Posts tagged ‘Copyright’

TorrentFreak: Nintendo Nukes Fan-Made Super Mario 64 HD Browser Game

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

mario64While 3D games had been around for a couple of decades prior to its release, the launch of Super Mario 64 alongside Nintendo’s then flagship console N64 in 1996 was a gaming moment to behold.

Coupled with its revolutionary controller, the N64’s hardware placed flesh on Mario’s traditional 2D bones, bringing the iconic character into the 3D world in a way no other game had previously managed.

Little wonder then that the gaming media was filled with delight late last week when news broke that the game’s most iconic level had been recreated by developer Roystan Ross.

Not only had Bob-Omb Battlefield been brought back to life in full HD, but also via the Unity Engine meaning that players were given the first ever chance to play the game via a web browser – a black magic achievement by 1996 standards.

But just as dozens of stories were heralding the return of the king, Nintendo has gatecrashed the party and shut down the fun.

In a complaint sent by Nintendo of America via attorneys at the Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP lawfirm, the game company has ordered CDN outfit Cloudflare to disable access to the site hosting the popular browser version of the game.

“The copyrighted work at issue is Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 video game (U.S. Copyright Reg. No. PA0000788138), including but not limited to the audiovisual work, computer program, music, and fictional character depictions,” the company told Cloudflare.

“The web site at http://mario64-erik.u85.net/Web.html displays, and allows users to play, an electronic game that makes unauthorized use of copyright-protected features of Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 video game. Nintendo requests that CloudFlare, Inc. immediately disable public access to http://mario64-erik.u85.net/Web.html.”

In an email to the person operating the server (not Ross himself), Cloudflare said that it had revealed the name of the actual host to Nintendo’s lawyers and forwarded the complaint to the host itself.

“We have provided the name of your hosting provider to the reporter. Additionally, we have forwarded this complaint to your hosting provider as well,” Cloudflare advised.

The complaint from Nintendo was enough to take the browser version immediately offline.

“Thank you for forwarding the request to me. I was hosting this work for a good friend who is an avid fan, and built the project from scratch as a tech demo. As mentioned on the original blog post, and noted in various big name media press, there is no intention to monetize this, ever,” the hoster told Cloudflare.

“All back-end properties hosting the original files have been updated and files removed. I trust that the issue is fully rectified.”

But while the browser edition is now well and truly offline following Cloudflare’s intervention, the desktop versions remain available hosted by Mediafire and with mirrors provided by Microsoft.

Whether they’re next on the takedown list remains to be seen but Nintendo’s actions thus far will be viewed as a real loss by gaming fans around the world. The release of a browser version of a single level of this iconic game was a real achievement and consigning it to history a crying shame.

That being said, it seems more than likely that replacements won’t be far away.

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

TorrentFreak: Filmmakers Demand Cash From Popcorn Time Pirates

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

popcorntAfter suing hundreds of alleged downloaders in the United States, the makers of Dallas Buyers Club expanded their legal campaign to Europe late last year.

The first cases were brought in Denmark, with anti-piracy lawfirm Maqs demanding fines of roughly 250 euros per infringement.

After collecting several successful payments the scheme is now getting traction locally, especially following reports that Popcorn Time has become more popular than Netflix.

“You could say that the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ letters have been a success in the number of inquiries that have come in,” Maqs’ lawyer Jeppe Brogaard Clausen told DR, noting that new letters are still being sent out for Dallas Buyers Club.

One of the filmmakers interested in the “speculative invoicing” scheme is Danish producer Ronnie Fridthjof. Together with other industry players he’s determined to go after Popcorn Time users.

“I had hoped that politicians and the police would take care of such matters, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened. When my business is threatened, I am more or less forced to do something,” Fridthjof tells TV2.

While Popcorn Time is specifically mentioned as a target, the action will affect regular BitTorrent users as well. After all, Popcorn Time streams films by connecting to regular torrent swarms.

The new fines are expected to be sent out this summer. The first ones will be around 1,000 to 2,000 Danish krone ($150 to $300), and will increase if recipients fail to respond. As a last resort the filmmakers are considering whether to take alleged pirates to court.

According to some users streaming films via Popcorn Time is seen as something in a legal gray area. Fridthjof, however, has no doubt that it’s against the law.

“It is absolutely crazy that people believe it is legal. It is in no way! It is comparable buying and selling counterfeit goods right next to an official store,” he says.

Similarly, the filmmaker doesn’t buy the excuse that people use Popcorn Time because the legal services don’t have the latest films. That doesn’t justify grabbing something for free, he says.

“We must be able to choose which business model we want, and it must not be guided by unlawful acts. We will not make a business model that competes with free content,” he says.

Legal threats against Popcorn Time users are not new. In the U.S. lawsuits against BitTorrent pirates are quite common, and in Germany Popcorn Time related ‘fines’ have also been issued.

Responding to these developments, various Popcorn Time variants have warned their users over possible legal repercussions and have started offering anonymizing options. Both popcorntime.io and popcorn-time.se now have built-in VPN support.

For now there are still many people using Popcorn Time without anonymizing services, so there will still be plenty of people to fine.

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

TorrentFreak: KickassTorrents Celebrates ‘Happy Torrents Day’

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

HTDWith millions of unique visitors per day KickassTorrents (KAT) has become the most-used torrent site on the Internet, beating even The Pirate Bay.

The site also has a very active community of torrent aficionados from all over the world. On March 30th the site staff and its members come together to celebrate their beloved pastime on “Happy Torrents Day.”

The event was started by KAT administrator Mr. Pink. Initially it was a small celebration but over the years it has turned into a recurring tradition with many thousands of people participating.

TF spoke with Mr. Pink who notes that Torrents Day is a celebration of file-sharing. With the news being dominated by lawsuits, domain name trouble and torrent takedowns, this day is focuses of the positive.

“The main purpose is to get everybody to believe that what we do is worth fighting for. Everybody is equal. Yes it started on Kickass with us but it’s not about us. It’s about every person that believes in file sharing,” Mr. Pink says.

In recent weeks a lot of torrents have disappeared from the site as a result of an increase in DMCA takedown notices. The idea behind Torrent Day is to get people focused on something positive again.

“The DMCA is clamping down on us hard lately. And it’s becoming tougher so we need to give the userbase something to believe in,” Mr. Pink notes.

In celebration of the festive day several challenges and initiatives have been launched. A Happy Torrents Day album has been released for example, as well as the first issue of KAT’s official magazine “The KATalyst.”

happy-torrents-day

Besides KAT, Torrents Day is spreading to other sites as well. ExtraTorrent, another large community, previously joined in and is expected to do the same again this year.

If everything goes according to plan Torrents Day 2015 is expected to drive a lot of traffic to the site and perhaps set several new records.

“The support from other sites and the KAT team has been amazing,” Mr. Pink says. “We expect the site’s traffic and upload records to be broken today. We have a few ideas up our sleeves to make that happen.”

Records or not, judging from the activity on KAT’s website there’s definitely plenty of interest. So to all those who are celebrating: Happy Torrents Day!

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

TorrentFreak: New Pirate Bay Blockade Foiled By Simple DNS Trick

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

One of the major strategies of the world’s leading entertainment companies is to have sites like The Pirate Bay blocked at the ISP level. The idea is that when subscribers can’t access ‘pirates’ sites they will flock to legal alternatives.

While there can be little doubt that some will take the opportunity to test out Netflix or Spotify (should they be available in their region), other users will be less ready to take the plunge.

In Spain, where online piracy is reportedly more widespread than most other European countries, users faced a Pirate Bay problem on Friday when a judge ordered the country’s service providers to block the site within 72 hours.

