge After New Anti-Piracy Measures

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

google-bayLast week Google implemented a new search algorithm. The new measure keeps websites for which it receives a high number of takedown requests out of the top results for certain keywords.

The change has hit pirate sites hard. Some sites have lost more than half of all their search engine traffic, which translates to millions of visitors per week.

The key element of the new alghorithm are the DMCA notices. The more a website gets, the less likely it is that the site appears in the top results for various download and streaming related searches.

This has created a new incentive for copyright holders to send more takedown notices, to ensure that no pirate site can fly under the radar. Various rightsholders appear to realize this as the number of DMCA notices Google receives has skyrocketed.

Over the past week the search engine was asked to remove 11,668,660 allegedly infringing URLs. That is nearly double the amount it received earlier this month, and the largest week to week increase ever.

Takedown requests increase 100% in weeks
google-skyrocket

Looking at the sites that are targeted we see that most notices indeed refer to relatively new sites. The top 5 domains last week were conexaomp3.com, vmusice.net, tpbt.org, proxymirror.co and helpamillionpeople.com.

These sites went unnoticed before but all had more than 300,000 URLs removed last week. On the surface helpamillionpeople.com appears to be an odd target, but the site in question runs a Pirate Bay proxy through a subdomain.

The big question now is whether this new takedown surge will pay off.

Of course, copyright holders aren’t under the illusion that Google can eradicate piracy, or even stop those who regularly download or stream content without permission. Their goal is to make pirated content invisible in search results so less people will be drawn to it.

Whether this will decrease piracy rates in the long run is unknown, but judging from the early results it does indeed make it less likely for people to stumble upon pirate sites.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Lobbies Lawmakers on Internet Tax and Net Neutrality

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

mpaa-logoIn its quest to stamp out piracy, the MPAA continues to pump money into its lobbying activities hoping to sway lawmakers in its direction.

While the lobbying talks take place behind closed doors, quarterly lobbying reports provide some insight into the items on the agenda.

The MPAA’s most recent lobbying disclosure form (pdf) has added several new topics that weren’t on the agenda last quarter. Among other issues, the movie group lobbied the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives on Internet tax, net neutrality and online service provider liability.

TorrentFreak contacted the MPAA hoping to get some additional information on Hollywood’s stance on these topics, but a week has passed and we have yet to receive a reply.

The only thing we know for sure is what Hollywood is lobbying on, but it doesn’t take much imagination to take an educated guess on the why part.

Net neutrality for example. While the MPAA hasn’t got involved publicly in the recent net neutrality discussions, it clearly has something to tell to lawmakers. The Hollywood group most likely wants to assure that its anti-piracy efforts aren’t hindered by future legislation.

Previously the MPAA has warned that net neutrality could make it hard to use deep packet inspection, filtering and fingerprinting techniques to prevent piracy. This concern was partially addressed by FCC’s proposal which doesn’t include “unlawful traffic” under the net neutrality proposals.

Part of MPAA lobbying disclosure filing
mpaa-lobby

The Internet tax mention is perhaps most the controversial topic. There were massive protests in Hungary this week after the Government announced it would charge a tax of 62 cents per gigabyte on all Internet traffic. For now the Hungarian plan has been shelved, but an Internet tax remains an option for the future.

In the U.S. there has been a ban on Internet Tax for more than a decade, but that expires this year. There’s currently a bill pending in the Senate that extends the ban, but this has yet to be approved. It seems likely that the MPAA has weighed in on this proposal.

Finally, the MPAA also lobbied on liability of online service providers. This presumably relates to the possible revision of the DMCA, where Hollywood wants to ensure that online services can’t leave widespread piracy unaddressed.

Ideally, the movie studios would like to make it harder for sites and services to hide behind the DMCA, as the MPAA also made clear in its lawsuits against isoHunt and Hotfile.

While we may never know what the MPAA’s exact positions are on these topics, we do know that they are trying to steer lawmakers in their direction. Perhaps future legislative proposals and discussions may reveal more details.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Glass Now Banned in US Movie Theaters Over Piracy Fears

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

Google Glass poses a significant threat to the movie industry, Hollywood believes. The advent of the wearable technology has sparked fears that it could be used for piracy.

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

At the time the MPAA shrugged off the incident as an unfortunate mistake, claiming that it had seen “no proof that it is currently a significant threat that could result in content theft.” This has now changed.

Starting today Google Glass is no longer welcome in movie theaters. The new ban applies to all US movie theaters and doesn’t include an exception for prescription glasses.

The MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) stress that they welcome technological innovations and recognize the importance of wearables for consumers. However, the piracy enabling capabilities of these devices can’t be ignored.

“As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown,” MPAA and NATO state.

“As has been our long-standing policy, all phones must be silenced and other recording devices, including wearable devices, must be turned off and put away at show time. Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave,” they add.

Cautioning potential pirates, the movie groups emphasize that theater employees will take immediate action when they spot someone with wearable recording devices. Even when in doubt, the local police will be swiftly notified.

