Posts tagged ‘Copyright’

TorrentFreak: TPP: U.S. May Accept Partners’ Own ISP Liability Frameworks

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

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a multinational trade agreement aimed at strengthening economic ties between the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and eight other countries. The aim is to ease trade in goods and services, encourage investment, and forge understandings across a wide range of policy issues.

The TPP contains a chapter on intellectual property issues such as copyright, trademarks and patents. However, the developing agreement is highly secretive with drafts never being released to the public – officially at least. That all changed in 2013 when Wikileaks breached the agreement’s security cordon with the publishing of a draft relating to IP issues.

Since then there have been several leaks, including a notable one in October 2014, again courtesy of Wikileaks. Last month Politico obtained a more recent draft dated May 2015 but did not publish the full document. However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation now says it has been briefed on its contents.

The EFF reports that while the text on DRM circumvention and copyright term remain largely unchanged, progress appears to have been made in the area of intermediary liability. This relates to the immunity afforded to service providers in respect of copyright infringement claims, provided they adhere to a set of requirements establishing their ‘safe harbor’.

In this area the most famous framework is that outlined by the United States’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), whereby Internet companies such as ISPs and platform providers such as Google and YouTube respond to takedown requests from third parties to avoid being held liable for the infringements of others.

As outlined in last year’s leak, the TPP’s ISP liability section mimics the DMCA, which prompted concern that partners could be forced to impose tougher regimes than those already in place. However, according to the EFF there appears to be a softening of position which could allow countries to stick to existing frameworks.

“The latest leak suggests that the U.S. is now likely to accommodate at least some of these existing intermediary liability regimes, rather than forcing a carbon-copy of the failed DMCA on its TPP partners,” EFF Senior Global Policy Analyst Jeremy Malcolm writes.

“The text does enforce a more generalized model of limitation of liability for intermediaries for third party content, and imposes a range of conditions before they qualify for that protection.

“But those conditions are now broad enough to accommodate a Japanese-style system in which a self-regulatory authority, formed by intermediaries and rightsholders with government involvement, is required to verify notices of claimed infringement before they are acted on.”

Also of interest is the approach taken towards Canada, a country placed as one of the leading opponents of many of the U.S. proposals. As concern mounts that the TPP agreement could challenge the country’s recently revamped copyright law and its notice-and-notice (as opposed to notice-and-takedown) system, the EFF reports leeway in negotiations.

“Interestingly, Canada’s system is not accommodated within the main text, but in a separate annex. The annex would exempt a country (such as Canada, implicitly) from the requirement to have a notice-and-takedown system provided that it already has a system in place requiring intermediaries to pass on notices of alleged infringement to their users,” the EFF explains.

However, the wiggle room does come at a cost. Countries in this position would be expected to impose secondary liability on intermediaries of services that are “primarily” used to enable copyright infringement. Search engines would also be required to remove cached copies of infringing items after their removal.

While the EFF raises concerns over the above, other proposals in the draft are given a cautious welcome.

TPP partners are now required to provide penalties against parties who knowingly file false takedown notices, equally those who file false counter-notices. Content taken down by a takedown notice must also be restored if a valid counter-notice is received.

Intermediaries will also be relieved that a failure to satisfy safe harbor conditions won’t automatically make them liable for infringement. Neither will safe harbor be reliant on intermediaries proactively monitoring uploads.

In conclusion, however, the EFF sees few reasons for optimism, noting that other threats in the IP chapter mean that the case for the group to fight the TPP “has never been more compelling.”

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

TorrentFreak: David Guetta: Piracy Brings Fans to My Concerts

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

guettaIn recent years numerous studies have shown that music pirates spend more money on legal purchases, including concert tickets and merchandise, compared to their non-sharing counterparts.

There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s hard to deny that there are plenty of pirates among the music industry’s most loyal customers.

This positive outlook on the piracy phenomenon is also shared by one the world’s top DJs, Frenchman David Guetta. In a recent interview with the BBC he suggests that unauthorized file-sharing actually helps to bring people to his concerts.

“I just want people to have access to my music. If there was no piracy, why can I sell out 20,000 people every in Brazil?” Guetta says.

“Is it because of how many records we sold in the shops? Of course not.”

The Frenchman, who previously opted to give music away for free to solve the piracy issue, doesn’t mind getting paid of course. In an ideal world every listener would pay something, but this isn’t a very realistic option.

Piracy is here to stay, so musicians better make use of it and enjoy the benefits it has to offer.

“I wish that every person who’s listening to my music would send me a little check. That would make me a very rich person, that would be wonderful. But at the same time this is impossible,” Guetta says.

“You can’t fight progress, so you better embrace it,” he adds.

With a net worth estimated at dozens of millions it’s easy talk for the financially independent Frenchman. Smaller artists, however, may be more worried when they see their work being pirated.

Still, the point Guetta makes is universal. Piracy often serves as promotion for artists who can grow their user-base at a rapid pace and earn more revenue through live performances and merchandise.

Like most other artists Guetta wants as many people as possible to hear his music. If this means that some will take it without paying directly, that’s still better than not being heard at all.

Guetta on piracy

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

TorrentFreak: Israeli Court Lifts Ineffective Popcorn Time Ban

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 has some of the major media giants shaking in their boots, including Netflix which sees the pirate app as a serious competitor.

In Israel, local anti-piracy group ZIRA took several Internet providers to court this year, with the goal to have several prominent Popcorn Time sites blocked. This effort resulted in an initial success when a preliminary injunction was granted in May.

However, after a careful review the Tel Aviv court has now reversed this decision. One of the arguments of the court is that blocking Popcorn Time domain names is relatively ineffective.

The court concluded that since the developers of the software can’t be tracked down, there’s nothing that prohibits them from launching new websites to render the blockade useless.

“Therefore, blockage or shutting down Popcorn Time sites does not guarantee that the application can no longer be downloaded,” the judgment reads.

In addition, the court points out that Popcorn Time applications that have been downloaded already will continue to work, even if the sites are blocked.

“This shows that the benefit of the requested measures is minimal, if any,” the verdict notes.

The Internet providers who protested the blocking requests further argued that the blockades would require a lot of resources and hurt their image, which the court largely agreed with.

“The cost of making ISPs some kind of censorship authority is at least equivalent, if not higher, than the cost of copyright infringement,” the verdict reads, mentioning that free competition and freedom of speech may be at risk.

Finally, the court gave ZIRA a slap on the wrist by pointing out that the requested blockade wasn’t as urgent as the copyright holders claimed, since Popcorn Time has been around for a long time.

“These sites, which presumably were visible to everyone, have been online for a long time. Given that, it seems that the applicant delayed the submission of the application which contradicts their urgency claim on the requested preliminary measures”, the judgment reads.

The outcome is a blow for ZIRA and the copyright holders they represent.

In addition to the negative outcome, the court also ordered the anti-piracy group to pay $1,060 to cover the legal fees of one ISP. The other ISPs settled the fees in question out of court.

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

TorrentFreak: ‘Pirate’ Site Admin Ordered to Pay Hollywood $12.8m

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

In an October 2014 submission to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the RIAA bemoaned the existence of several leading ‘pirate’ sites.

All the big named sites were present, including the notorious Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, but also mentioned was Wawa-Mania, a million member strong ‘warez’ forum specializing in a broad range of ‘pirate’ content.

Founded in 2006 by Dimitri Mader, Wawa-Mania became an extremely popular site and in 2009 the Frenchman was detained by the authorities after the Association Against Audiovisual Piracy (ALPA) identified more than 3,600 films being made available via the site without permission.