Some ISPs blocked the site immediately, provoking questions of where to get free content now that The Pirate Bay is off-limits. Of course, there are plenty of alternatives but for those a little more determined, access to TPB was just a click or two away.

The problem is that for whatever reasons, thus far Spanish ISPs are only implementing a Pirate Bay ban on the most basic of levels. In the UK, for example, quite sophisticated systems block domain names and IP addresses, and can even automatically monitor sites so that any blocking counter-measures can be handled straight away. But in Spain users are finding that blocks are evaded with the smallest of tweaks.

By changing a computer or router’s DNS settings, Spaniards are regaining access to The Pirate Bay in an instant. Both Google’s DNS and OpenDNS are reported as working on several Spanish discussion forums.

“I’ve [followed the instructions] and in two minutes you can enter Pirate Bay. And I am a computer illiterate and have no idea what a DNS is,” a user of a gaming forum writes.

Another user, who moved away from his ISP’s DNS a while ago, wasn’t even aware that any block had been put in place.

“If the block is using DNS, I would not call that blocking, really. I’ve been using the DNS of Google for years and I have not even noticed anything,” he notes.

While Spaniards will be pleased that the blockade is easily circumvented, it’s the reaction to the news that’s perhaps the most interesting aspect. News that the site is being blocked is hardly being welcomed, but there is a definite absence of panic among those who are supposed to be some of Europe’s most hardcore pirates.

Whether that’s chiefly down to the weak blocking method being employed by some ISPs is up for debate, but having seen blocks do little to stop file-sharers across Europe – particularly in the UK where the practice is widespread – the Spanish probably see no real reason to break into a cold sweat just yet.

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 – 03/30/15

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

interstThis week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Interstellar is the most downloaded movie for the third 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) Interstellar 8.8 / trailer
2 (…) Cinderella 7.6 / trailer
3 (2) Exodus: Gods and Kings 6.2 / trailer
4 (10) Seventh Son 5.7 / trailer
5 (3) Into The Woods 6.2 / trailer
6 (9) Paddington 7.4 / trailer
7 (6) Fifty Shades of Grey 3.9 / trailer
8 (8) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 6.0 / trailer
9 (4) Focus 6.9 / trailer
10 (…) Kidnapping Mr Heineken 6.2 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Once You Accept File-Sharing Is Here To Stay, You Can Focus On All The Positive Things

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

diskettePeople started sharing files with each other – text, games, music – as soon as there was a storage medium you could copy.

Originally, this meant the compact cassette which was used for music and programs for the first home computers. Cassette decks at the time had a convenient copy mechanism where you’d insert an original in one slot, a blank tape in another slot, and press a prominent “copy” button to get an analog replica – not perfect, if it was music, but if it was a digital computer file, it would be readable and usable. The one-push copy was even a sales point.

Everybody had their circle of friends who contributed to the common collection between them, and we’d always be carrying some copy of something else we anticipated was in demand. People would copy something from you more or less every day. You would copy things from several people pretty much every day.

Copyparties were huge fests where hundreds of teens (or pre-teens) rented a school building for a weekend, brought their entire catalog of tapes and diskettes, an equivalent amount of blank media, and just copied everything they could from each other instead of sleeping. These copyparties frequently had pallets of Jolt Cola for sale.

In this setup, completely before the Internet, if something in high demand was published, it would take three days on average for that piece of media to get to everybody who wanted it.

In other words, in a complete shutdown of the Internet where people go back to sharing by copying media by hand, the very best the copyright industry can hope for is three days until saturation instead of today’s one day. It’s almost funny how the copyright industry still delays releases by weeks if not months between neighboring countries and think they can determine who gets to see what when. That was never the case, and won’t ever be the case.

File sharing is here to stay and the reason it’s still traceable is mostly because the risk of getting caught by stale, obsolete, and outdated laws is considerably lower than the risk of getting struck by lightning. There’s no real push to improve it, like there was right after Napster shut down. But let’s imagine for a moment if there was a real push to move sharing back under the radar.

Today, the storage of an ordinary mobile phone can effectively store all music except the most narrow. And with fourth-generation Bluetooth, it can wirelessly – and tracelessly! – share all of it to all mobile phones in a 50-meter range. Subway cars, cafés, even cars at red light stops become torrent swarms without somebody acting – or even noticing. The notion of being able to stop, control, or contain this files under “what’s the weather like on your planet?”.

Not only that, but the best-generation scenario that the copyright industry can ever hope for is the equivalent of a shutdown of the entire internet. That would mean a regression from today’s 24-hour saturation to a pre-internet 72-hour saturation. Think about that. The best conceivable scenario for the copyright industry, if they really manage to destroy the entire Internet, is that it would take three days instead of one day for something to get shared to everybody who wants it.

Moore’s Law further suggests that in a decade or so, an ordinary mobile phone will also have capacity to store most TV and movies ever made.

So once you accept that file-sharing is here to stay for good, and that any attempt to contain it is a Canutian attempt to order the tide back, you can let go of that and instead focus on all the positive aspects of that development:

The income is there for artists. In fact, more than twice the income is there for artists with file-sharing. There’s no need to fret and worry about that development, no need to hunt license fees for every copy manufactured without a license. Rather, as soon as you realize that chasing license fees for every copy is actually a cashflow net negative, you’ll start to chill and realize the revenue is still there. (Well, not for the parasitic middlemen: not for the actual copyright industry. But artists have always hated those with a passion.) As a significant bonus, you won’t be turning your customers into enemies.

But more importantly, it means that every human being has 24/7 access to humanity’s collective knowledge and culture, and that every human being is able to add to that pool. That’s the equivalent of when the first public libraries opened in 1850, but on an enormously larger scale. Even though the copyright industry is trying again and again to burn this Library of Alexandria, it’s worth more than pause to consider what a huge leap ahead for humanity this really is.

And while the copyright industry may order the tide held back, waging war against future generations is rarely a winning proposition in the long run.

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: Cox Refuses to Reveal Financials in “Repeat Infringer” Piracy Case

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

cox-logoEvery month copyright holders and anti-piracy groups send hundreds of thousands of takedown notices to Internet providers.

These notifications have to be forwarded to individual account holders under the DMCA law, to alert them that their connection is being used to share copyrighted works without permission.

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

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

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

The case is a critical test for the repeat infringer clause of the DMCA and the safe harbor protections ISPs enjoy. In recent weeks both parties have started the discovery process to gather as many details as they can for the upcoming trial.

Cox, for example, is looking into the ownership of the 1,000 works for which they received seven million DMCA takedown notices. In addition, the ISP also wants an expert opinion on the source code of the Rightscorp’s crawler that was used to spot the alleged infringements.

For their part, BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music have asked for details on Cox’s policy towards repeat copyright infringers and extensive details on the company’s financials. The ISP believes the latter request is too broad and as a result is refusing to produce the requested documents.

In a response the music companies have filed a motion asking the federal court to force the ISP to comply (pdf). Among other things, they argue that the financial details are needed to calculate damages and show that Cox has a financial motive to keep persistent pirates on board.

“The financial information that Cox refused to produce is directly relevant to Cox’s strong motivation for ignoring rampant infringement on its network because ignoring this infringement results in a financial benefit to Cox,” they argue.

“Moreover, Cox’s financial motivation for refusing to take meaningful actions against its repeat infringing customers is important to both the knowledge element of contributory infringement and the financial benefit element of vicarious liability,” the music groups add.

In its response Cox states that the rightsholders’ demands are too broad (pdf) since the documents requested include those related to the ISP’s market share, capital expenditures, profits per customer for each service, and so forth. According to Cox most of the information is irrelevant to this case.

“Plaintiffs’ document requests seek virtually every financial record that Cox maintains about its internet Customers and its provision of internet services,” Cox notes.

