Posts tagged ‘Copyright’

TorrentFreak: Sony Settles Piracy Lawsuit With Russia’s Facebook

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

vkFor several years VKontakte, or VK, has been branded as a piracy facilitator by copyright holders and even the U.S. Government.

In common with many user-generated sites, VK allows its millions of users to upload anything from movies and TV shows to their entire music collections. However, copyright holders often claim that Russia’s social network has failed to adopt proper anti-piracy measures.

Last year this resulted in a lawsuit filed at the Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Region Arbitration Court, in which Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music demanded countermeasures and compensation for the large scale copyright infringement VK allegedly facilitates.

The case is still ongoing, but as of this week Sony Music has dropped out. According to a local report Sony and VK signed a confidential settlement agreement to resolve the dispute.

No further details on the content of the deal have been published, but according to sources VK will upgrade its current music service.

Among other things, the social network will start charging mobile users for access to its official music platform. Desktop users will still have free access, but these views will be monetized through advertisements.

Both changes will be rolled out gradually after a thorough test phase.

The settlement with Sony Music is a breakthrough for the Russian equivalent of Facebook, but it doesn’t mean that all legal troubles are over.

The remaining cases against Universal Music and Warner Music haven’t been resolved yet. Together with Sony the companies demanded 50 million rubles ($830,000) in damages in their complaint last year, and VK is still on the hook for most of it.

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

TorrentFreak: Spanish Government Claims Success in Internet Piracy Fight

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

piracydownFor many years Spain was regarded as somewhat of a piracy safe-haven but in recent times the country has taken steps to repair its fractured relationship with the entertainment industries.

Since 2012, Spain has implemented a series of changes and adjustments to local copyright law, each aimed at clamping down on the online distribution of copyrighted content. January 1, 2015 saw the most notable development, with the introduction of tough new legislation aimed at quickly shutting down pirate sites.

Now the country’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports is reporting success in its battle with the Internet pirates in a new report highlighting achievements since the beginning of legislative change three years ago.

According to the Ministry, more than 95% of the 444 complaints filed with the Intellectual Property Commission by creators and rightsholders have been resolved.

In total, 252 websites were ordered by the Commission to remove illegal content with 247 (98%) responding positively to the demands. According to the Ministry, 31 ‘pirate’ sites chose to shut down completely.

Last December and following a complaint filed by 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, Disney, Universal, Paramount and Sony, police also raided two of the country’s leading video streaming sites. Two men were arrested.

In addition to these voluntary and forced shutdowns, Spanish courts have recently ordered local ISPs to block several sites after rightsholders took advantage of a recent change in the law. Unsurprisingly The Pirate Bay was the first site to be targeted

In its report the Ministry reports that a total of five websites have now been ordered to be blocked in this manner following two High Court judgments. They include Goear, the first unlicensed music site to be tackled by the legislation.

Given the scale of the problem the gains being reported by the Spanish government seem relatively modest. Nevertheless, the Ministry insists that progress is definitely being made.

Citing figures from Alexa showing that three years ago 30 ‘pirate’ sites were among the top 250 most-visited sites in Spain, the Ministry says that now just 13 are present. Furthermore, those 13 are lower placed than they were before.

“It is clear from this data that pirate websites are losing their share of total Internet traffic in Spain,” the Ministry reports.

But while the claimed shuttering of dozens of sites and the removal of copyright content following complaints is being portrayed as a success story, the real test is whether Spaniards are buying more content.

According to figures published this week by local music industry group Promusicae, they are. Music sales in Spain totaled €70.6 million ($78 million) in the first half of 2015, an increase of almost 11%.

However, rather than solely attributing the successes to anti-piracy measures, Promusicae praised streaming as the industry’s savior. According to the group, streaming revenues increased 40% in the first six months of 2015 when compared to the same period last year.

With music industry successes ringing in their ears, later this year the TV and movie industries will learn whether Spaniards have a similar appetite for their products ‘on demand’. After a seemingly endless wait, Netflix will launch locally in the second half of 2015.

Beating piracy in Spain will be a tall order, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is upbeat.

“We can think of this as the bottled water business,” Hastings said. “Tap water can be drunk and is free, but there is still a public that demands bottled water.”

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

TorrentFreak: BREIN Hits 128 Sites Plus BitTorrent Uploaders & Moderator

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

nopiracyAnti-piracy groups come in all shapes and sizes but one of the most famous is Dutch outfit BREIN. Although its mission has expanded in recent years, BREIN is generally viewed as one of the more aggressive groups doing Hollywood’s bidding in Europe. That has included taking on giants such as The Pirate Bay.

Unlike most groups operating in its field, each year BREIN publishes an overview of its anti-piracy enforcement actions. It’s a broad report that for operational and security reasons tends to leave out specific details. Nevertheless, the highlights of its initial 2015 report provide a useful insight to the outfit’s current focus.

In the first half of the year BREIN continued its threats to local webhosts who offer services to file-sharing sites. While some are less responsive than others, BREIN says 128 ‘illegal’ sites were taken down in this way. Almost two dozen were BitTorrent sites, 37 takedowns hit streaming video portals and two targeted cyberlockers distributing music. The remainder were linking sites used to spread content hosted on cyberlockers and Usenet.

Like its counterparts overseas, BREIN mentions the tendency of ‘pirate’ sites to attempt to hide their locations behind the services of U.S.-based Cloudflare. However, the anti-piracy group says that unmasking sites’ true locations can be achieved upon request.

“BREIN believes that the services provided by CloudFlare to illegal providers should be discontinued after notification by BREIN,” the group adds.

As previously reported, BREIN also took action against several sites helping to distribute Popcorn Time software. The anti-piracy group says it targeted seven in all, with two “fleeing abroad” to be pursued by other copyright enforcers.

Also in the first half of 2015, BREIN says it obtained a total of 12 ex-parte injunctions, i.e court orders against alleged infringers who were not present to defend themselves during the proceedings.

Five of the orders concerned large uploaders, four connected to BitTorrent and the other to Usenet. BREIN said it also obtained an injunction against “an important moderator” on one of the “largest illegal BitTorrent sites”. In line with BREIN policy, the site itself is not named.

Five of the ex-parte orders related to those offering movies and TV shows without permission while two were connected to eBook offerings, one of which was a 13,500 title supplier. Two video game infringement injunctions were also obtained, one of which related to modification of consoles.

In action directed away from individuals, BREIN says it continued with its efforts to have infringing links delisted from Google. In the first half of the year the group says it sent 1.4 million infringement reports to Google, making 10 million reports since the program began in 2012.

BREIN also notes that it targeted various dedicated BitTorrent trackers with requests to “blacklist illegal infohashes”. Two of the trackers reportedly complied but a third “fled abroad” where it is now being pressured by another anti-piracy outfit.