The case rolled on and in April this year Mader was sentenced to a year in jail and was fined 20,000 euros for his role on the site. He wasn’t present at the hearing – the 26-year-old remained at home in the Philippines with his family.

Having established the Frenchman’s guilt, the courts were left to decide how much Mader should pay in damages to plaintiffs including Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount, Tristar, Universal, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros.

Following deliberations July 2, 2015, TorrentFreak has now obtained a copy of the ruling and for Mader it will make particularly tough reading.

In varying amounts, each video rightsholder claimed damages per infringing copy, in some cases 5 euros per unit and up to 15 euros per unit in others. In respect of music, claims varied between a few cents per track up to a couple of euros per album/unit. For software, Microsoft claimed a flat sum of one million euros.

Noting that the technological environment made it “particularly difficult” to assess precise damages, the court still held that Wawa-Mania enabled “millions of acts” of infringement. In the end the final awards aren’t quite the $30m in damages that were predicted earlier but it’s nevertheless a punishing schedule.

€ 2,725,260 for Twentieth Century Fox Film ($3,015,813)
€ 1,998,849 for Disney Enterprises ($2,211,956)
€ 1,838,401 for Columbia Pictures ($2,034,402)
€ 1,796,027 for Universal City Studios ($1,987,510)
€ 1,618,388 for Paramount Pictures ($1,790,932)
€ 1,224,348 for Warner Bros. ($1,354,881)
€ 434,699 for Tristar Pictures ($481,044)
€ 2,691,670 for SACEM ($2,978,642)
€ 527,675 for SCPP ($583,933)
€ 684,067 for Microsoft ($756,998)
€ 67,395 for Marc Dorcel ($74,580)

“Counterfeiters maintain that they act in the interests of dissemination of culture, while the analysis of lists of works in the record shows, obviously, a very piecemeal approach to musical culture or global film,” the ruling reads.

“But the imbalances created by downloading this type of work affect not only this but even more generally on all the works including those whose success is not immediate or massive. It is therefore appropriate to recognize significant financial damages and allocate damages accordingly within the limits of the requests by different civil parties.”

TorrenFreak has contacted Dimitri Mader and will update this article with his comments in due course. For now, Wawa-Mania remains operational.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/06/15

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

mmThis week we have three newcomers and one returnee 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 (Webrip) 8.5 / trailer
2 (2) Jurassic World (TS) 7.7 / trailer
3 (5) The Longest Ride 7.1 / trailer
4 (…) Minions (TS) 7.0 / trailer
5 (3) Cinderella 7.3 / trailer
6 (4) Get Hard 6.1 / trailer
7 (…) Home 6.8 / trailer
8 (8) Kingsman: The Secret Service 8.1 / trailer
9 (…) Spy 7.5 / trailer
10 (back) Furious 7 (HDrip) 7.6 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Was Worth Doing Prison Time For, Co-Founder Says

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

fredrik-neijFredrik Neij, one of The Pirate Bay’s co-founders, was released early last month after serving a 10-month prison sentence for his involvement with the site.

A few days ago Fredrik arrived back home in Laos, where he’s enjoying his family and an unlimited stock of beer to get his liver back on track.

TF had the chance to catch up with the Swede to see how prison life treated him and the answers we received may surprise some. While it’s never fun to be locked up, Fredrik says it was worth doing time for The Pirate Bay.

“Things were not too bad in prison,” Fredrik tells TF. “It was well worth doing prison time for The Pirate Bay, when you consider how much the site means to people,” Fredrik says.

The prisons in Sweden are nothing like those seen in Hollywood blockbusters. He had plenty of space and privacy and no bars on the door.

“Like most people I only knew about prisons from American movies. Now that I have some firsthand experience I am happy to say it’s quite different. Unlike the barred cages for two persons in the movies, here I have my own private room that’s 10 square meters, with a real door and no bars on the window.”

Fredrik compares his cell to a cabin on a cruise ship, but one with a shitty view. Instead of seeing beautiful coastlines and picturesque bays, he was looking at a prison wall with barbed wire on top, and agricultural fields in the distance.

The cell itself had a private toilet and shower as well as some space for personal items. There were two bulletin boards as well, one with photos of his kids and family and another one for all the fan mail he received.

Although the prison management denied him access to his classic 8-bit Nintendo console, there was plenty of entertainment around. The room came equipped with a Samsung smart TV and Fredrik was also allowed to have newer game consoles.

As a Sci-Fi addict, Fredrik was also happy that “some people” managed to smuggle digital content inside.

“I watched a lot of TV-series and movies on smuggled in USB sticks and MicroSD cards, which is a nice way to kill some time, watching Archer, Futurama, Firefly and other Sci-Fi,” Fredrik says.

On the music front Pirate Bay’s co-founder was thrown back two decades, spinning CDs in an ancient Discman. Music he actually had to pay for.

“Listening to music on a Discman gave me flashbacks to how life was before MP3s, with short battery-life and having to change CD to listen to different artists. Also it was probably the first legal music I bought this millennium.”

The lockup hours were between 7am and 7pm and inmates were allowed to put out their own lights, so games could be played all night. During weekdays Fredrik had to work for three hours as well, putting pieces of wood into a laser etching machine.

The best times of the week were without a doubt the visiting hours, especially when they overlapped with work. Talking to friends and family was a welcome distraction, either in person or on the phone, which Fredrik could have in his room a few times per week.

There were also a lot of people writing in. Not just with words of support, but also to keep him updated on news in the real world, including TF articles.

“To keep up to date with the outside world, friends and family sent me newspapers, magazines and printouts of online media such as TorrentFreak! I also spent a lot of time reading all news-clippings, books and tech- science- and computer magazines I received from fans.”

Fredrik was locked up in the medium security prison in Skänninge where he was the only convict doing time for a “virtual” crime.

“Most other guys were in for drug-related offenses, robberies, manslaughter, aggravated assault. No-one had ever heard of someone being placed at that prison for such a low severity, nonviolent, white-collar crime as ‘assisted copyright infringement,’ but I guess the MAFIAA get what they pay for,” he says.

Surprisingly enough, Fredrik could cope relatively well without 24/7 access to a keyboard and the Internet.

“I didn’t miss computers and the Internet as much as I would have expected. I mostly just missed having instant access to information like I am used to. Inside I used TEXT-TV and newscasts instead of web-sites,

“You only notice how dependent we are on the Internet when are forced off it and have to do things like it was the early 90s again,” Fredrik adds.

Looking ahead Fredrik is hoping to catch up life where he left off.

“It’s great to be back home with the kids. Family aside I was mostly looking forward to catching up on Doctor Who and Archer. And to put an end to my liver’s well deserved vacation with a large beer!”

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

TorrentFreak: Private Copying and UK Copyright Law – Not Dead Yet

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

cd-dvd-featThe recent BASCA case has raised some interesting questions about the legal status of the private copying exception to UK copyright law introduced in 2014.

Broadly speaking, the new law is found in s28B of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, and introduced a limited defense to a copyright infringement claim where an individual makes a copy of a work he legitimately already owns, for example for the purpose of format shifting. Ripping a music file from a CD to .MP3 format for playing on a smartphone or tablet being one typical example.

This exception does not allow copying of copyright protected material for family and friends, neither does it legitimize downloading files from the Internet, as in most cases the downloader will not already own a legitimate licensed copy.

So really, you might well think, “that is a pretty limited situation, why all the fuss?”

Why indeed.

The issue turns around the meaning of “fair compensation”. BASCA and the other claimants claim they are due some fair compensation for this as required by EU Directive 2001/29 which UK law has to comply with. The UK Government contended, in this particular instance, that no compensation is fair compensation.

