Posts tagged ‘Copyright’

TorrentFreak: Joker Goes Offline After Pressure From Copyright Holders

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

While most people use standalone torrent clients to download files, there are also several services that allow people to stream videos in a web-browser via the popular file-sharing protocol.

One of the best implementations of BitTorrent ‘powered’ streaming is Joker.org. Although the actual streaming is not fully peer-to-peer, as the transfers first go through central servers, its ease of use is certainly appealing.

This week hundreds of news sites wrote about the service which became overloaded with new users as a result. A success story, but one with a downside, as copyright holders were immediately on high alert.

Just a few days after the service first gathered serious online momentum, it is already gone. The Joker.org website currently shows a placeholder mentioning that it’s looking for a new home.

TorrentFreak contacted the Joker team who explained to us that the service was shut down by hosting company Redstation following “pressure” from various copyright holder representatives.

jokerorg

One of the notices Redstation received was sent by Entura International on behalf of Sony Pictures Entertainment. This notice alleged that Joker facilitates copyright infringement at 3 levels.

1. The initial download of content via BitTorrent without permission. At no point has Rights Holder authorized transmission of its content via this medium.
2. The storage and/or caching of BitTorrent chunks of the content.
3. The conversion and re-transmission of stored/cached content in streaming video format to users via web browser.

Entura International asked the hosting provider to stop the alleged unlawful activities by suspending Joker’s account or null-routing the associated IP-address. Redstation chose the latter option and the Joker service has been unavailable since.

Joker is disappointed at being labeled a “pirate site”. The developers believe they offer a neutral and useful service that is piracy agnostic. Potential infringing data is stored only temporarily, without their knowledge.

“Which is the worst? Google, where you can find thousands of torrents with a single “X .torrent” search, torrent sites, where you can get access to millions of .torrent files, or joker.org?” the Joker team asks.

“Using torrents is not illegal, we are just a service that converts video torrent files to streamable mp4s. We don’t link or enable search for any content,” they add.

Despite the current problems Joker doesn’t intend to throw in the towel. They are currently looking for a new hosting solution for their service and will return.

“Hell yeah we will come back,” the Joker team concludes.

Before they return Joker intends to improve their services and address potential issues, to prevent the risk of another shutdown.

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

TorrentFreak: Disney Patents a Piracy Free Search Engine

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

disney-pirateDisney and other rightsholders are not happy with today’s search engines after repeatedly asking Google and Co. to promote legal content and remove pirate sites from search results.

While Google implemented several changes to satisfy these requests, Disney has also taken matters into its own hands.

A new patent awarded to Disney Enterprises this week describes a search engine through which pirated content is hard to find.

Titled “Online content ranking system based on authenticity metric values for web elements,” one of the patent’s main goals is to prevent pirated movies and other illicit content from ranking well in the search results.

According to Disney their patent makes it possible to “enable the filtering of undesirable search results, such as results referencing piracy websites.”

Disney believes that current search engines are using the wrong approach as they rely on a website’s “popularity.” This allows site owners to game the system in order to rank higher.

“For example, a manipulated page for unauthorized sales of drugs, movies, etc. might be able to obtain a high popularity rating, but what the typical user will want to see is a more authentic page,” they explain.

While this is a rather simplified description of the complex algorithms most search engines use, Disney believes it can do a better job.

In their patent they describe a system that re-ranks search results based on an “authenticity index”. This works twofold, by promoting sites that are more “authoritative” and filtering out undesirable content.

disneypirate

“In particular, embodiments enable more authoritative search results … to be ranked higher and be more visible to a user. Embodiments furthermore enable the filtering of undesirable search results, such as results referencing piracy websites, child pornography websites, and/or the like,” Disney writes.

While Disney’s idea of a search engine may sound appealing to some, deciding what counts as “authoritative” is still rather subjective. Google, for example, uses PageRank which is in part based on the number of quality links to websites.

Disney, however, suggests giving “official” sites priority when certain terms relate to a property of a company. These “authority” weights can include trademarks, copyrighted material, and domain name information.

This doesn’t only affect pirated content, Disney explains, it also means that a Wikipedia entry or IMDb listing for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” will rank lower than the official Disney page of the film.

“The Disney.go.com web page may be associated with an authenticity weight that is greater than the authenticity weight associated with the encyclopedia web page because Disney.go.com is the official domain for The Walt Disney Company. As such, with respect to the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs™ film, the Disney.go.com web page may be considered more authoritative (and thus more authentic) than the encyclopedia web page,” Disney writes.

In other words, official sites should be the top result for “brand” related searches, even if people are looking for background info or more balanced (re)views. For pirate sites there’s no place at all in the top results, even though Disney’s definition of a pirate site may also be rather subjective.

It’s unclear whether Disney has any plans to implement the patent in the wild. The company currently has a search engine but this only includes links to its own properties.

Disney search
disneysearchengine

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

TorrentFreak: Manhunt Underway For “Possibly Armed” Kinox, BitShare and FreakShare Operators

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

Just a few days ago news broke that police in Germany had carried out raids in several areas of the country.

They were looking for four suspects believed to be the key individuals behind a range of sites including Kino.to replacement Kinox.to, file-hosting sites FreakShare.com and BitShare.com, plus linking sites Boerse.sx and MyGully.com. Even streaming giant Movie4K was thrown into the mix.

While two people were arrested in Neuss and Dusseldorf, two brothers from a village near to the northern city of Lübeck evaded police and are said to be on the run. It is those two men who are now grabbing the headlines.

Police have just taken the somewhat unusual step of announcing a public manhunt for the brothers, publishing mugshots and their full names alongside details of their alleged crimes. This is something only usually carried out in exceptional and serious cases.

kinox-susp1Pictured right is Kastriot Selimi. Born in 1989, the 25-year-old was born in Kosovo and later became a German citizen.

According to police he is one of the founders of the “criminal organization” behind Kinox, FreakShare and BitShare. He also has connections to a range of other sites including stream4k.to, shared.sx, mygully.com and boerse.sx.

Kastriot Selimi’s alleged crimes include predatory blackmail, armed robbery, extortion, arson, copyright infringement and tax evasion. Police warn that he should be considered violent and could be armed.

kinox-susp2Pictured right is Kreshnik Selimi. Born in 1992, the 21-year-old was born in Sweden and later became a German citizen. He is the younger brother of Kastriot.

Kreshnik is accused of founding and operating the same sites as his sibling and is covered by the same international arrest warrant. He is being classified as violent and police are warning the public that he too could be armed.

Kreshnik Selimi’s alleged crimes include predatory blackmail, armed robbery, extortion, arson, copyright infringement and tax evasion.

According to information received by German publication Spiegel, the arson and extortion charges relate to alleged crimes carried out by the brothers against one of their former or even current business partners.

A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office earlier revealed that the brothers had “made great efforts” to get rid of their competitors in the piracy market. “Sometimes even a car burst into flames,” he said.

According to the Attorney General’s office the brothers have evaded 1.3 million euros in taxes, which suggests that overall revenues were in excess of 6.5 million euros. Even if that amount is overblown, it seems likely that the pair have considerable resources at their disposal.

The brothers’ whereabouts aside, the big mystery is why the sites named above are still in operation. All remain online, despite their alleged operators being subjected to an international manhunt.

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

TorrentFreak: Dotcom Tries To Reclaim Millions Seized in Hong Kong

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

For many months the New Zealand courts have been dealing with the thorny issue of Kim Dotcom. The entrepreneur’s case has traversed the legal system, with claim and counterclaim, decision followed by appeal.

The key topic of Dotcom’s possible extradition to the United States aside, much of the courtroom action has centered around the Megaupload founder’s assets. On the one hand Dotcom has been trying to reclaim his property, and on the other United States-based entertainment companies have been trying to lock it down in preparation for any future damages payout.

But as the fight simmers in New Zealand and largely stalls in the U.S., Dotcom’s legal representatives are fighting to reestablish control of his wealth in a third territory.

Over in Hong Kong, lawyers for Dotcom are attempting to take back HK$330 million (US$42.55m) in assets that were seized by local authorities when Megaupload was shut down in January 2012.

While Dotcom’s servers were being sealed off in the United States and his mansion raided in New Zealand, the Megaupload chief’s Hong Kong offices were being raided by 100 customs officers following allegations of copyright infringement and money laundering.

The seized assets are being held under a restraining order but Dotcom’s legal team are arguing that it should be set aside. In April 2014, Megaupload initiated legal action against the government and now its legal team is accusing the secretary for justice of failing to provide a “full and frank disclosure” of the facts when the application for seizure was made.

“We are applying for [the order] to be set aside because the court has misrepresented the true position,” Dotcom lawyer Gerard McCoy SC told SCMP yesterday.

In a feature that has become a hallmark of the pre-shutdown activity surrounding Megaupload, the Hong Kong restraining order was made ex parte, meaning that the defendants in the case were not allowed to put their side of the story. Dotcom’s lawyers say that in such circumstances the prosecution is under obligation to exercise additional caution

“Did the secretary for justice put his cards on the table face up? This application is a clear example of the duty either being ignored or simply misunderstood,” McCoy said.

