Posts tagged ‘Copyright’

TorrentFreak: MPAA Trademark Forces “Rated R” Beer To Drop Its Name

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

ratedrThe MPAA is best known for its efforts to protect the rights of the major movie studios. However, the group also has some intellectual property of its own to defend.

A few weeks ago the MPAA sent a cease and desist letter to Minneapolis beer brewery 612 Brew, who’re known for their tasty beers including the popular “Rated R” brand.

The movie industry group pointed out that the company was using the “Rated R” trademark without permission and urged the beer maker to drop the name to avoid confusion.

The MPAA registered “Rated R” at the trademark office in the eighties as a certification mark, indicating that a movie is rated unsuitable for children under 17, unless they’re accompanied by an adult.

While movie ratings have nothing to do with beer, the MPAA took offense at the name after the brewery filed their own trademark application. According to 612 Brew co-founder Kasak, the MPAA didn’t want the beer makers to use any of the “Rated” variants.

“[Our beer] could have been PG, PG-13 or R. It didn’t matter. As long as it contained the word ‘rated’ it would still get flagged,” Kasak told Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.

An MPAA spokesperson confirmed that the group sent a cease and desist letter but further details are not available.

The brewery first responded to the demands by arguing that the Rated R name can be used as they clearly operate in a different industry. The MPAA wasn’t convinced though, so 612 decided that it was easiest to change the name.

The trademark specifically notes that the MPAA doesn’t have an exclusive right to the word “rated,” but 612 Brew decided to go for a different variant.

Starting this year the name of “Rated R” beer was changed to “Unrated,” which isn’t trademarked by the MPAA. While the change is a setback for the brewery it’s co-founder doesn’t believe it will harm business in the long run.

“It’s going to take some time for people to get used to it, but it will be OK. It’s a great beer and they’ll drink it regardless of the name,” Kasak notes.

The brewery now has to hope that the “unrated” name won’t cause any headaches in the future. A quick search reveals that there’s an “unrated” trademark application in progress by a “yoga pants” outfit, so fingers crossed.

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

TorrentFreak: Music Group Threatens Popcorn Time’s Blog Platform

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

popcorncensorIn a few weeks time the Popcorn Time phenomenon will reach a symbolic milestone` when the ‘Netflix for Pirates’ celebrates its first birthday.

Of course, after serving millions of users in a short space of time, copyright holders have their eyes on the now-several forks of the popular project. Today we have news of yet another effort to limit the software’s reach.

PopcornTime.io is considered by many to be the true successor to the original Popcorn Time project that was shut down just weeks after it launched in 2014. Its development team is proudly open source and operates with an ethos closely aligned with that of the original team. It also receives similar legal threats and the latest to involve the project is somewhat of a head-scratcher.

PopcornTime.io has a blog where it publishes important updates. The latest entry heralds the project’s latest Android client in all its bug-fixed glory. It’s presented using the Ghost open source blogging platform and quite bizarrely copyright holders are trying to change that.

“The Greek equivalent of RIAA are threatening @TryGhost with legal action because we host @popcorntimetv’s blog,” Ghost founder John O’Nolan said this week.

“Good luck with that, Greece.”

Somewhat intrigued, TorrentFreak contacted O’Nolan – the former Deputy Head of the WordPress UI Group – who confirmed the threats.

“We were incredibly shocked to be contacted by a representative in 2015 requesting the personal information of one of our users without any basis. The clear lack of understanding here is worrying on many levels,” O’Nolan told TF.

And it gets worse. In the first instance O’Nolan thought that his company was actually hosting Popcorn Time’s blog, but in fact its being hosted by the project itself. All O’Nolan does is offer the completely neutral Ghost blogging platform.

To try and get to the bottom of this curious situation we contacted the organization targeting Popcorn Time. AEPI, the Greek Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property, did not officially respond to our request for comment. However, we did manage to learn more about this music group’s claim.

It appears that since Popcorn Time allows people to download movies and TV shows that have music playing in the background, AEPI believes that Popcorn Time should pay royalties and/or a music licensing fee to do so legally in Greece.

While it seems unlikely that the project is interested in any such license, the complaint to Ghost has only warmed relations between the blogging platform and Popcorn Time.

“If you ever have a need for more security/encryption features – don’t hesitate to reach out,” O’Nolan ‏informed the project. “Likewise if you have any trouble with your current host, we’ll host you.”

And as far as Popcorn Time are concerned, there’s only one blogging platform for them.

“We use Ghost as our blogging platform because it’s lightweight yet packed full of features. Unlike WordPress you can concentrate on writing your post. Throw in the fact it’s open source and written on Node.js and it’s the perfect match!” the team told TF.

It’s not been a good 2015 for AEPI thus far. Earlier this month the anti-piracy group lost its bid to have various torrent sites blocked by local ISPs. The Athens Court ruled that barring access to torrent sites such as KickassTorrents and The Pirate Bay would be disproportionate, unconstitutional, and would hinder ISPs’ entrepreneurial freedoms.

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

TorrentFreak: How Cunning VOD Pirates Plundered Taken 3

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

taken3-logoSoon after its U.S. premiere on January 9, pirate copies of the new Liam Neeson movie Taken 3 began appearing online. While quality was decent for a ‘cam’ recording, it was nothing to get really excited about.

As it happened that didn’t matter too much since most downloaders were already preoccupied with the recent flood of high quality Oscar screeners. Nevertheless, those who ventured into a cinema to record Taken 3 are likely to have exposed themselves to considerable risk.

In many countries one can end up in jail for such activities, especially when recording is followed by uploading to the Internet. But just a week later new events meant that the Taken 3 pirates’ dance with danger would largely be forgotten.

Last Thursday an HD copy of Taken 3 appeared on all major torrent sites but thanks to an earlier tipoff, that came as no surprise to us. Several days earlier a source already told TF that a “pristine” copy of Taken 3 would become available on January 22. So how did he know? The answer lies thousands of miles away in the Middle East.

OSN is a pay TV network with its headquarters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The network offers international entertainment content such as movies, TV shows and sporting events. Perhaps surprisingly to readers in the West, it also provides access to movies still running in U.S. theaters.

As can be seen from the image of an OSN TV screen below, Taken 3 was due to air on the PPV network on January 22.

taken 3

TF was assured that a copy would quickly by pirated using OSN as several other popular movies had also been ‘capped’ from the same source in recent times. Sure enough, the first copies to appear online last Thursday all appeared with tell-tale Arabic subtitles or a suspiciously narrow image window where they’d been cropped out.

taken-arabic

While it’s not easy to say whether all ‘subbed’ copies now online originate from the first original ‘capping’ of Taken 3, we know that the first ‘big’ copy on Western sites (uploaded by a group called CPG) was not the first overall.

Those honors fell to a group called “weleef” who uploaded this “exclusive” to Arabic forum ArabScene shortly after the first showings on OSN.

arabscene-taken

Of course, thanks to this source people from all around the globe were able to watch a good copy of the movie, despite it still playing in cinemas in the United States and elsewhere. Sadly, even those wanting to pay for the movie in the U.S. will have to wait until April 2015 for a VOD release.

Why Hollywood treats citizens in the Middle East and Asia better than its home audience is anyone’s guess, but if defeating piracy is the goal the practice might be backfiring.

Our source says that a Chinese VOD site already has 50 Shades of Grey listed for an end of February release, two weeks after its Valentine’s Day premiere in the U.S. Only a month to find out if that leaks too.

