Posts tagged ‘Copyright’

TorrentFreak: U.S. Copyright Law Forces Wikimedia to Remove “Public Domain” Anne Frank Diary

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

anneThe Diary of Anne Frank is one of the best known literary works in history, written by a young Dutch girl hiding from the Nazis during World War II.

Anne Frank died in 1945 which means that the book was elevated into the public domain in the Netherlands on January 1, 2016, 70 years after her death.

Despite some dispute over its copyright status, several copies of the book have been published online. Also at Wikisource, a digital library of free texts maintained by the Wikimedia Foundation, which also operates Wikipedia.

However, since this week Anne Frank’s diary is no longer available, as U.S. copyright law dictates that works are protected for 95 years from date of publication.

Jacob Rogers, Legal Counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation, labels the removal as an overreach of U.S. copyright law but believes that they have no other option than to comply.

“Today, in an unfortunate example of the overreach of the United States’ current copyright law, the Wikimedia Foundation removed the Dutch-language text of The Diary of a Young Girl,” Rogers notes.

“We took this action to comply with the United States’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), as we believe the diary is still under US copyright protection under the law as it is currently written,” he adds.

The Wikimedia Foundation did not receive a takedown request for the book. Instead, it responded to email discussions that were sent to the organization. Based on these emails the foundation has either “actual” or “red flag” knowledge that the book was hosted on its servers.

Since the servers fall under the U.S. jurisdiction local copyright law applied, meaning that the book remains in copyright for 95 years after publication.

As a result Wikimedia is not allowed to host a copy of the book before 2042. While the organization has complied with U.S. law it’s not happy with the decision and calls for shorter copyright terms.

“Nevertheless, our removal serves as an excellent example of why the law should be changed to prevent repeated extensions of copyright terms, an issue that has plagued our communities for years,” Rogers writes.

Despite the voluntary removal by the Wikimedia Foundation, the Dutch version of Anne Frank’s diary remains widely available elsewhere. The Internet Archive still hosts a copy, as does pretty much every torrent site.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Govt: Excessive Piracy Punishments Should Be Avoided

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

us-united-america-flagThree years ago the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force started to explore various ways that current copyright law could be improved.

Following extensive discussions and a public consultation process it finalized its recommendations this week, releasing a whitepaper (pdf) with several concrete proposals.

One of the main topics covers the ‘penalties’ for online piracy, which can currently reach $150,000 per copied work. These statutory damages can lead to excessive awards, as shown in two RIAA cases.

The Task Force notes that the award amount doesn’t have to be lowered, as it may be appropriate as a deterrent for online piracy in extreme cases. However, steps should be taken against disproportionate punishments and copyright trolling.

“It is important to avoid excessive and inconsistent awards that risk encouraging disrespect for copyright law or chilling investment in innovation. And the abusive enforcement campaigns reported by commenters should not be tolerated,” the paper reads.

Instead of changing the maximum statutory damages the Task Force recommends an update to current legislation with a list of factors for courts and juries to consider when determining the amount of a damages award.

Possible factors include the financial situation of the defendant. Someone who’s unemployed should not pay the same amount in damages as a billion dollar company for the same offense.

“The Task Force recognizes the concern that some awards of statutory damages can be far beyond the capacity of the defendant to pay – whether an individual or a start-up business. Requiring juries and judges to consider the defendant’s financial situation when assessing the level of the award will help address that concern,” the recommendation reads.

The value of the infringed work and the harm it causes the copyright holder should also be taken into account. This means that leaking a pre-release copy of a blockbuster movie should receive a higher punishment than sharing a B-film usually offered at a discount.

“An award that takes into account the likely heightened magnitude of harm to the market for a pre-release work may enable the copyright owner to receive a more appropriate level of compensation than an award of actual damages.”

Taking the value of the work into account may also help to deter copyright trolls, who generally sue people over adult content and other niche material.

“On the other hand, when the infringed work is of minimal commercial value, a lower award may be appropriate. This can help address concerns about holders of low-value copyrights … using the threat of statutory damages to turn litigation threats into a profit center,” the Task Force adds.

The paper further recognizes that the “abusive enforcement actions” of copyright trolls are harmful to the copyright system as well as the judicial system.

Some stakeholders suggested to tackle this problem by lowering the maximum of $150,000 in statutory damages, so copyright trolls can’t use it as a threat. However, the Task Force believes that the courts have other means to address these excesses, as they’ve done with Righthaven and Prenda Law.

“The unfair tactics used by certain litigants should be curbed without cutting back a remedy that serves legitimate purposes of compensation and deterrence. The courts are well positioned to evaluate such tactics and have sanctioned counsel and parties who pursue baseless, reckless, or vexatious claims,” the paper reads.

The Government’s proposed changes don’t leave statutory damages completely untouched though. In cases of non-willful secondary liability of online services, the paper proposes to move away from the strict “per work” rule.

This means that a court may issue a lower damages award against a site or service if the number of infringed works is very high, which now automatically results in hundreds of millions in potential damages.

Overall the proposals are well-balanced. The whitepaper strikes a careful balance between proponents and opponents of decreased statutory damages, reflected in positive comments from both sides.

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

TorrentFreak: Pastry Shops Targeted Over Copyright Infringing “Star Wars” and “Minion” Cakes

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

minioncakeBirthdays are the highlight of the year for most children and what better way to celebrate than with a cake featuring their favorite cartoon character.

Although the parents and local pastry shops may be well-intentioned, there are lurking copyright issues that can easily spoil the party.

This issue is currently on debate in Croatia where nearly all pastry shops have received legal threats for their use of popular cartoon and movie characters. Facing fines in the range of $300 to $1,000 they are urged to stop baking infringing cakes.

The demands come from a law firm hired by the competing pastry chain Fun Cake Factory and target birthday cakes with popular Star Wars, Frozen, Sponge Bob, Peppa Pig and Ninja Turtles characters.

The company is a partner of Finsbury Food Group and has the exclusive rights to sell cakes with Disney characters. In addition the chain also secured the rights to use Nickelodeon, Astley Baker Davies and Universal Studios characters, which covers most popular cartoons.

With the legal claims the pastry chain hopes to prevent the competition from selling “infringing” cakes, so more people will choose to buy their products instead.

Ana Marcelić, owners of Zagreb’s pastry shop Fancy Cake was one of the recipients who received a threatening letter.

“We are appalled by this decision which we consider unfounded and unfair. It is a huge loss for us, because the penalties are terrible, and it is a difficult situation to explain to the customer,” Marcelić told Jutarnji.

“We can inform parents about the situation, but how do you explain the legal situation to children who are screaming because they simply want Elza on their birthday cake?”

Just to clarify what is allowed and what isn’t, a representative of the Association of Pastry Caterers contacted the law firm to get clarification, but thus far it only received an ambiguous response.

There haven’t been any reports of damage claims against disobedient pastry makers yet, however, if the pirated cakes continue to be sold offenders could eventually face a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Minion photo credit: Dark Dwarf

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Studios Sue Fan-Funded Star Trek Spin-Off

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

anaxarParamount Pictures is generally not that protective when in comes to fan-made projects that involve the Star Trek franchise.

However, the well-received short film Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar and the planned follow-up feature film Anaxar has crossed a line. This week both Paramount and CBS Studios sued the makers of the Star Trek inspired fan film, accusing them of copyright infringement.

Prelude to Axanar is an idea from Alec Peters who started working on it half a decade ago. After a few years he and his team decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to get it funded, with an initial goal of $10,000.

The project turned in to a massive hit and quickly raised more than $100,000 for the short film, and a similar campaign for a follow-up feature that will soon start filming raised another $638,000 on Kickstarter alone.

That’s a healthy budget for a fan-art project and the success prompted the attention of both Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios.

