Posts tagged ‘canada’

TorrentFreak: Piracy Notices Boost Demand For Anonymous VPNs in Canada

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

pirate-runningDue to a recent change to Canada’s copyright law, ISPs are now required to forward copyright infringement notices to their customers.

As a result, tens of thousands of Internet subscribers have received warnings in their mailboxes over the past days, with some asking for cash settlements.

The so-called notice-and-notice system aims to reduce local piracy rates, but it appears that not all Canadians are ready to give up their habits.

Instead, many file-sharers are taking measures to hide their IP-addresses and bypass the monitoring companies copyright holders have hired. By using VPN services or BitTorrent proxies their sharing activities can no longer be linked to their ISP account, effectively evading the notice system.

Data from Google trends reveals that interest in anonymizing services has spiked with searches for “VPN” nearly doubling in recent weeks. This effect, shown in the graph below, is limited to Canada and likely a direct result of the new law.

“VPN” searches in Canada
vpncanada

The effects are clearly noticeable at VPN providers as well, in both traffic and sales. TorGuard, a VPN and BitTorrent proxy provider saw the number of Canadian visitors and subscribers double this year.

“Since the start of 2015 TorGuard has seen a drastic jump in Canadian traffic and subscribers. At the time of this writing our Canadian sales are up roughly 100% and this trend appears to be increasing,” TorGuard’s Ben Van der Pelt tells us.

TorGuard traffic from Canada
torgcanada

Aside from steering people towards anonymizing tools Canada’s notice-and-notice scheme also piqued the interest of the Government. The abuse of these notices in particular.

Another consequence of the new law is that Canadian VPN providers have to warn pirating users as well. For most services this is impossible, as they don’t keep any IP-address logs, adding further insecurity to the local market.

For now, none of the VPN providers we spoke with plan to start logging but if they are forced to do so the preference is to move their businesses outside Canada.

From the above it’s clear that the new notice-and-notice system is certainly having an impact, but how many file-sharers stop pirating and how many choose to hide instead is anyone’s guess at this point.

One thing’s for certain though, VPN services are certainly becoming a more mainstream option.

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

TorrentFreak: Canadian Govt. Outlaws Bogus Piracy Notices

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

Recent changes to Canadian copyright law mean that when rightsholders observe local Internet users infringing copyright online, ISPs must forward any resulting infringement notices to their customers.

The new system has only been in place for just over a week but rightsholders haven’t wasted any time sending notices out. Even smaller ISPs such as Teksavvy are forwarding in excess of 3,000 notices per day.

While notices are one of the more reasonable anti-piracy options available today, there are companies that want to augment those gentle warnings into something more aggressive. Close to day one of the new law, U.S.-based anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp began sending infringement notices to Canadians with cash-settlement threats attached.

“You could be liable for up to $150,000 per infringement in civil penalties,” the notices told alleged music pirates.

Sadly, the claim is completely untrue. Canadian law caps liability for non-commercial infringement at $5,000 for all infringements. This miscalculated eagerness to break the Canadian market could now cost Rightscorp dearly.

Within a day of the company’s bogus threats being made public, Rightscorp attracted the negative attentions of the Canadian government and placed the turn-piracy-into-profit business model under scrutiny.

“These notices are misleading and companies cannot use them to demand money from Canadians,” said Jake Enright, a spokesman for Industry Minister James Moore.

The good news for Internet subscribers is that government officials will contact Internet service providers during the days to come in order to put an end to these threats. However, it’s not clear that will put a complete end to Rightscorp’s activities in Canada.

According to University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, there is nothing in Canada’s new legislation which restricts the ability of rights holders to include information in notices that goes beyond a simple advisory that copyright law has been breached.

On this basis it seems unlikely that Rightscorp will simply give up. Government comment on the original notices centers around the anti-piracy company’s erroneous citing of U.S. law so modification to reflect the true Canadian position should bring the piracy monetization outfit into line.

It may be, however, that given the government intervention ISPs will choose not to forward Rightscorp notices at all.

Demands for cash aren’t popular with Internet subscribers and there are signs that leading ISPs in the United States don’t like the approach either. While they forward the infringement notices themselves, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other major ISPs remove the attached cash settlement demands.

Nevertheless, Rightscorp does work with dozens of smaller ISPs who are happy to assist with the company’s business model. And despite plenty of information being available which advises letter recipients not to pay, many still pay a $20 ‘fine’ to get the company off their back.

