Posts tagged ‘Censorship’

TorrentFreak: Torrent Sites Stay Blocked Long After World Cup Ends

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

stopstopWhile news of site blockades breaks every month (oftentimes more frequently) reports that sites have been unblocked are far less regular events.

In fact, it’s becoming apparent that aside from isolated instances, once websites get put on national blocklists in the UK or Italy, for example, it is unlikely that they will become readily available again.

Since no one in power is lobbying for blocked sites to be removed from censorship filters, sites such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents will probably remain blocked indefinitely. There are no immediately obvious time-out events attached to these injunctions and there’s certainly no one prepared to go to court to argue over the details.

Such sunset clauses are important though, as India is finding out.

Back in July a TV network owned by Sony went to court in India to have hundreds of sites blocked at the ISP level after they allegedly made World Cup matches available online without permission.

The 472 sites requested was reduced to 219 after an appeal by ISPs, but the injunction was still one of the broadest to date anywhere in the world. Whether it reduced piracy or placed money in Sony’s back pocket is anyone’s guess, but now – long after the World Cup ended – the blockades are still in place.

Medianama says it has carried out tests and discovered that The Pirate Bay, Mega.co.nz, TorrentHound, LimeTorrents and TorrentFunk among dozens of others are still inaccessible through local ISPs.

The news outlet also contacted Multi Screen Media, the Sony company behind the blocks, asking whether the company had asked for the blocks to be removed and why Dotcom’s Mega was targeted. The company did not respond.

While some will argue that having sites blocked is a legitimate response to online piracy, it is difficult to maintain that stance long after any infringements cited in court cases have ended. That said, ex parte hearings are by their nature one-side, so it’s unlikely anyone will be looking out for the rights of their rivals anytime soon.

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

TorrentFreak: Mail.ru Blasts Italy For Site Blocking Without Transparency

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

stop-blockedEvery few weeks fresh sites are blocked in Italy on copyright grounds, following either court proceedings or hearings as part of the new AGCOM mechanism.

Many of the big ‘pirate’ sites – The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, for example – have been blocked for years but now the country seems intent on blacking out sites that are definitely not in the piracy business.

As reported here on Saturday, last week a judge sitting in the Court of Rome ordered local ISPs to block a total of 24 websites including Kim Dotcom’s Mega.co.nz and Russia’s largest email provider, Mail.ru.

The size and importance of Mail.ru in its home country and further afield is noteworthy. It’s the fifth most-visited domain in Russia behind only Yandex, Google and social networking giant vKontakte, of which it owns 51.99%. It’s the 39th busiest site worldwide according to Alexa, servicing in excess of 27 million users per day.

In a statement this morning Mail.ru said it has still not been able to establish the specifics that lead to it being blocked in Italy. Eyemoon Pictures, the complainant in the case, made no attempt to discuss any issues with Mail.ru before heading off to court, the email giant said.

“[Eyemoon Pictures] made no attempt to resolve the situation pretrial,” the company said in a statement.

“No notification of illegal content or requirements to remove copies of [Eyemoon's] films has been addressed to Mail.Ru Group from law enforcement agencies and Italy.”

The company only realized there was a problem when users began complaining of accessibility issues on July 17.

“We learned of the court’s decision from our users, as well as publications in the public domain,” Mail.ru added.

Criticizing the effects of the blockade on its userbase, this morning Mail.ru hit out at Italy for taking action without due consideration.

“We believe that this situation is detrimental to the interests of our users, and clearly illustrates the fact that some national laws in this area does not consider the specifics of the Internet companies and do not provide a clear, transparent process for resolving such conflicts,” the company said.

“There needs to be an active dialogue on the development of international pre-trial procedures for resolving disputes between copyright holders and Internet service providers. Their introduction will improve the position of all parties, including users worldwide,” Mail.ru concludes.

At the time of writing, Mail.ru is still inaccessible in Italy with the company having made no progress towards having the censorship lifted.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Traffic Doubles Despite ISP Blockades

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

tpb-logoThe Pirate Bay is without doubt one of the most censored websites on the Internet.

Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site and this list continues to expand.

Denmark was one of the first countries to block The Pirate Bay, but the biggest impact came in 2012 when major ISPs in the UK and the Netherlands were ordered to deny their users access to the site.

The entertainment industries have characterized these blockades as a major victory and claim they’re an efficient tool to deter piracy. The question that has thus far remained unanswered, however, is how Pirate Bay’s traffic numbers are being affected. Is the site on the verge of collapsing?

As it turns out, The Pirate Bay hasn’t stopped growing at all. On the contrary, The Pirate Bay informs TorrentFreak that visitor numbers have doubled since 2011.

The graph below shows the growth in unique visitors and pageviews over the past three years. The Pirate Bay chose not to share actual visitor numbers, but monthly pageviews are believed to run into the hundreds of millions.

Pirate Bay traffic
tpbblockedtraffic

These numbers reveal that the torrent site is still doing quite well, but that doesn’t mean that the blockades are not working. After all, the additional traffic could simply come from other countries.

A better indication for the effectiveness of the blockades are the number of visitors that access the site through proxies. The Pirate Bay told TorrentFreak that roughly 9% of all visitors use proxies. This percentage doesn’t include sites that cache pages.

In other words, a significant percentage of users who don’t have direct access to the site are bypassing court-ordered blockades though proxies.

Interestingly, the United States is by far the biggest traffic source for the notorious torrent site. This is somewhat ironic, as American record labels and movie studios are the driving force behind the blockades in other countries.

All in all it is safe to conclude that censorship is not the silver bullet to stop The Pirate Bay. While it certainly has some impact, there are still millions of people who simply route around the blockades and continue downloading as usual.

Photo

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

TorrentFreak: Warner Bros. Censorship of Greenpeace LEGO Video Backfires (Updated)

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

lego-sadEarlier this month Greenpeace released a new campaign in which it targets LEGO for promoting Shell on its toys.

The campaign video titled “Everything is NOT Awesome” is inspired by the popular “Everything is Awesome” song, a callback to the LEGO movie. The video shows LEGO figures drowning in oil with a cover of the song playing in the background.

Over the past several days more than three million people have watched the video on YouTube. However, a few hours ago the video suddenly became unavailable due to a copyright claim by Warner Bros.

Censored
greenpeace-lego

TorrentFreak contacted Greenpeace who informed us that the email YouTube sent doesn’t clarify on what grounds the video was taken down. The group assumes that the use of the song is the culprit, but says it won’t let this case go without a fight.

“Our film was designed as a creative way of letting people know about the threat to the Arctic from Shell and the role LEGO has in the story. It seems to have struck a nerve with some important corporate bigwigs, but this crude attempt to silence dissent won’t work,” Greenpeace’s Ian Duff says.

Greenpeace will appeal the takedown request, a process that can take up to 10 days to complete. In the meantime the group has uploaded the video to Vimeo, along with a call to its millions of social media followers and mailing list subscribers to re-upload it elsewhere.