The ISP says it’s willing to share some financial detail but with a far more limited scope than demanded by the rightsholders.

“To be clear, Cox has been and remains willing to produce high-level, aggregate financial data of the kind that courts permit in cases involving statutory copyright damages, for example corporate tax returns. But Plaintiffs have never offered to entertain even minor limitations to the scope of their discovery requests, making any compromise effectively impossible,” the ISP notes.

The court has yet to decide how many of its financial secrets Cox must reveal but judging from the demands being made from both sides, it’s clear that we can expect more fireworks during the months to come.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wanted Less Fair Use In Copyright Curriculum

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

gr3During the summer of 2013 we voiced our doubts about an initiative from the Center for Copyright Information (CCI).

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

The curriculum was drafted in collaboration with iKeepSafe and aims to teach kids the basics of copyright. Unfortunately, the lesson materials were rather one-sided and mostly ignored fair use and the more flexible copyright licences Creative Commons provides.

These concerns were picked up by the mainstream press, creating a massive backlash. The CCI and other partners emphasized that the pilot was tested with an early draft and promised that the final curriculum would be more balanced.

In the months that followed the lesson plans indeed got a major overhaul and last summer the “Copyright and Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens” curriculum was finalized.

As reported previously, the new and improved version was indeed expanded to discuss fair use principles and Creative Commons licenses. However, as far as Hollywood is concerned it now includes too much discussion on fair use.

TorrentFreak received a copy of a leaked email the MPAA’s Howard Gantman sent to various insiders last summer, explaining what happened. It starts off by mentioning the negative response to the leak and states that the MPAA and RIAA will try to keep a low profile in future, probably to prevent another wave of critique.

“After there was serious negative commentary on twitter, blogs and by news columnists who are not strong supporters of copyright last fall when a draft version of the curriculum was leaked accidentally by iKeepSafe – a determination was made to try to release this in a way that would keep a low profile for any MPAA or RIAA involvement,” Gantman writes.

The copyright holder groups and CCI decided to let iKeepSafe and its PR firm handle the media, something which eventually came to pass. Continuing the conversation Gantman explains that the lesson materials were heavily edited to include a broader and more diverse perspective on copyright.

“The curriculum that has been produced also went through numerous rounds of edits and debate involving a wide range of organizations with differing views on copyright,” Gantman writes.

According to the MPAA, the end result is a compromise that includes more fair use than they had wanted, but still good enough to teach kids how to behave ethically on the Internet.

“So the end result contains sections on fair use that are more extensive than we would use if we drafted the curriculum ourselves. But overall, the effort will hopefully lead to an active program within our schools to help get kids to understand what it means to behave ethically on the Internet,” Gantman adds.

By comparing the first pilot materials with the final curriculum it becomes clear that nearly all additions are about fair use.

Grade 4 lesson handout
shareinggrade4

For example, where children were initially warned against using copyrighted images and music from the Internet in Powerpoint presentations, they are now told that this is totally fine, as long as the material is only shown in class.

Similar changes have been made throughout the entire curriculum, as we documented in our earlier coverage.

The question that remains is whether these extensive changes would have been made if the pilot materials hadn’t leaked in advance. That will probably remain a secret, but at least it’s clear that Hollywood got more fair use than they hoped for.

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

TorrentFreak: Why Game Of Thrones Will Be The Most Pirated TV-Show, Again

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

got5Mid April the first episode of Game of Thrones’ fifth season will find its way onto dozens of torrent sites.

Like previous years, a few hours later millions of people will have downloaded this unofficial release.

Traditionally, pirates have used “availability” as an excuse to download movies and TV-shows from illegal sources. In some countries there is simply no legal option available, the arguments often go.

To remove this piracy incentive HBO has made sure that the new Game of Thrones series is available in as many countries as possible. The company recently announced that it will air in 170 countries roughly at the same time as the U.S. release.

This decision is being framed as an anti-piracy move and may indeed have some effect. However, availability is not the only reason why so many people choose to download the show from unauthorized sources.

In fact, if we look at the list of countries where most Game of Thrones downloaders came from last year, we see that it was legally available in all of these countries.

Data gathered during the first 12 hours of the season 4 premiere revealed that most downloads originated from Australia, followed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands. So there must be something else going on.

Pricing perhaps?

The price tag attached to many of legal services may be too high for some. In Australia, for example, it cost $500 to follow last year’s season and in the U.S. some packages were priced as high as $100 per month.

This year there is some positive change to report in the US, as iTunes now offers a $15-per-month subscription without the need for a cable subscription. But if the steep prices remain in most countries it’s unlikely that the piracy rates will drop significantly.

This is nothing new for HBO of course. The company has probably considered offering separate and cheaper Game of Thrones packages, but while this may result in less pirates it will also severely hurt the value of their licensing deals and full subscription plans.

And aside from the financials, piracy also has it upsides.

Game of Thrones director David Petrarca previously admitted that piracy generated much-needed “cultural buzz” around his show. Similarly, Jeff Bewkes, CEO of HBO’s parent company Time Warner, noted that piracy resulted in more subscriptions for his company and that receiving the title of “most-pirated” was “better than an Emmy.

All in all it’s safe to say that Game of Thrones will be crowned the most pirated TV-show again in 2015. The only uncertainty right now is whether it will break last year’s BitTorrent “swarm record,” which currently stands at 254,114 simultaneous sharers.

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

TorrentFreak: After Eliminating Music Piracy, Norway Hits ‘First’ Movie Site

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

norkseDue to the borderless nature of the Internet, online piracy is very much an international affair. The world’s most popular torrent and streaming sites attract audiences from all around the globe.

Nevertheless, there are hundreds of smaller sites that have a much more geographically restricted aims in mind as they cater to mainly local audiences. Norway’s Norskfilm.net was one such site.

The site appeared on the radar of anti-piracy group Rights Alliance (Rettighetsalliansen) during the past year although at one point appears to be have been hosted in the United States. Offering international movies and TV shows on top of local content and subtitles, Norskfilm soon became the subject of a criminal investigation.

Following hundreds of tweets announcing the latest movies, last month the site’s Twitter account fell silent and soon after the site itself disappeared. Rights Alliance chief Willy Johansen now says that was due to his organization closing down its very first ‘pirate’ website.

“This is the first time we have succeeded in halting a page operated from Norway,” Johansen told local media Friday.

Lawyer Torje Arneson confirmed that Vestfold Police had raided the home of a 20-year-old man and seized computer and telecommunications equipment. After questioning the man confessed and was subsequently charged with copyright infringement offenses.

While Norwegian police have previously investigated ‘scene’ groups and anti-piracy companies have chased down key individuals in special file-sharing cases, in recent years raids against websites have been pretty much non-existent.

Instead, groups like Rights Alliance have focused on pushing for fresh legislation enabling them to monitor file-sharing networks and have ISPs block sites at the subscriber level.

But according to Johansen it’s still not enough. As it stands today the flow of pirate movies simply cannot be stopped and with the advent of services such as Popcorn Time and their increasing popularity in Scandinavia, there can only be one solution.

“I think we need a change of legislation,” Johansen says.

But is that really needed? According to figures from the music industry, almost certainly not.

During December 2014 music industry group IFPI conducted a nationwide survey among under 30-year-olds and discovered that just 4% of respondents were using illegal file-sharing platforms to obtain music. A similar 2009 IFPI survey returned a figure of 70%. The reason for the drop? Improved legal music platforms.

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

But as highlighted again last month, the movie industry is still painting itself into a corner. Instead of making content freely available from the start, its windowing business model ensures that the public is kept waiting for months to be granted access to content. This only fuels piracy.