According to the lawyer the prosecution deliberately withheld crucial information from the court when applying for the restraining order, not least the fact that Megaupload could not be served with a criminal complaint in the United States as it did not have a US mailing address.

“None of this was ever brought to the attention of the judge. It was all put to one side and never raised,” McCoy said.

In an interview with TorrentFreak in December 2011 before the raid, Dotcom spoke warmly of Hong Kong. “I should write a book about doing business in Hong Kong, that’s how good it is,” he said. “People there leave you alone and they are happy for your success.”

But according to McCoy, one month later the fate of Dotcom, his co-defendants, and his Megaupload empire was sealed in a matter of minutes.

“In about six or seven minutes, the applicant has dealt with the position of nine defendants and managed to freeze a massive amount of money. There is not one word about Megaupload, not a jot, not a tittle,” he told the court.

If the case goes in Dotcom’s favor there could be big implications for the entrepreneur. Not only could he regain tens of millions of dollars in wealth, but he could also be in a position to file a multi-billion dollar civil claim for damages. Before its shutdown, Megaupload was valued at a cool two billion dollars.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA: The Pirate Bay Assaults Fundamental Human Rights

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

tpbfistFollowing in the footsteps of Hollywood’s MPAA, the RIAA has now submitted its overview of “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

These submissions help to guide the U.S. Government’s position toward foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement. The RIAA’s report (odt) includes more than 50 alleged pirate sites, but it is the introduction that draws most attention.

Neil Turkewitz, RIAA Executive Vice President, informs the Government that some of the rogue websites, and their supporters, falsely argue that they aid freedom of speech and counter censorship.

Specifically, the RIAA describes The Pirate Bay and other pirate sites as an assault on our humanity, suggesting that the right to protect one’s copyrights trumps freedom of expression.

“Some observers continue to suggest that the protection of expression is a form of censorship or restriction on fundamental freedoms, and some pirate sites cloak themselves in the language of freedom to justify themselves—sites like The Pirate Bay…” Turkewitz writes.

“We must end this assault on our humanity and the misappropriation of fundamental human rights. If the protection of expression is itself a restriction on freedom of expression, then we have entered a metaphysical Wonderland that stands logic on its head, and undermines core, shared global values about personhood,” he adds.

The RIAA says it’s hopeful that the piracy threat can be addressed if society and legitimate companies stop doing business with these sites. To do so, the public must stop conflating anti-piracy measures with censorship.

“We may not be able to eradicate piracy—there will always be an isolated number of individuals or enterprises who are prepared to steal whatever they can, but we can—and must—stop providing moral cover by conflating copyright enforcement with censorship, or by misapplying notions of Internet freedom or permissionless innovation so that they extend to an embrace of lawlessness.”

In recent months copyright holders have often hammered on payment processors and advertising networks to stop doing business with pirate sites. The RIAA reiterates this in their USTR submission, but also points a finger at the ISPs, at least indirectly.

According to the RIAA, BitTorrent indexing sites make deals with hosting providers to pay lower fees if they have more traffic. While this is standard business for most ISPs, the industry group frames it as an indirect source of revenue for the pirate sites.

“Indexing services can, and usually do, generate revenue from one or more of the following: advertising, user donations and suspected arrangements with ISPs whereby reduced fees are offered in return for increased traffic on the sites. The particular financial model, structure and approach vary from site to site,” Turkewitz notes.

Finally, the RIAA admits that some torrent sites process DMCA takedown notices, but believes that this is only an attempt to “appear” legitimate. In reality the infringing content is re-uploaded almost instantly, so the problem remains.

“As a result, copyright owners are forced into an endless ‘cat and mouse’ game, which requires considerable resources to be devoted to chasing infringing content, only for that same infringing content to continually reappear,” the report reads.

Without specifying what, Turkewitz notes that torrent site owners have to do more if they really want to become legitimate services.

“It is imperative that BitTorrent site operators take reasonable measures to prevent the distribution of infringing torrents or links and to implement measures that would prevent the indexing of infringing torrents,” he writes.

In addition to torrent sites the submission also lists various cyberlockers, blogs and linking sites which allegedly deserve the label “notorious market.”

Below is the RIAA’s full list as it was reported to the USTR. These, and the other submissions will form the basis of the U.S. Government’s Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, which is expected to come out later this year.

- vKontakte
- EX.UA
- The Pirate Bay
- KickAss.to
- Torrentz.eu
- Bitsnoop.com
- ExtraTorrent.cc
- Isohunt.to
- Zamunda
- Arena.bg
- Torrenthound.com
- Fenopy.se
- Monova.org
- Torrentreactor.net
- Sumotorrent.sx
- Seedpeer.me
- Torrentdownloads.me
- 4shared.com
- Uploaded.net
- Oboom.com
- Zippyshare.com
- Rapidgator.net
- Turbobit.net
- Ulozto.cz
- Sdílej.cz
- Hell Spy
- HellShare
- Warez-dk.org
- Freakshare.com
- Bitshare.com
- Letitbit.net
- 1fichier.com
- Filestube.to
- Music.so.com
- Verycd.com
- Gudanglagu.com
- Thedigitalpinoy.org
- Todaybit.com
- Chacha.vn
- Zing.vn
- Songs.to
- Boerse.to
- Mygully.com
- Wawa-mania.ec
- Bajui.com
- Goear.com
- Pordescargadirecta.com
- Exvagos.com
- Degraçaémaisgostoso.org
- Baixeturbo.org
- Hitsmp3.net
- Musicasparabaixar.org
- Sapodownloads.net
- Sonicomusica.com
- Jarochos.net
- Rnbexclusive.se
- Newalbumreleases.net

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Site Uses Google To Resurrect Taken Down Content

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

Founded in 2003, UK-based FileSoup was one of the original torrent sites but in 2009 two former administrators of the site were arrested following a FACT investigation.

Two years later, however, the case collapsed and the men were free to go. Now, more than three years on, the FileSoup domain has been resurrected.

It’s a search engine / proxy, but not as we know it

The new site has no connections to the original owner, but there are several unique aspects to the relaunch of FileSoup that make for an interesting project.

On a basic level FileSoup acts as a meta-search engine variant. It covers four major torrent sites – The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, Torrentz and ExtraTorrent – each selectable via a drop-down box. It also acts as a reverse proxy for these sites to unblock them in countries where they are inaccessible, the UK for example.

filesoup

Improving on search results

But FileSoup is no ordinary proxy. Instead of simply mirroring the content it finds on sites such as KickassTorrents, it actually attempts to improve on the results by caching third party site indexes.

“Let’s say Kickass.to receives a [DMCA] notice and deletes the content. We are not simply proxying but also caching the site. This means we can provide the page content even if Kickass.to has deleted the URL due to a DMCA complaint,” FileSoup informs TorrentFreak.

So in theory (and given time to cache – the site is still getting off the ground), FileSoup should be able to provide access to content previously taken down from other sites it proxies. To see whether it’s anywhere near to that goal, we conducted a search for one of the most talked-about franchises of the year – Expendables.

The images below show the results from FileSoup and KickassTorrents for exactly the same search. FileSoup returned 139 results while KickAss returned 115. Also notable, aside from the inserted ads, is the prominence of highly-seeded Expendables 3 results in the top placed positions on FileSoup.

file-v-kick

kick-v-file

Other searches produced varied results but since FileSoup is just getting off the ground it will need more time to cache significant amounts of taken-down content. But what happens when FileSoup itself is subjected to takedown notices of its own?

“When FileSoup receives a DMCA abuse notice we create a new URL address for the same content. After that this URL lives till the next DMCA abuse notice,” the team explain.

The Necromancer – using Google DMCA notices bypass Google’s takedowns

The operators of FileSoup also addressed indirect search engine takedowns. Every week rightsholders force Google to remove torrent listings from its search results. For this problem FileSoup says it has a solution, and a controversial one it is too.

The team behind the site say they have developed a web crawler designed to pull the details of content subjected to DMCA notices from two sources – Google’s Transparency Report and the Chilling Effects Clearing House. From here the links are brought back to life.

“We created a technology that crawls DMCA notices and resurrects the torrent webpage under a different URL so it can appear in search results again. It was rather complicated to sharpen it, but eventually it works pretty well. We will use it on FileSoup.com for all the websites we proxy,” FileSoup explain.

“It will lead to a situation when KickaAss.FileSoup.com (for example) will have more pages indexed in Google than the original Kickass.to because we will revive pages banned by DMCA within Google search results. We call this technology the Necromancer.”

The idea of manipulating publicly available sources of copyright notices to reactivate access to infringing content is not new but this is the first time that a site has publicly admitted to putting theory into practice. Whether FileSoup will be able to pull this off remains to be seen, but if it does it could signal the biggest game of whac-a-mole yet.

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

TorrentFreak: Big Pirate Sites ‘Raided’, Admins on the Run

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

policedownloadIn June 2011, police across Europe coordinated to carry out the largest anti-piracy operation the continent had ever seen. Their target was Kino.to and its affiliates, a huge illegal movie streaming operation with links to Spain, France and the Netherlands.