Finally, BREIN reminds everyone that the long-running Pirate Bay blocking case is not over yet. After a big legal defeat in January 2014, BREIN is now taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Emails Expose Dirty Media Attack Against Google

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

google-bayLate last year leaked documents revealed that the MPAA helped Mississippi Attorney General (AG) Jim Hood to revive SOPA-like censorship efforts in the United States.

In a retaliatory move Google sued the Attorney General, hoping to find out more about the secret plan. The company also demanded copies of internal communications from the MPAA which are now revealing how far the anti-Google camp planned to go.

Emails between the MPAA and two of AG Hood’s top lawyers include a proposal that outlines how the parties could attack Google. In particular, they aim to smear Google through an advanced PR campaign involving high-profile news outlets such as The Today Show and The Wall Street Journal.

With help from Comcast and News Corp, they planned to hire a PR firm to “attack” Google and others who resisted the planned anti-piracy efforts. To hide links to the MPAA and the AG’s office, this firm should be hired through a seemingly unaffiliated nonprofit organization, the emails suggest.

“This PR firm can be funded through a nonprofit dedicated to IP issues. The ‘live buys’ should be available for the media to see, followed by a segment the next day on the Today Show (David green can help with this),” the plan reads (pdf).

The Today Show feature would be followed up by a statement from a large Google investor calling on the company to do more to tackle the piracy problem.

“After the Today Show segment, you want to have a large investor of Google (George can help us determine that) come forward and say that Google needs to change its behavior/demand reform.”

In addition, a planted piece in the Wall Street Journal should suggest that Google’s stock would lose value if the company doesn’t give in to the demands.

“Next, you want NewsCorp to develop and place an editorial in the WSJ emphasizing that Google’s stock will lose value in the face of a sustained attack by AGs and noting some of the possible causes of action we have developed,” the plan notes.

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Previously, the MPAA accused Google of waging an “ongoing public relations war,” but the above shows that the Hollywood group is no different.

On top of the PR-campaign the plan also reveals details on how the parties would taint Google before the National Association of Attorneys General.

Through a series of live taped segments they would show how easy it is for minors to pirate R-rated movies, buy heroin and order an assault weapon with the help of Google’s search engine.

Finally, the plan includes a “final step” where Attorney General Hood would issue a civil investigatory demand to Google.

In its court filing (pdf) Google uses the information above to argue that the AG’s civil investigatory demand was not the basis of a legitimate investigation. Instead, it was another tool pressuring the company to implement more stringent anti-piracy measures.

Given this new information, Google hopes that the court will compel Fox, NBC and Viacom to hand over relevant internal documents, as they were “plainly privy” to the secretive campaign.

It’s now up to the judge to decide how to proceed, but based on the emails above, the MPAA and the AG’s office have some explaining to do.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/27/15

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

insurgentThis week we have two newcomers in our chart. Furious 7 came out as a DVDrip and made a comeback.

Insurgent is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (1) Insurgent 6.6 / trailer
2 (back) Furious 7 7.6 / trailer
3 (2) Jurassic World (TS/Subbed HDrip) 7.7 / trailer
4 (…) True Story 6.4 / trailer
5 (3) Ted 2 (Subbed HDrip) 6.9 / trailer
6 (4) Home 6.8 / trailer
7 (6) The Longest Ride 7.1 / trailer
8 (…) Terminator Genisys (TS) 7.0 / trailer
9 (7) Mad Max: Fury Road (WEB-DL) 8.5 / trailer
10 (5) Spy (Subbed HDrip) 7.5 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: WordPress Rejects 43% Of All ‘Piracy’ Takedown Notices

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 steady increase in DMCA takedown notices in recent years.

Some of these 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.

To give the public insight into the effort it takes to process the requests WordPress regularly publishes a transparency report. In the report WordPress outlines the number of DMCA takedown notices, but also how many were rejected due to inaccuracies or abuse.

“We work hard to make our DMCA process as fair, transparent, and balanced as possible, so we stringently review all notices we receive to quickly process valid infringement claims and push back on those that we see as abusive,” WordPress explains.

The latest update covering the past half year shows that 4,679 piracy takedown requests were received during this period. What stands out is that content was removed in barely half of the cases reported.

In total, 43% of all notices were rejected, either because they were incomplete or due to abuse. February and April were particularly bad months, as more than half of all notices were rejected.

According to WordPress’ figures more than 10% of the notices were abusive, and the company highlights some examples in its “Hall of Shame.”

WordPress’ most recent takedown statistics
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For the first time WordPress has also released information on the organizations that submit the most complaints. Web Sheriff is listed on top here, followed by Audiolock and InternetSecurities.

Commenting on the new data Stephen Blythe, Community Guardian at Automattic, informs TF that they have seen a significant bump in rejections over the past months. This increase has two main causes.

“The first is that we rejected a large number of abusive takedown notifications from Web Sheriff that related to a single site. The second is that we are constantly refining our processes to ensure that we catch and push back on as many of these misuses as possible,” Blythe says.

WordPress currently doesn’t publish the takedown notices in full, but the company plans to highlight more abuse cases on its website in the coming months.

“We see numerous instances of abuse of the DMCA takedown process, on a regular basis. We plan to publish these via our transparency blog in future,” Blythe notes.

While the number of takedown requests WordPress receives pales in comparison to larger Internet services, it’s good to see that the company carefully reviews all notices to prevent unwarranted censorship. It will be interesting to see how the volume of request changes over time and whether copyright holders will improve their accuracy.

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

TorrentFreak: Geo-Blocking Caused Massive TV Piracy 20 Years Ago

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

tvDue to complex licensing agreements between content creators and distributors, movies and TV shows are often locked down to a specific region. A prime example is the U.S. edition of Netflix which offers a better selection than versions available elsewhere.

It’s a frustrating situation for consumers who are forced to jump through hoops to access the content they want to buy. The problem is amplified in Europe, where citizens of member states – sometimes located just a few miles apart – are regularly denied access to cross-border digital content.

This week, however, the European Commission sent a strong signal to the world’s largest movie studios and a powerful broadcaster that geo-restriction won’t be tolerated. Sky UK, Disney, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. were all put on notice with the launch of an EU antitrust investigation into the practice.

When one considers the history it’s difficult to feel sympathy for these companies. Just as geo-locking, blocking and local release windows fuel piracy today, licensing and geo-restriction fueled massive movie and TV show piracy two decades ago.

Dr Markus Kuhn currently works as a senior lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Cambridge. He made the headlines in 2010 when he was asked to analyze a controversial ‘bomb detector’ deployed in Iraq and concluded it could detect nothing. Twenty years ago, however, his skills were being deployed against content providers who simply refused to make their content widely available.

As a German citizen keen to view English language sci-fi content undubbed, Kuhn approached UK-based Sky TV in the early 1990s and offered to buy an official viewing smartcard from the company. Due to licensing conditions and their geo-blocking policy, Sky refused to sell him one. It was a move the company would later come to regret.