“We fully intend to challenge this claim, and we’re asking supporters to upload the video wherever they can,” Duff says.

In the appeal Greenpeace will argue that the video uses satire and parody and that it is in the public interest. The video should therefore be protected under the right to free speech.

This is not the first time that Greenpeace has had one of its campaign videos removed from YouTube. Previously a video featuring several Star Wars characters was taken down. The video was later reinstated after Greenpeace successfully appealed the takedown request.

Warner Bros’ motivation for the takedown remains unclear. It seems unlikely that it is an automated request since there are still more than 700 video on YouTube that use the same ‘Everything is Awesome’ song.

Whatever the reason may be, the takedown attempt will clearly backfire.

During the days to come the rift between Greenpeace and Warner Bros. will be widely covered by the media while hundreds of copies of the video will be uploaded and shared.

The censored campaign video

Update: The video is back online.

“18 hours later we’ve seen that the video has been re-instated. WB have withdrawn their complaint. It seems who ever wanted it censored has spotted the error in their ways,” Duff informs TorrentFreak.

Update 2: Warner Bros. now removed the video from Vimeo….

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

TorrentFreak: CashU Payment Method Starts Banning VPN Services

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

cashuPayment services are increasingly taking action against VPN providers, and as of today CashU can be added to the list.

CashU is a popular payment service in the Middle East and North Africa, where it’s the leading alternative to credit cards. Thousands of merchants accept CashU payments including many VPN providers who are quite popular in the region.

As of recently, however, CashU has stopped connecting new VPN providers to its payment service. The company sees it as a problem that VPN services allow users to browse the Internet anonymously and uncensored, as this could potentially be abused.

VPN provider TorGuard was informed about the new policy after their application was turned down.

“Please note that since VPN Services can support anonymity when being misused, CASHU, as a financial institution, is prohibited from supporting such services as is it going through a transitional stage. Therefore, kindly note that we cannot accept your merchant account registration,” A CashU representative wrote.

The response from CashU suggests that an external party is prohibiting the company from accepting VPN services. It’s unclear who is behind this but TorGuard CEO Ben Van Pelt believes it may be the result of censorship forces in the region.

“Privacy online is a basic human right and fundamental building block of any free, democratic society. Unfortunately, CashU’s Middle Eastern underwriting banks are not located in such a place. Censorship laws enforced by the United Arab Emirate’s Telecom Regulatory Authority borderline on draconian as they decide what content is or is not acceptable,” Van Pelt tells TorrentFreak.

“It seems that this new anti VPN ‘transitional stage’ for CashU is part of a larger issue of increased government censorship and regulation in the region,” he adds.

It’s worth nothing that CashU still accepts payments for VPN providers who have signed up previously. It will be interesting to see whether these merchants can keep their accounts or if they will be disconnected in the future.

For TorGuard this isn’t the only payment method they’re having problems with. The company was also rejected by Alipay, a Chinese based payment solution that is popular among VPN users in Asia. TorGuard is still waiting for an official reply as to why this application was turned down.

In recent years it has become harder and harder for VPN services to get a wide range of payment options. Previously Paysafecard stopped accepting anonymity services and Visa, MasterCard and Paypal have also caused trouble for some anonymity providers.

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

TorrentFreak: UK “Porn Filter” Triggers Widespread Internet Censorship

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

stop-blockedInternet filters are now on the political agenda in many countries around the world. While China and Iran are frontrunners for political censorship, the UK is leading the way when it comes to porn and other content deemed unsuitable for children.

In addition to the mobile restrictions that have been in place for years already, last summer Prime Minister David Cameron announced a default filter for all Internet connections. This means that UK Internet subscribers are now required to opt-in if they want to view ‘adult’ content online.

These default filters have led to many instances in which perfectly legitimate sites can no longer be accessed. This very website, for example, was inaccessible on Sky Broadband after it was categorized as a “file-sharing” site. The false positive was eventually corrected after the BBC started asking questions, but that didn’t solve the underlying problem.

In an attempt to make it easier to spot overblocking the Open Rights Group (ORG) has today launched a new site. The embedded tool runs probes on all the major broadband and mobile filters of UK ISPs, and allows people to check which sites are blocked and where.

The first results are quite scary. A review of the 100,000 most-popular sites on the Internet reveals that 20% are blocked by at least one of the filtering systems.

“We’ve been surprised to find the default filtering settings are blocking around a fifth of the Alexa top 100k websites. That’s a lot more than porn, which accounts for around 4% of that list,” ORG’s Executive Director Jim Killock informs TorrentFreak.

The list of blocked domains includes many legitimate sites that aren’t necessarily harmful to children. TalkTalk file-sharing filter, for example, blocks websites including bittorrent.com and utorrent.com. TorrentFreak also appears to be listed in this category and is blocked as well.

Linuxtracker, which offers free downloads of perfectly legitimate software, is blocked by Sky, TalkTalk and Three’s filters, while the blocked.org.uk tool itself is off-limits on BT, EE and Virgin Media.

Perhaps even worse, the BT and TalkTalk filters also categorize social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter as potentially dangerous to children, and the same applies to Reddit. All these sites are inaccessible if the social networking category of the Kids Safe filter is on.

Reddit is blocked as well
blocked-filter

With the new tool ORG hopes to provide more insight into what these filters do and how many sites they block. The ISPs themselves have thus far failed to reveal the scope of their filters.

“People need to know what filters are, and what they block. They need to know they are inaccurate, and also disrupt people’s businesses and speech,” Killock tells TF.

“If people feel they need them, that is their right, but they should at least know they’re very flawed technology that won’t protect them very much, but will also be likely to cause them problems. In short, they are a bit rubbish,” he adds.

The current results of the tool are based on various filtering levels. This means that the list of blocked sites will be even longer when the strongest settings are used.

It’s worth noting that all ISPs allow account holders to turn filters off or allow certain sites to be unblocked. However, many people may not even be aware that this option exists, or won’t want to unblock porn just to get access to file-sharing software if these are lumped together.

The results of ORG’s new tool show that what started as a “porn filter” has turned into something much bigger. Under the guise of “protecting the children” tens of thousands of sites are now caught up in overbroad filters, which is a worrying development to say the least.

Update: TalkTalk clarified that the file-sharing (with TorrentFreak included) and social networking filters are not enabled by default on their system.

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

TorrentFreak: UK ISPs Quietly Block More Torrent Site Proxies

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

stop-blockedFollowing a series of High Court orders, six UK ISPs are required to block subscriber access to several of the world’s largest torrent sites.

The blocks are somewhat effective, at least in preventing subscribers from accessing the domains directly. However, that doesn’t mean that the sites are completely inaccessible.

With every site that is added to the blocklist several reverse proxies are launched. These proxy sites give people access to the blocked sites and effectively bypass the restrictions put in place by the court.

