Posts tagged ‘Copyright’

TorrentFreak: Censorship Is Not The Answer to Online Piracy

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

This is a guest post written by Simon Frew, Deputy President of Pirate Party Australia.

The Australian Government recently called for submissions into its plans to introduce a range of measures that are the long-standing dreams of the copyright lobby: ISP liability, website blocking for alleged pirate sites and graduated response.

The Government’s discussion paper specifically asked respondents to ignore other Government inquiries into copyright. This meant ignoring an inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) into copyright in the digital economy and an IT pricing inquiry. These reviews both covered important aspects of sharing culture in the 21st century, yet they were completely ignored by the Government’s paper and respondents were instructed to ignore issues covered in them.

The ALRC review examined issues around the emerging remix culture, the ways the Australian copyright regime limits options for companies to take advantage of the digital environment and issues around fair dealing and fair use. It recommended a raft of changes to update Australian copyright law to modernize it for the digital age. Whilst the recommendations were modest, they were a step in the right direction, but this step has been ignored by the Australian Parliament.

The IT pricing inquiry held last year, looked into why Australians pay exorbitant prices for digital content, a practice that has been dubbed the Australia Tax. Entertainment and Tech companies were dragged in front of the inquiry to explain why Australians pay much more for products than residents of other countries. The review found that, compared to other countries, Australians pay up to 84% more for games, 52% more for music and 50% more for professional software than comparable countries. The result of this review was to look at ways to end geographic segmentation and to continue to turn a blind eye to people using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to circumvent the higher prices in Australia.

Between the Australia Tax and the substantially delayed release dates for TV shows and movies, Australians don’t feel too bad about accessing content by other means. According to some estimates, over 200,000 people have Netflix accounts by accessing the service through VPNs.

Pirate Party Australia (PPAU) responded to the latest review with a comprehensive paper, outlining the need to consider all of the evidence and what that evidence says about file-sharing.

To say the Government’s discussion paper was biased understates the single-mindedness of the approach being taken by the Government. A co-author of the Pirate Party submission, Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer summed it up:

The discussion paper stands out as the worst I have ever read. The Government has proposed both a graduated response scheme and website blockades without offering any evidence that either of these work. Unsurprisingly the only study the discussion paper references was commissioned by the copyright lobby and claims Australia has a high level of online copyright infringement. This calls into question the validity of the consultation process. The Government could not have arrived at these proposals if independent studies and reports had been consulted.

The entire review was aimed at protecting old media empires from the Internet. This is due in part, to the massive support given to the Liberal (Conservatives) and National Party coalition in the lead-up to the 2013 federal election which saw Murdoch owned News Ltd media, comprising most major print-news outlets in Australia, actively campaign for the in-coming Government. There is also a long history of media companies donating heavily to buy influence. Village Roadshow, one of Australia’s largest media conglomerates, has donated close to four million dollars to both major parties since 1998: in the lead up to the 2013 election alone, they donated over $300,000 to the LNP.

The sort of influence being wielded by the old media is a big part of what Pirate parties worldwide were formed to counter. The Internet gives everyone a platform that can reach millions, if the content is good enough. The money required to distribute culture is rapidly approaching zero and those who built media empires on mechanical distribution models (you know, physical copies of media, DVDs, cassettes etc) want to turn the clock back, because they are losing their power to influence society.

Much of the Pirate Party response centred on the need to allow non-commercial file-sharing and dealing with the wrong, bordering on fraudulent assumptions, the paper was based on. From the paper:

Digital communications provide challenges and opportunities. Normal interactions, such as sharing culture via the Internet, should not be threatened. Creators should seize the new opportunities provided and embrace new forms of exposure and distribution. The Pirate Party believes the law should account for the realities of this continually emerging paradigm by reducing copyright duration, promoting the remixing and reuse of existing content, and legalising all forms of non-commercial use and distribution of copyrighted materials.

The discussion paper asked, ‘What could constitute ‘reasonable steps’ for ISPs to prevent or avoid copyright infringement?’ This was of particular concern because it is aimed at legally overturning the iiNet case, which set a legal precedent that ISPs couldn’t be sued for the behavior of their users. This section was a not-so-subtle attempt to push for a graduated response (‘three strikes’) system which has been heavily criticized in a number of countries.

The agenda laid out in this discussion paper was very clear, as demonstrated by Question 6: “What matters should the Court consider when determining whether to grant an injunction to block access to a particular website?”

The Pirate Party obviously disagrees with the implication that website blocking was a foregone conclusion. Censorship is not the answer to file-sharing or any other perceived problem on the Internet. Government control of the flow of information is not consistent with an open democracy. The Pirate Party submission attacked website blocking on free speech grounds and explained how measures to block websites or implement a graduated response regime would be trivial to avoid through the use of VPNs.

On Tuesday September 9, a public forum was held into the proposed changes. The panel was stacked with industry lobbyists, no evidence was presented while the same tired arguments were trotted out to try to convince attendees that there was need to crack down on file-sharing. It wasn’t all bad though, with the host of the meeting, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, flagging a Government re-think on how to tackle piracy after the scathing responses to the review from the public.

