Posts tagged ‘Anti-Piracy’

TorrentFreak: How Publisher Harper Collins Tackles eBook Piracy

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

harperOne of the key elements leading to ease of piracy is file-size. Since music files are relatively small, unauthorized content can be distributed and accessed using a wide array of methods, from torrents and direct storage sites through instant messaging and humble email.

If music files are small, ebooks definitely share the same kind of characteristics. As a result, ebooks are widely pirated and made available on thousands of sites and services in a wide range of convenient formats. By attacking the problem from a number of different directions, this is something publisher HarperCollins is trying to do something about.

As part of its latest drive, this week the company announced a collaboration with LibreDigital, a leading provider of distribution and fulfillment services for ebook retailers. Together they adopted a new watermarking solution from anti-piracy company Digimarc.

Called Guardian Watermarking for Publishing, the system embeds all but invisible markers into ebooks. Then, Digimarc trawls the web looking for leaked content containing the watermarks. Once found, the anti-piracy company reports the unique identifiers back to Harpercollins who can match them against their own transaction records. This enables the company to identify the source of that material from wherever it occurred in the company’s supply chain.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, HarperCollins said that tracking these pre-consumer leaks provides intelligence to prevent them happening again.

“We have had leaks in the past in the final stages of our supply chain – via isolated instances of early releases by retailers. We therefore intend to be able to track these potential leaks in the future – especially now that our digital supply chain extends to many partners in many markets,” a spokesperson said.

“[The system] empowers us to go back to the source of the problem (ie identify the source) and find solutions to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Of course, pirates are known to attack watermarks by utilizing various methods including transcoding of files. Speaking with TF, Digimarc say their system is up to the challenge.

“The embedded identifiers are designed to survive conversion and manipulation,” a spokesperson said.

Interestingly, HarperCollins are going out of their way to ensure consumers that these watermarks won’t affect their privacy.

“This solution does not facilitate tracing back to the individual purchaser, only to the sales channel through which it was purchased,” a spokesperson explained. “And Digimarc itself stores absolutely no personally identifiable information or purchase information in the implementation of the watermark.”

That’s not to say that consumer leaks aren’t part of the problem though, they are, but HarperCollins says it employs separate strategies for pre and post-consumer piracy.

“Both [types of piracy] merit being addressed and we have different solutions for each. For the supply chain we will watermark; for the end consumer the retailers are applying DRM and we are employing Digimarc to issue takedowns and ensure site compliance – to protect our authors’ content,” the company said.

Like many content companies, HarperCollins regularly sends takedown notices to many websites but those it sends to Google are the most visible. To date the company has sent more than 250,000 to the world’s leading search engine, but what effect has that had on availability?

“The aim of our participation in Google’s copyright removal program is to reduce the visibility and availability of infringing content. The desired effect is clearing illegal download links from its SERP. We believe this to be an effective way to discourage piracy,” the company told TF.

We asked HarperCollins how it would rate Google in terms of anti-piracy cooperation, but the publisher declined to comment. The company also wouldn’t be drawn on how many notices it sends to other search engines and ‘pirate’ sites.

“We do not comment on the amount of notices – but we do want to assure authors that their entire catalog is covered by our work with Digimarc,” they said.

As eBooks continue to gain traction, publishers like HarperCollins will be keen not fall into the same traps as the music industry. It could be argued that actioned properly, takedowns are the most consumer friendly option. And watermarking shouldn’t become too unpopular, as long as it doesn’t extend to identifying the public. DRM, however, is rarely appreciated by the paying public.

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

TorrentFreak: Email: Warner Bros Conspired with New Zealand Over Kim Dotcom Extradition

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

Ever since the raids of 2012, Kim Dotcom has pointed to what he sees as a contract shutdown of Megaupload. Designed by Hollywood and carried out by their partners in the Obama administration and the New Zealand Government, Dotcom claims that his fate was pre-determined and a result of corruption.

One of his claims is that despite the reservations of those in New Zealand’s intelligence departments, Dotcom was allowed to become a resident of the country. This, the entrepreneur says, was carried out to pin him down in a friendly location so that he could be dealt with by the United States.

This morning, at his Moment of Truth event, Dotcom rolled out big guns including journalist Glenn Greenwald, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and even Edward Snowden himself to deliver his “bombshell”. The latter appeared via video links, connections which Dotcom said we’re being run through a new encrypted browser-based platform under development at Mega.

Moment

Much of the discussion centered around the alleged unlawful domestic surveillance of New Zealand citizens by their own Government, but the panel frequently weaved in elements of Dotcom’s own unique situation.

“We share the same prosecutor, so I understand what is going on there, on a very personal level,” Julian Assange said of Dotcom.

“[The United States Government] is trying to apply US law in as many countries as possible, applying their law in New Zealand to coerce and pluck out people to other states,” Assange said.

“When you are able to control their police forces you have succeeded in annexing that country. It’s a problem for me personally and it’s a problem for Kim Dotcom.”

Dotcom’s human rights lawyer Robert Amsterdam spoke at length on the perils of the Trans Pacific Partnership and criticized the New Zealand Government for its treatment of Dotcom.

“What they did [to Kim Dotcom during the 2012 raid] is so beyond the pale that the leader of that democratic government should have resigned on the spot that day,” Amsterdam said.

The event was highly polished and was well received by those in attendance, but failed to deliver on one key front. Dotcom previously said that he would present “absolutely concrete” evidence that Prime Minister John Key knew about him earlier than he had claimed. In the event, nothing remotely of that nature was presented.

However, several hours before the Moment of Truth got off the ground, New Zealand media began reporting that Dotcom would reveal an email at the event, one that would prove that Hollywood had an arrangement with Key to allow Dotcom into the country in order to extradite him to the United States.

The email in question, dated October 27, 2010, was allegedly sent by current Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara to Michael Ellis of the MPA/MPAA.

Tsujihara is one of the Warner executives the company sent to New Zealand in 2010 to deal with a dispute that was putting at risk the filming of the Hobbit movies in the country. During his visit Tsujihara met John Key and the email purports to report on one of those meetings.

“Hi Mike. We had a really good meeting with the Prime Minister. He’s a fan and we’re getting what we came for,” the leaked copy of the email reads.

“Your groundwork in New Zealand is paying off. I see strong support for our anti-piracy effort. John Key told me in private that they are granting Dotcom residency despite pushback from officials about his criminal past. His AG will do everything in his power to assist us with our case. VIP treatment and then a one-way ticket to Virginia.

“This is a game changer. The DOJ is against the Hong Kong option. No confidence in the Chinese. Great job,” the email concludes.

keymail

But while an email of this nature would have indeed warranted a “bombshell” billing, the Moment of Truth concluded without it or any other similar evidence being presented. Even before the event began, Warner Bros were on record describing the email as a fake.

“Kevin Tsujihara did not write or send the alleged email, and he never had any such conversation with Prime Minister Key,” said Paul McGuire, Warner Bros.’ senior vice president for worldwide communications.

“The alleged email is a fabrication,” he added.

The lack of the promised big reveal is fairly dramatic in itself. It’s certainly possible that Dotcom’s team lost confidence and pulled the reveal at the last minute, which would be a wise move if its authenticity was in doubt.

If the email is indeed proven to be a fake, big questions will need to be answered by the person who provided it because up until very recently Dotcom was staking his shirt on it. If it’s genuine, and proving that will be easier said than done now, we’ll definitely hear more as the weeks unfold.

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

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent: Our Users Buy 33% More Music Albums Online

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

bittorrent-crimeBitTorrent Inc, the company behind the successful uTorrent and BitTorrent file-sharing clients, has been making huge efforts in recent times to shed the false image that the company is synonymous with online piracy.

One of the key ways it’s changing this perception is by partnering with well-known artists such as De La Soul, Moby and Madonna, and showing that BitTorrent is an ideal tool to connect artists with fans.

To provide some examples of what it can do, BitTorrent Inc. has made a distribution and advertising deck with success stories. Thus far more than 10,000 artists have used BitTorrent’s bundles, generating over 100 million downloads which convert into real sales.

Slide from BitTorrent’s advertising deck (via Digiday)
bittorrents-pitch-deck

Aside from listing its successes the company also reports some intriguing statistics on the consumer behavior of its community.

On slide 12 BitTorrent Inc. notes that its community is 33% more likely to buy albums online, makes 34% more DVD purchases, watches 34% more movies in theater and is twice as likely to have a paid music subscription.

BitTorrent’s community
community

Because BitTorrent Inc provides no source for the data provided in this last slide we contacted the company last week to find out more. Unfortunately, we haven’t received a response thus far.

However, while writing this article we found that the numbers reported in the pitch deck trace back to one of our own articles. The data reported by BitTorrent Inc. comes from music industry group IFPI and details the buying habits of music pirates. BitTorrent Inc subsequently used these piracy statistics to sell its “community” to potential partners.