In a complaint filed (pdf) at a federal court in California the movie studios accuse the people behind the Anaxar project of various counts of copyright infringement.

“This is an action for copyright infringement arising out of Defendants’ unauthorized exploitation of Star Trek, one of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time. Since its inception, Star Trek has become a cultural phenomenon that is eagerly followed by millions of fans throughout the world,” the complaint reads.

“The Axanar Works infringe Plaintiffs’ works by using innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes,” it adds.

Through Kickstarter and Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns the projects raised over a million dollars. In their complaint Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios believe that they are entitled to any profits the films make as well as $150,000 in statutory damages.

In a response to the lawsuit, Anaxar’s Alec Peters states that they are not trying to exploit the Star Trek franchise since their work is a harmless fan film project.

“Axanar is a fan film. Fan films – whether related to Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers, Batman or any other franchise – are labors of love that keep fans engaged, entertained, and keep favorite characters alive in the hearts of fans.”

“Like other current fan films, Axanar entered production based on a very long history and relationship between fandom and studios. We’re not doing anything new here,” he writes on Facebook.

Peters remains open to discussion and hopes that the parties involved can come to a mutually beneficial solution, so it’s likely that the lawsuit will eventually steer toward some form of settlement deal.

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

TorrentFreak: Grumpy Cat Sues Coffee Maker For Copyright Infringement

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

grumpcatThere are dozens of celebrity cats on the Internet, but Grumpy Cat tops them all.

The cat’s owners have made millions thanks to their pet’s unique facial expression. Part of this revenue comes from successful merchandise lines, including the Grumpy Cat “Grumppuccino” iced coffee beverage.

The coffee is sold by the California company Grenade Beverage, who also operate the domain name The company licensed the copyright and trademarks to sell the iced coffee, but are otherwise not affiliated with the cat and its owners.

Up until recently the partnership didn’t cause any problems, but that changed when Grenade announced a new line of Grumpy Cat merchandise. In addition to the iced coffee, they now sell Grumpy coffee beans as well.

This expansion violated the license agreement, according to Grumpy Cat’s owners, who just filed a lawsuit at a California federal court to set the record straight.

“Ironically, while the world-famous feline Grumpy Cat and her valuable brand are most often invoked in a tongue-and-cheek fashion, Defendants’ despicable misconduct here has actually given Grumpy Cat and her owners something to be grumpy about,” the complaint starts.

The cat’s owners explain that they hold the copyrights and trademarks associated with their pet, and argue that the new line of roasted coffee ground products requires separate approval under the license agreement.

Grumpy Cat’s copyrights

“In late 2015, Plaintiff learned of Defendants’ intent to create and exploit a line of ‘Grumpy Cat’ branded roasted coffee ground products, which would be separate and apart from the ‘Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino’ product line contemplated by the License Agreement,” the complaint reads.

Grumpy’s owners informed Grenada on several occasions that they did not agree to the new product line, but the beverage maker went ahead and launched the product anyway.

“Defendants were repeatedly told by Plaintiff (both in writing and verbally) that the Licensed Properties could not be used in connection with a roasted coffee ground product,” they write.

Pirate coffee?

The roasted beans are up for sale at and are being widely advertised to tens of thousands of followers on various social media accounts. The cat’s owners are asking the court to stop these sales and hold Grenada responsible for various copyright and trademark infringements.

The potential statutory damages run into the hundreds of thousands and in addition Grumpy Cat’s owners also want to take over the domain name, claiming that it was registered in bad faith. Previous requests to sign over the domain name all failed.

Whether Grumpy Cat will win this case depends on the exact language of the license agreement and how this will be interpreted by the court. However, Grenade Beverage should be warned, as cats have a tendency to win the Internet.

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

TorrentFreak: Austrian Pirate Bay Blockade Censors Slovak Internet

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

pirate bayCopyright holders are increasingly demanding that ISPs should block access to pirate sites in order to protect their business.

As the bastion of online piracy The Pirate Bay has become one of the main targets. The site has been blocked in over a dozen countries already, mostly in Europe.

Austria is one of the latest countries to take similar action. After a lengthy legal battle the Commercial Court of Vienna ordered local ISPs to stop subscribers accessing the infamous torrent site.

This week, however, news broke that the court’s decision has had an effect well beyond Austria’s borders. Over the past several days subscribers of the Slovak Internet provider UPC were unable to access the torrent site as well.

Initially it was unclear why the site had been rendered inaccessible as there are no blocking orders against the site locally. However, it soon became apparent that the problems were an unintended consequence of the Austrian censorship efforts.

As it turns out, the Slovak branch of UPC uses a DNS server that’s based in Austria. The IP-address in question,, resolves to and points to a datacenter in Vienna.

According to UPC spokesman Jaroslav Kolar the block is not deliberate. He confirmed that it’s the result of the Austrian blockade and the ISP promised to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

“Access to The Pirate Bay through several DNS servers is blocked in the datacenter in Vienna on the basis of a court decision. Since UPC’s DNS server is hosted in the data center, access to some sites may be limited for our users,” Kolar said.

In addition to The Pirate Bay, Austrian ISPs also block access to other “structurally infringing” sites including and, which broadens the problems.

According to local reports the blockade was lifted for many users yesterday. Those still experiencing issues can bypass UPC’s DNS by switching to a third-party provider such as Google DNS or OpenDNS.

Fixed or not, the news shows the risks and unintended consequences of DNS blocking. The Internet is by definition a global network, so DNS filtering and other forms of censorship can easily carry over to places and sites that shouldn’t be blocked.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Developers Poke MPAA with A New Fork

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

popcorntA few weeks ago the main Popcorn Time fork, operating from the domain name, shut down its servers.

The MPAA took credit for the fall announcing that it had filed a lawsuit against several of the developers in Canada. In response to these legal threats several key developers backed out.

However, that doesn’t mean the application is no longer available. Several other forks (variants) are still online and more recently a group of new developers launched the Popcorn Time Community Edition.

It all started with a fully working fix for the .io fork which was circulated on Reddit, as we reported earlier. This gained a lot of attention, which prompted the developers to start their own website.

This week launched, which offers instructions on how to revive the .io fork plus fully operational installers for the new and improved Popcorn Time Community Edition (PTCE).

“Now we have taken it a step further and created a web site where people can find more information about the Community edition project and links to the working installers or other relevant information,” the PTCE teams tells TF.


The new group of developers are not involved with the .io fork, they simply revived it. If there’s enough interest, the team will probably continue to expand and improve their own version.

“In the beginning it was just so people still could use the version from and continue to enjoy this great software. But as long as people use it and we have people to drive this project forwards it will probably continue to evolve in future as well,” they tell us.

Although the PTCE team is just a few weeks old, it has already lost two members. Last week Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN announced that it settled with two developers, who risk a €2,000 per day fine if they violate their agreement.

The PTCE team mourns their loss, but is not eager to comment on the legal side of the project.

“We wish the two developers all the best and we really miss them, other than that we have no comment on that or the legal debate regarding this software,” they say.

The message to copyright holders and anti-piracy outfits is clear though. Legal pressure or not, the Popcorn Time phenomenon is not going away anytime soon.

“Popcorn Time will probably never go away, despite the efforts made by organizations such as BREIN, the MPAA and others. Instead of fighting this great software they should embrace it,” PTCE tells TF.

In addition to the new Community Edition, the original fork is still working on a comeback of its own.

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

TorrentFreak: Court: Cox Willingly Failed to Disconnect Pirating Subscribers

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

cox-logoToday marks the start of a crucial trial that may define how U.S. Internet providers deal with pirating subscribers in the future.

Internet provider Cox Communications is facing a lawsuit from BMG Rights Management which accuses the ISP of failing to terminate the accounts of subscribers who frequently pirate content.