Update: A new and non-subtitled copy of Taken 3 is now flourishing online. The source? An OSN set-top box…

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

TorrentFreak: Canadian Government Spies on Millions of File-Sharers

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

spyBeing monitored online is a reality largely acknowledged by millions of file-sharers worldwide. Countless rightsholders, anti-piracy outfits, analytics companies and other interested parties crawl BitTorrent and other P2P networks every day, spying on downloads and gathering data.

While the public nature of these networks is perfect for those looking to eavesdrop, individuals who use file-hosting sites are often under the impression that their transfers cannot be monitored by third parties since transactions take place privately from user to site via HTTP.

That assumption has today been blown completely out of the water amid revelations that Canada’s top electronic surveillance agency has been spying on millions of downloads from more than 100 file-sharing sites.

Led by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s equivalent of the NSA, and codenamed LEVITATION, the project unveils widespread Internet surveillance carried out by Canadian authorities.

A document obtained by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and released to CBC News shows that in an effort to track down extremists the spy agency monitors up to 15 million downloads carried out by users around the world every day.

cse-ffu

According to the 2012 document, 102 file-sharing platforms were monitored by CSE. Just three were named – RapidShare, SendSpace, and the now defunct Megaupload. None of the sites were required to cooperate with the Canadian government since CSE had its own special capabilities.

“A separate secret CSE operation codenamed ATOMIC BANJO obtains the data directly from internet cables that it has tapped into, and the agency then sifts out the unique IP address of each computer that downloaded files from the targeted websites,” The Intercept‘s analysis of the document notes.

Once harvested those IP addresses are cross-referenced with vast amounts of additional data already intercepted by the United States’ NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ. Subsequent searches have the ability to show a list of other websites visited by those downloading from file-hosting sites.

Further associations can then be made with Facebook or Google accounts (via Google analytics cookies) which have the potential to link to names, addresses and other personal details. It’s a potent mix but one apparently designed to weed out just a small number of files from millions of daily events.

fewdocs

According to the LEVITATION documents the system has the ability to track downloads in countries across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and North America.

Under law, CSE isn’t allowed to spy on Canadians, but IP addresses belonging to a web server in Montreal appeared in a list of “suspicious” downloads. Also monitored by CSE were downloads carried out by citizens located in closely allied countries including the U.S., UK, Germany and Spain.

“CSE is clearly mandated to collect foreign signals intelligence to protect Canada and Canadians from a variety of threats to our national security, including terrorism,” CSE spokesman Andrew McLaughlin told CBC.

While it may be of comfort for Canadians to learn that the government is only interested in a small number of files being exchanged outside the country’s borders, mass surveillance of this kind always has the potential to unnerve when mission-creep raises its head.

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

TorrentFreak: Amazon Bans BitTorrent App FrostWire Over Piracy Concerns

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

fwlogoTaking “infringing” apps out of popular app stores is one of Hollywood’s key anti-piracy priorities for the years to come.

Various copyright holder groups frequently report “piracy-enabling” apps to Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, alongside requests for the stores to take them offline.

The stores themselves also screen for potentially problematic software. Apple, for example, has notoriously banned all BitTorrent related apps.

This week, Amazon is following in Apple’s footsteps by banning one of the most used BitTorrent clients from its store. The Android version of FrostWire had been listed for well over a year but Amazon recently had a change of heart.

FrostWire developer Angel Leon tells TF that the app was removed without prior warning. When he asked the company for additional details, he was told that Amazon sees his app as a pirate tool.

“In reviewing your app, we determined that it can be used to facilitate the piracy or illegal download of content. Any facilitation of piracy or illegal downloads is not allowed in our program,” Amazon’s support team writes.

fw-mail

Leon was baffled by the response. FrostWire had been a member of the Developer Select program for over a year and always made sure to avoid any links to piracy. On the contrary, FrostWire was actively promoting Creative Commons downloads and other legal content.

“We have never promoted illegal file sharing, we actually promote creative commons downloads, and free legal downloads from soundcloud, archive.org. The app is also a full blown music player, but none of this probably counts,” Leon tells us.

“Web browsers and email clients are still there, programs that also fall in the category of being ‘used to facilitate the piracy or illegal download of content’,” he adds, pointing out the arbitrary decision.

While it’s not clear why Amazon changed its stance towards FrostWire, it wouldn’t be a surprise if pressure from copyright holders played a role.

FrostWire’s developer believes that the mobile developer industry may have to come up with a less censorship prone store in the future. There’s a need for a decentralized app store that secures the interests of both iOS and Android developers.

For now, Leon hopes that other stores will be less eager to pull the plug on perfectly legal apps. While it may seem to be a small decision for the stores, having a popular app removed can ruin a developer’s entire business.

The beauty of FrostWire and other BitTorrent clients is that they offer the freedom to share files with people from all over the world without being censored. Restricting access to apps that make this possible will harm society, Leon believes.

“This is a freedom which eventually protects society from the likes of totalitarian governments, something some of us at FrostWire have lived first hand in Latin America, something that forced me and so many Venezuelans to leave our countries and start again from scratch in the US,” Leon concludes.

Despite being banned from Amazon’s store, Kindle users will still be able to get updates via the FrostWire website. A special installer for Kindle will be available soon.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Won’t Make A Full Comeback, Staff Revolt

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

pirate bayJudging from all the teasers on the Pirate Bay homepage the notorious torrent site is preparing to relaunch this weekend.

Those in control of the domain have yet to make an official announcement but several sources inform TF that the site won’t make a full comeback.

Instead, The Pirate Bay is expected to launch a trimmed down version without room for the dozens of moderators and admins who looked after the site over the past decade.

This lighter version of The Pirate Bay will be easier to operate but the plan has also upset many former staffers. This includes people who have been with the site for over a decade, removing fake torrents and other types of spam.

Several admins and moderators have responded to the news with anger and are now openly distancing themselves from the thepiratebay.se site that was their home for years.

“I wish I had better news to come with. The launch that is about to take place on February 1 is not us,” says WTC-SWE, one of the lead admins of The Pirate Bay.

“It was until some dickhead decided to take TPB crew out of the picture. He thinks a site can be run without any staff at all and at the same time keeping up with fakes, internal issues etc,” he adds.

What stings them the most is that many dedicated individuals, who put countless hours into keeping the site functioning, now appear to be being pushed aside on a whim.

“Personally I won’t accept this neither will any of the crew that’s been active for almost 10-11 years. As an admin and human, I won’t stand aside and accept this kind of behavior. This is the worst scenario that could happen,” WTC-SWE says.

“You don’t treat people like horseshit,” he adds.

The staff, now in open revolt, have closed the official #thepiratebay IRC channel on EFnet to the public. They won’t offer support anymore for a site that they have no ‘control’ over, but warn people who do want to visit it to be cautious of malware.

Instead, the TPB former crew members are now preparing to launch their own version of the site. This spin-off will be operated from a new domain and will have several long-time mods and admins on board.

WTC-SWE says that they are in possession of a TPB backup which will be used to revive the old site in full. The full staff of moderators and admins remains under his wings and will start over at a home.

“It’s only a matter of time. I will need to blast the whole coding and clean up all the mess. The real TPB will be back with proper staff and all,” WTC-SWE says.

Thus far, the people running the official thepiratebay.se domain have remained quiet. In a few days, when the count-down completes, we are likely to know more about their vision for the site’s future.