This is interesting for a variety of reasons. First, IFPI’s research doesn’t mention BitTorrent users, but file-sharing music pirates in general. Furthermore, since when does BitTorrent see “music pirates” as its community? Perhaps that’s the reason why the source for the data isn’t provided in the pitch deck (IFPI was mentioned as source in an earlier pitch deck).

That said, BitTorrent Inc is right to point out that file-sharers tend to be more engaged fans than the average person. Even the RIAA was willing to admit that.

It’s good to see that more and more artists, including many big names, are beginning to recognize this potential too. Even U2, whose former manager is one of the most vocal anti-piracy crusaders, has now decided to give away its latest album for free hoping that it will increase sales of older work. Without piracy, that would have never happened.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Movie Group Members Set to Face FACT in Court

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

There’s a good case to argue that the UK’s Federation Against Copyright (FACT) Theft is the most aggressive anti-piracy group operating in the West today.

While the MPAA softens its approach and becomes friendly on its home turf, FACT – a unit funded by Hollywood – is acting as a proxy overseas in the United Kingdom.

Later this year FACT will take another private prosecution to a criminal court in the UK. According to a press release issued yesterday, five men will face charges that they coordinated to action the unauthorized online distribution of recently released films.

Other than noting that the men were arrested in 2013, FACT provided no other details and due to legal reasons declined further comment. However, TorrentFreak has been able to confirm the following.

Following an investigation into the “sourcing and supply” of pirated films on the Internet, February last year FACT and police from the economic crime unit targeted four addresses in the West Midlands.

Image from the raid

Raid

Four men, then aged 20, 22, 23 and 31, were arrested on suspicion of offenses committed under the Copyright Act, but exactly who they were was never made public.

However, TF discovered that the men were members of a pair of P2P movie release groups known as 26K and RemixHD, a former admin of UnleashTheNet (the site run by busted US-based release group IMAGiNE) and an individual from torrent site The Resistance.

The image below shows the final movie releases of RemixHD, the last taking place on January 29, 2013. The raids took place on February 1, 2013.

RemixHD

FACT now report that five men, one more than originally reported, will face charges at Wolverhampton Crown Court later this year. While men from the two release groups are set to appear, it is unclear whether the former torrent site admins are still in the frame, although it is possible that FACT are referring to them collectively as a release group.

Aside from the fact that this will be the first time that a release group case has ever gone to court in the UK, the case is notable in two other respects.

Firstly, FACT – not the police – are prosecuting the case. Second, nowhere does FACT mention that the five will face charges of copyright infringement – it appears that the main charge now is conspiracy to defraud.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA: We’re Not Going to Arrest 14 Year Olds, We Educate Them

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

mpaa-logoThree years ago, Hollywood had a dream. That dream centered around new legislation that would deal a body blow to Internet piracy, one that would starve sites of their revenue and seriously cut visitor numbers.

But in early 2012, following a huge backlash from the public and technology sector, the dream turned into a nightmare. SOPA was not only dead and buried, but Hollywood had made new enemies and re-ignited old rivalries too.

In the period since the studios have been working hard to paint the technology sector not as foes, but as vital partners with shared interests common goals. The aggressive rhetoric employed during the SOPA lobbying effort all but disappeared and a refocused, more gentle MPAA inexplicably took its place.

Yesterday, in ongoing efforts to humanize the behind-the-scenes movie making industry as regular people out to make a living, “Beyond the Red Carpet: TV & Movie Magic Day” landed on Capitol Hill.

Among other things, the event aimed to show lawmakers that those involved in the movie making process are not only vital to the economy, but are the real victims when it comes to piracy. The message is laid out in this infographic from the Creative Rights Caucus.

Behind

As co-chair of the caucus, U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. will be hoping to maintain momentum on issues such as tax incentives to keep film production in California, but yesterday the words of MPAA CEO Chris Dodd provided the most food for thought.

In comments to The Wrap, Dodd said that the MPAA is no longer seeking anti-piracy legislation from Congress.

“The world is changing at warp speed. We are not going to legislate or litigate our way out of it,” Dodd said.

For an organization that has spent more than a decade and a half tightening up ‘Internet’ copyright law in its favor, the admission is certainly a notable one, especially when the favored alternatives now include winning hearts and minds through education.

“We are going to innovate our way out by educating people about the hard work of people,” the MPAA CEO said.

“In this space everyone has to contribute to ensure that peoples’ content can be respected. Instead of finger pointing at everybody and arresting 14-year olds, the answer is making our product accessible in as many formats and distributive services as possible at price points they can afford. We are discovering that works.”

This tacit admission, that the industry itself has contributed to the piracy problems it faces today, is an interesting move. Over in Australia content providers and distributors have also been verbalizing the same shortcomings and they too have offered promises to remedy the situation.

But the development of new services doesn’t exist in a vacuum and time and again, across the United States to Europe and beyond, the insistence by Hollywood is that for legal services to flourish, use of pirate sources must be tackled, if not through legislation, by other means.

And here’s the key. Successfully humanizing the industry with lawmakers will provide Hollywood with much-needed momentum to push along its agenda of cooperation with its technology-focused partners.

ISPs will be encouraged to engage fully with the six-strikes “educational” program currently underway across America and advertising companies and big brands will be reminded to further hone their systems to keep revenue away from pirate sites.

But perhaps the more pressing efforts will entail bringing companies like Google on board. Voluntary agreements with the search sector can certainly be influenced by those on Capitol Hill, but with Google’s insistence that Hollywood moves first, by providing content in a convenient manner at a fair price, the ball is back in the movie industry’s court.

Dodd, however, is now promising just that, so things should start to get interesting. And in the meantime the MPAA can continue to fund groups such as the Copyright Alliance, a non-profit which regularly testifies before Congress on copyright and anti-piracy matters and of which the MPAA is a founding member.

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

TorrentFreak: Spotify: Aussie Music Piracy Down 20%

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

spotify-blackSince its launch Spotify always had a very clear goal in mind. Compete with piracy and make it obsolete.

To see how the company is faring on this front Spotify regularly researches piracy rates in countries where they enter the market. Thus far the results have been rather positive.

In 2012 the streaming service entered the Australian market and Spotify’s own research now shows that music piracy via BitTorrent dropped significantly during the following year.

In a keynote speech at the BIGSOUND music conference today, Spotify’s Director of Economics Will Page reveals that the volume of music piracy has decreased 20% between 2012 and 2013. Similarly, the number of people sharing music via BitTorrent in Australia has gone down too.

“It’s exciting to see that we are making inroads into reducing the music piracy problem within such a short space of time in this market,” Page says.

“It shows the scope for superior legal services (offered at an accessible price point) to help improve the climate for copyright online,” he adds.

While the overall volume is down not all pirates are giving up their habit. The research found that it’s mostly the casual file-sharers who stop sharing, while the hard-core pirates remain just as active as before.

Also worth noting is that interest in illegal music downloads pales in comparison to that of other media. The research found that the demand for TV-shows and movies is four times that of music.

Spotify suggests that it’s partly responsible for the drop in music piracy, but doesn’t say to what extent. It’s also not clear how the demand for and volume of other forms of piracy changed in the same time period.

Page sees the drop in music piracy as an encouraging sign, but notes that more has to be done. While Spotify’s Director of Economics doesn’t comment on specific anti-piracy proposals the Government has put forward, he does stress that both carrots and sticks are required to address the issue.

“Let’s be clear, Australia still faces a massive challenge in turning around its much talked about media piracy challenge, and it always has, and always will, take a combination of public policy and superior legal offerings,” page says.

“The downward trend in piracy volume and population suggests superior music legal services like Spotify are making a positive impact, and this has proven to be the case in Scandinavia, but it will take both carrots and sticks to turn the market around.”

The research seems to suggest that services like Spotify are reasonably good carrots, but what the sticks look like will have to become clear in the months to come.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Internet Provider Refuses to Expose Alleged Pirates

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

grande_communicationsThere are many ways copyright holders approach today’s “online piracy problem.”

Some prefer to do it through innovation, while others prefer educational messages, warnings or even lawsuits. Another group is aiming to generate revenue by obtaining lots of small cash settlements.

Rightscorp has chosen the latter model but unlike traditional copyright trolls it uses the DMCA to reach its goal. On behalf of copyright holders such as Warner Bros. they send DMCA notices with a settlement offer to ISPs, who then forward them to their customers.

Not all ISPs are cooperating with this scheme, but for this problem Rightscorp also found a solution. In recent months the company has requested more than 100 DMCA subpoenas, asking smaller ISPs to identify hundreds or thousands of alleged pirates.

These DMCA subpoenas bypass the judge and only have to be signed off by a court clerk. In other words, Rightscorp uses an uncommon shortcut to cheaply and quickly expose the alleged pirates, and nearly all of the ISPs happily complied.

The Texas ISP Grande Communications also received a signed subpoena in the mailbox, listing 30,000 IP-addresses/timestamp combinations of alleged pirates. However, Grande informed the court that it refuses to identify its account holders. Among other things, it argues that Rightscorp abuses the Court’s subpoena power.