Fix that and there will not only be no need for new laws in Norway, but also less need for Rights Alliance to shut down its second pirate movie site.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders ISP to Disconnect Internet Pirates

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

Half a decade ago the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) ended legal action against local ISP Eircom when the ISP agreed to force a so-called “three strikes” regime on subscribers.

The agreement saw IRMA-affiliated labels including Sony, Universal and Warner tracking Eircom subscribers online and Eircom forwarding infringement notices to alleged pirates. It was envisioned that those caught three times would be disconnected from the Internet.

In a follow-up move IRMA tried to force another ISP, UPC, to implement the same measures. UPC fought back and over the past several years the matter has dragged on through the Irish legal system.

In January 2015 the case was again before the Commercial Court, with IRMA looking to force a so-called “graduated response” scheme onto UPC and the ISP trying to avoid one and its costs.

The High Court handed down its ruling Friday and it amounts to a massive victory for the labels, a depressing defeat for UPC, and a major concern for the rest of Ireland’s ISPs.

Brushing aside arguments by UPC that it’s not an ISP’s job to police its subscribers’ activities online, Justice Brian Cregan sided almost entirely with the labels.

“The current generation of writers, performers and interpreters of music cannot have their livelihoods destroyed by advances in technology which allow persons to breach their constitutional rights with impunity,” he said.

After ordering UPC to implement a “three strikes” system including the disconnection of repeat offenders, the Judge then informed the ISP it would be picking up most of the bill.

According to Independent.ie the system will cost between 800,000 euros and 940,000 euros to set up. UPC offered to pay 25% of these costs but the Judge disagreed and ordered the ISP to pay 80%.

But it doesn’t end there. Yearly running costs are estimated to be between 200,000 and 300,000 euros or, to put it another way, close to one euro for each of UPC’s 360,000 subscribers.

Then, in a move apparently aimed at keeping costs down, the Judge ordered that the number of warning notifications going out to subscribers should be capped at 2,500 per month instead of the 5,000 originally proposed. That means that even if the staggering setup costs are ignored, each notice could cost 10 euros to send out.

The case was adjourned until next month to allow UPC and the labels to prepare submissions on how Justice Cregan’s order will be implemented. In the meantime the rest of Ireland’s ISPs will be nervously checking their bank balances in the event that they too are required to implement a similarly costly system.

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

TorrentFreak: Block Pirate Bay in 72 Hours, Spanish Court Tells ISPs

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

When it comes be being blocked on copyright grounds, no site in the world can come close to the ‘achievements’ of The Pirate Bay.

The infamous ‘pirate’ domain is blocked in more than a dozen countries including the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Belgium and Portugal, to name just a few.

After a ruling today from Madrid’s Central Administrative Litigation Court No. 5, the torrent site can now add Spain to its ever-growing collection.

Due to the site’s failure to respond to rightsholder requests to remove links to copyrighted material in a timely manner as required by Spain’s copyright law, ISPs are now required to block their subscribers from accessing the site.

According to a statement issued by Promusicae, the trade association that represents more than 90 percent of the Spanish recorded music industry, the decision comes two and a half years after the Association of Intellectual Rights Management (AGEDI) submitted a complaint against Neij LMT Holdings, the company behind several Pirate Bay-related domains.

“It is the first blocking of a website dedicated to pirating music and other content that takes place in Spain under the so-called Sinde Law,” the group said in a statement.

According to Elmundo the injunction requires ISPs to block thepiratebay.org, thepiratebay.net, thepiratebay.se and thepiratebay.com within 72 hours.

Early this year ISP Vodafone blocked The Pirate Bay in Spain believing that it was required to do so. Amid confusion, Vodafone lifted the block and said it would wait for a warrant before blocking the site again.

From early next week the site should be inaccessible to most Internet users in Spain, a situation likely to spark traffic to other key sites and the take up of VPN services.

Like all countries in the world, Spain had a taste of a Pirate Bay free world
after the site was shutdown in December 2014. Almost two months passed before it reappeared at the end of January.

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

TorrentFreak: DHS / ICE and City of London Police Make Piracy Fight Official

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

Some of the first major signs that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) had entered the online piracy fight came with the shuttering of streaming site NinjaVideo and the seizing of several piracy-related domains in the summer of 2010. Months later a torrent search engine was also targeted.

By January 2014 a total of 2,713 domains had been taken down on various infringement grounds and as a result the now infamous ICE seizure banner has been viewed in excess of 122 million times.

On the other side of the Atlantic, City of London Police have also forced the suspension of hundreds of domains alleged to be involved in copyright and trademark infringement. In particular the integrated Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has generated plenty of headlines over the past couple of years, many of them relating to file-sharing, video streaming and similar operations.

After dealings dating back 10 years, ICE and City of London Police this week decided to formalize their “special relationship” with the signing of an official Memorandum of Understanding focusing on their shared interest in reducing IP related crime.

Signed by Homeland Security Investigations’ London Attaché Matthew Etre and City of London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard, the MOU focuses on enhancing collaboration on major investigations between the two law enforcement bodies.

“International cooperation among law enforcement agencies is crucial to effectively combating intellectual property crime,” said Etre.

“This memorandum of understanding between HSI and the City of London Police formalizes a long-standing and mutually beneficial partnership in the fight against these global criminal networks.”

ICE says that with their shared focus on tackling IP crime the launch of PIPCU in September 2013 brought a “new dimension” to the trans-Atlantic partnership. Just over year later the partnership was bearing high-profile fruit.

cityoflondonpoliceAfter a pristine copy of The Expendables 3 appeared online ahead of its release in 2014, an HSI referral led to PIPCU arresting two men last November in connection with the leak.

Collaboration like this will continue, the agencies say, with HSI and PIPCU agents now meeting twice yearly in the Hague, Netherlands, to exchange intelligence on websites distributing content illegally.

“Our partnership with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigation has already directly led to the suspension of hundreds of illegally operating websites and the arrest of several people,” said Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard.

“I look forward to the MOU we have signed taking our partnership to a new level of collaboration which in turn will make life more difficult for intellectual property criminals who continue to offend in our two countries and many others around the world.”

PIPCU’s most recent file-sharing related arrest came last month when the unit raided the world’s most prolific UFC and WWE content uploader. Known online as Sir Paul, the man was arrested at his Leicestershire home after uploading thousands of shows using BitTorrent. No ICE involvement was detailed at the time, but it’s likely that a complaint originating from the United States prompted the move.

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

TorrentFreak: Popular Torrent and Streaming Sites Blocked in Denmark

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

stop-blockedFor nearly a decade Denmark has been a testbed for pirate site blockades. The first blocks were ordered back in 2006 after music industry group IFPI filed a complaint targeting the Russian MP3 sites AllofMP3 and MP3sparks.

Not much later Denmark became the first European country to force an ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay.

After some small additions during the years that followed, a Danish Court has now ordered another round of pirate site blocks, the largest one thus far.

Following a complaint from the local Rights Alliance (RettighedsAlliancen) group the blocklist was updated with 12 popular torrent, streaming and MP3 download sites.

The new domains are free-tv-video-online.me, watchseries.lt ,solarmovie.is, tubeplus.me, mp3vip.org, rarbg.com, extratorrent.cc, isohunt.to, eztv.ch, kickass.to, torrentz.eu and music-bazaar.com.

Due to a recent agreement the sites will be blocked by all ISPs, even those not mentioned in the lawsuit. Late last year Rights Alliance and the telecommunications industry signed a Code of Conduct which ensures that blockades are put in place country-wide.

Speaking with TF, Rights Alliance head Maria Fredenslund says that their primary goal is to limit piracy through education. For this reason, the blocking page includes links to legal stores and services.