Sadly though, sometimes this has the opposite effect. One of Rightscorp’s tactics is to send a bill for $20 for one track from an album and then when people pay, they are subsequently billed for the rest of the tracks at a further $20 each.

Before the notice recipient pays the first $20, Rightscorp has no idea of the person’s identity and would need to spend a lot of money in court to find out – hardly worth it for $20. But having paid $20 and signed a disclaimer, the company now knows the person’s name and address.

At this point the pressure to pay can become overwhelming. Time will tell if Canadians can avoid these tactics.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. ‘Strikes’ Scheme Fails to Impact Piracy Landscape

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

FBIpiracydeptAlongside site blocking and attacking the finances of pirate sites, so-called “strike” schemes are one of the preferred anti-piracy mechanisms of the mainstream entertainment companies.

The idea is simple. Rightsholders monitor their works being exchanged on file-sharing networks, capture IP addresses of alleged infringers, and send complaints to those individuals’ ISPs. These notices are then forwarded to inform customers of their errant behavior.

There can be little doubt that this option is preferable to suing users en masse, but is the approach effective? Thanks to MPAA documents sent to the studios and obtained by TorrentFreak, we now have a clearer idea of whether the movie business itself thinks that “strikes” programs work – and more besides.

One document, titled ‘Notice & Graduated Response Programs’ begins by stating the primary aim of the programs: “Reduce P2P piracy while educating consumers about, and directing them to, legal content.”

Also confirmed is the MPAA’s desire to implement graduated response schemes with mitigation measures and awareness campaigns attached, the U.S. “Copyright Alerts System” (CAS) for example.

CAS mitigation measures haven’t proven to be particularly aggressive thus far but plenty of users have received notices. Around 1.3 million notices were sent in the first 10 months of operations. By November last year, Comcast alone had sent one million warnings.

But does the Copyright Alerts System work?

While it’s clear that the studios believe these schemes are part of the answer, the MPAA is pragmatic about the CAS behind closed doors, largely since it believes efforts thus far are just the beginning.

The U.S. system is “not yet at scale” or operating with “enough education support” according to the MPAA. As a result the CAS has not made an “impact on the overall [piracy] landscape.”

That said, the MPAA does claim some successes among those receiving notices.

“US program – with escalating remedial measures – [is] reasonably effective in decreasing P2P piracy by those actually receiving notices/alerts,” one summary reads.

However, the claim that some notice recipients mend their ways after receiving a warning (the rate of re-offending is actually quite high) is somewhat contradicted by another statement later in the same document.

“No current information as to the behavior of users who appear to stop P2P infringement – do not know whether [they are] migrating to other pirate systems or to lawful services,” the statement reads.

Nevertheless, the MPAA appears keen to expand the program to a point where impact is more meaningful. This will require cooperation with ISPs, both on volumes and mitigation measures.

Expansion, tougher punishments

“Attainability as to existing programs boils down to whether ISPs will agree (a) to expand scale to levels that might impact overall P2P piracy, and (b) to enhance remedial measures so as to improve efficacy,” the MPAA writes.

Plans to double up on the number of warnings being sent have already been revealed but whether ISPs will be keen to further punish customers remains to be seen. Still, the MPAA’s graduated response “secondary objective” might help them decide.

“Build and leverage relationships with ISPs; acknowledgement by ISPs of some responsibility for infringement through their systems; gain and/or strengthen government and other influential support for ISP accountability,” the objective reads.

Strikes systems worked elsewhere, right?

Perhaps surprisingly the MPAA has pushed ahead with CAS in the United States despite knowing that similar schemes have produced lukewarm results elsewhere.

“Programs in France and South Korea (both mandated/managed by government) – and available in New Zealand and Ireland” have had a “limited impact” according to the MPAA.

And the notice-and-notice scheme just launched in Canada and the UK’s upcoming VCAP warning system probably won’t produce nice surprises either. The MPAA believes that both are “likely” to prove less effective than programs with mitigation measures, such as the United States’. CAS.

The future

For the coming year it seems likely that while the MPAA will try to expand its current notice programs by volume, it will not attempt to introduce similar schemes elsewhere.

Will users flood to legitimate services though? The MPAA doesn’t know today and won’t know anytime soon but in any event that desired effect will probably require much more investment.