“The Subpoena is part of an ongoing campaign by Rightscorp to harvest ‘settlements’ from Internet subscribers (who may or may not have been the users of their accounts at the times and dates in question) located across the nation through an abuse of the subpoena power of the federal courts in California,” Grande’s lawyer writes.

The Internet provider further notes that the anti-piracy company is only issuing these subpoenas to smaller regional ISPs as these are less likely to fight back.

“As can be seen from the PACER listing, Rightscorp has avoided sending subpoenas to any of the national ISPs (such as Verizon, AT&T, or Comcast), but instead has sent subpoenas to regional ISPs in various locations around the nation,” Grande writes.

“Presumably, Rightscorp is hoping that the regional ISPs, with smaller in-house legal departments, will be likely to simply comply with its subpoenas, especially given that those subpoenas bear the signature of the Clerk of the Court.”

Grande then goes on to state that jurisprudence has long-established that DMCA subpoenas can’t be used to identify file-sharers. Instead, Rightscorp should file a copyright infringement lawsuit as many other copyright holders have, so that a judge can properly review the evidence and arguments.

The ISP believes that Rightscorp is trying to bypass the scrutiny of a judge in order to avoid due process from taking place. This should not be allowed and Grande therefore asks the court to quash the subpoena.

“Rightscorp’s purpose in improperly issuing subpoenas under [the DMCA] is clear: to avoid judicial review of the litany of issues that would arise in seeking the requisite authorization from a court for the discovery of the sought-after information, including issues relating to joinder, personal jurisdiction, and venue.”

“In similar contexts and in no uncertain terms, the courts have stated that bypassing procedural rights of individual subscribers in order to harvest personal information en masse from a single proceeding will not be tolerated,” Grande adds.

When we covered Rightscorp’s use of DMCA subpoenas earlier this year, several legal experts indeed said that DMCA subpoenas are not allowed in file-sharing cases. This was decided in a case between Verizon and the RIAA more than a decade ago, and has been upheld in subsequent cases.

Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec disagreed, however, and he told TorrentFreak that the court made the wrong decision in the RIAA case. According to Sabec the verdict won’t hold up at the Supreme Court, so they’re ignoring it.

“The [RIAA vs. Verizon] Court case used flawed reasoning in concluding that an ISP such as Verizon is not a ‘Service Provider’ even though it clearly meets the definition laid out in the statute,” Sabec said.

“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,” he added.

Whether Rightscorp is indeed willing to fight this up to the Supreme Court has yet to be seen. For now, however, the alleged pirates are safe at Grande Communications.

It’s worth noting that Grande only has 140,000 customers. The 30,000 IP-address and timestamp combinations appear to include many duplicate entries, so the total number of affected subscribers is likely to be only a fraction of that number.

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

TorrentFreak: BBC: ISPs Should Assume Heavy VPN Users are Pirates

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

bbcAfter cutting its teeth as a domestic broadcaster, the BBC is spreading its products all around the globe. Shows like Top Gear have done extremely well overseas and the trend of exploiting other shows in multiple territories is set to continue.

As a result the BBC is now getting involved in the copyright debates of other countries, notably Australia, where it operates four subscription channels. Following submissions from Hollywood interests and local ISPs, BBC Worldwide has now presented its own to the Federal Government. Its text shows that the corporation wants new anti-piracy measures to go further than ever before.

The BBC begins by indicating a preference for a co-operative scheme, one in which content owners and ISPs share responsibility to “reduce and eliminate” online copyright infringement. Educating consumers on both the impact of piracy and where content can be obtained legally online would be supported by improved availability of official offerings.

After providing general piracy statistics, the BBC turn to the recent leaking of the new series of Doctor Who to file-sharing networks which acted “as a spoiler” to the official global TV premiere.

“Despite the BBC dedicating considerable resources to taking down and blocking access to these Doctor Who materials, there were almost 13,000 download attempts of these materials from Australian IP addresses in the period between their unauthorized access and the expiration of the usual catch-up windows,” the BBC write.

So what can be done?

In common with all rightsholder submissions so far, the BBC wants to put pressure on ISPs to deal with their errant subscribers via a graduated response scheme of educational messages backed up by punitive measures for the most persistent of infringers.

“ISPs should warn any alleged copyright infringers through a graduated notification system that what they are doing is illegal and, at the same time, educate them about the law, the importance of copyright to funding content and services they enjoy and where they can access the material they want legally. However. if the consumers do not abide by the notifications then more serious action may need to be taken,” the BBC note.

Those sanctions could lead to a throttling of a users’ Internet connection but should not normally lead to a complete disconnection. However, the BBC doesn’t rule that out, adding that such measures could be employed “in the most serious and egregious circumstances, as is the case in the United States.”

While little in the foregoing presents much of a surprise, the BBC goes further than any other rightsholder submission thus far in suggesting that ISPs should not only forward notices, but also spy on their customers’ Internet usage habits.

VPNs are pirate tools

“Since the evolution of peer-to-peer software protocols to incorporate decentralized architectures, which has allowed users to download content from numerous host computers, the detection and prosecution of copyright violations has become a complex task. This situation is further amplified by the adoption of virtual private networks (VPNs) and proxy servers by some users, allowing them to circumvent geo-blocking technologies and further evade detection,” the BBC explain.

“It is reasonable for ISPs to be placed under an obligation to identify user behavior that is ‘suspicious’ and indicative of a user engaging in conduct that infringes copyright. Such behavior may include the illegitimate use by Internet users of IP obfuscation tools in combination with high download volumes.”

While the BBC goes on to state that “false positives” would need to be avoided in order to “safeguard the fundamental rights of consumers”, none of this will sit well with Internet service providers or the public. Throwing around accusations of illegal activity based on the existence of an encrypted tunnel and high bandwidth consumption is several steps beyond anything suggested before.

Site blocking

The BBC says it supports the blocking of overseas infringing sites at the ISP level after obtaining a court injunction. Of interest is a proposal to use a system which allows for injunctions to be modified after being issued in order to deal with sites finding ways to circumvent bans.

“It is important to have the ability to get existing injunctions varied by the court when defendants reappear in different guises, a useful tool in the United Kingdom,” the BBC writes.

Who foots the bill?

Who pays for all of the above has been the major sticking point in all Australian negotiations thus far. The ISPs largely believe they shouldn’t have to pay for anything, but most rightsholders – the BBC included – think that the costs need to be shared.

“In light of the fact that a large inducement for internet users to become customers of ISPs is to gain access to content (whether legally or illegally), it is paramount that ISPs are required to take an active role in preventing and fighting online copyright infringement by establishing and contributing meaningfully to the cost of administering some form of graduated response scheme,” the BBC concludes.

Earlier submissions from Hollywood, ISPs and tech companies can be found here (1), (2), (3)

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

TorrentFreak: Dutch Movie Industry Wants to Monitor and Warn Pirates

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

stop-blockedIn recent years the movie industry has been pushing hard for voluntary agreements aimed at targeting online piracy.

This has resulted in arrangements with Internet providers in several countries including the United States and the UK, where unauthorized file-sharers are monitored and warned.

The Dutch movie industry is now calling for a similar scheme. Traditionally the Netherlands has been one of the countries with the highest piracy rates, and without any sign of improvement the movie industry wants to take action.

“Consumers should be educated. They must understand that it’s not allowed,” says René van Turnhout, director of film distributor Dutch Filmworks and chairman of trade association NVPI Video.

The Dutch film industry is calling for a warning system modeled after the British VCAP initiative. This means that accused pirates are sent a series of warning letters, but without any punishments.

While an agreement with ISPs is still miles away Van Turnhout already has a suggestion for what the letters should look like. Aside from alerting pirates to their unauthorized behavior, the notice should include links to legal alternatives.

“We’ve found that you have tried to view films from illegal sources. Filmmakers also have to earn money to make a living. We refer you to the following legal alternatives,” is what the letter could read, according to Van Turnhout.

Just how popular movie piracy is in the Netherlands became apparent last week when Popcorn Time revealed that its application is installed on 1.3 million devices there, trailing only behind the United States but with a population of less than 17 million people.

Convincing Dutch ISPs to participate is going to be quite a challenge though. Traditionally they have been very cautious when it comes to anti-piracy measures. Earlier this year ISPs successfully appealed the local Pirate Bay blockade, which they deemed to be ineffective and in violation the their customers’ rights.

The Dutch proposal is in line with increased calls for warning systems around the globe. Among other countries, Australia is also looking into it. Last week local ISPs said there’s no evidence that these schemes are effective, but that they would be willing to consider one if the Government desires.

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

TorrentFreak: Oh No! Web Sheriff Targets ‘Pirating’ Reddit Users

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

sheriff1The Web Sheriff, aka John Giacobbi, has been protecting the Internet from pirates for roughly a decade.

In the early days he became somewhat of a cult figure thanks to his polite style and trademarked letterhead. This set him apart from other anti-piracy crusaders who usually sent DMCA takedown requests with a more aggressive lawyer-like style.