“Right Alliance doesn’t merely take an enforcement approach. We want to understand user behavior offer people legal alternatives,” Fredenslund says.

“We are quite happy that there are so many people who are looking for online entertainment. Our goal is to steer them in the right direction, instead of simply blocking access,” she adds.

For the affected sites there will be a drop in Danish visitors. Interestingly, however, not all site owners are disappointed.

TF spoke with the operator of one of the torrent sites on condition of anonymity. He says that these blocking efforts are free advertising and that users can still access the blocked domains through proxies or anonymizing services.

“Blocking is the greatest thing that can happen to a site. It is free advertising for your site. People want the things they can’t have,” the operator says.

“Whoever is blocking the sites is actually doing us a favor by telling the users that they can’t open the site, thus making the users want to open the site even more.”

Rights Alliance sees things differently and points to the results of a test on the effectiveness of blocking efforts.

“There are clear signs that our approach works. A recent test revealed that if people were warned that they had attempted to visit an unauthorized site, 84% chose not to continue,” Fredenslund tells us.

danishnudge

The test in question was conducted at various Danish schools. Instead of completely blocking access the schools inserted a notification which allowed users to visit legal alternatives or continue to the illegal sites. The majority of the people who saw this notice decided not to visit the page.

Whether the result will also translate to people’s non-monitored home connections is not clear. In any case, the new blockades in Denmark are throwing up an extra hurdle.

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

TorrentFreak: “VPN Friendly” Aussie Pirate Site Blocking Draft Unveiled

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

stopstopDuring December 2014, Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked the Australian Cabinet to approve the development of a new legal mechanism which would allow rightsholders to obtain site-blocking injunctions against ISPs. Today that legislation was introduced to parliament.

Kept under wraps until this morning, the site-blocking elements of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 are likely to please rightsholders with their significant reach.

Injunctions against providers

In order to apply for an injunction against an ISP, rightsholders need to show that the provider in question provides access to “an online location” outside Australia and that the “location” infringes or facilitates infringement of copyright. The location’s primary purpose must be to infringe copyright, “whether or not in Australia”.

Aside from the rightsholder and ISP, operators of “locations” (the word ‘site’ is not used, presumably to add breadth) will be given the option to apply to become party to any proceedings.

Once an injunction is handed down against an ISP it will be required to take “reasonable steps” to disable access to the infringing site. What amounts to reasonable will almost certainly be the subject of further discussion as any over-broad moves could result in collateral damage and bad PR.

Issues determining whether sites/locations become blocked

Currently there are 11 areas that the Court will examine when deciding whether to hand down an injunction. The key issues involve intent, in particular whether a location/site’s primary purpose is to infringe and the flagrancy of any infringement.

In a nod to BitTorrent and similar indexes around today (Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and Usenet sites, for example), the Court will consider whether the location “makes available or contains” any “directories, indexes or categories of the means to infringe, or facilitate an infringement of, copyright.”

The Court will also consider whether the operator of the “location” demonstrates “disregard” for copyright. In the case of The Pirate Bay, for example, that should be easy to show but for others such as KickassTorrents – which removes masses of content following rightsholder request – the line becomes more wavy.

That being said, removing content alone won’t be enough to save a site from the blocklist. The Court will also take into consideration whether a site has already been blocked on copyright infringement or related grounds anywhere else on the planet. That immediately puts at least 110 UK-blocked sites in the spotlight.

Other issues to be considered are more focused on the needs of the public, such as whether blocking a resource would be “proportionate”, in the public interest, or likely to have a “an impact” on third parties. Who will be allowed to have an input into these matters is not detailed but participating in court proceedings could prove prohibitively expensive for smaller groups.

Additional matters

The draft caters for injunctions to have a limited duration, and be rescinded or varied upon application. While ISPs will be expected to spend money on implementing injunctions, they won’t be liable for any costs in relation to injunction proceedings, unless they wish to take part. Unless rightsholders go overboard or there is public outcry, it seems unlikely that Aussie ISPs will choose to do so.

VPN friendly

While the draft is now up for debate and amendment, changes are reported to have been introduced as late as last week, delaying its introduction. According to SMH the legislation was worded in such a way that VPN providers could have been eligible for blocking if the Court decided they were facilitating infringement.

“In an area such as this if you are not really specific you end up catching a lot more stuff than you are potentially targeting,” a source explained.

Of course, the current draft could still scoop up a VPN provider if it marketed itself as a service designed for piracy, but there are few if any that are that naive today.

Overall

As it currently stands the draft appears to have ‘teeth’ and the scope to take down any significant ‘pirate’ site or service on the planet, at least as far as regular Aussie Internet subscribers are concerned and provided their ISPs have the technical ability.

Another rightsholder-pleasing aspect of the Bill is the lack of limits being placed on the number of sites that can be blocked in a single injunction. While it may make sense to have the facts heard against a few well-known sites in an initial order, subsequent orders could potentially list hundreds of additional sites alongside comment that they are “structurally similar” to those already presented.

Also of interest is the continued use of the words “online location” instead of “site”. This is likely in preparation for new technologies, or perhaps even some of the decentralized technologies already available today.

There will now be a six week consultation period for additional submissions and tweaks.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Government Wins Dozens of Millions From Kim Dotcom

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

megaupload-logoFollowing the 2012 raid on Megaupload and Kim Dotcom, U.S. and New Zealand authorities seized millions of dollars in cash and other property.

Claiming the assets were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes, last July the U.S. government launched a separate civil action in which it asked the court to forfeit the bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants.

Megaupload’s defense heavily protested the request but was found to have no standing, as Dotcom and his colleagues can be seen as fugitives.

A few hours ago District Court Judge Liam O’Grady ordered a default judgment in favor of the U.S. Government. This means that the contested assets, which are worth an estimated $67 million, now belong to the United States.

“It all belongs to the U.S. government now. No trial. No due process,” Dotcom informs TF.

More than a dozen Hong Kong and New Zealand bank accounts have now been forfeited (pdf) including some of the property purchased through them. The accounts all processed money that was obtained through Megaupload’s alleged illegal activities.

The list of forfeited assets further includes several luxury cars, such as a silver Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM and a 1959 pink Cadillac, two 108″ Sharp LCD TVs and four jet skis.

The memorandum issued by Judge O’Grady repeats many of the allegations in the original indictment. It lists links to infringing materials that could be found on the site and claims that Megaupload purposefully obfuscated its illegal intent.

Dotcom refutes these claims as “Hollywood nonsense” and maintains that Megaupload was operating legally and cooperated with copyright holders when required.

“The default judgment is so thick with DOJ and Hollywood nonsense that one might think they drafted it,” Dotcom says.

The New Zealand based entrepreneur believes that it’s been an unfair battle thus far, and with his assets now going to the U.S. it’s certainly not getting any easier.

But while the ruling is a huge blow, it also opens up the possibility to have the case reviewed by a higher court.

“For the first time we get the opportunity to test the decisions of this Judge at a higher court. Because of the way his previous rulings were designed he made an appeal impossible. But we now can and probably will appeal O’Grady’s decision on fugitive disentitlement and forfeiture,” Dotcom notes.

For now, however, the successful forfeiture request is the U.S. Government’s first major victory against Megaupload.

Meanwhile, Dotcom and his fellow Megaupload defendants are still waiting to hear whether they will be sent to the U.S. to stand trial. The extradition hearing will start early June, after a request from Dotcom’s lawyers to postpone it was turned down earlier this week.

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

TorrentFreak: Netflix Wants to Make VPN Piracy Obsolete

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

netflix-logoAfter years of waiting, Netflix officially launches in Australia today.