“Should see reasonable economies of scale…but to scale to level that will impact overall P2P piracy will likely require substantial additional resources,” the movie group says.

“May not have reliable data about impact for 1-2 years.”

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

TorrentFreak: Canadian Piracy Notices: From Benign to Ridiculous

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

canada-pirateA change in the law means that when copyright holders spot Canadian subscribers’ Internet connections sharing content online without permission, ISPs must forward any resulting infringement notices to their customers.

Following its introduction less than a week ago, the so-called notice-and-notice system is already being utilized by entertainment companies. Small but popular ISP Teksavvy confirms that it’s already sending out thousands of notices to its subscribers every single day.

“With notice-and-notice, in early January 2015 we were receiving about 3000 copyright infringement notices each day,” the company confirms.

But despite knowing about the system for some time (and the relevant Canadian laws which led to its introduction), it seems that rightsholders haven’t yet found the time to customize their takedown notices to accommodate the law of the land.

“Many of [the notices] are formatted based on the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (‘DMCA’) requirements, although we expect that to change over time,” Teksavvy add.

While the aims of a DMCA takedown notice tend to be understood internationally, there are companies involved in anti-piracy activities who make more explicit threats so should be more prepared. University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist has already spotted a particularly bad example.

The ridiculous

Rightscorp Inc. is a U.S. based anti-piracy outfit whose activities have been documented here many times. Their business model involves tagging cash demands onto takedown notices so it perhaps comes as no surprise that Canada has become the company’s latest target.

However, instead of tailoring their demands to the Canadian market, Rightscorp have simply exported their U.S. model north. A notice obtained by Geist and sent by Rightscorp on behalf of music outfit BMG reveals the details.

“Your ISP account has been used to download, upload or offer for upload copyrighted content in a manner that infringes on the rights of the copyright owner. Your ISP service could be suspended if this matter is not resolved. You could be liable for up to $150,000 per infringement in civil penalties,” the notice reads.

As Geist points out, the $150,000 claim is bogus since Canadian law caps liability for non-commercial infringement at $5,000 for all infringements. Disconnecting a user from the Internet is also out since there is no provision under Canadian law. Even the claim against music piracy is up for debate.

“Given the existence of the private copying system (which features levies on blank media such as CDs), some experts argue that certain personal music downloads may qualify as private copying and therefore be legal in Canada,” Geist explains.

The benign

But while Rightscorp aim to scare Internet subscribers, it’s clear that other notices being received are much less worrisome. A copy of a notice sent to a Bell Aliant subscriber and obtained by TorrentFreak is a good example.

The subscriber had been downloading a DVD screener copy of the movie American Sniper on Thursday which took just 10 mins to complete. Nevertheless, that was enough to receive a standard U.S. DMCA notice from Warner Bros a few hours later.

“We have received information that an individual has utilized the below-referenced IP address at the noted date and time to offer downloads of copyrighted material. The title in question is: American Sniper,” the Warner Bros. notice begins.

“The distribution of unauthorized copies of copyrighted television programs constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, Title 17 United States Code Section 106(3). This conduct may also violate the laws of other countries, international law, and/or treaty obligations.

The notice made no threats but did contain a request for the ISP to deal with the customer under its abuse policy. The ISP forwarded the notice but nothing was done to punish the recipient.

From: Copyright Notification
Date: Thu, Jan 8, 2015 at XX:XX
Subject: Important notice regarding your Internet activity [******]

The Government of Canada requires by law that all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) let their clients know when content owners contact them about possible unauthorized use of the content owner’s material such as illegal downloading of music, videos and games. As a result, we must let you know that we have received the below notification related to your account.

We want to assure you that Bell Aliant as your Internet Service Provider played no part in the identification of possible unauthorized use of content but are only passing on the owner’s message as required by law.

If you have any questions or need clarification please contact the content owner directly. For more information on why you received this notice visit http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=858069 . Thank you for your cooperation.

The person who received the notice told TF that while he was surprised to have received one so quickly, his downloading habits won’t change.

“I’ll continue to download, I’ll now be activating my VPN though whenever torrenting activity is going on,” he explained. “I suspect it’s a scare tactic that will work on most of the novice Canadians that download. I also suspect that roughly 90% of Canadians have downloaded something illegally, or know some who does for them.”

