Posts tagged ‘Legal Issues’

Darknet - The Darkside: Royal Canadian Mounted Police Arrest Heartbleed Hacker

This post was syndicated from: Darknet - The Darkside and was written by: Darknet. Original post: at Darknet - The Darkside

The Heartbleed Bug was the big thing last week and honestly pretty much the biggest thing this year so far. And it turns out someone has been caught using the Heartbleed bug in a malicious way and in Canada no less. The young Heartbleed hacker goes is a 19 year old Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes and [...]

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Darknet - The Darkside: Security Vendor Trustwave Named In Target Suit

This post was syndicated from: Darknet - The Darkside and was written by: Darknet. Original post: at Darknet - The Darkside

You might remember earlier in March, the Target CIO resigned due to the huge breach in December last year. Now in an unprecedented move, the banks are suing Target’s security vendor – Trustwave. It’s a class-action suit accusing them of failing to detect the breach. It seems a bit of a stretch though, there’s no [...]

The…

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Errata Security: Weev’s lawyers appear in court

This post was syndicated from: Errata Security and was written by: Robert Graham. Original post: at Errata Security

Some observations from today’s appeal hearing of Weev  (the notorious case of someone convicted of accessing public info).

What was it?

Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer was convicted of conspiring to violate the CFAA, and was sentenced a year ago to 41 months in jail. His lawyers appealed, the prosecutors submitted a reply brief, his lawyers submitted a reply to the reply brief. Today they got in front of the three judges of the Third Circuit Court to fight it out. Each side got to talk for 15 minutes, and the judges peppered them with questions.

The online-media
I saw representatives from Verge, Vice, and DailyDot – the typical sort of online journalism sites. I didn’t see the traditional media – judging by who I saw scribbling in their little reporter’s notebooks.
NO ELECTRONICS
All electronics were banned — including laptops and Kindles. I asked the guard about this. He confirmed it was “highly unusual” (his words). He showed me the signed order that for today, and only today, nobody was allowed to have electronics.
…except for Weev’s attorneys. It was fun watching other attorney’s complaining as they had to give up their cellphones, too.

By the way, the bomb sniffing dog I saw coming out of the courtroom was perfectly normal. According to the guards, he does it every day.

Update: I should mention, “highly unusual” for this building. There are actually two different authorities: one authority (I think they said “federal marshals”) who gated access to the building, and then a Third Circuit Court guards gating access to the court room. It’s the court room guards who banned everything.

Update: I asked if Hanni Fakhoury, one of Weev’s lawyers who therefore could have a cellphone, could take a picture of the daily order for me. The guard got upset, stressing that all pictures inside the courthouse were completely forbidden. Hanni didn’t appear too pleased getting caught up in my drama, either. :)

The courtoom
The courthouse from the outside — because photos inside
are strictly verbotten.

The building itself was your typical dreary government office building, but the courtroom itself was very nice and modern. The far side was the “bench” for the three judges, in a nice Star Trek:NG configuration. In the back of the room were benches for the spectators, with room for about 40 of us.

The supporters
I’m not sure how many showed up. The room filled quickly and many were turned away. Unlike the sentencing hearing last year, where apparently some demonstrators were rambunctious, everyone was calm and respectful. Many wore suits, only a few had the stereotypical blue hair and piercings.
I did refrain from tearing off my clothes being dragged away shouting “HACK THE PLANET”  – barely.
The appeal
You can read the issues involved in the various briefs, such as this one:
There are two major points. The first is that the defense claims the reading of the CFAA is too broad. Weev was convicted of conspiring to access a website without authorization. But, the defense argues, AT&T had made information public, implicitly authorizing the public to access it.
The second major issue is “venue”. Weev was in Arkansas, his partner Spitner was in California, the servers in Georgia, and the company in Texas. There is absolutely nothing about New Jersey that makes it a more appropriate place to try the case.
Orin Kerr was the lead lawyer for the appeal, the guy standing up and arguing the position. He has experience appealing CFAA convictions (namely, the Lori Drew case). He has spent an enormous amount of time prepping for this. It’s the CFAA issue that he (and the cybersec community) wanted to argue.
However, the judges weren’t interested in the CFAA. What they were interested in was the “venue” issue. Orin started with the CFAA, the judges interrupted him, and spent almost all the half hour discussing the venue issue.
The Venue Issue
There are 94 federal districts in the United States. Right now there are some prosecutors in some of those districts with light case loads who want to make a name for themselves by prosecuting you for hacking. You might find yourself snapped up and shipped off to Alaska to face charges for something that has nothing to do with Alaska. (Not my argument — reflecting the argument Orin made.)
This is the crux of the “venue” argument. Back in the 1770s, one of the “grievances” that led to the American Revolution was that colonists would be arrested and shipped back to England, where they’d be unable to defend themselves (for example, all the witnesses were back in the United States).
Therefore, not once, but twice the Constitution mentions venue (as one of the judges helpfully pointed out). According to our constitution, you can only be tried “where the crime was committed”, not shipped off to an arbitrary location to face charges.
The judges seemed partial to this issue, grilling the prosecutor to come up with a good justification why New Jersey was a constitutionally acceptable venue to try Weev – since as mentioned above, no bits of the crime were committed in New Jersey. The prosecutor had weak reasons: the FBI agent read the Gawker article in New Jersey, and some people from New Jersey were in the database grabbed by Weev’s partner – even though none of them were disclosed by Gawker.
A lot of discussion centered CFAA language: the the crime was “accessing a computer”. That “access” happened from California to Georgia. In other words, the CFAA doesn’t mention “and disclosed the accessed information”, and thus, no matter how much was disclosed in New Jersey, that’s not the crime Weev was convicted of.
The “Harmless Error” issue
Assuming the judges agree that New Jersey was an inappropriate place to try Weev, they still might not overturn the conviction based on the “harmless error” principle, that result would’ve been the same regardless of where the trial happened.
A lot of argument was about how it’s not the result of the trial that is necessarily the harm, but the fact that the prosecutors charged Weev in the first place. As I mentioned above, it means that any prosecutor wanting to make a name for themselves can look for vague areas of cyber law and go after people anywhere in the country.  This prejudiced the prosecution from the very beginning.
For example, if the court throws out the conviction on the “venue” issue, remanding the case for retrial, it might not be retried. Georgia and California, possibly the only two appropriate venues, might decided not to prosecute, reading the CFAA law more narrowly than the New Jersey district.
Orin Kerr
Orin Kerr is a law professor, and it was fun watching him in action. He stepped up to the podium with binders upon binders of stuff he might reference when questioned.
Yet, he didn’t have to consult the papers, because he had everything on the tip of the tongue. Any question the judges came up with, Orin had a thoroughly prepared answer. I’m ignorant of the law, so this may be normal, but it impressed the heck out of me.
…although Orin isn’t perfect, he’s wrong about the 4rth Amendment :)
The prosecutor
I know I’m biased, but much of the prosecutor’s arguments were extremely week. Whereas Orin stuck religiously to legal precedent, the prosecutor would try mere rhetoric, and a bit of snark, like the particular one I describe below.

I don’t mean to disparage the prosecutor. He was neither incompetent nor evil. Our side has probably put more resources into this case than the prosecutor. Also, the judges on the panel grilled him harder — teasing out where his argument was the weakest.