Despite signalling a re-think, the Australian Government is still intent on implementing draconian copyright laws. Consumers may have won this round, but the fight will continue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image from the raid

Raid

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

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

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

RemixHD

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Google Refuses to Remove Links to Kate Upton’s “Fappening” Photos

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

uptonNearly two weeks have passed since hundreds of photos of naked celebrities leaked online. This “fappening” triggered a massive takedown operation targeting sites that host and link to the images, Google included.

A few days ago Google received a request to remove links to Kate Upton’s stolen photos The request was not sent by Upton but by her boyfriend Jason Verlander, who also appears in a few of the leaked images.

The notice includes hundreds of URLs of sites such as thefappening.eu where the photos are hosted without permission.

It’s quite unusual for Google’s takedown team to be confronted with a long link of naked celebrity pictures. This may explain why it took a while before a decision was reached on the copyright-infringing status of the URLs, a process that may involve a cumbersome manual review.

Yesterday the first batch was processed and interestingly enough Google decided to leave nearly half of all URLs untouched. The overview below shows that with 16 of the 444 links processed, only 45% were removed.

The big question is, of course, why?

Verlander’s takedown request

upton-google-fappening

Google doesn’t explain its decision keep the links in question in its search results. In some cases the original content had already been removed at the source site, so these URLs didn’t have to be removed.

Other rejections are more mysterious though. For example, the thefappening.eu URLs that remain online all pointed to stolen images when we checked. Most of these were not nudes, but they certainly weren’t posted with permission.

One possible explanation for Google’s inaction is that Verlander most likely claimed to own the copyright on the images, something he can only do with pictures he took himself. With Upton’s selfies this is hard to do, unless she signed away her rights.

While browsing through the reported URLs we also noticed another trend. Some sites have replaced Upton’s leaked photos with photos of other random naked women. Google’s takedown team apparently has a sharp eye because these were not removed by Google either.

Chilling Effects, who host Google’s takedown requests, just posted a redacted version of the original notice with Upton’s name removed. Unfortunately this doesn’t offer more clues to resolve this takedown mystery, so for now we can only guess why many of the links remain indexed.

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

TorrentFreak: Cinema Staff Rewarded For Spotting Movie Cammers

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

Every few months the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) reports on a scheme designed to cut down on the instances of camcorded movies appearing on the Internet.

The Take Action initiative, which has been in place since 2006, is funded by UK film distributors via the Film Distributors’ Association (FDA). In addition to funding educational campaigns and school resources on copyright, the project also provides night-vision goggles for catching potential pirates in the act.

In a new bulletin FACT and FDA report that nine members of staff from Cineworld, Odeon and Vue cinemas have become the latest to be commended for disrupting unauthorized movie recording in the UK.

“FDA is delighted to recognize the on-going vigilance of our colleagues in cinema exhibition across the UK,” said FDA Chief Executive Mark Batey.

“They are at the frontline of the fight against film theft, and a vital part of our programme to make the UK as secure a market in which to release movies as possible.”

The cammer catchers

camcatchers

In addition to general recognition, the individuals pictured above were presented with certificates and unspecified cash rewards. Although not quantified by FACT this time around, in the past rewards have varied, from up to £700 per person in 2012 down to £500 per person in 2013.

FACT reports that the nine individuals were involved in seven ‘incidents’, all of which were attended by the police. In five incidents the alleged cammers accepted police cautions, with one incident leading to an arrest.

The latest statistics are down on figures last reported by FACT, both in terms of overall incidents and people being rewarded. During the reporting period April 2013 to December 2013, a dozen alleged cammers of major movies were spotted in UK cinemas resulting in five arrests but no prosecutions. A total of 15 cinema workers picked up rewards.

It’s noteworthy, however, that apprehending those who record movies and then illegally distribute copies online doesn’t have to start and end in the cinema. FACT’s recent private prosecution of a man who recorded Fast and Furious 6 led to a prison sentence of almost three years, even though he managed to record the movie without being spotted. FACT are quick to recount this cautionary tale.

“As the recent sentencing of Philip Danks to a 33 month custodial sentence demonstrates, the illegal recording of films is a serious crime which carries serious consequences, both for the perpetrators and the industry they violate,” said FACT Director General Kieron Sharp.

The latest camming figures reported by FACT vary enormously from events six years ago. Documents previously obtained by TorrentFreak revealed that in 2008 there were 50 camming incidents in UK cinemas, with police attending on just two occasions. One resulted in a couple receiving official cautions but in the majority of cases people observed camming simply left the building.

It’s unclear whether today’s lower figures indicate a growing reluctance to test out the patience of both FACT and the police. However, even for those who do get away with the initial recording, recent events show that subsequently uploading that content to the Internet has the potential to elicit a big response.