BMG claimed that Cox gave up its DMCA safe harbor protections due to this inaction, something District Court Judge Liam O’Grady agreed on last week in a summary judgment.

This order puts the Internet provider at a severe disadvantage while facing millions of dollars in damages. In a memorandum published a few hours ago Judge Liam O’Grady justified his decision.

According to the court there is enough evidence to conclude that Cox did not terminate the access of repeat infringers under appropriate circumstances.

“The record conclusively establishes that before the fall of 2012 Cox did not implement its repeat infringer policy. Instead, Cox publicly purported to comply with its policy, while privately disparaging and intentionally circumventing the DMCA’s requirements,” the memorandum (pdf) reads.

Judge O’Grady notes that Cox had a policy in place to deal with repeat infringers, but that in reality these users would simply be reconnected upon request. They would then start over with a clean slate.

“Cox employees followed an unwritten policy put in place by senior members of Cox’s abuse group by which accounts used to repeatedly infringe copyrights would be nominally terminated, only to be reactivated upon request.”

“Once these accounts were reactivated, customers were given clean slates, meaning the next notice of infringement Cox received linked to those accounts would be considered the first in Cox’s graduate response procedure,” O’Grady adds.

The Judge cites several emails and other communication from Jason Zabek, Cox’s Manager of Customer Abuse Operations, who instructs employees not to be too harsh. Keeping customers on board appears to be a prime motivation.

Below is a snippet from an email Zabek sent to a group of employees:

“After termination of DMCA, if you do suspend someone for another DMCA violation, you are not wrong. However, if the customer has a email we would like to start the warning cycle over, hold for more, etc. A clean slate if you will. This way, we can collect a few extra weeks of payments for their account. ;-)”


In other emails asking about whether repeat infringers should be reconnected Zabek replied with statements such as “It is fine. We need the customers,” “DMCA = reactivate,” and “You can make him wait a day or so if you want. ;-).”

In 2012 Cox abandoned this unofficial reactivation policy but that didn’t have a positive impact on the number of account terminations, on the contrary in fact.

The record shows that the number of disconnections dropped significantly, to less than one per month on average. In addition, emails show instances where Cox prefers to keep frequently pirating customers on board as they provide a significant revenue stream.

“BMG has identified specific instances in which Cox knew accounts were being used repeatedly for infringing activity yet failed to terminate,” Judge O’Grady writes.

“Cox does not seriously challenge these examples. Labeling them as ‘nothing more than conjecture and hyperbole,’ Cox argues that these snippets of conversations do not show what actions call centers actually took against accounts,” he adds.

For its part, Cox argued that it’s up to a court to decide that the appropriate response to infringement is the termination of the account of a subscriber, noting that copyright holder complaints may not always be accurate.

But Judge O’Grady disagrees and notes that when an ISP has actual knowledge that an account holder is a persistent pirate, his or her account should be terminated.

“Appropriate circumstances arise when an account holder is repeatedly or flagrantly infringing copyrights. Thus, when Cox had actual knowledge of particular account holders who blatantly or repeatedly infringed, the responsibility shifted to Cox to terminate their accounts,” he writes.

While BMG also submitted several other arguments, Judge O’Grady found the above sufficient to rule that Cox is not entitled to DMCA safe harbor protection.

The ruling means that it will be more difficult for Cox to defend itself against BMG’s copyright infringement claims. However, it will also raise alarm bells at various other U.S. Internet providers. At the moment it’s rare for ISPs to disconnect pirating users and this case has the potential to alter the landscape.

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

TorrentFreak: Sky Users Receive Porn Piracy Threats in Time For Christmas

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

Last month news broke that a brand new flood of copyright infringement threats were about to land with UK-based Internet users.

“A company called Golden Eye International, which owns rights to several copyrighted films, has claimed that a number of Sky Broadband customers engaged in unlawful file sharing of some of its films,” ISP Sky told its subscribers in a warning letter.

“It’s likely that Golden Eye International will contact you directly and may ask you to pay them compensation.”

It’s taken several weeks but as promised Sky subscribers are now receiving letters from Golden Eye (GEIL) and partner firm Ben Dover Productions (BDP).

“It is with regret that we are writing this letter to you. However, GEIL and BDP are very concerned at the illicit distribution of films over the Internet,” the letter begins.

GEIL then explains that it is not the content owner but “the licensee authorized to enforce breach of copyright” on the adult movie titles referenced in the letters. To protect our sources we aren’t publishing the movie titles but to get an idea of the embarrassment some people are feeling right now, a full list of the movies can be found in GEIL’s license arrangement with BDP, available here (PDF).

As usual GEIL points out that it has hired a “forensic computer analyst” to track alleged infringers. However, in more than one instance it appears that GEIL is accusing people of downloading and sharing content in the summer of 2014. Expecting people to remember what happened so long ago could be a tall order.


“On 26 August 2015 Master Bowles, sitting in the High Court, ordered that SKY UK LTD give disclosure of your name and address, for the purpose of enabling us to send you this letter and if necessary bring legal proceedings against you,” the letter continues.

“In accordance with that Order, SKY UK identified you as the subscriber noted in their systems as on their network associated with the IP address on the date and at the time in question.”

As noted this past weekend ISPs can make mistakes too, but nevertheless GEIL’s letter clearly states that the account holder is assumed to be both the infringer and the user of the relevant computer at the date and time in question.

The company cannot possibly know this for certain since any number of people can have access to a household’s Internet access. Interestingly, they immediately admit that too.


Of course, if people are unaware of any infringement taking place they cannot reasonably be expected to furnish GEIL with that information. And while GEIL say they “may” ask the court to conclude that the account holder was the user of a an unspecified computer on a date 18 months ago, the court is also free to reject that assertion.

It’s also worth noting that GEIL have never engaged in a contested case in court, despite threatening to do so many times previously. What the company actually wants is a confession and hard cash.

“Once your response to this letter is received, GEIL and BDP will be prepared, if we believe that you have behaved unlawfully, to give you the opportunity to avoid legal action by proposing a settlement out of court,” the letter notes.

As previously instructed by the court GEIL is not allowed to ask for a specific amount in its initial letter, but recipients of second letters from the company will probably receive demands of up to £600 to £700 to put the matter to rest.

However, GEIL also tries to lure letter recipients in by suggesting that accidental infringement or that carried out by a child might result in a lower settlement amount being offered.


GEIL concludes by asking for a detailed confession or for the account holder to point the finger at members of their family or friends who have had access to their network.

“Please state whether you admit that you have downloaded the Work and/or made it available for download by others and if so the extent to which you have done so and whether you are prepared in principle to enter into a settlement of the kind outlined above,” GEIL adds.

“If you deny that you have downloaded the Work or made it available for download by others, please explain the basis upon which you deny it, and provide the information that we have requested above about other users of the computer.”

TorrentFreak has spoken to several letter recipients in the past few days. Only one said he was thinking of settling with GEIL.

People looking for legal advice can contact Southampton-based solicitor Michael Coyle who is handling these cases for a fraction of the amount requested by GEIL.

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

TorrentFreak: Broke Again, Dotcom Asks Hong Kong Court For Millions

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

dotcom-laptopIn 2012, as Megaupload’s servers were being closed down in the U.S. and Dotcom’s New Zealand mansion was being raided by armed police, the entrepreneur’s offices in Hong Kong were being turned over by a reported 100 customs officers.

Under instruction from the U.S. government, HK$330 million (US$42.57m) in assets were seized and have remained restrained in Hong Kong ever since.

In April 2014, Megaupload launched legal action against the Hong Kong government, applying for the restraining order to be set aside while accusing the secretary for justice of procedural failings when the application for seizure was made.