As a result, the tens of thousands of Aussie “VPN-pirates” who already used the U.S. version through a loophole, can now use it legally in their home country.

While Netflix’s rollout is a step in the right direction, the content selection will also be somewhat of a disappointment to those who are used to the U.S. offering. Because of complicated licensing agreements Netflix has a much more limited content library Down Under.

For the movie and TV studios geographical licensing agreements are a core part of their business. However, it also means that many Aussie pirates won’t be canceling their VPN subscriptions just yet.

Speaking out on the controversial VPN use, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says that the problem can be fixed if the industry starts to offer the same content globally, without artificial barriers.

According to Hastings the VPN issue is a relatively small problem compared to traditional forms of piracy, and relatively easy to make obsolete.

“The VPN thing is a small little asterisk compared to piracy,” Reed notes. “Piracy is really the problem around the world.”

According to Netflix the ‘VPN pirates’ are willing to pay, they just can’t get what they want through their local Netflix.

“The basic solution is for Netflix to get global and have its content be the same all around the world so there’s no incentive to [use a VPN]. Then we can work on the more important part which is piracy,” Hastings says.

The availability issue is fixable, Hastings believes, although it’s questionable whether Hollywood is ready to switch to global licensing deals.

Lacking availability is at the root of both traditional and VPN piracy and Netflix hopes that the industry will address this problem. If that’s done, they can focus on those pirates who simply don’t want to pay.

“The key thing about piracy is that some fraction of it is because [users] couldn’t get the content. That part we can fix. Some part of piracy however is because they just don’t want to pay. That’s a harder part. As an industry, we need to fix global content,” Netflix’s CEO says.

Hastings’ comments are in line with the stance of Europe’s Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip. The EU commissioner previously called for the abolition of Netflix’s geographical restrictions in Europe, labeling them as “discrimination”.

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

TorrentFreak: Perfect 10 Ordered to Pay Giganews $5.6m After Failed Copyright Battle

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

Adult publisher Perfect 10 has developed a reputation for making a business out of suing Internet services for alleged copyright infringement.

In recent years the company has targeted Google, Amazon, MasterCard and Visa, RapidShare and Depositfiles, plus hosting providers LeaseWeb and OVH.

Perfect 10 has secured private settlements from several of these companies but has never succeeded in a contested court case. The company hoped that a new suit against Usenet provider Giganews would provide a much-needed victory, but the whole thing has turned into a disaster.

In November 2014 a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California found that Giganews was not liable for the infringing activities of its users and last month Perfect 10 was roundly criticized for multiple failings by the same Court.

“Perfect 10 failed to produce any evidence supporting its claim of direct
infringement,” the Judge wrote, adding that it also “failed to produce any evidence supporting its claim of indirect infringement.”

While that was a particularly poor way to lose a case, a punishing costs ruling handed down yesterday rubbed salt into Perfect 10’s wounds. The United States District Court for the Central District of California ordered the publisher to pay Giganews $5.6m in attorney’s fees and costs.

Outlining his perception of Perfect 10’s business model, Judge Andre Birotte Jr said that the company hadn’t behaved like a wronged copyright holder.

“Perfect 10’s undisputed conduct in this action has been inconsistent with a party interested in protecting its copyrights. All of the evidence before the Court demonstrates that Perfect 10 is in the business of litigation, not protecting its copyrights or ‘stimulat[ing] artistic creativity for the general public good’,” the Judge wrote.

But that was just the beginning.

“Perfect 10 has never been a self-sustaining business, and to date, has lost more than $50 million dollars, if not more. However, this loss appears to be largely intended by Perfect 10’s President and CEO Norman Zada, who described Perfect 10 [..] as a ‘tax writeoff’,” Judge Birotte added.

“In fact, Zada [said] that he ‘needed [Perfect 10] to offset money he made in the market’ and ‘needed the loss’ to represent how small businesses couldn’t make money because of piracy on the Internet.”

Just how far Perfect 10 has immersed itself in copyright litigation is made in clear in the ruling, with the Judge noting that more than half of the company’s revenues had been derived from settlements and default judgments, with Zada spending “eight hours a day, 365 days a year” on litigation.

“Indeed, Zada admitted that, in the past, Perfect 10 has expressly purchased copyrights from other copyright holders ‘because [Perfect10] thought they would be helpful in [its] litigation efforts’,” the Judge added.

Also of note is that in many of its cases Perfect 10 criticized online service providers for not responding adequately to its complaints under the DMCA, but in Tuesday’s ruling the Judge makes it very clear that Perfect 10 is the party at fault.

“Perfect 10 has a long, documented history of sending service providers inadequate takedown notices under the DMCA that fail to identify specific infringing material, and then bringing suit for the service providers’ failure to respond to deficient DMCA takedown notices,” the Judge wrote.

While the victory will be sweet for Giganews, the company will be particularly pleased with Judge Birotte’s recognition of Perfect 10’s attack on its business model.

“Perfect 10’s unmeritorious claims against the leading Usenet service provider in the country posed a serious threat to the public’s access to free and competitive expression,” the Judge wrote.

In a statement sent to TorrentFreak, Giganews co-Founder Ron Yokubaitis welcomed the ruling.

“This judgment is a complete victory for Giganews, a validation of Usenet as one of the foundational protocols of the Internet, and a recognition of the users who rely on it every day,” he said.

“Online service providers and Internet companies are under assault from copyright trolls like Perfect 10, but we have followed the DMCA since its inception, and are proud to have stood up to the meritless claims of a serial litigator who was hoping for an easy pay day.”

The big question now is where Perfect 10 goes from here. With its business strategy now a record of the Court it seems likely that potential future targets will be less intimidated and settlements less forthcoming.

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

TorrentFreak: Five Cyberlocker Operators Jailed For Spreading ‘Depraved Culture”

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

Three years ago file-hosting site Ryushare was a rising star in the so-called cyberlocker scene. Operating healthy affiliate and rewards schemes the site became a magnet for those looking to upload popular content.

After mere months online the site was already pressing the market leaders and by early 2013 was looking to break into the Alexa 500. Progress continued for another year but in April 2014 the site suddenly disappeared without explanation.

Rumors began to circulate that the site’s operators had been arrested but it took weeks for the arrival of an official announcement. The Vietnamese government eventually delivered the news that Ryushare had been closed down following the arrest of site owner Nguyen Duc Nhat plus three of his associates. Cars, motorcycles, and around $350,000 were seized.

While arrests are not a particularly unusual development in file-sharing cases, copyright issues weren’t at the heart of the site’s problems. It transpired that the authorities had taken offense at the huge amounts of “depraved content” being made available via the site.

Following the arrest of another individual, five men stood trial in Vietnam this month for their crimes.

The Ryushare defendants on trial

ryushare-def

The court heard that the vast majority of the site’s 803,000 users didn’t pay a cent to access Ryushare, but around 77,500 VIP members paid between 10 euros per month and 60 euros per year for special access to the service. And it paid to introduce new VIP members to the site, with up to 60% of the sign up fee paid back to referrers.

The authorities claim that this system of commissions, VIP accounts and access to free (largely pornographic) content was the driving force behind the operation and the reason that people took the time to upload so much to the site. And it was profitable to do so, the prosecution said.

The Court was told that since Ryushare’s inception in 2012, 32-year-old site creator Nguyen Duc Nhat generated profits of around $7m, collected via payment processing company OnePAY. Around $230,000 was paid out to four individuals who uploaded around 18,000 porn titles to the site.

The numbers aren’t particularly surprising considering the size of the Ryushare operation. According to a local report the site hosted more than 11.3 million files hosted on 700 servers hired from companies located in France and the Netherlands.