The agenda for the claimant is that if they succeed, a blank media levy on storage would likely be introduced to provide their fair compensation, which already exists in many other European Countries. This will of course increase costs for consumers, and profits for copyright owners.

It is therefore a quite high stakes game, and means that immediate settlement in this case (the government lost a judicial review earlier this month) is probably quite unlikely. The key issues are whether the UK’s new private copying exception was itself legal under EU law and secondly, whether the process it was adopted under was procedurally legal.

The case can hardly be touted as a victory for the Claimants – BASCA et al. Of several grounds put forward by the claimants regarding the compliance with EU law, the judge rejected each in turn, not one being upheld. The only ground of the claimant’s case which was upheld, was that the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, in introducing section 28B had not taken all relevant evidence and information into account before introducing this section.

So what happens now?

For the time being at least s28B remains with its limited format shifting defense. We are, for the moment, still free to format shift.

The Secretary of State could merely carry out the review in the proper manner identified by the court, gather sufficient evidence supporting s28B and that would satisfy the procedural requirement.

Either party could also appeal, the Claimant against the judge’s ruling against them on several points of law, or the defendant against the judge’s finding against the Secretary of State that insufficient evidence had been gathered or taken into account.

If this were to occur, it would be to the Court of Appeal, and possibly from there to the Supreme Court. For such appeals timescales of years rather than months are usually appropriate.

The other option which exists, which is not an appeal as such, is the court could refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for a ruling on a point of Law. As the UK law in dispute is derived from EU Law, it is the CJEU who has the ultimate say on what the EU law means in those circumstances.

Here the UK court would ask a specific set of questions as to what the correct interpretation of the law is, but the CJEU does not strictly speaking decide for the claimant or defendant, though in effect the ruling will usually strongly be favorable to one of the parties. This process will often take at least three or more years.

What might appeal courts or the CJEU rule ? Impossible to say with any certainty, but the CJEU has said in the recent Copydan case that in circumstances where there is minimal prejudice to the copyright owner, no compensation can indeed be fair compensation.

In this instance, as the user has already paid a copyright license fee when buying the original CD from which files are ripped, do the copyright owners suffer anything more than minor prejudice? I would suggest not, and it is apparent that this is the opinion of the judge Mr Justice Green, in BASCA. The claimants in BASCA of course contend differently, but well they would wouldn’t they?

A final parting point. If it were the case that through a CJEU ruling against format shifting a blank media levy was introduced (and this can be compelled by the EU, although this would be a long several year process of CJEU Ruling, UK failure to comply, negotiations, warnings etc before any action was taken by the Commission) the UK Government could quite legitimately contend that since many other EU countries which allow private copying with such levies also allow private copies for family members, the UK should now do the same.

This would widen the ambit of the current s28B a significant amount, and would to some extent offset increased costs to consumers of a blank media levy.

About the author: Camden is an IP lawyer practicing in the UK

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

TorrentFreak: Court Drops Innocent Cox Subscribers From Piracy Lawsuit

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

pirate-runningLast year BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music sued Cox Communications, arguing that the ISP fails to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers.

As part of the discovery process the music outfits requested details on the accounts which they caught downloading their content.

In total there are 150,000 alleged pirates, but the court limited the initial disclosure to the top 250 infringing IP-addresses in the six months before the lawsuit was filed.

A few weeks ago Cox started informing its customers that their information would be handed over to the music companies. In a response, dozens of subscribers asked the court not to expose their identities.

Some argued that they should be dismissed because they have did not share the mentioned files. Another group explained to the court that they were wrongfully included, because they weren’t Cox subscribers at the time of the alleged offense.

The latter issue is due to Cox’s broad reading of an earlier court order. Instead of handing over details of subscribers who used the IP-addresses at the time of the infringements, the ISP also included the current IP-address holders.

Objection from a Cox subscriber
objectcox

This week U.S. Magistrate Judge John Anderson ruled on the objections (pdf), concluding that the subscribers who did not use the IP-address at the time should be dropped.

“Several of the persons submitting objections have provided information to the court that is sufficient to establish that they were not assigned the IP addresses that are the subject of the court’s ruling at the time of the alleged infringing activity.

“The court sustains the objections raised by those individuals,” the order adds.

The other group of subscribers who merely claimed that they did not share any of the copyright infringing files, were less successful. Their requests were denied and Cox will share their personal details with the music companies.

“The mere denial of any infringing activity is an insufficient reason to justify quashing the subpoena to Cox. In addition, any concerns these individuals may have relating to privacy are addressed adequately by the provisions of the Protective Order entered in this action,” the order reads.

The last part is important because many subscribers fear that the music companies will come after their money. However, the court assures them that their personal information can only be used as evidence in this lawsuit, not to demand settlements.

“The subscriber information produced in this action is to be used solely for the purposes of litigating the claims raised in this action between BMG/Round Hill and Cox and will not be used by BMG/Round Hill to solicit payments directly from Cox subscribers.”

For the music companies this shouldn’t be a problem. They previously said that they don’t intend to pursue any individual subscribers in the lawsuit. How they do plan to use the personal details of the subscribers will become clear as the case proceeds.

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

Bradley M. Kuhn's Blog ( bkuhn ): Did You Actually Read the Lower Court’s Decision?

This post was syndicated from: Bradley M. Kuhn's Blog ( bkuhn ) and was written by: Bradley M. Kuhn. Original post: at Bradley M. Kuhn's Blog ( bkuhn )

I’m seeing plenty of people, including some non-profit organizations along
with the usual punditocracy, opining on
the USA
Supreme Court’s denial for a writ of certiorari in the Oracle v. Google
copyright infringement case
. And, it’s not that I expect everyone in
the world to read my blog, but I’m amazed that people who should know
better haven’t bothered to even read the lower Court’s decision, which is
de-facto upheld upon denial by the Supreme Court to hear the appeal.

I wrote at great
length about why the decision isn’t actually a decision about whether
APIs are copyrightable
, and that the decision actually gives us some
good clarity with regard to the issue of combined work distribution
(i.e., when you distribute your own works with the copyrighted material
of others combined into a single program). The basic summary of the blog
post I linked to above is simply: The lower Court seemed genially
confused about whether Google copy-and-pasted code, as the original trial
seems to have inappropriately conflated API reimplemenation with code
cut-and-paste
.

No one else has addressed this nuance of the lower Court’s decision in the
year since the decision came down, and I suspect that’s because in our
TL;DR 24-hour-news cycle, it’s much easier for the pundits and
organizations tangentially involved with this issue to get a bunch of press
over giving confusing information.

So, I’m mainly making this blog post to encourage people
to go back and read
the decision and my blog post about it
. I’d be delighted to debate
people if they think I misread the decision, but I won’t debate you
unless you assure me
you read
the lower Court’s decision in its entirety
. I think that leaves
virtually no one who will. :-/

TorrentFreak: Major Streaming Sites Must Be Blocked, Court Rules

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

In 2014 the European Court of Justice handed down a widely publicized decision which made clear that, in reasonable circumstances, pirate sites can be blocked by European ISPs.

On the back of this ruling, Austrian anti-piracy outfit VAP wrote to several local ISPs (UPC, 3, Tele2 and A1) demanding blockades of streaming sites Movie4K.to and Kinox.to. This would become the local test case on which all future site blockades would be built.

After the ISPs rejected their request, in August 2014 VAP sued the providers. In October VAP emerged victorious and the ISPs were ordered to implement a blockade.

While ISP UPC accepted the decision, Tele2, A1 and 3 filed a further appeal and the case went to the Supreme Court. Now the court has handed down its decision and it’s yet another defeat for the ISPs.