The copyright holders who demanded the blockades are well aware of these workarounds and continue to ask ISPs to expand their blocking efforts.

This weekend the ISPs quietly added several torrent site proxies to their blocklists. TorrentFreak was able to confirm that Virgin Media and Sky are now blocking access to YTS proxy ytsre.come.in as well as the EZTV equivalent on come.in.

Interestingly, the other torrent site proxies, including ones for the Pirate Bay and Kickass, are still accessible.

YTS proxy blocked
sky-new-block

Whether these measures will be effective has yet to be seen. The Come.in homepage is still accessible and the team behind the site has already replaced the blocked domains with new ones.

“We just set up new proxies and will be watching for any upcoming measures from ISPs,” Come.in’s Nick tells TorrentFreak.

“We monitor such issues on a regular basis. Most of the time we can create new proxies only after current ones are blocked. Come.in visitors should know that we always publish fresh proxy addresses on our homepage,” he adds.

And so the whack-a-mole continues, with copyright holders adding new domains to the blocklists, and site owners hopping from domain to domain.

As with previous additions the newly blocked domains are covered by the High Court order, which provides the movie studios with the option to continually update the list of infringing domains. A Virgin Media spokesperson clarified that no additions are made by the ISP itself.

“We are only blocking those sites we are required to block by the court order,” we were told. “As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media supports the clear, legal framework put in place to protect against copyright infringement and we continue to comply with court orders specifically addressed to the company.”

While the recent additions are permitted under the High Court order, these changes are being made in secret without any form of public oversight, which means that we don’t know precisely how many proxies were added. The full list of blocked domains also remains unknown.

TorrentFreak reached out to both copyright holders and ISPs, but thus far they have refused to make the full scope of their blocking efforts public. It’s unlikely that this will change in the near future.

The full list of domains (that we know of) currently blocked in the UK is as follows:

Main sites: Megashare, Viooz, Watch32, Zmovie, Solarmovie, Tubeplus, Primewire, Vodly, Watchfreemovies, Project-Free TV, Yify-Torrents, 1337x, Bitsnoop, Extratorrent, Monova, Torrentcrazy, Torrentdownloads, Torrentreactor, Torrentz, Ambp3, Beemp3, Bomb-mp3, Eemp3world, Filecrop, Filestube, Mp3juices, Mp3lemon, Mp3raid, Mp3skull, Newalbumreleases, Rapidlibrary, EZTV, FirstRowSports, Download4all, Movie2K, KickAssTorrents, Fenopy, H33T and The Pirate Bay.

Proxies: Ytsre.come.in, Eztv.come.in, Fp.kleisauke.nl, Fenopy.5gg.biz, H33tunblock.info, H33t.uk.to, H33tproxy.co, H33tmirror.co, Katunblock.com, Katproxy.com, Kat.dashitz.com, Kat.kleisauke.nl, Katmirror.com, Kat.5gg.biz, Kickassunblock.info, Kickassproxy.info, Pirateproxy.net, Proxybay.net, Malaysiabay.org, Piratereverse.info, Pirateproxy.net, Campeche.zapto.org, Tpb.rubenstadman.com, Piratebay.interflective.com, Dashitz.com, Tpb.evrl.com

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

TorrentFreak: Foul!!! Sony Orders Google to Censor The World Cup

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

Soccer fever has been spreading across the globe this week, with dozens of millions tuning in to watch the World Cup via regular TV and an abundance of online services.

While England basked in its somewhat traditional World Cup disappointment Thursday, viewing records were being broken, but amazingly while Brazil sizzles, some want to pour cold water on the excitement.

Allow us to introduce MarkScan, a self-described “consulting boutique dedicated to your IP requirements”. The anti-piracy company is based in India and boasts a wide range of clients including the BBC, HBO, Nokia, and other prestigious brands.

Just recently MarkScan has been doing some work for Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, a Sony Entertainment Television subsidiary in India. In June, Multi Screen Media launched LIV Sports, a digital sports entertainment site that was chosen by FIFA to be the official mobile and Internet broadcaster for the 2014 World Cup.

This week, MarkScan set off on an inevitable DMCA takedown spree to protect its clients’ and FIFA’s rights. What a disaster it’s been.

Much like FIFA, MarkScan began by sending its first batch of copyright complaints to Google several days before a ball had even been kicked. The notice, which covered 46 domains allegedly streaming the World Cup, was 100% rejected by Google.

One of the complaints targeted a great article by GigaOM which helpfully offered “Where to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup live online, and how to stream it without cable.” The article listed all legal sources, including ESPN, across several countries.

Several subsequent takedown notices targeting more than 700 other URLs saw between 90% and 100% of URLs rejected by Google. One of them was nothing short of a disaster.

Markscan1

livsportsThe notice, sent on behalf of Sony’s Liv Sports via Multi Screen Media, targeted 610 URLs, all of which were rejected by Google. All were claimed to be infringing on Liv Sports’ and FIFA’s rights, yet what the notice actually did was target some of the web’s most respectable news sites and resources.

In the article titled “World Cup 2014: How to watch across BBC TV, radio and online”, the BBC attempted to inform its millions of readers how to legitimately access the World Cup. However, as can be seen from the image below, MarkScan had other ideas.

markscan2

Sadly, this attempted takedown of a purely informational and entirely legal article wasn’t the only casualty of this notice.

An article published by Variety informing its readership that ESPN would be streaming all 64 matches was deemed to be copyright-infringing too, as was a similar attempt by Canada’s CBC.ca.

Other catastrophes would be amusing if they weren’t so awful, such as the attempt to censor this article on Bleacher Report which advised how to watch Uruguay versus Germany – a match from FIFA World Cup 2010 four years ago.

bleacher

Also targeted was this 2013 article from Hollywood Reporter which detailed plans by Sony (ironically) and FIFA to broadcast the World Cup 2014 in Ultra HD. FoxSports’ interactive World Cup Schedule was also marked as infringing. Both are shown below.

Markscan3

Even legitimate traditional broadcasters couldn’t get the word out unhindered. Communications company Cox wanted to let its residential customers know they could “Watch the World’s Biggest Soccer Games. Any Way You Want” but MarkScan told Google the page was illegal.

The whole notice, which can be read here, has many more examples than those listed above, including the attempted censorship of EA Sports’ Twitter account and FIFA’s very own site – for FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012. Brilliant.

But, in its own unique way, one takedown is more disappointing than most.

In a post dated June 9, before the World Cup had even begun, Symantec tried to inform its readers on how to avoid various World Cup related scams. We don’t need to tell you what happened to it.

TorrentFreak contacted MarkScan whose Internet Enforcement Team told us they take care to avoid mistakes.

“We want to assure you that we deploy technology, in addition to best efforts of our teams, to ensure that we do not impact legal content on yours, or any other website,” they explained.