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

Bradley M. Kuhn's Blog ( bkuhn ): Understanding Conservancy Through the GSoC Lens

This post was syndicated from: Bradley M. Kuhn's Blog ( bkuhn ) and was written by: Bradley M. Kuhn. Original post: at Bradley M. Kuhn's Blog ( bkuhn )

[ A version of this post originally appeared
on the
Google Open Source Blog
, and was cross-posted
on Conservancy's
blog
. ]

Software Freedom Conservancy, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that
serves as a home to Open Source and Free Software projects. Such is easily
said, but in this post I’d like to discuss what that means in practice for an
Open Source and Free Software project and why such projects need a
non-profit home. In short, a non-profit home makes the lives of Free
Software developers easier, because they have less work to do outside of
their area of focus (i.e., software development and documentation).

As the summer of 2014 ends, Google Summer of Code (GSoC) coordnation work exemplifies the value a non-profit home brings its Free
Software projects. GSoC
is likely the largest philanthropic program in the Open Source and Free
Software community today. However, one of the most difficult things for
organizations that seek to take advantage of such programs is the
administrative overhead necessary to take full advantage of the program.
Google invests heavily in making it easy for organizations to participate
in the program — such as by handling the details of stipend payments
to students directly. However, to take full advantage of any philanthropic
program, the benefiting organization has some work to do. For its member
projects, Conservancy is the organization that gets that logistical work
done.

For example, Google kindly donates $500 to the mentoring organization for
every student it mentors. However, these funds need to go
“somewhere”. If the funds go to an individual, there are two
inherent problems. First, that individual is responsible for taxes on that
income. Second, funds that belong to an organization as a whole are now in
the bank account of a single project leader. Conservancy solves both those
problems: as a tax-exempt charity, the mentor payments are available for
organizational use under its tax exemption. Furthermore, Conservancy
maintains earmarked funds for each of its projects. Thus, Conservancy
keeps the mentor funds for the Free Software project, and the project
leaders can later vote to make use of the funds in a manner that helps the
project and Conservancy’s charitable mission. Often, projects in
Conservancy use their mentor funds to send developers to important
conferences to speak about the project and recruit new developers and
users.

Meanwhile, Google also offers to pay travel expenses for two mentors from
each mentoring organization to attend the annual GSoC Mentor Summit (and,
this year, it’s an even bigger Reunion conference!). Conservancy handles
this work on behalf of its member projects in two directions. First, for
developers who don’t have a credit card or otherwise are unable to pay for
their own flight and receive reimbursement later, Conservancy staff book
the flights on Conservancy’s credit card. For the other travelers,
Conservancy handles the reimbursement details. On the back end of all of
this, Conservancy handles all the overhead annoyances and issues in
requesting the POs from Google, invoicing for the funds, and tracking to
ensure payment is made. While the Google staff is incredibly responsive
and helpful on these issues, the Googlers need someone on the project’s
side to take care of the details. That’s what Conservancy does.

GSoC coordination is just one of the many things that Conservancy does
every day for its member projects. If there’s anything other than software
development and documentation that you can imagine a project needs,
Conservancy does that job for its member projects. This includes not only
mundane items such as travel coordination, but also issues as complex as
trademark filings and defense, copyright licensing advice and enforcement,
governance coordination and mentoring, and fundraising for the projects.
Some of Conservancy’s member projects have been so successful in
Conservancy that they’ve been able to fund developer salaries — often
part-time but occasionally full-time — for years on end to allow them
to focus on improving the project’s software for the public benefit.

Finally, if your project seeks help with regard to handling its GSoC
funds and travel, or anything else mentioned
on Conservancy’s list
of services to member projects
, Conservancy is welcoming
new applications for
membership
. Your project could
join Conservancy’s more
than thirty other member projects
and receive these wonderful services
to help your community grow and focus on its core mission of building
software for the public good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police Shut Down MP3 Search Engine MP3Juices

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

mp3juicesOver the past few months City of London Police have been working together with copyright holders to topple sites that provide or link to pirated content.

The police started by sending warning letters to site owners, asking them to go legit or shut down. Late last year this was followed by a campaign targeted at domain registrars, asking them to suspend the domain names of several “illegal” sites.

Most registrars have denied these suspension requests because they lack any legal basis, but some are cooperating. Yesterday another site fell victim to the police’s campaign after MP3Juices.com had its domain name suspended.

The MP3 search engine was relatively popular with well over a million visitors per month. For now, these visitors will have to find an alternative as the site currently displays a prominent police banner.

“You have tried to access a website that is under criminal investigation by the UK: Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) This site is being investigated for online copyright infringement,” the banner reads.

pipcu

The domain was suspended by domain name registrar Internet.bs, who previously suspended the domains of several other sites including Cricfree.tv. Interestingly, the latter was allowed to transfer its domain to another registrar after it threatened to take legal steps.

TorrentFreak asked PIPCU for a comment on the latest domain suspension but we have yet to hear back.

Increasingly, owners of alleged pirate sites are looking for safe registrars that won’t give in to complaints from authorities overseas. The Canadian registrar EasyDNS appears to be a safer choice, as the company protests PIPCU’s efforts fiercely.

PIPCU is not happy with these non-cooperative registrars and a few weeks ago the police sent EasyDNS a threatening letter, suggesting that the company itself could be held liable for aiding and abetting a criminal operation.