To be continued…

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

TorrentFreak: Spanish Government Orders Pirate Bay Blockade

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

pirate bayAfter years of developing a reputation as a piracy safe-haven, in recent times Spain has found itself under intense pressure to clamp down on copyright infringement.

After a serious of tweaks and adjustments to local copyright law, January 1st the country introduced tough new legislation backed up by hefty punishments for site operators.

Potential €600,000 fines were enough to scare some sites offline. Others, such as Pablo Soto’s Torrents.fm, disappeared without comment. While the climate in Spain is clearly a different one in 2015, there are now fresh signs of a new crackdown.

Spanish users of local ISP Vodafone have been reporting that their visits to The Pirate Bay are being redirected to a new URL – Castor.vodafone.es. Domain stats reveal that ThePirateBay.se and ThePirateBay.org are indeed two of the top referrers to that URL and that 100% of its traffic comes from Spain.

When Vodafone users began accusing their ISP of blocking The Pirate Bay without a court order, local media approached Vodafone for comment. In a statement yesterday the ISP said it had no knowledge of any blockade. This morning, however, Vodafone changed its mind.

The company now confirms it has received a blocking order from the Spanish government. Vodafone says that it has an obligation to comply with an order “issued by a competent authority”, in this case, the Ministry of Culture.

“In the current Copyright Act, there is a list of authorities who can order the blocking of a website to comply with legislation. That’s what we did,” a source at the company said.

Speaking with Gizmodo in Spain, Vodafone could not confirm the exact date when it began blocking the site but said it complied with the official request around Christmas. That would certainly fall into line with early problems experienced by some users.

It is currently unclear whether other ISPs in Spain have received the same instructions from the Ministry of Culture since ThePirateBay.se remains accessible via all ISPs except Vodafone.

Other major ISPs including Movistar and Orange say they cannot currently confirm if they have received similar blocking instructions from the government.

Today The Pirate Bay remains non-functional as a torrent site but its landing page, currently adorned with a phoenix, suggests a return to glory this coming weekend. If it does, Vodafone users will need a workaround.

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

TorrentFreak: Unprecedented Music Piracy Collapse Fails to Boost Revenues

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

piracydownAfter years of effort and expenditure, in 2013 Norway introduced new legislation to crack down on Internet piracy. It gave rightsholders new powers to track down file-sharers and have sites blocked at the ISP level.

To date and despite various threats not a single file-sharer has been prosecuted. No sites – not even the Pirate Bay – have been blocked. However, news coming out of Norway suggests that at least as far as the music industry goes, those legislative weapons are now obsolete.

During December 2014 music industry group IFPI conducted a nationwide survey among under 30-year-olds and discovered some amazing things about the piracy landscape in Norway.

According to the survey results, just 4% of respondents are now using illegal file-sharing platforms to obtain music. While that figure is certainly impressive, MBW compares that finding with the results of a similar 2009 IFPI survey which found that a huge 70% of the population under 30 used those platforms to obtain music.

mbw-stats

The drop is certainly dramatic, especially when coupled with the fact that less than 1% of respondents now cite file-sharing networks as their main source of obtaining music. What is telling, however, is that IFPI Norway chief Marte Thorsby did not connect the drop with anti-piracy measures.

“We are now offering services that are both better and more user-friendly than illegal platforms. In [the past] five years, we have virtually eliminated illegal file sharing in the music industry,” Thorsby said.

The December survey also found that 80% of under 30-year-olds now use streaming services as their main source of music.

“Younger audiences are using streaming services to the greatest extent. When older audiences [start] embracing these services we will probably see a somewhat different distribution of revenues,” Thorsby told MBW. “Hopefully this will also involve a better economy for several Norwegian artists and record companies.”

But while the drop in piracy will certainly be welcomed by the industry, it appears young people fleeing file-sharing networks has done nothing to boost revenues.

In 2009 revenues were NOK 592 million ($75.94m) yet by 2014 there had only been a modest increase to NOK 601 million ($77.1m). That’s just a 1.5% uplift in five years, not accounting for inflation. Place that into the equation and in real terms revenues are down.

That being said, that particular period witnessed a dramatic change in the supply model, with physical giving way massively to digital purchases. In 2009 just 15% of content was supplied in digital format but by 2014 that had reached 86%.

For IFPI to claim the virtual elimination of music piracy is certainly an important if not unprecedented event but the take-home is simple. Provide people with effective and engaging legal alternatives and piracy becomes irrelevant.

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

TorrentFreak: Old Pirate Bay Will Share $100,000 With Devs, Mods and Uploaders

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

oldtpbJust a few days after The Pirate Bay raid the people behind Isohunt.to decided to come up with a temporary replacement, Oldpiratebay.org.

While the site’s operators are not affiliated with the original site, they wanted to offer a hideout for wandering TPB users. This hasn’t been without success as the site is now pulling in millions of visitors per day.

Despite its popularity the OldPirateBay still lacks many of the features The Pirate Bay had. There is currently no upload feature for example, nor is there a moderator crew to keep the site clean.

The Isohunt.to team previously called on the community to improve the project. This has already led to several improvements through the OpenBay’s GitHub repository and with a big cash injection they hope to facilitate the development.

“In order to boost that process we are announcing an unprecedented move,” Isohunt.to announces today.

“$100,000 for developing OldPirateBay.org, are you ready for that?! Anyone can take part in the website development and moderation which will result in public recognition. Also addition to your pay check would be a nice surprise,” they add.

The money will be shared through a contest. Starting next month $10,000 in cash prizes, paid in Bitcoin, will be awarded to the developers who contribute to the top features.

From March 1, OldPirateBay will have upload and moderation capabilities. This will include a ranking system where the top contributors and moderators can divide $5,000 in Bitcoin per group each month.

“The idea behind this message is to empower the community to create OldPirateBay.org as they see it. And we’re ready to reward the most active participants along the way,” the Isohunt.to team notes.

While the site was started as a temporary replacement it will remain online if the Pirate Bay does indeed return next week. This creates an interesting situation as OldPirateBay already outranks the original site in Google’s search engine.

The people behind OldPirateBay believe that the community should decide the long-term fate of the site. If there’s enough interest to keep the site growing then they are willing to stimulate this process.

“The main idea is that community should develop the site in the way they want. So if there will be enough initiative the site will be developed by people. We just want to stimulate it,” Isohunt.to concludes.

A full description of the contest details will be available on the OldPirateBay website in the near future.

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

TorrentFreak: Italy Launches Largest Ever Pirate Site Blockade

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

guardiaAlongside the United Kingdom, Italy is the most aggressive country in the world when it comes to blocking websites on copyright infringement grounds.

Over the past several years dozens of domains have been censored locally and a new operation has upped that tally significantly following a complaint from a major broadcaster.

Sky Italia is a digital satellite television platform owned by Sky Plc, the TV company founded by Rupert Murdoch. 21st Century Fox owns a controlling 39% of the shares in Sky Plc and with a turnover of more than £7.6 billion ($11.41 billion) it’s one of the largest media companies in the world.

To protect its bottom line, in 2014 Sky Italia filed a complaint with authorities against more than 120 websites said to broadcast sporting events, concerts, music, plus film and television works without rightsholders’ permission.