What else floats in water
At one point, for no particular reason, the prosecutor pointed out that Spitler (Weev’s partner) downloaded IOS, did some decryption, and wrote a script. He said “I don’t even understand it – but I don’t know how you could call this anything other than hacking”. This isn’t an exact quote, I had to grab the notebook/pen from the Verge reporter sitting in front of me and write down as much of the quote that I could remember.  We’ll have to wait for the transcripts to be published to get what he said exactly.
What the prosecutor said was essentially the Monty Python bit from Holy Grail: if she weighs as much as a duck, she must be a witch. BURN HER.
That the prosecutor doesn’t understand Spitler’s actions doesn’t mean Spitler is a witch – it just means the prosecutor is an uneducated villager.
What Spitler did is perfectly normal. Legitimate people do this sort of thing all the time. Engineers do this. Nerdy teenagers do this. I can teach you how to do it in a couple hours.
For example, that’s how the Google search engine came about. Before you do a search, Google must “index” the Internet. It does this by creating a script that download a complete copy of every website. If Spitler what did was some sort of evil witchcraft, then what Google does is even worse.
The precedent set by the CFAA case is to make all us engineers witches, making what we do illegal, purely because federal prosecutors don’t understand it.
Maybe there is a good reason to broadly the interpret the CFAA to cover Weev’s actions, but this snarky comment from the prosecutor isn’t it. It’s just torches and pitchfork reasoning, not valid legal theory. Weev is a controversial figure; his good will alone wouldn’t bring out so many people in support. Likewise, most don’t understand legal issues like venue. Instead, the thing that filled the courtroom with activists was precisely this rhetoric by prosecutors.
Predictions on the outcome
It’s impossible to say.
The judges seemed real keen on the venue argument. I suspect they’ll overturn the conviction based on that, forcing a retrial in another venue. This may be good or bad for Weev, because it means different charges can be brought (e.g. to include drug offenses).
Regardless, it’d be an awesome ruling for the cybersec community, reducing the chance us colonists in cyberspace will get sent to Hawaii for trial.

As a final note, here’s a theory: judges like the venue issue because it’s law, not technology. If they can throw out the conviction based on venue, then they won’t need to consider the CFAA issue, either “yes” or “no”. That they understand legal code better than PERL code may nudge them toward that ruling. If they uphold venue, then they’ll have to spend more time reading HTTP RFCs.

Update: After this appeal, there are only two more options. The first is that the Third District re-hears the appeal en banc with all the judges instead of the panel of three in this case. The second is that the Supreme Court might take up the case. Lawyers tell me the chance of either is remote.

Darknet - The Darkside: Target CIO Beth Jacob Resigns After Huge Breach

This post was syndicated from: Darknet - The Darkside and was written by: Darknet. Original post: at Darknet - The Darkside

So the latest news this week is that the Target CIO Beth Jacob has resigned, it seems to be somewhat linked to the massive heist of credit card details from Target that took place in December last year. To be fair it was a fairly complex, high-level attack and I’m pretty sure most companies would [...]

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LWN.net: Top 10 legal issues for free software of 2013 (opensource.com)

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

Opensource.com covers some
legal issues
faced in 2013. Topics include Android patent litigation,
license compliance, forks, enforcement, GitHub’s license selection policy,
good news in the patent wars, FOSS in government and in the private sector,
contributor agreements, and collaborations. “On June 14, 2013, the district court of Hamburg found that Fantec violated the obligation in the GPLv2 to provide to its customers the “complete corresponding source code” of the software. Fantec objected that it had been assured by its Chinese supplier that the source code received from the supplier was complete. And Fantec claimed that they had investigated options with third parties for source code analysis and had been informed that such reviews were quite expensive and not completely reliable. The court rejected these excuses.

TorrentFreak: Court Hits Piracy Topsite Operators With 2100% Damages Increase

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

The tight-knit network of suppliers, couriers, pirates and servers of the so-called ‘warez scene’ remain inaccessible to all but a tiny percentage of the file-sharing community and as a result manages to maintain its mystique year after year.

On occasion, however, usually as a result of a court case, the veil is lifted and the general public is given a taste of the kind of subterfuge employed by those operating the servers behind The Scene, the so-called ‘Topsites’. A 2012 case in Finland provided one such intriguing example.

It involved a topsite known as Hayabusa / Rainbow (HBR / RBW), which was used by famous movie and TV show release groups including MEDiEVAL and DoNE. The topsite only had about 50 members and was reportedly kept running by just four individuals. How they did so was fascinating.

Three of the men, who worked for a pair of Finnish Internet service providers, were employed in positions that enabled them to not only run but hide the site. The site’s servers were installed by employees of Saunalahti, a company owned by Finnish ISP Elisa. The topsite itself was run from the IP address of a man from Helsinki, who worked for Elisa and had access to their fastest fiber connections.

Then the really clever bit. As employees of Elisa the topsite operators were able to modify the ISP’s network monitoring software in order to hide the existence of their topsite. Unfortunately, however, the police were already on their trail following claims that they had illegally distributed copies of movies including The Bourne Ultimatum, Spiderman 3 and Ratatouille. Despite receiving a timely tip-off, the operators were eventually arrested.

During a 2012 trial at the Espoon District Court the site operators stood trial for copyright infringement offenses. Three were handed suspended jail sentences ranging between four and six months and ordered to pay compensation. A fourth received a fine equivalent to 60 days pay.

That said, things could have been worse. Rightsholders had originally demanded 70,000 euros, so a compensation award of 1,000 euros against the soon-to-be-jailed operators was a relative drop in the ocean. However, the entertainment companies behind the action, headed by anti-piracy group CIAPC/TTVK, aired their dissatisfaction by taking the case to appeal.

This week the Helsinki Court of Appeal handed down its decision and it’s yet more bad news for the site operators. The court increased the amount awarded by the district court from 1,000 euros to 22,000 euros.

“The District Court had sentenced three operators to pay about 1000 euros as compensation for the right holders. The Court of Appeals regarded this as a remarkably low amount of compensation with regard to the specific features of the case,” CIAPC Deputy Director Jaana Pihkala informs TorrentFreak.

Although the amount was considered low, fortunately for the defendants the rightsholders’ claim for more than 72,000 euros was not accepted in its entirety.

“One of the facts that the Court took into consideration as lowering the amount of compensation was that the operators had limited possibilities to control how much the works were copied,” Jaana explains.

The Court of Appeal also said that the claim, which was based on items to be found in the physical domain (DVDs etc), did not directly relate to items which had been electronically created and distributed in the online world. Lower cost of production and distribution meant a lower damages award.

While overturning the District Court’s ruling on compensation, other issues relating to the original sentencing remained untouched as the prison sentences of the defendants were not appealed by the entertainment companies.

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

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent Inc. Settles With U.S. After EU Privacy Rule Breach

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

bittorrent-new-logoIn 1998 the European Commission’s Directive on Data Protection went into effect, prohibiting the transfer of EU citizens’ data to non-EU countries unless they meet strict privacy protection standards.

In order to facilitate subsequent data-sharing between the U.S. and EU, the U.S. Department of Commerce worked with the European Commission to develop the U.S. – EU Safe Harbor Framework. By signing up to the program, U.S. organizations can send a clear signal to others in the EU that the standards mandated by the EU’s Directive on Data Protection are being met.

For U.S. organizations, signing up has several benefits. All 28 member states of the European Union accept the standard, being a signatory is a sign of commitment to privacy, approval to exchange data with the EU will be automatically granted, and legal issues raised in relation to data sharing can be heard in the United States.

After meeting the standards required by framework, organizations must self-certify every year with the Department of Commerce and state in their privacy policy statements that they adhere to the Safe Harbor Privacy Principles. Herein lies the problem.

By allowing their self-certifications to lapse, BitTorrent Inc. and another eleven companies including ISP Level 3 Communications, encrypted email company DataMotion and a trio of NFL teams, fell short of the framework’s requirements (full company list).

“Enforcement of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework is a Commission priority. These twelve cases help ensure the integrity of the Safe Harbor Framework and send the signal to companies that they cannot falsely claim participation in the program,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a statement.

As can be seen by BitTorrent Inc.’s Safe Harbor entry, the company’s self-certification expired in January 2008 and still lists Ashwin Navin as the company’s president. Navin vacated that role in November 2008.

BitTorrentFTC

While there is no suggestion that BitTorrent Inc. or any of the other organizations involved compromised customer privacy in any way, failure to self-certify and then falsely claiming to participate in the U.S. – EU treaty is unacceptable to the U.S, particularly in light of the recent NSA scandal. With that in mind all 12 organizations have agreed to settle with the FTC by entering into “consent agreements” – BitTorrent Inc.’s can be read here (pdf).

Considering BitTorrent Inc.’s recent publicity drive on the privacy front, the charges by the FTC will come as a disappointment to the company, particularly since their error appears to have stemmed from an administrative oversight rather than actual carelessness with data.

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

TorrentFreak: Major Book Publishers Sue Hotfile For Copyright Infringement

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

hfpLast month Hotfile and the MPAA ended their legal dispute with an $80 million settlement.

