Posts tagged ‘Copyright’

TorrentFreak: Movie Studios and Record Labels Target Pirate Bay in New Lawsuit

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

tpbIn 2009, the IFPI and several local movie studios demanded that Norwegian ISP Telenor should block The Pirate Bay. The ISP refused and legal action commenced.

A subsequent ruling determined that there was no legal basis for site blocking and in 2010 a rightsholder appeal also failed. If sites were to be blocked, a change in the law was required.

In May 2011 the Ministry of Culture announced that it had put forward proposals for amendments to the Copyright Act, to include web blocking, and on July 1, 2013 the new law came into effect.

After more than two years of threats, local and international copyright holders have now made good on their promises to use the new legislation to stamp down on piracy.

In a lawsuit filed at the Oslo District Court, Disney, Warner Bros. and Sony plus local producers and representatives from the recording industry are teaming up to sue eleven local ISPs. Also targeted in the action are the alleged operators of eight ‘pirate’ sites.

Although the sites are yet to be publicly revealed, The Pirate Bay is among them and site co-founder Fredrik Neij is named as a party in the case.

According to Dagens Næringsliv, studios and labels filed an initial complaint with ISPs back in April via anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance. It was sent to the country’s largest ISP Telenor plus others including Get, NextGenTel and Altibox.

The rightsholders’ demands are familiar. All the main local ISPs must block The Pirate Bay and related sites so that subscribers can no longer access the domains directly.

“We understand licensees’ struggle for their rights. For us it is important that the court must take these decisions, and that we do not assume a censorship role,” says Telenor communications manager Tormod Sandstø.

Also of interest is how the legal process is being handled. The Oslo District Court is dealing with the case in writing so the whole process is completely closed to the public. After processing the case during the summer, early estimations suggest that the court will have made its decision within the next 10 days.

The news follows several key Norwegian anti-piracy developments in 2015. In March, an investigation by Rights Alliance culminated in a police raid against local pirate site Norskfilm.

In July, Rights Alliance placed the blame for a piracy explosion firmly on the shoulders of Popcorn Time, with the group announcing last week that up to 75,000 users of the application could now be contacted by mail. The message they will receive remains unclear but comments from Rights Alliance during the past few days have leaned away from lawsuits.

Interestingly, Popcorn Time related sites are not among the batch of domains currently under consideration by the Oslo District Court as the service was not considered a priority when the original Rights Alliance complaint was being put together. Should the current blocking attempt prove successful, expect Popcorn Time domains to appear in an upcoming lawsuit.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrenting “Manny” Pirate Must Pay $30,000 in Damages

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

pirate-runningWhile relatively underreported, many U.S. district courts are still swamped with lawsuits against alleged film pirates.

One of the newcomers this year are the makers of the sports documentary Manny. Over the past few months “Manny Film” has filed 215 lawsuits across several districts.

Most cases are settled without of court, presumably for a few thousands dollars. However, if the alleged downloader fails to respond the damage can be much worse.

District Court Judge Darrin Gayles recently issued a default judgment (pdf) against Micheal Chang, a Florida man who stood accused of pirating a copy of “Manny.

Since Chang didn’t respond to the allegations the Judge agreed with the filmmakers and ordered Chang to pay $30,000 in statutory damages. In addition he must pay attorneys’ fees and costs bringing the total to $31,657.

While the damages are a heavy burden to bear for most, the filmmakers say that the defendant got off lightly. Manny Film argued that Chang was guilty of willful copyright infringement for which the damages can go up to $150,000 per work.

“Here, despite the fact of Defendant’s willful infringement, Plaintiff only seeks an award of $30,000 per work in statutory damages,” Manny Film wrote.

According to the filmmakers Chang’s Internet connection was used to pirate over 2,400 files via BitTorrent in recent years, which they say proves that he willfully pirated their movie.

“…for nearly two years, Defendant infringed over 2,400 third-party works on BitTorrent. In addition to Plaintiff’s film, Defendant downloaded scores of Hollywood films, including works such as Avatar and The Wolf of Wall Street.”

It is unlikely that the court would have issued the same damages award if Chang had defended himself. Even in cases without representation several judges have shown reluctance to issue such severe punishments.

For example, last year U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice ruled that $30,000 in damages per shared film is excessive, referring to the Eighth Amendment which prohibits excessive fines as well as cruel and unusual punishments.

“This Court finds an award of $30,000 for each defendant would be an excessive punishment considering the seriousness of each Defendant’s conduct and the sum of money at issue,” Judge Rice wrote.

On the other hand, it could have been even worse. The damage award pales in comparison to some other default judgments. In Illinois three men had to pay $1.5 million each for sharing seven to ten movies using BitTorrent.

Controversy aside, Manny Film believes that they are certainly entitled to the $30,000. They have requested the same amount in other cases which are still pending, arguing that the actual lost revenue is even higher.

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

TorrentFreak: Yandex Demands Takedown of ‘Illegal’ Music Downloader

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

githubYandex is a Russian Internet company that runs the country’s most popular search engine controlling more than 60% of the market.

Making use of the free music that could be found via its search results, in 2009 Yandex introduced its first music player. A year later the company launched Yandex.Music, a new service offering enhanced legal access to around 800,000 tracks from the company’s catalog.

In 2014 and after years of development, Yandex relaunched a revamped music platform with new features including a Spotify-like recommendation engine and licensing deals with Universal, EMI, Warner and Sony, among others. Today the service offers more than 20 million tracks, all available for streaming from music.yandex.ru.

1d-github

While the service can be reached by using an appropriate VPN, Yandex Music is technically only available to users from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Additionally, the service’s licensing terms allow only streaming.

Of course, there are some who don’t appreciate being so restricted and this has led to the development of third-party applications that are designed to offer full MP3 downloads.

In addition to various browser extensions, one of the most popular is Yandex Music Downloader. Hosted on Github, the program’s aims are straightforward – to provide swift downloading of music from Yandex while organizing everything from ID3 tags to cover images and playlists.

Unfortunately for its fanbase, however, the software has now attracted the attention of Yandex’s legal team.

“I am Legal Counsel of Yandex LLC, Russian Internet-company. We have learned that your service is hosting program code ‘Yandex.Music downloader’…which allows users to download content (music tracks) from the service Yandex.Music…,” a complaint from Yandex to Github reads.

“Service Yandex.Music is the biggest music service in Russia that provides users with access to the licensed music. Music that [is] placed on the service Yandex.Music is licensed from its right holders including: Sony Music, The Orchard, Universal Music, Warner Music and other,” the counsel continues.

“Service Yandex.Music does not provide users with possibility to download content from the service. Downloading content from the service Yandex.Music is illegal. This means that program code ‘Yandex.Music downloader’…provides illegal unauthorized access to the service Yandex.Music that breaches rights of Yandex LLC, right holders of the content and also breaches GitHub Terms of Service.”

As a result, users trying to obtain the application are now greeted with the following screen.

git-down

The Yandex complaint follows a similar one earlier in the month in which it targeted another variant of the software.

While the takedowns may temporarily affect the distribution of the tools, Yandex’s efforts are unlikely to affect the unauthorized downloading of MP3s from its service. A cursory Google search reveals plenty of alternative tools which provide high-quality MP3s on tap.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Italian ISPs to Block Popcorn Time

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

popcorntBranded a “Netflix for Pirates,” the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people over the past year.