Affirming the earlier ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that blocking websites in Austria is entirely legal. Furthermore, the court also confirmed that the Internet Service Providers will have to bear the costs of blocking the sites, informing them that their business model should allow them to be “financially and technically equipped” to implement blockades.

VAP President Winfred Kunze welcomed the decision.

“Illegal portals do not contribute to film financing and do harm to creators. Legal services strengthen both the creative industry and the telecommunications industry, which indeed benefit from the attractiveness of a legal offer,” Kunze said.

According to Futurezone, the Association of Austrian Internet Providers (ISPA), is less enthusiastic about the outcome, in particular concerning costs and the “slippery slope” potential of web-blocking.

“Today Internet locks, tomorrow …,” the group concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Police Let Seized ‘Pirate’ Domains Expire, Some Up For Sale

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

cityoflondonpoliceFor the past several years the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has been at the forefront of Internet-focused anti-piracy activity in the UK. The government-funded unit has been responsible for several high-profile operations and has been praised by a broad range of entertainment industry companies.

After carrying out raids against the operators of dozens of sites, PIPCU likes to take control of their domains. They do this for two key reasons – one, so that the sites can no longer operate as they did before and two, so they can be used to ‘educate’ former users of the downed sites.

That ‘education’ takes place when visitors to the now-seized ‘pirate’ domains are confronted not with a torrent, proxy, streaming or links site, but a banner published by PIPCU themselves. It’s aim is to send a message that sites offering copyrighted content will be dealt with under the law and to suggest that their visitors have been noted.

Earlier comments by PIPCU suggest that its banner has been seen millions of times by people who tried to access a ‘pirate’ site but subsequently discovered that it no longer exists. Last month in an announcement on Twitter, the unit revealed that since Jul 2015 it has diverted more than 11m ‘pirate’ site visits.


While the hits continue to mount for many domains PIPCU has seized (or gained control over by forcing site operators or registrars into compliance), it’s now likely that the group’s educational efforts will reach a smaller audience. Tests carried out by TorrentFreak reveal that PIPCU has somehow lost influence over several previously controlled domains.

Instead of the now-familiar PIPCU ‘busted’ banner, visitors to a range of defunct sites are now greeted with expired, advert-laden or ‘for sale’ domains.

MP3lemon.org, for example, currently displays ads/affiliate links. The same goes for Boxingguru.tv, a domain that was linked to a high-profile PIPCU raid in 2014. Former proxies Katunblock.com and Fenopyreverse.info, plus former streaming links site Potlocker.re complete the batch.

boxing-guru

Other domains don’t carry ads but are instead listed for sale. They include former anti-censorship tool site Torrenticity.com, proxy index PirateReverse.info and H33T proxy h33tunblock.info.

The fate of the final set of domains is much less glamorous. Movie2KProxy.com, Movie4KProxy.com, EZTVProxy.net, Metricity.org, YIFYProxy.net and TorrentProxies.com all appear to have simply expired.

Whether these domains will be snapped up at the first opportunity or left to die will largely hinge on whether people believe they can make a profit from them. Some have already changed hands and are now being touted for a couple of thousand dollars each but others are lying in limbo.

In any event, none of these domains seem destined to display PIPCU’s banner in the future. Whether or not the unit cares right now is up for debate, but if any of the domains spring back into life with a ‘pirate’ mission, that could soon change.

Unlike Megaupload’s old domains they don’t appear linked to obvious scams, so that’s probably the main thing.

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

TorrentFreak: FBI Wants Pirate Bay Logs to Expose Copyright Trolls

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

pirate bayOver the past few years copyright troll law firm Prenda crossed the line on several occasions.

Most controversial was the clear evidence that Prenda uploaded their own torrents to The Pirate Bay, creating a honeypot for the people they later sued over pirated downloads.

The crucial evidence to back up this allegation came from The Pirate Bay, who shared upload logs with TorrentFreak that tied a user account and uploads to Prenda and its boss John Steele.

This serious allegation together with other violations piqued the interest of the FBI. For a long time there have been suspicions that the authorities are investigating the Prenda operation and today we can confirm that this is indeed the case.

The confirmation comes from Pirate Bay co-founders Peter Sunde and Fredrik Neij, who independently informed TF that they were questioned about Prenda during their stays in prison.

“I was told that Prenda Law has been under investigation for over a year, and from the printouts they showed me, I believe that,” Sunde tells TF.

Sunde was visited by Swedish police officers who identified themselves, noting that they were sent on behalf of the FBI. The officers mainly asked questions about Pirate Bay backups and logs.

“They asked many questions about the TPB backups and logs. I told them that even if they have one of the backups that it would be nearly impossible to decrypt,” Sunde says, adding that he couldn’t help them as he’s no longer associated with the site.

A short while after Sunde was questioned in prison the same happened to Neij. Again, the officers said they were gathering information about Pirate Bay’s logs on behalf of the FBI.

“They wanted to know if I could verify the accuracy of the IP-address logs, how they were stored, and how they could be retrieved,” Neij says.

The FBI’s interest in the logs was directly linked to the article we wrote on the Prenda honeypot in 2013. While it confirms that the feds are looking into Prenda, the FBI has not announced anything in public yet.

TF contacted the Swedish police a while ago asking for further details, but received no response.

It’s worth noting that the police officers also asked questions about the current state of The Pirate Bay and who’s running the site. With the recent raid in mind, it’s not unthinkable they may also have had an alternative motive.

In any case, today’s revelations show that Prenda is in serious trouble. The same copyright trolls who abused The Pirate Bay to trap pirates, may also face their demise thanks to the very same site.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Blamed For Movie Streaming Piracy Explosion

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

Up until last year, downloading content using BitTorrent was an activity that needed a reasonable level of technical competence. In addition to choosing the correct software and setting everything up, users needed to make themselves familiar with any number torrent indexes and platforms.

Then along came Popcorn Time and simplified the process to the point that almost anyone can now download the software and access a wide range of (mostly) infringing content within minutes. Needless to say, the various forks of the software have been a thorn in the side of the movie and TV show industry ever since.

With complaints being made against the software in most western countries, it’s now Norway’s turn to make some noise. While the country has expressed concerns about the software in the past, a report published in June by consultancy firm Mediavision is adding fuel to the fire.

According to the company, which analyzes consumer behavior within the sphere of digital media, around 750,000 Norwegians from a five million population are now obtaining video from illegal sources, up 17% on the previous year. However, it is the manner in which they are doing it that’s causing additional concern. According to the researchers, illegal consumption of streaming content has doubled in the past year. And no prizes for guessing who anti-piracy groups are blaming.

“The reason for the increase in piracy is Popcorn Time,” says Rights Alliance Norway chief Willy Johansen.

“It is unfortunately an incredibly easy way to watch movies. But one should be aware that this is a criminal offense. We are now collecting the IP addresses of Norwegian users of Popcorn Time.”

While users will be disappointed to hear that they are being tracked by a Hollywood-backed anti-piracy outfit, the big question is what Rights Alliance will choose to do with that data. The group says their hand may be forced.

“We have hoped for the longest time that we do not have to take on the end-user. But it is clear that if this does not stop, we will have no choice. Most people are now aware that they are doing something illegal, but many continue because ‘everyone else is doing it’,” Johansen says.

Also on the horizon are lawsuits against local ISPs. Rights Alliance hopes that by obtaining a blocking injunction against Popcorn Time-affiliated sites and services, the problem might be brought under control. However, things aren’t straightforward.

“It takes time in the Norwegian legal system, so there is a protracted process,” Johansen notes.

“There is nothing that can be sent to the court today. But we’re working on it together with our attorneys to look into the possibility of getting this stopped through a lawsuit against broadband providers.”