While the agreement left room for the file-hosting service to continue its operations by implementing a filtering mechanism, the company decided to throw in the towel and shut down.

However, that doesn’t mean the trouble is over for the defunct file-sharing site. Encouraged by Hollywood’s multi-million dollar victory, several of the world’s largest book publishers have now filed a lawsuit of their own against the site and its owner.

Pearson Education, Cengage Learning, John Wiley and Sons, Elsevier and McGraw-Hill lodged a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, accusing Hotfile of vicarious copyright infringement.

“Hotfile built a business off of infringement. The book publishers’ rights were massively infringed by the site and its operators. They should not be allowed to simply pocket their profits and walk away from the harm they caused,” a representative of the book publishers tells TorrentFreak.

The publishers have submitted 50 books as evidence, including ‘Office 2007 for Dummies’ and ‘C++ How to Program,’ for which they demand compensation. This means that Hotfile is facing up to $7.5 million in damages, if they are found guilty.

The complaint itself offers little new and repeats several arguments that were previously made in the MPAA vs. Hotfile case. Among other things, the publishers note that Hotfile knew that their service was widely used for copyright infringement.

“Hotfile was aware that the vast majority of the files on its service were copyrighted. It received millions of takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, received correspondence from users and affiliates identifying copyrighted works and recognized that users were migrating to Hotfile for copyrighted works after competitor RapidShare was sued,” the complaint reads.

The publishers further accuse Hotfile of doing nothing to remove pirated files from its service, and claim that the filehoster lacked a repeat infringer policy, which the court previously saw as a requirement by the DMCA to qualify for safe harbor.

“Hotfile failed to ban with any consistency repeat infringers who accounted for a large percentage of the infringing files on the system. Despite receiving millions of DMCA notices, Hotfile did not track whether any of the uploads came from the same user,” the publishers note.

As a result of these lax policies, a relatively small group of persistent infringers was able to upload dozens of millions of files, the publishers say.

“In fact, by early 2011, nearly 25,000 users had accumulated more than three DMCA notices and many had received 100 or more. This group of uploaders was responsible for posting 50 million files, which amounts to 44 percent of the files on Hotfile,” the complaint states.

Taking into account Hotfile’s legal history, the publishers have a pretty strong case. This may in part explain why they chose to pursue this target. The question is, however, whether Hotfile still has funds left to pay any damages.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Spanish ISP to Disconnect Music Pirate

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

promusicaeFor many years Spain was a country leading the way when it came to liberal attitudes towards those who share files online. Spaniards have become accustomed to obtaining media for free and as a result file-sharing networks and sites have flourished.

With that background today’s news comes as somewhat of a surprise. The case involves a user known as nito75 who used his computer to share 5,100 tracks via hub-based file-sharing application Direct Connect.

With the assistance of anti-piracy monitors DtecNet, local music/anti-piracy group Promusicae tracked nito75 down to his ISP via his IP address, but beyond that the sharer remained unidentified.

In response, major recording labels Universal, Sony, Warner and EMI took legal action against R Cable y Telecomunicaciones Galicia, nito75′s ISP, in order to prevent further copyright infringement.

As a result, Commercial Court 6 of the Provincial Court of Barcelona has just handed down a first-of-its-kind decision against the ISP, which orders it to “immediately and permanently stop providing Internet access to the user ‘nito75′.”

In their decision the judges explain that placing copyrighted music tracks on a computer with the aim of allowing their distribution to others “is an act of [illegal] copying and communication” since only the music companies have the right to engage in the reproduction and public communication of their content.

In previous file-sharing cases Spanish courts have been interested in whether the alleged infringer carried out sharing for financial gain. No such proof was presented in this case.

The landmark judgment, which is the first ordering a Spanish ISP to disconnect a file-sharing customer, overturns an earlier decision which found that nito75 had not committed copyright infringement.

The personal circumstances of nito75 are unknown, but it is possible that his or her entire household will now be disconnected from the Internet, something which may yet be deemed excessive under European law.

The lawfirm which represented the labels has not yet responded to TorrentFreak’s request for comment.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Throws Net Neutrality Overboard, But Comcast Won’t Ban Torrents

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

throttleIn 2008 Comcast was ordered to stop interfering with BitTorrent traffic generated by its customers. In addition, the company had to disclose all of its “network management” practices.

The Comcast case was the first to ignite a broad discussion about Net Neutrality and the setup for FCC’s Open Internet Order which was released two years later.

The Open Internet Order prescribes that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally, but allows ISPs to slow down or block traffic if it’s considered to be “reasonable network management.” For many Net Neutrality activists the rules didn’t go far enough, but it was something.

Today the Open Internet Order was decimated by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled against the commission. The Court states that the FCC does not have the power to regulate how ISPs manage traffic on their networks.

“Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such. Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order.”

The Court didn’t throw out the entire Open Internet Order, and clarified that ISPs still have to disclose what kind of actions they take when “managing” traffic on their networks.

The ruling leaves the FCC with two options. It could appeal at the Supreme Court or it could ask Congress to give it the powers it wants and/or needs. For now, however, ISPs are free to discriminate between different traffic types, and block certain sites or content.

This could mean, for example, that certain types of traffic get priority over others, or that certain sites or services could be downgraded or blocked.

The reasoning of the D.C. Court of Appeals is similar to an order it issued in 2010. At the time it overruled the FCC’s decision to sanction Comcast for unfair treatment of BitTorrent users, arguing that the commission doesn’t have the authority to enforce net neutrality.

In a response to the bad news FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler said that his organization is considering an appeal.

“We will consider all available options, including those for appeal, to ensure that these networks on which the Internet depends continue to provide a free and open platform for innovation and expression, and operate in the interest of all Americans,” Wheeler noted.

Many Open Internet advocates are unhappy with today’s decision as well.

“We’re disappointed that the court came to this conclusion. Its ruling means that Internet users will be pitted against the biggest phone and cable companies — and in the absence of any oversight, these companies can now block and discriminate against their customers’ communications at will,” Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron notes.

“The compromised Open Internet Order struck down today left much to be desired, but it was a step toward maintaining Internet users’ freedom to go where they wanted, when they wanted, and communicate freely online,” he adds.

For BitTorrent users specifically not much is expected to change in the short-term, not even for Comcast subscribers. The Internet provider told TorrentFreak that it will continue to comply with the FCC’s Open Internet Order for at least six more years.

“Comcast has consistently supported the Commission’s Open Internet Order as an appropriate balance of protection of consumer interests while not interfering with companies’ network management and engineering decisions,” a Comcast spokesperson said.

This promise to keep the Internet “neutral” was part of the NBCUniversal Transaction Order, which is valid until 2020.

“We remain comfortable with that commitment because we have not – and will not – block our customers’ ability to access lawful Internet content, applications, or services. Comcast’s customers want an open and vibrant Internet, and we are absolutely committed to deliver that experience,” the company added.

So no BitTorrent blocking for now from Comcast, although we have to note that throttling would still be an option as long as it’s part of standard network management procedure, or targeted at unauthorized transfers.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Gets Access to His Books After Public Outcry

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

gottFollowing a failed appeal to the Supreme Court in Sweden, Gottfrid Svartholm was extradited to Denmark last November, where he stands accused of hacking into the mainframe computers of IT company CSC.

On his arrival the Pirate Bay founder was put in solitary confinement, as the authorities feared that he would try to exchange sensitive information with the outside world.

These restrictions also meant that he couldn’t access the books he brought from Sweden, for an advanced mathematics course he started.

As time passed by the restrictions were somewhat loosened. Gottfrid’s solitary confinement and the restriction against meeting with other inmates were canceled earlier this month but access to his books and other reading material was still off-limits.

TorrentFreak talked to Gottfrid’s mother Kristina on Saturday, who explained that she can’t even send him a copy of The Economist, as the responsible police officer fears that it may contain secret messages.

“One of the magazines that Gottfrid subscribes to is ‘The Economist’. I get his copy at my home address every week, wrapped in plastic, directly from the publishers. According to the police officer in charge, this magazine could contain ‘secret messages’ and he therefore has check it and read it before handing it over,” Kristina says.

Unfortunately, the officer in question doesn’t read English, so The Economist never reaches Gottfrid, nor do any other magazines or newspapers.