In December 2014 came a breakthrough when a judge in the High Court set aside the restraining order. However, while an almost immediately lock was reapplied to Dotcom’s assets, a revised order granted Dotcom’s legal team the right to contest the asset freeze.

As part of that ongoing process, Dotcom’s lawyers were back in court this week asking for the release of large amounts of funds, the equivalent of US$2.3m to cover legal costs plus US$52,000 per month for his living expenses.

In keeping with argument presented at his recent extradition hearing in New Zealand, Dotcom’s legal team told the Hong Kong court that by restraining his funds and expecting him to mount a defense their client’s hands “were tied behind his back.”

SCMP reports that while Dotcom had a “world-class” legal team in the New Zealand hearing, he had no money left to pay them so had to use “junior lawyers.” Money had now run out in New Zealand, so the funds in Hong Kong were the next best option.

But just like last year when Hong Kong authorities were accused by Dotcom’s team of not making a “full disclosure” of the facts, this week the authorities sought to turn the tables.

Representing the government, prosecutor Wayne Walsh SC claimed Dotcom did the same after starting two new businesses and running transactions “worth hundreds of millions of dollars” through Hong Kong bank accounts. Dotcom was also criticized for not disclosing details of his living costs

Once a staunch supporter of Hong Kong, Dotcom now finds himself at the mercy of the country’s judges who to date have been much less flexible than their counterparts in New Zealand when it comes to releasing funds.

Back in May a New Zealand court released millions in funds to pay for Dotcom’s legal bills, plus $128K per month in living expenses.

A sizable $60K of that money was earmarked to pay the rent on Dotcom’s mansion, which has been reported to cost around $750,000 per annum under a lease signed in February 2013.

However, the terms of the agreement meant that Dotcom would ultimately have to buy the property or move out. It was reported in November that the entrepreneur would be moving to a waterfront penthouse apartment on “fashionable” Princes Wharf instead.

“It’s significantly more humble than what I am used to but that’s okay,” Dotcom said last month. “I am also not living with a partner any more, we have reduced our staff numbers significantly and this place feels a little bit big now.”

The hearing in Hong Kong continues.

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

TorrentFreak: Hilarious Remixers Hand Out Copyright Smackdown

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

det-logoConsidering the amount of publicity a wrongful DMCA notice can generate these days, it’s no surprise that when a gift of a story presents itself, people are happy to jump on board.

Unfortunately, however, some stories are more complex than they first appear and when that complexity is borne out of a deliberate desire to mislead, chaos is bound to ensue.

On November 25 a tantalizing piece appeared in Electronic Beats detailing how in an apparent desire to protect copyright, Soundcloud had finally gone too far. A follow-up piece from YourEDM put meat on the bones.

“Just when you thought Soundcloud couldn’t get any worse, they strike again harder than ever. Now reaching an all time low, Soundcloud has removed a track that is nothing but 4 minutes of pure silence due to ‘Copyright Infringement’ claims,” it declared.

The piece was uploaded to an account operated by D.J. Detweiler and consisted of a remix (if one could ever be possible) of the John Cage ‘track’ 4’33”, a famous performance consisting of nothing but silence.


“That’s right, a song that has literally no sound was flagged for removal. How? Because Soundcloud is lazy and takes shortcuts to flag and remove content,” the YourEDM piece continued.

“Instead of crawling the uploaded content for copyright material, which takes a decent amount of CPU power, Soundcloud has resorted into cutting that process out entirely and beginning to flag content based on JUST the track title.”

As recipes for outrage go, this was an absolute doozy and no wonder it was picked up by several publications in the days that followed. However, as is now becoming painfully obvious, the whole thing was a giant stunt. A statement from Soundcloud obtained by Engadget revealed the cringe-worthy truth.

“The upload referenced in the screenshot was not a track of silence and was taken down because it included Justin Bieber’s What Do You Mean without the rightsholder’s permission,” the company said.

“The respective user uploaded the track under the title “4’33”,” which is also the name of John Cage’s famous piece of silence but it was not, in fact, silence.”

So what were D.J. Detweiler’s aims? Well, trolling the press appears to be one. In a biting follow-up amid several retweets of regurgitated articles on the same topic, D.J. Detweiler posted the following image.

Another aim appears to be recreating the work of Cage to prove a point. Although Cage’s track 4’33” was supposed to be silent, ‘performers’ are expected to be present but not play. Unless done so in a vacuum, the resulting ‘performance’ therefore includes ambient noise. Equally, it appears that D.J. Detweiler’s ‘silence’ is now intentionally causing noise around the Internet too.

“We are making a remix of the original performance of John Cage. The only different thing is that we are making it on the internet in 2015, instead of doing it in a space like a theater, like John Cage did. The whole environment around what we’re doing is the performance because everybody’s reacting.”

But trolling and frivolity aside, it does appear that DJ Detweiler have a copyright message to deliver.

“When John Cage wrote that piece, one of the main reasons was because he was trying to ask, who owns the silence? Who has the copyright for the silence?” they ask. “The laws surrounding copyright at this point seem highly outdated and need some sort of reformation, and we just want to push that.”

While the group have certainly achieved their aims, it’s perhaps a bit of a shame that’s been achieved at the expense of publications who mainly appeared to have sympathy with often overreaching copyright law.

That being said, when one looks at DJ Detweiler’s Facebook and homepages (epilepsy warning!), the value of doing more research really starts to pay off.

DJ Detweiler are taking part in a panel discussion about “branding, hype and trends” this Thursday at the 3hd Festival in Berlin. He’s described as an individual there but at this point, who knows?

In the meantime enjoy his/their remix of Sandstorm, Smack My Bitch Up, and my personal favorite, DJ Hazard’s Mr Happy.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Anti-Piracy ‘Education’ Campaign Launched, Quietly

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

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

Under the new system copyright holders will monitor illegal P2P file-sharing activity with a strong focus on repeat offenders.

The warning program is part of the larger Creative Content UK (CCUK) initiative which also includes an educational component. Though various PR campaigns the coalition hopes to change people’s attitudes towards piracy.

CCUK was launched after years of negotiating and the plans were widely discussed in the media. However, when the first campaign launched a few weeks ago there was a remarkable silence.

The first education campaign is called “Get It Right from a Genuine Site.” It encourages people to stay clear from pirate sites and use licensed services instead, so that copyright holders and industry employees are properly compensated.

The campaign was promoted alongside an ad which aired during the UK version of The X-Factor and elsewhere late October. In the high-profile advertising spot, which isn’t cheap, viewers were encouraged to duck dodgy sites and go legit.

“Get the stuff you love from genuine sites and support creativity. Download or stream from dodgy sites and contribute nothing. It’s your choice,” it says.

Get It Right from a Genuine Site

CCUK is encouraging the public to use the hashtag #genuine to promote the initiative. However, thus far the response has been rather underwhelming with only a handful of tweets, mostly from industry insiders.

Today, the hashtag is mostly used in totally unrelated tweets and on other social media the project isn’t really taking off either. The official Facebook page of the campaign has only 114 likes.

The only Facebook comment responding to the campaign ad is not very encouraging either. “It’s not 2003. No one’s getting pirated music from IRC or whatever,” it reads.

In addition to the ad, CCUK is also backing a large street art project. It’s not entirely clear how this offline project relates to online piracy, but perhaps it’s an effort to appeal to the target audience.

TorrentFreak asked CCUK for a comment on the first campaign, but at the time of writing we haven’t heard back.

A CCUK spokesperson previously informed us that their ultimate goal is to bring down local piracy rates. During the months following the rollout the file-sharing habits of UK Internet users will be frequently polled to measure the impact of the campaign.