A subsequent investigation was coordinated by the Public Prosecutor of Rome and entrusted to deputy prosecutors Nello Rossi and Eugenio Albamontes. Assistance was provided by the Special Unit for Broadcasting and Publishing (Nucleo Speciale Radiodiffusione Editoria).

Authorities say that pirate content was offered by the sites in a number of ways but streaming in particular, both of live events and via on-demand. Many provided helpful schedules to assist users with planning.

With all sites operating outside Italian territory, local authorities decided to take action to render them inaccessible in the country. A sweep was ordered by magistrate Gaspare Sturzo and this morning 124 websites are reported blocked via local Internet service providers.

The names of most sites hit in ‘Operation Match Off’ have not been released but authorities have pointed out that ‘sportlemon.tv’ was registered in the name of Gottfrid Svartholm. It seems unlikely that the Pirate Bay founder had any operational connections to the site but the domain was registered by PRQ, his former company in Sweden.

In common with previous cases, advertising is being blamed for the revenue generated by these unauthorized sites. The Guardia di Finanza (GdF), the law enforcement agency responsible for dealing with financial crime and whose Special Command Unit carried out the operation, said site users were met with aggressive ads and click-fraud techniques.

Italy has been working hard to counter the rise of advertising on pirate sites. Last summer a Memorandum of Understanding between the online advertising industry (including Google) and the music and movie industries signaled the creation of a central body to tackle the piracy issue.

But despite the agreement it was found that “known brands” were still advertising on the now-blocked sites. As a result authorities are now conducting an investigation into the agencies that placed the ads for companies in the financial, real estate, betting, retail and communications sector.

Enzo Mazza, chief of FIMI, Italy’s answer to the RIAA, said the action against the domains was welcome.

“The Fiscal Police from Rome carried out a very sophisticated operation including the economic angle of the case. This is the largest criminal action involving site blocking ever carried out,” Mazza told TorrentFreak.

“Some sites were also offering music concerts in addition to soccer and sport. We congratulate the special unit of the Fiscal Police and the public prosecutor from Rome for the operation.”

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 01/26/15

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

interThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Interstellar is the most downloaded movie.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (…) Interstellar (DVDScr) 8.8 / trailer
2 (2) American Sniper (DVDscr) 7.6 / trailer
3 (…) Taken 3 6.3 / trailer
4 (1) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (DVDscr) 7.7 / trailer
5 (…) John Wick 7.3 / trailer
6 (4) Into The Woods (DVDscr) 6.8 / trailer
7 (3) Fury 7.8 / trailer
8 (7) Gone Girl 8.4 / trailer
9 (…) American Heist 5.6 / trailer
10 (5) The Judge 7.5 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Phoenix Hints At Imminent Pirate Bay Comeback

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

phoenix1During the Spring of 2006, less than three years after The Pirate Bay was founded, 65 Swedish police officers entered a datacenter in Stockholm.

The policemen had instructions to shut down the largest threat to the entertainment industry at the time – The Pirate Bay’s servers.

The raid was successful, but while various copyright holder groups claimed a major victory, the Pirate Bay team wasn’t sitting still.

Thanks to a backup made by Fredrik Neij at the last minute, The Pirate Bay returned online in three days. Seemingly unimpressed by the raid, TPB renamed itself to “The Police Bay” complete with a new logo shooting cannon balls at Hollywood.

A few days later this logo was replaced by a Phoenix, a reference to the site rising from its digital ashes.

Last December The Pirate Bay was raided for the second time. This time around there was no quick comeback, but a new update that was added to the site today suggests that it’s coming.

After nearly nine years the Phoenix is once again present on the site’s homepage, offering hope to estranged Pirate Bay users.

Although nothing has been confirmed officially, this is by far the most concrete hint that TPB is working hard on a comeback.

The counter that’s still running down suggests that TPB will return in full glory February 1st, so we should know more within a week. Tick tock, tick tock…

phoenixtpb

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

TorrentFreak: “Pirate Cinema” Visualizes Torrent Traffic in Online Art Display

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

Somewhere in a datacenter in Austria there’s a dedicated machine that has only one mission: download and share the 100 most popular files on BitTorrent and turn these bits and pieces into a piece of art.

The machine in question belongs to artist Nicolas Maigret and his Pirate Cinema project. Pirate Cinema has been on display for nearly two years in various venues, but this week the circle was completed when the piracy composition made its online debut.

TF caught up with Maigret to learn more about the background and purpose of Pirate Cinema. He tells us that after completing several projects where the proposal was to represent networks in a physical form, he wanted to visualize how they’re used by millions of people around the world.

“That’s where the Pirate Cinema concept started,” Maigret says.

Over the past several years Maigret has worked on bringing it to life in various forms and this week Pirate Cinema started streaming online for the first time. Those who check out the stream see chunks of popular videos flashing by, gathered from around the globe in real-time.

Pirate Cinema (live here)

The video bits include the IP-address of the source, partially masked, and the country of origin. This is not without purpose. Maigret specifically includes this info to show how public these transfers are, and how easily they can be monitored.

“On one hand this is in response to omnipresent users surveillance going on the Internet. More specifically here, on the file sharing networks, where people are monitored daily, resulting in real life lawsuits,” Maigret tells us.

But Pirate Cinema is also a tribute to the Copy Culture that developed in the latest generations of computer users. The Copy Culture that is more common today than it has ever been before.

“For the last 15 years, P2P networks have served as a great resource for mainstream content, but also for valuable rarities and unknown content that is hardly accessible otherwise,” Maigret says

“File-sharing has been central in the access to culture worldwide. The Pirate Cinema tends to make those activities and dynamics tangible,” he adds.

Aside from the online display there is also a live audio-visual performance. This live show is composed of 6 acts that each monitor a specific selection of torrents, such as the rise of porn on BitTorrent and the oldest torrent alive.

Those interested in learning more about the project can check out the official site. Taking part in the online art project is also an option, but that comes at a risk.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Party MEP Fails to Deliver True Copyright Reform

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

copyright-brandedThe Pirate Party did not only manage to continue its presence in the European Parliament by having German Pirate Julia Reda elected. It also secured the politically important role of rapporteur on copyright reform. High expectations for a long overdue upheaval of the status quo in the political debates on copyright were warranted.

But in Julia Reda’s draft report on copyright reform from Monday January 19, there is little to nothing in it that can be considered as a fulfillment of those expectations.

Her proposals for a new European copyright can be summarized as ”more of the same”. She wants the European Union to make a regulation, which means directly applicable at the member state level. This regulation, she suggests, can contain all of the current bits of copyright. This is by itself useful, especially for American technology companies that want to repeat their US successes and are confronted with a European market that is highly fragmented by its wildly disparate copyright laws.

Half of her report deals with the consequences of making a regulation. Of course, exceptions and limitations will be harmonized if the European law is directly applicable in all the member states. What people were requesting were broader exceptions and limitations and a re-assessment of the copyright framework and legal certainty for the benefit of individuals. Instead they’re getting benefits for corporations. What Julia proposes is to maintain things in their present state, while making it more difficult for individuals to influence local laws.

Part of the report deals with Julia’s admiration for the European Court of Justice rulings in the Svensson (hyperlinking), Best Water International (embedded videos) and Vlaams Belang (parody) cases. Respecting the judiciary is good, but not reform-friendly. The political mission outside of pure constitutional law is setting the framework for the judiciary, not to follow its lead.