The Sheriff once had a lively discussion with The Pirate Bay folks, who then sent him this invoice fax. Not much later relationships deteriorated even further after Giacobbi announced he would sue the site’s operators in the US, France and Sweden, but not much came of that.

In recent years things have quietened down a bit, but The Web Sheriff and his deputies are still active. In recent years they have taken down over half a million URLs from Google alone. Most recently, the Sheriff has been targeting several Reddit.com pages.

In one of the most recent complaints the Sheriff demands the takedown of a submission in the r/megalinks subreddit, linking to two parts of the movie Nymphomaniac hosted on Mega.co.nz.

reddit-websher

The request for removal was sent to Google last week but the search engine decided not to remove the URLs. It’s unclear why, but one reason for the inaction may be that the Mega links are no longer active.

Not all links reported by the Web Sheriff are “infringing” though. Another recent submission shows that he also tried to get this submission take down, which points to a perfectly legitimate news article from Variety.

redd2

This year copyright holders have increasingly targeted allegedly infringing Reddit links, Google’s data shows. The Web Sheriff is currently ranked second in number of URLs sent, placed after LeakID and before Disney.

Even the MPAA went after Reddit a few weeks ago. The Hollywood group tried to take down the subreddit r/fulllengthfilms, but failed and drove hundreds of thousands of eyeballs to the page instead.

Thus far the Web Sheriff hasn’t booked any real successs either, but Reddit users are warned. The Sheriff is watching and will shoot down your submissions whenever he can.

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

TorrentFreak: Google, Facebook & Microsoft Reject Anti-Piracy Proposals

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

google-bayAs more of the submissions to the Australian Federal Government’s call for input on online copyright infringement are published, it’s becoming clear that the move and movie industries have a battle on their hands.

Hollywood in particular is seeking a tightening of the law which would hold ISPs more responsible for the actions of their users, while introducing a graduated response to deal with persistent domestic file-sharers.

Still can’t agree

In 2012, movie and recording companies fought a bloody battle with tech companies over SOPA in the United States but more than two years on its evident that the divide over what should be done about piracy is as wide as ever.

In a submission to the Government, a group of tech companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay, Samsung, Motorola and BT largely oppose the wish-list of the entertainment industries.

Mirroring the tendency of Hollywood to state how important its members are to the economy, the Computer & Communications Industry Association begin by stating that its members employ more than 600,000 workers who generate more than $200 billion in revenue.

Launching its key observations, CCIA say that rather than pushing for the introduction of a so-called graduated response scheme, policy makers could achieve better results by focusing on the issues that encourage people to pirate in the first place.

No graduated response: provide content in a timely manner at a fair price

The group describes “high prices” and a “lack of availability of lawful content” as key domestic and international market barriers for consuming online content. But the problems don’t end there.

“Naturally, from this follows that access to on-demand/online content across territories becomes even more cumbersome and restrictive due to territorial copyright restrictions, licensing conduct, geo-blocking, price discrimination holdback and windowing,” CCIA explains.

Noting that there is “an inverted relationship” between lawful and unlawful access to content, the tech group underlines their point with a quote from Kevin Spacey.

“Audience wants the freedom.. they want control…give consumers what they want, when they want it and in the format they want it and at reasonable price,” they write.

Don’t believe their lies

A couple of points raised by the CCIA will sting their entertainment industry adversaries more than most. Noting that there “is little or no evidence” that graduated response schemes are successful (but plenty to the contrary), enforcement policies should be based only on facts, not on the claims of those determined to introduce them.

“It is also absolutely essential that enforcement debate and policy is not based on manufactured claims, exaggerations and deceptions that will in the long run risk resulting in a negative public sentiment concerning intellectual property,” CCIA writes.

“Empirical data on the impact of copyright infringement over the last two decades is deeply contested and in some cases to such a level that it is
being ridiculed. This is a highly undesirable development for the perception of copyright and by extension intellectual property in general by the broader public.”

Copyright is a “moral hazard”

In another interesting statement the CCIA suggest that when supported by legislation, companies will fall back on that to maintain business models that are no longer viable.

“Economists have expressed concerns that copyright has a moral hazard effect on incumbent creative firms, by encouraging them to rely on enforcement of the law rather than adopt new technologies and business models to deal with new technologies,” the tech firms continue.

“Hence, enforcement should not become a tool to protect businesses from competition, changing business realities and changes in consumer exactions, hereby allowing them to continue to hold on to outdated business models.”

Conclusion

Summing up, CCIA director Jakob Kucharczyk says that any new scheme should employ a “holistic end-to-end approach” and be coupled with efforts by content providers to give customers the content they need at a fair price.

On the issue of ISPs, the CCIA is clear. There must be a level playing field, legal protection from liability must be enshrined in law, and rightsholders must be held responsible for their actions when making allegations of infringement.

“If all parties are willing to look at equitable, cooperative programs that include a focus on the key issues outlined above, we believe that a better, more balanced and more effective outcome is achievable than that which is likely to result from the Government’s present proposals,” Kucharczyk concludes.

How the conflicting approaches of the technology companies, ISPs and the entertainment industries can ever be reconciled will be a topic for heated debate in the coming months, not only in Australia, but across the world.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Outfit Denies DDoS’ing Anime Sites

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

animeDistributed Denial of Service or DDoS attacks are a relatively common occurrence in the file-sharing community and something that many sites are subjected to throughout the course of a year. They disrupt service and can often cost money to mitigate.

Those carrying out the attacks have a variety of motives, from extortion and blackmail to “the lulz“, and a dozen reasons in between. Often the reasons are never discovered.

During the past few days several sites involved in the unauthorized sharing of anime have been targeted by DDoS-style attacks. Swaps24 reported that Haruhichan, Tokyo Toshokan and AnimeTake were under assault from assailants unknown, although all now appear to be back online.

A far more serious situation has played out at NYAA.se, however. The site is probably the largest public dedicated anime torrent index around and after being hit with an attack last weekend it remains offline today. The attack on NYAA had wider effects too.

NYAA and leading fan-subbing site HorribleSubs reportedly shared the same hosting infrastructure so the DDoS attack took down both sites. That’s significant, not least since at the end of August HorribleSubs reported that their titles had been downloaded half a billion times.

horrible1

As the image above shows it now appears that HorribleSubs has recovered (and added torrent magnet links) but the same cannot be said about NYAA. The site’s extended downtime continues with no apparent end in sight. This has resulted in a backlash from the site’s fans and somewhat inevitably accusatory fingers are being pointed at potential DDoS suspects.

As far-fetched as it might sound, one of the early suspects was the Japanese government itself. The launch of a brand new anti-piracy campaign last month in partnership with 15 producers certainly provided a motive, but a nation carrying out this kind of assault seems unlikely in the extreme.

Quickly, however, an announcement from HorribleSubs turned attentions elsewhere.

horriblesubs

“Chill down. It’s not just us. Every famous anime sites [are] getting DDoS attacks, but that doesn’t mean this is the end,” the site’s operator wrote on Facebook.

“We have located where DDoS are coming from. It’s from ‪#‎Crunchyroll‬ and ‪#‎Funimation‬ Employees.”

Funimation is an US television and film production company best known for its distribution of anime while Crunchyroll is a website and community focused on, among other things, Asian anime and manga. While both could at least have a motive to carry out a DDoS, no evidence has been produced to back up the HorribleSubs claims. That said, HorribleSubs admits that its key motivation is to annoy Crunchyroll.

“We do not translate our own shows because we rip from Crunchyroll, FUNimation, Hulu, The Anime Network, Niconico, and Daisuki,” the site’s about page reads, adding: “We aren’t doing this for e-penis but for the sole reason of pissing off Crunchyroll.”

Shortly after, attention turned to anti-piracy outfit Remove Your Media (RYM). The company works with anime companies Funimation and Viz Media, which includes the sending of millions of DMCA notices to Google. The spark came when the company published a tweet (now removed) which threatened to send “thousands” of warning letters to NYAA users once the site was back online.

RYM

This doesn’t seem like an idle threat. A few weeks ago the company posted a screenshot on Twitter containing an unredacted list of Comcast, Charter and CenturyLink IP addresses said to have been monitored infringing copyright. Due to the NYAA downtime, RYM later indicated it had switched to warning users of Kickass.to.

This involvement with anime companies combined with the warning notice statement led to DDoS accusations being directed at RYM. TorrentFreak spoke to the company’s Eric Green and asked if they knew anything about the attacks.

“The short answer is No. In fact we were waiting for [NYAA] to go back
online to begin monitoring illegal transfers again. Sorry to disappoint but we
had no involvement,” Green told TF.

Just a couple of hours ago RYM made a new announcement on Twitter, stating that the original tweet had been removed due to false accusations.

“Nyaa post deleted due to all the Ddos libel directed at this account. Infringement notices continue to ISPs, for piracy, regardless of tracker,” they conclude.