Ultimately several people went to jail and Kino.to disappeared, but it didn’t take long for replacement site Kinox.to to take up the slack. It’s been clear for some time that anti-piracy groups have had their eyes on the popular site and now action appears to have been taken.

Last week investigators acting on behalf of the Attorney General carried out raids in several regions of Germany looking for four main suspects.

A raid on a house in a village near to the northern city of Lübeck aimed to secure two brothers, aged 21 and 25 years-old. This pair, who reportedly live with their parents, are said to be the main operators of Kinox.to. According to Der Spiegel, the raid drew a blank.

In total, six homes and businesses were searched and arrest warrants were successfully executed in Neuss and Dusseldorf. Two individuals, said to key players, were detained.

According to prosecutor’s office spokesman Wolfgang Klein, a Berlin-based payment service used by the suspects was also raided to ensure their “tax liability” – a reported 1.3 million euros – is met.

In addition to commercial copyright infringement and tax evasion, the defendants are accused of a range of other crimes including fraud, extortion and arson.

Klein said the defendants had “made great efforts” to get rid of their competitors in the piracy market, utilizing verbal tactics and those of a more direct nature.

“They used all means and also carried out threats,” he said. “Sometimes even a car burst into flames.”

And from here the plot only thickens.

According to a letter sent by anti-piracy outfit GVU to its members, the people behind Kinox.to are also behind a string of other sites including streaming giant Movie4K.to. The ring of services is said to extend to pirate linking sites Boerse.sx and MyGully.com, and GVU even connects file-hosting services FreakShare.com and BitShare.com to the operation.

The prosecutor’s office says “lots of data” and “assets” were secured following the raids but at this point the location of the missing brothers remains unknown. Some reports suggest that they may have even left Germany a while back. Adding to the confusion, Lars Sobiraj at Tarnkappe says his sources suggest that the brothers in control of Kinox are in fact much older and 21 and 25.

Nevertheless, whether it was published by the brothers or someone else, an update has appeared on Kinox.to mocking GVU and thanking them for the attention.

“GVU: You make yourself more ridiculous than you are. But THANK YOU again for the extreme (priceless) advertising !!” the post reads.

And that’s one of the key points. Along with all of the other mentioned sites, Kinox.to and Movie4K remain operational. In fact, as far as we can see, not a single site is down.

Perhaps inevitably this has led to speculation that some kind of honey pot could be in operation, but according to lawyer Christian Solmecke, that seems unlikely.

“From my perspective, the users of kinox.to have committed no offense, because the pure consumption of streaming services is not illegal [in Germany]. This is certainly the case whenever any copy of the stream is produced on your own computer,” Solmecke says.

“In addition, the GVU – which here apparently launched the criminal complaint – is also known normally to tackle the problem at its root. This means that the company is going in against the big fish, which has been shown again with the current raids too.”

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

TorrentFreak: FACT Wipes ‘Pirate’ Sport Streaming Software From Github

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

sportsdevThere are dozens, perhaps hundreds of sites offering either illegal sports streams viewable via embedded players or indexes of links to the same. It is these resources that were leveraged by SportsDevil, a piece of open source software popular in the various XBMC/Kodi and TVMC communities.

Under development at Github, SportsDevil’s aim is to present its tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of users with links to external video sources via a convenient interface, covering everything from live NFL, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey and motorsports, combat sports such as UFC and boxing, plus football and soccer from both sides of the Atlantic.

This week, however, SportsDevil’s reign on Github was brought to an end following action from UK-based anti-piracy group Federation Against Copyright Theft. While FACT is closely affiliated with Hollywood studios, it also represents the rights of major sports broadcasters and rightsholders including The Premier League, British Sky Broadcasting Ltd and BT Sport.

FACT-SD

In its takedown notice, FACT explains what SportsDevil does and why it should be taken down.

“The files found at the following locations facilitate linking to sites known to provide access to streams of infringing content. The sites are subsequently scraped for links to various broadcasts including those whose copyrights belong to FACT members,” the group explains.

In addition to the ZIP files for the project, FACT targeted 47 configuration files enabling SportsDevil to pull links to content from sites such as FirstRowSports, Wiziwig.tv and Cricfree, a site that was targeted by PIPCU earlier this year.

TorrentFreak contacted FACT about the takedown and asked if this was the first piece of software to be taken down by the group.

“This is not the first time and with development of technology, we don’t anticipate it will be the last,” FACT told TF.

factWe also put it to FACT that although it’s pretty clear what SportDevil is designed to do, the tool itself is often far removed from actual infringing content and could be several steps down the linking chain. Does that present issues?

“That’s the point of what we’re doing. The tool is creating alternative ways of accessing content, and we view that as a likely offense,” FACT said.

Also of interest is the formatting of FACT’s takedown notice, which references neither UK law where its members are based nor US law where Github is located.

“Our takedown notices are modeled on DMCA notices. In this particular case, they were adapted to comply with Github DMCA policy,” FACT confirmed.

It’s worth noting that Github recently updated its takedown processes to give projects more time to ‘fix’ any issues following a DMCA complaint but it appears SportsDevil’s creators didn’t take up that opportunity.

TF spoke with an expert on this type of software who told us that while its removal from Github will be a setback, it won’t mean the end of the tool.

“If an addon’s repository is removed from GitHub, the addon author loses the ability to push further updates to the addon, so unless users install the author’s new repository (which they would have to do manually) further automated updates won’t take place,” he explained.

Finally, we asked FACT if it intends to target more software tools in future.

“Where we see a threat to our members’ content, we’ll continue to seek appropriate ways of dealing with it,” FACT conclude.

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

TorrentFreak: Lawfirm Chasing Aussie ‘Pirates’ Discredited IP Address Evidence

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

There are many explanations for the existence of online piracy, from content not being made available quickly enough to it being sold at ripoff prices. Unfortunately for Australians, over the years most of these complaints have had some basis in fact.

The country is currently grappling with its piracy issues and while there’s hardly a consensus of opinion right now, most of the region’s rightsholders feel that suing the general public isn’t the way to go. It’s painful for everyone involved and doesn’t solve the problem.

That said, US-based Dallas Buyers Club LLC are not of the same opinion. They care about money and to that end they’re now attempting to obtain the identities of iiNet users for the purpose of extracting cash settlements from them.

Yesterday additional information on the case became available. An Optus spokeswoman told SMH that it had been contacted by Dallas Buyers Club about handing over subscriber data but its legal representatives had backed off when it was denied. The movie outfit didn’t even try with Telstra – but why?

So-called copyright trolls like the easiest possible fight and through iiNet they know their adversaries just that little bit better. According to Anny Slater of Slaters Intellectual Property Lawyers, documents revealed in the ISP’s earlier fight with Village Roadshow show that Telstra could well be a more difficult target for discovery.

The business model employed by plaintiffs such as Dallas Buyer’s Club LLC (DBCLLC) requires a minimum of ‘difficult’ since difficulties increase costs and decrease profits. To that end, part of the job of keeping things straightforward will fall to DBCLLC’s lawfirm, Sydney-based Marque Lawyers.

Unfortunately for DBCLLC, Marque Lawyers have already shot themselves in the foot when it comes to convincing DBCLLC’s “pirate” targets to “pay up or else.”

In 2012, Marque published a paper titled “It wasn’t me, it was my flatmate! – a defense to copyright infringement?” which detailed the company’s stance on file-sharing accusations. The publication provided a short summary of cases in the US where porn companies were aiming to find out the identities of people who had downloaded their films, just as Dallas Buyers Club – Marque’s clients – are doing now.

“To find out the actual identities of the users, the [porn companies] asked the Court to force the ISPs to reveal the names and addresses of each of the subscribers to which the IP addresses related. The users went on the attack and won,” Marque explained.

And here’s the line all potential targets of Dallas Buyers Club and Marque Lawyers should be aware of – from the lawfirm’s own collective mouth.

“The judge, rightly in our view, agreed with the users that just because an IP address is in one person’s name, it does not mean that that person was the one who illegally downloaded the porn.

As the judge said, an IP address does not necessarily identify a person and so you can’t be sure that the person who pays for a service has necessarily infringed copyright.

This decision makes a lot of sense to us. If it holds up, copyright
owners will need to be a whole lot more savvy about how they identify and pursue copyright infringers and, perhaps, we’ve seen the end of the mass ‘John Doe’ litigation.”

So there you have it. Marque Lawyers do not have faith in the IP address-based evidence used in mass file-sharing litigation. In fact, they predict that weaknesses in IP address evidence might even signal the end of mass lawsuits.

Sadly they weren’t right in their latter prediction, as their partnership with Dallas Buyers Club reveals. Still, their stance that the evidence is weak remains and will probably come back to bite them.

The document is available for download from Marque’s own server. Any bill payers wrongly accused of piracy by the company in the future may like to refer the lawfirm to its own literature as part of their response.

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

TorrentFreak: Embedding Is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules

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

carembedOne of the key roles of the EU’s Court of Justice is to interpret European law to ensure that it’s applied in the same manner across all member states.