Another sixth of the report – most of the progressive bits – deals with database rights. Julia does not, however, propose to change database rights. It’s in equal measure tragic and deceptive: she’s tricking people into believing she wants something, but she’s not giving herself the political space to accomplish that thing. Expecting us to cheer for her, no doubt, while she’s gutting the opportunity for realizing the hopes she inspires.

Even the European Commission has set a higher standard for themselves than this. It has acknowledged since 2009 that there is a problem with the substance of copyright. Their 2013 copyright consultation, it acknowledges, indicates that citizens, consumers and a large number of other actors experience problems with both the economic justice and the principles of copyright. De facto, Julia Reda is more conservative than the European Commission, and this is a massive problem for representative democracy.

While the Commission acknowledges remixing and transformative uses are important to a large number of users, Julia ”notices with interest” that remixing occurs. She praises the level of balancing between rightsholders’ interests that the European copyright laws achieve. The Commission acknowledges instead that neither citizens or authors feel that such a balance exists. Is she making anyone happy?

The only proposal which makes even remote sense are two paragraphs on technological protection measures. In the cybersecurity spirit of the European Parliament established in its NSA resolution of 2014, she suggests not to put blackboxes in consumer IT products. So we have a copyright-friendly, cyber-security inspired German trying to impose a Brussels-made statist policy on 507 millions citizens of Europe which leaves stuff more or less the same. Angela Merkel could not have done it better had she tried.

About The Author

ameliaa

Amelia Andersdotter represented the Swedish Pirate Party in the European Parliament between December 2011 and July 2014. She’s an expert on topics related to the Internet, intellectual property and IT-policy.

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

TorrentFreak: Zombie Pirate Bay Tracker Fuels Chinese DDoS Attacks

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

pirate bayOn November 2009 The Pirate Bay announced that it would shut down its tracker for good.

Trackers were outdated according to the site’s owners. Instead, they encouraged BitTorrent users to rely on DHT, PEX and other trackerless technologies.

Despite the fact that the tracker is no longer functional, many old and some new torrents still include the tracker.thepiratebay.org announce address.

While the tracker hasn’t responded to these calls for five years, for some server admins it has now risen from the dead.

Starting early January hundreds of websites have been plagued by traffic from China. While the exact reason remains unclear, it appears that the Great Firewall of China may be in part causing the problems.

Due to a reconfiguration the Pirate Bay domain is being linked to random IP-addresses. This problem applies to various censored sites, but the thousands of connections per second coming from tracker.thepiratebay.org stand out for most people.

It is no secret that BitTorrent users can easily DDoS websites if the tracker address points to the wrong IP, but we haven’t witnessed something of this magnitude before.

Below is a graph Craig Hockenberry posted of a DDoS on his server where the number of requests peaked at 52 Mbps per second, with torrent announces being the most common source.

dailyddos

The suspicion that Chinese efforts to censor the Internet have something to do with the problems seems plausible. Querying Chinese DNS servers returns many seemingly random IP-addresses that change all the time.

In other words, requests to the dead Pirate Bay trackers are sent to seemingly random servers, and none of these have anything to do with the notorious torrent site.

Johannes Ullrich, CTO of SANS Internet Storm Center, came to a similar conclusion and many of his readers reported problems of the same nature.

“We also get a lot of this type of traffic for the last 2 weeks. At moments it causes a total DoS for our webserver. Most of the traffic has thepiratebay as hostname in the http request, but we also see akamai, edgecdn and some more obscure and explicit sites passing in our logs,” Arjan says.

“I work in the banking sector in the UK. We started to see this traffic hit our web servers just before the new year and it has continued since, but thankfully not on a harmful scale. We’ve seen various sites in the host header, including thepiratebay, facebook, googlevideo – all of which appear to be restricted within China,” Anonymous adds.

And the list goes on and on.

Over the past several days reports have come from all over the place, all describing the same problem. Thus far, most server admins have decided to filter out Chinese traffic, which eases the load. But the underlying problem persists.

For now the true origin of the zombie DDoSes remains unknown, but hopefully those responsible will soon realize the crippling mistake they’ve made, and put Pirate Bay’s tracker back in the ground.

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

TorrentFreak: Men Tried for Extortion After Porn Download Threats

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

badtrollFor more than a decade copyright holders around the world have been doing their best to extract money from those who download content without permission. The RIAA were probably the pioneers but today it’s the adult industry making the most noise.

Porn is a convenient weapon in this landscape. Few people want their adult content viewing habits to be made public so the chances of targets paying up following an unauthorized download are anecdotally higher than for regular entertainment content.

Out to make as much money as possible, this assumption wasn’t lost on a group of adult business ‘entrepreneurs’ based in Sweden.

Operating out of the region of Skåne, two years ago the individuals began sending threatening communications to people they claimed had downloaded pornographic content from sites without permission. The websites in question were all operated by the men.

In total around 4,000 people all over Sweden received ‘invoices’ for alleged illegal downloads. Each were warned that if they failed to pay the amounts stipulated they would be reported to the police and their activities made public.

While some people paid, others decided to take action. According to SR.se, police received 1,000 complaints from members of the public ranging from 10-year-old children to pensioners.

After an investigation the police began to view the case as criminally motivated. As a result this week six men went on trial in the Malmö district court accused of generating around $240,000 via extortion and blackmail. During a break in proceedings one of the accused defended his actions.

“If people are stealing and taking things that do not belong to them they must face the consequences. It also applies to porn,” said Dennies Pettersson, one of the main defendants in the case.

In an article published in Nyheter24 this week, former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde said he hopes the men get convicted but wonders if the type of content involved affected the way the case was being handled.

“What I think is interesting and worth a little thought is how the situation would be if it were not porn but possibly pop music or Hollywood movies that had been downloaded? Who would’ve been the deceiver in the state’s eyes in that situation?” Sunde asks.

Due to the numbers of victims to be heard and its complexity (the investigation documents run to 20,000 pages) the Malmö district court has set aside a whole month to handle the case.

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

TorrentFreak: Apple Patents Technology to Legalize P2P Sharing

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

apple-p2pLittle over a decade ago Apple revolutionized the music industry with its iTunes store, allowing people to purchase digital copies of their favorite music.

With iTunes, Apple offered pirates a legal option, but the company still sees value in “sharing” music and other media with friends and family.

In fact, the company was just awarded a patent that makes it possible to license P2P sharing.

Titled “decoupling rights in a digital content unit from download” the patent describes a system where users can freely share music and videos with each other. Instead of getting the actual file from iTunes or other stores, users would only need to obtain a license.

Once licensed these files can be shared freely across one’s own devices, with friends, family or even complete strangers.

applepat1

According to Apple such a system has several benefits. Among other things, reduced bandwidth and other overhead costs. This may result in a separate and cheaper price tier for those users who only have to license a media file.

“This reduction in operating expenses may facilitate a two-tier pricing structure. For example, the digital content store may charge a first price to users who download a digital content unit from the store and a second price to users who authorize a digital content unit without downloading the unit,” the patent reads.

This price reduction may then make it more interesting to share files legally, thereby reducing traditional forms of piracy.

“This may encourage users to trade or copy digital content units as well as authorize these copies. Such sharing may, in turn, reduce piracy or illegal copying..,” Apple argues.

apple2

While “legalized P2P sharing” may sound appealing, in theory it’s actually quite restrictive. The idea introduces a new layer of content protection which means that the files in question can only be played on “trusted client software.”