Although it’s impossible to say who is behind the attacks, it does seem improbable that an anti-piracy company getting paid to send notices would do something that is a) seriously illegal and b) counter-productive to getting paid for sending notices.

That said, it seems likely that someone who doesn’t appreciate unofficial anime sites operating smoothly is behind the attack. Who that might be will remain a mystery, at least for now.

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

TorrentFreak: Record Labels Take Down Kim Dotcom’s Official Album… From Mega

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

goodtimesMega, the cloud hosting service founded by Kim Dotcom, has been growing steadily since its spectacular launch last year.

Considering the controversial reputation of its predecessor Megaupload, copyright holders have been keeping a close eye on the site. Thus far, however, the number of takedown requests received by the company has been relatively small.

Perhaps not completely unexpectedly, among the takedown requests that do come in are many that wrongfully request the takedown of perfectly legitimate files. This was illustrated earlier this week when Kim Dotcom’s official album Good Times was removed following a complaint.

The album was released by Dotcom earlier this year and he has been sharing it via his website ever since. The link in question points to Mega where people can download it for free, but a few days ago it suddenly disappeared.

megadown

To find out why the album was removed we contacted Mega for an explanation. The company informed us that music industry group IFPI requested the removal of Dotcom’s album through a takedown request sent on September 1.

Representing the major record labels, IFPI claimed that the link infringed on the copyrights of one of their artists. IFPI listed several musicians but Kim Dotcom was not one of them.

“It’s clearly an incorrect takedown request,” Mega’s Chief Compliance Officer Stephan Hall tells us.

ifpitakedown

TorrentFreak also contacted Kim Dotcom, who asked Mega to reinstate the album, which they did. All in all the album was unavailable for about a day.

While a mistake is easily made, this is not the first time that IFPI has tried to remove Dotcom’s album from Mega. A similar request was sent on August 18, this time claiming that it was a copyright infringement of Kimbra’s “The Golden Echo.”

IFPI’s actions have been sloppy, to say the least, and Mega’s Chief Compliance Officer has little faith in the accuracy of the music group’s other takedown requests.

“This is an indication that someone at the IFPI is not doing their homework and that their takedown notices in general cannot be trusted,” Hall tells TorrentFreak.

Unfortunately these kind of mistakes are not an isolated incident. For example, before Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload was shutdown early 2012 the site received many erroneous takedown notices.

“During the Megaupload days over 20% of all takedown notices were bogus,” Dotcom told us previously.

“We analyzed big samples of notices and most were automated keyword based takedowns that affected a lot of legitimate files. The abuse of the takedown system is so severe that no service provider can rely on takedown notices for a fair repeat infringer policy.”

A policy to punish copyright holders who make repeated mistakes, on the other hand, might be worth considering.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Govt. Warns Google, Microsoft & Yahoo Over Piracy

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

Developments over the past 12 months have sent the clearest message yet that the UK government is not only prepared to morally support the creative industries, but also spend public money on anti-piracy enforcement.

The government-funded City of London Intellectual Property Crime Unit is definitely showing no signs of losing interest, carrying out yet another arrest yesterday morning on behalf of video rightsholders. In the afternoon during the BPI’s Annual General Meeting in London, the unit was being praised by both government officials and a music sector also keen to bring piracy under control.

“We’ve given £2.5 million to support the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, PIPCU,” Culture Secretary Sajid Javid told those in attendance.

“The first unit of its kind in the world, PIPCU is working with industry groups – including the BPI – on the Infringing Websites List. The list identifies sites that deliberately and consistently breach copyright, so brand owners can avoid advertising on them.”

Referencing rampant online piracy, Javid said that no industry or government could stand by and let “massive, industrial scale” levels of infringement continue.

“I know some people say the IP genie is out of the bottle and that no amount of wishing will force it back in. But I don’t agree with them,” he said.

“We don’t look at any other crimes and say ‘It’s such a big problem that it’s not worth bothering with.’ We wouldn’t stand idly by if paintings worth hundreds of millions of pounds were being stolen from the National Gallery.Copyright infringement is theft, pure and simple. And it’s vital we try to reduce it.”

Going on to detail the Creative Content initiative which the government is supporting to the tune of £3.5m, Javid said the system would deliver a “robust, fair and effective enforcement regime”.

But that, however, is only one part of the puzzle. Infringing sites need to be dealt with, directly and by other means, he added.

“Copyright crooks don’t love music. They love money, and they’ve been attracted to the industry solely by its potential to make them rich. Take away their profits and you take away their reason for being. Of course, it’s not just up to the government and music industry to deal with this issue,” he noted.

Putting search engines on notice, the MP said that they have an important role to play.

“They must step up and show willing. That’s why [Business Secretary] Vince Cable and I have written to Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, asking them to work with [the music industry] to stop search results sending people to illegal sites,” Javid said.

“And let me be perfectly clear: if we don’t see real progress, we will be looking at a legislative approach. In the words of [Beggars Group chairman] Martin Mills, ‘technology companies should be the partners of rights companies, not their masters’.”

The Culture Secretary said that when it comes to tackling piracy, the government, music industry and tech companies are “three sides of the same triangle.” But despite that expectation of togetherness, only time will tell if the search engines agree to the point of taking voluntary action to support it.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police Make Third ‘Pirate’ Streaming Arrest

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

cityoflondonpoliceSet up in the summer of 2013, the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit has quickly grown to become one of the world’s most active anti-piracy operations.

The unit employs a wide range of strategies, from writing to domain registrars and threatening them, to working with advertisers in order to strangle the revenues of ‘pirate’ sites.

PIPCU also relies on old-fashioned police work to deal with sites that fail to heed their warnings to tow the line. This has resulted in several arrests in the UK and the closure of dozens of domains, torrent site proxies in particular.

With key partner the Federation Against Copyright Theft and its members including the Premier League and BSkyB, piracy of TV-destined content has become an area of interest to PIPCU, particularly that involving live sports.

Early Monday, more than 200 miles away from their London base, officers from PIPCU arrested a man in Manchester in the north of England. Police say the 27-year-old is believed to have operated a series of websites which offered access to subscription-only TV services.

PIPCU say that the domains were sports-focused, so given the premium pay TV landscape in the UK it seems probable that they infringed the rights of BSkyB and possibly the Premier League. Police are yet to confirm the details.

While there are no figures available on site visitor numbers, police are using the term “industrial” to explain the size of the operation they shut down yesterday. A reported 12 computer servers streaming global sports were reportedly seized and their operator taken to a local police station for questioning.

“Today’s operation is the unit’s third arrest in relation to online streaming and sends out a strong message that we are homing in on those who knowingly commit or facilitate online copyright infringement,” said PIPCU chief DCI Danny Medlycott last evening.

“Not only is there a significant loss to industry with this particular operation but it is also unfair that millions of people work hard to be able to afford to pay for their subscription-only TV services when others cheat the system.”

PIPCU have not released the names of the sites in question so it’s impossible to assess their significance at this point. However, police are often quick to seize the domains of sites they close down so it’s expected that signs of that will begin to surface during the next few days enabling a more detailed assessment of the shutdown.

As pointed out by DCI Medlycott, yesterday’s arrest is the third involving a streaming site operator in the UK. Although the sites were not revealed by police at the time, TorrentFreak previously revealed that the operator of BoxingGuru.co.uk, boxingguru.eu, boxingguru.tv and nutjob.eu was arrested during April in the north of England.

In May, PIPCU had the domain of the Cricfree.tv streaming portal suspended but its operator was able to bring the site back under a new domain.

Yesterday’s arrest appears to be PIPCU’s first since the arrest of a UK-based torrent site proxy operator in early August.

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

TorrentFreak: ISP Alliance Accepts Piracy Crackdown, With Limits

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

us-ausFollowing last week’s leaked draft from Hollywood, Aussie ISPs including Telstra, iiNet and Optus have published their submission in response to a request by Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

While the movie industry’s anti-piracy proposal demonstrates a desire to put ISPs under pressure in respect of their pirating customers, it comes as no surprise that their trade group, the Communications Alliance, has other things in mind.

The studios would like to see a change in copyright law to remove service providers’ safe harbor if they even suspect infringement is taking place on their networks but fail to take action, but the ISPs reject that.

ISP liability

“We urge careful consideration of the proposal to extend the authorization liability within the Copyright Act, because such an amendment has the potential to capture many other entities, including schools, universities, internet cafes, retailers, libraries and cloud-based services in ways that may hamper their legitimate activities and disadvantage consumers,” they write.

But while the ISPs are clear they don’t want to be held legally liable for customer piracy, they have given the clearest indication yet that they are in support of a piracy crackdown involving subscribers. Whether one would work is up for debate, however.

Graduated response

“[T]here is little or no evidence to date that [graduated response] schemes are successful, but no shortage of examples where such schemes have been
distinctly unsuccessful. Nonetheless, Communications Alliance remains willing to engage in good faith discussions with rights holders, with a view to agreeing on a scheme to address online copyright infringement, if the Government maintains that such a scheme is desirable,” they write.