The Court is also called upon by national courts to clarify finer points of EU law to progress local cases with Europe-wide implications.

This week the Court of Justice issued a landmark ruling on one such case that deals with a crucial and integral part of today’s Internet. Is it legal to embed copyrighted content without permission from the rightsholder?

The case in question was referred to EU’s Court of Justice by a German court. It deals with a dispute between the water filtering company BestWater International and two men who work as independent commercial agents for a competitor.

Bestwater accused the men of embedding one of their promotional videos, which was available on YouTube without the company’s permission. The video was embedded on the personal website of the two through a frame, as is usual with YouTube videos.

While EU law is clear on most piracy issues, the copyright directive says very little about embedding copyrighted works. The Court of Justice, however, now argues that embedding is not copyright infringement.

The full decision has yet to be published officially by the Court’s website but TorrentFreak has received a copy (in German) from the defendants’ lawyer Dr. Bernhard Knies, who describes it as a landmark victory.

The Court argues that embedding a file or video is not a breach of creator’s copyrights under European law, as long as it’s not altered or communicated to a new public. In the current case, the video was already available on YouTube so embedding it is not seen as a new communication.

“The embedding in a website of a protected work which is publicly accessible on another website by means of a link using the framing technology … does not by itself constitute communication to the public within the meaning of [the EU Copyright directive] to the extent that the relevant work is neither communicated to a new public nor by using a specific technical means different from that used for the original communication,” the Court’s verdict reads.

The Court based its verdict on an earlier decision in the Svensson case, where it found that hyperlinking to a previously published work is not copyright infringement. Together, both cases will have a major impact on future copyright cases in the EU.

For Internet users it means that they are protected from liability if they embed copyrighted videos or images from other websites, for example. In addition, it may also protect streaming sites who use third-party services to embed videos, even if the source is an infringing copy.

During the days to come the Court of Justice is expected to issue official translations of the ruling as well as a press release. Many legal experts have been waiting for the decision and further analysis of the verdict’s implications is expected to follow soon after.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Blockade Set For Icelandic Expansion

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

In common with many countries around Europe, the movie and music industries in Iceland have been working hard to cut down on copyright infringement online. To this end copyright groups including the local equivalents of the RIAA (STEF) and MPAA (SMAIS) have targeted the leader of the usual suspects, the notorious Pirate Bay.

After complaints to the police failed, STEF and SMAIS turned to web-blocking in the hope of achieving similar results to those netted by rightsholders in the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.

Following setbacks STEF decided to go it alone and earlier this month achieved the result they’d been looking for. The Reykjavík District Court handed down an injunction to ISPs Vodafone and Hringdu forcing them to block several domains belonging to The Pirate Bay and Deildu, a private torrent site popular with locals.

Just two weeks later and it’s now becoming clear that STEF won’t be happy until all of Iceland’s leading ISPs are blocking too.

Earlier this week the rights group demanded responses from ISPs including Sím­inn, Tal and 365 Media as to whether the companies will agree to block Pirate Bay and Deildu in the wake of the Vodafone decision. Threatening legal action, STEF gave the ISPs until Wednesday to respond.

According to local news outlet MBL, 365 Media informed STEF it was willing to at least consider the idea but both Sím­inn and Tal appear to have rejected voluntary blocking, preferring official action through the courts instead.

Sím­inn said that it is not the role of communications companies to decide which sites should be closed and which should remain open so it would need to be presented with a formal injunction in order to block Pirate Bay and Deildu. In broad terms, Tali said the same.

As a result, lawyer Tóm­as Jóns­son says that STEF will now press ahead with its efforts to obtain injunctions against the ISPs that have raised objections. Procedural issues aside, which have dogged previous efforts, it’s likely that sooner or later STEF will achieve its aims.

Finally, there has been a trend recently for under-pressure sites to look at Icelandic hosting and local .IS domains in the belief they offer improved security over those available elsewhere.

While that may indeed be true, Iceland’s domain registry has just canceled an .IS domain that was operated by people with links to Islamic State.

“This is in fact a sad day for IS­NIC. We are very sad over this. It was not an easy de­ci­sion to do this. We had a rep­utaion for never hav­ing sus­pended a do­main name. That is not the re­al­ity any­more. These peo­ple have ru­ined that for us,” said ISNIC director Jens Pé­tur Jensen.

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

TorrentFreak: Porn Piracy Cash Threats to Hit Virgin Media Customers

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

trolloridiotIt’s been more than seven years since so-called copyright trolls first tried their luck with the British public. UK lawfirm Davenport Lyons, a company that attempted to mislead future targets with a semi-bogus high-profile damages ‘ruling’, went into administration early 2014 but not before its partners were disciplined for targeting innocent people.

The follow-up debacle involving ACS:Law was widely documented, with owner Andrew Crossley being forced to close down his business after being suspended by the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority for misconduct. After misleading the courts, bankruptcy was just the icing on the cake.

None of this was a deterrent to porn outfit GoldenEye International. They embarked on a similar scheme, sending letters to alleged file-sharers and demanding hundreds of pounds in settlements to make supposed lawsuits go away. However, GoldenEye learned from its predecessors by proceeding with caution and staying largely under the radar. But quite predictably and despite legal bluster and empty threats, the company took not a single case to court.

So today, quite possibly due to the tendency of the public to pay up rather than become linked with embarrassing porn movie titles, the porn trolls are back once again in the UK.

TorrentFreak has learned that last year four porn producers teamed up in an effort to force ISP Virgin Media to hand over the names and addresses of more than 1,500 subscribers said to have downloaded and shared adult content without permission.

The companies, none of which appear to be based in the UK, teamed up with Wagner & Co, the London lawfirm also working with GoldenEye. They are Mircom International Content Management & Consulting Ltd, Sunlust Pictures, Combat Zone Corporation and Pink Bonnet, Consultores de Imagem LDA.

Mircom International Content Management & Consulting Ltd are active in Europe, particularly when it comes to demanding cash settlements from alleged file-sharers in Germany. Sunlust Pictures is an adult movie company founded in 2009 by former porn actress Sunny Leone, who – entirely unsurprisingly – has featured in copyright trolling cases in the United States. Combat Zone Corporation is an adult movie company based in California. They’re no strangers to the cash settlement model either.

TorrentFreak contacted Mark Wagner at Wagner & Co to find out what his clients hope to achieve in the UK, but unfortunately our emails went unanswered. The company doesn’t appear to have a working website and its address relates to a house in residential area.

Fortunately, Virgin Media were rather more accommodating. In the past the ISP has been criticized for not doing more to protect its subscribers’ personal details but it turns out the battle with Wagner & Co has been going on for some time.

“We have contested the validity of Wagner & Co’s claims (ongoing for 12 months), asking the Judge to thoroughly review the application and the supporting evidence. We have challenged the reliability of the software used to obtain evidence of infringement (FileWatchBT) and the accuracy of the data collected,” spokesperson Emma Hutchinson told TF.

But despite Virgin Media’s efforts the High Court took the decision to side with Wagner & Co and order the ISP to hand over the details of its subscribers. While the situation is pretty grim, things could have been worse.

“The original request was for double the number of addresses than we have been forced to disclose, now fewer than 800,” Virgin explain.

“We advise any of our customers who receive a speculative letter from Wagner & Co, who also represented Golden Eye International in action against O2 customers last year, to seek independent advice from organizations such as Citizens Advice,” the ISP concludes.

Restrictions placed on GoldenEye in previous procedures indicate that initial letters sent to Virgin customers by Wagner & Co and its clients will not be as aggressive as the ones sent out by ACS:Law and will not contain a precise settlement amount. However, it is guaranteed that cash will be requested at some point.

Upon receipt of these “speculative invoices” there will be those who panic and pay up, and that’s their prerogative. But it’s highly likely that those who admit nothing and stand firm will pay what they’ve always paid in UK cases – absolutely nothing.

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

TorrentFreak: Record Labels Obtain Orders to Block 21 Torrent Sites

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

stop-blockedHaving ISPs block file-sharing sites is a key anti-piracy strategy employed by major rightsholders in the UK. Both Hollywood-affiliated groups and the recording labels have obtained High Court orders alongside claims that the process is an effective way to hinder piracy.

Last week these rightsholders were joined by luxury brand owner Richemont, which successfully obtained orders to block sites selling counterfeit products. The outcome of that particular case had delayed decisions in other blocking applications, including one put forward by the record labels. Today the High Court ended its hiatus by processing a new injunction.

The application was made by record labels 1967, Dramatico Entertainment, Infectious Music, Liberation Music, Simco Limited, Sony Music and Universal Music. The labels represented themselves plus the BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) and PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) which together account for around 99% of all music legally available in the UK today.

Through their legal action the labels hoped to disrupt the activities of sites and services they believe to be enabling and facilitating the unlawful distribution of their copyright works. In this case the key targets were the 21 torrent sites listed below:

(1) bittorrent.am, (2) btdigg.org, (3) btloft.com, (4) bts.to, (5) limetorrents.com, (6) nowtorrents.com, (7) picktorrent.com, (8) seedpeer.me, (9) torlock.com, (10) torrentbit.net, (11) torrentdb.li, (12) torrentdownload.ws, (13) torrentexpress.net, (14) torrentfunk.com, (15) torrentproject.com, (16) torrentroom.com, (17) torrents.net, (18) torrentus.eu, (19) torrentz.cd, (20) torrentzap.com and (21) vitorrent.org.