TorrentFreak spoke with a source who has been following the response of site owners to the recent domain perils, and he suggested that bypassing registrars altogether may become a new trend.

“Cutting out the registrar and going directly to the TLD’s registry is the best way. Through Iceland for example. ISNIC would only respond to a court order in Iceland, not threats from police,” we were told.

Iceland’s ISNIC would indeed be a safe option. The organization previously told us that it will not take any action without a court order, and later condemned PIPCU’s domain suspension requests.

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

TorrentFreak: Largest Pirate Bay Proxy & More Blocked By UK ISPs

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

After years of legal action, arrests, and placing people like Gottfrid Svartholm and Peter Sunde behind bars, it became clear to copyright holders that trying to directly shutdown The Pirate Bay would not be easy.

Instead they decided to target ISPs, companies that are responsive to legal threats in most corners of the world. In time, court orders rendered The Pirate Bay and similar sites blocked, but not for long. Proxy sites enabling access to the world’s largest torrent indexes soon began to thrive, but their time would also come.

The biggest proxy battle anywhere on the planet is taking place in the UK, a country where it’s become almost a formality to have sites blocked at the ISP level. Today we can report that yet another silent round of blockades are being put in place.

One of the main targets is PirateProxy, an extremely popular proxy service that’s particularly well known in the UK. The site was previously accessible at PirateProxy.net but moved to a new domain earlier in the year after its domain was blocked.

PirateProxy.net

The site switched to PirateProxy.in during April and successfully maintained its traffic. As can be seen from the Alexa chart below, PirateProxy is the 125th most popular domain in the entire country, an impressive feat for a site that offers nothing but a Pirate Bay block workaround.

PirateProxyin

Notable too is the site’s placing in Ireland, where The Pirate Bay is also blocked by ISPs. As of this morning PirateProxy was the country’s 131st most-popular domain.

However, visitors to the site through the major UK ISPs are now beginning to see the familiar “domain blocked” message. The example from Virgin Media, which confirms the existence of a court order, is shown below.

VirginBlock

Also under attack are the various proxy services available through Come.in, a portal which facilitates access to a wide range of torrent and other similar sites blocked by numerous European ISPs.

In addition to sundry others, at the moment the site’s PirateBay, KickassTorrents, ExtraTorrent, YTS/YIFY, TorrentReactor, BitSnoop and 1337x proxies are being subjected to UK blockades.

This is the second time this year that multiple Come.in proxies have been targeted by rightsholders. Back in June its EZTV and YTS proxies were blocked in the UK but were re-established by the site’s operators who vowed to keep putting up new services to maintain service.

cityoflondonpoliceWhile blocking proxies continues to be a key weapon of choice, proxies with UK-based operators have greater concerns. As reported in August, City of London police’s PIPCU unit arrested the operator of Immunicity and several other proxies.

According to a police response to a Freedom of Information request obtained by TorrentFreak, he now stands accused of a wide range of crimes including breaches of the Serious Crime Act 2007, Possession of Articles for Use in Fraud, Making or Supplying Articles for use in Frauds and money laundering.

While plenty of proxies still exist (including several which rotate at the bottom of The Pirate Bay homepage under ‘proxy’), others aren’t doing so well.

Visitors to sites including TorrentProxies, Torrenticity, FenopyReverse, FirstRowProxy, GetPirate, H33tUnblock, KatProxy, LivePirate, Metricity, ProxyCentral, KickassUnblock and YifyProxy are greeted with a message from PIPCU that the domains are under police investigation.

Finally, and despite efforts by the BBC to have all VPN users labeled as pirates, use of such services to evade blockades and enable geo-unblocking continues.

The BPI, PirateProxy and Come.in were not immediately available for comments but we’ll update this report when they arrive.

Update: The operator of PirateProxy informs us that a new domain is up and operational at PirateProxy.bz

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

TorrentFreak: Spotify: Aussie Music Piracy Down 20%

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Complaint Kills Grooveshark Chromecast Support

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

groovesharkTwo years ago, music streaming service Grooveshark suffered a setback after its app was pulled from Google’s Android store for the second time.

While Google cited Terms of Service violations, ongoing copyright-related issues with the world’s largest recording labels were the number one suspect for the takedown. Generally, Grooveshark parent company Escape Media are not on good terms with the RIAA due to legal issues dating back several years.

Last month, however, there appeared to be something of a turnaround in relationships with Google when Grooveshark announced that it was about to debut Chromecast support via the Play Store.

The development was well received, with Hypebot wondering if Google welcoming Grooveshark back amounted to redemption for the US-based streaming company.

But now, less than a month later, it’s all over.

“After a jointly approved press release from Grooveshark, we were notified by Google [that] our app was suspended for Terms of Service of compliance,” Grooveshark announced today.

The development came as a surprise to Grooveshark, since the company believes it did enough to comply with Google’s Terms of Service this time around. However, it will come as no surprise that the root of the complaint lies with the major recording labels based in the United States.

According to a statement sent to TheNextWeb, the RIAA is behind the suspension after claiming that Grooveshark’s service infringes on their artists’ copyrights.