When the news about Gottfrid’s prison circumstances got around a petition was started by the Free Anakata Campaign, asking the Danish Prime Minister to improve his conditions. Initially there were only a few hundred backers but last week this quickly grew to more than 50,000, and then quickly doubled to 100,000.

petition-100k

During her visit to the prison last Friday, Kristina mentioned the petition to the officer in charge, who said he would look into the book issue. This morning came confirmation that Gottfrid can have his books back.

“Gottfrid has access to his books now, with a maximum of ten at a time in his cell,” Kristina told TorrentFreak.

According to Gottfrid’s mother, the overwhelming support for the petition is one of the prime reasons why things changed so quickly. “The petition must have put a tremendous pressure on them,” Kristina says.

In addition to his own books, Gottfrid can also lend books and other reading material from the prison’s library. In addition, he is allowed to leave his cell for a few hours per week, and invite an inmate to socialize in his cell.

The prison even allowed the Pirate Bay founder to buy a games console, a request that was previously denied.

“Gottfrid is now allowed to have a PlayStation 2 in his cell. He has bought one from the prison service, but he is still waiting for his order of a memory card so he can save games, and a second-hand controller so he can play with fellow inmates,” Kristina says.

Gottfrid’s mother tells us that Gottfrid is holding up relatively well. She will continue to make the 1,320 kilometer round-trip to Denmark once a week for the one hour visitor time he has. All in all she is very happy with the positive developments, and grateful for the public support.

“Needless to say, the support for him from all around the world is inestimable. It helps a lot, I assure each and every one of you,” Kristina concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: EU Offers Public a Chance to Fix Copyright Law

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

europe-flagYear after year there are cries that copyright law is not only unfit for purpose in the digital age, but also heavily biased towards the entertainment industries and their corporate masters. Many feel that such laws are simply imposed but in reality the people can have their say, if only they can make their voices heard. That chance is here.

In 2014 the European Commission (EC) will decide whether to propose new copyright laws and to that end is inviting everyone to submit their views in a public consultation. No matter what stake an individual has in the future of copyright, from copyright holder to artist to regular Internet user, all responses are welcomed – and not just from EU citizens either.

“Note that you can [participate in the consultation] even if you do not live in Europe,” the EFF explains. “Just as United States laws can influence legislators in the rest of the world, so can European legislation have an impact on all Internet users: Both through our interactions with users and companies in the region and in how they can set new policy precedents.”

The consultation is some 80 questions long, which is enough to deter many people from participating. However, there is no requirement to answer all of the questions and people are able to respond to as many or as few as they like. That said, the open-ended nature of the questions means that it can sometimes seem difficult to see which relate to a particular issue. No need to worry though since help is at hand.

There are two great sources for simplifying the process. The first, at CopyWrongs.eu, provides a simple tick-box format which directs submitters to the questions that matter to them and filters out those that don’t. Respondents that are interested in file-sharing, DRM, content geo-blocking, infringement notices or industry-biased copyright law, for example, need only click a few boxes and fill in their experiences.

ameliaSecondly, Swedish Pirate Party politician and Member of the European Parliament Amelia Andersdotter has published a straightforward guide on how to respond to the consultation by directing respondents to the questions that matter to them.

“If you want to legalize file-sharing, you need to emphasize that sharing of culture and making private copies on the internet should be permissible when you answer questions 22-26,” Andersdotter explains. “You can also add additional comments on enabling the legally certain operation of torrent trackers in question 80.”

Those concerned with Fair Use should head to question 24 while those looking for action on liability for intermediaries should focus on questions 75 to 77. There are many other topics too, including copyright term limitations, exceptions, remixing and issues of importance to libraries, so every key aspect is addressed in some way.

Those happy to dive into the full 80 question consultation should head over to the European Commission’s site here, but whichever method people use to respond the important thing is to have a say.

“European copyright reform may greatly improve the free exchange of knowledge and culture, but it may also make things worse!” Andersdotter explains.

“Industry lobbyists have a lot more resources available to reply to public consultations. To have the voices of the people heard and to steer copyright reform in the right direction, it’s important to counter-balance industry’s replies with a lot of perspectives from users and creators.”

The deadline to do so is February 5th, just three weeks away….

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

TorrentFreak: Viewing Pirated Streams is Not Illegal, German Govt Says

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

Panic spread across Germany last month when an estimated 10,000 Internet users received threatening letters from a lawfirm acting on behalf of porn producers.

The alleged offenses apparently took place on RedTube, a streaming video site which from a technical viewpoint is not unlike YouTube. With no uploading taking place, how did the copyright holders obtain the IP addresses of alleged offenders when RedTube insists nothing was handed over?

With that still a mystery and RedTube outraged at this attack on their users, in December the company obtained an injunction to halt the trolls in their tracks. However, an important question still remained unanswered. Is merely viewing a copyrighted stream without permission illegal under current law?

With the controversy storming on the question was posed to the German Government and the Ministry of Justice has just delivered its opinion. The Ministry concludes that the mere viewing of a copyrighted stream without permission is not in itself an act of copyright infringement.

This opinion puts the Government completely at odds with the adult companies behind the thousands of cash settlement letters sent out last year. It also draws a line in the sand between streaming (legal) and regular downloads (illegal).

According to the Ministry of Justice’s opinion the watching of illicit movies on a browser-based streaming site now appears to be permissible (temporary copy), whereas downloading a movie which is stored on a hard drive for later viewing (reproduction) remains illegal.

However, the question of streaming legality is one yet to be decided in Germany’s highest court, and according to the Government the definitive ruling will arrive from outside its borders.

“Whether the use of streaming offerings constitutes a reproduction or violates the rights of authors and holders of related rights has not yet been clarified by the supreme court,” the Ministry told Parliament, adding that the question will ultimately be answered by the European Court of Justice.

In the meantime the announcement will be welcomed by thousands of RedTube users who should be further emboldened not to hand over their hard earned cash.

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

TorrentFreak: Court: ISP Subscribers Not Liable For Pirating Family Members

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

download-keyboardCopyright holders – especially those conducting troll-like operations – would like to create the impression that everything that happens on an Internet connection is the bill payer’s responsibility.

This notion, if it were true, would make their lives very simple. By holding the Internet subscriber responsible, infringement ‘fines’ could be sent to households safe in the knowledge that the person’s name they have on file could not escape liability.

Fortunately this is not the case in most Western legal systems which generally require the actual infringer to be held responsible, unless the bill payer was complicit in some way. While the system in Germany is tougher than most, with bill payers often being held responsible for everyone in their household (both children and adults), a new legal ruling published yesterday changes the playing field.

The ruling was published by the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof / BGH), the supreme court in all matters of civil and criminal law. It concludes a matter dating back to 2006 brought by several leading recording labels against an account holder said to have shared a total of 3,749 songs online.

The labels sent a letter to the man, a serving police officer who shared a home with his spouse and stepson, alleging infringement and talking about an amount of 400,000 euros in damages but offering a settlement value of around 3,400 euros.

The account holder and target of the settlement demand refused to pay on the basis he had not carried out any infringements. However, speaking with the police, his 20-year-old stepson admitting he had downloaded the music.

The case proceeded to the district court which ruled in the labels’ favor. It held that the account holder was responsible for the infringements carried out by the 20-year-old on the basis that when he gave his stepson Internet access he should have “educated” him on the issue of illegal file-sharing and forbidden him from engaging in it, even though he had no reason to believe any was being carried out. The court ordered the defendant to pay the labels 2,841 euros.

After traversing the legal system the Federal Court of Justice has now quashed the ‘guilty’ verdict and totally dismissed the action. The judgment published yesterday held that when an account holder allows adult family members to use his or her Internet connection, those adults are responsible for their own actions when online and do not have to be ‘educated’ by the person paying the bill.

If, however, the account holder is made aware that infringements may have been carried out (after receiving a warning letter for example), he or she is then obliged to take measures to ensure that further infringements are prevented.

“Since the Court of Appeal found no evidence that the account holder knew that his adult stepson had abused the Internet for illegal participation in file-sharing networks, he is not liable [for his stepson's actions],” the judgment reads.

Lawyer Christian Solmecke of the Wilde Beuger Solmecke lawfirm describes the Court’s decision as an important landmark ruling, but feels opportunities were missed and questions remain.