Faced with a completely inflexible market, Kuhn decided that if Sky wouldn’t provide its content for a price, then he would gain access to it for free. As a result the undergraduate began investigating the VideoCrypt encryption system used by Sky.

After what must’ve been hundreds of hours work, in March 1994 Kuhn debuted Season7, a piece of decryption software using a simple hardware interface that would enable viewers across Europe to watch Sky programming for free.

“This software was primarily written for European Star Trek fans outside Great Britain who don’t have a chance to get a regular Sky subscription and have no other way of watching the undubbed version of their favorite [sci-fi] series,” Kuhn said in a June 1994 announcement.

kuhn“I don’t want to cause any harm to Sky and I even asked them for a regular subscription some time ago, but they refused to sell one to Germany. So they have to live with the consequences of attracting the interest of high-tech freaks to the technical details of their access control system.”

Despite Kuhn’s best intentions, what followed was a Sky viewing free-for-all. With Kuhn’s software being spread between bulletin board systems and passed around on floppy discs, electronics enthusiasts across Europe began making and selling so-called “Season interfaces” for users to plug into their video decoders.

For those lucky enough to own a computer (a PC with a 12 MHz i286 processor was required to run a Season setup) what followed were some magical times. Satellite TV was a luxury item for most families so watching Kuhn’s software do its work (decoding was displayed live on-screen) was a hypnotic and exciting experience.

Sadly for Sky, however, Kuhn’s tools didn’t remain isolated in Germany where the company was doing zero business. Soon, large quantities of potential Sky customers in the UK and across Europe were also enjoying the service for free. That was exactly what Sky wanted to avoid but thanks to geo-blocking, that’s what it got.

Of course, like most hacks the fun eventually came to an end when Sky’s crypto experts threw a wrench in the works but the significance of Kuhn’s work lives on today. Rather than being driven by a ‘pirate’ ethos, Kuhn simply wanted to pay for a product that should have been freely available. When primitive licensing arrangements and restrictive business practices stopped him from doing so, Sky and its partners paid the price.

Today, more than two decades on, it seems that neither Sky nor its Hollywood allies have changed their ways. Still, it remains a possibility that the EU investigation launched this week will help them understand a thing or two about a free market while reminding them of Kuhn’s disruptive response to restriction 20 years ago.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Sues MovieTube Sites Over Mass Piracy

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

movietubeUnauthorized movie streaming sites have been a thorn in the side of Hollywood for many years, and yesterday the MPAA decided to take one of the most prominent players to court.

MPAA members 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros filed a lawsuit against a group of MovieTube affiliated websites, which operate from more than two dozen domain names.

In the complaint, filed at a New York District Court a few hours ago, the movie studios describe MovieTube as a business that’s designed and operated to promote copyright infringement for profit.

The MPAA lists several popular websites including MovieTube.cc, TuneVideo.net, Watch33.tv, MovieTube.cz, Anime1.tv, MovieTube.pm, FunTube.co, MovieTube.la and KissDrama.net. These sites share hosting facilities and a similar design and the studios believe that they are operated by the same people.

The websites in question are typical streaming sites, where users can watch videos and in some cases download the source files to their computers.

“Defendants, through the MovieTube Websites, aggregate, organize and provide embedded links to extensive libraries of Infringing Copies of Plaintiffs’ Works,” the compliant (pdf) reads.

“…users can watch Infringing Copies without leaving the MovieTube Websites. The MovieTube Websites even allow users, in some instances, to download Infringing Copies by clicking on a selection from a menu built into the video player software supplied by Defendants.”

According to the MPAA, MovieTube’s operators are well aware of the infringing nature of their site. On one of their Facebook pages they write that it’s not a problem that many films are pirated, since they are not bound by U.S. laws.

facebookadmit

The complaint accuses MovieTube of various counts of copyright and trademark infringement. This means that the site’s operators face millions of dollars in statutory damages.

Perhaps more importantly, the MPAA is also demanding a broad preliminary injunction to make it virtually impossible for the operators to keep their sites online.

Among other things, the proposed measures would prevent domain registrars, domain registries, hosting companies, advertisers and other third-party outfits from doing business with the site.

If granted, MovieTube’s operators will have a hard time keeping the sites afloat, but it appears that the injunction may not even be needed.

At the time of writing all MovieTube domain names are unreachable. It is unclear whether the operators took this decision themselves, but for now the future of these sites looks grim.

The full list of sites mentioned in the complaint is as follows: MovieTube.tw, MovieTube.ph, TVStreaming.cc, MovieTube.sx, MovieTube.pw, MovieTubeNow.com, MovieTube.tf, MovieTube.co, MovieOnDrive.com, MovieTube.vc, TuneVideo.net, MovieTube.mn, MovieTube.cc, Watch33.tv, MovieTube.cz, Anime1.tv, MovieTube.pm, FunTube.co, MovieTube.la, KissDrama.net, MovieTube.so, MovieTube.click, MovieTubeHD.co, MovieTubeHD.net, MovieTubeHD.org, MovieTubeHD.tv, MovieTubeHD.us, MovieTubenow.in and TuneMovie.me.

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

TorrentFreak: Massive Piracy Case Ends in Disappointment for Hollywood

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

warezAfter tracking down hundreds of Internet pirates over the years, a case that came to a head at the turn of the decade was shaping up to be one of the most important for anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån (now Rights Alliance).

More often focused on lower-hanging fruit, Antipiratbyrån had their eyes on the “warez scene”, the people and infrastructure at the very top of the so-called “piracy pyramid” from where content trickles down to the masses.

In 2010 and following a lengthy investigation by Antipiratbyrån, police raided a topsite known as ‘Devil’. Topsites are top-secret, high-speed servers used by piracy release groups and their affiliates for storing and distributing unauthorized copyrighted content. When Devil went down dozens of servers were seized, together containing an estimated 250 terabytes of pirate content.

One man was also arrested but it took until 2014 for him to be charged with unlawfully making content available “intentionally or by gross negligence.”

According to police the 50-something year old man from Väsby, Sweden, acted “in consultation or in concert with other persons, supplied, installed, programmed, maintained, funded and otherwise administered and managed” the Devil file-sharing network. Before its shutdown, Devil was reported to service around 200 elite members.

Considering Antipiratbyrån’s links with the movie industry it came as no surprise that the charges included the unlawful making available of 2,250 mainly Hollywood movies. According to the prosecutor, those numbers made the case a record breaker.

“We have not prosecuted for this many movies in the past. There are many movies and large data set,” prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad commented earlier. “It is also the largest analysis of computers ever made in an individual case.”

devil-top

Given the scale of the case it was expected that punishments would be equally harsh but things did not play out that way.