“We found this interesting as Google (YouTube) is also engaged in a lawsuit over the same points,” a Grooveshark spokesperson said.

While that is indeed true, YouTube’s relationships with the labels are considerably better than those currently enjoyed by Grooveshark. Even Google sympathizes with the labels, something which became evident last year when the search giant excluded the term Grooveshark from its Autocomplete and Instant services.

But despite the drawbacks, Grooveshark continues. Grooveshark for Android can still be downloaded from the company’s site. Chromecast functionality also remains.

“You may still access your full Grooveshark library on Chromecast via our main site (grooveshark.com) or html5 mobile site….using the ‘mirroring’ tool,” the company concludes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what can be done?

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

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

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

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

VPNs are pirate tools

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

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

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

Site blocking

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

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

Who foots the bill?

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Police Ordered to Return Clones of Dotcom’s Seized Data

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

dotcom-laptopJanuary 2012, New Zealand Police carried out the largest ever action against individuals accused of copyright infringement.

The raid on Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion was requested by United States authorities who are now trying to extradite the Megaupload founder and several of his colleagues.

Despite protests from Dotcom about the legitimacy of the search warrants, the raid was found to be legal earlier this year. However, that doesn’t mean that all seized property can be kept from the New Zealand-based entrepreneur.

Today the New Zealand Court of Appeal ruled that clones of the seized electronic devices should be returned to Dotcom and his co-defendants “as soon as reasonably practicable.”

Last month the prosecution explained that the data hadn’t yet been handed over because some of it was encrypted, making it impossible for police to verify and investigate its contents.

In its ruling today, the Court of Appeal respects this hesitation but noted that all non-encrypted data should be returned. The rest can follow after the defendants give up their encryption passwords to two nominated police officers.

Previously the Court of Appeal ruled that police crossed a line when they shared cloned data with the United States. In a reference, today’s order prohibits the two police officers from revealing the encryption passwords with others.

“[...] in particular to any representative of the government of the United States of America,” the verdict reads.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

reddit-websher

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

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

redd2

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA and RIAA Teach Copyright in Elementary Schools, Now With Fair Use

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

pirateAlmost a year ago we questioned a new initiative from the Center for Copyright Information (CCI).

The group, which has the MPAA and RIAA as key members, had just started piloting a kindergarten through sixth grade curriculum on copyright in California schools.

The curriculum was drafted in collaboration with the California School Libraries Association and iKeepSafe, who aim to teach kids the basics of copyright. The lesson materials were rather one-sided, however, often ignoring fair use and the free-to-share copyright licences Creative Commons provides.

These concerns were later picked up by the mainstream press, creating a massive backlash. Responding to the critique the CCI and other partners were quick to state that it was just a pilot and that the final materials would probably be more balanced.

Glen Warren, vice president of the California School Library Association, acknowledged the problems and suggested that the early drafts were coming straight from the content industry.

“We’re moving along trying to get things a little closer to sanity. That tone and language, that came from that side of the fence, so to speak,” Warren commented.

This week, TorrentFreak spotted the final version of the curriculum and it’s clear that the public outcry for more nuance has paid off.

Instead of focusing on enforcement and the things people can’t do with copyrighted content, it now emphasizes that sharing can be a good thing. Creative Commons licenses are discussed in detail and every lesson plan also informs students about fair use.

For example, in the old second grade lesson plan the teacher was supposed to say the following sentence:

“You’re not old enough yet to be selling your pictures online, but pretty soon you will be. And you’ll appreciate if the rest of us respect your work by not copying it and doing whatever we want with it.”

While the above paragraph ignores the fact that some people are happy to share their photos with flexible Creative Commons licenses, it has been completely removed from the final version.

The sentence “we recognize that it’s hard work to produce something, and we want to get paid for our work” has been completely stripped from the lesson plan too. Instead students are reminded that “the projects they created are fun / informative / respectful, and so they may want to share them online.”

The sixth grade lesson material has also been thoroughly updated, as well as the accompanying video which doubled in length to explain fair use.

The changes become clear by comparing the old “purpose” and “key concepts” with the new one. Below is a copy of the old text, with no reference to fair use and Creative Commons licenses.

Old
grade6old

And here’s the new and improved version, with these two concepts included, and without the strong focus on consequences for “illegal use.”

New
grade6new

Another positive change is that instead of warning students against using copyrighted images and music from the Internet in Powerpoint presentations, they are now told that this is totally fine, as long as the material is only shown in class.

Similar changes have been made throughout the entire curriculum, which is now much more balanced than the rather strict and biased view that was presented before.

There’s still one question that lingers in the back of our mind though. Would the curriculum have been as balanced as it is right now if we hadn’t pointed out the problems in the first place?

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

TorrentFreak: Police Throw the Book at Alleged Pirate Site Admin

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

The Intellectual Property Crime Unit operated out of City of London Police were once again flexing their muscles this week with yet another raid in the UK.

PIPCU, as the unit is known, teamed up with police in the north of England to swoop on what is being described as a major sports streaming operation.