“This is without doubt a very important decision in file sharing. However, there remains a large uncertainty that affects industry and business owners,” Solmecke says.

“The decision of the Supreme Court is good and right. Too bad, however, that the Supreme Court [has not covered the] complicated issues of evidence in the file sharing process. These are highly controversial and required a clear case,” he concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Labels to Stop “Pirate” Advert Meddling

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

bvmiWith both Hollywood and the major recording labels seemingly taking a step back from major legal action against sites they claim are infringing on their rights, some other mechanism would clearly have to take its place.

Currently in fashion is the voluntary agreement, whereby companies and organizations with an interest in the entertainment industry ecosystem are encouraged to enter into anti-piracy collaborations. The so-called six-strikes scheme in the United States is probably the most prominent example, although there is another with more global reach.

Advertising is what keeps millions of websites alive today and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the entertainment industries. For some time they have been putting well-known companies and agencies under pressure not to place their ads on so-called pirate sites, and not without success. The ultimate aim is that with no financing, sites of which the entertainment companies disapprove will wither and die.

One group employing such a strategy is BVMI (Federal Music Industry Association). This RIAA-style IFPI member in Germany has around 300 label members which together dominate around 90% of the local music market. In its quest to bring the very popular YouTube-MP3 ripping site to its knees, BVMI recently approached the site’s advertisers in the hope that a few choice words would cause them to abandon their business partner.

“The lawyers of BVMI in Germany sent letters to business partners of mine to notify them that they are ‘cooperating with a service that is clearly illegal’ and asked them to cease their cooperation immediately,” YouTube-MP3 owner Philip Matesanz informs TorrentFreak.

YouTube-MP3

Matesanz says he obtained a copy of BVMI’s letter sent to one of his business associates and decided to take immediate action.

“We think that the behavior of the music industry and its spreading of false rumors violates several laws including anti-trust law,” he explains.

YouTube-MP3 acted quickly against BVMI. The letter seen by the site was sent in the first days of last month and by December 13, 2013 a motion had been filed with the anti-trust chamber at the district court of Berlin. Just seven days later the court handed down its ruling.

“The defendant [BVMI]….has encouraged the recipient of its letter sent on the 3rd of December 2013 to end its business relationship or rather stop buying advertisements on the website of the plaintiff [YouTube-MP3] and therefore acted with the intention to illegitimately disrupt its business,” the three judges of the chamber wrote in their ruling.

“The illegitimacy of the disruption by evaluating the interests of both parties arises from the wording of the letter by which the defendant wants to make the recipient believe that the service of the plaintiff is without a doubt illegal and therefore the recipient must end its business partnership with the plaintiff. As a matter of fact the legal situation is not as obvious as the defendant concludes.”

The judges ordered BVMI to immediately cease and desist from their actions. The group was further warned that a failure to comply could see its board of directors subjected to prison sentences or have fines as high as 250,000 euros ($340,550) imposed for every violation of the order.

Matesanz says that holding the music business to account over its meddling via anti-trust legislation is an important step forward.

“What would happen if gas manufacturers like SHELL engaged in talks with financial institutions to make sure they won’t work with producers of electric cars, talk with ad-agencies to make sure electric car manufactures won’t advertise its products and so on? The situation is pretty absurd,” he concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Simpsons Pirate Ordered to Pay Fox $10.5 Million in Damages

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

In the wake of the isoHunt settlement in October, TorrentFreak reported on another big copyright infringement case that had flown entirely under the radar.

It involved a pair of now-shuttered websites – Watch The Simpsons Online (WTOS) and Watch Family Guy Online, launched 2008 and 2009 respectively. Both websites gave visitors the chance to watch episodes of the named TV shows via embedded web players utilizing external video sources. Neither site hosted infringing content.

Together the sites had around 87 million visitors during their lifetimes and as a result attracted the unwanted attention of Fox. During 2008, WTSO was targeted several times and had to keep shifting hosts and at one stage had its domain seized following a WIPO dispute. In 2010 the MPAA began filing its own cease and desists.

Although the sites continued to operate without further major incident, it was the calm before the storm. Early October 2013, Fox filed a copyright infringement lawsuit at the Federal Court of Canada, alongside requests to keep its contents secret pending a raid on the site operator’s home. That was carried out October 9.

Simpsons

With the site admin unwilling to fight Fox in an expensive case he knew he could not win, matters proceeded without him. Just before Christmas the defendant found out the case had been concluded in his absence.

Details sent to TorrentFreak by Timothy Lowman, a lawyer at the Sim & McBurney lawfirm which handled the case for Fox, spells out the extent of the judgment.

“The Judgment awards $10 million [CAD] for statutory damages, $500,000 for punitive damages and fixed/assessed solicitor client costs of $78.573.25 (in addition to an earlier cost award of $107,665.55),” Lowman explains.

“The significant judgement in this case points up the risk courted by those who engage in internet piracy, in particular for commercial purposes. The Federal Court considers that such activities warrant significant assessments of statutory damages, in this case $13,888.88 per work infringed, and that such misconduct is also deserving of substantial awards of punitive damages to achieve the goal of punishment and deterrence of the offense of copyright infringement,” he concludes.

According to Lowman the statutory damages and punitive damages awards in this judgment are the largest given to date by the Federal Court of Canada and according to the person expected to pay them, the admin formerly known as ‘Joecool6101′, the amount is simply unmanageable. He cannot pay but Fox are pressing ahead anyway.

“Fox are pursing for the money and they are doing so as hard as they possibly can. They’ve ruined my life and continue to do so as long as they don’t leave me and my family alone. As it’s been referenced by a lawyer: ‘they are killing a fly with a nuke’,” he told TorrentFreak.

“This experience was the worst thing I could possibly imagine, Fox takes no mercy when destroying your life as you once knew it and then begins to drag your new life down as much as possible as well. I don’t wish this upon anyone and simply wish the dinosaurs would just give their consumers what they want — which is to be able to stream their videos online easy, fast, worldwide.”

The judgment also forbids JoeCool from infringing Fox’s copyrights in future, but rest assured there will be others to fill the gap – unless Fox takes his advice of course.

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

TorrentFreak: Crazy Calculations Behind $652,000 File-Sharing Damages

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

calcThis week was one to forget for an individual dubbed by copyright holders as Sweden’s “worst ever” Internet pirate. The man was a former moderator and uploader at the now-defunct Swebits site and had been tracked down and prosecuted for his sins.

After concluding in the Västmanlands District Court last month, a few days ago the Court handed down its decision.

The 28-year-old was ordered to pay $652,000 in damages for the unauthorized distribution of just one of the movies in the case. For the other 517 the man was said to have shared he was handed a suspended jail sentence and ordered to complete 160 hours of community service.

There can be no doubt that $652,000 is a shocking amount of money, so just how was that figure arrived at? ComputerSweden news editor Marcus Jerrang asked the same question and has come up with a surprising sequence of events.

Jerrang discovered the amount was based on the expert opinion of a consultant called Bertil Sandgren who specializes in licensing matters.

“The written statement Sandgren has given the court is a fantastic display of assumptions and causal relations that aren’t backed by evidence,” Jerrang explains.

How many pirates?

Sandgren began by listing the number of people who attended Beck movies in the 2000s. The movie in this case, Buried Alive, had the lowest number of visitors at just over 100,000. This, compared to the 320,000 who watched the 2001 movie “The Price of Revenge.” Sandgren decided that 30,000 more people would have watched Buried Alive if it were not for illegal file-sharing.

The consultant then took a look at how movies were being presented to the public in 2010 and noted a move to digital presentations, with many individual theaters closing down but more multiplexes being built.

“From experience, a shift of this magnitude should imply a positive visitor development over the next 2-3 years after 2010 by about 20-25 percent,” Sandgren said.

“The primary reason behind the loss of the increase is most likely illegal downloading,” Sandgren explained, without backing the statement up.

Licensing and damages

Moving on, Sandgren looked at how much it would cost to purchase a hypothetical license fee to distribute the movie for free.

Noting that one million Swedes downloaded movies in 2010, he estimated that 25% of those would have bought movies if file-sharing didn’t exist. From this Sandgren concluded that more than one million would choose to download movies for free if they could do so legally.