“If theater managers have indications that illegal recording activity is taking place, they will alert law enforcement authorities when appropriate, who will determine what further action should be taken.”

The wearable ban is now part of the MPAA’s strict set of anti-piracy practices. These instruct movie theater owners to be on the lookout for suspicious individuals who may have bad intentions.

Aside from the wearables threat, the best practices note that all possible hidden camera locations in the theater should be considered, including cup holders. In addition, employees should be alert for possible concealed recording equipment, as often seen in the movies.

“Movie thieves are very ingenious when it comes to concealing cameras. It may be as simple as placing a coat or hat over the camera, or as innovative as a specially designed concealment device,” it warns.

To increase vigilance among movie theater employees, a $500 bounty is being placed on the heads of those who illegally camcord a movie.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA: The Pirate Bay Assaults Fundamental Human Rights

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

tpbfistFollowing in the footsteps of Hollywood’s MPAA, the RIAA has now submitted its overview of “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

These submissions help to guide the U.S. Government’s position toward foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement. The RIAA’s report (odt) includes more than 50 alleged pirate sites, but it is the introduction that draws most attention.

Neil Turkewitz, RIAA Executive Vice President, informs the Government that some of the rogue websites, and their supporters, falsely argue that they aid freedom of speech and counter censorship.

Specifically, the RIAA describes The Pirate Bay and other pirate sites as an assault on our humanity, suggesting that the right to protect one’s copyrights trumps freedom of expression.

“Some observers continue to suggest that the protection of expression is a form of censorship or restriction on fundamental freedoms, and some pirate sites cloak themselves in the language of freedom to justify themselves—sites like The Pirate Bay…” Turkewitz writes.

“We must end this assault on our humanity and the misappropriation of fundamental human rights. If the protection of expression is itself a restriction on freedom of expression, then we have entered a metaphysical Wonderland that stands logic on its head, and undermines core, shared global values about personhood,” he adds.

The RIAA says it’s hopeful that the piracy threat can be addressed if society and legitimate companies stop doing business with these sites. To do so, the public must stop conflating anti-piracy measures with censorship.

“We may not be able to eradicate piracy—there will always be an isolated number of individuals or enterprises who are prepared to steal whatever they can, but we can—and must—stop providing moral cover by conflating copyright enforcement with censorship, or by misapplying notions of Internet freedom or permissionless innovation so that they extend to an embrace of lawlessness.”

In recent months copyright holders have often hammered on payment processors and advertising networks to stop doing business with pirate sites. The RIAA reiterates this in their USTR submission, but also points a finger at the ISPs, at least indirectly.

According to the RIAA, BitTorrent indexing sites make deals with hosting providers to pay lower fees if they have more traffic. While this is standard business for most ISPs, the industry group frames it as an indirect source of revenue for the pirate sites.

“Indexing services can, and usually do, generate revenue from one or more of the following: advertising, user donations and suspected arrangements with ISPs whereby reduced fees are offered in return for increased traffic on the sites. The particular financial model, structure and approach vary from site to site,” Turkewitz notes.

Finally, the RIAA admits that some torrent sites process DMCA takedown notices, but believes that this is only an attempt to “appear” legitimate. In reality the infringing content is re-uploaded almost instantly, so the problem remains.

“As a result, copyright owners are forced into an endless ‘cat and mouse’ game, which requires considerable resources to be devoted to chasing infringing content, only for that same infringing content to continually reappear,” the report reads.

Without specifying what, Turkewitz notes that torrent site owners have to do more if they really want to become legitimate services.

“It is imperative that BitTorrent site operators take reasonable measures to prevent the distribution of infringing torrents or links and to implement measures that would prevent the indexing of infringing torrents,” he writes.

In addition to torrent sites the submission also lists various cyberlockers, blogs and linking sites which allegedly deserve the label “notorious market.”

Below is the RIAA’s full list as it was reported to the USTR. These, and the other submissions will form the basis of the U.S. Government’s Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, which is expected to come out later this year.

- vKontakte
– EX.UA
– The Pirate Bay
– KickAss.to
– Torrentz.eu
– Bitsnoop.com
– ExtraTorrent.cc
– Isohunt.to
– Zamunda
– Arena.bg
– Torrenthound.com
– Fenopy.se
– Monova.org
– Torrentreactor.net
– Sumotorrent.sx
– Seedpeer.me
– Torrentdownloads.me
– 4shared.com
– Uploaded.net
– Oboom.com
– Zippyshare.com
– Rapidgator.net
– Turbobit.net
– Ulozto.cz
– Sdílej.cz
– Hell Spy
– HellShare
– Warez-dk.org
– Freakshare.com
– Bitshare.com
– Letitbit.net
– 1fichier.com
– Filestube.to
– Music.so.com
– Verycd.com
– Gudanglagu.com
– Thedigitalpinoy.org
– Todaybit.com
– Chacha.vn
– Zing.vn
– Songs.to
– Boerse.to
– Mygully.com
– Wawa-mania.ec
– Bajui.com
– Goear.com
– Pordescargadirecta.com
– Exvagos.com
– Degraçaémaisgostoso.org
– Baixeturbo.org
– Hitsmp3.net
– Musicasparabaixar.org
– Sapodownloads.net
– Sonicomusica.com
– Jarochos.net
– Rnbexclusive.se
– Newalbumreleases.net