After changes in the law two years ago, these kinds of injunctions were supposed to be easy for groups like Rights Alliance to obtain, but it appears there are still significant hurdles to overcome. Not only are there very stringent requirements in order to obtain an injunction, all expenses incurred must be paid by the plaintiff.

“No independent licensees in Norway have the opportunity [to get injunctions], because they do not have the finances to do so. If we are to stop something, it must be an overall industry behind the lawsuit. It requires a very detailed presentation of evidence, says Johansen.

Interestingly, however, the group has been working on getting an injunction against another site, most probably The Pirate Bay. The results should become evident in a few weeks.

“The case we’re working on already started before Popcorn Time existed. The problem is that evidence is so extensive that the whole Popcorn Time phenomenon arose during the time we spent gathering evidence from the previous service,” the Rights Alliance chief adds.

As usual, however, the industry isn’t getting much help from ISPs including Telenor, Norway’s largest provider.

“We wish to contribute by relating to parliamentary procedure adopted in such cases,” says Telenor director Tormod Sandstø.

“So the court must make decisions in individual cases, also we will of course abide by those decisions. As an Internet provider we will not be a censorship body.”

The news that Norway may target end users is disappointing. The country has all but eliminated music piracy yet still prefers anti-piracy aggression over business model changes in the video sector.

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

TorrentFreak: Tech Giants Oppose Broad Anti-Piracy Injunctions

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

msfacebookIn recent months there have been several lawsuits in the U.S. in which copyright holders were granted broad injunctions, allowing them to seize domain names of alleged pirate sites.

In addition, these injunctions were sometimes directed at hosting providers, search engines and ISPs, preventing these companies from doing business with these sites.

Most recently, such a request came from the publishing company Elsevier, who sued the websites Libgen.org and Sci-Hub.org. The publisher asked for a preliminary injunction targeting several third-party services.

While the operators of the “pirate” sites have yet to respond, several tech companies have joined in to protest the request. This week the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which includes members such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, asked the court to limit the proposed injunction.

In its current form the proposal targets any search engine, ISP and hosting company, without naming any in particular, which isn’t allowed according to the tech companies.

“What Plaintiffs here are seeking is, in essence, an injunction against the world. It is well established that such a sweeping injunction against nonparty intermediaries is impermissible,” CCIA writes (pdf).

According to the tech companies, neutral service providers are not “in active concert or participation” with the defendant, and should therefore be excluded from the proposed text.

The CCIA gives the example of search engines, which may link to pirate websites but can’t be seen as “aiders and abettors,” or as collaborating with these sites to violate the law.

Even if one of the third party services could be found liable, the matter should be resolved under the DMCA and not through an injunction, the CCIA claims.

“The DMCA thus puts bedrock limits on the injunctions that can be imposed on qualifying providers if they are named as defendants and are held liable as infringers. Plaintiffs here ignore that.”

“What they seek, in the posture of a preliminary injunction against nonparties, goes beyond what Congress was willing to permit, even against service providers who come before a court as defendants against whom an actual judgment of infringement has been entered. That request must be rejected.”

The New York federal court has scheduled a hearing later this month after which it will decide whether to issue the preliminary injunction or not. Thus far, Elsevier hasn’t responded to CCIA’s opposition.

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

TorrentFreak: YouTube Doesn’t Have To Police Piracy Proactively, Court Rules

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

youtubefaceYouTube has been battling music rights group GEMA in several court cases for more than half a decade.

In one of the most prominent cases the music group, which claims to represent 70,000 artists, argued that YouTube is liable for the content its users upload. As such, they want Google’s video service to proactively monitor the site for possible infringements.

This liability argument was denied in 2012 by a lower court, but GEMA appealed the decision. Yesterday the Appeals Court in Hamburg announced its verdict, confirming the earlier ruling.

According to the court, YouTube has no obligation to actively police video content users submit to the site.

“YouTube is in basis not required to monitor the content they transmit or store, or to investigate circumstances that indicate illegal user activity,” the court states.

It’s not all good news for Google though. The court emphasized that YouTube has to do more to ensure that infringing content is barred.

“However, if a service provider is notified of a clear violation of the law, it must not only remove the content immediately, but also take precautions which ensure that no further infringements will be possible.”

YouTube previously argued that copyright holders can use its Content ID system to ensure that infringing files remain offline. However, GEMA is hesitant to use the system, which requires rightsholders to act.

GEMA is disappointed that the court didn’t confirm that YouTube is liable for its users, but sees the responsibility comments as a win.

“The ruling of the Court of Appeals shows that YouTube can not escape responsibility for copyright infringements, and that it can’t pass on all responsibility to the rights owner,” says GEMA CEO Harald Heker.

It’s unclear what extra measures YouTube should take, but German music industry law firm Rasch suggests that keyword filtering is a viable option.

The Hamburg court also ruled on a separate issue confirming that YouTube didn’t remove seven videos swiftly enough. In five other instances YouTube handled the cases correctly. Both Google and GEMA appealed the lower court’s decision, but both appeals were rejected.

Thus far the court has only announced the decision in an oral hearing. The full verdict will be released later this month and can still be appealed by both sides.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Lawfirm Defrauded Rightsholders Out of Millions

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

moneybannedMore than a decade ago, international and Danish entertainment industry groups banded together to tackle piracy of movies, music and other media. Their aggressive collaboration became known as Antipiratgruppen (Anti-Piracy Group).

Of course, all anti-piracy groups need lawyers and as a result Danish lawfirm Johan Schlüter was hired for the job. The lawfirm became deeply entrenched in tracking down pirates when it created anti-piracy tracking firm DtecNet in 2004 and in the same year it developed a tool for the MPAA which aimed to identify and then delete file-sharing software from users computers.

In the years that followed the Johan Schlüter lawfirm became ever more involved in the anti-piracy business and continued to support Antipiratgruppen after it changed its name to RettighedsAlliancen (Rights Alliance). The company eventually sold DtecNet to U.S.-based brand protection company MarkMonitor in 2010 but continued in the copyright business.

Now, however, the lawfirm is mired in a huge controversy after an investigation uncovered financial irregularities amounting to millions of dollars in the company’s accounts.

What makes the case so intriguing is the allegation that the money in question should have been distributed to movie and TV industry associations and their underlying rightsholders. The groups – CAB, Filmkopi and Filmret – hired Johan Schlüter to handle the registration, collection and administration of their rights but it appears the lawfirm hasn’t been playing things fair.

In January the associations asked U.S. auditing giant Deloitte to investigate Johan Schlüter. The study found that between 2011 and 30 April 2015, at least 100,000,000 Danish Kroner ($15m) that should have been paid to the associations wasn’t handed over.

The associations say they are in “shock” that their twenty year collaboration with the lawfirm has ended this way.

“It is deeply disappointing that a longtime partner has failed to this degree. This is a violent breach of trust,” Director of the Producers’ Association, Klaus Hansen, told Finans.dk.

Unsurprisingly, finger-pointing is already underway.

The Johan Schlüter lawfirm has three owners – Johan Schlüter himself, Lars Halgreen and Susanne Fryland. According to a police report cited by Finans, Susanne Fryland was responsible for the management of the TV and film producer accounts and now stands accused of committing “very serious economic crimes for financial gain.”

According to Halgreen, Fryland was fired by the lawfirm on Tuesday and has been reported for embezzlement, fraud and breach of trust. Nevertheless, Halgreen still attempted to cast doubt on the auditors’ $15m claim, noting that “it is far from certain that the amount is so high.”

Certainly, the three owners will be hoping the amount is lower.

While the associations acknowledge that there aren’t significant assets in the Johan Schlüter lawfirm business, they don’t intend to let the matter lie. Reports suggest that the movie and TV associations will try to hold Schlüter, Halgreen and Fryland personally liable for their losses.