As usual the UK’s leading Internet service providers – Sky, Virgin, TalkTalk, BT and EE – were named as defendants in the case. The ISPs neither consented to nor opposed the application but participated in order to negotiate the wording of any order granted.

In his ruling Justice Arnold noted that the sites listed in the application function in a broadly similar way to The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, sites that are already subjected to blocking orders. Perhaps surprisingly, efforts by some of the sites to cooperate with rightsholders meant little to the Court.

“All of [the sites] go to considerable lengths to facilitate and promote the downloading of torrent files, and hence infringing content, by their users,” Justice Arnold wrote.

“Although a few of the Target Websites pay lipservice to copyright protection, in reality they all flout it. Although a few of the Target Websites claim not to, they all have control over which torrent files they index.”

Also of interest is that Court didn’t differentiate between sites that allow users to upload torrents, those that store them, or those that simply harvest links to torrents hosted elsewhere.

“Thirteen of the Target Websites (bittorrent.am, btdigg.org, btloft.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, torrentdb.li, torrentdownload.ws, torrentexpress.net, torrentproject.com, torrentroom.com, torrentus.eu, torrentz.cd and vitorrent.org) do not permit uploads of torrent files by users, but gather all their links to torrent files using ‘crawling’ technology. No torrent files are stored on these websites’ own servers,” Justice Arnold explained.

“Nevertheless, the way in which the torrent files (or rather the links thereto) are presented, and the underlying technology, is essentially the same as in the cases of the other Target Websites.”

The Judge also touched on the efficacy of website blockades, citing comScore data which suggests that, on average, the number of UK visitors to already blocked BitTorrent sites has declined by 87%.

“No doubt some of these users are using circumvention measures which are not reflected in the comScore data, but for the reasons given elsewhere it seems clear that not all users do this,” Justice Arnold wrote.

bpiSpeaking with TF the BPI said that the 21 sites had been selected for blocking on the basis that they are amongst the most infringing sites available in the UK today. BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said that having them rendered inaccessible would help both the music industry and consumers.

“Illegal sites dupe consumers and deny artists a fair reward for their work. The online black market stifles investment in new British music, holds back the growth of innovative legal services like Spotify and destroys jobs across Britain’s vital creative sector,” Taylor said.

“Sites such as these also commonly distribute viruses, malware and other unsafe or inappropriate content. These blocks will not only make the internet a safer place for music fans, they will help make sure there is more great British music in years to come.”

Finally, and mirroring a decision made in the Richemont case, Justice Arnold said that Internet subscribers affected by the block will be given the ability to apply to the High Court to discharge or vary the orders. Furthermore, when blocked site information pages are viewed by ISP subscribers in future, additional information will have to be displayed including details of the parties who obtained the block.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Police PIPCU Secure Govt. Funding Until 2017

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

In a relatively short space of time City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit has stamped its mark on the online piracy space in a way few other organizations have managed.

Since its official launch in September 2013 the unit has tackled online copyright infringement from a number of directions including arrests, domain seizures and advertising disruptions. PIPCU has shut down several sports streaming and ebook sites plus a large number of proxies.

In June 2013 when the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills announced the creation of PIPCU, Viscount Younger of Leckie noted that the Intellectual Property Office would provide an initial £2.56 million in funding to the unit over two years.

However, this funding was allocated on a temporary basis and was set to expire in 2015, a situation which prompted the Prime Minister’s former Intellectual Property Advisor Mike Weatherley to call for additional support.

This morning the government confirmed that additional funding will indeed be made available to PIPCU enabling it to operate until at least 2017.

Speaking to the national crime unit at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group Conference in London, Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Neville-Rolfe said that PIPCU would be boosted by £3 million of funding from the public purse.

“We’ve seen significant success in PIPCU’s first year of operation. This extra support will help the unit to build on this impressive record in the fight against intellectual property crime, which costs the UK at least £1.3 billion a year in lost profits and taxes,” Baroness Neville-Rolfe said.

“With more money now being invested in ideas than factories or machinery in the UK, it is vital that we protect creators and consumers and the UK’s economic growth. Government and industry must work together to give long-term support to PIPCU, so that we can strengthen the UK’s response to the blight of piracy and counterfeiters.”

City of London Police Commander Steve Head, who is the Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime, welcomed the cash injection.

“The government committing to fund the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit until 2017 is fantastic news for the City of London Police and the creative industries, and very bad news for those that seek to make capital through intellectual property crime,” Head said.

“Since launching a year ago, PIPCU has quickly established itself as an integral part of the national response to a problem that is costing the UK more than a billion pounds a year. Much of this success is down to PIPCU moving away from traditional policing methods and embracing new and innovative tactics, to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks responsible for causing huge damages to legitimate businesses.”

PIPCU, which is closely allied with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), is a 21-strong team comprised of detectives, investigators, analysts, researchers, an education officer and a communications officer.

The unit also reports two secondees – a Senior Intelligence Officer from the IPO and an Internet Investigator from the BPI. The latter role was previously filled by the BPI’s Mark Rampton but according to his Linkedin profile he left his position last month. No announcement has been made detailing his replacement.

While PIPCU is definitely leaving its mark, not all operations have gone to plan. In one of its highest-profile actions to date, last month the unit shut down what it described as an illegal and “industrial scale” sports streaming service in Manchester. However, in mid October all charges were dropped against its alleged operator.

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

TorrentFreak: Photographer Who Sued Imgur Now Has a Pirate Bay Problem

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

boffoli1When it comes to online piracy most attention usually goes out to music, TV-shows and movies. However, photos are arguably the most-infringed works online.

Virtually every person on the Internet has shared a photo without obtaining permission from its maker, whether through social networks, blogs or other services.

While most photographers spend little time on combating piracy, Seattle-based artist Christopher Boffoli has taken some of the largest web services to court for aiding these infringements

Boffoli has filed lawsuits against Twitter, Google and others, which were settled out for court under undisclosed terms. Last month he started a new case against popular image sharing site Imgur after it allegedly ignored his takedown requests.

The photographer asked the court to order an injunction preventing Imgur from making 73 of his photos available online. In addition, he requested millions of dollars in statutory damages for willful copyright infringement.

Imgur has yet to file an official reply to the complaint. In the meantime, however, Boffoli’s actions appear to have triggered another less welcome response.

A few days ago a user of The Pirate Bay decided to upload a rather large archive of the photographer’s work to the site. The archive in question is said to hold 20,754 images, including the most famous “Big Appetites” series.

A torrent with 20,754 images
tpb-boffoli

The image archive, which is more than eight gigabytes in size, had to be partly wrapped in an .iso file because otherwise the .torrent file itself would have been too large.

The description of the archive mentions Boffoli’s recent actions against Imgur, which could have triggered the upload. One of the commenters points out that the Imgur lawsuit may have done more harm than good, and a new Internet meme was born.

“Sued for 73 images, got 20,754 uploaded to TPB, LOL. About the Big Appetites series, if I ever get my hands on a copy, I’ll scan it at 600 dpi and upload it here, have fun trying to censor the internet, Boffoli,” the commenter notes.

TorrentFreak asked Boffoli for a comment on the leak and whether he will take steps to prevent the distribution, but we have yet to hear back.

While not everyone may agree with the lawsuit against Imgur piracy can impact photographers quite a bit. It’s usually not the average Pirate Bay user that’s causing the damage though, but rather companies that use professional photos commercially without a license.

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

TorrentFreak: Australians Face ‘Fines’ For Downloading Pirate Movies

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

Much to the disappointment of owner Voltage Pictures, early January 2013 a restricted ‘DVD Screener’ copy of the hit movie Dallas Buyers Club leaked online. The movie was quickly downloaded by tens of thousands but barely a month later, Voltage was plotting revenge.

In a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Texas, Voltage sought to identify illegal downloaders of the movie by providing the IP addresses of Internet subscribers to the court. Their aim – to scare those individuals into making cash settlements to make supposed lawsuits disappear.

Now, in the most significant development of the ‘trolling’ model in recent times, Dallas Buyers Club LLC are trying to expand their project into Australia. Interestingly the studio has chosen to take on subscribers of the one ISP that was absolutely guaranteed to put up a fight.

iiNet is Australia’s second largest ISP and the country’s leading expert when it comes to fighting off aggressive rightsholders. In 2012 the ISP defeated Hollywood in one of the longest piracy battles ever seen and the company says it will defend its subscribers in this case too.

Chief Regulatory Officer Steve Dalby says that Dallas Buyers Club LLC (DBCLLC) recently applied to the Federal Court to have iiNet and other local ISPs reveal the identities of people they say have downloaded and/or shared their movie without permission.