The application is a thorn in the side of many copyright holders who are increasingly trying to contain the threat.

In Italy this has now resulted in a new blocking order issued by the Criminal Court of Genoa. The Court ruled that Popcorn Time assists copyright infringement and has ordered local ISPs to block several domain names.

The domains listed in the ruling include those of the two most used forks, popcorntime.io and popcorn-time.se, as well as the localized download page popcorntimeitalia.com.

While the ISP blockades will prevent people from downloading Popcorn Time from these sites, applications that have been downloaded already will continue to work for now.

Also, many other sites offering the same Popcorn Time software are still available. This means that the blockades will only have a limited effect.

Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer with the Sarzana and Partners law firm who specializes in Internet and copyright disputes, informs TF that Popcorn Time could successfully fight the order.

Sarzana references a recent case in Israel where the Popcorn Time block was overturned because it hinders freedom of speech and says he’s willing to represent the developers.

For now the developers of the main .io Popcorn Time fork are showing little interest in fighting the decision. Instead, they’d rather put their efforts into making sure that the blockade has minimal impact.

“While they are able to block the website, Popcorn Time is a standalone program, so once a user has it downloaded it is unlikely that blocks will cause many issues other than new users getting the program from our site directly or in some cases updates.”

“However, we try our best to have things in place to make these blocks effectively null and void,” the Popcorn Time teams says.

Just a few days ago the same developers urged Hollywood to start competing with Popcorn Time. However, for now we expect that blocking efforts and other legal actions will remain top priorities.

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 – 08/31/15

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

avengThis week we have five newcomers in our chart.

Avengers: Age of Ultron 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 (2) Avengers: Age of Ultron (Web-DL) 7.8 / trailer
2 (1) Mad Max: Fury Road 8.4 / trailer
3 (…) San Andreas (Web-DL) 6.4 / trailer
4 (…) Self/less 6.5 / trailer
5 (2) Aloha 5.3 / trailer
6 (…) Magic Mike XXL (HDRip) 6.2 / trailer
7 (…) Southpaw (HDrip) 7.8 / trailer
8 (…) Minions (HDRip) 6.7 / trailer
9 (5) Terminator Genisys (Subbed HDTV rip) 7.0 / trailer
10 (7) Pitch Perfect 2 6.8 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: When You’re Calling Culture Content, You’re Reinforcing The Idea Of A Container

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

copyright-brandedThe copyright industry has consistently used the word “content” for anything creative.

Just like most other things the copyright industry does, there’s a thought behind the choice of wording – a choice they hope that other people will copy, because it reinforces their view of the world, or rather, what they would like the world to look like.

When we use certain words for metaphors, the words we use convey meaning of their own. This is why you see the pro-choice vs pro-life camps on opposite sides of the abortion debate: both camps want to portray the other camp as anti-choice and anti-life, respectively.

In the liberties debate and the culture debate, there’s nothing of the sort. The copyright industry has been allowed to establish the language completely on its own, and therefore, we’re using terms today that reinforce the idea and the notion that the copyright industry is good and that people who share are bad.

That’s insane.

Stop doing that.

Stop doing that right now.

Language matters.

You’re on the other side of the pro-life camp and you’re willingly calling yourself “anti-life”. How are you expecting to win anything from that position?

One thing you can stop saying immediately is “copyright”. Call it “the copyright monopoly”, for it is a monopoly, and that should be reinforced every time the abomination is mentioned. Also, use the term “the copyright industry” – as in manufacturing copyright monopolies and profiting off them – as often as possible. Never ever talk about “Intellectual Property”, except when describing why it’s bad to do so, as using that term reinforces the idea that ideas can not just be contained, but owned – something that’s blatantly false.

If you have to use the IP term, let it stand for Industrial Protectionism instead. That’s a much more correct description. Never ever ever use the word “property” when you’re referring to a monopoly. Doing so is so factually incorrect that courts have actually banned the copyright industry from using terms like “property” and “theft” – and yet, they keep doing so. Playing along with that game is stupid, dumb, and self-defeating.

Today, I’ll focus on the word “content”.

You’ll notice that the copyright industry uses this word consistently for everything. There’s a reason for that: If you have content, you must also have a container.

Do you need a container for a bedtime story? Do you need a container for a campfire song? Do you need a container for a train of thought? Do you need a container for cool cosplay ideas?

Of course you don’t. They’re ideas shared, songs sung, stories told. The idea that they must have a container – because they’re “content” – is so somebody can lock up those stories told and those songs sung, and so we can buy the container with the “content” we desire, instead of just singing the songs and telling the stories unfettered.

Compare the mental imagery evoked by these two sentences:

“We need to fill this website with content.”

“We need to fill this website with the stories of people in the area.”

One is locked up, controlled, locked down, devalued. The other is shared, cultural, told.

The word “content” means that there must also be a “container”, and that container is the copyright industry.

Don’t ever use the word “content”. It’s as improductive as describing yourself as “anti-life”. Talk about songs, articles, stories, and ideas. Doing so brings new life to the stories you tell.

Above all, be aware of terms that have been established by the adversary to the Internet, to liberty, and to culture – and refuse using them. The copyright industry is not your friend.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Demands Extraordinary Measures to Prevent Piracy

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

cameraspyAt some stage the majority of content created by the world’s leading movie and TV companies enters the digital realm. Whether during production, post-production, marketing or distribution, the digitization of video is the inevitable outcome of technological advances.

As a result, dozens of companies are involved in shifting studio content around the world, either as part of the creative process or when finished material is made available to the public via platforms such as Netflix or Amazon.

Of course, every company that gets involved represents an additional weak link in the chain, with the potential for movies to be pirated before they’re ready for distribution (workprints, for example) or once they’re completed. Unsurprisingly, the MPAA works extremely hard to ensure that such leaks are kept to a minimum.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the documentation that accompanies the MPAA’s Content Security Model, a set of best practices aimed at companies entrusted with handling protected media and content. Amazon, one of the MPAA’s partners, has published the Hollywood group’s latest set of requirements.

Admittedly many of the MPAA’s demands will be already-established business practices for a big company like Amazon, but a few really stand out as examples of how far Hollywood is prepared to reach into its suppliers’ operations.

For example, in addition to carrying out background screening on all employees and third party contractors, the MPAA demands that all workers sign annual confidentiality agreements that forbid them from talking about protected content.

With an eye on local law, companies must also implement random searches of their workers for traces of MPAA content, including the removal of coats, hats and belts, the emptying of pockets, a full security pat-down, scanning with metal detectors and inspection of electronic devices.

Workers are also forbidden from entering/exiting premises with any digital recording devices such as USB drives, cameras and cellphones, while anyone bringing food into a production area must do so using a transparent bag or container.

And to ensure that no one tries to smuggle content out, companies such as Amazon are required to implement a worker dress code which bans the use of “oversized clothing” such as baggy pants or hooded sweatshirts.

Overseeing all of these precautions are any number of security guards, but not even they escape the eyes of the MPAA. Studio partners are also required to implement additional controls to ensure that their own security guards are “actively” monitored.

For workers with computer access there are dozens of rules and regulations (most making complete sense from an IT security perspective), but those thinking of smuggling out a file or two should perhaps reconsider. The MPAA insists that all movement of content, both internally and externally, should be subject to comprehensive logging, including username, timestamps, filenames, plus source and destination IP addresses.