If such as scheme could be agreed on, the ISPs say it would be a notice-and-notice system that didn’t carry the threat of ISP-imposed customer sanctions.

“Communications Alliance notes and supports the Government’s expectation, expressed in the paper that an industry scheme, if agreed, should not provide for the interruption of a subscriber’s internet access,” they note.

However, the appointment of a “judicial/regulatory /arbitration body” with the power to apply “meaningful sanctions” to repeat infringers is supported by the ISPs, but what those sanctions might be remains a mystery.

On the thorny issue of costs the ISPs say that the rightsholders must pay for everything. Interestingly, they turn the copyright holders’ claims of huge piracy losses against them, by stating that if just two-thirds of casual infringers change their ways, the video industry alone stands to generate AUS$420m (US$392) per year. On this basis they can easily afford to pay, the ISPs say.

Site blocking

While warning of potential pitfalls and inadvertent censorship, the Communications Alliance accepts that done properly, the blocking of ‘pirate’ sites could help to address online piracy.

“Although site blocking is a relatively blunt instrument and has its share of weaknesses and limitations, we believe that an appropriately structured and safeguarded injunctive relief scheme could play an important role in addressing online copyright infringement in Australia,” the Alliance writes.

One area in which the ISPs agree with the movie studios is in respect of ISP “knowledge” of infringement taking place in order for courts to order a block. The system currently employed in Ireland, where knowledge is not required, is favored by both parties, but the ISPs insist that the copyright holders should pick up the bill, from court procedures to putting the blocks in place.

The Alliance also has some additional conditions. The ISPs say they are only prepared to block “clearly, flagrantly and totally infringing websites” that exist outside Australia, and only those which use piracy as their main source of revenue.

Follow the Money

Pointing to the project currently underway in the UK coordinated by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, the Communications Alliance says that regardless of the outcome on blocking, a “follow the money” approach should be employed against ‘pirate’ sites. This is something they already have an eye on.

“Some ISP members of Communications Alliance already have policies in place which prevent any of their advertising spend being directed to sites that promote or facilitate improper file sharing. Discussions are underway as to whether a united approach could be adopted by ISPs whereby the industry generally agrees on measures or policies to ensure the relevant websites do not benefit from any of the industry’s advertising revenues,” the ISPs note.

Better access to legal content

The Communications Alliance adds that rightsholders need to do more to serve their customers, noting that improved access to affordable content combined with public education on where to find it is required.

“We believe that for any scheme designed to address online copyright infringement to be sustainable it must also stimulate innovation by growing the digital content market, so Australians can continue to access and enjoy new and emerging content, devices and technologies.

“The ISP members of Communications Alliance remain willing to work toward an approach that balances the interests of all stakeholders, including consumers,” they conclude.

Conclusion

While some harmonies exist, the submissions from the movie studios and ISPs carry significant points of contention, with each having the power to completely stall negotiations. With legislative change hanging in the air, both sides will be keen to safeguard their interests on the key issues, ISP liability especially.

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

TorrentFreak: Patent Allows Watermarking of Already Encrypted Movies

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

encryptionWhile the name Verance might not be particularly well known, the company’s anti-piracy technology is present in millions of DVD and Blu-ray players and the media they play.

Every licensed Blu-ray playback device since 2012 has supported the technology which is designed to limit the usefulness of pirated content. Illicit copies of movies protected by Cinavia work at first, but after a few minutes playback is halted and replaced by a warning notice.

This is achieved by a complex watermarking system that not only protects retail media but also illicit recordings of first-run movies. Now Verance has been awarded a patent for a new watermarking system with fresh aims in mind.

The patent, ‘Watermarking in an encrypted domain’, begins with a description of how encryption can protect multimedia content from piracy during storage or while being transported from one location to another.

“The encrypted content may be securely broadcast over the air, through the Internet, over cable networks, over wireless networks, distributed via storage media, or disseminated through other means with little concern about piracy of the content,” Verance begins.

Levels of security vary, Verance explains, depending on the strength of encryption algorithms and encryption key management. However, at some point content needs to be decrypted in order for it to be processed or consumed, and at this point it is vulnerable to piracy and distribution.

“This is particularly true for multimedia content that must inevitably be converted to audio and/or visual signals (e.g., analog format) in order to reach an audience,” Verance explain.

While the company notes that at this stage content is vulnerable to copying, solutions are available to help protect against what it describes as the “analog hole”. As the creator of Cinavia, it’s no surprise Verance promotes watermarking.

“Digital watermarking is typically referred to as the insertion of auxiliary information bits into a host signal without producing perceptible artifacts,” Verance explains.

In other words, content watermarked effectively will carry such marks regardless of further distribution, copying techniques, or deliberate attacks designed to remove them. Cinavia is one such example, the company notes.

However, Verance admits that watermarking has limitations. In a supply chain, for example, the need to watermark already encrypted content can trigger time-intensive operations. For this, the company says it has a solution.

Verance has come up with a system with the ability to insert watermarks into content that has already been compressed and encrypted, without the need for decryption, decompression, or subsequent re-compression and re-encryption.

In terms of an application, Verance describes an example workflow in which movie content could be watermarked and then encrypted in order to protect it during distribution. The system has the ability to further watermark encrypted content as it passes through various supply chain stages and locations without compromising its security.

“In a forensic tracking application, a digital movie, after appropriate post production processing, may be encrypted at the movie studio or post production house, and sent out for distribution to movie theaters, to on-line retailers, or directly to the consumer,” Verance explains.

“In such applications, it is often desired to insert forensic or transactional watermarks into the movie content to identify each entity or node in the distribution channel, including the purchasers of the content, the various distributors of the content, the presentation venue and the time/date/location of each presentation or purchase.”

Verance believes that being able to track distribution points, sales locations such as movie theaters or stores, and even end users will be a big plus to adopters. Those up to the complex analysis can see how the company intends to work its magic by viewing its extremely technical and lengthy patent.

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

TorrentFreak: “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Warnings Double This Year

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

pirate-runningFebruary last year, five U.S. Internet providers started sending Copyright Alerts to customers who use BitTorrent to pirate movies, TV-shows and music.

These efforts are part of the Copyright Alert System, an anti-piracy plan that aims to educate the public. Through a series of warnings suspected pirates are informed that their connections are being used to share copyrighted material without permission, and told where they can find legal alternatives.

During the first ten months of the program more than more than 1.3 million anti-piracy alerts were sent out. That was just a ramp up phase though. This year the number of alerts will grow significantly.

“The program doubles in size this year,” says Jill Lesser, Executive Director of the overseeing Center for Copyright Information (CCI).

Lesser joined a panel at the Technology Policy Institute’s Aspen Forum where the Copyright Alert System was the main topic of discussion. While the media has focused a lot on the punishment side, Lesser notes that the main goal is to change people’s norms and regain their respect for copyright.

“The real goal here is to shift social norms and behavior. And to almost rejuvenate the notion of the value of copyright that existed in the world of books and vinyl records,” Lesser said.

The notifications are a “slap on the wrist” according to Lesser, but one which is paired with information explaining where people can get content legally.

In addition to sending more notices, the CCI will also consider adding more copyright holders and ISPs to the mix. Thus far the software and book industries have been left out, for example, and the same is true for smaller Internet providers.

“We’ve had lots of requests from content owners in other industries and ISPs to join, and how we do that is I think going to be a question for the year coming up,” Lesser noted.

Also present at the panel was Professor Chris Sprigman, who noted that the piracy problem is often exaggerated by copyright holders. Among other things, he gave various examples of how creative output has grown in recent years.

“This problem has been blown up into something it’s not. Do I like piracy? Not particularly. Do I think it’s a threat to our creative economy? Not in any area that I’ve seen,” Sprigman noted.

According to the professor the Copyright Alert System is very mild and incredible easy to evade, which is a good thing in his book.

The professor believes that it’s targeted at casual pirates, telling them that they are being watched. This may cause some to sign up for a VPN or proxy, but others may in fact change their behavior in the long run.

“Do I think that this is a solution to the piracy problem. No. But I think this is a way of reducing the size of it over time, possibly changing social norms over time. That could be productive. Not perfect but an admirable attempt,” Sprigman said.

Just how effective this attempt will be at changing people’s piracy habits is something that has yet to be seen.

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

TorrentFreak: Four ISPs Sued For Failing To Block Pirate Movie Sites

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

pirate-cardFavorable rulings in both the European Court of Justice and the local Supreme Court earlier this year gave Austrian anti-piracy groups the power they needed to move forward on site-blocking.

What transpired was an attack from two directions. The first involved VAP, the anti-piracy association of the Austrian film and video industry. The second was launched by the local branch of IFPI, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

In late July, VAP wrote to UPC, Drei, Tele2 and A1 with a request for the ISPs to block ThePirateBay.se plus streaming sites Movie4K.to and Kinox.to. Days later in a letter dated August 4, the IFPI asked five local ISPs to block access to four torrent sites – ThePirateBay,se, isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to.