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

Considering the response and exposure thus far, there’s still a long way to go.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA ‘Softens’ Movie Theater Anti-Piracy Policy, Drops Bounty

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

recillegalThe MPAA sees illegally recorded movies as one of the biggest piracy threats and goes to extremes to stop it.

During pre-release screenings and premieres, for example, employees are often equipped with night-vision goggles and other spy tech to closely monitor movie goers.

In some cases members of the public have been instructed to hand over all recording-capable devices including phones and Google glasses.

Through these measures the MPAA hopes to prevent pirates from camcording movies or recording audio in theaters. The underlying policy is drafted in cooperation with the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), and a few days ago the most recent version was released.

At first sight not much has changed. The MPAA still recommends theater owners to keep an eye on suspect movie goers while prohibiting the use of any recording devices including phones.

“Preventative measures should include asking patrons to silence and put away their phones and requiring they turn off and stow all other devices capable of recording, including wearable technology capable of recording.

“If individuals fail or refuse to put any recording device away, managers—per your theater’s policy — can ask them to leave,” the recommendation reads.

There are several subtle changed throughout the document though, especially regarding the involvement of police. Previously, theater employees were encouraged to detain suspect visitors and hand them over to the authorities.

This is explicitly stated in the following snippet taken from the 2014 version of the best practices.

“Theater managers should immediately alert law enforcement authorities whenever they have clear indications that prohibited activity is taking place—the proper authorities will determine what laws may have been violated and what enforcement action should be taken.”

In the new document, however, it’s no longer a requirement to call the police. Instead, this is now optional.

“Theater managers have the option to immediately alert law enforcement authorities whenever they have clear indications that prohibited activity is taking place or managers can the stop the activity without law enforcement assistance.”

Similar changes were made throughout the document. Even reporting incidents to the MPAA no longer appears to be mandatory, which it still was according to last year’s text.

“After your theater manager has contacted the police, your theater manager should immediately call the MPAA 24/7 Anti-Camcording Hot Line to report the incident.”

The language above has now been changed to a less urgent option of simply reporting incidents, should a theater manager deem it appropriate.

“Your theater manager can also call the MPAA 24/7 Anti-Camcording Hot Line to report the incident.”

Aside from the softer tone there’s another significant change to the best practices. The $500 “reward” movie theater employees could get for catching pirates is no longer mentioned.

The old Take Action Award mention

In fact, the entire “take action award” program appears to have been discontinued. The NATO page where it was listed now returns a 404 error and the details on FightFilmTheft have been removed as well.

This stands in stark contrast to the UK where the rewards for a similar program were doubled just a few weeks ago, with officials describing it as a great success.

The question that remains unanswered is why the MPAA and NATO have implemented these changes. Could it be that there were too many false positives being reported to the police, or is there an image problem perhaps?

In recent years several questionable police referrals resulted in a media backlash. A 19-year-old girl was arrested for recording a 20 second clip from the movie “Transformers,” which she wanted to show to her brother, for example.

And just last year the FBI dragged a man from a movie theater in Columbus, Ohio, after theater staff presumed his wearing of Google Glass was a sign that he was engaged in camcorder piracy.

Meanwhile, reports of real pirates being apprehended in a similar fashion have been notable by their absence.

Best Practices to Prevent Film Theft

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TorrentFreak: Swedish Pirate Bay Blocking Decision Will Go to Appeal

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

In a growing number of countries around Europe, courts have been overwhelmingly willing to order Internet service providers to block pirate sites. In Sweden, spiritual home of The Pirate Bay, copyright holders hoped to achieve the same.

However, a case brought in 2014 by Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry against local ISP Bredbandsbolaget (Broadband Company) crashed and burned on Friday.

After a month of deliberations a unanimous Stockholm District Court found that Swedish legislation meets the requirements of the EU Infosoc directive. The actions of Bredbandsbolaget do not constitute its participation in infringements carried out by some of its ‘pirating’ subscribers, the Court found.

Considering the momentum around Europe towards blocking the decision in Sweden came as a surprise, not least to the copyright holders behind the case. Per Strömbäck of FTVS, the umbrella group behind the action, believes that illegal sites came out the winners on Friday.

“The ruling is a serious failing for the Swedish judicial system that is already falling behind. Swedish film and music creators deserve better,” Strömbäck says.

However, the movie, TV and record companies behind the action have no intention of giving up and as predicted will take their case to appeal.

“The Court has examined the legislation whose precise purpose is to give rights owners the opportunity to have Internet service providers stop illegal services from reaching Swedish internet users,” says Henrik Bengtsson, legal counsel for the plaintiffs in the case.

“Similar legislation already exists in the rest of Scandinavia as well as in much of Europe. We will appeal.”

The efforts to hold Bredbandsbolaget as accomplices to its subscribers’ ‘crimes’ means that the legal action against the ISP was the first of its kind in the country.

If it had succeeded, other ISPs in Sweden would have been subjected to similar conditions and demands to block other sites would’ve quickly followed. However, as the position stands today Bredbandsbolaget feels its stance as a mere conduit of information has been vindicated.

“We see it as positive that the district court did not consider that Internet operators are accomplices in crimes committed over the Internet. This is important for freedom of expression and the Swedish model of a free and open Internet,” says Anna Byström, Chief Legal Officer at Bredbandsbolaget parent company Telenor.

“We believe that the Court of Appeal will rule in our favor, and hope that this will put an end to this matter that could otherwise lead to ISPs needing to block more sites in the future.”

The plaintiffs will file their case with the Svea Court of Appeal before December 18, 2015.

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 – 11/30/15

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

mazeThis week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
1 (1) Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials 6.8 / trailer
2 (2) Ant-Man 7.7 / trailer
3 (3) Another World (Web-DL) 5.3 / trailer
4 (8) Criminal Activities (Web-DL) 5.8 / trailer
5 (7) The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 7.5 / trailer
6 (4) Ronaldo 6.7 / trailer
7 (10) The 33 (Web-DL) 7.0 / trailer
8 (…) Hotel Transylvania 2 (Webrip) 7.0 / trailer
9 (9) Inside Out 8.4 / trailer
10 (…) Talvar 8.6 / trailer

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TorrentFreak: Copyright Industry Still Doesn’t Understand This Fight Isn’t About Money, But Liberty

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

copyright-brandedIn 2010, I got a prize from the Swedish IT Industry as “IT person of the year”, the year after I had led the Swedish and first Pirate Party into the European Parliament.

Their motivation for the prize was that I had finally, and through hard work, brought important IT issues to front row and center of the political establishment.

What we said then are the same things we say now. The Internet is the most important piece of infrastructure we have. More important than telco, than cable TV, than roads, than power, than… well, with the possible exception of tap water and sanitation infrastructure, I’ll allow the jury to confer a bit more on that one.

We were saying, and are saying, that it’s insane, asinine, repulsive and revolting to allow a cartoon industry (the copyright industry – mostly led by Disney in this regard) to regulate the infrastructure of infrastructures. To allow a cartoon industry to dismantle anonymity, the right to private correspondence and many more fundamental liberties just because they were worried about their profits.

There was some success in pushing back the worst. We didn’t get to go on the offense, but we did safeguard the most important of liberty.

Then, something very odd and unexpected happened. Spotify came on stage, praised The Pirate Bay for raising the bar for consumer expectations of what good service means, and swept the floor with consumption patterns of music. As did Pandora in the US. Pirates tend to be early adopters and Pandora was no exception: I am paying subscriber #110 there out of today’s tens of millions. As was always noted, the fight for liberty was never a fight about money.

More people shifted toward streaming video as well with Netflix and similar services, again showing it was never about the money, but always about freedom.