The above represent just a few examples of the MPAA’s comprehensive requirements but no matter how stringent the rules, content leaks happen each and every year.

Whether that’s the handful of movie workprints that periodically make the headlines or the dozens of fully finished Oscar screeners hitting the web annually, leaks are here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future.

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

TorrentFreak: Offcloud Downloads Torrents to Google Drive and Dropbox

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

offcloudlogoDownloading torrents remotely is nothing new. Most of the popular torrent clients support this functionality, but for many users it’s too much of a hassle to configure it correctly.

This is where Offcloud comes in.

The new startup offers users a wide range of tools to download and backup files from video services and file-hosters, and recently added torrent support and Google drive integration as well.

The idea is simple and straightforward. Users simply paste a torrent link into their Offcloud account and the service then downloads the files right away.

One of the main benefits to users is that they can add torrents from work, school or on the road. After the torrent is downloaded to Offcloud’s server the files can be downloaded to a local computer or synced to Google Drive, Dropbox or an FTP server.

Once the files are synced people can access or play the files directly from the cloud, since Dropbox and Google Drive support online streaming for various media formats.

Google Drive Streaming
h4uflH4

Downloading files only to Offcloud is an option as well of course, as the service has a built-in media player.

The main downside of Offcloud is that it limits the number of downloads to two torrent links per week on a free account. This should be good enough for the casual user, but paid plans are also available starting at $1.99.

TF also asked the service about its seeding policy and the company clarified that it’s not a seedbox service.

“Offcloud does not have the ambition to be a seedbox service. We are not here to help BitTorrent uploaders, but rather to provide a simple cloud-based solution to users who simply wish to leech from BitTorrent in a fast and secure manner,” Offcloud’s spokesperson says.

The company tries to main torrent etiquette by uploading and downloading an equal amount of data. And thanks to the high bandwidth capacity the overall torrent swarm speeds will increase, at least temporarily.

“We usually aim at a 1:1 ratio for the sake of the BitTorrent swarm’s quality. Furthermore, our 10-Gbit nodes are truly boosting the swarm at the moment they are active on a certain torrent,” Offcloud notes.

TF tested the service which works as advertised. The torrents start quickly and download at much higher speeds than the average home connection, and they quickly appear in the designated Dropbox account or Google Drive.

In addition to torrents the service also downloads and converts videos from a range of other sites including YouTube, Vimeo, adult sites and most popular file-hosters.

People who want to take a look can head over to Offcloud to take it for a free spin.

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Is Down…

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

pirate bayThe Pirate Bay has become unreachable since a few hours.

It’s currently not clear what’s causing the problems. There might be a hardware issue, hosting problem or a software glitch, issues that have occurred many times in the site’s history.

What we do know is that the site’s domain names are not the culprit.

The Pirate Bay currently displays a CloudFlare error message across all domain names, suggesting that TPB’s servers are unresponsive.

tpbcferror

With the raid of last year still fresh in memory some fear the worst, but these concerns are unwarranted for now.

In fact, the site is still accessible via the Tor network (through http://uj3wazyk5u4hnvtk.onion/), including the popular Pirate Browser.

The Tor traffic goes through a separate server and works just fine.

TorrentFreak reached out to The Pirate Bay team for a comment on the situation and we will update this article if we hear back.

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

TorrentFreak: Universal: Smart Pirate Site Owners Get Round Restrictions

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

per-sundinFor many years Sweden was one of the most prominent battlegrounds in the global file-sharing wars, playing host to dozens of unlicensed sites including the notorious Pirate Bay. As a result, Universal Music Sweden MD Per Sundin knows a thing or two about piracy.

A key figure in the now-famous prosecution of The Pirate Bay, Sundin was one of the site’s harshest critics and one of many desperate to bring both the platform and its operators to their knees.

But despite a herculean effort from Sundin and others, The Pirate Bay not only lived through a trial and subsequent appeals, it outlived even its own founders who each served prison sentences for their crimes. Today the site may not quite hold the status it once did, but it’s certainly a major player in the file-sharing ecosystem.

If Sundin remains bothered by the Pirate Bay’s resilience he isn’t letting it show, but it’s clear that he’s picked up plenty of experience along the way. In an interview with MBW, Sundin suggests that no matter what obstacles are put in file-sharing’s way, pirates will always adapt.

“We will see piracy in the future,” Sundin says.

“The pirate site owners will get smarter and find ways around [restrictions]. If we close down one, another will pop up. That’s a fact of life.”

This admission from Sundin is not the usual thing one hears from high-powered music executives, especially those so close to the powerful anti-piracy forces of IFPI. However, Sundin is part of a revitalized local music market that projects Sweden’s success story onto the world stage, despite massive historical piracy.

According to figures from IFPI, the Swedish music revenues bounced from a low of US$144.8 million in 2008 to US$194.2 million in 2013. During the same period, digital music revenues increased from just 8% to a huge 70%, with subscription services accounting for 94% of the digital market.

“[In] 2009, we had The Pirate Bay trial and verdict; we had the [anti-piracy] enforcement directive implemented; and we had Spotify, which launched in October 2008. It was the perfect storm,” Sundin explains.

“Thanks to that – especially Spotify, I would say – we were taken out of the dark times. We went from bad boys to something much better.”

Despite Sundin’s comments concerning the difficulty of permanently blocking or shutting down sites, he remains optimistic about confronting piracy. However, rather than relying entirely on the stick, the industry veteran now openly acknowledges that beating the pirates at their own game is a better option.

“We have to help legal services, Spotify and others, be better,” Sundin says.

Interestingly – and this has been a talking point in recent weeks – Sundin also expresses concern surrounding the prevalence of ‘exclusives’ on legitimate services, such as those recently negotiated with Apple by Black Eyed Peas and Dr Dre.

“I think the exclusivity thing is dangerous – that’s my personal opinion. Hopefully we won’t see it so much,” Sundin says.

The Universal man’s thoughts are shared by Mark Dennis, Managing Director of Sony Music Sweden.

“We have to learn from what’s happened in the past: when people haven’t been able to consume music in the way they want, they turn to piracy. We’re just not learning!”

If piracy is to be kept under control long-term then such lessons will have to be learned, but whether the message will take a long or short time to sink in is another matter. History suggests later rather than sooner, but attitudes are changing.

Nevertheless, with appetites whetted, millions of people are now eagerly anticipating tomorrow’s super-advanced version of Spotify and other services that simply haven’t been envisioned yet. But whatever arrives, innovation is definitely the key, and one gets the impression that the Swedes really get that.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Blames Hollywood For Its Popularity

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

popcorntLast week several users of Popcorn Time were sued in the United States and this week a Norwegian anti-piracy group threatened to go after tens of thousands of local users.

It’s clear that copyright holders aren’t happy with the app, which allows people to stream pirated movies. However, according to the software’s developers Hollywood is to blame for its overwhelming success.

In a statement sent to TF the team behind the popular Popcorn Time .io fork say that film and TV-studios should compete with their app. That is, make a globally available streaming service where all the latest blockbusters and series are available.

“People are ready to pay a fee, but a lot of them currently refuse to pay for a petty catalog with country-specific restrictions,” the Popcorn Time team notes.

“The price can also be a hurdle for some people: $20 a month is not the same in Uganda and the United States. But obviously, the most problematic issue is the complete lack of legal availability in some places.”

Hollywood is still holding on to limited releases and regional roadblocks. This is something Netflix and other VOD providers are not happy with, and neither are consumers.