Despite admitting that he operated servers at his home and in central Stockholm and the court acknowledging that rightsholders had suffered great damage, the man has just been sentenced to probation and 160 hours of community service.

According to Mitti.se, two key elements appear to have kept the man’s punishment down. Firstly, he cooperated with police in the investigation. Secondly – and this is a feature in many file-sharing prosecutions – the case simply dragged on for too long.

“It is worrying that the bottleneck at the police has affected the sentence,” says Sara Lindbäck of Rights Alliance.

Defense lawyer Henrik Olsson Lilja says that he’s pleased his client has avoided jail but adds that no decision has yet been made on any appeal. That being said, an end to the criminal case doesn’t necessarily mean the matter is completely over.

Last year Rights Alliance indicated that the six main studios behind the prosecution might initiate a civil action against the man and demand between $673,400 and $2.69m per title infringed, albeit on a smaller sample-sized selection of the 2,250 movies involved in the case.

No announcement has been made on that front and Rights Alliance did not respond to our requests for comment.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Led Hollywood The Way, Co-Founder Says

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

pirate bayFredrik Neij, one of The Pirate Bay’s co-founders, was released early May after serving a 10-month prison sentence for his involvement with the site.

He has since returned to his home in Laos, where he’s picking up his life again. Speaking with TF, Fredrik says that he didn’t miss computers or the Internet as much as he’d expected.

What Fredrik missed the most about being ‘disconnected’ was instant access to news, information and entertainment. Instead of having access to the latest movies and TV-series without interruptions, he was forced to watch broadcast TV.

“Watching broadcast TV again for the first time in roughly 12 years was gruesome. I don’t know how people stand the commercial breaks without going insane,” Fredrik tells TorrentFreak.

However, the Pirate Bay co-founder also admits that quite a bit of progress has been made in recent years. In part, Hollywood and the video entertainment industry made these changes to give consumers something they would otherwise get on sites such as The Pirate Bay.

“I saw a lot of things that probably would not have existed without The Pirate Bay, like every channel having their own streaming services, and the short time between US premiere and it being aired on networks worldwide, usually just a few days or a week,” Fredrik says.

Netflix is a prime example of a video streaming service that has become a great success. But from a Pirate Bay user perspective there is still plenty of room for improvement.

For example, people should be able to get all their video entertainment at one service, instead of having to use a dozen or so. Similarly, blocking access to potential customers based on their location is an outdated business model that has to go.

“While I think all the new streaming services are great, if they want to take on piracy for real, they need to combine all services behind a common pay-wall so you don’t need several accounts to follow your favorite shows,” Fredrik notes.

“They also really need to address the geo-blocking problems and provide global availability of the all content at the same price. Until big media makes it as easy or easier to get all your media in one place no matter where you live, there will be a need for sites like TPB.”

Of course, The Pirate Bay doesn’t use any geo-blocking tools and the site also has a content library that beats any legal service. Because of this, TPB’s co-founder believes that the site will remain popular for a while.

Now that Fredrik’s back home he can catch up on Doctor Who and Archer again. He’s also closely following Pirate Bay related developments, last year’s raid in particular.

“Back when I ran things it only took three days to get back up from a raid. The new team took a good 6 weeks, but they have been doing a good job on TPB these last few years, and eventually restored the site to its former glory,” Fredrik says.

And even if the police managed to take the site down again, new Pirate Bays will take over as long as the demand is there.

“Even if TPB is permanently shutdown, the December raid shows that there will always be sites ready to fill the void. One again showing that meeting consumer demand is far more effective than trying to enforce lobby-bought laws with no support among the general public,” Fredrik concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Project Free TV Streaming Site Shuts Down

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

pftv-logoWhile BitTorrent remains the most used peer-to-peer method of obtaining video content online, for the past several years the availability of cheap bandwidth has provided users with additional options.

Closely associated with sites such as YouTube, streaming is now one of the most popular ways of viewing content. Thanks to a player embedded in a webpage no special skills are required. As a result, streaming sites have popped up all over the web, with a sizable proportion dedicated to copyrighted content.

However, to be really useful all of this content needs to be findable and that’s where sites such as Project Free TV (PFTV) stepped in. Indexing popular content from all around the web, PFTV presented TV and movie content to the masses in an easily navigated interface with hit shows such as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead just a click away.

pftv1

As a result of its attention to detail, comprehensive database and a loyal following, PFTV grew to become one of the most popular sites of its kind. Its popularity attracted the attention of copyright holders too, with Hollywood having the site blocked in the UK during November 2013.

Last evening, however, it all came to an end. Instead of its familiar yellow, orange and purple homepage, PFTV now displays a single word: “Goodbye”

Since Project Free TV had become the go-to place for millions of TV fans, the site’s users were quick to react, with dozens taking to Twitter to express their disappointment.

pftv2

But for many it is the site’s content discovery features that will be most missed.

“What I loved about Project Free TV was the aggregating feature of their daily TV show list,” a former user explains.

“While not a complete representation by far it had most of the shows I was interested in and introduced me to many excellent British and Australian shows I did not know of as well as plenty of new shows from the US I wasn’t aware of due to practically not ever seeing commercials for them on broadcast or cable.”

While most people enjoyed the site via its web presence, Project Free TV was also a massive hit with users of Kodi/XBMC. Thanks to a third party plugin located at TVaddons.ag, PFTV’s library could be enjoyed from within the software. Users now experience errors instead.

“It’s sad to see them go, our community is definitely in shock. However, it’s good to see that they closed while still on the top of their game, on their own terms,” a senior developer at TVAddons told TorrentFreak.

“There are a lot of other sites offering similar services and I’m confident that users who were dedicated supporters of Project Free TV will likely find a new home elsewhere in the coming days.”

Users searching for PFTV using Google will already find plenty of sites using the Project Free TV name but most are clones with reduced functionality. At best, those claiming to be the real deal aren’t being straight while others appear to be more interested in serving up malicious advertising than providing a decent service.

Project Free TV’s operator did not respond to our requests for comment.

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

TorrentFreak: EU Starts Geo-Blocking Antitrust Case Against U.S Movie Studios

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

europe-flagDue to complicated licensing agreements many movies and TV-series are only available online in a few selected countries, often for a limited period.

The movie studios often restrict broadcasters and streaming services to make content widely available, a practice which the European Commission wants to stop.

Today the European Commission sent a statement of objections to Sky UK and six large US film studios: Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros.

The Commission believes that the geo-restrictions the parties agreed upon are violating EU competition rules.

“European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU,” says Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy.

“Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today, also because licensing agreements between the major film studios and Sky UK do not allow consumers in other EU countries to access Sky’s UK and Irish pay-TV services, via satellite or online.”

Under European rules consumers should be able to access the services of Sky and other service providers regardless of where they are located. At the moment, most online services block access to content based on the country people are located, something Sky and the movie studios also agreed on.