This Monday the five defendants – Nguyen Duc Nhat, 32, Huu Hieu Le, 29, Ty Le Van, 27, Vu Ich Nguyen, 30, and Vinh Quoc Doan Van, 32 – were found guilty and handed custodial sentences ranging from nine months to three and half years. The five also received relatively small fines totaling a few thousand dollars.

But while the original Ryushare operators are now behind bars, the site itself returned several months ago and remains online today. While it hasn’t yet retained its former standing in terms of traffic, its business model appears untouched and currently charges exactly the same rates for premium membership.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Blocking More Than 100 Pirate Sites After New Court Order

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

cassetteFollowing a series of High Court orders six UK ISPs are required to block subscriber access to many of the largest pirate sites.

The efforts started in 2012 and the list continued to grow in the years that followed.

In a new wave the BPI, which represents the major record labels, has teamed up with music licensing outfit Phonographic Performance Limited to obtain an order targeting a series of MP3 download sites.

This latest round expands the UK blocklist by 17 MP3 download sites, including stafaband.info, rnbxclusive.se, plixid.com and mp3.li. It brings the total number of blocked sites over a hundred, 110 to be precise.

Nearly all of the newly blocked sites are so-called MP3 search engines. However, the list also includes megasearch.co, a website that allows users to find files on the Mega cloud storage service founded by Kim Dotcom.

Plixid
plixid

A few days ago several providers including Sky, BT and Virgin implemented the new changes, making it harder for their subscribers to reach these sites. The other ISPs are expected to follow suit during the days to come.

Thus far the sealed Court order hasn’t been released to the public but the list of 17 sites was confirmed to TorrentFreak by one of the major ISPs, which preferred not to comment on the latest blocking round.

Because the ISPs have given up on defending their position in court, it is now a mere formality for copyright holders to have a pirate site banned. However, the blocking efforts are not without cost.

Leaked information previously revealed that even an unopposed application for a blocking order costs copyright holders around £14,000 per website. This brings the total costs of the requesting parties well over a million pounds.

TF approached the BPI for a comment on the latest blocking efforts, but we have yet to hear back.

—-

The full list of sites that are currently blocked in the UK is as follows:

New: Bursalagu, Fullsongs, Mega-Search, Mp3 Monkey, Mp3.li, Mp3Bear, MP3Boo, Mp3Clan, Mp3Olimp, MP3s.pl, Mp3soup, Mp3Truck, Musicaddict, My Free MP3, Plixid, RnBXclusive and STAFA Band.

Previously blocked: watchseries.lt, Stream TV, Watchseries-online, Cucirca, Movie25, watchseries.to, Iwannawatch, Warez BB, Ice Films, Tehparadox, Heroturko, Scene Source,, Rapid Moviez, Iwatchonline, Los Movies, Isohunt, Torrentz.pro, Torrentbutler, IP Torrents, Sumotorrent, Torrent Day, Torrenting, BitSoup, TorrentBytes, Seventorrents, Torrents.fm, Yourbittorrent, Tor Movies , Demonoid, torrent.cd, Vertor, Rar BG, bittorrent.am, btdigg.org, btloft.com, bts.to, limetorrents.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, seedpeer.me, torlock.com, torrentbit.net, torrentdb.li, torrentdownload.ws, torrentexpress.net, torrentfunk.com, torrentproject.com, torrentroom.com, torrents.net, torrentus.eu, torrentz.cd, torrentzap.com, vitorrent.org.Megashare, Viooz, Watch32, Zmovie, Solarmovie, Tubeplus, Primewire, Vodly, Watchfreemovies, Project-Free TV, Yify-Torrents, 1337x, Bitsnoop, Extratorrent, Monova, Torrentcrazy, Torrentdownloads, Torrentreactor, Torrentz, Ambp3, Beemp3, Bomb-mp3, Eemp3world, Filecrop, Filestube, Mp3juices, Mp3lemon, Mp3raid, Mp3skull, Newalbumreleases, Rapidlibrary, EZTV, FirstRowSports, Download4all, Movie2K, KickAssTorrents, Fenopy, H33T and The Pirate Bay.

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

TorrentFreak: Music Group Wants ISPs to Spy on Customers to Stop Piracy

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

Following intense pressure from the Australian government, ISPs were warned that they had to come up with a solution to online piracy or face a legislative response.

In collaboration with some rightsholders, last month a draft code was tabled by ISPs which centered on a three-strikes style system for dealing with peer-to-peer file-sharers using systems including BitTorrent.

In a response to the code just submitted by the Australasian Music Publishers Association (AMPAL) – which counts EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing and Warner/Chappell Music among its members – the companies accept that the proposals are moving in the right direction but suggest boosting them in a number of ways.

Firstly, in an attempt to plug the so-called ‘incorporation’ loophole, the publishers say that all Internet subscribers should be subjected to the graduated response scheme, not just residential customers. While that suggestion could cause all kinds of problems for businesses and providers of public wi-fi systems, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

AMPAL says it recognizes that the code requires rightsholders to do their own online monitoring of file-sharers. It’s a practice employed around the world in every jurisdiction where “strikes” systems are in place. However, the publishers would prefer it if the draft code was amped up to the next level.

“The Code does not place a general obligation on ISPs to monitor and detect online copyright infringement,” the publishers write. “AMPAL submits that ideally the Code should include such a duty using ISPs’ monitoring and filtering techniques.”

The publishers don’t elaborate on their demands but even in this form they are troubling to say the least.

While rightsholders currently monitor only file-sharers distributing content without permission, in theory and to meet AMPAL requirements ISPs may have to monitor the activity of all customers. Not only that, the ‘filtering’ aspect would mean that ISPs become much more than mere conduits of information, a real problem for those seeking to avoid being held liable for infringing activity.

But AMPAL’s plans for ISPs go further still. Not only should they be pro-active when it comes to monitoring and warning subscribers, ISPs should also use technology to actively block access to infringing content on other levels.

“The Code does not require ISPs to block access to infringing material. AMPAL submits that ideally the Code should include provisions obliging ISPs to take such action following provision of the relevant information by Rights Holders and/or following discovery of copyright infringing websites by ISPs’ monitoring and filtering techniques,” the publishers write.

Again, AMPAL provides no elaboration, but on face value these suggestions will horrify ISPs. The premise is that after being told by a rightsholder that specific content is infringing, ISPs should use filtering technology to stop its subscribers from sharing that content. Difficult – if not impossible.

Furthermore, ISPs should be both responsive to rightsholder request and pro-active when it comes to the practice of blocking ‘infringing’ websites. Who decides the criteria for such blocking isn’t detailed, but presumably AMPAL feels well placed to do so and that the ISPs should do its bidding.

When it comes to dealing with subscribers, AMPAL is also seeking penalties for those who persistently disregard infringement notices. The current proposals allow rightholders to request the details of errant subscribers after they get caught sharing content three times, smoothing the way for legal action. But AMPAL wants more.

“AMPAL submits that ideally additional options should be available to Rights Holders in the form of sanctions or mitigation procedures to be imposed on Account Holders,” the publishers write.

“Rights Holders are severely limited in the realistic damages that they can recover. Litigation in this area is costly and difficult particularly for the small to medium enterprises that make up a large proportion of all rights holders.”

Describing the draft code as “an important initial step”, AMPAL says that a revised code to incorporate its demands should be implemented in the future.

“Only with a concerted effort by ISPs, Rights Holders and government can the damaging effects of online copyright infringement be addressed,” the trade group concludes.

Finally, in its submission to the draft code the BBC expresses concern that subscribers could use VPN technology to circumvent the whole system.