According to court documents seen by TorrentFreak the other ISPs involved are Wideband Networks Pty Ltd, Internode Pty Ltd, Dodo Services Pty Ltd, Amnet Broadband Pty Ltd and Adam Internet Pty Ltd.

Although the stance of the other ISPs hasn’t yet been made public, DBCLLC aren’t going to get an easy ride. iiNet (which also owns Internode and Adam) says it will oppose the application for discovery.

“iiNet would never disclose customer details to a third party, such as movie studio, unless ordered to do so by a court. We take seriously both our customers’ privacy and our legal obligations,” Dalby says.

While underlining that the company does not condone copyright infringement, news of Dallas Buyers Club / Voltage Pictures’ modus operandi has evidently reached iiNet, and the ISP is ready for them.

“It might seem reasonable for a movie studio to ask us for the identity of those they suspect are infringing their copyright. Yet, this would only make sense if the movie studio intended to use this information fairly, including to allow the alleged infringer their day in court, in order to argue their case,” Dalby says.

“In this case, we have serious concerns about Dallas Buyers Club’s intentions. We are concerned that our customers will be unfairly targeted to settle any claims out of court using a practice called ‘speculative invoicing’.”

The term ‘speculative invoicing’ was coined in the UK in response to the activities of companies including the now defunct ACS:Law, which involved extracting cash settlements from alleged infringers (via mailed ‘invoices’) and deterring them from having their say in court. Once the scheme was opened up to legal scrutiny it completely fell apart.

Some of the flaws found to exist in both UK and US ‘troll’ cases are cited by iiNet, including intimidation of subscribers via excessive claims for damages. The ISP also details the limitations of IP address-based evidence when it comes to identifying infringers due to shared household connections and open wifi scenarios.

“Because Australian courts have not tested these cases, any threat by rights holders, premised on the outcome of a successful copyright infringement action, would be speculative,” Dalby adds.

The Chief Regulatory Officer says that since iiNet has opposed the action for discovery the Federal Court will now be asked to decide whether iiNet should hand over subscriber identities to DBCLLC. A hearing on that matter is expected early next year and it will be an important event.

While a win for iiNet would mean a setback for rightsholders plotting similar action, victory for DBCLLC will almost certainly lead to others following in their footsteps. For an idea of what Australians could face in this latter scenario, in the United States the company demands payment of up to US$7,000 (AUS$8,000) per infringement.

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

TorrentFreak: 4shared Demands Retraction Over Misleading Piracy Report

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

profitLast month the Digital Citizens Alliance and NetNames released a new report with the aim of exposing the business models and profitability of “rogue” file-storage sites.

The report titled Behind The Cyberlocker Door: Behind The Cyberlocker Door: A Report How Shadowy Cyberlockers Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions, is being used as ammunition for copyright holders to pressure credit card companies and advertisers to cut ties with the listed sites.

While some of the sites mentioned are indeed of a dubious nature the report lacks nuance. The “shadowy” label certainly doesn’t apply to all. Mega, for example, was quick to point out that the report is “grossly untrue and highly defamatory.” The company has demanded a public apology.

4shared, the most visited site in the report with over 50 million unique visitors per month, is now making similar claims. According to 4shared’s Mike Wilson the company has put its legal team on the case.

“We decided to take action and demand a public retraction of the information regarding 4shared’s revenues and business model as published in the report. Our legal team is already working on the respective notes to Digital Citizens Alliance and Netnames,” Wilson tells TorrentFreak.

As the largest file-hosting service the report estimates that 4shared grosses $17.6 million per year. However, 4shared argues that many of the assumptions in the report are wrong and based on a distorted view of the company’s business model.

“Revenue volumes in this report are absolutely random. For instance, 4shared’s actual revenue from premium subscription sales is approximately 20 times smaller than is shown in the document,” Wilson says.

4shared explains that its premium users are mostly interested in storing their files safely and securely. In addition, the company notes that it doesn’t have any affiliate programs or other encouragements for uploading or downloading files.

Unlike the report claims, 4shared stresses that it’s not setup as a service that aims to profit from copyright infringement, although it admits that this does take place.

To deal with this unauthorized use the file-hosting service has a DMCA takedown policy in place. In addition, some of the most trusted rightsholder representative have direct access to the site where they can delete files without sending a takedown notice.

This works well and the overall takedown volume is relatively low. Together, the site’s users store a billion files and in an average month 4shared receives takedown notices for 0.05% of these files.

In addition to their takedown procedure 4shared also scans publicly shared music files for copyright-infringing content. This Music ID system, custom-built by the company, scans for pirated music files based on a unique audio watermark and automatically removes them.

Despite these efforts 4shared was included in the “shadowy cyberlocker” report where it’s branded a rogue and criminal operation. Whether the company’s legal team will be able to set the record straight has yet to be seen.

Netnames and Digital Citizens have thus far declined to remove Mega from the report as the company previously demanded. Mega informs TorrentFreak that a defamation lawsuit remains an option and that they are now considering what steps to take next.

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

TorrentFreak: Kim Dotcom Must Reveal Everything He Owns to Hollywood

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

dotcom-laptopKim Dotcom has been associated with many things over the years, but one enduring theme has been wealth – and lots of it.

Even in the wake of the now-infamous raid on his New Zealand mansion and the seizure of millions in assets, somehow Dotcom has managed to rake in millions. Or did he also have some stashed away?

It’s an important matter for Hollywood. The businessman’s continued lavish lifestyle diminishes the financial pot from where any payout will be made should they prevail in their copyright infringement battles against the Megaupload founder.

The studio’s concerns were previously addressed by Judge Courtney, who had already ordered Dotcom to disclose to the Court the details of his worldwide assets. The entrepreneur filed an appeal but that hearing would take place in October, a date beyond the already-ordered disclosure date.

Dotcom took his case to the Court of Appeal in the hope of staying the disclosure order, but in August that failed.

Dotcom complied with the ruling and subsequently produced an affidavit. However, he asked the Court of Appeal to overturn the decision of the High Court in order to keep the document a secret from the studios. That bid has now failed.

Following a ruling handed down this morning by the New Zealand Court of Appeal, Dotcom’s financial information will soon be in the hands of adversaries Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros.

Court of Appeal Judges John Wild, Rhys Harrison and Christin French ordered the affidavit to be released to the studios on the basis that the information could only be used in legal proceedings concerning the restraining of Dotcom’s assets. And with a confidentiality clause attached to the affidavit, the public will not gain access to the information.

Another setback for Dotcom came in respect of who pays the bill for proceedings. The Megaupload founder’s attempt at avoiding costs was turned down after the judges found that having already supplied the affidavit as required, Dotcom’s appeal was not likely to succeed.

And there was more bad news for Dotcom in a separate High Court ruling handed down in New Zealand today. It concerns the extradition cases against not only him but also former Megaupload associates Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram Van Der Kolk.

The theory put forward by Dotcom is that the United States and New Zealand governments had politically engineered his downfall in order to extradite him to the U.S. To gather evidence showing how that happened, Dotcom and the other respondents made a pair of applications to the extradition court (the District Court) requesting that it make discovery orders against various New Zealand government agencies, ministers and departments.

The District Court declined so the respondents sought a judicial review of that decision claiming that the Court acted unfairly and erred in law. In today’s ruling, Justice Simon France said there was no “air of reality” that political interference had been involved in Dotcom’s extradition case.

“It is, as the District Court held, all supposition and the drawing of links without a basis,” the Judge wrote.

“Nothing suggests involvement of the United States of America, and nothing suggests the New Zealand Government had turned its mind to extradition issues. These are the key matters and there is no support for either contention.”

Judge France said that as respondents in the case, the United States were entitled to costs.

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

TorrentFreak: Illegal Copying Has Always Created Jobs, Growth, And Prosperity

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

copyright-brandedIt often helps to understand present time by looking at history, and seeing how history keeps repeating itself over and over.

In the late 1700s, the United Kingdom was the empire that established laws on the globe. The United States was still largely a colony – even if not formally so, it was referred to as such in the civilized world, meaning France and the United Kingdom.

The UK had a strictly protectionist view of trade: all raw materials must come to England, and all luxury goods must be made from those materials while in the UK, to be exported to the rest of the world. Long story short, the UK was where the value was to be created.

Laws were written to lock in this effect. Bringing the ability to refine materials somewhere else, the mere knowledge, was illegal. “Illegal copying”, more precisely.

Let’s look at a particularly horrible criminal from that time, Samuel Slater. In the UK, he was even known as “Slater the Traitor”. His crime was to memorize the drawings of a British textile mill, move to New York, and copy the whole of the British textile mill from memory – something very illegal. For this criminal act, building the so-called Slater Mill, he was hailed as “the father of the American Industrial Revolution” by those who would later displace the dominance of the UK – namely the United States. This copy-criminal also has a whole town named after him.

Copying brings jobs and prosperity. Copying has always brought jobs and prosperity. It is those who don’t want to compete who try to legislate a right to rest on their laurels and outlaw copying. It never works.