“The most important thing for me has been to ensure a continuous operation, so the money comes out to the rights holders,” Hansen concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Kim Dotcom Appeals to Reclaim ‘Mega Millions’ from U.S.

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

megauploadFollowing 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 were branded “fugitives”.

Earlier this year District Court Judge Liam O’Grady ordered a default judgment in favor of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). As a result the contested assets, which are worth an estimated $67 million, now belong to the United States.

Today Kim Dotcom and his Megaupload co-defendants appealed this decision at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In their opening brief (pdf) Megaupload’s lawyers argue that the court denied the defendants’ basic rights and violated due process.

“The recent filing demonstrates again how the entire Megaupload case is build on quicksand. It’s a slap in the face of the DOJ and the Judge they picked for his Disney CV,” Dotcom tells TF in a comment.

In particular, the appeal filing points out that it was wrong to rely on the ‘fugitive disentitlement‘ doctrine, as Dotcom and his former colleagues were merely exercising their legal right to defend themselves.

“The Megaupload defendants were branded by the DOJ as ‘fugitives’ for lawfully fighting extradition in New Zealand,” Megaupload Appellate Counsel Michael Elkin notes.

“The district court’s denial of their basic rights to defend against asset forfeiture under a ‘fugitive disentitlement’ doctrine amounts to a violation of basic due process,” he adds.

Ira Rothken, Kim Dotcom’s Lead Global Counsel, emphasizes the injustice of the District Court decision and reiterates that his client has never even set a foot on U.S. soil.

“With our appeal today we are asking the Fourth Circuit to rule in favor of fairness, natural justice, and due process by stopping US efforts to take Kim Dotcom’s global assets for doing nothing more than lawfully opposing extradition to the United States—a country he has never been to,” he says.

According to Rothken the U.S. went after the millions in assets to obstruct other legal proceedings, including the extradition case which will be heard in New Zealand later this year.

“The DOJ in our view is trying to abuse the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine by modifying it into an offensive weapon of asset forfeiture to punish those who fight extradition under lawful treaties, and a provocation for international discord. Today we ask the Court of Appeals for justice.”

The 79-page opening brief concludes with a stark warning.

If the District Court decision is upheld it would give the government unprecedented power, allowing it to indict foreigners and grab their assets without looking into the merits of the case.

“That is not how our justice system works. The judgments below should be vacated and the case either dismissed or remanded for trial on the merits,” Megaupload’s lawyers conclude.

Dotcom is glad to see that the appeal is finally underway and points out that Megaupload was taken down by corrupt forces in the U.S. Government.

“They did not have the right to take billions of files from millions of Megaupload users offline. But a corrupt Senator (Chris Dodd), his best buddy (Joe Biden) and Biden’s sock puppet attorney at the DOJ (Neil MacBride) did it anyway,” Dotcom says.

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

LWN.net: Supreme Court won’t weigh in on Oracle-Google API copyright battle (Ars Technica)

This post was syndicated from: LWN.net and was written by: ris. Original post: at LWN.net

Ars Technica reports
that the US Supreme Court rejected Google’s appeal of the Google-Oracle API
copyright dispute. “Despite the high court’s inaction on the case, the Google-Oracle legal flap is far from resolved. That’s because the appeals court sent the case back to the lower courts to determine whether Google’s use of the code in Android—which it no longer uses—constitutes a “fair use.” Oracle is seeking $1 billion in damages.

“This is not the end of the road for this case—the Federal Circuit decision
explicitly left open the possibility that the kinds of uses Google made
were permissible under copyright’s fair use doctrine,” said Charles Duan,
the director of Public Knowledge’s patent reform project.” (Thanks
to Martin Michlmayr)

TorrentFreak: VPN Providers Respond To Allegations of Data Leakage

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

vpn4lifeAs Internet users seek to bypass censorship, boost privacy and achieve a level of anonymity, VPN services have stepped in with commercial solutions to assist with these aims. The uptake among consumers has been impressive.

Reviews of VPN services are commonplace and usually base their ratings on price and speed. At TorrentFreak we examine many services annually, but with a focus on privacy issues instead.

Now a team of researchers from universities in London and Rome have published a paper titled A Glance through the VPN Looking Glass: IPv6 Leakage and DNS Hijacking in Commercial VPN clients. (pdf) after investigating 14 popular services on the market today.

“Our findings confirm the criticality of the current situation: many of these providers leak all, or a critical part of the user traffic in mildly adversarial environments. The reasons for these failings are diverse, not least the poorly defined, poorly explored nature of VPN usage, requirements and threat models,” the researchers write.

While noting that all providers are able to successfully send data through an encrypted tunnel, the paper claims that problems arise during the second stage of the VPN client’s operation: traffic redirection.

“The problem stems from the fact that routing tables are a resource that is concurrently managed by the operating system, which is unaware of the security requirements of the VPN client,” the researchers write.

This means that changes to the routing table (whether they are malicious or accidental) could result in traffic circumventing the VPN tunnel and leaking to other interfaces.

IPv6 VPN Traffic Leakage

“The vulnerability is driven by the fact that, whereas all VPN clients manipulate the IPv4 routing table, they tend to ignore the IPv6 routing table. No rules are added to redirect IPv6 traffic into the tunnel. This can result in all IPv6 traffic bypassing the VPN’s virtual interface,” the researchers explain.

vpn-1

As illustrated by the chart above, the paper claims that all desktop clients (except for those provided by Private Internet Access, Mullvad and VyprVPN) leaked “the entirety” of IPv6 traffic, while all providers except Astrill were vulnerable to IPv6 DNS hijacking attacks.

The paper was covered yesterday by The Register with the scary-sounding title “VPNs are so insecure you might as well wear a KICK ME sign” but without any input from the providers in question. We decided to contact a few of them for their take on the paper.

PureVPN told TF that they “take the security of our customers very seriously and thus, a dedicated team has been assigned to look into the matter.” Other providers had already received advanced notice of the paper.

“At least for AirVPN the paper is outdated,” AirVPN told TorrentFreak.

“We think that the researchers, who kindly sent the paper to us many months in advance and were warned about that, had no time to fix [the paper] before publication. There is nothing to worry about for AirVPN.”

“Current topology allows us to have the same IP address for VPN DNS server and VPN gateway, solving the vulnerability at its roots, months before the publication of the paper.”

TorGuard also knew of the whitepaper and have been working to address the issues it raises. The company adds that while The Register’s “the sky is falling” coverage of yesterday is “deceptive”, the study does illustrate the need for providers to stay vigilant. Specifically, TorGuard says that it has launched a new IPv6 leak prevention feature on Windows, Mac and Linux.

“Today we have released a new feature that will address this issue by giving users the option of capturing ALL IPv6 traffic and forcing it through the OpenVPN tunnel. During our testing this method proved highly effective in blocking potential IPv6 leaks, even in circumstances when these services were active or in use on the client’s machine,” the company reports.

On the DNS hijacking issue, TorGuard provides the following detail.

“It is important to note that the potential for this exploit only exists (in theory) if you are connected to a compromised WiFi network in which the attacker has gained full control of the router. If that is the case, DNS hijacking is only the beginning of one’s worries,” TorGuard notes.

“During our own testing of TorGuard’s OpenVPN app, we were unable to reproduce this when using private DNS servers because any DNS queries can only be accessed from within the tunnel itself.”

Noting that they released IPv6 Leak Protection in October 2013, leading VPN provider Private Internet Access told TorrentFreak that they feel the paper is lacking.

“While the article purported to be an unbiased and intricate look into the security offered by consumer VPN services, it was greatly flawed since the inputs or observations made by the researchers were inaccurate,” PIA said.