The geo-blocking practices are a thorn in the side of the European Commission who now hope to abolish these restrictions altogether.

In parallel to the antitrust investigation the EU’s governing body adopted the new Digital Single Market Strategy earlier this year. One of the main pillars of the new strategy is to provide consumers and businesses with better access to digital goods and services.

The Commission plans “to end unjustified geo-blocking,” which it describes as “a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons.”

“I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe,” Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said at the time.

Sky UK and the six major studios will now have to respond to the concerns. The current statement of objections is only the start of the antitrust investigation, a final decision will take at least several months.

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

TorrentFreak: YouTube Faces Russia Web Block Over Pirate Content

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

youtubefaceFollowing intense pressure from local and international entertainment companies, on August 1, 2013 Russia introduced a brand new anti-piracy law.

Initially covering only movies, the law allowed websites offering ‘pirate’ content to be blocked by local ISPs if they fail to respond to complaints. Late November 2014 the law was further amended to include all copyrighted content except images.

The legislation has been used dozens of times to threaten unresponsive sites with blocking at the ISP level, but in many cases operators have complied to ensure they keep off Russia’s blocklist. Surprisingly the world’s largest user-generated content site YouTube today finds itself perilously close to becoming a new addition.

The problem dates back several months when TV shows owned by TNT-network appeared on the site without authorization. In April, YouTube received requests from local telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor to delete the content and apparently responded in a timely manner.

However, fresh monitoring carried out by Roskomnadzor this month reportedly found almost 140 links to the same content, an event that prompted the watchdog to initiate the start of the blocking procedure.

“On the application of the right holder ‘TNT-Teleset’ and in accordance with a decision of the Moscow City Court from April 7, 2015, tentative interim measures of protection of the exclusive rights to [two TV series] have been implemented against social networking website YouTube.com,” Roskomnadzor announced.

“Notification with a request to remove the unlawfully placed materials has been repeatedly directed at the administration of the Internet resource. Currently, access to the illegal videos has not been limited.”

For YouTube, the clock is now ticking. Roskomnadzor is alerting Russian users that on Monday July 27 YouTube pages will be added to Russia’s national register of copyright violators. However, due to the way blocking is sometimes implemented, Roskomnadzor warns that for some the entire site may be rendered inaccessible.

“The video hosting site has a huge audience, and for some users the resource could become completely unavailable,” Roskomnadzor’s Vadim Ampelonsky told local media.

“The administration of YouTube has always responded to our needs and removed illegal content. But in [this case] this hasn’t happened for reasons that aren’t apparent to us. We very much hope that we will not have to put YouTube on the blocklist registry.”

It’s unclear why YouTube hasn’t responded to the requests of Roskomnadzor. The company is usually responsive to complaints and it should be trivial to add the TV shows in question to its ContentID system so that uploads of the same can be spotted in the future. But in any event, YouTube has just days to respond before the banhammer falls.

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

TorrentFreak: Universal Asks Google to Censor “Furious 7″ IMDb Page, and More

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

face-palmIn an effort to make piracy less visible, copyright holders send dozens of millions of takedown notices to Google every month.

Unfortunately not all of these requests are as accurate as they should be.

Due to the high volume of often automated notices and the fact that copyright holders don’t check the validity of all requests, there are many questionable requests are made.

This week we spotted a dubious takedown notice from Universal Pictures, targeting several perfectly legitimate URLs. The movie studio’s tracking company apparently failed to properly screen the request as it lists the official IMDb page of the blockbuster Furious 7.

The Internet Movie Database is widely regarded as one of the top sources to find information on movies and having the page de-listed from Google certainly doesn’t help to prevent piracy.

Universal Pictures takedown request
fastimdb

Aside from Furious 7, the same notice targets “copyright infringing” links to the movie Hacker. Here, the movie studio also made an unfortunate mistake asking Google to remove a news article from Techdirt, covering the Hacking Team leak.

And while we’re on the topic of self censorship, it’s worth noting that Universal Pictures also asked Google, in a separate notice, to remove http://127.0.0.1 from the search results.

The mistakes were made by the French branch of the movie studio, which only recently began sending takedown notices to Google. The company has reported less than 200 URLs thus far including the mistakes above.

While Universal is the rightsholder, it’s worth noting the notices are sent by Trident Media Guard (TMG), the private company which also carried out file-sharing network monitoring for the French Government’s Hadopi scheme.

The good news is that Google hasn’t removed any of the inaccurately reported URLs just yet. The search engine is still validating the validity of the claims and will probably reject the requests.

In the meantime, Universal Pictures and TMG should reconsider their takedown campaign, or at least improve their monitoring tools.

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

TorrentFreak: Most Aussie Pirates Are the Industry’s Best Customers

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

spongepirateAs Australia continues to grapple with its online piracy problem, a new report commissioned by the office of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed both the scale of the problem and an interesting twist.

Carried out in conjunction with the UK government and executed by TNS Global, the survey of 2630 people found that 26% of the population aged 12 years and up – 5.2 million people – had consumed illegal content online during the first three months of 2015.

That doesn’t mean that one in four Aussies never put their money in their pockets though. The survey found that just 7% of the population are hardcore pirates who never pay for anything and only consume illegal content. Other pirates buy legitimate content to some extent.

When drilling down further, however, the figures appear to worsen. Of all Internet users over 12 who also consumed media content in the first quarter of 2015, 43% said they had done so illegally. Movies proved the most popular among pirates, with 48% saying they had obtained them online without permission. Music came in second place with 37%, while TV shows (33%) and video games (22%) took up the third and fourth slots.

In terms of piracy volumes, the survey found that music was the most-download content with an estimated 254 million tracks obtained in the first quarter of 2015. Around 95 million movies, 82 million TV shows and 9 million video games add to the total.

On average, Aussie pirates downloaded or streamed around 16 items of content each in the first three months of the year, with music proving the most popular by file volume followed by TV, movies and video games.

When looking at overall consumption of digital content, around 66% of movies were obtained illegally versus 36% of TV shows. Music tracks and video games were neck-and-neck with 30% and 29% respectively.

When it comes to methods for obtaining unauthorized content the survey results present a slightly confused picture.

“Infringers were far more likely than non-infringers to use peer-to-peer methods,
in the form of BitTorrent software (26%), uTorrent (28%) and Pirate Bay (19%),
whereas 5% or less of non-infringers said they had used these services,” the survey notes.

Of course, uTorrent is BitTorrent software and the Pirate Bay requires the use of BitTorrent software in order to function. But in any event, it appears that BitTorrent methods are more popular with those who obtain content illegally than those who do not.

But perhaps the biggest question is what motivates these individuals to pirate.

Among all pirates, 55% said they consume content illegally because it’s free and a sizable 51% cited ease of access and convenience as a primary motivator. Speed was a factor among 45% of respondents, with 21% noting that they did not wish to wait for content to become available locally.