We can take a look at the early film industry as well. That industry was bogged down with patent monopolies from one of the worst monopolists through industrial history, Thomas Edison and his Western Electric. He essentially killed off any film company that started in or at New York, where the film industry was based at the time. A few of the nascent film companies – Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, MGM – therefore chose to settle as far from this monopolist as possible, and went across the entire country, to a small unexploited suburb outside of Los Angeles, California, which was known as “Hollywoodland” and had a huge sign to that effect. There, they would be safe from Edison’s patent enforcement, merely through taking out enough distance between themselves and him.

Yes, you read that right – the entire modern film industry was founded on piracy. Which, again, lead to jobs and prosperity.

The heart of the problem is this: those who decide what is “illegal” to copy do so from a basis of not wanting to get outcompeted, and never from any kind of moral high ground. It’s just pure industrial protectionism. Neo-mercantilism, if you prefer. Copying always brings jobs and prosperity. Therefore, voluntarily agreeing to the terms of the incumbent industries, terms which are specifically written to keep everybody else unprosperous, is astoundingly bad business and policy.

I’d happily go as far as to say there is a moral imperative to disobey any laws against copying. History will always put you in the right, as was the case with Samuel Slater, for example.

For a more modern example, you have Japan. When I grew up in the 1980s, Japanese industry was known for cheap knock-off goods. They copied everything shamelessly, and never got quality right. But they knew something that the West didn’t: copying brings prosperity. When you copy well enough, you learn at a staggering pace, and you eventually come out as the R&D leader, the innovation leader, building on that incremental innovation you initially copied. Today, Japan builds the best quality stuff available in any category.

The Japanese knew and understand that it takes three generations of copying and an enormous work discipline to become the best in the world in any industry. Recently, to my huge astonishment, they even overtook the Scottish as masters of whisky. (As I am a very avid fan of Scottish whisky, this was a personal source of confusion for me, even though I know things work this way on a rational level.)

At the personal level, pretty much every good software developer I know learned their craft by copying other people’s code. Copying brings prosperity at the national and the individual levels. Those who would seek to outlaw it, or obey such unjust bans against copying, have no moral high ground whatsoever – and frankly, I think people who voluntarily choose to obey such unjust laws deserve to stay unprosperous, and fall with their incumbent master when that time comes.

Nobody ever took the lead by voluntarily walking behind somebody else, after all. The rest of us copy, share, and innovate, and we wait for nobody who tries to legislate their way to competitiveness.

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?

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TorrentFreak: The Soaring Financial Cost of Blocking Pirate Sites

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

On Friday news broke that luxury brand company Richemont had succeeded in its quest to have several sites selling counterfeit products blocked by the UK’s largest ISPs.

The landmark ruling, which opens the floodgates for perhaps tens of thousands of other sites to be blocked at the ISP level, contained some surprise information on the costs involved in blocking infringing websites. The amounts cited by Justice Arnold all involve previous actions undertaken by the movie and music industry against sites such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents.

The applications themselves

The solicitor acting for Richemont, Simon Baggs of Wiggin LLP, also acted for the movie studios in their website blocking applications. Information Baggs provided to the court reveals that an unopposed application for a section 97A blocking order works out at around £14,000 per website.

The record labels’ costs aren’t revealed but Justice Arnold said “it is safe to assume that they are of a similar magnitude to the costs incurred by the film studios.”

In copyright cases, 47 sites have been blocked at the ISP level = £658,000

Keeping blocked sites blocked

When blocking orders are issued in the UK they contain provisions for rightsholders to add additional IP addresses and URLs to thwart anti-blocking countermeasures employed by sites such as The Pirate Bay. It is the responsibility of the rightsholders to “accurately identify IP addresses and URLs which are to be notified to ISPs in this way.”

It transpires that in order to monitor the server locations and domain names used by targeted websites, the film studios have hired a company called Incopro, which happens to be directed by Simon Baggs of Wiggins.

In addition to maintaining a database of 10,000 ‘pirate’ domains, Incopro also operates ‘BlockWatch’. This system continuously monitors the IP addresses and domains of blocked sites and uses the information to notify ISPs of new IPs and URLs to be blocked.

“Incopro charges a fee to enter a site into the BlockWatch system. It also charges an ongoing monthly fee,” Justice Arnold reveals. “In addition, the rightholders incur legal costs in collating, checking and sending notifications to the ISPs. Mr Baggs’ evidence is that, together, these costs work out at around £3,600 per website per year.”

If we assume that the music industry’s costs are similar, for 47 sites these monitoring costs amount to around £169,200 per year, every year.

Costs to ISPs for implementing blocking orders

The ISPs involved in blocking orders have been less precise as to the costs involved, but they are still being incurred on an ongoing basis. All incur ongoing costs when filtering websites such as those on the Internet Watch List, but copyright injunctions only add to the load.

Sky

The cost of implementing a new copyright blocking order is reported as a “mid three figure sum” by Sky, with an update to an order (adding new IP addresses, for example) amounts to half of that. Ongoing monitoring of blocked domains costs the ISP a “low four figure sum per month.”

BT

According to the court, BT says that it expends 60 days of employee time per year implementing section 97A orders via its Cleanfeed system and a further 12 days employee time elsewhere.

Each new order takes up 8 hours of in-house lawyers’ time plus 13 hours of general staff time. Updates to orders accrue an hour of costs in the legal department plus another 13 hours of blocking staff time.

EE

For each new order EE expends 30 minutes of staff time and a further three hours of time at BT whose staff it utilizes. Updates cost the same amount of time.

EE pays BT a “near four figure sum” for each update and expends 36 hours employee time each year on maintenance and management.

TalkTalk

TalkTalk’s legal team expends two hours implementing each new order while its engineers spend around around two and a half. Updates are believed to amount to the same. The company’s senior engineers burn through 60 hours each year dealing with blocking orders amounting to “a low six figure sum” per annum.

Virgin

Virgin estimates that Internet security staff costs amount to a “low five figure sum” per year. Interestingly the ISP said it spent more on blocking this year than last, partly due to its staff having to respond to comments about blocking on social media.

And the bills are only set to increase

According to Justice Arnold several additional blocking orders are currently pending. They are:

- An application by Paramount Home Entertainment Ltd and other film studios relating to seven websites said to be “substantially focused” on infringement of copyright in movies and TV shows

- An application by 1967 Ltd and other record companies in respect of 21 torrent sites

- An application by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp and other film studios in respect of eight websites said to be “substantially focused” on infringement of copyright in movies and TV shows

But these 36 new sites to be blocked on copyright grounds are potentially just the tip of a quite enormous iceberg now that blocking on trademark grounds is being permitted.

Richemont has identified approximately 239,000 sites potentially infringing on their trademarks, 46,000 of which have been confirmed as infringing and are waiting for enforcement action.

So who will pick up the bill?

“It is obvious that ISPs faced with the costs of implementing website orders have a choice. They may either absorb these costs themselves, resulting in slightly lower profit margins, or they may pass these costs on to their subscribers in the form of higher subscription charges,” Justice Arnold writes.

Since all ISPs will have to bear similar costs, it seems likely that the former will prove most attractive to them, as usual.

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

TorrentFreak: Sports Streaming Site Hides Itself From The UK Piracy Police

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

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

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) uses a variety of measures to achieve its goals. This includes sending requests to registrars requesting the suspension of allegedly infringing domain names.

The sports streaming site Fromhot, also known as Sportlemon and Frombar, was one of the most recent targets of the latter strategy. The “franchise” has well over a million visitors per month but some of these went missing after the Frombar.com domain was suspended.

The streaming site does remain operational from several alternative domain names, which now point to Fromhot.com, but interestingly enough the site can no longer be accessed from the UK.

fromhot1

A few days after its main domain was suspended the sport streaming site decided to block all visitors from the UK. It appears that this measure was taken in the hope of avoiding further actions from PIPCU.

TorrentFreak contacted the people behind the site for a comment on the unusual measure, but we have yet to hear back.

Frombar is not the first sports streaming site to be targeted by PIPCU. 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.

In addition to the domain suspensions PIPCU also had several sports streaming site operators arrested. TorrentFreak previously revealed that the operator of BoxingGuru.co.uk, boxingguru.eu, boxingguru.tv and nutjob.eu was arrested during April.

This was followed by the arrest last month of 27-year old Zain Parvez, who allegedly operated CoolSport.se, CoolSport.tv and KiwiSportz.tv. Parvez was described as the head of an “industrial scale” sports streaming operation but all charges against him were dropped earlier this week.

Whether the blockade of UK traffic will keep PIPCU at bay has yet to be seen. The notice posted on the seized Frombar.com still notes that the site is “under criminal investigation.”

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

TorrentFreak: Uploaded.net Liable For Failing to Delete Copyright Content

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

uploaded-logoHaving content removed from the Internet is a task undertaken by most major entertainment industry companies. While laws differ around the world, the general understanding is that once notified of an infringement, Internet-based companies need to take action to prevent ongoing liability.

A case in Germany involving popular file-hosting service Uploaded.net has not only underlined this notion, but clarified that in some instances a hosting service can be held liable even if they aren’t aware of the content of a takedown notice.

It all began with anti-piracy company proMedia GmbH who had been working with their record label partners to remove unauthorized content from the Internet. The Hamburg-based company spotted a music album being made available on Uploaded so wrote to the company with a request for it to be removed.