We suspect someone could be seeing at least a yellow card, possibly worse, in the days to come.

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

TorrentFreak: WordPress Demands $10,000 For DMCA Takedown Censorship

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

wordpressAutomattic, the company behind the popular WordPress blogging platform, has seen a rapid increase in DMCA takedown notices in recent years.

Most requests are legitimate, aimed at disabling access to copyright-infringing material. However, there are also many overbroad and abusive takedown notices which take up a lot of the company’s time and resources.

Last November, WordPress decided to take a stand against these fraudulent practices. The company teamed up with student journalist Oliver Hotham who had one of his articles censored by a false takedown notice.

Hotham wrote an article about “Straight Pride UK” which included a comment he received from the organization’s press officer Nick Steiner. The latter didn’t like the article Hotham wrote, and after publication Steiner sent WordPress a takedown notice claiming it was infringing on his copyrights.

Through a lawsuit filed in a California federal court, WordPress and Hotham now hope to be compensated for the damage this abuse caused them.

“The information in the press release that Hotham published on his blog did not infringe any copyright because Hotham had permission to publish it. It was a press release, which by its very nature conveys the intent to ‘release’ information to the ‘press’,” WordPress’ attorney explains to the court.

The company says that as an online service provider it faces overwhelming and crippling copyright liability if it fails to take down content. People such as Steiner abuse this weakness to censor critics or competitors, and they have to be stopped.

“Steiner’s fraudulent takedown notice forced WordPress to take down Hotham’s post under threat of losing the protection of the DMCA safe harbor,” WordPress argues.

“Steiner did not do this to protect any legitimate intellectual property interest, but in an attempt to censor Hotham’s lawful expression critical of Straight Pride UK. He forced WordPress to delete perfectly lawful content from its website.As a result, WordPress has suffered damage to its reputation,” the company adds.

Since Steiner failed to respond in court WordPress and Hotham have requested a default judgment. In a recent filing they demand a total of $10,000 in damages as well as $14,520 in attorneys’ fees.

If the court agrees with the request it will be mostly a symbolic win, and hopefully a signal to other copyright holders that false DMCA takedown requests are not without consequence.

During a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the DMCA takedown system earlier this year, Automattic General Counsel Paul Sieminski also stressed the importance of this issue to lawmakers,

“The system works so long as copyright owners use this power in good faith. But too often they don’t, and there should be clear legal consequences for those who choose to abuse the system,” Sieminski said.

In a few weeks we’ll know if the court agrees.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA’s Chris Dodd Praises Pirate Site Blockades

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

dodd-laughingThis week many key figures in the copyright protection and enforcement industries gathered for the International IP Enforcement Summit, organized by the UK Government.

One of the main topics of discussion was Internet piracy, and how to prevent people from accessing and sharing copyrighted works without permission.

Website blocking is one of the anti-piracy tools that was mentioned frequently . In recent years the UK has become 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.

MPAA chief Chris Dodd, who delivered a speech at the Summit, applauded the UK approach. The former U.S. Senator believes that these restrictions are helping to decrease the piracy problem.

“Here in the United Kingdom, the balanced and proportionate use of civil procedures has made tremendous progress in tackling infringing websites. To date, access to over 40 pirate sites focused on infringing copyright for commercial gain, have been blocked,” Dodd said.

According to Dodd these blockades have proven to be one of the most effective anti-piracy measures in the world, made possible by a provision in local copyright law.

“In particular, Section 97A of the Copyright Act allowing courts to issue injunctions against service providers who know their services are being utilized for infringing purposes, has been one of the most effective tools anywhere in the world,” Dodd says.

Despite the MPAA’s faith in website blockades, which is not shared by everyone, the movie group has never attempted to ask a U.S. court for a similar injunction. This is surprising since nearly all the sites that are blocked in the UK have far more users from the United States.

TorrentFreak asked the MPAA to explain this lack of action, but we have yet to hear back from them.

Previously we spoke to an insider who admitted that these type of ISP blockades are harder to get in place under United States law, which is one of the reasons why the copyright holders haven’t tried this yet.

The issue became even more complicated after the copyright holders’ push for SOPA failed early 2012. In part, SOPA was designed to give copyright holders a shortcut to request injunctions against pirate sites.

Putting the law aside, the MPAA has made it clear that it’s keen on maintaining good relationships with the Internet providers. ISPs and copyright holders are taking part in a voluntary agreement to “alert” pirates, which will undoubtedly be harmed if additional blocking demands appear on the table.

For now, it seems that the MPAA and other industry groups will continue to press for more voluntary deals in the U.S. Interestingly, Dodd specifically calls for a cooperation with search engines to indirectly block pirate sites, instead of asking for a more direct blockade from ISPs.

“If we convince these search engines to join our efforts to shut down illegal sites, it would be a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to protect creators,” he said.

Thus far Google and other search engines have refused to remove pirate sites from their search indexes. Also, one has to wonder how effective that would be. Thus far Google has removed more than two million pages from The Pirate Bay, but the site’s traffic continues to expand regardless.

But then again, even an ISP blockade is easy to circumvent, and perhaps not as effective as the MPAA claims.

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

Schneier on Security: Censorship in China

This post was syndicated from: Schneier on Security and was written by: schneier. Original post: at Schneier on Security

First-person experience of censorship in China.

[Медийно право] [Нели Огнянова]: Правото да бъдеш забравен – Google се готви за прилагане

This post was syndicated from: [Медийно право] [Нели Огнянова] and was written by: nellyo. Original post: at [Медийно право] [Нели Огнянова]

За прилагане на решението Google Spain се изисква компаниите да започнат изрично да извършват оценка на баланса между свободата на изразяване и правото на защита на личните данни и зачитане на личния живот.

Google оповести   (основи на) механизъм  за премахване на резултати от търсене, съответна на това решение. Г-жа Рединг, ЕК,   приветства стъпката - според нея  сега вече става ясно, че страховете за трудностите в практическата реализация са били необосновани.

Но трудности има. Index on Censorship посочва, че  частни организации ще арбитрират достъпа до публична информация и  напомня, че позицията на Съда се различава от заключението на Генералния адвокат.

Пейо Попов коментира  серия  важни въпроси в блога си -  Правото да бъдеш забравен, релизация и ефекти.

Какво е обоснована и пропроционална намеса в личния живот Съдът вече е обсъждал,  например в решенията Комисия/ Bavarian Lager или по повод публикуване на информация за бенефициерите по европейски програми – по съединени дела C‑92/09 и C‑93/09: правата по чл.7 и 8 от Хартата могат да бъдат ограничавани при определени условия:

[50]  член 52, параграф 1 от Хартата допуска налагането на ограничения при упражняването на права като прогласените в членове 7 и 8 от нея, ако тези ограничения са предвидени в закон, зачитат основното съдържание на посочените права и свободи и при спазване на принципа на пропорционалност са необходими и действително отговарят на признати от Съюза цели от общ интерес или на необходимостта да се защитят правата и свободите на други хора.