Interestingly, among pirates who said they never buy any content, 27% said they download illegally in order to “try before they buy”. Among those who consume legal and illegal content, that figure jumps to 38%.

So what might cause pirates to change their ways?

Perhaps unsurprisingly almost four out of ten infringers said cheaper prices on legal services would help. However, the next most popular responses were all about availability. If all content was made available legally that would help 38% of infringers to change their ways while 36% said that timely availability of content when compared to the rest of the world would be a good motivator.

Yet another sign that better legal services are the key to reducing infringement came with pirates’ assessment of various measures the government and rightsholders have lined up to tackle infringement.

Nearly a quarter of infringers said that the thought of being sued might help them change their ways while just 17% felt that a letter from their ISP could deter them from further piracy. Although not currently on the agenda, 21% said that Internet suspensions might prove effective.

Interestingly, when asked if anything at all could stop them pirating, just 5% of all infringers said nothing could, rising to 10% among hardcore “buy nothing” pirates.

Finally, the survey provides yet another timely reminder that branding all pirates as enemies of the entertainment industries is a very bad idea. When looking at four content types – movies, TV shows, music and video games – the survey found that those who consumed a mix of legal and illegal content SPENT MORE on legal content than those who only consume content illegally.

aus-leg1

The full survey can be downloaded here (pdf)

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

TorrentFreak: uTorrent Flagged As ‘Harmful’ by Anti-Virus Companies and Google

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

utorrent-logo-newWith millions of new downloads per month uTorrent is without doubt the most used BitTorrent client around.

The software is the main source of revenue for the San Francisco based company BitTorrent Inc. and generates income through advertisements and bundled software.

The latter now appears to be causing trouble as several anti-virus vendors have begun listing uTorrent as a security risk. The scanning result below from VirusTotal shows that at least six anti-virus applications, including ESET and Symantec, have flagged the software as problematic.

The anti-virus scans associate the uTorrent.exe file with Trojan.Win32.Generic!BT and the controversial OpenCandy bundling software. While this isn’t the first time that uTorrent has been flagged in this manner, we haven’t seen it being reported by this many independent tests before.

uTorrent’s Virustotal results
utorrentvirus

In addition to action by the anti-virus companies, uTorrent is also being blocked by Google in several ways. When attempting to download the latest stable release of the torrent client, Chrome flags the software as malicious and blocks the download, although this only appears to happen sporadically.

Google is also actively blocking several pages that link to uTorrent and other BitTorrent Inc. software. According to Google, parts of the uTorrent website contain “harmful programs.”

uTorrent.com warning in Chrome
utorrentharm

The same “harmful software” warning from Google also prevented millions of people from accessing popular torrent sites earlier this month.

A Google spokesperson informed us that this was the result of the company’s increased efforts to block programs that make “unexpected changes” to people’s computers.

“Google Safe Browsing’s ability to detect deceptive software has steadily improved,” the company explained in a recent blog post.

“In the coming weeks, these detection improvements will become more noticeable in Chrome: users will see more warnings about unwanted software than ever before,” Google adds.

These and the other uTorrent threat reports all seem to be triggered by bundled third-party software bundled. There is no indication or evidence that the BitTorrent client itself is harmful.

We asked BitTorrent Inc. for a comment on the recent reports but the company has yet to respond.

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

TorrentFreak: Grooveshark Co-Founder Josh Greenberg Dies Aged 28

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

joshJosh Greenberg, the co-founder of the recently shuttered Grooveshark music streaming service, has been found dead in his Florida home.

The 28-year-old was discovered in his bed Sunday evening by his girlfriend in the house they shared.

“Josh Greenberg, co-founder of #Grooveshark was found dead in his Gainesville home Sunday evening. No evidence of foul play or suicide,” local police reported on Twitter.

Lori Greenberg, Josh’s mother, told Gainsville.com that her son had “never been sick a day in his life” and police had informed her that there was no evidence of any injuries or involvement with drugs.

“They are as baffled as I am,” she said. “It looked like he was sleeping.”

The popular entrepreneur’s mother briefly mentioned the closure of Grooveshark earlier this year after a prolonged legal battle with the major recording labels of the United States. She said that her son had been “more relieved than depressed” that the matter had been brought to an end.

“He was excited about potential new things that he was going to start,” she said.

Josh Greenberg and Sam Tarantino founded Grooveshark as 19-year-old freshmen at the University of Florida in March 2006. The company grew to become a major player in the streaming market with close to 150 employees but was continuously dogged by licensing and related copyright issues.

After spending increasing amounts of time and money on its legal defense, Grooveshark eventually threw in the towel at the end of April this year. Parent company Escape Media entered into a consent judgment with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group which saw the operation shut down for good.

Friend Ben Erez, who describes Josh as his mentor, heaped praise on the entrepreneur.

“There are people whose names I hear over and over again who end up disappointing when I finally meet them. When I met Josh for the first time, I felt the opposite. Here was a guy who deserved every word of praise I had heard,” he wrote.

“I’m sad and shocked but I can’t stop imagining what Josh would say. Probably something very zen like ‘appreciate me for who I was, mourn my loss, and get back to enjoying life. It’s too short to not’.”

Comments from Josh’s girlfriend Abby Mayer cited in a police department report note that her spouse was not known to be sick or on any prescribed medication.

Toxicology results will take two or three months.

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

Matthew Garrett: Your Ubuntu-based container image is probably a copyright violation

This post was syndicated from: Matthew Garrett and was written by: Matthew Garrett. Original post: at Matthew Garrett

I wrote about Canonical’s Ubuntu IP policy here, but primarily in terms of its broader impact, but I mentioned a few specific cases. People seem to have picked up on the case of container images (especially Docker ones), so here’s an unambiguous statement:

If you generate a container image that is not a 100% unmodified version of Ubuntu (ie, you have not removed or added anything), Canonical insist that you must ask them for permission to distribute it. The only alternative is to rebuild every binary package you wish to ship[1], removing all trademarks in the process. As I mentioned in my original post, the IP policy does not merely require you to remove trademarks that would cause infringement, it requires you to remove all trademarks – a strict reading would require you to remove every instance of the word “ubuntu” from the packages.

If you want to contact Canonical to request permission, you can do so here. Or you could just derive from Debian instead.

[1] Other than ones whose license explicitly grants permission to redistribute binaries and which do not permit any additional restrictions to be imposed upon the license grants – so any GPLed material is fine

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TorrentFreak: French Anti-Piracy Regime Breaks 5 Million Warning Barrier

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

warningWhile site-blocking currently grabs most of the headlines as a key anti-piracy strategy of the entertainment industries, the so-called “graduated response” is still considered a valuable tool for reducing infringing activity online.

Also known as “three strikes”, these schemes are promoted as educational in nature, with alleged pirates receiving escalating warnings designed to discourage further infringing behavior.