This would result in a 100% loss of revenue for Buried Alive in the video market, so Sandgren decided that any license would need to be based on that total loss. Since Buried Alive pulled in around $865,000 overall, Sandgren put the license price at $835,000.

Arriving at damages, Sandgren looked at how many people had allegedly downloaded another Beck film in 2007 (said to be 45% of the total viewers) and noted that of those around 25% would have paid for it if file-sharing did not exist. After juggling a few stats an amount of $175,000 was arrived at.

Other loss of revenue, TV fees and damage to goodwill

Going on to calculate additional losses, Sandgren noted that “generally speaking, a film of this nature ought to reach an audience that, carefully calculated, is 30 percent larger. That is approximately 130,000 tickets with an improved revenue of an additional [$152,000].”

Moving on to pay and free TV, an amount of just over $106,000 was added but there are still more issues to be factored in. Sandgren calculated that the free availability of the movie on file-sharing sites would mean more effort would have to be put into selling it – $76,000 more to be precise.

Furthermore, the movie’s reputation would also be damaged due to the relative low quality of video rips being made available online. That, plus another $7,500 in punitive damages, added another $53,000 to the total.

Jerrang says that the District Court believed almost everything that Sandgren presented, since he was deemed to be credible after presenting evidence in the Swedish case against The Pirate Bay.

In the end, however, the court opted to compensate for just 50% of the market, ultimately arriving at the headline $652,000. Incredibly, no complaint was filed by the file-sharers’ lawyer meaning that this “think of a number” game will almost certainly be repeated again in future.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Releases More Evidence of Megaupload’s ‘Mass Infringing Use’

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

megauploadThe Department of Justice recently requested a secret order to help copyright holders by releasing sealed evidence from Megaupload’s servers. Despite protests from Megaupload, the U.S. has now made this information public.

The evidence offers new details obtained from Megaupload’s databases to back up claims that were made in the original indictment. According to the United States the new evidence makes it even more clear that Megaupload was mostly a piracy hub, and that Kim Dotcom and his colleagues were well aware of that.

In large part the new evidence deals with how Megaupload and Megavideo responded to DMCA notices. The Government accuses Megaupload of misleading copyright holders, as they only disabled URLs to infringing files, and not the files themselves. In addition, the new evidence shows that “repeat infringers” were allowed to continue uploading copyrighted material.

For example, the Megavideo database revealed that there were 33 active user accounts that had more than 10,000 URL links disabled through DMCA notices. The decision not to terminate these users was due to the millions of views these repeat infringers were driving, the Government says.

“In total, links created and distributed by these repeat infringer accounts attracted more than 475 million views on Megavideo.com. Had the Mega Conspiracy terminated the accounts of these repeat infringers, for which they had actual knowledge, the Mega Sites would have lost these millions of views,” the Government writes.

According to the new information the infringing users were responsible for uploading the files that generated the majority of all views on Megaupload.

In total there were 93,878 users that had at least one of their links disabled through a takedown notice. The links of these infringing users were accessed more than 27.2 billion times, which is roughly 77% of Megavideo’s total views.

In addition, the Government claims that 43% of all video files that were viewed on Megavideo had received at least one takedown notice.

The Government further states that Megaupload was not primarily a cyberlocker, as most users couldn’t store files permanently. Only premium subscribers could store files permanently, and free and unregistered users would lose access to files that weren’t downloaded regularly.

“One of the databases shows that on or about January 19, 2012, the Mega Sites had approximately 66.6 million total registered users. Of these, approximately 800,000, or roughly 1.2%, were premium subscribers. Therefore, approximately 98.8% of users did not have significant capabilities to store private content long-term,” the Government writes.

Most users were indeed not interested in storing files, as information from Megaupload’s databases shows that the vast majority of Megaupload’s users never uploaded a single file.

“In addition, of the 66.6 million total registered users, at most, only 5.86 million registered users, or less than 9%, had ever uploaded a file to either Megaupload.com or Megavideo.com. Therefore, the vast majority of users accessed the Mega Sites to view and download content.”

The Government then goes on to detail several of the “repeat infringer” accounts, and how the Megaupload team interacted with these users. The evidence also includes various email and Skype conversations between Dotcom and his team where there are seemingly aware of the infringing use of Megaupload.

The Government had requested to release this information so copyright holders could use it to their advantage in possible lawsuits. Whether the evidence released thus far will be good enough to make a case against the Megaupload team remains to be seen.

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

TorrentFreak: ISP Told to Take Down ‘Pirate Site’ or Face Money Laundering Issues

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

factFollowing close to 15 years of action against file-sharers and file-sharing sites it’s accepted that while Internet companies aren’t usually responsible for the actions of their customers, there are limits.

However, while the above relates to copyright liability, there are elements of Hollywood’s anti-piracy teams that believe that ISPs can be on the hook for much, much more.

During the past few days TorrentFreak received documents which show attempts by the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft to have streaming video site TheShowDepot.com taken offline. The site was hosted by LeaseWeb in the Netherlands.

“We are requesting the removal of the whole domain from your servers. The website serves no purpose other than to provide access to copyright protected media,” FACT told LeaseWeb in an email, supported by links to 16 episodes of The Big Bang Theory.

LeaseWeb reacted by notifying TheShowDepot of the complaint, warning that a failure “to take appropriate action to prevent future complaints” would result in an IP block of the site’s server.

It’s not clear if TheShowDepot responded “appropriately” or not, but their IP address was eventually blocked by LeaseWeb on November 30. While disabling a whole website based on one complaint might be considered excessive by some, FACT’s veiled threats to LeaseWeb during the course of the exchange will certainly raise the most eyebrows.

“The domain ‘theshowdepot.com’ appears to resolve to IP address 95.211.203.106 which is provided by LeaseWeb B.V,” a FACT ‘Internet Investigator’ told the webhost.

“The fact that LeaseWeb are now aware of this means that should you continue to facilitate the illegal activities of ‘theshowdepot.com’ and accept payment for doing so then ‘LeaseWeb’ may be committing associated money laundering offenses. If the Domain continues to operate whilst being hosted on LeaseWeb servers FACT will consider escalating the action.”

In discussing FACT’s highly unusual claims, LeaseWeb Senior Regulatory Counsel Alex de Joode sent TorrentFreak a clear explanation of where he believes his company’s liability begins and ends.

“LeaseWeb’s general abuse procedure in regard to copyright claims, for content hosted in the Netherlands, follows the agreed upon principles between the content owners, hosting companies (like LeaseWeb), the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Dutch Justice department (NTD Code of Conduct),” de Joode explains.

launder“Under Dutch law, as long as we follow the before mentioned principles, there is NO criminal liability for hosters in the Netherlands. According to the eCommerce Directive the legislative regime in a third country (in this case the UK) can NOT be stricter than the legislative regime in the host country (in this case the Netherlands). Any claim otherwise is unfounded.”

The LeaseWeb counsel told TorrentFreak that his company strictly adheres to the notice-and-takedown (NTD) Code of Conduct in which there is “no room for third party pressure.”

“Either a claim is valid and content is removed, or a claim is not valid and the content remains available. We see therefore no reason to include claims of money laundering in NTD requests, this will only make [FACT's] other claims look suspicious, thus hindering a speedy processing of NTD requests,” de Joode says.

“As far as i’m aware FACT is the only organization that uses these unsubstantiated claims. I do not understand why they would try to strong arm hosting companies in removing potentially infringing websites. If they have a valid a claim a simple, proper NTD request will suffice in having the content removed.”

In comments to TorrentFreak, Arnoud Engelfriet, a lawyer specializing in Internet law at the ICTRecht law firm, notes that FACT’s claim – that TheShowDepot has “no other purpose” than to infringe copyright – has its roots in The Pirate Bay case.

“The Dutch courts treated thepiratebay.org as a site with ‘no other purpose’ than to enable infringement and thus ordered it shut down,” Engelfriet explains.

“However, the money laundering claim is too far-fetched and sounds like legal blustering to me. The argument would be that because the site is infringing copyright, its income is illegal. Any payment to Leaseweb thus must have been made with those illegal monies, and knowingly accepting illegal monies would then be ‘laundering’. Let me be polite and say that I have yet to see a legal authority confirming that argument,” he concludes.