“Why would people in France wait two years to see a movie that’s already being broadcasted in the US, when they both are paying almost the same amount of money?”

According to Popcorn Time these artificial limitations drive people to break towards unofficial sources.

“The Internet has brought people closer, and they start to notice that some things aren’t acceptable. And then they turn to alternatives, even if it means diving into illegality.”

The developers themselves see the Popcorn Time software as a legitimate product but they realize that some users may be breaking the law. Ironically, the reason for breaking the law is so they can watch their favorite Hollywood entertainment.

Currently, this situation mostly benefits the popularity of Popcorn Time but with the right alternative for the right price, many won’t need to turn to piracy.

“Maybe it is time to consider the will of the people and offer them a legal, complete and useful service, no matter where they were born, instead of trying to punish people for… well, for wanting the see the content artists and industries are offering.

“Currently, piracy is fulfilling the demand of the people because the industry fails at the transition into the modern age. We think it’s as simple as that,” the Popcorn Time team concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: First Netflix 4K Content Leaks to Torrent Sites

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

netflixuhdWhile many average consumers can’t even play 4K content on their TV or computer, true video geeks are looking forward to every new release.

Thus far the offerings have been limited to adult content and 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, with Netflix and Amazon being the two key vendors. These online streams are well protected against pirates.

In fact, up until this week it was believed to be impossible to break the High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP) version 2.2 or higher. However, this may no longer be the case as the first 4K Netflix leak just appeared online.

The leak in question is the first episode of Breaking Bad and was released by the reputable group “iON.” The 2160p video file takes up 17.73 GB of space, which is roughly 50 times that of a traditional standard definition equivalent.

The image below shows the file being listed at a popular private tracker with just over a dozen people sharing it.

Breaking.Bad.S01E01.Pilot.2160p.NF.WEBRip.DTS.x264-iON
bb4k

The media info for the release shows that the episode has a bit rate of 41.3 Mbps and overall the video specs make it hard to play the file smoothly on the average computer.

At the time of writing the 4K leak is only available on private torrent trackers but it’s expected to eventually leak to public sites as well. It’s currently unknown if the release group broke HDCP 2.2 or if they found another way to capture the stream.

Leaked drafts of the 4K copy protection agreement between Sony and Netflix reveals that the streams are generally well-protected. They also include a watermark so that leaks can be traced back to the source.

“The watermark must contain sufficient information such that forensic analysis of unauthorized recorded video clips of the output video shall uniquely determine the account to which the output video was delivered,” the document reads.

It’s unclear whether the watermarks were included and if they were removed from the Breaking Bad video, but release groups are generally well-equipped to remove these type of markers.

Netflix informs TF that they are looking into the reported leak and the company will do its best to prevent similar breaches in the future.

“Piracy is a global problem. We, like others content providers, are actively working on ways to protect content featured on our site,” a Netflix spokesperson told us.

While 4K content is not going to be shared by the majority of online pirates, the first 4K leak from Netflix will certainly have Hollywood and the streaming service worried. Whether they can stop it has yet to be seen though.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Released From Jail But Immediately Re-Arrested

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

Back in June after a highly technical court hearing, a jury at the Appeal Court in Denmark again found Gottfrid Svartholm guilty of hacking IT company CSC.

The ruling meant that the Pirate Bay founder had no further avenues for appeal, despite continuing to protest his innocence.

However, due to how the appeals process played out, Gottfrid’s jail sentence was close to completion anyway, meaning that the Swede would be up for parole middle to late August.

Yesterday morning and after several long years Gottfrid completed his Danish prison sentence, but freedom didn’t await the Pirate Bay founder. Rather than leaving Denmark a free man, Gottfrid was immediately re-arrested by the police. The disappointment wasn’t entirely unexpected, however.

In June, Gottfrid’s mother, Kristina Svartholm, informed TorrentFreak that the Swedish Prison and Probation service had requested an arrest warrant for her son. The problem was that when Swedish authorities sent Gottfrid to Denmark after serving his earlier sentence, he hadn’t actually completed his sentence back home. Four weeks remained.

“[This was] never communicated properly to Gottfrid, neither from Sweden nor Denmark. We found out about it on our own,” Kristina informs TF.

Making matters worse, Gottfrid was only advised 48 hours before his supposed release date this week that in fact he’d remain in custody.

“Tuesday this week, two days before his release date (which was officially communicated to him only some two weeks ago) Gottfrid was informed that the Danish prosecutor had decided that he should be handed over because of the warrant,” Kristina informs TF.

Always a fighter, Gottfrid is in a Danish court this morning appealing his arrest and the decision to send him to Sweden, but news of the outcome has yet to reach Kristina. Swedish authorities previously filed a request for the remaining sentence to be served in Denmark but that was refused by the Danes.

If successful this morning Gottfrid might be able to serve the sentence in a Danish prison. Should the appeal fail, Gottfrid will be extradited back to Sweden where he is expected to serve around a month before being released.

What happens after his ultimate release will be up to Gottfrid, but he certainly won’t be returning to Denmark. The Pirate Bay founder is banned from the country for life, something that presents travel difficulties for a Scandinavian looking to visit countries elsewhere in Europe by land.

Nevetheless, plenty of other options remain open, including ones that simply require a screen and an Internet connection.

“What Gottfrid wants to do now, more than anything else, is to get back to his developmental work within IT (graphics etc),” Kristina previously told TF.

“And, of course, first of all: to sit by a keyboard again after nearly three years away from one.”

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

TorrentFreak: Tech Giants Want to Punish DMCA Takedown Abusers

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

copyright-brandedEvery day copyright holders send millions of DMCA takedown notices to various Internet services.

Most of these requests are legitimate, aimed at disabling access to copyright-infringing material. However, there are also many overbroad and abusive takedown notices which lead to unwarranted censorship.

These abuses are a thorn in the side of major tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft. These companies face serious legal consequences if they fail to take content down, but copyright holders who don’t play by the rules often walk free.

This problem is one of the main issues highlighted in a new research report (pdf) published by the CCIA, a trade group which lists many prominent tech companies among its members.

The report proposes several changes to copyright legislation that should bring it in line with the current state of the digital landscape. One of the suggestions is to introduce statutory damages for people who abuse the takedown process.

“One shortcoming of the DMCA is that the injunctive-like remedy of a takedown, combined with a lack of due process, encourages abuse by individuals and entities interested in suppressing content,” CCIA writes.

“Although most rightsholders make good faith use of the DMCA, there are numerous well-documented cases of misuse of the DMCA’s extraordinary remedy. In many cases, bad actors have forced the removal of material that did not infringe copyright.”

The report lists several examples, including DMCA notices which are used to chill political speech by demanding the takedown of news clips, suppress consumer reviews, or retaliate against critics.

Many Internet services are hesitant to refuse these type of takedown requests at it may cause them to lose their safe harbor protection, while the abusers themselves don’t face any serious legal risk.

The CCIA proposes to change this by introducing statutory damage awards for abusive takedown requests. This means that the senders would face the same consequences as the copyright infringers.

“To more effectively deter intentional DMCA abuse, Congress should extend Section 512(f) remedies for willful misrepresentations under the DMCA to include statutory awards, as it has for willful infringement under Section 504(c),” CCIA writes.

In addition to tackling DMCA abuse the tech companies propose several other changes to copyright law.