After that, something even more unexpected happened. Pirates started fighting with the copyright industry, against the internet service providers, in the halls of policymaking. More specifically, pirates were siding with Microsoft against lots of old telco dinosaurs. Even more specifically, people were fighting for Net Neutrality – something that Microsoft was also fighting for, as the owner of Skype – against the mobile divisions of telco dinosaurs, who wanted to lock out competitors from their imaginary walled garden.

Of course, this is only unexpected if you thought it was about money in the first place. If you knew that it was always about liberty, about defending the infrastructure of infrastructures, about protecting the right to innovate and the freedom of speech, this comes as a no-brainer.

We care for permissionless innovation, we care for private correspondence, we care for sharing and the legacy of knowledge and culture. We do not care in the slightest for obsolete and outdated pre-internet distribution monopolies, nor do we care for pipes that want to be privileged, and we become outright hostile when the industries that benefit from old monopolies (not stakeholders, but beneficiaries!) assert a right to dismantle the liberties that our ancestors fought, bled, and died to give to us today.

“How will the authors get paid?” is an utterly uninteresting question in a market economy. The answer is equally utterly simple: “by making a sale”. There is no other way, and there should not be any other way. A much more relevant question today is “how do we protect the infrastructure of liberty against corporate encroachment and imaginary privileges of pre-internet monopolies”.

Oh, and the Swedish IT Industry Association also gives a prize to the IT Company of the year, not just the IT person of the year. The company to get that prize in the same year as me? Spotify.

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 focuses on information policy.

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

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TorrentFreak: Cox Can’t Describe Rightscorp As “Extortionists” and “Trolls” During Trial

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

trollsignNext week marks the start of a crucial trial that may define how U.S. Internet providers deal with pirating subscribers in the future.

Internet provider Cox Communications is facing a lawsuit from BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music, who accuse the company of failing to terminate the accounts of subscribers who frequently pirate content.

This week the court ruled on several requests and concerns about the upcoming trial. Several of these motions relate to Rightscorp, the company which sends out infringement notices with settlement demands for the rightsholders.

In previous filings Cox described Rightscorp as a copyright-trolling outfit that uses extortion and blackmail-like practices to pressure alleged pirates into settling. This language concerned the music companies, who asked the court to exclude it from trial.

This week Judge O’Grady agreed, ordering that Cox is prohibited from introducing irrelevant information about Rightscorp (pdf).

Among other things, the proposed order specifies that the Internet provider can’t reference Rightscorp’s business practices after 2011, including evidence from phone scripts or call recordings.

Rightscorp’s precarious financial position is also off-limits, as well as any allegations that the company violates debt collection or private investigation laws.

Finally, the aforementioned extortion and troll references are banned during trial as well.

“Defendants are prohibited from using derogatory terms such as ‘troll,’ ‘blackmailer,’ and ‘extortionist’ in reference to Rightscorp or Plaintiffs and are prohibited from using terms like ‘extortion’ or ‘blackmail’ to describe the companies’ communications or business practices,’ the order reads.

In addition to this order, Cox faced another setback.

The ISP previously asked the court to prevent the copyright holders from using any material claiming that BitTorrent equals piracy. According to Cox, BitTorrent has plenty of legitimate uses, but the motion was denied by Judge O’Grady.

On the upside, the court agreed with Cox that Rightscorp destroyed crucial evidence by deleting older versions of its piracy tracking code.

While this is not enough to dismiss the entire case, sanctions are appropriate and Cox is allowed to reference the destroyed evidence during its opening statement (pdf).

These new developments, as well as the earlier order declaring that Cox is not entitled to DMCA safe-harbor protections, show how much is at stake for both sides. The trial is expected to start in a few days and will be closely followed by other copyright holders and Internet providers.

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

TorrentFreak: No Copyright Trolls, Your Evidence Isn’t Flawless

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

xmastrollEarlier this month TF broke the news that Sky Broadband in the UK were sending letters out to some of their customers, warning them they’re about to be accused of downloading and sharing movies without permission.

When they arrive the threats will come from Golden Eye International (GEIL), the company behind the ‘Ben Dover’ porn brand that has already targeted hundreds of people with allegations of Internet piracy.

“It’s likely that Golden Eye International will contact you directly and may ask you to pay them compensation,” the ISP warned.

In fact, GEIL will definitely ask for money, largely based on their insistence that the evidence they hold is absolutely irrefutable. It’s the same tune they’ve been singing for years now, without ever venturing to back up their claims in court. Sadly, other legal professionals are happy to sing along with them.

“Don’t do anything illegal and you won’t get a letter,” intellectual property specialist Iain Connor told The Guardian last week.

“Golden Eye will only have gotten details of people that they can prove downloaded content and so whether the ‘invoice’ demand is reasonable will depend on how much they downloaded that infringed copyright material.”

Quite aside from the fact that none of these cases are about downloading copyrighted material (they’re about uploading), one has to presume that Connor isn’t personally familiar with details of these cases otherwise he would’ve declared that interest. Secondly, he is absolutely wrong.

Companies like GEIL sometimes get it wrong, the anti-piracy trackers they use get things wrong, and ISPs get things wrong too. An IP address is NOT a person but innocent parties have to go to huge lengths to prove that. IT worker Harri Salminen did just that and this week finally managed to publicly clear his family’s name.

It started two years ago when his wife – the Internet account payer – was accused by an anti-piracy outfit (unconnected to GEIL) of pirating on a massive scale.

“They claimed that thousands of music tracks had been illegally distributed from our Internet connection,” Salminen told local media.

“The letter came addressed to my wife and she became very anxious, since she didn’t understand what this was all about. According to the letter, the matter was going to the court and we were advised to make contact to agree on compensation.”

Sound familiar? Read on.

The Salminen family has two children so took time to ensure they hadn’t uploaded anything illegally. Harri Salminen, who works in the IT industry, established that they had not, so began to conduct his own investigation. Faced with similar “irrefutable” IP address-based evidence to that presented in all of these ‘troll’ cases, what could’ve possibly gone wrong?

Attached to the letter of claim was a page from Salminen’s ISP which detailed the name of his wife, the IP address from where the piracy took place, and a date of infringement. This kind of attachment is common in such cases and allows trolls to imply that their evidence is somehow endorsed by their target’s ISP.

Then Salminen struck gold. On the day that the alleged infringement took place the IT worker was operating from home while logged into his company’s computer systems. Knowing that his company keeps logs of the IP addresses accessing the system, Salminen knew he could prove which IP address he’d been using on the day.

“I looked into my employer’s system logs for IP-addresses over several weeks and I was able to show that our home connection’s IP address at the time of the alleged act was quite different from the IP address mentioned in the letter,” he explained.

So what caused Salminen’s household to be wrongly identified? Well, showing how things can go wrong at any point, it appears that there was some kind of screw-up between the anti-piracy company and Salminen’s ISP.

Instead of identifying the people who had the IP address at the time of the actual offense, the ISP looked up the people using the address when the inquiry came in.

“The person under employment of the ISP inputs a date, time, and IP-address to the system based on a court order,” anti-piracy group TTVK now explains.

“And of course, when a human is doing something, there is always a possibility for an error. But even one error is too much.”

Saliminen says that it was only his expertise in IT that saved him from having to battle it out in court, even though his family was entirely innocent. Sadly, those about to be accused by Golden Eye probably won’t have access to similar resources.

“We have only written to those account holders for whom we have evidence of copyright infringement,” Golden Eye’s Julian Becker said confidently last week.

Trouble is, Golden Eye only has an IP address and the name of the account holder. They have no evidence that person is the actual infringer, even presuming there hasn’t been a screw-up like the one detailed above.

“We have written to account holders accusing them of copyright infringement, even though it’s entirely possible they personally did nothing wrong and shouldn’t have to pay us a penny,” is perhaps what he should’ve said.