Several days ago TorrentFreak contacted FACT with a request for comment on their controversial claims but we have received no response. In the meantime TheShowDepot has relocated to a new host in Latvia where it remains up – for now.

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

TorrentFreak: Private Tracker Operators Handed Two Year Suspended Sentences

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

In August 2007, Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN caused the closure of six torrent sites operating from local host LeaseWeb. One of the sites, the popular AradiTracker, was soon back online.

One year later and it appeared that history was repeating itself when a notice appeared on the site’s homepage warning that the tracker had been shut down by “the powers that be.” Unlike the previous year’s closure, this time it was made clear that the site would not return.

AradiTracker had operated since May 2005, gathering a few thousand members in its first months of operations up to a peak of around 37,000, but it was the 2008 raids carried out by police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft that finally ended its operations.

In action against the owner of AradiTracker, Hugh Reid of Northern Ireland, police seized all computer related equipment from the 70-year-old’s home and place of work. Three weeks later police and Trading Standards officers raided a second person, Reid’s son-in-law Marcus Lewis, at his home in North Wales.

The AradiTracker shutdown notice displayed in 2008

AradiShut

Five years later in 2013, both Reid and Lewis were pleading guilty to distributing items protected by copyright law.

The prosecution, who framed AradiTracker’s activities as a “movie theft” operation, said that the site received so much money that PayPal refused to process any more transactions. The cash coming in, donations given by the site’s members, was described in court as the users “buying” counterfeit content.

Judge Philpott, who said the behavior of the men was “nothing less than theft”, noted that people suffer due to copyright infringement.

“There are people who work here locally who work to make films locally in this jurisdiction and in others as well,” the judge said. “There are also the people who work in cinemas, the people who distribute DVDs who are all affected by copyright infringements.”

Noting that Lewis had a clean record, the judge at Belfast Crown Court handed both men two year prison sentences, suspended for two years.

According to a local report, that money – said to be £33,000 – will become the subject of a confiscation hearing next month. Reid’s lawyer said his client “had the means” to settle the matter in full.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Site Uploader Ordered to Pay $652,000 For Sharing One Movie

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

In 2011, popular private BitTorrent tracker Swebits announced it would close down, just a week after one of its users was arrested.

The then 25-year-old was a moderator and uploader and between April 2008 and November 2011 allegedly obtained huge quantities of content from the warez scene and shared the titles with the site’s users.

The investigation, carried out by anti-piracy outfit Antipiratbyran (now Rights Alliance), involved the uploading of 518 movies and TV shows. The case concluded in the Västmanlands District Court last month.

Rightsholders dubbed the man Sweden’s “worst ever” individual movie pirate and for that the prosecution demanded at least one year in jail.

The district court has now handed down its verdict and while an immediate custodial sentence is off the table, the damages award is huge by any standards.

This morning the court ordered the now 28-year-old to pay $652,000 in damages for the unauthorized distribution of just one of the movies in the case. For the other 517 the man was handed a suspended jail sentence and ordered to complete 160 hours of community service.

In comments to TorrentFreak, Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén says that the damages award is the largest ever for a Swedish movie.

“[The $652,000] refers to compensation and is equal to what the man would have paid if he had bought a license to distribute the movie for free downloads,” Pontén explains.

“The man also has to pay damages for other losses such as disturbing the market and goodwill losses. This shows what damages are caused to the creators and rights holders by the illegal file-sharing of one movie.”

Needless to say the Pirate Party are outraged by the decision, which exceeds the $150,000 per title statutory damages possible in the United States, a territory infamous for its tough infringement penalties.

“To receive such a harsh penalty for doing something carried out by millions of Swedes shows how outdated our legislation is. The only way forward is a radical reform of copyright law that allows for the sharing of culture,” says Gustav Nipe, chairman of the Young Pirates.

But before any overhaul can take place, Rights Alliance have their eyes on other targets.

“In the future a number of criminal cases are up for trial and damages will be brought forward for one or several movies,” Pontén concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Held in Solitary Confinement Without a Warrant

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

Following a failed last-ditch appeal to the Supreme Court in Sweden, Gottfrid Svartholm was extradited to Denmark last month.

The Pirate Bay founder stands accused of hacking into the mainframe computers of IT company CSC. In an earlier case in Sweden he was acquitted of similar charges.

Previously in Sweden and within the natural parameters of his detainment, Gottfrid had been granted various freedoms, including socializing with other inmates and the ability to receive mail. He also enjoyed access to books for his studies, an absolute must for someone with such an active mind but no computer or Internet. However, since arriving in Denmark things have been very different.

In a recent letter sent to Amnesty and shared with TorrentFreak, Gottfrid’s mother Kristina explains her son’s plight. She says that Gottfrid is being kept in solitary and treated as if he were a “dangerous, violent and aggressive criminal” even though his only crime – if any – is hacking.

Gottfrid’s lawyer Luise Høi says the terms of his confinement are unacceptable and are being executed without the correct legal process.

“It is the case that Danish authorities are holding my client in solitary confinement without a warrant,” Høi explains, noting that if the authorities wish to exclude Gottfrid from access to anyone except his lawyer and prison staff, they need to apply for a special order.

The theory is that the special terms of Gottfrid’s confinement are in place so that he is unable to interfere with the investigation, but Kristina doesn’t buy that excuse.

“[In Sweden] I visited him every week, unsupervised, sometimes with an additional person. He rang me daily throughout the fall and his letters etc were not checked. For a long time he has had every opportunity in the world to complicate investigations for the Danish police if he had wanted,” Kristina says.

The extradition by Sweden and current situation in Denmark has outraged Wikileaks‘ Julian Assange, a staunch supporter of Gottfrid who he describes as a ‘Wikileaks Consultant’.

“It is time someone says it like it is: Gottfrid Svartholm Warg is a political prisoner and Sweden has fallen off the map of decent nations in its treatment of him. Gottfrid has always been ideologically driven to inform the world; he worked tirelessly to help WikiLeaks expose the slaughter of civilians in Iraq by a US helicopter gunship and was responsible for an important part of our infrastructure,” Assange says.

“There are thousands of alleged cyber criminals, but instead of dealing with these cases, we see vast resources diverted yet again by the Swedish state into smashing Gottfrid. These attempts include the first trial of Gottfrid after US pressure (extensively documented in US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks), his subsequent rendering from Cambodia by the Swedish intelligence service SAPO, his months of incommunicado detention in Sweden, and now his irregular extradition to Denmark – for a charge he was just acquitted of.”

Today, Kristina will travel to see Gottfrid in Denmark, hopefully with more encouraging news to report on her departure.

Meanwhile in Russia, authorities there have ordered local ISPs to initiate a block on RuTor.org, a site whose domain is registered to the Swede. The site stands accused of distributing copyrighted material including the 2013 film ‘Stalingrad’.

Anyone who would like to write to Gottfrid is certainly welcome to try. For any chance of this mail eventually getting through people should ensure that letters contain only text, are not written in any kind of code or suggestion of that, and do not contain any discussion of the case.

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, 171084
Att: Jens Jørgensen
Politigården
1567 København V
Denmark

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

TorrentFreak: Kim Dotcom’s Tweets Make Megaupload Defense Less Credible, US Govt Says

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

The criminal indictment against Megaupload, Kim Dotcom and his alleged co-conspirators is without a doubt the most prominent copyright case of the decade.

Tens of thousands of news articles have covered it thus far, not least because Megaupload’s founder Kim Dotcom frequently comments on the case in the media, as well as on Twitter.

While Dotcom has the right to be heard, the U.S. Government now claims that these public statements make Megaupload’s defense less credible. dotcom tweet

Earlier this week Megaupload’s legal team protested a secret request from the Government to share evidence with copyright holders.

According to the lawyers this one-sided disclosure could bias public opinion.

“Permitting the Government to widely disseminate a one-sided, cherry-picked set of facts threatens to improperly infect the jury pool before defendants are afforded any opportunity to present their side of the story,” Megaupload’s lawyers wrote.

In a letter sent to the district court yesterday, Acting United States Attorney Dana Boente counters this argument. Among other things, the Government suggests that Megaupload’s worries are less credible due to Dotcom’s close relationship with the media and his many comments and tweets in public.