 Google са създали 7-членна комисия - имената са авторитетни и известни.

  • Bits | NYT  публикува коментар.
  • Също  PanGloss:  дали механизмът на Google напълно покрива обхвата на случаите, предвидени в директивата и решението.
  • Inforrm също с днешна дата: между кои точно права трябва да се извършва балансиране и правилен ли е прочитът на решението от страна на Google, още по темата

 

 

[Медийно право] [Нели Огнянова]: Правото да бъдеш забравен – Google се готви за прилагане

This post was syndicated from: [Медийно право] [Нели Огнянова] and was written by: nellyo. Original post: at [Медийно право] [Нели Огнянова]

За прилагане на решението Google Spain се изисква компаниите да започнат изрично да извършват оценка на баланса между свободата на изразяване и правото на защита на личните данни и зачитане на личния живот.

Google оповести   (основи на) механизъм  за премахване на резултати от търсене, съответна на това решение. Г-жа Рединг, ЕК,   приветства стъпката - според нея  сега вече става ясно, че страховете за трудностите в практическата реализация са били необосновани.

Но трудности има. Index on Censorship посочва, че  частни организации ще арбитрират достъпа до публична информация и  напомня, че позицията на Съда се различава от заключението на Генералния адвокат.

Пейо Попов коментира  серия  важни въпроси в блога си -  Правото да бъдеш забравен, релизация и ефекти.

Какво е обоснована и пропроционална намеса в личния живот Съдът вече е обсъждал,  например в решенията Комисия/ Bavarian Lager или по повод публикуване на информация за бенефициерите по европейски програми – по съединени дела C‑92/09 и C‑93/09: правата по чл.7 и 8 от Хартата могат да бъдат ограничавани при определени условия:

[50]  член 52, параграф 1 от Хартата допуска налагането на ограничения при упражняването на права като прогласените в членове 7 и 8 от нея, ако тези ограничения са предвидени в закон, зачитат основното съдържание на посочените права и свободи и при спазване на принципа на пропорционалност са необходими и действително отговарят на признати от Съюза цели от общ интерес или на необходимостта да се защитят правата и свободите на други хора.

 Google са създали 7-членна комисия - имената са авторитетни и известни.

  • Bits | NYT  публикува коментар.
  • Също  PanGloss:  дали механизмът на Google напълно покрива обхвата на случаите, предвидени в директивата и решението.
  • Inforrm също с днешна дата: между кои точно права трябва да се извършва балансиране и правилен ли е прочитът на решението от страна на Google, още по темата

 

 

Lauren Weinstein's Blog: EU’s “Right to Have The Streisand Effect” Goes Live

This post was syndicated from: Lauren Weinstein's Blog and was written by: Lauren. Original post: at Lauren Weinstein's Blog

Since I’ve at various times over the years expressed both my concerns and disgust for the “right to be forgotten” concept, e.g. “The “Right to Be Forgotten”: A Threat We Dare Not Forget, I’m not going to rehash that discussion here and now. But a look at the ironic situation the EU censorship bureaucrats have created for themselves today, via…

TorrentFreak: Rapidgator Wiped From Google’s Search Results, Again

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

rapidgatorEvery week Google processes millions of DMCA takedown requests, submitted by copyright holders from all over the world.

In most cases the requests are legitimate, but every now and then they also target pages that don’t link to pirated content. As a result some websites have their URLs removed from Google in error, which in turn leads to a decrease in visitors.

This has now happened to Rapidgator.net, one of the largest file-hostings sites on the Internet. For the past few weeks the site has had nearly all its URLs de-listed, including its homepage.

The request responsible for this overbroad censorship was issued by the Publishers Association, a UK-based trade group. Aside from the Rapidgator URLs, the takedown notice in question lists several other pages that have nothing to do with their copyrighted works.

rapidgone

Hoping to get its URLs restored Rapidgator submitted a counter-notification to Google, but several weeks have passed since and the problem remains. TorrentFreak spoke with Rapidgator operator Mike, who is concerned about the lack of response and the ease at which sites can be removed from Google.

“With the procedure Google has in place now any website can be de-listed by anybody,” Mike says.

“When Google receives a DMCA notice they remove URLs within a day, but if you want to have them restored it can take weeks or months. We think that they should restore URLs in the same timeframe as the original removals,” he adds.

Rapidgator’s operator understand that Google can’t process every URL manually due to the massive amount of DMCA notices. However, he believes that they could at least flag requests to remove the homepages of websites so these can be manually verified.

This isn’t the first time that Rapidgator has lost nearly all its listings in Google. The same thing happened late last year and on that occasion it also took several weeks before Google took action, leading to a dip in search traffic for the site.

TorrentFreak asked Google for a comment on the counter-notification process but the company couldn’t say anything about the number of requests it receives, or what the average response time is.

For Rapidgator there’s no other option than to wait until Google responds to its inquiry. In the meantime, only five Rapidgator pages remain indexed by Google.

rapidgator-removed

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

TorrentFreak: Student Wins Pirate Bay Domain To Protest Website Blockades

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

pirate bayThe Pirate Bay is one of the most popular sites on the Internet and has inspired the creation of many copycat sites, many of which play on Pirate Bay’s imagery, branding, name, or a combination of all three.

While some sites make it obvious that they’re paying homage to the infamous torrent site, others have malicious or financial motives in mind. As a result there are plenty of domains out there looking to capitalize on users’ naivety or simple inability to spell.

Ironically, while many official Pirate Bay domains are blocked in countries around Europe, these unofficial and often fake variants are allowed to continue business as usual. Occasionally, however, the authorities step in.

One such instance involves ThePirateBay.dk, a domain whose most recent registration occurred in August 2010. The domain was owned by a James McAvoy of Bristol, UK, who appears to be a prolific purchaser of domains, as illustrated below.

Pirate-DK

Over in Denmark, where The Pirate Bay has been blocked since 2008, a Danish student had been eyeing the domain. He felt he had a good chance of wrestling it from McAvoy’s control due to the Brit’s failure to adhere to Denmark’s domain name rules.

In his complaint the student told the Complaints Board for Domain Names that he doubted that the contact listed in the WHOIS was a “genuine or real registrant” and criticized the same person’s registration of many “typosquatter” domains (such as youtupe.dk) which are deliberately linked to “advertising traps”.

With Denmark’s Domain Names Act noting that “a domain name which typosquats another domain name may be suspended and subsequently blocked or deleted”, the student’s complaint appeared valid.

Next, the student complained that ThePirateBay.dk had been put up for sale. The Domain Names Act expressly forbids a registrant to “reserve, register and maintain registrations of domain names solely for the purpose of selling or renting to other parties.”