Early Monday, some 200 miles away from London, officers teamed with police in Manchester to raid a property in Cheetham Hill. Their target was an unnamed 27-year-old said to be providing access to subscription TV services.

In their announcement, police used terms including “industrial scale” to describe the size of the operation after seizing 12 computers servers and other equipment. Police withheld the arrested man’s name and the sites involved.

The streaming operation shutdown on MondayCoolimagecredit

Yesterday, however, Zain Parvez of Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester, appeared before Manchester magistrates court charged with running the operation that was shut down earlier in the week.

Things certainly don’t look good for the 27-year-old. Not only has Parvez been charged with offenses under the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988, he also faces allegations of money laundering, conspiracy to defraud and possessing or controlling an article for use in fraud.

In respect of the names of the sites Parvez allegedly controlled, the pieces have been coming together all week but with no straightforward way of joining the dots. We can now confirm that the domains involved are CoolSport.se, CoolSport.tv and KiwiSportz.tv.

kiwisportz

As can be seen from the Alexa data below, CoolSport.tv dropped off the radar in July with Coolsport.se immediately taking over, a domain switch that was announced on the site’s Twitter account.

coolsport

Parvez, who has been in custody since his arrest, will be further detained until he appears before Manchester Crown Court on September 16.

This week’s arrest is the third involving a streaming site in the UK. Although the sites in previous actions were not announced by police, TorrentFreak previously revealed that the operator of BoxingGuru.co.uk, boxingguru.eu, boxingguru.tv and nutjob.eu was arrested during April in the north of England.

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

TorrentFreak: Touche: Deadmau5 Accuses Disney of Pirating His Music

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

mouseDJ Deadmau5 is known all over the world for wearing an oversized headpiece with mouse ears during his live performances.

The ears have become a trademark for the DJ, whose real name is Joel Zimmerman, and in April he wanted to formalize this through an official trademark application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The logo is already trademarked in dozens of countries, and the U.S. seemed a logical next step.

Disney clearly disagreed and this week the company filed a 171-page opposition to the trademark application, claiming it would hurt the company’s business.

Deadmau5 wasn’t impressed by Disney’s efforts and took his anger to Twitter. The DJ noted that he wouldn’t give in to “a money hungry corporation over some bulls–t,” and questioned their motives.

“Disney thinks you might confuse an established electronic musician / performer with a cartoon mouse. That’s how stupid they think you are,” he wrote on Twitter.

The mouse fight was on and a few hours ago Deadmau5 retaliated with a rather surprising counter attack. As it turns out, Disney is hosting a Deadmau5 video on their website, without permission.

Responding to this blatant act of piracy the DJ instructed his legal team to go after the media empire. They sent a cease and desist letter to Disney which Deadmau5 forwarded to the company on Twitter, with a personal note.

The letter explains that Disney is using Deadmau5′s work without permission and demands an immediate halt to this infringing behavior.

“The exclusive rights owned by Zimmerman in the Master are being infringed on the Disney website as of September 4, 2014. Specifically, these rights are being infringed via materials being made available at the following URL.”

Deadmau5 on Disney’s site
deaddisney

In addition to copyright infringement, the letter also states that Disney is using Deadmau5′s trademarks without authorization. The lawyers urge the company to stop this unauthorized exploitation of the DJ’s name and likeness as well.

“Disney prominently features the deadmau5 Mark next to the Infringing Video. implying a non-existent endorsement by Zimmerman,” the letter reads.

“Again. we are unaware of any license allowing you the right to reproduce, distribute or otherwise exploit the deadmau5 Mark or to exploit Zimmerman’s name and likeness in connection with same.”

At the time of writing Disney hasn’t complied with the request, but it seems that they have no other option than to comply. Whether it will change anything in their stance towards the DJ’s mouse ear trademark application is doubtful though.

Image credit

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

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

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

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

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

Still can’t agree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t believe their lies

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

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

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

Copyright is a “moral hazard”

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Government Wants Kim Dotcom’s Cash and Cars

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

megauploadActing on a lead from the entertainment industry, the U.S. Government shut down Megaupload early 2012.

Since then the case hasn’t progressed much. Kim Dotcom’s extradition hearing has been delayed until 2015 and most of the recent court proceedings dealt with how the seized assets should be handled.

Dotcom tried to regain his possessions but this effort failed last month. Meanwhile, both the MPAA and RIAA have protected their claims on the Megaupload millions, and now the U.S. Government has joined in as well.

In a complaint submitted at a federal court in Virginia the Department of Justice asks for a forfeiture of the bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions, claiming they were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes.

The filing starts with a brief summary of the indictment that was brought against Dotcom and his colleagues. According to the Government, Megaupload was a criminal organization set up to profit from copyright infringement.

“The members of the Mega Conspiracy described themselves as ‘modern day pirates’ and virtually every aspect of the Mega Sites was carefully designed to encourage and facilitate wide-scale copyright infringement,” the U.S. attorney writes.

The Government wants the seized properties to be handed over to the authorities, and claims it’s permitted under U.S. law. This includes the bank account that was used by Megaupload for PayPal payouts.