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Reports The Pirate Bay to The U.S. Government

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

mpaa-logoResponding to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the MPAA has sent in its annual list of rogue websites.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the MPAA’s latest submission. The Hollywood group targets a wide variety of websites which they claim are promoting the illegal distribution of movies and TV-shows, with declining incomes and lost jobs in the movie industry as a result.

These sites and services not only threaten the movie industry, but according to the MPAA they also put consumers at risk through identity theft and by spreading malware.

“It is important to note that websites that traffic in infringing movies, television shows, and other copyrighted content do not harm only the rights holder. Malicious software or malware, which puts Internet users at risk of identity theft, fraud, and other ills, is increasingly becoming a source of revenue for pirate sites,” MPAA writes.

Below is an overview of the “notorious markets” the MPAA reported to the Government. The sites are listed in separate categories and each have a suspected location, as defined by the movie industry group.

Torrent Sites

BitTorrent remains the most popular P2P software as the global piracy icon, MPAA notes. The Pirate Bay poses one of the largest threats here. Based on data from Comscore, the MPAA says that TPB has about 40 million unique visitors per month, which appears to be a very low estimate.

“Thepiratebay.se (TPB) claims to be the largest BitTorrent website on the Internet with a global Alexa rank of 91, and a local rank of 72 in the U.S. Available in 35 languages, this website serves a wide audience with upwards of 43.5 million peers,” MPAA writes.

“TPB had 40,551,220 unique visitors in August 2014 according to comScore World Wide data. Traffic arrives on this website through multiple changing ccTLD domains and over 90 proxy websites that assist TPB to circumvent site blocking actions.”

For the first time the MPAA also lists YIFY/YTS in its overview of notorious markets. The MPAA describes YTS as one of the most popular release groups, and notes that these are used by the Popcorn Time streaming application.

“[Yts.re] facilitates the downloading of free copies of popular movies, and currently lists more than 5,000 high-quality movie torrents available to download for free,” MPAA writes.

“Additionally, the content on Yts.re supports desktop torrent streaming application ‘Popcorn Time’ which has an install base of 1.4 million devices and more than 100,000 active users in the United States alone.”

The full list of reported torrent sites is as follows:

- Kickass.to (Several locations)
– Thepiratebay.se (Sweden)
– Torrentz.eu (Germany/Luxembourg)
– Rutracker.org (Russia)
– Yts.re (Several locations)
-Extratorrent.cc (Ukraine)
-Xunlei.com (China)

The mention of Xunlei.com is interesting as the Chinese company signed an anti-piracy deal with the MPA earlier this year. However, according to the MPAA piracy is still rampant, and there is no evidence that Xunlei has fulfilled its obligations.

Direct Download and Streaming Cyberlockers

The second category of pirate sites reported by the MPAA are cyberlockers. The movie industry group points out that these sites generate million of dollars in revenue, citing the recently released report from Netnames.

Interestingly, the MPAA doesn’t include 4shared and Mega, the two services who discredited the report in question. As in previous submissions VKontakte, Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, is also listed as a notorious market.

- VK.com (Russia)
– Uploaded.net (Netherlands)
– Rapidgator.net (Russia)
– Firedrive.com (New Zealand)
– Nowvideo.sx and the “Movshare Group” (Panama/Switzerland/Netherlands)
– Netload.in (Germany)

Linking Websites

The largest category in terms of reported sites represents linking websites. These sites don’t host the infringing material, but only link to it. The full list of linking sites is as follows.

- Free-tv-video-online.me (Canada)
– Movie4k.to (Romania)
– Primewire.ag (Estonia)
– Watchseries.lt (Switzerland)
– Putlocker.is (Switzerland)
– Solarmovie.is (Latvia)
– Megafilmeshd.net (Brazil)
– Filmesonlinegratis.net (Brazil)
– Watch32.com (Germany)
– Yyets.com (China)
– Cuevana.tv (Argentina)
– Viooz.ac (Estonia)
– Degraçaemaisgostoso.org (Brazil)
– Telona.org (Brazil)

The inclusion of Cuevana.tv is noteworthy as the website stopped offering direct links to infringing content earlier this year. Instead, it now direct people to its custom “Popcorn Time” equivalent “Storm.”

Finally, the MPAA lists one Usenet provider, the German based Usenext.com. This service was included because, unlike other providers, it allegedly heavily markets itself to P2P users.

Later this year the US Trade Representative will use the submissions of the MPAA and other parties to make up its final list of piracy havens. The U.S. Government will then alert the countries where these sites are operating from, hoping that local authorities take action.

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