One of the suggestions is to change the minimum and maximum statutory damages for copyright infringement, which are currently $750 and $150,000 per work.

According to the CCIA the minimum should be lowered to suit cases that involve many infringements, such as a user who hosts thousands of infringing works on a cloud storage platform.

The $150,000 maximum, on the other hand, is open to abuse by copyright trolls and rightsholders who may use it as a pressure tool.

The tech companies hopes that U.S. lawmakers will consider these and other suggestions put forward in the research paper, to improve copyright law and make it future proof.

“Since copyright law was written more than 100 years ago, the goal has been to encourage creativity to benefit the overall public good. It’s important as copyright is modernized to ensure that reforms continue to benefit not just rightsholders, but the overall public good,” the CCIA concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Piracy: Hollywood’s Losing a Few Pounds, Who Cares?

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

factThis week it was revealed that Paul Mahoney, the former operator of streaming portal FastPassTV, is now facing a custodial sentence following his guilty plea before a Northern Ireland court.

After operating his sites for around six years, the prosecution claims that Mahoney made almost 410,000 euros ($471,500) in advertising revenue.

Extrapolating what was probably a good year for viewing numbers on FastPassTV, David Groome QC came to the conclusion that the 30-year-old potentially cost Hollywood around £120 million [$188m].

Following Mahoney’s guilty plea it’s unlikely that those numbers will ever be challenged. As a result, when the authorities and anti-piracy group FACT get their conviction, the public deterrent they’ve been looking for will be home and dry.

But despite looking forward to what is likely to be billed as a historic judgment, it appears that the industry still has work to do to get the man in the street onside. That became evident during an appearance by FACT Director General Kieron Sharp on the local BBC Radio Foyle

After discussing the background to the case, Sharp was confronted with an uncomfortable truth.

“I would imagine the problem for you Kieron in your job is that a lot of people out there – and we’re already seeing it in fact in the [listener] texts to the show this morning – is that [the public] don’t really see the victim in all of this,” the BBC presenter said.

“They see this as Hollywood losing a few pounds – who cares?”

If industry figures are to be believed, around 20% of the populations of several European countries are accessing content from sites such as Mahoney’s, so some lack of sympathy shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. That being said, Sharp’s response only raises more questions.

“Yes I know, that’s an unfortunate way of looking at things really. The big problem about this is that these people are all film fans. They want to watch films and television programs,” he said.

“The best example I can give you is Game of Thrones which is made in Northern Ireland as you know. Huge success story for Northern Ireland, for the people who are working there and getting employment in the film industry.

“They’re the sort of programs that won’t get made in the future if you think that all this is about is a few quid out of the pockets of those in Hollywood.”

While choosing Game of Thrones as an example makes sense from a local perspective, it’s a confusing selection from a piracy standpoint.

As pointed out here on dozens of occasions, Game of Thrones is the most pirated TV show in history. Yet season after season the show returns, each time bringing in more and more legitimate viewers despite smashing several piracy records. Even the show’s director thinks that piracy doesn’t hurt the production.

Nevertheless, when challenged by the interviewer Sharp maintained his position.

“An ordinary film coming out of Hollywood costs $60m to $100m to make and they have to make a return on that. If these films don’t get made then people won’t have jobs, it’s as simple as that. It’s quite straightforward, absolutely no doubt about it whatsoever,” he said.

Sharp wouldn’t be drawn on whether Mahoney should be sent to prison when he’s sentenced next month, noting that’s for the court to decide. But whatever happens to him, problems persist, not only with the countless other people like Mahoney scattered around the globe, but also with public perception. Still, FACT is hopefully that people can be persuaded to do the right thing.

“They can be [prosecuted] but we’re more interested in converting those people into paying customers,” Sharp said. “They’re film fans, we want them to enjoy the product at its best and not from some cheap ripoff copy.”

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

TorrentFreak: T-Mobile Refuses to Block The Pirate Bay

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

pirate bayAs the poster-child of online piracy, The Pirate Bay has become one of the most censored websites on the Internet in recent years.

Most recently the Austrian Internet provider A1 was ordered by the Commercial Court of Vienna to block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay.

In addition to various domain names of the notorious torrent site, the court order also requires the Internet provider to block three other “structurally infringing” sites; Isohunt.to, 1337x.to and h33t.to.

Taking advantage of this momentum, local music rights group LSG sent its lawyers after several other large ISPs urging them to follow suit, or else.

A letter with a ‘demand’ to block The Pirate Bay and others was sent T-Mobile and Drei, among others. However, without a court order directed at them the providers are not all eager to comply.

Helmut Spudich, spokesman for T-Mobile, says that his company has no plans to implement new blocking measures. “We will not to comply with this request and access to The Pirate Bay will not be blocked,” Spudich told Futurezone.

The decision of the Commercial Court of Vienna only applies to A1, so T-Mobile sees no legal obligation to comply with the request.

Instead, T-Mobile notes that the authorities “should implement clear legal regulations with regard to Internet blocking in Austria.”

“We don’t want to block our customers to be blocked inadvertently and would like a clarification on the correct procedure,” Spudich adds.

Several other Austrian Internet providers have received the same letter but thus far none have publicly stated that they are prepared to voluntarily block The Pirate Bay on their network.

The Pirate Bay is not the first site to be targeted in Austria. Earlier this year the Supreme Court ordered several leading Austrian ISPs to block the major streaming sites Movie4K.to and Kinox.to.

This order also clarified that the Internet providers will have to pay the costs for future blockades, which may make ISPs more hesitant to comply without protest.

Whether copyright holders will indeed take T-Mobile and other ISPs to court to broaden the existing blockade has yet to be seen.

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

TorrentFreak: Aussie Piracy Notices Delayed But Lawsuits Are Coming

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

warningAfter years of wrangling, on September 1, 2015, Australian ISPs will take the historic step of implementing a new anti-piracy scheme, one that will see Internet users issued with escalating warning notices designed to bring a halt to their pirating ways.

Well, at least that was the plan when a draft anti-piracy code was laid down in April. Almost predictably, however, that deadline will come and go without event.

The problem – and this will come as zero surprise to those who have followed this process for the past several years – is one related to costs.

Money, money, money

Since the beginning of negotiations, rightsholders have insisted that ISPs should pick up varying percentages of the bills incurred when sending piracy warnings to their subscribers. Equally, ISPs have insisted that if rightsholders want notices sent out, they should be the ones to pay.

This dispute has brought the parties to deadlock several times during years of negotiations, and has derailed talks completely more than once, most recently in 2012. However, this year – with the government breathing down their necks – rightsholders and ISPs agreed most aspects of how the notices would be handled, but left the issue of costs until another day.

That day has now arrived and still there are disputes. With the launch of the scheme supposedly just next week, ITNews reports that during an industry briefing this morning it was revealed that the parties are still arguing over who will pay for the 200,000 notices set to go out in the scheme’s first year.

For their part, rightsholders think that the ISPs should help with the costs, in part because it is their customers carrying out the infringements. They also believe that if ISPs foot part of the bill, they will be keen to keep costs down.

On the other hand, ISPs insist that if the notices prove effective in cutting piracy and driving up sales, rightsholders will get the benefit so should therefore pay the bill.

Countering, rightsholders also point to the bigger picture, one in which ISPs are increasingly becoming the conduit for providing entertainment content to subscribers.