The account, described as “DSB 0320,” had a balance of roughly $4.7 million (36 million Hong Kong Dollars) at the time of the seizure, but processed more than $160 million over the years.

“Records indicate that from August 2007 through January 2012 there were 1,403 deposits into the DBS 0320 account totaling HKD 1,260,508,432.01 from a PayPal account. These funds represent proceeds of crime and property involved in money laundering as more fully set out herein,” the complaint reads.

One of Megaupload’s bank accounts
bankkd

More than a dozen bank accounts are listed in total including some of the property they were used for to buy.

The list of assets further includes several luxury cars, such as a 2011 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG with a “Wow” license plate, TVs including a 108″ Sharp LCD TV and artwork in the form of Olaf Mueller photographs.

The Government claims that the possessions can be forfeited since they were obtained through criminal copyright infringement and money laundering, but Megaupload’s lawyer Ira Rothken disagrees.

“Kim Dotcom and Megaupload will vigorously oppose the US Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture action,” Rothken tells TF.

“The DOJ’s efforts to use lopsided procedures over substance to destroy a cloud storage company is both offensive to the rights of Megaupload and to the rights of millions of consumers worldwide who stored personal data with the service,” he adds.

According to Rothken the U.S. ignores several crucial issues, including the Sony Doctrine and the fact that criminal secondary copyright infringement no longer exists.

“The DOJ’s forfeiture complaint ignores the US Supreme Court’s protection called the Sony Doctrine provided to dual use technologies like cloud storage, ignores substantial non infringing uses of such cloud storage including by DOJ users themselves, and ignores the fact that Congress removed criminal secondary copyright infringement from the copyright statute in 1976,” Rothken says.

Which side the District Court judge will agree with has yet to be seen, but with so many parties claiming their cut of the Megaupload assets it’s certainly not getting easier for Dotcom to reclaim his property.

To be continued.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

megadown

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

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

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

ifpitakedown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: In The Fappening’s Wake, 4chan Intros DMCA Policy

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

4chanEvery now and again a phenomenon takes the Internet by storm. They’re situations that the term ‘going viral’ was made for. A couple of weeks ago it was ice buckets, and since the weekend its been leaked celebrity pictures.

The event, which needs little introduction, saw the iCloud accounts of many prominent female celebrities accessed illegally and their personal (in many cases intimately so) photographs leaked online. The FBI are investigating and for the leakers this probably isn’t going to end well.

But for the users of 4chan this leak, which was rumored to have begun on the board itself, was the gift that just kept on giving. Excited users quickly came up with a portmanteau based on ‘happening’ plus ‘fapping’ and The Fappening was born, a prelude to taking the Internet by storm.

While the event itself appears to be dying down, the leak and the worldwide attention it bestowed on 4chan may have prompted a surprise decision by the site’s operator. Whether the leak was directly responsible will become clear in due course (we’ve reached out to the site for a response), but sometime yesterday 4chan introduced a DMCA policy.

4chan-DMCA

The policy registers a DMCA agent for 4chan, which helps to afford the site safe harbor protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Although not yet listed in the numerical section of Copyright.gov, the designated agent will now become the point of contact for copyright complaints and DMCA notices when content owners believe that their ownership rights have been violated on 4chan.

While most US-based user-generated content websites should not entertain operating without safe harbor, the way 4chan is set up provides a unique scenario in respect of infringing content being posted by its users.

“Threads expire and are pruned by 4chan’s software at a relatively high rate. Since most boards are limited to eleven or sixteen pages, content is usually available for only a few hours or days before it is removed,” the site’s FAQ explains.

4chan’s Chris Poole (‘moot’) previously told the Washington Post his deletion policy was both a necessarily evil and a plus to the site.

“It’s one of the few sites that has no memory. It’s forgotten the next day,” he said.

Despite the board’s userbase being notoriously rebellious, the deletion policy appears to work well. To date Google’s Transparency Report lists takedowns for just 706 URLs.

“I don’t have resources like YouTube to deal with $1 billion lawsuit with Viacom,” Poole said in 2012. “Don’t store what you absolutely don’t need. People are pre-disposed to wanting to store everything.”

Of course, it’s not only companies such as Viacom on the warpath. Yesterday a spokesman for Jennifer Lawrence said that the authorities had been contacted and anyone found posting ‘stolen’ photos of the actress online would be prosecuted.

While the scope of that action isn’t entirely clear, many of the leaked photos were ‘selfies’ to which Lawrence has first shout on copyright. They’re still being posted on hundreds if not thousands of Internet sites even today, so having a DMCA policy in place will help those sites avoid liability, even if in 4chan’s case the images are only present for a few hours.

In the meantime, sites such as The Pirate Bay who care substantially less about copyright law than 4chan does today are continuing to spread the full currently-available ‘Fappening’ archives at a rapid rate. Statistics collected by TorrentFreak suggest that the packs have been downloaded well over a million times.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police Make Third ‘Pirate’ Streaming Arrest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Hustler Hustles Tor Exit-Node Operator Over Piracy

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

torFaced with the growing threat of online file-sharing, Hustler committed to “turning piracy into profit” several years ago.