Unfortunately for VAP and the IFPI, the ISPs were going to need more than just a letter to begin censoring the Internet. By mid August, with their deadlines expired, none had initiated blockades. That led to threats of lawsuits from both anti-piracy groups.

With August now drawing to a close, VAP has made good on its word. CEO Werner Müller confirmed to German media that his organization has now sued four Austrian ISPs. Müller would not be drawn on their names, but DerStandard spoke with UPC and A1 who both confirmed receiving letters.

“[The decision on blocking] should be left to the judgment of a judge, since in a specific case the rights of Internet users and the movie / music industry can be weighed more,” said A1 spokeswoman Livia Dandrea-Böhm. “We will now take a position in the time allowed by the court. Thereafter, the judge has to decide.”

Of further interest is VAP’s decision to exclude The Pirate Bay from their legal action and only sue for blockades against kinox.to and movie4k.to. There are suggestions that this could prove an easier legal route for VAP as the local Supreme Court is already familiar with the operations of Kinox and Movie4K, sites similar in structure to the now defunct Kino.to, the site which originally prompted calls for blocks in Austria.

However, The Pirate Bay will not escape so easily. The IFPI will tackle the infamous torrent site alongside others including isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to. The music group is expected to sue several ISPs to force a blockade, although papers are still being drawn up.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Research: Blocking The Pirate Bay Works, So…..

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

blocktpb1Website blocking has become one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries in recent years.

The UK is a leader on this front, with the High Court ordering local ISPs to block access to dozens of popular file-sharing sites, including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents.

Not everyone is equally excited about these measures and researchers have called their effectiveness into question. This prompted a Dutch court to lift The Pirate Bay blockade a few months ago. The MPAA, however, hopes to change the tide and prove these researchers wrong.

Earlier today Hollywood’s anti-piracy wish list was revealed through a leaked draft various copyright groups plan to submit to the Australian Government. Buried deep in the report is a rather intriguing statement that refers to internal MPAA research regarding website blockades.

“Recent research of the effectiveness of site blocking orders in the UK found that visits to infringing sites blocked declined by more than 90% in total during the measurement period or by 74.5% when proxy sites are included,” it reads.

MPAA internal research
mpaa-leak

In other words, MPAA’s own data shows that website blockades do help to deter piracy. Without further details on the methodology it’s hard to evaluate the findings, other than to say that they conflict with previous results.

But there is perhaps an even more interesting angle to the passage than the results themselves.

Why would the MPAA take an interest in the UK blockades when Hollywood has its own anti-piracy outfit (FACT) there? Could it be that the MPAA is planning to push for website blockades in the United States?

This is not the first sign to point in that direction. Two months ago MPAA boss Chris Dodd said that ISP blockades are one of the most effective anti-tools available.

Combine the above with the fact that the United States is by far the biggest traffic source for The Pirate Bay, and slowly the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.

It seems only a matter of time before the MPAA makes a move towards website blocking in the United States. Whether that’s through a voluntary agreement or via the courts, something is bound to happen.

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

TorrentFreak: Leaked Draft Reveals Hollywood’s Anti-Piracy Plans

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

us-ausAs the discussions over the future of anti-piracy legislation in Australia continue, a draft submission has revealed the wish-list of local movie groups and their Hollywood paymasters.

The draft, a response to a request by Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull for submissions on current anti-piracy proposals, shows a desire to apply extreme pressure to local ISPs.

The authors of the draft (obtained by Crikey, subscription, ) are headed up by the Australia Screen Association, the anti-piracy group previously known as AFACT. While local company Village Roadshow is placed front and center, members including the Motion Picture Association, Disney, Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal and Warner make for a more familiar read.

Australian citizens – the world’s worst pirates

The companies begin with scathing criticism of the Australian public, branding them the world’s worst pirates, despite the ‘fact’ that content providers “have ensured the ready availability of online digital platforms and education of consumers on where they can acquire legitimate digital content.” It’s a bold claim that will anger many Australians, who even today feel like second-class consumers who have to wait longer and pay more for their content.

So what can be done about the piracy problem?

The draft makes it clear – litigation against individuals isn’t going to work and neither is legal action against “predominantly overseas” sites. The answer, Hollywood says, can be found in tighter control of what happens on the Internet.

Increased ISP liability

In a nutshell, the studios are still stinging over their loss to ISP iiNet in 2012. So now, with the help of the government, they hope to introduce amendments to copyright law in order to remove service providers’ safe harbor if they even suspect infringement is taking place on their networks but fail to take action.

“A new provision would deem authorization [of infringement] to occur where an ISP fails to take reasonable steps – which are also defined inclusively to include compliance with a Code or Regulations – in response to infringements of copyright it knows or reasonably suspects are taking place on its network,” the draft reads.

“A provision in this form would provide great clarity around the steps that an ISP would be required to take to avoid a finding of authorization and provide the very kind of incentive for the ISP to cooperate in the development of a Code.”

With “incentives” in place for them to take “reasonable steps”, ISPs would be expected to agree to various measures (outlined by a ‘Code’ or legislation) to “discourage or reduce” online copyright infringement in order to maintain their safe harbor. It will come as no surprise that subscriber warnings are on the table.

‘Voluntary’ Graduated Response

“These schemes, known as ‘graduated response schemes’, are based on a clear allocation of liability to ISPs that do not (by complying with the scheme) take steps to address copyright infringement by their users,” the studios explain.

“While this allocation of liability does not receive significant attention in most discussions of graduated response schemes, common sense dictates that the schemes would be unlikely to exist (much less be complied with by ISPs) in the absence of this basic incentive structure.”

While pointing out that such schemes are in place in eight countries worldwide, the movie and TV companies say that a number of them contain weaknesses, a trap that Australia must avoid.

“There are flaws in a number of these models, predominantly around the allocation of costs and lack of effective mitigation measures which, if mirrored in Australia, would make such a scheme ineffective and unlikely to be used,” the paper reads.

It appears that the studios believe that the US model, the Copyright Alerts System (CAS), is what Australia should aim for since it has “effective mitigation measures” and they don’t have to foot the entire bill.

“Copyright owners would pay their own costs of identifying the infringements and notifying these to the ISP, while ISPs would bear the costs of matching the IP addresses in the infringement notices to subscribers, issuing the notices and taking any necessary technical mitigation measures,” they explain.

In common with the CAS in the United States, providers would be allowed discretion on mitigation measures for persistent infringers. However, the studios also imply that ISPs’ ‘power to prevent’ piracy should extend to the use of customer contracts.

“[Power] to prevent piracy would include both direct and indirect power and definitions around the nature of the relationship which would recognize the significance of contractual relationships and the power that they provide to prevent or avoid online piracy,” they write.

Voluntary agreements, required by law, one way or another

The key is to make ISPs liable first, the studios argue, then negotiations on a “voluntary” scheme should fall into place.

“Once the authorization liability scheme is amended to make clear that ISPs will be liable for infringements of copyright by their subscribers which they know about but do not take reasonable steps to prevent or avoid, an industry code prescribing the content of those ‘reasonable steps’ is likely to be agreed between rightsholders and ISPs without excessively protracted negotiations.”

However, any failure by the ISPs to come to the table voluntarily should be met by legislative change.

“In the absence of any current intention of and incentive for ISPs in Australia to support such a scheme (and the strong opposition from some ISPs) legislative recognition of the reasonable steps involved in such a scheme is necessary,” they write.

Site blocking

Due to “weakness” in current Australian law in respect of ISP liability, site blocking has proved problematic. What the studios want is a “no-fault” injunction (similar to the model in Ireland) which requires ISPs to block sites like The Pirate Bay without having to target the ISPs themselves.

“Not being the target of a finding against it, an ISP is unlikely to oppose the injunction – as long as the procedural requirements for the injunction are met. Once made, a blocking injunction would immediately prevent Australian internet users from being tempted to or accessing the blocked sites,” the studios explain.

Despite The Pirate Bay doubling its traffic in the face of extensive blocking across Europe, the movie companies believe that not blocking in Australia is part of the problem.

“The absence of a no-fault procedure may explain the very high rates of film and TV piracy in Australia when compared with European countries
that have such a procedure,” they write.

Unsurprisingly, the studios want to keep the bar low when it comes to such injunctions.

“The extended injunctive relief provision should not require the Court to be satisfied that the dominant purpose of the website is to infringe copyright,” they urge.

“Raising the level of proof in this way would severely compromise the effectiveness of the new provision in that it would become significantly more difficult for rightsholders to obtain an injunction under the scheme: allegedly non-infringing content would be pointed to in each case, not for reasons of freedom of access to information on the internet, but purely as a basis to defeat the order.”

The studios also want the ISPs to pick up the bill on site-blocking.

“[Courts in Europe] have ordered the costs of site blocking injunctions be borne by the ISP. The Australian Film/TV Bodies submit that the same position should be adopted in Australia, especially as it is not likely that the evidence would be any different on a similar application here,” they add.