Pirate-sale

In contrast to the owner of ThePirateBay.dk who had no valid use for the domain, the student presented an argument to the domains board that he did.

“I want to use thepiratebay.dk to protest against Danish web censorship in the form of
the blockade of the address thepiratebay.org imposed on the Danish internet providers,” the student wrote.

“I want to create a support page for The Pirate Bay where I criticize the decision and show my support for the blocked page. I am a student, not a trader, and I act as an individual in what I would call a protest against the imposed blockade.”

The complaints board weighed the arguments and in a decision published a few days ago, agreed with the student’s position and upheld his complaint.

“The Board finds that there is hereby created a strong presumption that the purpose of the defendant’s registration of the domain name ‘thepiratebay.dk’ [..] was to gain financially by its reassignment. The Respondent, who has not replied to the Complaints Board’s [attempts at contact] , did not contradict that presumption.”

All things considered it was concluded that James McAvoy’s registration of the domain should be canceled and ThePirateBay.dk should be transfered to the the student by June 13, 2014.

Exactly what form the student’s protest will take using his newly obtained domain remains unknown, but it’s nevertheless interesting that the right to protest against a website blockade of the world’s most infamous torrent site trumps making ad money from a similar looking domain.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay’s Anti-Censorship Browser Clocks 5,000,000 Downloads

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

piratebrowserIn celebration of its 10th anniversary last August, The Pirate Bay presented a gift to its users – the PirateBrowser.

Since The Pirate Bay is censored in countries all around the world, many users have to jump through hoops to access it. The PirateBrowser software allows people to bypass these restrictions, without having to use a proxy site or other circumvention tool.

The browser is based on Firefox and utilizes the Tor network to obfuscate people’s locations. It is meant purely as a tool to circumvent censorship and unlike the Tor browser it doesn’t provide any anonymity for its users.

The browser idea clearly appealed to a wide audience with the number of downloads going through the roof right from the start.

Recently, PirateBrowser achieved a new milestone. The Pirate Bay team informs TorrentFreak that more than five million people have downloaded a copy of the tool from the official website. That’s an average of more than half a million downloads per month.

Since its first release there haven’t been any additions to the software, but this will change in the coming weeks. The Pirate Bay team will push out an update soon with upgraded versions of the software. In addition, the new release will have support for social media sites, to serve users in countries where these services are restricted or blocked.

Another new feature will be to have lists of blocked sites per country, so users are only redirected through a proxy site when it’s needed.

In a separate and even more ambitious effort the team also continues the development of a special BitTorrent-powered application, which lets users store and distribute The Pirate Bay and other websites on their own computers. Instead of bypassing external censors, the new tool will create its own P2P network through which sites can be accessed without restrictions.

This “p2p browser” should be able to keep The Pirate Bay operational, even if the site itself is pulled offline. There is currently no estimated release date set for this second project, but it will take a few more months of development at minimum.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Launches Election Campaign For European Parliament

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

peter-sundeBorn in Sweden but with Finnish roots, Peter Sunde will run as candidate for Finland’s Pirate Party in the European Parliament elections next year.

The Pirate Party movement currently has two Swedish Members of the European Parliament. In the 2014 elections the Pirates are participating in many countries, hoping to expand the success story.

With Sunde the Finnish party definitely has one of the most prominent candidates on the ballot.

As an Internet entrepreneur and the former spokesperson of The Pirate Bay, Sunde’s subversive work is already known to millions of people across Europe. Despite a pending prison term for his involvement with The Pirate Bay, he is determined to disrupt the European Parliament in Brussels.

Today, Sunde launches his run for the European Parliament elections with a rather unusual video. Instead of scolding the competition, the campaign will highlight several personality traits of the Pirate Bay co-founder, starting with his romantic side.

“Most politicians are boring and unromantic. Romance is needed because it means you have a heart and a soul,” Sunde told TF commenting on the relevance of romance in politics.

Most of all, however, Sunde wants to bring back ideology to modern-day politics. Instead of taking notes from powerful lobbyists and bashing other politicians, he wants to let people know what he believes in, and how that should be accomplished.

“I’m tired of careerists in politics who rather talk about what the other guys are doing wrong instead of talking about what our future should be. I see no ideology in politics anymore, but we never needed it more than today,” Sunde tells TF.

“Politicians in general, EU-politicians in particular, are prone to listening to lobbyists and afraid of not getting re-elected. I am clear with what I want, and I will fight for those no matter what lobbyists will say,” he adds.

Running for the Pirate Party, Sunde is in favor of decriminalizing file-sharing for personal use. In addition, he wants to keep the Internet free and open, without needless censorship and restrictions.

“We need a free Internet, an open democratic society, more transparency in governments,” he says.

The Pirate Bay co-founder is well aware of the fact that he is not the typical Parliament member, but that may be a strength rather than a weakness. In any case, he definitely stands out.

“I might be a weird fit for the EU but that’s exactly why I think I’m needed. My campaign videos are probably quite weird too, just for the same reason,” Sunde concludes.

In a few weeks we will know if the Finns agree that Sunde is the right choice to represent them in Brussels.

Photo credit

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

TorrentFreak: The Copyright Monopoly’s Fundamental Problem Remains The Same…

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

copyright-brandedWhen we share knowledge and culture in order to manufacture our own copies of it, this happens in private communications – it happens as part of the ones and zeroes that arrive at and are transmitted from our computers.

However, some part of these transmissions may be in violation of the copyright monopoly. The only way to find if any are is to listen to them and break the postal secret; to open all the digital letters and violate the privacy of correspondence.

There is no way to enforce the copyright monopoly without reading all the private communications in transit – mass eavesdropping and mass surveillance. There is no magic way to just wiretap the violations and ignore the rest; the act of finding which communications may violate the copyright monopoly requires that you sort all correspondence into legal and illegal. The act of sorting requires observation; you cannot determine if something is legal or illegal without looking at it. At that point, the postal secret and the privacy of correspondence have been broken.

(Some proponents of the copyright monopoly would argue that the act of sharing knowledge and culture wouldn’t classify as private correspondence. This is irrelevant, as in any case, it is intermixed with private correspondence that must still be unpacked and looked at in the sorting process.)

So we’re at a crossroads where we as a society must determine which is more important – the right to communicate in private at all, or the obsolete distribution and manufacturing monopoly of an entertainment industry. These two are completely mutually exclusive and cannot coexist. This is, and has been, the problem since the cassette tape.

The copyright industry understands this perfectly, which is why they have been working hard, long, and tenaciously to eliminate the concept of private correspondence online and introduce ubiquitous mass surveillance. A few examples:

In Ireland, the copyright industry (in the shape of the big four record labels) sued the country’s largest ISP, Eircom, for the right to install wiretapping and censorship equipment in the deepest of their core Internet switches: they demanded the ability to detect and prevent communications they didn’t like. Yes, you read that right: a private industry full-out demanded the right to examine all (and prevent any) private correspondence in the entire country.