The company has not been very active on this front in the United States, but more so in Europe. In Finland for example Hustler is sending out settlement demands for hundreds of euros to alleged pirates.

A few days ago one of these letters arrived at the doorstep of Sebastian Mäki, identifying the IP-address through which he offers a Tor exit-node. According to Hustler the IP-address had allegedly transferred a copy of Hustler’s “This Ain’t Game Of Thrones XXX.”

The letter is sent by lawfirm Hedman Partners who urge Mäki to pay 600 euros ($800) in damages or face worse.

However, Mäki has no intention to pay up. Besides running a Tor exit-node and an open wireless network through the connection, he also happens to be Vice-President of a local Pirate Party branch. As such, he has a decent knowledge of how to counter these threats.

“All we can do at the moment is fight against these trolls, and they are preying on easy victims, who have no time nor energy to fight and often are afraid of the embarrassment that could follow, because apparently porn is still a taboo somewhere,” Mäki tells TorrentFreak.

So instead of paying up, the Tor exit-node operator launched a counter attack. He wrote a lengthy reply to Hustler’s lawyers accusing them of blackmail.

“According to Finnish law, wrongfully forcing someone to dispose of their financial interests is known as blackmail. Threatening to make known one’s porn watching habits unless someone coughs up money sounds to me like activities for which you can get a sentence.”

Mäki explains that an IP-address is not necessarily a person and that Hustler’s copyright trolling is likely to affect innocent Internet users. Because of this, he has decided to report these dubious practices to the police.

“I am also concerned that other innocent citizens might not have as much time, energy, or wealth to fight back. Because your actions have the potential to cause so much damage to innocent bystanders, I find it morally questionable and made a police report.”

Whether the police will follow up on the complaint remains to be seen, but Hustler will have to take its hustling elsewhere for now. They clearly targeted the wrong person here, in more ways than one.

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

TorrentFreak: ISP Alliance Accepts Piracy Crackdown, With Limits

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

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

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

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

ISP liability

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

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

Graduated response

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

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

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

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

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

Site blocking

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

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

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

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

Follow the Money

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

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

Better access to legal content

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

TorrentFreak: The Next-Generation Copyright Monopoly Wars Will Be Much Worse

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

copyright-brandedWe’ve been manufacturing our own copies of knowledge and culture without a license for quite some time now, a practice known first as mixtaping and then as file-sharing.

Home mass manufacturing of copies of culture and knowledge started some time in the 1980s with the Cassette Tape, the first widely available self-contained unit capable of recording music. It made the entire copyright industry go up in arms and demand “compensation” for activities that were not covered by their manufacturing monopoly, which is why we now pay protection money to the copyright industry in many countries for everything from cellphones to games consoles.

The same industry demanded harsh penalties – criminal penalties – for those who manufactured copies at home without a license rather than buying the expensive premade copies. Over the next three decades, such criminal penalties gradually crept into law, mostly because no politician thinks the issue is important enough to defy anybody on.

A couple of key patent monopolies on 3D printing are expiring as we speak, making next-generation 3D printing much, much higher quality. 3D printers such as this one are now appearing on Kickstarter, “printers” (more like fabs) that use laser sintering and similar technologies instead of layered melt deposit.

We’re now somewhere in the 1980s-equivalent of the next generation of copyright monopoly wars, which is about to spread to physical objects. The copyright industry is bad – downright atrociously cynically evil, sometimes – but nobody in the legislature gives them much thought. Wait until this conflict spreads outside the copyright industry, spreads to pretty much every manufacturing industry.

People are about to be sued out of their homes for making their own slippers instead of buying a pair.

If you think that sounds preposterous, that’s exactly what has been going on in the copyright monopoly wars so far, with people manufacturing their own copies of culture and knowledge instead of buying ready-made copies. There’s no legal difference to manufacturing a pair of slippers without having a license for it.

To be fair, a pair of slippers may be covered by more monopolies than just the copyright monopoly (the drawing) – it may be covered by a utility patent monopoly, a design patent monopoly, possibly a geographic indication if it’s some weird type of slipper, and many more arcane and archaic types of monopolies. Of course, people in general can’t tell the difference between a “utility patent”, a “design patent”, a “copyright duplication right”, a “copyright broadcast right”, a “related right”, and so on. To most people, it’s all just “the copyright monopoly” in broad strokes.

Therefore, it’s irrelevant to most people whether the person who gets sued out of their home for fabbing their own slippers from a drawing they found is technically found guilty of infringing the copyright monopoly (maybe) or a design patent (possibly). To 95% or more, it’s just “more copyright monopoly bullshit”. And you know what? Maybe that’s good.

The next generation of wars over knowledge, culture, drawings, information, and data is just around the corner, and it’s going to get much uglier with more stakes involved on all sides. We have gotten people elected to parliaments (and stayed there) on the conflict just as it stands now. As this divide deepens, and nothing suggests it won’t, then people will start to pay more attention.

And maybe, just maybe, that will be the beginning of the end of these immoral and deeply unjust monopolies known as copyrights and patents.

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.