This means that transferring files between devices is only possible if these support Apple’s licensing scheme. That’s actually a step backwards from the DRM-free music that’s sold in most stores today.

It’s unclear whether Apple has any plans to use the P2P licensing technology in the wild. The original idea is a bit dated, but perhaps Apple can think of some less restrictive implementations of their newly obtained patent.

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

TorrentFreak: Police Seized 50 Servers in Pirate Bay Raid

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

The first major raid on The Pirate Bay took place on May 31 2006 in Stockholm, Sweden. It was a dramatic affair, with dozens of police involved, hardware seized and individuals arrested.

But while authorities previously shut down the ‘Bay in a blaze of glory while pressing the maximum publicity button (most probably to send a signal to the United States), this time around things were markedly different. Announcements, when they arrived, were much more considered – vague even.

“There has been a crackdown on a server room in Greater Stockholm. This is in connection with violations of copyright law,” read a statement from Paul Pintér, police national coordinator for IP enforcement.

It seems likely that the more modest tone was the product of 12 years of virtual humiliation at the hands of the world’s most arrogant torrent site. Big announcements of raids and permanent closures are hard to retract when a site returns in 72 hours as it did following the raids in 2006.

This time around the raid was confirmed as taking place in a datacenter located in Nacka outside Stockholm, but very few details have been made available since. However, according to new information, police left no stone unturned to ensure that The Pirate Bay was properly taken down.

A witness to the raid has now confirmed that more than 10 officers turned up at the datacenter which, rather dramatically, is itself embedded into the side of a mountain just outside the capital.

Alongside regular law enforcement officials were a forensics team tasked with securing all available related digital evidence on site. Previously prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad said the investigation into the site would take months and now it’s becoming clear why that’s the case.

To ensure no piece of evidence was left behind, on December 9, 2014 the officers present seized around 50 servers under suspicion of being connected to The Pirate Bay. That’s somewhat more than the 21 virtual servers the site previously claimed to operate.

According to a source familiar with events last month, police not only took away servers that had been live at the time of the raid, but they also gained access to the datacenter’s storage rooms. From there officers seized old equipment, just in case any of it had been used to operate The Pirate Bay.

While shutting down the site was the main goal of the police, evidence is now being sifted through as part of a criminal investigation. Earlier this month prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad confirmed that the process would like take months to complete.

With that underway, speculation continues as to whether The Pirate Bay will ever return. Various hints and suggestions have been appearing on the site’s temporary homepage but as yet not a single torrent or magnet link has been indexed.

Nevertheless, the site remains massively popular. Understandably ThePirateBay.se took a massive hit in traffic when it stopped offering content in December but against all the odds the site is still attracting millions of visitors. According to Alexa, the site is still the 159th most-trafficked in the world.

tpb-traffic

Finally, as reported earlier this week, the site’s homepage was recently hosted in Moldova but protected by Cloudflare. While the anti-DDoS service is still in place, the site does not appear to be operational from its earlier IP address.

On the move already? Only eight days to find out…….

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

TorrentFreak: Cox: We’re Not Responsible For Pirating Customers

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

cox-logoFor more than a decade copyright holders have been sending ISPs takedown notices to alert account holders that someone’s been using their connection to share copyrighted material.

These notifications have to be forwarded under the DMCA law and are meant to deter Internet subscribers from sharing unauthorized material.

Cox Communications is one of the ISPs that forwards these notices. The ISP also implemented a strict set of rules of its own accord to ensure that its customers understand the severity of the allegations.

According to some copyright holders, however, Cox’s efforts are falling short. Last month BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music sued the ISP because it fails to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers.

The companies, which control the publishing rights to songs by Katy Perry, The Beatles and David Bowie among others, claimed that Cox has given up its DMCA safe harbor protections due to this inaction.

The case is a critical test for the repeat infringer clause of the DMCA and the safe harbor protections ISPs enjoy.

Today Cox replied (pdf) to the complaint, denying pretty much all allegations put forward by the music publishers. In addition, the ISP briefly outlined various defenses it submits in reply.

The company argues that the claims against the company are barred for a wide range of reasons. Cox had no knowledge of the infringements, for example, and never had the intent to induce, profit from, or materially contribute to piracy conducted by its customers.

In addition the ISP notes that the claim of vicarious liability falls flat because the company has no controlling (Respondeat superior) relationship with its customers.

While the responses are very brief, and have yet to be detailed in the future, Cox also argues that the music publishers may not have the proper copyrights to some of the works that are at stake.

“Plaintiffs’ claims are barred to the extent they do not own copyrights in the works underlying their claims,” they note,

In addition, Cox’s lawyers argue that “the doctrine of copyright misuse” bars their claims, suggesting that BMG and Round Hill Music used abusive or improper practices in exploiting or enforcing copyright.

The latter may refer to the settlement schemes the publishers are engaged in together with Rightscorp. A few weeks ago Rightscorp and its clients were sued for fraud, harassment and abuse for their controversial anti-piracy actions.

The case will now move forward with both sides substantiating their claims during the months to come. Given the importance of the issue at hand it wouldn’t be a surprise if other ISPs and web services such as Google also chime in.

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

TorrentFreak: Bomber Tries Copyright Troll Argument to Unmask Critic

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

brett-kBorn in 1954, Brett Kimberlin has led a colorful criminal life. In 1973 he was convicted of felony perjury after lying about his activities to a grand jury investigation drug trafficking.

Five years later Kimberlin became a suspect in the murder of Julia Scyphers, a 65-year-old grandmother who strongly disapproved of Kimberlin’s relationship with her 13-year-old granddaughter. Scyphers had been shot once in head.

However, police in Speedway, Indiana, soon had additional things on their mind. In the first few days of September 1978 a wave of bombings hit Speedway which led to serious injuries including the loss of a Vietnam veteran’s leg.

Authorities believed that Kimberlin set up the Speedway Bombings as an attempt to distract from the investigation into Scyphers’ murder. While Kimberlin was never tried for this crime (the only witness died) he was convicted of the bombings and sentenced to 51 years in prison.

Ever since, Kimberlin – the son of a lawyer – has become known for filing lawsuits against his critics – and failing miserably.

Nevertheless, Kimberlin isn’t giving up. In one ongoing case (Brett Kimberlin vs National Bloggers Club) the convicted bomber is taking action against several bloggers who wrote things about his past he took offense to. It’s a quagmire of a case and one that has just seen Kimberlin reference copyright-trolling aspects for the first time.

At this point Kimberlin is trying to identify a person who wrote about him on the Ace of Spades blog (AOS) but is not named as a party in the action. So far Kimberlin has been unsuccessful, however he feels that since litigants in copyright cases have previously succeeded in unmasking alleged infringers, he should also be able to.

“Defendant AOS repeatedly states that since Plaintiff has not identified AOS as a person in the Complaint, he cannot seek the identity of AOS. This circular argument highlights one of the basic reasons why Plaintiff needs to know the identity of AOS,” Kimberlin told a Maryland district court yesterday.

“As this Court noted in [an earlier Malibu Media case, extract below], a plaintiff cannot effectively litigate a civil case if he does not know the identity of the defendant.”

Malibu cannot engage in discovery to probe the underlying facts underlying its claim without first naming a defendant. Unless Malibu is permitted, at least at the initial stages of litigation, to proceed against a subscriber, it will be caught in a Catch-22…(link)

“It should be noted that this Court has granted the issuance of subpoenas in scores of cases brought by Malibu Media to identify anonymous civil defendants who violated copyrights by illegally downloading films,” Kimberlin continues.