“As ISPs increasingly become content providers, the business imperative to make sure people are valuing those services will become more and more important [to them],” says Foxtel director of corporate affairs Bruce Meagher.

So how much is the whole thing likely to cost? According to figures obtained by ITNews, there is dispute there too.

Too expensive to reduce piracy?

ISPs say that the bill could amount to $27 per IP address targeted, while rightsholders suggest that the figure would be more like $6. A report commissioned by the parties earlier this year concluded that the cost will be closer to the $27 suggested by the ISPs.

That cost is too high. As previously seen in New Zealand, “strikes” schemes with high costs are rendered pointless.

“We saw that in New Zealand where the government mandated $25 per IP address, and no-one used the scheme,” Meagher says. “We’ve got to work out a way of setting a price that encourages the scheme to be used.”

If in doubt, send the lawyers out

But even though agreement could take a while to reach, there are those in the entertainment industry already looking ahead to what might happen once people start receiving warning notices. Speaking with SBS, Village Roadshow co-founder Graham Burke says that if the notices don’t prove enough of a deterrent, legal action will be the next step.

“Yes, [piracy] is wrong. [Downloaders] have been warned, and sent notices that they’re doing the wrong thing. Yes we will sue people,” Burke said.

Asked by interviewer Marc Fennell whether there is any fear of a backlash should the industry start suing single parents and grandmothers (as they have done in the past), Burke dismissed the concerns.

“It was really just a couple of instances of a bad news day, where [the press] picked up a couple of instances of a single pregnant mother,” he said.

But would just a couple of those stories prove damaging?

“Not if it’s seen in the context that it is theft, and they have been doing the wrong thing, and they’ve been sent appropriate notices, and they’ve been dealt with accordingly. We’re certainly not going to be seeking out single pregnant mothers,” Burke said.

Confronted with the likelihood that some people will simply hide their activities by using a VPN, Burke played down the fears.

“I think that if people are appealed to in the right way, they’ll react appropriately,” he said.

Site blocking

Finally, after site-blocking legislation was passed earlier this year, Burke has now confirmed that his company will take action soon.

“We are going through the legal preparation at this stage and will be ready in October to go to the courts and ask them to block sites,” he concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Streaming Site Operator Accused of £120m ‘Piracy Fraud’

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

In May 2011, police in Northern Ireland reported seizing £83,000 and computer equipment following a raid in Londonderry. The operation was the culmination of an investigation carried out by the Hollywood-funded anti-piracy group Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

In February 2015, Paul Mahoney from Carnhill, Londonderry, was charged with offenses connected with operating now-defunct streaming links site FastPassTV and discussion and linking forum BedroomMedia. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and was bailed to appear at a later date.

In June, 30-year-old Mahoney changed direction, pleading guilty to all four charges against him including allowing the public to view copyrighted movies without rightsholder permission, conspiracy, and generating hundreds of thousands in illegal advertising revenue.

Mahoney was up in court again yesterday for a pre-sentence hearing and its becoming increasingly clear how much trouble he’s in.

After operating various sites for around six years, the prosecution claims that Mahoney made almost 410,000 euros ($471,500) from his endeavors, while simultaneously claiming state benefits worth around 12,000 euros ($13,800). When his house was raided, police found almost £82,400 ($129,000) in cash hidden away.

fastpass

During the hearing in Derry’s crown court, prosecutor David Groome QC laid out the alleged scale of the 30-year-old’s offending while describing the financial implications as “staggering”.

Taking a single six-month period during which visitors to Mahoney’s sites viewed movies 1.1 million times illegally, Groome took the figures and ran with them, painting a somewhat scary picture for the court.

“During the six-year life of defendant’s business that equates to something like movies being viewed on 12 million occasions. If you consider it is about £10 to go to the cinema or about £10 to buy a brand new DVD upon its release, it means the defendant’s websites enabled users of it to view about £120 million [$188m] worth of property,” Groome said.

While acknowledging that not every view would represent a lost sale, the prosecution noted that Mahoney had taken a number of actions since 2007 to avoid having his sites closed down. Cease and desist notices issued by FACT appear to have been ignored and police arrested him twice, yet still he continued with his operations.

Defending Mahoney, Martin Rodgers QC said his client’s partial blindness meant that he was bullied at school, events that led to him becoming a virtual bedroom recluse for around 10 years.

“His constant and only companion during that period of time was in fact his computer. In one sense, he essentially lived in a bubble for a period of time,” Rodgers said.

Interestingly, the defense addressed the prosecution’s claims that Mahoney generated large revenues from advertising companies by questioning why they weren’t being prosecuted too.

“They entered into agreements that if anyone visited the site they would pay, even though from a cursory view of the site it would be apparent this was facilitating criminal offenses,” Rodgers said.

But despite the claims of massive profits, Mahoney’s lawyer rejected the notion that his client had enjoyed the high-life.

“There were no Rolex watches, no Ferraris outside and no evidence of an extravagant lifestyle. This enterprise took on a life of its own and became far more successful than this defendant ever envisaged,” he said.

While Mahoney faces a potential custodial sentence next month, FACT says that there will be no claim for compensation. Instead, they hope that the prosecution alone will send a clear message to others considering a similar path.

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

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Wants U.S. Govt to Buy and Store its Servers

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

megauploadWhen Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were raided early 2012, the U.S. Government seized 1,103 servers at Carpathia’s hosting facility in the United States.

Nearly four years have since passed and after all this time the servers are still gathering dust at a Virginia warehouse.

In recent weeks the issue has come to the forefront again. QTS, the company that owns the servers after it acquired Carpathia hosting, asked the court if it can get rid of the data which costs them thousands of dollars per month in storage costs.

This motion triggered a reply from former Megaupload user Kyle Goodwin who still hopes to retrieve his files and a few hours ago Megaupload’s legal team also submitted a comment, asking the court to add it as an official response.

Megaupload points out that the data on the servers must be preserved. Not only for the users’ sake, but also because they contain crucial evidence. The company plans to use this to its benefit in the criminal proceedings as well as the pending cases against the MPAA and RIAA.

The DOJ previously allowed the data hosted in Europe to be destroyed, they argue. If the same happens to the Carpathia servers various examples of Megaupload’s “copyright neutral technology” may disappear.

“The database servers can show safe harbor compliance. The web servers can show the copyright neutral nature of the interface design. The content servers in combination with other data can show fair use and substantial non-infringing uses and users,” Megaupload writes.

Thus far the U.S. Government has only copied a very small percentage of the total data and Megaupload fears that this may be “cherry-picked” to favor the Department of Justice’s case.

“The Government is burdened with a weak case to present in a criminal trial and it wants to prevent a strong defense,” Megaupload’s legal team writes.

“The Government cannot criminally and civilly indict all the revenues arising out of all the global users of the Megaupload cloud storage site in the largest copyright case in history while at the same time cherry picking a sliver evidence to retain for trial and throwing away the rest to manifestly prevent the mounting of a fair defense,” they add.

Megaupload’s legal team asks the court to instruct the Government to buy the servers and transfer them to a facility where they and other authorized parties can access them.

“The Government should bear the cost of such purchase and preservation,” the legal team write.

Before ruling on Megaupload’s request, District Court Judge Liam O’Grady first has to decide whether to accept its request to be heard in the matter. The Government is also likely to chime in, as they’re probably not in favor of the proposed solution.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police ‘Hijack’ Ads on 251 Pirate Sites

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

cityoflondonpoliceOver the past two years City of London Police’s PIPCU unit has been working with the music and movie industries to target sites that provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

Under the banner “Operation Creative”, last year they struck a deal with online advertising companies with the goal of replacing ads on suspected pirate sites with police banners.