In Sweden, the copyright industry did a two-pronged approach to get their own access to ISP access logs through a ridiculous over-implementation of the IPRED directive, along with working feverently to get mandatory ISP logging in the shape of Data Retention passed (the mass surveillance mechanism that was just now declared in violation of basic human rights by the highest EU court). The copyright industry (in the shape of IFPI) even demanded independent, extrajudicial access to the mass surveillance data from the Data Retention mechanisms. Yes, you read that right: a private industry demanded independent and unfiltered access to surveillance records of practically every footstep and every correspondence you make in your everyday life.

The copyright industry is very much a part of the mass surveillance industry. Mass surveillance is the only way they can maintain their crumbling monopoly on manufacturing copies.

At the end of the day, these two mechanisms must be weighed against one another: do we prefer the ability to communicate in private at all, or do we prefer the distribution and manufacturing monopoly of an entertainment industry? As is today, they can’t coexist, and this has always been and still remains the key point of contention.

One of the reasons that we’ve gotten to this point is that these two mechanisms are usually handled by different departments. The copyright monopoly tends to be under the Department of Commerce, whereas the fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and privacy of correspondence falls under the Department of Justice in most countries. This means that there has never been anybody with the responsibility of weighing them against each other, and coming to the obvious conclusion that the right to private correspondence far outweighs the distribution and manufacturing monopoly of an entertainment industry.

We need to keep kicking politicians out of office until they realize this enormous blind spot of theirs.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

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

TorrentFreak: Sony Blocks Creative Commons Movie With Bogus DMCA Takedown

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

sonyWe’ve reported on dozens of wrongful DMCA takedowns over the years, with each raising their own unique issues. Some are just sloppy efforts executed by careless anti-piracy companies while others have been carried out in a deliberate effort to stifle speech.

But while all wrongful takedowns have the potential to cause damage, few can be so clumsy and likely to enrage as the one carried out by Sony Pictures a few hours ago. If there was a competition to annoy as many people as possible with one click, Sony would definitely take the top spot. Here goes.

The Blender Foundation is the non-profit group behind the development of the open source 3D graphics program Blender. The Foundation is funded by donations with the aim of giving “the worldwide Internet community access to 3D technology in general, with Blender as a core.”

To showcase what Blender can do and promote the platform, since 2006 the Blender Foundation and Blender Institute have released movies including Elephants Dream and Big Buck Bunny.

Their third movie, Sintel, was released in 2010 and was funded by donations, DVD sales and other sponsorship. So that people were free to work with the movie, all animation data, characters and textures were released under Creative Commons Attribution License.

The open source beauty of Sintelsintel

Up until yesterday the movie was available on YouTube where it had been viewed millions of times. This version of the video is embedded in dozens upon dozens of news stories talking about the movie itself and the wider Blender project.

However, the beauty of Sintel has now been transformed into something infinitely less creative. Apparently Sony Pictures think they created and therefore own Sintel so on that basis have had the video blocked on YouTube on copyright grounds.

Sintel

If prizes were being handed out for the ‘best’ wrongful DMCA takedown likely to annoy the greatest numbers of people, Sony would be taking Olympic gold here.

Free and open source software – check.
Multiple instances of community funding via donation – check.
Creative Commons content censorship – check.
Blatantly claiming copyright on someone else’s content – check.
Shoot first, ask questions later mentality – check.

The only good thing to come out of this as far as Blender is concerned is all the free publicity they’re going to get in the next 48 hours. Bad publicity aside, *nothing* will happen to Sony – people aren’t going to like that either.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders ISPs to Unblock “Pirate” Site

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

filmakerzLast month the Public Prosecutor of Rome ordered Italian Internet providers to block access to 46 torrent, streaming and other file-sharing portals.

The crackdown was the largest enforcement action against copyright-infringing sites in Italy, and local authorities hinted that it wouldn’t be the last.

One of the sites affected by the blockades was Filmakerz.org, a video streaming portal that offers a variety of movies and TV-shows for free. Mainly popular among Italians, the site’s traffic plummeted as a result of the ban.

But while most blocked sites are quick to throw in the towel, Filmakerz.org decided to appeal the case, with success. This week the Court of Appeals overturned the blocking order against the site, ruling that it was too broad.

The panel of judges clarified that each blocking request should specify under what exact URLs copyrighted works are being infringed, instead of submitting a single domain name. Without the exact location of the infringing content, the court can’t verify the validity of the blocking request.

According to Fulvio Sarzana, the lawyer who represented Filmakerz.org, the ruling is a clear blow against the increasing censorship efforts in Italy. Sarzana says that the court specified two important ground rules.

“The first is that the Public Prosecutor must prove the existence of a for-profit motivation to get the blocking order,” the lawyer tells TF.

“The second is that parts of the site that contain legitimate content must not affected. This means that a partial seizure of an individual URL is preferred over the seizure of the entire site,” Sarzana adds.

The ruling comes at a crucial time, a few days after Italy’s independent Electronic Communications Authority (AGCOM) implemented new regulations that would allow foreign sites to be blocked more easily.

“The verdict is important because it shows that the order to block a site should be carefully decided, and is also important in the light of AGCOM rules,” Sarzana told us, adding that the regulation to block entire domains contradicts with European and Italian jurisprudence.

Following the Court of Appeals verdict, local ISPs have been instructed to unblock Filmakerz.org, which is expected to be accessible again soon. It is unclear whether any of the other blocked sites also plan to appeal the blockade, but with the appeal decision in Filmakerz’s favor it might be worth a shot.

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

TorrentFreak: Saudi Arabia Government Blocks The Pirate Bay (and More)

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

tpb-logoBlocking The Pirate Bay has become quite common around Europe in recent years, and today this practice spread to Saudi Arabia.

Without prior warning or official announcement, the country’s Ministry for Culture and Information ordered local ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay. In addition, several other torrent sites were also censored, including Torrentz.eu and Rarbg.com.

The reason for the blockade remains unknown, but piracy concerns seem plausible as the measures are coming from the Ministry of Culture, and not the Communications Commission which administers the country’s regular filters.

As can be seen below, the blocking notification for The Pirate Bay is also different from the green notice that appears for sites that are blocked in violation of the Islamic religion.

Saudi Arabia’s Pirate Bay blockade
saudi-arabia-block

Interestingly, the measures come two months after several copyright holder groups urged the U.S. Government to place Saudi Arabia on its priority watchlist. MPAA, RIAA and others suggested that the country isn’t doing enough to stop online piracy.

The blockade is currently active on nearly all ISPs, but TF has learned that Zain customers can still access the site. Zain does block Pirate Bay’s porn category, but that’s nothing new.

The Pirate Bay is among the 50 most visited websites in Saudi Arabia, and the blockade has caused quite a bit of uproar on social media. The topic is currently trending on Twitter where many people are voicing their frustration.