But that’s not only way too frank but a sure-fire way of punching a huge hole in GEIL’s bottom line. And for a troll like GEIL, that would be a disaster.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirates Can Now Rip 4K Content From Netflix and Amazon

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

amazonnetflixWhile the average consumer is generally not equipped to play 4K content on their TV or computer, many video geeks are looking forward to every new release.

Thus far the physical offerings have been limited to adult content mostly, with just a handful of mainstream productions. However, with the adoption of a Blu-Ray standard for Ultra High Definition video more releases will follow soon.

4K streaming releases have been available for a while already though, with Netflix and Amazon as the two key vendors in this market.

These online streams were always well protected against pirates. The High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP) version 2.2 or higher is still believed to be secure today, but there are signs that pirates have found a way to bypass the protection.

Earlier this year the first 4K Netflix leak surfaced. After that it went quiet. However, a few days ago something changed, as many more releases started to appear online.

TorrentFreak spoke to a release group insider who confirmed that this is a significant change.

“Many groups started releasing 4K rips recently and they are working perfectly. I expect that 4K resolution releases will become more popular now,” TorrentFreak was told.

The new 4K leaks come from both Netflix and Amazon, suggesting that there’s a general loophole that allows pirates to circumvent the copy protection on both services.

Up until recently this was impossible to do. There were a handful of upscaled releases floating around with a lot of pixelation and low bitrates, but these don’t come close to real 4K.

The new releases are true 4K and include Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle as well as the recent pilots Edge, Good Girls Revolt, Highston, One Mississippi
and Patriot.

Amazon’s 4k leaks

Another series of high-profile 4K leaks that came out this week are of Netflix’s Jessica Jones. As with the other rips the file-sizes are much larger than traditional HD-releases, well over 10 gigabytes for a single episode.

Netflix’ Jessica Jones 4k leaks

The media info for one of the Jessica Jones leaks show that it’s 4K, at a 32.5 Mbps bitrate. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the video quality is always exceptional.

“For example for Marvel’s Jessica Jones new TV series from Netflix the 4K captures look bad, because the master from Netflix is probably bad,” we were told by an insider.

Jessica Jones 4k (large)
jessica jones

Downloading a 4K release from Amazon or Netflix and getting a pirated copy out is not something that’s easily done. The original rips are often well over 100 gigabytes in size. Still, many groups are jumping on the 4K bandwagon.

The main question that remains is how the groups are able to circumvent the copy protection. Our source says that Amazon’s Fire TV and Roku 4K are likely sources, as they may not be as well protected as some believe.

Amazon’s Fire TV uses the weaker HDCP 1.4b protection and 23.976 frames/s, which only supports Amazon 4K releases and not Netflix.

Roku recently released their new streaming player with 4K support and native refresh rate switching, which can play Netflix’s 4K library. It arrived in stores early November, just before the 23.976 frames/s 4k rips started coming out.

Whatever the source is, the stream of new releases is unprecedented and marks the start of a new era of high quality video releases.

In recent years many people have been downloading higher quality rips already, but it will probably take a few years before 4K becomes the new standard. Overall, however, pirating video geeks will be happy with the news.

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

TorrentFreak: Book Publishers Expand UK Pirate Site Blocking

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

e-booksFor several years Hollywood studios and international recording labels have engaged in legal action to have ‘pirate’ sites blocked in the UK.

The injunction applications were all filed at the High Court with the earliest example dating back to the 2012 blocking of The Pirate Bay at the hands of the BPI (British Recorded Music Industry).

Since then more than 20 injunctions have been handed down targeting a range of content but it took until May 2015 for the book publishing sector to land its first victory.

In an injunction application targeting major ISPs including BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk, the Publishers Association successfully argued that their rights were being infringed by a number of e-book download sites.

Shortly after, Avaxhome, Ebookee, Freebookspot, Freshwap, Libgen, Bookfi and Bookre were all blocked at the ISP level, with Internet users in the UK confronted with a message similar to the one below.


Of course, blocking a handful of sites was never likely to achieve long-term results, especially with fresh domains, proxies, mirrors, and other workarounds being deployed on a regular basis. No surprise then that the Publishers Association has recently applied to have yet more URLs blocked by ISPs. (full list below)

All appear to relate in some way to sites that were blocked in the earlier court order, including Avaxhome, eBookee, FreeBookSpot and Library Genesis. This means that the Publishers Association won’t have needed to start a fresh process and will have simply added these URLs to the existing injunction.

This latest expansion is only the latest in a long line of applications made by a wide range of entertainment industry groups.

Earlier this month the UK’s blocklist silently expanded with the addition of around 170 sites, an effort that was preceded in October with the blocking of dozens of new domains, including those relating to Popcorn Time.

Updated Publishers Association blocklist

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TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Group Stops Prolific KickassTorrent’s Uploader

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

KATNetherlands-based anti-piracy group BREIN is one of few such outfits to directly go after both the operators and users of pirate sites.

The Hollywood-backed group doesn’t target random file-sharers but focuses on prolific uploaders, who share hundreds or thousands of files.

This month these efforts led to another victory for the organization. A Breda court ruled in favor of BREIN in an ex-parte case against a 20-year-old student, who uploaded over 750 torrents to KickassTorrents.

Most torrents were targeted at the Dutch public, including a full season of The Walking Dead and the film Avengers: Age of Ultron, both with subtitles.

BREIN argued that the man’s infringing activities were causing irreparable damage for the various copyright holders involved. In addition, his efforts help frustrate the growth of legal services such as Spotify and Netflix.

The court agreed with BREIN’s assessment and ordered the uploader to stop sharing pirated content on KickassTorrents (pdf). Refusing to do so will result in a €2,000 fine per day, with a maximum of €50,000.

Responding to the verdict, the man, whose name is not made public, deleted his account as well as all uploads.

TorrentFreak tracked down what appears to be the user in question. This person frequently uploaded torrents with Dutch subtitles, some of which were mentioned in the case.

The deleted profile

BREIN notes that the student also agreed to pay compensation to the copyright holders as well as costs for the legal proceedings. While calculating the appropriate ‘damages’ figure BREIN took the man’s personal circumstances into account.

This means that the uploader has gotten off relatively unharmed, when compared to the million dollar claims we’ve seen elsewhere at least.

It’s not clear how BREIN tracked down the uploader. The anti-piracy group is known to scour the Internet for information that can identify infringers, some of whom are surprisingly easy to find.

In addition, BREIN also uses previously convicted file-sharers to gather intelligence, and rival uploaders also rat out their competitors voluntarily every now and then.

“We do get anonymous tips regarding offenders and from time to time it is clear that a tip comes from a ‘competitor. It’s just like with other crime on any turf,” BREIN’s Tim Kuik told us previously.

Looking ahead, BREIN is planning to intensify its efforts to hold prolific uploaders responsible. Not just those who upload to torrent sites, but also those who simply download and share.

Last week NOS reported that BREIN is preparing to monitor IP-addresses systematically to identify prolific sharers, which they then hope to identify through their Internet providers.

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

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Programmer Already Freed From U.S. Prison

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

Acting on a lead from the entertainment industry, in January 2012 the U.S. Government shut down Megaupload.

To date, much of their efforts have been focused on extraditing Kim Dotcom and his former colleagues from New Zealand to the United States but earlier this year it became apparent that they’d already snared an important piece of the puzzle.

Operating under key mega figure Matthias Ortmann, Andrus Nomm was a Megaupload programmer who reportedly earned a little over $3200 per month.

In common with his former colleagues, Nomm was cited in the Megaupload indictment, meaning that the FBI wanted the Estonian in the United States to face criminal charges. With few funds at his disposal to put a Dotcom-like fight, Nomm flew from the Netherlands and handed himself over to U.S. authorities after three years.