It’s expected that most ISPs will handle notices carefully but if any reader receives any notices containing threats or aggressive language, please feel free to forward them.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Firm ‘Caught’ Pirating News Articles

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

Copyright is a double-edged sword, and those who sharpen one side often get cut by the other. We see it happening time and time again with lawyers, lawmakers, anti-piracy groups and copyright holders.

In Canada the local anti-piracy group Canipre is running into the same trap. The blog copyrightenforcement.ca, which is linked to one of the company’s top executives and often used to post Canipre press releases, has been making a habit out of lifting articles written by hard-working journalists.

Most of the articles that appear on the site are copied from other news sources, including TechCrunch, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, TorrentFreak and many others.

At TF we publish our content under a CC license, so there’s no foul play there, but the other news sites are not all copy friendly. In fact, the publication of most of the lifted articles amounts to blatant copyright infringement.

While fair dealing exists, posting full articles, some of which are behind a paywall, generally doesn’t fall into this category. And it’s not only the text that’s being copied but also the images which are often independently copyrighted.

After becoming the first company to go after individual Canadian file-sharers in court, this week Canipre announced a new campaign to send copyright infringement warnings to ISPs under the notice-and-notice program.

However, as University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist points out, they may have to start sending piracy notices to their own staff first.

“Canipre would likely offer its services to the media companies whose work is affected, yet it might want to take a closer look at its internal conduct before throwing stones in the form of thousands of notices alleging infringement,” Geist notes.

Making matter even worse, this isn’t the first time that Canipre has been linked to unauthorized copying. Two years ago the company’s own website blatantly used photos that were ripped-off from independent photographers.

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

TorrentFreak: VPN Services Consider Leaving Canada to Protect Customer Privacy

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

canadaA few days ago it became a legal requirement for Canadian ISPs to forward copyright infringement notices to their subscribers.

As a result of the new copyright law amendments, which also apply to VPN services, providers now have to keep logs of their subscribers’ IP-addresses or face high penalties.

Specifically, the law requires a broad range of Internet services to “retain records that will allow the identity of the person to whom the electronic location belongs to be determined, and do so for six months….”

Failing to log traffic and forward these notices may result in “statutory damages in an amount that the court considers just, but not less than $5,000 and not more than 10,000…”

The new rules also apply to BTGuard, a well-known Canadian VPN and proxy service that claims to keep no logs. Concerned that the new data retention requirements would force a change in this policy, several customers asked the provider for clarification.

Responding to these requests BTGuard assured its customers that its logging policy remains unchanged. However, BTGuard may discontinue its Canadian servers in the near future.

“Rest assured that we are committed to our customers’ privacy. As stated in our privacy policy, we do not log our customers’ usage or IPs and never will,” one customer was told by BTGuard.

“It’s possible that this legislation will require us to discontinue our servers in Canada, but we will find a solution and our services will continue where it’s legal to be anonymous without causing you any inconvenience,” the company added.

In a separate request we asked BTGuard for a comment on how the new law will affect its business. In a short comment we were informed that they are still exploring their options and that no final decision has been made yet.

“We still guarantee privacy. Our servers in Canada might be closed, but we are still exploring our options,” BTGuard’s Jared told TF.

Other providers are prepared to take similar measures. While the text of the law suggests that VPN providers are covered (something that’s also confirmed by one of Canada’s top copyright scholars), many are still uncertain about the exact impact it will have.

TunnelBear informed us that they are still investigating if they are indeed covered by the new legislation. If they are, the company will take its business elsewhere.

“Despite our investigation and legal consultations, it remains unclear whether or not VPN companies are included in the bill. We have brought on legal counsel to continue to investigate,” TunnelBear says.

“If it is determined that TunnelBear is required to comply with C11 if we retain operations in Canada, we will swiftly move our operations to a more privacy friendly region. At no point, under any circumstances will TunnelBear log the activity of our users,” TunnelBear adds.

For TunnelBear the issue is less urgent than for others though, as the company doesn’t allow torrent traffic on its servers.

While the changes may reduce piracy somewhat, it also negatively affects people’s privacy. And with the new data retention requirements Canada has certainly become an unattractive location for VPNs and other privacy services.

TF is interested in hearing how other Canadian providers intend to respond to the new law. We sent out more inquiries and will add to this article when responses are received.

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