In the fall of 2010, France became one of the pioneers of the warning system and now almost five years later a report from the country’s ‘Hadopi’ anti-piracy agency has revealed the extent of its operations.

Between September 2010 and June 2015, a total of 4,897,883 initial warning notices were sent to French Internet account holders. In the same period 482,667 individuals received a second notice while just 2,221 reached the third stage.

Referrals to the public prosecutor (for those still not getting the message) reached 169 in the first six months of 2015, up from 46 in the same period in 2014.

When it comes to overall notices sent, June 2015 was the most active month in the history of the program thus far. In total 231,000 account holders received a first strike, 21,400 received a second and 104 reached the third stage.

However, according to figures published by NextInpact, the volume of notices being sent out to Internet users represents just a fraction of the total number of complaints filed by rightsholders.

To date it’s estimated that more than 37 million complaints (alleged instances of infringement) have been filed with the Hadopi agency although many millions have been discarded. According to Hadopi, however, the processing rate is being improved, with around 50% of the 70,000 complaints currently filed by rightsholders each day being actioned.

The Hadopi report can be found here (French, pdf)

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

TorrentFreak: UK Anti-Piracy ‘Education’ Campaign Starts This Summer

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

uk-flagIn an effort to curb online piracy, early last year the movie and music industries reached agreement with the UK’s leading ISPs to send ‘warnings’ to alleged pirates.

As we previously revealed, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) will monitor illegal P2P file-sharing with a strong focus on repeat infringers.

The alerts program is part of the larger Creative Content UK (CCUK) initiative, which will kick off with a broad anti-piracy PR campaign targeted at the general public.

This education part is nearly ready for launch and TF is informed that it will officially kick off this summer.

“…work has started on the education component of the campaign, which helps to lay the ground and is designed to inform and raise consumer awareness and to engage with people around their love of content. The first activities are scheduled to start later this summer,” ” a Creative Content UK spokesperson tells TF.

The education part is aimed at steering people away from piracy sites by pointing out how convenient and accessible legal services are.

The associated alerts campaign has no hard start date yet but is also being finalized and will begin at a later date.

“The education campaign will show consumers how to easily access content – such as music, film, TV, books, games, magazines and sport – from authorized online sources which provide a superior user experience. So it makes sense for this to happen before the alerts program starts,” CCUK informs us.

Both programs are supported by the UK Government with millions in funding. The Government justifies this contribution with an expected increase in sales, and thus tax revenue.

The ultimate goal is to bring down local piracy rates and during the months following the rollout the file-sharing habits of UK Internet users will be frequently polled to measure the impact of the campaign.

“The aim of Creative Content UK is to encourage greater use of legal content services and to reduce online copyright infringement. There will be regular measurements of legal and illegal consumption of content throughout the duration of the initiative, which will be compared with levels before the launch of the program,” CCUK tells TF.

To what degree the PR campaign and alerts will convert pirates into paying customers has yet to be seen. In any case, it won’t go by unnoticed.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/20/15

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

insurgentThis week we have one newcomer and one returnee in our chart.

Insurgent is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (…) Insurgent 6.6 / trailer
2 (1) Jurassic World (TS/Subbed HDrip) 7.7 / trailer
3 (7) Ted 2 (Subbed HDrip) 6.9 / trailer
4 (3) Home 6.8 / trailer
5 (2) Spy (Subbed HDrip) 7.5 / trailer
6 (4) The Longest Ride 7.1 / trailer
7 (5) Mad Max: Fury Road (WEB-DL) 8.5 / trailer
8 (8) Get Hard 6.1 / trailer
9 (10) Cinderella 7.3 / trailer
10 (back) Kingsman: The Secret Service 8.1 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: MalwareBytes Blocks Torrent Sites & Suspect Peers

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

Anti-malware software MalwareBytes has proven somewhat of a hit with pirates lately following a rather generous offer.

Rather than punishing people who use unlicensed versions of their software, MalwareBytes’ creators ran an amnesty program through which people could receive a premium product for zero cost.

It’s likely that many of those now using a free key will have accessed their previously unlicensed version from a torrent site. However, a feature present in the premium edition means that at least two of the world’s most popular venues are now completely off-limits to users of the software.

As can be seen from the screenshots below, visitors to Isohunt.to and LimeTorrents.cc – two of the world’s largest torrent sites – are currently rendered inaccessible by MalwareBytes’ “Malicious Website Protection” module.

isohunt-blocked

lime-malware

Puzzled at why the software should take this approach but noting the similarity between the IP addresses used by both sites, TorrentFreak approached MalwareBytes for comment.

“We’re blocking the IPs (amongst others) because there’s a plethora of IPs on the [same network] housing a ton of malvertising and fraud sites,” Malware Intelligence Analyst Steven Burn told TF.

“The ASN involved is thus far unresponsive and has been since March,” he added.

So, while neither Isohunt.to nor LimeTorrents are considered harmful by MalwareBytes, the company has chosen to block their IP addresses due to their proximity to others that are allegedly behaving maliciously.

These two sites are not the only ones affected either. Torrentdownloads.cc, Megafilmeshd.net, ebooks-gratuit.com plus a range of other sites hosted in Ukraine are all blocked by MalwareBytes’ Web Protection module.

While it’s easy to regain access to any blocked site by selecting the appropriate button in the corresponding MalwareBytes popup box, many users are likely to consider blocked sites as dangerous, despite them essentially being victims of someone else’s wrong doing.

Speaking with TF, Isohunt.to told TF that the blocked host in question actually provides a good service.

“These guys webcare360.com provide great hosting that is bulletproofed against different kind of abuses. So a lot of websites around the world use their service,” the site explains.

“Looks like MalwareBytes simply blocked all IP addresses that belong to this hosting provider.”

Another issue that raised its head during our tests is the seemingly random IP addresses MalwareBytes blocks while connecting to certain torrent swarms. On numerous occasions the software flags IP addresses as malicious and denies connections to them. Intrigued, we asked MalwareBytes for an explanation.

“Our main goal is to protect our users from malicious hosts that could either be servers participating in drive-by downloads or even home computers spewing spam,” Jérôme Segura, Senior security researcher at MalwareBytes, told TF.

“So the block of only certain IPs within that pool is simply that. We are blocking the ones that we have identified for malicious activity, which also happen to be torrenting.”

The blocking of these IP addresses raises an interesting dilemma. Due to their connections to suspicious activity elsewhere, MalwareBytes considers them malicious and excludes them. However, it’s worth noting that despite their potential bad deeds elsewhere, peers in a torrent swarm go through a kind of vetting process based on the hash content of the material they’re carrying.

Put simply, while they possibly cause mischief elsewhere, these peers can’t do any real harm to the swarm. Blocking them won’t cause any really serious problems either (unless they’re the only seeder) but since they don’t need to be blocked we asked MalwareBytes about their policy.