The banners in question inform users that “illegal downloading is a crime” and stress the site they’re browsing has been reported to the authorities.

Police banner
pipcu-ad-mp3

The campaign has been active for more than a year but PIPCU only selectively releases information about its scope. However, thanks to a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request we now know how many sites are on the “Infringement Watch List.”

PIPCU informs TF that 151 domain names are being targeted by the advertisement replacement effort. These domains have been reported to the police by copyright holder groups, which is also the case for PIPCU’s other anti-piracy initiatives.

Last year we sent a similar FOI request and at the time 74 sites were included, meaning that the number being targeted has doubled over the past year. Unfortunately, the police are not willing to share the actual domain names as this may increase the number of visitors to these sites.

“This is an ongoing investigation and disclosure to the public domain would raise the profile of those sites unlawfully providing copyright material. This would enable individuals to visit the sites highlighted and unlawfully download copyright material and increase the scale of the loss,” we were told.

PIPCU further informed us that 134 advertising agencies are participating in the program, up from 84 last year. All of these companies have a UK presence but many operate internationally.

It remains unclear what percentage of the total ads on pirate sites are being replaced. The banners appear rarely in the wild so we assume that the volume is relatively low.

A few weeks ago PIPCU released some statistics on the effectiveness of the campaign. Based on a small sample they concluded that the UK’s top ad spending companies decreased their ‘pirate’ advertising by 73%.

Whether this made any serious impact on the overall revenue of pirate sites is unknown, but PIPCU’s Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe praised the collaboration.

“Working closely with rights holders and the advertising industry, PIPCU has been able to lead the way with tackling copyright infringing sites by successfully disrupting advertising revenue,” he said.

Next year we’ll see if the program continues to expand, and if so, at what rate.

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

TorrentFreak: 75,000 Popcorn Time Users in Crosshairs of Anti-Piracy Group

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

Less than 18 months since its original launch in 2014 and the controversial Popcorn Time software is still making headlines. The application’s colorful and easy to use interface has proven a hit with users and now anti-piracy groups in the United States and Europe are fighting back.

Last month Norwegian anti-piracy group Rettighets Alliansen (Rights Alliance) blamed Popcorn Time for a piracy explosion in the country and warned that it was monitoring pirates. More information is now being made available.

Norway has a population of just over 5.1m and it’s estimated that around 750,000 obtain video from illegal sources. However, it’s now being claimed that a third of those – 250,000 – are using Popcorn Time on a weekly basis. Rights Alliance says it has been watching them closely.

According to Rights Alliance chief Willy Johansen, his organization is now in possession of database containing information on between 50,000 and 75,000 suspected Popcorn Time pirates. The only question now is what the group will decide to do with the data.

“We are sitting today with a record of some users of [Popcorn Time] in Norway. These are records we can lawfully use, and it could be that someone gets a little surprise in the mail in the form of a letter. It’s probable that something will happen in the fall,” Johansen says.

If Rights Alliance follows through with its threats it will mark the first time that regular users have been targeted since copyright law was tweaked two years ago.

In 2013 a change in legislation enabled copyright holders to apply to the government for permission (granted to the Hollywood in Nov 2013) to scan file-sharing networks for infringements. Other changes mean that harvested IP addresses can now be converted to real-life identities with the help of the courts and ISPs.

But according to Bjørgulv Vinje Borgundvåg at the Ministry of Culture, yet more changes could be on the way.

“Two years ago, Parliament adopted an amendment providing Rights Alliance and the people who own these intellectual property rights to take action, and to ask the court for compensation for abuse of their intellectual property. We are now considering making further legislative changes to protect intellectual property from being abused online,” Borgundvåg told NRK.

In the meantime, however, groups like Rights Alliance, the MPA and their Hollywood affiliates have to deal with the law as it stands today. They have been granted permission to harvest IP address information by the country’s Data Inspectorate but obtaining the identities behind those addresses will require further work.

“In relation to the legislation we have in Norway, Rights Alliance is fully entitled to collect IP addresses of Popcorn Time users. This is not problematic as we see it,” explains Inspectorate Director Bjorn Erik Thon

“Rights Alliance may collect IP addresses, but to find out the identities of who is behind them requires a trial,” he notes.

However, according to law professor Olav Torvund, even getting that far is likely to provide headaches.

“This is not straightforward,” Torvund explains.

“Rights Alliance must determine which IP addresses have been used. Most Norwegian users have [regularly changing] dynamic IP addresses which do not necessarily identify the user.”

And even if users are successfully identified, legal problems persist.

“One must have acted intentionally or negligently and known or understood that material is being shared with others [when using Popcorn Time],” Torvund says

“It is not necessarily so easy to prove. In other words, it’s a long way to the finish and there are several problems to overcome.”

While Rights Alliance are known to go after both site owners and users elsewhere in Scandinavia (there were arrests in Denmark last week), it seems unlikely that they will take a troll-like stance with Popcorn Time users in the way that the makers of Dallas Buyers Club have.

Still, the fall isn’t too far away, so time will soon tell.

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

TorrentFreak: Former Megaupload User Asks Court to Return His Files

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

megaupload-logoNearly four years have passed since Megaupload’s servers were raided by the U.S. Government, and still it remains uncertain if former users will ever be able to retrieve their files.

Soon after the raids former Megaupload user Kyle Goodwin, a sports reporter who used Megaupload to store work-related files, took legal steps to secure his work.

Helped by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mr. Goodwin filed at least six requests asking the court to find a workable solution for the return of his data, but thus far without success.

The U.S. hasn’t been particularly helpful in the matter as it previously suggested that disadvantaged users shouldn’t bother the Government with complaints, but sue Megaupload instead.

Earlier this month QTS, which owns the servers after they acquired Carpathia hosting, asked the court if it could wipe the data. The company still spends $5,760 per month to preserve Megaupload’s files but doesn’t want to carry this burden forever.

QTS’ request is understandable and the company is not the only third-parties waiting for a solution. Following up on the company’s request, EFF and Kyle Goodwin are asking the court to come up with a solution so he and other former Megaupload users can retrieve their lost files.

“Getting access to the video files I had stored in my Megaupload account would be valuable for my business, my customers, and for me personally,” Goodwin tells the court.

“If I am able to access those files, I will continue to make original video productions from them […] and use the videos in documentaries and promotional materials. I believe the revenue I could earn from the use of the video files will help me grow my business.”

Goodwin’s attorneys has filed a response (pdf) to QTS’ request to dispose of the data. They stress to the court that it’s important to come up with a solution. None of the involved parties can or wants to take responsibility, so the court has to step in.

“It is unclear who currently controls Mr. Goodwin’s property. QTS says it does not have any interest in the data and cannot access it.”

“The government claims it has released control over the servers and the data on them. Megaupload, for its part, says it cannot afford to turn the servers back on and allow customers like Mr. Goodwin to retrieve their data because the government controls its financial assets.”

The uncertainly about the data is not Mr. Goodwin’s fault though, the lawyers argue. They therefore ask the court to come up with a solution.

“It is clear, however, that through no fault of his own, Mr. Goodwin does not control his property, and that this Court has the authority to remedy that. Mr. Goodwin respectfully requests this Court exercise that power and grant him, and those similarly situated, the return of their property.”