“In the case at hand, a notice with regards to some infringing URLs on the file-hosting site was sent to the given abuse contact of the site,” Mirko Brüß, a lawyer with record label lawfirm Rasche Legal, told TorrentFreak.

However, three days later the album was still being made available so the lawfirm sent Uploaded an undertaking to cease and desist. When the file-hosting site still didn’t respond, Rasche Legal obtained a preliminary injunction against Uploaded.

“After it was served in Switzerland, the file-hoster objected and the court had an oral hearing in September,” Brüß explains.

In its response Uploaded appealed the injunction claiming it had never been aware of the takedown notices from proMedia GmbH. Lars Sobiraj of Tarnkappe told TF that Uploaded claimed to have received an empty Excel spreadsheet so didn’t react to it, preferring instead to receive plain text documents or complaints via its official takedown tool.

Rasche Legal later sent another email but Uploaded staff reportedly didn’t get a chance to read that either since an email server identified the correspondence as spam and deleted it.

“We did not believe this ‘story’ but thought they had just failed to process the notice expeditiously,” Brüß tolf TF.

In its judgment on the case the Hamburg District Court found that while service providers have no general obligations to monitor for infringing content on their services, the same cannot be said of infringements they have been made aware of.

However, the big question sat on Uploaded’s claims that it had never been aware of the infringements in question since it had never received the notices relating to them. In the event the Court found that sending the emails to Uploaded was enough to notify the service that infringements were taking place and that it must take responsibility for ending them.

“The Court followed our reasoning, meaning it is sufficient that the file-hoster actually receives the notice in a way that you can expect it to be read under normal circumstances,” Brüß says.

“There is a similar jurisdiction with regards to postal mail, where it is sufficient that the letter has reached your inbox and it is not necessary that you actually read the content of the letter in order for it to take legal effect. So here, we had proved that the takedown notice did reach the file-hoster’s mailserver, they only failed to act upon it.”

A ruling in the opposite direction would have opened up the possibility of other companies in a similar position to Uploaded blaming technical issues each time they failed to take down infringing content, Brüß explains. Instead, file-hosters are now required to respond quickly to complaints or face liability.

“So in essence, file-hosters need to make sure that they attain knowledge of all notices sent to them and act upon these notices expeditiously, or they face secondary (or even primary) liability. Also, the court stated that it does not matter by which means the notices are sent,” Brüß concludes.

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TorrentFreak: Google Will Punish “Pirate” Sites Harder in Search Results

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

google-bayOver the past few years the entertainment industries have repeatedly asked Google to step up its game when it comes to anti-piracy efforts.

These remarks haven’t fallen on deaf ears and Google has slowly implemented various new anti-piracy measures in response.

Today Google released an updated version of its “How Google Fights Piracyreport. The company provides an overview of all the efforts it makes to combat piracy, but also stresses that copyright holders themselves have a responsibility to make content available.

One of the most prominent changes is a renewed effort to make “pirate” sites less visible in search results. Google has had a downranking system in place since 2012, but this lacked effectiveness according to the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright industry groups.

The improved version, which will roll out next week, aims to address this critique.

“We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites. This update will roll out globally starting next week,” says Katherine Oyama, Google’s Copyright Policy Counsel.

The report notes that the new downranking system will still be based on the number of valid DMCA requests a site receives, among other factors. The pages of flagged sites remain indexed, but are less likely to be the top results.

“Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in search results. This ranking change helps users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily,” the report reads.

Looking at the list of sites for which Google received the most DMCA takedown request, we see that 4shared, Filestube and Dilandau can expect to lose some search engine traffic.

The report further highlights several other tweaks and improvements to Google’s anti-piracy efforts. For example, in addition to banning piracy related AutoComplete words, Google now also downranks suggestions that return results with many “pirate” sites.

Finally, the report also confirms our previous reporting which showed that Google uses ads to promote legal movie services when people search for piracy related keywords such as torrent, DVDrip and Putlocker. This initiative aims to increase the visibility of legitimate sites.

A full overview of Google’s anti-piracy efforts is available here.

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TorrentFreak: United States Hosts Most Pirate Sites, UK Crime Report Finds

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

sam-pirateThe UK IP Crime Group, a coalition of law enforcement agencies, government departments and industry representatives, has released its latest IP Crime Report.

The report is produced by the UK Government’s Intellectual Property Office and provides an overview of recent achievements and current challenges in the fight against piracy and counterfeiting. Increasingly, these threats are coming from the Internet.

“One of the key features in this year’s report is the continuing trend that the Internet is a major facilitator of IP crime,” the Crime Group writes.

The report notes that as in previous years, Hollywood-funded industry group FACT remains one of the key drivers of anti-piracy efforts in the UK. Over the past year they’ve targeted alleged pirate sites though various channels, including their hosting providers.

Not all hosts are receptive to FACT’s complaints though, and convincing companies that operate abroad is often a challenge. This includes the United States where the majority of the investigated sites are hosted.

“Only 14% of websites investigated by FACT are hosted in the UK. While it is possible to contact the hosts of these websites, there still remains a considerable number of copyright infringing websites that are hosted offshore and not within the jurisdiction of the UK.”

“Analysis has shown that the three key countries in which content is hosted are the UK, the USA and Canada. However, Investigating servers located offshore can cause specific problems for FACT’s law enforcement partners,” the report notes.

ushostpirate

The figure above comes as a bit of a surprise, as one would expect that United States authorities and industry groups would have been keeping their own houses in order.

Just a few months ago the US-based IIPA, which includes MPAA and RIAA as members, called out Canada because local hosting providers are “a magnet” for pirate sites. However, it now appears they have still plenty of work to do inside U.S. borders.

But even when hosting companies are responsive to complaints from rightsholders the problem doesn’t always go away. The report mentions that most sites simply move on to another host, and continue business as usual there.

“In 2013, FACT closed a website after approaching the hosting provider on 63 occasions. Although this can be a very effective strategy, in most instances the website is swiftly transferred onto servers owned by another ISP, often located outside the UK.”

While downtime may indeed be relatively brief the report claims that it may still hurt the site, as visitors may move on to other legitimate or illegitimate sources.

“The [moving] process usually involves a disruptive period of time whereby the website is offline, during which users will often find an alternative service, thus negatively affecting the website’s popularity.”

While hosting companies remain a main target, tackling the online piracy problem requires a multi-layered approach according to the UK Crime Group.

With the help of local law enforcement groups such as City of London’s PIPCU, copyright holders have rolled out a variety of anti-piracy measures in recent months. This includes domain name suspensions, cutting off payment processors and ad revenue, website blocking by ISPs and criminal prosecutions.

These and other efforts are expected to continue during the years to come. Whether that will be enough to put a real dent in piracy rates has yet to be seen.

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TorrentFreak: High Court Orders ISPs to Block Counterfeiting Websites

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

Following successful action by the world’s leading entertainment companies to have file-sharing sites blocked at the ISP level, it was perhaps inevitable that other companies with similar issues would tread the same path.

Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A. owns several well-known luxury brands including Cartier and Mont Blanc and for some time has tried to force sites selling counterfeit products to close down. Faced with poor results, in 2014 the company wrote to the UK’s leading ISPs – Sky, TalkTalk, BT, Virgin Media, EE and Telefonica/O2 – complaining that third party sites were infringing on Richemont trademarks.

Concerned that Richemont hadn’t done enough to close the sites down on its own and that blocking could affect legitimate trade, the ISPs resisted and the matter found itself before the High Court.

This morning a decision was handed down and it’s good news for Richemont. The ISPs named in the legal action must now restrict access to websites selling physical counterfeits in the same way they already restrict file-sharing sites.

The websites mentioned in the current order are cartierloveonline.com, hotcartierwatch.com, iwcwatchtop.com, replicawatchesiwc.com, 1iwc.com, montblancpensonlineuk.com, ukmontblancoutlet.co.uk . In addition, Richemont identified tens of thousands of additional domains that could be added in the future.

A Richemont spokesperson told TorrentFreak that the ruling represents a positive step in the fight to protect brands and customers from the sale of counterfeit goods online.

“We are pleased by this judgment and welcome the Court’s recognition that there is a public interest in preventing trade mark infringement, particularly where counterfeit goods are involved. The Courts had already granted orders requiring ISPs to block sites for infringement of copyright in relation to pirated content. This decision is a logical extension of that principle to trade marks,” the company said.

Wiggin LLP, the lawfirm at the heart of website blocking action for the entertainment industry, acted for Richemont in the case. The company says that today’s judgment holds benefits for both rightsholders and consumers.

“In a comprehensive judgment, the court has considered the enforcement methods that are presently available to trade mark owners when tackling infringement online. The court has concluded that Internet Service Providers play ‘an essential role’ and that the court can and should apply Article 11 of the Enforcement Directive to require the application of technical measures to impede infringement of trade marks,” Wiggin said.

According to a comment sent to TF by Arty Rajendra, Partner at IP law firm Rouse Legal, the decision is likely to be appealed.

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