“While a scientific theory or scientific test can be proven by a logical formula or algorithm, if the observed or collected data is incorrect, the conclusion will be in error as well.”

PIA criticizes the report on a number of fronts, including incorrect claims about its DNS resolver.

“Contrary to the report, we have our own private DNS daemon running on the Choopa network. Additionally, the DNS server that is reported, while it is a real DNS resolver, is not the actual DNS that your system will use when connected to the VPN,” the company explains.

“Your DNS requests are handled by a local DNS resolver running on the VPN gateway you are connected to. This can be easily verified through a site like ipleak.net. Additionally… we do not allow our DNS servers to report IPv6 (AAAA records) results. We’re very serious about security and privacy.”

Finally, in a comprehensive response (now published here) in which it notes that its Windows client is safe, PIA commends the researchers for documenting the DNS hijacking method but criticizes how it was presented to the VPN community.

“The DNS Hijacking that the author describes [..] is something that has recently been brought to light by these researchers and we commend them on their discovery. Proper reporting routines would have been great, however. Shamefully, this is improper security disclosure,” PIA adds.

While non-IPv6 users have nothing to fear, all users looking for a simply fix can disable IPv6 by following instructions for Windows, Linux and Mac.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Scolds MPAA’s “Cozy” Anti-Piracy Lobby in Court

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

googlepopLate last year leaked documents from the Sony hack revealed that the MPAA helped Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to revive SOPA-like censorship efforts in the United States.

In a retaliatory move Google sued the Attorney General, hoping to find out more about the secret plan. The company also demanded internal communication from the MPAA and its lawfirm Jenner & Block.

After the Hollywood group and its lawyers refused to provide all information Google asked for, a separate legal battle began with both sides using rather strong language to state their case.

The MPAA accused Google of facilitating piracy and objected to a request to transfer the case to Mississippi, where the underlying case was started. According to the movie industry group and its lawyers they are merely bystanders who want to resolve the matter in a Washington court.

This week Google responded to the MPAA opposition with a scathing reply, which outs the cozy relationship between the MPAA and the Attorney General’s office.

“Their rhetoric does not match reality,” Google responds (pdf) to the request not to transfer the case. “The MPAA and Jenner are no strangers to Mississippi.”

“The Subpoenaed Parties sought out Mississippi when they co-opted the state’s Attorney General for their anti-Google campaign. Documents withheld by the MPAA until last week reveal a stunning level of involvement in Mississippi’s affairs.”

According to Google it’s clear that the MPAA and its law firm were in “intimate contact” with the Attorney General, offered monetary donations, hosted fundraisers and also helped him to draft legal paperwork.

“According to the Subpoenaed Parties, they are strangers to Mississippi. But documents produced last week by the MPAA tell a very different story. The Subpoenaed Parties and their representatives made repeated visits to AG Hood’s office in Mississippi to guide his anti-Google work.”

“Even when they weren’t physically at AG Hood’s office, they may as well have been, getting together with him in Denver and Santa Monica and holding a fundraising dinner for him in New Orleans.”

And there is more. The emails the MPAA recently produced also reveal “remarkably cozy and constant communications” between the MPAA and the Attorney General’s office.

In one email the MPAA’s Brian Cohen greeted one of Hood’s staffers with “Hello my favorite” offering to share pictures of his vacation in New Zealand via Dropbox. In another email discussing a meeting with the AG’s staff, MPAA’s Cohen writes “OMG we spent 3 hours.”

favorite

According to Google the examples above clearly show that there’s a rather close relationship between the MPAA’s lobbyists and the Attorney General.

“This pattern of sustained, intimate contact is hardly the mark of a party that merely ‘communicated with Attorney General Hood’ ‘previously,’ as the MPAA characterizes itself.”

Throwing in a movie reference, Google further notes that transferring the case would be in line with Rule 45, which ties the subpoena to the Mississippi case.

“But it is not merely the Subpoenaed Parties’ starring role in the underlying events that warrants transfer of Google’s Motions to Compel to Judge Wingate in Mississippi; all of the Rule 45 factors support it as well,” Google notes.

The reply continues adding more support and arguments to transfer the case, using more strong language, and the sarcastic-aggressive tone continues throughout.

If we hadn’t seen enough evidence already, the filing makes it clear that the MPAA and Google are not on speaking terms, to say the least. And with the Attorney General case just getting started, things may get even worse.

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

TorrentFreak: Organized Crime Police Raid ‘Pirate’ Android TV Box Sellers

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

As highlighted in a TorrentFreak report earlier this month, anti-piracy outfits are running out of patience with the proliferation of software and devices that allow for movies, TV shows and sports to be pirated and streamed with ease.

Popcorn Time and Kodi/XBMC derivatives are the industry’s primary targets and their installation in hardware devices including cheap Android-style set-top boxes is clearly becoming a real thorn in its side. Earlier this month police carried out several raids in the UK and today comes news of yet more operations, complete with accompanying video.

After a joint investigation by the Metropolitan Police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) into the sales of set-top boxes programmed to provide access to movies, TV shows, live sports and subscription channels without permission, officers raided locations in the south and Midlands areas of the country.

In what appears to be the largest raid today, officers from the Metropolitan Police carried out raids in Feltham, Middlesex. A 48-year-old-man and a woman were arrested and more than 1,000 set-top boxes were seized.

Further north in the West Midlands town of Walsall, police seized “dozens” of pieces of electronics including set-top boxes, computers and sat nav systems. A 50-year-old man was voluntarily interviewed by police and FACT investigators.

While police and FACT involvement indicate that the authorities are taking these devices seriously, today raids were also assisted by officers from the West Midlands Regional Organized Crime Unit (ROCU) and the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN). Completing what the Brits might call a “full house”, Trading Standards officers were also involved in the operation.

“The proliferation of IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) and set-top boxes along with apps and add-ons that facilitate illegal streams have created new opportunities for piracy and the delivery of stolen content,” said FACT Director General Kieron Sharp.

“As today’s action demonstrates, we are working in close partnership with our colleagues in law enforcement on addressing these threats and are committed to bringing those responsible to account.”

GAIN Co-ordinator Jason Grove underlined the high level of agency cooperation evident in this morning’s raids.

“Today’s action is an excellent example of our multi-agency working across force boundaries to tackle serious and organized crime,” Grove said.

“These kinds of offenses cost the economy and in particular the film and television industry tens of thousands of pounds each year and today shows that we will take action against those involved.”

Finally, in a further indication that the authorities and FACT want these operations to be highly visible, a video of one of the raids.

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

TorrentFreak: French Magazine Fined €10,000 For Encouraging Piracy

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

download-keyboardLast summer the bimonthly computer magazine “Téléchargement,” French for “Download,” released an issue documenting the various ways people can pirate films, TV-shows, games and music on the Internet.

The cover featured a pirate skull and advertised “the best software and websites to download for free.”

The local music industry group SCPP was appalled by the controversial issue and decided to take legal action in response. According to the group’s CEO Marc Guez the magazine publishers had gone too far.

“A line had been crossed,” Guez told Next INpact. “This is a magazine which clearly and shamelessly incited piracy. That’s what prompted us to act.”

The music industry group highlighted what they believe were inciting passages. For example, it described torrent clients such as uTorrent and BitComet, noting that it’s easy to find infringing content through Google search.

“There’s no need to dive into the depths of the deep Web for pirate downloads, Google will make sure they’ll surface. With some clever keywords and in a handful of clicks you will fill your hard drives with joy and laughter,” it read.

“We offer an overview of the best torrent clients plus some tips and tricks to entertain you,” the magazine added.