In February the 36-year-old was arrested and carried through with a deal he’d promised to cut with U.S. authorities. Just days later the Department of Justice announced that Nomm had pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement, and he was sentenced to 366 days in prison.

Dotcom slammed the development.

“An innocent coder pleads guilty after 3 years of DOJ abuse, with no end in sight, in order to move on with his life,” Dotcom said. “I have nothing but compassion and understanding for Andrus Nomm and I hope he will soon be reunited with his son.”

This week it appears Dotcom’s wishes came true. According to NZHerald, after serving just nine months in prison, Nomm’s name appeared on a list of prisoners due to be released this week.

However, the Estonian’s release will be bitter-sweet since according to the same report Nomm’s evidence is already being used against Dotcom and as recently as his just-concluded extradition hearing.

The details will not be made public until have Judge Nevin Dawson hands down his decision but it’s believed that Nomm has stated on the record that Dotcom and his former colleagues knowingly profited from copyright infringement.

Nevertheless, Dotcom still feels that Nomm pleaded guilty to a crime he didn’t commit.

“One year in jail was his way out. I don’t blame him. I can understand why Andrus did it. But it doesn’t change the fact that he is innocent,” Dotcom told the Herald.

Underlining his point, Dotcom points to a video recorded by Nomm just three months after the raid and uploaded to YouTube after Nomm signed the plea deal.

“Andrus made it clear in his documentary interview that he had done nothing wrong,” Dotcom said.

Although three years in limbo and a year in jail will have had a considerable impact on Nomm’s life, his deal with the U.S. now means that he can get on with his life. The same cannot be said of Dotcom and his former colleagues.

Nomm plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, charges that Dotcom and his former colleagues continue to deny. The U.S. also dropped the money laundering and racketeering charges against the Estonian – the same is unlikely to happen in Dotcom’s case. However, Nomm still has a “money judgment” of US$175m to contend with, a not inconsiderable amount that he will presumably never pay.

The conviction of Nomm is a considerable feather in the cap of U.S. authorities who indicate that Nomm has given them much more evidence than has been revealed thus far. Only time will tell how valuable that will prove.

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

TorrentFreak: No Pirate Bay Blockade in Sweden, Court Rules

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

tpbThe Pirate Bay is blocked by dozens of ISPs around Europe but anti-piracy outfits have always hoped that one day the notorious site would be rendered inaccessible in Sweden, its country of origin.

To that end, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry teamed up in a lawsuit last year designed to force Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget (Broadband Company) to block the site.

They claimed that the ISP should be held liable for the infringements of its customers, unless it blocks Pirate Bay.

Bredbandsbolaget flat out refused to comply, stating categorically that its only role is to provide customers with Internet access while facilitating the free-flow of information. The case went to trial and was heard in the Stockholm District Court during October. After nearly a month the Court has handed down its decision and its a huge win for the ISP and, indirectly, two famous pirate sites.

In a ruling handed down just minutes ago, the Stockholm District Court completely rejected rightsholder demands that Bredbandsbolaget should block its subscribers from accessing The Pirate Bay and streaming portal Swefilmer.

The Court reports that the case was heard in light of an EU directive which notes that member states shall ensure that rightholders have the possibility to ask for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to commit copyright infringement.

The District Court says that in its opinion Swedish legislation meets the requirements of the Infosoc directive. Furthermore, the Court also considers that the actions of Bredbandsbolaget do not constitute participation in crimes in accordance with Swedish law.

“A unanimous District Court considers, therefore, that it is not in a position to authorize such a ban as the rights holders want and therefore rejects their request,” said presiding Chief Magistrate Anders Dereborg.

Of course, there are higher courts in Sweden and it is very likely that’s where this case will end up. Today’s decision can be taken to the Svea Court of Appeal no later than December 18, 2015.

In the meantime the plaintiffs in the case must pay Bredbandsbolaget’s costs, expected to exceed US$160,000.

Breaking news story, updates to follow

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

TorrentFreak: Huge Security Flaw Can Expose VPN Users’ Real IP-Adresses

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

ip-addressFor the past several years interest in encrypted and anonymous communications has spread to a much wider audience.

VPN providers are particularly popular among BitTorrent users, who by default broadcast their IP-addresses to hundreds of people when downloading a popular file.

The goal of using a VPN is to hide one’s ISP IP-address, but a newly discovered vulnerability shows that this is easily bypassed on some providers.

The problem, uncovered by VPN provider Perfect Privacy (PP), is a simple port forwarding trick. If an attacker uses the same VPN as the victim the true IP-address can be exposed by forwarding traffic on a specific port.

The security flaw affects all VPN protocols including OpenVPN and IPSec and applies to all operating systems.

“Affected are VPN providers that offer port forwarding and have no protection against this specific attack,” PP notes.

For example, if an attacker activates port forwarding for the default BitTorrent port then a VPN user on the same network will expose his or her real IP-address.

The same is true for regular web traffic, but in that case the attacker has to direct the victim to a page that connects to the forwarded port, as Perfect Privacy explains in detail.

The vulnerability affected the setup of various large VPN providers, who were warned last week. This included Private Internet Access (PIA), and nVPN, who have all fixed the issue before publication.

PIA informs TorrentFreak that their fix was relatively simple and was implemented swiftly after they were notified.

“We implemented firewall rules at the VPN server level to block access to forwarded ports from clients’ real IP addresses. The fix was deployed on all our servers within 12 hours of the initial report,” PIA’s Amir Malik says.

In addition, PIA complimented Perfect Privacy for responsibly disclosing the vulnerability prior to making it public and awarded their competitor with a $5,000 bounty under its Whitehat Alert Security Program.

Not all VPN providers were tested so it is likely that many others are still vulnerable. Hopefully, these will address the issue in the near future.

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

TorrentFreak: Supreme Court Opens Door for Pirate Site Blockades in Germany

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

stop-blockedDomain name blocking has become one of the entertainment industries’ go-to methods for reducing online copyright infringement.

Blocking requests from both the music and movie sector are widespread around Europe, but until now Germany has been excluded.

However, this may soon change. In a landmark ruling the Supreme Court has today opened the door to German pirate site blockades.

The origin of the ruling dates back seven years when German music rights group GEMA, known for its aggressive anti-piracy stance, found music tracks on major file-hosting sites being distributed via the music linking site

After GEMA failed in its efforts to contact 3DL’s operators to deal with the infringement, the music group tried another tactic.

In a subsequent complaint, GEMA demanded that in order to reduce further copyright infringement, leading German ISP Deutsche Telekom should take technical steps to stop its customers from accessing

The ISP refused, stating that as a mere ‘dumb pipe’ it has nothing to do with the infringement on the site. Furthermore, blocking one site would simply lead to increasing numbers of similar demands, the ISP argued.

Together with a similar lawsuit against the site, the case eventually ended up at the Supreme Court which ruled on the issue today.

In its order the court argues that an ISP blockade is warranted if copyright holders have exhausted all their options to identify the operators or hosting providers of pirate sites.

The court also noted that it doesn’t matter if users can circumvent blockades. Simply rendering sites more difficult for the general public to access is sufficient.

GEMA is delighted with the decision and says it will be a great tool to combat online piracy.

“We welcome the judgment of the Supreme Court. This landmark decision was long overdue, since it leads the way in protecting our copyrights in the digital music market,” GEMA CEO Harald Heker says.

“At last we have legal clarity about the fact that ISP blockades of websites that offer illegal copyrighted music works en masse, are permitted. An important step to combat Internet piracy,” he adds.

It’s expected that the first blocking requests will be filed in the near future. While is no longer online, other high-profile pirate sites including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents are probably high on GEMA’s wish list.

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