“Defense counsel’s stated concern about ‘infect[ing] the jury pool’ might be more credible if it were not for their putative client’s close relationships with and repeated statements to media around the world,” the letter states.

“To summarize Kim Dotcom’s many appearances, interviews, webpages, articles, statements, and tweets about his claims about the evidence, witnesses, personalities, and circumstances in the criminal case pending before this Court would take thousands of pages and many hundreds of hours of video and audio.”

The letter continues with several examples of headlines that are featured on the websites of Kim Dotcom and his counsel Ira Rothken.

DOJ’s examples of Dotcom’s “appearances”

dotcom-press

In addition to the tweets and news headlines, the Government also points to a white paper released by Megaupload lawyer Robert Amsterdam, and the book about Kim Dotcom’s life that was published last month.

“Perhaps most significantly, there is also a 48-page ‘White Paper’ produced by counsel supposedly addressing the merits and circumstances of the government’s case, called ‘Megaupload, the Copyright Lobby, and the Future of Digital Rights: The United States v. You (and Kim Dotcom),’ and a recent book entitled ‘The Secret Life of Kim Dotcom,’ which purports to provide Dotcom’s version of the prosecution’s case.”

The Government then goes on to argue that it’s “strange” that Megaupload’s legal team objects to the release of actual evidence against the defendants, while they appear to be so eager to tell their side of the story in the media and on Twitter.

“It is strange then to suggest that the release of records that will become public at the extradition hearing would be any different or that the close relationship between the media, the defendants, and their counsel that has already allowed them the opportunity to present ‘their side of the story’ would be impaired by a summary of some of the actual evidence against them,” the Government writes.

In other words, if Kim Dotcom is so eager to tell the world his side of the story, then it shouldn’t be a problem for the Government to selectively release evidence in public.

The letter doesn’t note, however, that Megaupload was not given the chance to tell their side of the story in court, unlike the Government. This is one of the main reasons why Megaupload’s lawyers objected to the sealed order to release evidence.

It is now up to Judge Liam O’Grady to evaluate whether he should side with Megaupload or the Government on this issue.

Whatever the outcome, we don’t expect that Kim Dotcom will be silent about it on Twitter and in the media. If anything, the Government’s recent comments will only add fuel to the flames.

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

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Slams U.S. Secret Move to Share Evidence With Copyright Holders

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

megauploadAfter five months without any progress in the criminal case against Megaupload, Kim Dotcom’s legal team has discovered that the U.S. Government has been granted permission to share critical case evidence with copyright industry groups.

An ex-parte order was issued last month and filed under seal, which means that its exact contents remain hidden. The information available reveals that the Government intends to share MD5 hash values of Megaupload users’ files, among other things.

Megaupload’s legal team is not happy with the ‘secret’ order and TorrentFreak has obtained a letter in which they voice their concerns to the U.S. federal court.

“It has been brought to our attention by Mr. Dotcom’s New Zealand counsel that this Court issued a sealed ex parte order on November 22, 2013, which requires that the Government publicly disseminate, through trade organizations and a press release, certain information related to the above-captioned matter,” the letter begins.

The lawyers claim that with the covert filing the U.S. Government has deprived the defendants of their due process rights. The order was issued without proper justification, they claim, as there is no valid reason to conceal it from Megaupload and the other defendants.

“The defendants have been indicted, their assets have been frozen, their business has been destroyed, and their liberty has been restrained. Given these constraints, it is unclear what evils the Government fears defendants will inflict if provided notice of the Government’s submission, beyond having Defendants’ counsel come into court to make opposing arguments,” the lawyers write to the court.

megaupload-letter

According to the available information the U.S. Government is aiming to help copyright holders who may want to file civil lawsuits against Kim Dotcom and Megaupload. The Government fears that if this doesn’t happen quickly, the alleged copyright violations may expire due to the statute of limitations.

Megaupload’s legal team disagrees with this line of reasoning and points out to the court that over the past months the Government did not appear to be in a hurry at all.

“Any claimed urgency, however, is entirely manufactured, given that the Government first indicted the defendants on January 5, 2012 and has made no previous effort to publicize the information. Having sat on its hands for nearly two years, the Government cannot credibly claim that circumstances are sufficiently exigent to outweigh defendant’s due process rights,” they write.

“Now, after two years, the Government is suddenly reversing course and claiming it is imperative to get its biased, selective account of the evidence out to the public. The claim of emergency rings hollow.”

The legal team further points out that the request goes against the law. The Government cites the Crime Victims Rights Act (CVRA) as an authority, however, the Fourth Circuit has indicated that the CVRA is “silent and unconcerned” with the rights of supposed victims to file civil claims.

Furthermore, the disclosure of evidence is problematic because it allows the Government to carefully select information that can tip the balance in their favor when it becomes public.

“The Government’s request also substantially prejudices the defendants in the case. Permitting the Government to widely disseminate a one-sided, cherry-picked set of facts threatens to improperly infect the jury pool before defendants are afforded any opportunity to present their side of the story.”

Among the information the Government intends to release are MD5 hash values of the files Megaupload users have stored. The lawyers point out that this information “implicates important privacy rights” of the company’s former customers.

All in all Megaupload sees the latest filing as yet another attempt to put the defendants at a disadvantage.

“From the outset of this prosecution, the Government has sought to deny defendants any semblance of due process. The Government has frozen every penny of defendants’ assets, made frivolous attempts to disqualify defendants’ counsel of choice, and sought at every turn to block defendants from filing briefs in their own defense.”

“The instant effort to circumvent the adversarial process through an ex parte filing is merely the latest example of this troubling pattern.”

Considering the above, the lawyers ask the court to withdraw the November 22 order. In addition, Megaupload’s legal team wants to be able to access and oppose the filings that formed the basis of the order.

It is now up to Judge Liam O’Grady to evaluate whether Megaupload’s protest is warranted and how to proceed.

While the covert action by the Government is already quite significant in its own right, it also suggests that copyright holders are considering legal action against Megaupload and Kim Dotcom. Since the MPAA has been very involved in the case from the start, the Hollywood studios are the prime candidate for such a civil proceeding.

Previously the MPAA asked the court to retain the files stored on Megaupload for possible legal actions to be taken against the companies and those associated with it.

“Independent of the ongoing criminal proceeding, the Studios have civil claims against the operators of Megaupload, and potentially also against those who have knowingly or materially contributed to the infringement occurring through Megaupload,” MPAA wrote last year.

Thus far there has been no sign that the MPAA or any individual movie studios have concrete plans to file a civil suit, but this may change in the near future.

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

TorrentFreak: Hotfile Shuts Down and Takes User Files With It

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

hotfileEarlier today we reported that Hotfile and the MPAA have settled their legal dispute with a $80 million dollar settlement.

While the agreement left room for the file-hosting service to continue its operations by implementing a filtering mechanism, the company has decided to throw in the towel.

A few minutes ago the Hotfile site was replaced with an image with the following text:

“As a result of a United States Federal Court having found Hotfile.com to be in violation of copyright law the site has been permanently shut down. If you are looking for your favorite movies or TV-shows online, there are more ways than ever today to get high quality access to them on legal platforms.”

The notice in question is strikingly similar to the one isoHunt displayed last month following its defeat at the hands of the movie studios. The similarities suggest that both messages were drafted by the MPAA.

hotfile-gone

The decision to shut down the site without giving any notice whatsoever is causing problems among users and businesses who relied on Hotfile to store files and documents. Samsung firmware provider SamMobile, for example, has been forced to move its files to another hosting provider with a two day break in service.

“It will take at least 48 hours before we’re able to finish uploading all firmware, so do forgive us if you’re unable to get that firmware you wanted to download for the next couple of days,” SamMobile notes.

It’s unclear how many of the millions of Hotfile users stored files without a backup, but the number could easily run into the tens of thousands.

TorrentFreak has reached out to Hotfile to ask whether the company will offer a solution for affected users, but we have yet to hear back.

Following the Megaupload debacle early 2012 this is the second major blow for a US-linked cloud hosting provider. Needless to say, the recent events have put a serious dent in users’ trust, which may ultimately hurt the industry overall.

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