Other passages of the magazine mentioned specific tips and websites where pirated content is available, mentioning how easy it is to download movies and music without paying for it.

SCPP took the magazine publisher to court claiming it had violated French copyright law. Specifically, they argued that the publisher willingly encouraged its readers to use software that’s predominantly used to share copyright infringing material.

Under French law it’s forbidden to “knowingly encourage” the use of software that’s clearly meant to infringe copyrights, with a maximum prison sentence of three years and a €300,000 fine.

The publisher contested the claims, noting that the magazine repeatedly emphasized that piracy is illegal. However, according to the court this was not enough.

Earlier this month the court of Nanterre handed down its verdict ruling that the publisher indeed went too far. The court issued a €10,000 fine, which is roughly the amount that was made through the sale of the magazine.

The music industry is happy with the outcome, noting that it’s the first time that a news outlet has been found guilty of inciting piracy under this section of copyright law. The ruling is final and can’t be appealed.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Namecheap to Identify Pirate Site Operator

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

namecheapLast month the long running lawsuit between the RIAA and Grooveshark came to an end. However, within days a new site was launched aiming to take its place.

The RIAA wasn’t happy with this development and quickly obtained a restraining order, preventing domain registrars and hosting companies from offering their services to the site.

In a response Namecheap quickly suspended the site’s account. However, the “new” Grooveshark then relocated elsewhere and as of today the RIAA is still in the dark as to the identity of the owner.

Hoping to track this person down the music labels recently filed a motion to conduct expedited discovery. This would allow them to order third party services to hand over all personal information they have on the site’s operator.

“Defendants have continued to operate the counterfeit Service, concealing their identities and using multiple infringing domain names registered through at least three different domain name registrars,” the RIAA’s lawyers wrote in their motion.

According to the RIAA, help from other services is needed as they have “no alternative methods” to find out who is operating the “revived” Grooveshark site.

Late last week New York District Court Judge Alison Nathan agreed with the music labels, granting the motion against Namecheap and several other service providers (pdf).

In addition to Namecheap the court filing specifically mentions the “proxy” provider Cloudflare, domain name registrar Dynadot and hosting provider Nodisto.

The RIAA expects that these organizations will have crucial information including payment details and IP-addresses. Thus far none of the third-party service providers have objected to the order, and it’s unlikely that they will.

Coincidentally, Namecheap launched a campaign last week urging its users to protest a new proposal that would put an end to private domain name registrations for some site owners. However, the company does not object to court orders and has complied with similar ones previously.

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

TorrentFreak: Cloudflare Reveals Pirate Site Locations in an Instant

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

cloudflareFive years ago, discovering the physical location of almost any ‘pirate’ site was achievable in a matter of seconds using widely available online tools. All one needed was an IP address and a simple lookup.

As sites became more aware of the need for security, cloaking efforts became more commonplace. Smaller sites, private trackers in particular, began using tunnels and proxies to hide their true locations, hampering anti-piracy efforts in the process. Later these kinds of techniques were used on even the largest sites, The Pirate Bay for example.

In the meantime the services of a rising company called Cloudflare had begun to pique the interest of security-minded site owners. Designed to optimize the performance of sites while blocking various kinds of abuse, Cloudflare-enabled sites get to exchange their regular IP address for one operated by Cloudflare, a neat side-effect for a site wishing to remain in the shadows.

cloud-pir

Today, Cloudflare ‘protects’ dozens – perhaps hundreds – of ‘pirate’ sites. Some use Cloudflare for its anti-DDoS capabilities but all get to hide their real IP addresses from copyright holders. This has the potential to reduce the amount of DMCA notices and other complaints filtering through to their real hosts.

Surprisingly, however, belief persists in some quarters that Cloudflare is an impenetrable shield that allows ‘pirate’ sites to operate completely unhindered. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

In recent days a perfect example appeared in the shape of Sparvar (Sparrows), a Swedish torrent site that has been regularly hounded by anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance. Sometime after moving to Canada in 2014, Sparvar began using the services of Cloudflare, which effectively cloaked the site’s true location from the world. Well, that was the theory.

According to an announcement from the site, Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén recently approached Cloudflare in an effort to uncover Sparvar’s email address and the true location of its servers. The discussions between Rights Alliance and Cloudflare were seen by Sparvar, which set alarm bells ringing.

“After seeing the conversations between Rights Alliance and server providers / CloudFlare we urge staff of other Swedish trackers to consider whether the risk they’re taking is really worth it,” site staff said.

“All that is required is an email to CloudFlare and then [anti-piracy companies] will have your IP address.”

As a result of this reveal, Sparvar is now offline. No site or user data has been compromised but it appears that the site felt it best to close down, at least for now.

spar-down

This obviously upset users of the site, some of whom emailed TorrentFreak to express disappointment at the way the situation was handled by Cloudflare. However, Cloudflare’s terms and conditions should leave no doubt as to how the company handles these kinds of complaints.

One clause in which Cloudflare reserves the right to investigate not only sites but also their operators, it’s made crystal clear what information may be given up to third parties.

“You acknowledge that CloudFlare may, at its own discretion, reveal the information about your web server to alleged copyright holders or other complainants who have filed complaints with us,” the company writes.

The situation is further underlined when Cloudflare receives DMCA notices from copyright holders and forwards an alert to a site using its services.

“We have provided the name of your hosting provider to the reporter. Additionally, we have forwarded this complaint to your hosting provider as well,” the site’s abuse team regular advises.

While Cloudflare itself tends not to take direct action against sites it receives complaints about, problems can mount if a copyright holder is persistent enough. Just recently Cloudflare was ordered by a U.S. court to discontinue services to a Grooveshark replacement. That site is yet to reappear.

Finally, Sparvar staff have some parting advice for other site operators hoping to use Cloudflare services without being uncovered.

“We hope that you do not have your servers directly behind CloudFlare which means a big security risk. We hope and believe that you are also running some kind of reverse proxy,” the site concludes.

At the time of publication, Henrik Pontén of Rights Alliance had not responded to our requests for comment.

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

TorrentFreak: Malwarebytes Offers Pirates Free “Amnesty” Keys

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

malwarebytes1Like most other popular software, Malwarebytes has many unauthorized users who use cracks or keygens to unlock the programs paid features.

Traditionally, Malwarebytes has taken a fairly lenient stance towards pirates. Two years ago the company started tracking down this group of users, asking them kindly not to steal the software.

Now, the San Jose company has a new surprise in store. A few days ago Malwarebytes began scanning for pirate and counterfeit keys, as part as an upgrade of its licensing system.

Those found to have used an “abused” key then get the “amnesty” option to upgrade their software for a year without any cost, replacing the pirate key with a legitimate one.

“Malwarebytes is offering a free replacement key for Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium customers who have been inconvenienced by piracy or abuse. This new key will be exclusive to you going forward,” the company explains on its website.

Malwarebytes free upgrade
malwarebytes

While the offer is certainly generous, it’s also a necessity because legitimate and pirate keys are often duplicates. This means that pirates and paid users have the same keys.

Going forward, Malwarebytes will use a more advanced license key algorithm which prevents this from happening. This means that it will be harder for pirates to get a free copy after their one year subscription expires.

Interestingly, those who choose the second “I purchased my key” option get a lifetime subscription at no cost.

Malwarebytes’ Bruce Harrison previously told TorrentFreak that they don’t plan to crack down too hard on pirates.

“Piracy is not really a huge problem for us in my opinion. There are a lot of people who simply won’t pay for our software and being aggressive against them won’t change that,” Harrison said.

Offering amnesty to pirates is in line with this stance. It certainly isn’t an aggressive move and could even trigger some to pay up when the free offer runs out.

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