“The code is ill equipped to deal with consumers who spoof or mask their IP addresses to avoid detection, behaviour that we believe will increase as a result of an introduction of a notice scheme,” the BBC said.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Bites Grooveshark With Record Google Takedowns

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

riaa-logoIt would be fair to say that the relationship between the world’s major recording labels and streaming music service Grooveshark is a rocky one at best.

Founded in 2006 as a site where users could upload their own music and listen to streams for free, friction with record companies built alongside Grooveshark’s growth. EMI first filed a copyright infringement suit against the company in 2009 but it was withdrawn later that year after the pair reached a licensing agreement.

Since then there have been major and ongoing disputes with the labels of the RIAA who accuse Grooveshark of massive copyright infringement. Those behind the service insist that Grooveshark is simply a YouTube-like site which is entitled to enjoy the safe harbor protections of the DMCA.

Part of Grooveshark’s DMCA responsibilities is to remove infringing content once a copyright holder asks for it to be taken down. Grooveshark doesn’t publish any kind of transparency report but there is nothing to suggest that in 2015 it doesn’t take that responsibility extremely seriously.

However, Google’s transparency report reveals that the world’s major recording labels are currently hitting Grooveshark particularly hard. In fact, between the RIAA, IFPI and several affiliated anti-piracy groups, Google handled 346,619 complaints during the past month alone, with up to 10,000 URLs reported in a single notice.

groovesharkWhile the labels have always complained about Grooveshark to Google, the big question is why the game is being stepped up now. Both the RIAA and Grooveshark tend to remain tight-lipped on such matters, but in recent times Google’s transparency report has become a convenient barometer for rightsholders to illustrate how ‘infringing’ any particular site is.

According to the report, last month those complaints made Grooveshark the 7th most-complained about domain in the world, just one position behind 4Shared, a site the USTR declares a “notorious market”. It should be noted that Grooveshark is definitely not on that list, but there are other reasons for Google to be sent as many complaints about Grooveshark as possible.

Around October 2014, Google tweaked its search algorithm so that sites receiving the most takedown notices were placed lower in its search results. The move not only hit torrent sites hard, but also affected many cyber-locker type domains too. As show in the Alexa chart below, Grooveshark’s traffic has also been largely on the decline since October.

groove1

While there could be other factors at play for the downturn in traffic, perhaps the most obvious sign that a recent and massive surge in DMCA notices sent to Google is having an effect on Grooveshark’s visibility can be seen below. Early February the site’s traffic from search fell off a cliff and is currently just half of what it was seven weeks ago.

groove2

While results are currently being removed from Google in their hundreds of thousands, Grooveshark is far from on its knees. The site services millions of happy users who are currently enjoying a fully redesigned platform which looks and performs better than its predecessor.

One thing is for certain; if the current pressure continues Grooveshark’s own search engine will work much better than Google’s when it comes to finding music on the service.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Court Extends Global Shutdown of DVD Ripping Software

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

dvdfLast year the decryption licensing outfit AACS launched a crackdown on DRM-circumvention software.

The company sued the makers of popular DVD ripping software DVDFab. It won a preliminary injunction based on the argument that the “DVDFab Group” violates the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clause, since their software can bypass DVD encryption.

Initially DVDFab did not respond to the court, so the order was entered by default. However, after the injunction was issued the company responded in the name of Feng Tao, with a request for the court to revise its earlier judgment.

One of the counterarguments DVDFab raised was that the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions don’t apply worldwide, and DVDFab was promising to no longer do business with U.S. customers.

“It is well-established that the Copyright Act doesn’t apply extra-territorially,” the company argued, asking the court to quash the injunction or limit it to the United States.

AACS contested the good intentions of DVDFab and showed the court that the software was still readily available to the U.S. public. According to AACS the circumvention software was still being offered and promoted though new domains and services.

For example, new circumvention tools and services were offered from TDMore.com, BluFab.com, Boooya.org, DVDFab.de, and FabImg.net, among others. To stop DVDFab from bypassing the court order, AACS asked for an updated injunction to cover these new products and domains.

This week District Court Judge Vernon Broderick ruled on the motions from both sides with AACS the clear winner

The Judge argues that DVDFab’s explanations for the continued offering of software in the U.S. are not credible so has ordered the seizure of several new domain names.

“Tao’s explanations for his continued trafficking of infringing products into the United States—the product is not his, the product was not created ‘primarily’ for AACS circumvention, or the product was not intended for U.S. users — is simply not credible. The record overwhelmingly demonstrates these statements are not true,” Judge Broderick writes.

The injunction (pdf) bars DVDFab from distributing its software in public and allows AACS to seize seizure a wide range domain names. In addition, the company’s social media accounts are to be blocked and other services including online banks cut off as well.

While the Judge understands that the DMCA doesn’t apply in other countries he argues that, considering DVDFab’s conduct after the initial injunction, it will only be effective if it applies worldwide.

“It was not my intention to sweep within the Preliminary Injunction lawful conduct, i.e. entirely extraterritorial conduct. However, Defendant’s recalcitrant persistence in accessing the United States market makes clear to me that no more narrowly-tailored relief would be effective,” the Judge writes.

As a result DVDFab will lose control over TDMore.com, BluFab.cn, BluFab.com, Boooya.org, DVDFab.de, DVDFab.cn, FabImg.net, Woookao.cn, and Woookao.com which were found to be in violation of the DMCA. Two other domains, TDMore.cn and Boooya.com, were not added as there’s not enough evidence that they are operated by the software vendor.

There is no doubt that the broad injunction will severely impact the Chinese company. Aside from its domain names, the court also ordered payment processors to stop working with DVDFab, which will make it very hard for the company to sell its products anywhere in the world.

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 – 03/23/15

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

interstThis week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Interstellar 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) Interstellar 8.8 / trailer
2 (2) Exodus: Gods and Kings 6.2 / trailer
3 (5) Into The Woods 6.2 / trailer
4 (8) Focus 6.9 / trailer
5 (…) Wild Card 5.6 / trailer
6 (3) Fifty Shades of Grey 3.9 / trailer
7 (…) The Water Diviner 7.7 / trailer
8 (4) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 7.6 / trailer
9 (…) Paddington 7.4 / trailer
10 (…) Seventh Son 5.7 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: “Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt By Ratting on Software Pirates”

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

nopiracyWe hate to be repetitive here at TF, but the Business Software Alliance (BSA) leaves us little choice.

Representing major software companies, the BSA encourages people to report businesses that use unlicensed software.

If one of these reports results in a successful court case, the pirate snitch can look forward to a cash reward, which could amount to a million dollars per case.

According to a BSA executive the campaign has been very successful. It has resulted in many referrals and a decrease in software piracy rates.

Sounds great, but the way BSA recruits their snitches on Facebook is dubious and somewhat surrealistic. Instead of appealing to people’s ethics, the software group chooses to frames the campaign as a get-rich-quick scheme.

BSA continues to surprise us with new ads mainly targeting people who are short on money. For example, a few days ago this ad appeared in the timeline of thousands of Facebook users.

“Looking to pay off your credit card debt? If you know a company using unlicensed business software, file a report today to be eligible for a cash reward,” BSA’s latest Facebook ad reads.

bsacc

It appears that every time we think BSA has found a new low, they come with a new ad that’s even more questionable. During the holidays, for example, they also appealed to the fact that many people are short on cash.

“Money can get tight during the holidays. If you know a company using unlicensed business software, file a report today to be eligible for a cash reward,’ the holiday ad reads, and there are more examples here.

bsaholiday

While the BSA promises a quick cash solution, those who decide to report a pirating company are in it for the long haul. In the fine print it’s explained that people will only get a reward if a successful legal proceeding results in a settlement.

We reached out to the BSA find out more about how many people have been paid since the start of the campaign, but we have yet to hear back.

To be continued…

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