How such a data return would work is unclear. Technically the data can be mirrored and hosted elsewhere but someone has to pick up the bill. Thus far negotiations on the issue haven’t resulted in a workable solution.

Also, putting Megaupload’s data back online is likely to cause concern among copyright holders. The MPAA previously stated that users can have their files back as long as access to copyrighted files is blocked, which may be easier said than done.

The court will now have to review the situation once more and is expected to respond to Goodwin’s request during the weeks to come.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Music Site Op Pleads Guilty, Faces Five Years in Prison

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

Over the past five years, Operation in Our Sites, the U.S. initiative tackling copyright-infringing websites, has produced several arrests and the seizure of thousands of domains.

In October 2014, ICE Homeland Security Investigations took action against a pair of large U.S.-based websites. RockDizMusic.com and RockDizFile.com were both involved in large-scale distribution of unauthorized music, with the former presenting itself as a music database and the latter its file-hosting partner.

At the time ICE didn’t respond to requests for comment but it eventually transpired that the sites’ alleged operator, Rocky P. Ouprasith of Charlotte, N.C., had been arrested.

According to papers filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Friday, Ouprasith operated both sites from around May 2011 through to his arrest last October.

Structure

During that period Ouprasith sourced pirated content online and uploaded it to RockDizFile, while encouraging others to do the same. Ouprasith curated the unauthorized content and then presented it for download on RockDizMusic, which in turn acted as a user-friendly front for RockDizFile. ‘Affiliates’ who uploaded music were paid based on the number of times their files were downloaded.

RockDizMusic.com
rockdizmusic

“To operate these websites, OUPRASITH rented and used computer servers in the United States and abroad. OUPRASITH hosted the website RockDizMusic.com on servers originally located in France and later in Canada,” court papers read.

“One of OUPRASITH’s linking websites, at RockDizFile.com, operated from a computer server in Illinois furnished by the webhosting provider, GigeNET. A second linking website used by OUPRASITH, at SfShare.se, was hosted
from a computer server in Russia.”

Profit

According to the prosecution, Ouprasith’s aim was to profit from his websites. He sold premium subscriptions to RockDizFile at a cost of up to $90.00 per year, which offered faster downloads and VIP access. Also generating revenue were several deals he had up with to nine advertising firms.

This resulted in decent traffic, reportedly 1.65m visits from 937,000 unique visitors in January 2014. However, that doesn’t appear to have made Ouprasith a particularly rich man. Skype messages found on a laptop seized by ICE had the 23-year-old stating that in 2013 he made around $80k but spent $60K running the business.

RIAA and DMCA

Nevertheless, according to the RIAA, in 2013 RockDizFile emerged “as the second largest online file-sharing site in the reproduction and distribution of infringing copies of copyrighted music in the United States.”

RockDizFile.com
rockdizfile

This growth caused both the RIAA and IFPI to target the site with hundreds of DMCA takedown notices but apparently Ouprasith failed to process them in a legally acceptable manner. A Homeland Security investigation found that although files were taken down, the same reappeared elsewhere on the site.

“In other words, OUPRASITH never took down the infringing files pursuant to the DMCA takedown notices. Instead, he simply created a new hyperlink to the same illegal content,” a statement of facts reads.

Arrest and guilty plea

On October 15, 2014, HSI executed a warrant to search Ouprasith’s residence in North Carolina. In Chicago, the RockDizFile server was seized, as were ancillary servers in both the Netherlands and France. Ouprasith appears to have cooperated immediately.

“After being advised of his rights orally and in writing, OUPRASITH waived them and agreed to speak with investigators,” papers read.

What followed was a near complete confession, including that he made between $3,000 and $4000 profit per month and that in response to DMCA notices Ouprasith would “delete the reported links to the content listed in the notices and then re-upload exactly the same content under new hyperlinks.”

In his guilty plea, Ouprasith admits for-profit infringement exceeding $2.5m but less than $7m, plus various other copyright charges including pre-release music piracy. He also agrees to forfeit almost $51,000 and any property used to commit and facilitate the infringement.

When sentenced later this year, Ouprasith faces up to five years in federal prison.

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 – 08/24/15

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

madmaxThis week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Mad Max: Fury Road is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

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

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (1) Mad Max: Fury Road 8.4 / trailer
2 (…) Avengers: Age of Ultron (HDrip) 7.8 / trailer
3 (2) Aloha 5.3 / trailer
4 (…) A Brilliant Young Mind 7.3 / trailer
5 (3) Terminator Genisys (Subbed HDrip) 7.0 / trailer
6 (7) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (HDTS) 8.0 / trailer
7 (4) Pitch Perfect 2 6.8 / trailer
8 (10) Insurgent 6.6 / trailer
9 (9) Furious 7 7.6 / trailer
10 (5) Hot Pursuit 4.9 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: uTorrent Explores Options to Make Users Pay

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

utorrent-logo-newWith roughly 150 million monthly users uTorrent is by far the most used BitTorrent client.

This dazzling number is a dream for most software companies as it presents major revenue potential. The problem is, however, that uTorrent is free.

In recent years uTorrent’s parent company BitTorrent Inc. has monetized the client through advertisements and bundled software. This works, but it’s also an annoyance for users and the company itself, as it associates the torrent client with riskware.

If it’s up to the uTorrent team, the added software will soon be a thing of the past. Over the past several months the people at BitTorrent Inc. have been discussing the possibility of replacing this revenue stream.

“Specifically, we want to find a way to improve uTorrent for our customers while financially supporting the amazing team that works every day to make uTorrent great.”

The uTorrent team says that it’s never been happy with the bundled software approach and wants to try alternatives during the weeks to come.

“As you know, uTorrent is a free piece of software. To support it, we use bundled software and offers to offset the cost that would otherwise be paid directly by the user,” they note.

“We’ve never been satisfied with this revenue model. It requires compromises that detract from a premium user experience. We want to find a model that adds value to our product and our users. We want to find a better way.”

What the alternatives might be is not yet clear, but the uTorrent team says it will be testing a few options during the next few weeks and months.

In doing so, their goal is to make uTorrent the best client out there while being transparent about the changes in the revenue model.

In addition the team says that there will be options for every budget. This suggest that uTorrent will start to charge users, at least some of them.

Or to use their own wording: “Provide our users with clear options for supporting uTorrent (with options for every budget)”

utorrmove

While we can only speculate for now, one option could be to ask for a monthly, yearly or even a lifetime subscription fee for future versions of uTorrent. With 150 million users, this can be quite profitable even if it costs as little as 99 cents per year.

A similar subscription (but more expensive) model is already in use for BitTorrent Sync, which is developed by the same company.

Another alternative is a significant fee for a lifetime subscription/license, but this may be too much of a hurdle for the average torrent user, so that seems less likely.

Similarly, a voluntary “donation” based revenue stream seems destined to fail, as previous experiments have shown that torrent users are generally hesitant to contribute freely.

Alternatively, BitTorrent Inc. may come out with a trimmed down version of the client with more limited functionality. Users could then upgrade this to a standard version if they choose to pay for it.

Again, we can only speculate for now, but the fact that the uTorrent team is hinting at asking users for money is destined to cause a heated debate.

We contacted BitTorrent Inc. for additional details but haven’t heard back from the company at the time of publishing.

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