“Many of those defendants made arguments similar to AOS, (e.g.,they would be subjected to harassment or pressured into settlement), yet every Maryland federal judge in each of those cases rejected their arguments.

“Wherefore, for all the above reasons and the reasons set forth in Plaintiff’s motion, this Court should order the identity of AceofSpades,” Kimberlin concludes.

Whether or not the Court will be swayed by Kimberlin’s arguments remains to be seen, but Popehat’s assessment of Kimberlin’s current and previous legal efforts is hardly a shining one.

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

TorrentFreak: Netflix Sees Popcorn Time As a Serious Competitor

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

netflix-logoThe Popcorn Time app brought peer-to-peer streaming to a mainstream public last year.

Branded the “Netflix for Pirates” it became an instant hit by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface.

This was cause for concern for many Hollywood executives and Netflix itself is now also starting to worry. In a letter to the company’s shareholders Popcorn Time gets a special mention.

“Piracy continues to be one of our biggest competitors,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings writes.

“This graph of Popcorn Time’s sharp rise relative to Netflix and HBO in the Netherlands, for example, is sobering,” he adds, referencing the Google trends data below showing Popcorn Time quickly catching up with Netflix.

popcorn-netflix

While it’s a relatively small note, Hastings’ comments do mark a change in attitude for a company that previously described itself as a piracy killer.

Netflix’s CEO previously noted that piracy might even help the company, as many torrent users would eventually switch to Netflix as it offers a much better user experience.

“Certainly there’s some torrenting that goes on, and that’s true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand,” Hastings said last year.

“Netflix is so much easier than torrenting. You don’t have to deal with files, you don’t have to download them and move them around. You just click and watch,” he added.

The problem with Popcorn Time is that it’s just as easy as Netflix, if not easier. And in terms of recent movies and TV-shows the pirated alternative has a superior content library too.

A study published by research firm KPMG previously revealed that only 16% of the most popular and critically acclaimed films are available via Netflix and other on-demand subscription services.

While Netflix largely depends on the content creators when it comes to what content they can make available, this is certainly one of the areas where they have to “catch up.”

Despite the Popcorn Time concerns, business is going well for Netflix. The company announced its results for the fourth quarter of 2014 which resulted in $1.48 billion in revenue, up 26%, and a profit of $83 million.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Site Blockades Are Disproportional, Greek Court Rules

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

censorshipSite blocking actions have become relatively common throughout Europe over the past several years. Copyright groups have won court cases in various countries including the UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and France.

The rightsholders typically argue that ‘pirate’ sites infringe their rights and demand that ISPs stop forwarding traffic to them. This was also the plan in Greece, where the Greek Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AEPI) sued local ISPs two years ago.

AEPI wanted the Internet providers to block access to The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, isoHunt, 1337x and H33T, plus several local sites. The group argued that the sites damage their members’ businesses, but the ISPs countered this request by pointing out that censorship is not the answer.

A few days ago the Athens Court reached its conclusion which largely sides with the ISPs. The ruling states that blockades are disproportional and in violation of various constitutional rights.

Among other things, such measures would breach people’s right to freedom of information, confidential communications and protections against the collection, processing and use of personal data.

One of the problems the Court signaled is that the torrent sites also contain links to files that are distributed legally. These would be needlessly censored by the blockades.

In addition the verdict doubts that the blockades will be effective to begin with, as there are various circumvention options for site owners and users.

The Court further referenced the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, noting that ISPs’ “freedom to conduct a business” is at stake, as well as net neutrality principles.

“…the requested injunction goes contrary to Article 16 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, violating the rights of defendants providers in entrepreneurship, and the basic principle of Internet neutrality, which provides that all information must be handled without discrimination,” it notes.

TF spoke with Dr. Konstantinos Komaitis, an expert in Internet governance and intellectual property, who argues that in such cases proportionality is key in determining the appropriate balance.

“The decision by the Greek Court is very well thought and reasoned both from a legal and technology perspectives,” Komaitis says.

Komaitis explains that other, more appropriate and technology neutral measures should be considered, because blocking torrent sites would interfere with the right to freely share and receive information. In addition the measures are unnecessary and ineffective, since users would be able to find ways to get past the blockades.

“On the technology side, the Court correctly understood that torrent technology can — and has been – used for legal purposes, so blocking would not only be ineffective but also jeopardize its legal use,” Komaitis adds.

“All in all, the Court’s decision demonstrates two things: first, proportionality is an unwavering principle in the Greek legal system that is able to strike a very important balance between various rights; and, second, the ability of courts to understand and protect technologies that are part of an innovative Internet environment.”

The Greek verdict is similar to that of a Dutch Appeals court in The Hague last year, which ruled that the local blockade of The Pirate Bay had to be lifted.

In Greece AEPI still has the option to appeal the verdict, but whether they plan to do so is unknown at the moment. For the time being, however, the targeted torrent sites remain accessible.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Shows Most Significant Signs of Return Yet

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

For friends and foe alike, the past 44 days have resulted in a will it / won’t it return guessing game surrounding The Pirate Bay.

The self-styled “world’s most resilient torrent site” put a dent in its own billing by going down after a December 9 raid and failing to return. But that has done little to stop speculation that something is on the way.

Via a web server in Moldova, those behind the site have been posting various hints and teasers suggesting that the current downtime will come to an end in roughly 10 days time. Whether that will actually be the case remains to be seen, but new changes today have certainly excited observers.

TPB-return

As can be seen from the image above, ThePirateBay.se has today reverted to a much more familiar look. With the earlier black and waving full-page pirate flag shrunk to fit a box in the center of the screen, its surroundings are now almost identical to the layout in place when the site went down in December.

Returned but currently grayed out are the well-worn torrent browsing features, categories, preferences and languages. PirateBrowser and PromoBay links are active, however. These and the familiar Pirate Bay logo are now bordered by two features that have welcomed visitors for the past several weeks.

At the bottom of the page the notorious Pirate galleon continues to sail towards its island destination (now renamed welcomehome.png) and up top the countdown timer continues inexorably towards its February 1 conclusion.

Other technical changes include the implementation of a Cloudflare protected front end for the site, although TF can confirm that the site is still based at Trabia, the Republic of Moldova’s largest datacenter.

While it seems unlikely that Pirate Bay will stay in that location should it return next week, the company behind the site’s hosting has already laid down some pointers.

“We do support freedom of speech and barrier-free Internet usage. In the same time we operate a strict zero-tolerance abuse policy which is part of our terms of service on which all services we provide to our clients are based,” the company said in a statement.

“This means that our clients have to obey national and international laws. In case our clients violate this by abusing our services they are suspended and/or terminated if necessary.”

Given the site’s current status (no sharing features whatsoever) Trabia says that no action against the site is needed. The company does note, however, that Moldova’s copyright law of 2010 can require a host to take action against sites that violate the rights of third parties. Nevertheless, the issue may not be straightforward in the case of The Pirate Bay.

“The problem here is that the technology used, so called ‘magnet links’, is not violating the right of 3rd parties directly,” the company says.

“[There] is actually no copyright infringement originating from websites such as ‘thepiratebay.se’ which makes it a very complex case which is open for a lot of interpretation and discussions. We stand behind all our clients as long as they use our services for a legal purpose,” Trabia concludes.