Conclusion

If the studios get everything they’ve asked for in Australia, the ensuing framework could become the benchmark for models of the future. There’s a still a long way to go, however, and some ISPs – iiNet in particular – won’t be an easy nut to crack.

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

TorrentFreak: Lionsgate Targets Downloaders of Expendables 3 Leak

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

expendablespiracyOver the past few weeks movie studio Lionsgate has rolled out an unprecedented anti-piracy campaign to stop people from sharing leaked copies of The Expendables 3.

Aside from dragging six file-sharing sites to court, Lionsgate sent out hundreds of thousands of takedown notices to websites that linked to pirated copies of the leaked movie.

As a result all traces of the movie were completely wiped from many file-sharing sites. However, the movie studio still isn’t satisfied and is now going after individual downloaders as well.

Lionsgate has started sending takedown notices targeting people sharing the movie via BitTorrent. The notices are being sent to various ISPs who are urged to forward them to the customers whose accounts were monitored sharing the movie.

Interestingly, this also includes those who use remote servers known as BitTorrent seedboxes. While many believe that seedboxes keep them safe from the prying eyes of piracy monitoring firms, this is not always the case. Yesterday, a customer of the Canadian seedbox provider Whatbox received the following notice.

Copyright warning
expendable-seedbox

Via an email Whatbox urged the customer to delete the file in question, or face account suspension.

“A copyright complaint has been received for content existing on your account. To prevent account suspension, please delete the affected content within the next 24 hours,” the notice reads.

TorrentFreak contacted Whatbox, who explained that this takedown procedure is standard policy. As an Internet access provider it properly processes all incoming requests form copyright holders.

“When we receive a notice we check for the infohash and email the appropriate customer asking them to remove the file(s). Nothing is passed along to the copyright enforcement group except to confirm that the content was found and subsequently removed,” Anthony Ryan of Whatbox says.

“If a customer causes a large number of copyright complaints, we reserve the right terminate their service with a prorated refund and 24 hours of complimentary service to backup all their non-infringing files,” Ryan adds.

The above notice confirms that Lionsgate’s takedown efforts are now targeting individual downloaders, through their ISPs. The action appears limited to warning letters and at least for now there are no signs that Lionsgate will drag file-sharers to court.

Nu Image, another studio involved in the production of The Expendables 3, hasn’t taken any legal action either. However, they are more familiar with the topic than Lionsgate, as they sued a record breaking 23,322 U.S. Internet users for downloading a copy of the first Expendables film.

To be continued?

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Lawyer Wants Domain Registrars to Silence Critics

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

Several years ago when suing BitTorrent users was gaining in popularity, lawyers on both sides of the copyright fence saw there was good money to be made by getting involved.

On the one hand some lawyers teamed up with piracy monitoring firms to track and then file lawsuits against file-sharers in the hope of grabbing some quick and easy settlement cash. On the other were the “good guys”, lawyers who helped Joe Public defend against the corporate might of those who by now were being openly described as “trolls”.

One such “good guy” was Mike Meier, a DC attorney who previously placed on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s list of file-sharing defense lawyers.

“In my opinion, [settlement outfits] are bill collectors for the movie industry,” Meier said at the time. “They’re basically extorting money”.

Then in November 2011, SJD over at the FightCopyrightTrolls website noticed something interesting. A redesign of Meier’s website revealed that the lawyer had switched sides. No longer was he championing those wrongly accused by “trolls”, but instead the site was acting as an information portal for people Meier himself had sued.

The FightCopyrightTrolls (FCT) article on the topic has remained intact for almost three years but last Friday Meier tried to have it taken down. He went about that in a quite unusual way too, by bypassing the FCT website operators, bypassing their webhost, and going straight for their domain registrar.

Writing directly to registrar Internet.bs, Meier said that various pages on FCT were not only defamatory and libelous, but also infringed upon his copyrights.

“You are hosting a website with information that infringes on my copyrights and defames me. I am requesting that you take that information down immediately,” his letter to Internet.bs reads.

While Meier’s other allegations are focused here, his copyright complaint appears to be directed at screenshots of his website posted by FCT which provide commentary and criticism of Meier’s transformation from one side of the settlement fence to the other.

Meier’s website before the transformation

Meier’s website after the transformation

In his communication with Internet.bs, Meier goes on to warn the registrar that as a service provider the law requires it “to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice” or risk losing its immunity from having a lawsuit brought against itself.

Despite Internet.bs not “hosting a website” as Meier claims, it didn’t stop him from doubling up on his takedown efforts. The domain registrar of another site, ExtortionLetter.info, also received a DMCA notice from Meier after it partially reproduced the article originally published by FCT in 2011 and commented on the same.

To date Meier’s actions appear to have had very little effect, the effect he was hoping for at least. Neither FightCopyrightTrolls nor ExtortionLetter have been taken down in whole or in part by their domain registrars, and the articles in question have now become renewed topics of discussion after being forgotten for several years.

Add to that the method of complaint – what appear to be a pair of flawed DMCA notices sent by an apparent copyright expert – and the information that Meier hoped to suppress will now be more visible than ever before.

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

TorrentFreak: Police: Finding Pirate Bay Documents is Too Expensive

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

pirate bayThanks to the UK’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) the public is able to check what the government is up to, and hold it accountable. At least, that’s what it’s intended for.

FOIA requests are a helpful tool for journalists and at TorrentFreak we previously used this right to uncover the scope of City of London Police’s anti-piracy efforts.

There is more to reveal though. It is widely known that the police work in tandem with entertainment industry groups such as FACT and the BPI, so we also attempted to find out what’s being discussed behind closed doors.

Since asking for all information shared between City of London Police and entertainment industry groups might be a bit much, we focused our FOIA request on The Pirate Bay.

More specifically, we requested police correspondence with representatives of the creative industry “regarding the pirate bay also known as TPB, thepiratebay.se, thepiratebay.sx, thepiratebay.org, or Pirate Bay.”

On Friday we heard back from the responsible Information Access Officer, but no documents were provided. Instead, we were told that the request can’t be processed as the cost would exceed the statutory limit of £450.

“In order to establish the existence of any correspondence of this kind it would be necessary to examine all mail systems, all call logs and all files/documents held by the force,” the reply read.

“The cost of completing this work would exceed the limit prescribed by the Secretary of State in accordance with powers contained in Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act. The limit is currently set at £450 and the hourly rate is set at £25.”

Apparently the police estimate that it would take more than 18 hours to locate the information we asked for. That would make sense if none of the documents are organized, but we assume that the force has some type of archiving system.

The above response leaves us with no other option than to limit the request to electronic information only, specifying a narrow time frame. Whether this will fall within the desired cost projection has yet to be seen though. Let’s hope there’s no hard drive crash in the meantime.

To be continued…

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

TorrentFreak: Backup Service Kicks Customer Over “Infringing” Torrent Files

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

torrentsMost people who regularly use a computer know that it’s wise to have all critical data backed up. Whether it’s on a local hard drive or in the cloud, a copy can come in handy if something breaks.

Zoolz is one of the many commercial backup solutions. The company services regular customers but also business clients including Microsoft, Dell, the BBC and the Washington post.

Zoolz allows customers to backup their files in the cloud, including entire hard-drives. This is all done privately and securely, the company claims, with zero knowledge of what’s being transferred.

This zero knowledge claim has been called into doubt recently as one of Zoolz’ customers, Ryan Gallagher, had his account terminated after the company found several .torrent files in his backups. Gallagher didn’t store any infringing media, but just 1 Megabyte worth of old metadata.

Apparently, scanning for pirated filenames is standard practice at Zoolz, which is also explained in the product agreement.

“If Metadata checking (i.e. file names) reveals that an account has content relating to video piracy, software piracy or any copyrighted data with the intent to distribute (i.e. torrents) the account will be immediately terminated,” it reads.

And this is indeed what happened. Zoolz promptly notified the customer that his account would be terminated, and he was given a few days to transfer over a terabyte of data to a safer place.

“My account and all data (1.3TB) was nuked, they would not budge on deleting specific ‘prohibited file names’ saying they had no way to do it. It’s a complete waste of time and bandwidth,” former Zoolz customer Gallagher comments.

While there is nothing wrong with strict anti-piracy policies, deleting an entire account over a few small pieces of metadata goes pretty far. The .torrent files Zoolz found only reference pirated files, nothing more.

And it got even worse. When Geoff Akerlund of the Backup Review site confronted the company with its drastic actions, he was accused of supporting illegal behavior himself.

“We are sad to see you side with illegal behavior, the torrents could mean that the user has the actual media files, and downloading any media file without any proof of ownership is considered illegal,” Zoolz told him.

The backup service claims that the torrents “could” indicate that the user has a copy of the files as well, and that without proof of ownership terminating the account is warranted.

Aside from this rude behavior and terminating users accounts because they store non-infringing .torrent files, one has to wonder what business a backup provider has snooping through the computers of their customers.

In any case, Zoolz has “zero knowledge” of proper customer service.

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