TPB block trending on Twitter
sa-tweets-tpb

However, as with all censorship attempts there are plenty of ways to circumvent this blockade. The easiest option at the moment is to simply use the https version of the site. Other workarounds, such as VPNs or Pirate Bay proxies, work fine too.

The Pirate Bay team is not impressed by yet another country blocking access to their website. A few months ago they released Pirate Browser which allows users to access the site without restrictions. It has been downloaded millions of times since.

Update: The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture and Information has now confirmed that the blockades are copyright related. 22 domain names have been blocked in total.

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

LWN.net: Full Disclosure Mailing List: A Fresh Start

This post was syndicated from: LWN.net and was written by: jake. Original post: at LWN.net

The full-disclosure mailing list is back. Nmap developer Fyodor has announced that he is resurrecting the list after its abrupt closure in mid-March. “The new list must be run by and for the security community in a vendor-neutral fashion. It will be lightly moderated like the old list, and a volunteer moderation team will be chosen from the active users. As before, this will be a public forum for detailed discussion of vulnerabilities and exploitation techniques, as well as tools, papers, news, and events of interest to the community. FD differs from other security lists in its open nature, light (versus restrictive) moderation, and support for researchers’ right to decide how to disclose their own discovered bugs. The full disclosure movement has been credited with forcing vendors to better secure their products and to publicly acknowledge and fix flaws rather than hide them. Vendor legal intimidation and censorship attempts won’t be tolerated!

TorrentFreak: Music Industry Wants Pirate Site Blockades in More Countries

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

stop-blockedIn recent years blockades of “pirate” websites have spread across Europe and elsewhere. In the UK, for example, more than 30 websites are currently blocked by the major ISPs per court order.

Opponents of this censorship route often warn that the measures inhibit free speech and risk overblocking. However, music industry group IFPI disagrees, pointing out that the rights of creators to protect their work trump these concerns.

“Despite misrepresentation by some anti-copyright campaigners, courts have consistently found that the blocking of sites providing illegal content achieves an appropriate balance of fundamental rights,” IFPI writes in its latest Digital Music Report.

IFPI points out that the ISP blockades in several European countries are having effect. Drawing on information supplied by data intelligence firms comScore and Nielsen, they report that “BitTorrent usage” decreased 11 percent in countries where pirate sites are censored, while it increased elsewhere.

“Website blocking measures implemented by ISPs have been effective. Between January 2012 and July 2013, European countries where blocking orders are in place saw BitTorrent use decline by 11 per cent, while European countries without such orders saw BitTorrent use increase by 15 per cent.”

tpbblockade

The data further shows that this blockade effect is most pronounced in Italy and the UK, where the most torrent sites are blocked. In Italy BitTorrent traffic dropped 13 percent and in the UK the decline was even larger, 20 percent.

The report doesn’t make it clear whether actual BitTorrent traffic was measured, or only page views at popular torrent sites. Regardless, IFPI notes that there’s still plenty of work to be done.

The blockades are currently limited to fixed lines, for example, and should be expanded to mobile networks as well. In addition, IFPI says that the blockades should be expanded to other countries worldwide.

“The industry believes that website blocking is an effective tool to help tackle digital piracy and should be available in more countries worldwide. It also needs to be extended to cover mobile networks,” IFPI reports.

The music industry group doesn’t name any countries, but perhaps they are hinting at the RIAA to push for “voluntary” blockades in the United States. In any case, if it’s up to IFPI the number of ISP blockades around the world will continue to increase.

The results reported by IFPI run contrary to a decision from the Dutch Court of Appeals earlier this year, which concluded that the Pirate Bay blockade was “disproportionate and ineffective.” As a result, Dutch ISPs were allowed to lift the access restrictions.

Photo: Michael Theis

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

TorrentFreak: Turkey’s Twitter Ban Collapse Fueled By VPNs and DNS Tricks

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

twitterlogoTwo days ago on the campaign trail ahead of end-of-March elections, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan showed his Internet naivety by doing something extremely silly. In the midst of a corruption scandal he first threatened and then carried through with an outright ban of Twitter.

“I don’t care what the international community says at all. Everyone will see the power of the Turkish Republic,” Erdogan said on Thursday.

Angry that Twitter did not respond to requests by Turkish courts to remove material that showed him in a bad light, Erdogan swung the banhammer and by Friday everything was in place. Turkish visitors to Twitter were greeted with notices displayed by their ISPs indicating that Twitter had been blocked by court order.

“Because there was no other choice, access to Twitter was blocked in line with court decisions to avoid the possible future victimisation of citizens,” Turkish telecoms watchdog BTK said on Friday.

What followed was anger from citizens, then delicious payback against yet another government trying – and ultimately failing – to artificially restrict access to information on the Internet.

Rather than bow to Erdogan’s wishes, Turkish citizens reacted in much the same that file-sharers around the world have done when sites such as The Pirate Bay were blocked by their ISPs. They took to the open web to spread the word on how to circumvent web censorship but in a fresh twist, they also took to the streets

The wonderful image below, ironically posted to Twitter itself, shows a poster on a Turkish street explaining how to change DNS settings to obliterate the Twitter ban.

Turkposter

Another photograph, again posted to Twitter, shows graffiti on a housing block informing people of the IP addresses used by Google’s DNS service rather than the ‘infected’ ones offered by local ISPs.

DNs

But while these images will be a delight to anti-censorship advocates everywhere, it was online that the real battle was taking place. Here at TF we noticed an unusual level of interest from Turkish visitors in our latest VPN article and then later in the day the effect on VPN takeup was confirmed by the company behind Hotspot Shield.

AnchorFree CEO David Gorodyansky told WSJ that 270,000 Turkish users installed their software in one 12 hour period Friday versus around 10,000 on a normal day, a huge increase by any standards.

TorrentFreak spoke with Andrew Lee at Private Internet Access who explained that while his company does not track the identities or locations of its customers, there had definitely been an uptick in signups following the introduction of Twitter censorship in Turkey.

“More and more, we are seeing that censorship is a form of control that the weak use in an attempt to hang onto power. In addition to Turkey, we can also see this happening in China, the United Kingdom and other various countries,” Lee explained.

“Fortunately, the people of this world, including Turkey, are strong, and democracy will continue to stand. As such, the attempt to censor Twitter in Turkey has all but failed.”

This article began with the suggestion that censorship of the type imposed by Turkey is something to be embraced. Not welcomed, of course, but treated as an opportunity to gain knowledge on how the Internet works and how web blockades can be circumvented.

Those who think they can control the Internet and people’s right to communicate should be made to think again and in Turkey this week that point has been admirably made.

According to analysis site Zete.com, tweets in Turkey before the ban numbered 10 million a day – they now sit at 24 million.

Update: According to a local report, Turkey has now appears to have blocked Google’s DNS, although other sources say that this is an actual network issue.

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