In the meantime the Swedish investigation into the site continues and is likely to take months to complete. Millions hope the site’s return will precede the investigation’s conclusion.

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

TorrentFreak: How Hollywood Plans to Seize Pirate Site Domain Names

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

pirate-runningLast December a leaked document from the MPAA exposed Hollywood’s global anti-piracy priorities for the coming years.

The leak listed the mysterious term “Fujian” as one of the top priorities, without explaining what the name of a Chinese province has to do with online piracy.

Additional documents seen by TF shed more light on the issue. It turns out that the MPAA is slowly but steadily testing a novel legal procedure through which it hopes to seize the domain names of top pirate sites.

Fujian actually refers to the company “Fujian Sharing Import & Export Ltd,” which was sued several years ago for selling counterfeit Polo Ralph Lauren and The North Face clothing.

The counterfeiters used thousands of websites to sell their knockoffs using just as many domain names. If one was taken down, Fujian would simply replace it by a new one selling the same counterfeit gear.

To stop this game of Whack-A-Mole a federal court in New York ordered various intermediaries, including domain name registries, to stop working with the company and hand over the domain names to the clothing manufacturers. If they failed to comply, the registries themselves would be held liable.

In recent years both The North Face and Polo Ralph Lauren frequently updated the list of counterfeit domain names and had them seized by their registries and deleted from search engines.

The movie studios are now planning to use the same strategy against pirate sites. Besides asking reputable domain name registries to take voluntary action, they also plan to use the “Fujian” model in court.

In a detailed overview of its strategies the MPAA says that it wants to “persuade or compel domain name registries that control the reputable gTLDs (e.g., .com, .org) to terminate domain services for demonstrated pirate sites.”

“Efforts principally include civil litigation (Fujian strategy) and outreach to registries seeking to ensure they do not provide domain services to pirate sites,” they add.

Thus far they have had some success in the U.S. in a lawsuit against a ring of counterfeit DVD sites. However, the tactic has yet to be tried against sites that offer streaming services, torrents or links to pirated material.

Behind closed doors the MPAA admits that targeting domain names will be less effective than site blocking, which is also on the agenda, as sites can move to so-called “rogue” registries. But it is still expected to have a decent impact.

“Nevertheless, domain name termination can be very effective in disrupting pirate sites and the user experience in visiting them. At least temporarily, thesite is made inaccessible,” MPAA notes.

“Even sites that come back online can be expected to see reduced traffic, with a corresponding impact on profitability and sustainability,” they add.

And there’s more to worry about. Looking at one of the most recent (24th!) supplemental order in the Fujian case we see that the court grants rightsholders powers that go much further than targeting domain names alone.

The order also requires search engines to delist the infringing URLs, banks to seize the site’s assets, and forbids ISPs, back-end service providers and web designers to do business with the domain name owners.

Whether the MPAA will be successful with their efforts has yet to be seen but persistent pirates may want to learn the IP-addresses of their favorite sites by heart, just in case.

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

TorrentFreak: Failed MPAA / Xunlei Anti-Piracy Deal is Shocking

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

mpaa-logoAs one of China’s top 10 Internet companies, Xunlei is a massive operation. In the first three months of 2014 the company enjoyed 300 million monthly unique visitors.

Among other file-sharing ventures, Xunlei operates ‘Thunder’, the world’s most popular torrent client. This and other issues have placed the company firmly on the radar of the MPAA.

The movie group first took legal action against the China-based outfit in 2008 but by 2014 relations began to warm with Xunlei pursuing an IPO in the United States. In May last year there was a breakthrough, with the former rivals signing a Content Protection Agreement (CPA) requiring Xunlei to protect MPAA studio content including movies and TV shows.

In October 2014, however, the MPAA reported Xunlei to the U.S. government, complaining that piracy was rampant on the service. Something had clearly gone wrong, an assertion that was only underlined this morning with a report that the MPAA has now sued Xunlei.

“For too long we have witnessed valuable creative content being taken and monetized without the permission of the copyright owner. That has to stop and stop now,” said Mike Ellis, the MPAA’s Asia-Pacific chief.

While it’s clear that the MPAA are disappointed with Xunlei’s efforts, it’s certainly possible that the company found it impossible to fulfill its agreement with the MPAA. Documents obtained by TorrentFreak dated May 2014 (days before the deal was signed) detailing a draft agreement which Xunlei “stated unequivocally in writing that it will accept” reveal the toughest set of anti-piracy demands ever seen.

Content filtering

The CPA reveals that Xunlei agreed to deploy Vobile‘s fingerprinting system across all of its services (including file-sharing clients) to ensure that no unfiltered content would ever be uploaded or downloaded. Filters were to have been deployed within 120 days of signing the agreement and would have to be implemented on both past and future projects.

Repeat infringers

The CPA requires Xunlei to terminate those who not only infringe but also those who attempt to infringe copyright. For all U.S.-based users of Xunlei the company agreed to implement a three-strike policy, with Chinese user strike numbers to be determined later.

“This is a very strict repeat infringer policy — as strict as exists anywhere in key respects — in that both uploads and downloads count and in that infringement is determined by the filter (not just based on
notices received),” the MPAA document reads.

“[The] filter will identify each and every instance of a user attempting to infringe a studio work, by uploading or downloading. Thus, the repeat infringer numbers likely will be off the charts in our favor when we have those later negotiations. Xunlei is also obligated to preserve data on identified infringers, and we can request this data in our due diligence reviews.”

Site blocking

The CPA also grants the MPAA the power to determine who Xunlei can deal with online.

“[The MPAA] will be able to identify to Xunlei what we believe to be ‘pirate sites’ and Xunlei will block those domains from all aspects of its system (e.g., no using those domains for accelerated downloads and no accepting communications/links from those domains),” the MPAA writes.

Licensing – content is banned unless the MPAA says otherwise

As a content provider Xunlei has licensing deals with many companies to provide legitimate content. However, the CPA with the MPAA restricts the company’s ability to make its own decisions without reference.

“The definition of Unauthorized Content…excludes content for which Xunlei has a license directly or for which the studios have granted a license to a site or users that would extend to and authorize the use contemplated by Xunlei. However, this is not left to Xunlei to determine,” the MPAA notes.

“All content is deemed Unauthorized unless Xunlei obtains express written confirmation from the appropriate studio that a relevant license has been granted,” with the CPA “putting the burden on [Xunlei] to get written confirmations and effectively to create a white list.”

Access to source code

“[The MPAA] will have rights of due diligence, which will allow us access to source code and technical data/documents, to assess Xunlei’s compliance,” the MPAA adds.

When it all goes wrong

The Content Protection Agreement includes clauses for the MPAA not to sue Xunlei for copyright infringement as long as it keeps to its side of the deal. However, it appears the MPAA wanted to avoid legal action if at all possible.

“[In] the event that we are still seeing significant infringement even with Xunlei honoring its filtering obligations, then either [Xunlei] violated its representation (which by agreement is deemed a material breach) or the ongoing cooperation provisions kick in – and if [Xunlei] does not comply with them, we can sue,” the MPAA notes.

“Given the limited relief available in an action in China and the uncertainty of suit in the US, we strongly recommend that we accept the contingent covenant not to sue in the draft CPA.”

There are currently no reports of the MPAA’s legal action in Chinese media but it will be interesting to see the reaction in the days to come.

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