“You bring up a very valid comment and something that many people might wonder about. I will pass this information along to see how we can manage this in a better way,” Jérôme Segura notes.

In conclusion, both scenarios (site and peer blocking) are caused by the blocking of IP addresses either directly or loosely connected to malicious activity elsewhere. MalwareBytes users will have to use their discretion when deciding whether to block or allow those connections in future.

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

TorrentFreak: One Direction Remix Comp Entry is Copyright Infringing, Sony Says

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

1d-fourIn advance of the release of their latest album ‘Four’, One Direction invited remixers and producers from the UK to remix their track Steal My Girl.

“This is a huge opportunity to work with the music and vocals of Harry, Niall, Louis, Liam and Zayn,” said artist network TalentHouse in its introduction.

“After getting involved in remixing himself, Liam Payne wanted to give other people the opportunity. He, and their guest judges including senior A&R and Radio executives from Sony Music, will select one artist to receive a prize of £1,500. The selected remix will be posted to millions of music fans across the band’s official channels and potentially played on radio as an exclusive premiere,” TalentHouse continued.

The competition attracted the attention of UK-based producer and songwriter Lee Adams who took on the remix challenge after using the track stems uploaded to Soundcloud by TalentHouse themselves. Things didn’t go to plan, however.

Even though the stems were put on Soundcloud and entrants were told to upload their remixes there [“Artists must submit their remix via Talenthouse by pasting in their SoundCloud link”], the automated anti-piracy engines of the music site apparently weren’t informed.

“I made my remix, put it on Soundcloud about a week before the contest closing date. About two days later, it was taken down as it had been detected by SoundCloud’s own copyright system as infringement,” Lee informs TorrentFreak.

According to several other complaints left on the competition’s official page, Lee wasn’t the only one affected either. It’s not clear what happened in the other cases but Lee was left to negotiate with SoundCloud over the strike on his account. That didn’t go well either.

“I messaged SoundCloud back saying it was part of a remix contest. Then they told me that doesn’t mean I own the copyright,” Lee says.

“I then explained that if the stems had been put out by the record company officially, then they had given permission. They still argued that I didn’t own the copyright.”

Undeterred, Lee contacted the company running the competition on Sony’s behalf.

“As it was only a couple of days before the contest closed, I emailed TalentHouse themselves to see if they could do anything,” Lee explains.

“They were very good and after a couple of emails SoundCloud reinstated my track. Interestingly, TalentHouse made the comment that ‘this kind of thing happens all the time with SoundCloud’.”

But following months of silence and the ‘infringement’ episode now a fading memory, SoundCloud copyright complaints are again back on the agenda.

“We’ve received a report that your track ‘One Direction – Steal My Girl (Lee Adams Remix)’ contains copyrighted content. As a result, your track has been removed from your profile for the time being,” SoundCloud informed Lee this week.

Having a second complaint filed against his remix upset Lee, who took to Twitter to vent his frustration.

one-direction

“I only remix a song if I am asked to or a public contest is put out officially by a label. If I had just remixed this song unofficially because I wanted to, I think that would be a good claim that I had infringed the copyright,” Lee explains.

It must be noted that the competition rules make it clear that “all rights in materials that are created by entrants using the stems are assigned to Sony Music” but filing copyright infringement complaints against remix competition entrants seems like a particularly poor way to deal with fans.

“To me this is just a poor decision by Sony, maybe they shouldn’t do remix competitions of their artists if they don’t want problems like this. To me it’s a good marketing decision to do a remix competition in the first place but everything that has gone on after has been poor,” Lee concludes.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the original One Direction stems uploaded for the competition are still being offered on SoundCloud for people to remix. However, those tempted to do so should be warned, since re-uploading finished tracks back to SoundCloud risks a potential infringement strike against their account.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Wants 10 Year Prison Sentence For Online Pirates

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

uk-flagIn an effort to deter online piracy the UK Government is proposing to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement to ten years.

The current maximum of two years is not enough to deter infringers, lawmakers argue.

The new proposal follows a suggestion put forward in a study commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) earlier this year.

The study concluded that the criminal sanctions for copyright infringement available under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) could be amended to bring them into line with related offenses, such as counterfeiting.

According to the Government it’s important that online piracy is seen as “no less serious” than offline infringements, and the increased sentence will put both offenses on par.

“By toughening penalties for commercial-scale online offending we are offering greater protections to businesses and sending a clear message to deter criminals,” says Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe.

The proposal is being welcomed by copyright holders who have lobbied extensively to increase penalties for online piracy.

“This consultation is very welcome as we feel there is a clear anomaly in the way that online copyright infringement by criminal enterprises is treated by the justice system,” Eddy Leviten, Director General of the Alliance for Intellectual Property, says.

Although targeted at online piracy, casual file-sharers have little to worry about. The new legislation will be targeted at those involved in organized and commercial copyright infringement. This would include operators of large piracy sites, but not their users.

Before going forward with the proposal the Government is seeking input from the public. A consultation launched today invites supporters and opponents of the plan to chime in, which is likely to trigger a heated debate.

The consultation will run until the end of August and the Government will release the individual responses and publish a summary report afterwards.

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

TorrentFreak: KickassTorrents Disappears From Google After Penalty

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

kickassWith millions of visitors per day KickassTorrents (KAT) is arguably the most visited torrent site on the Internet, outranking even the notorious Pirate Bay.

After several domain hops KAT has been operating from the KAT.cr domain name for a few months now. However, in recent weeks many infrequent visitors have experienced trouble locating the site, leading to all sorts of problems.

Traditionally, the site has been easy to find through Google by entering the search terms “KickassTorrents” or “Kickass Torrents,” but this is no longer the case.

In fact, the official KAT.cr address is nowhere to be found in the top results. Instead, people see the unknown and unaffiliated Kickasstorrents.eu domain on top in many locations, as the screenshot below shows.

Google’s KickassTorrents search results
googlekick

The KAT team informs us that Google began to penalize its pages a while ago, for reasons unknown. Perhaps there are ways to solve the problems, but the site is currently not doing any search engine optimization (SEO).

“It’s already about five or six months since we started to experience some kind of penalty from Google. The issue is that we were not performing any SEO activities at all,” KAT says.

What makes matters worse is that .eu site which tops Google search results is a scam. It doesn’t offer any torrents but instead prompts visitors to download File_Downloader.exe, which appears to be malware.

The KAT team finds it unfortunate that Google is sending tens of thousands of visitors to a shady site and encourages people to check the official Facebook and Twitter accounts for the latest official domain name.

Interestingly, not all search engines treat KAT the same. In Bing the site’s official domain name is not on top either, but it’s listed on the first page. DuckDuckGo does the best job, identifying the correct domain and even tagging it as an “official site,” which is quite useful to estranged KAT users.

DuckDuckGo’s KickassTorrents search results
duckkick

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