Posts tagged ‘mpaa’

TorrentFreak: Google & MPAA Publicly Slam Each Other Over Piracy

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

mpaa-logoEven after running for weeks, the fallout from the Sony hacking fiasco is showing no signs of waning. In fact in some areas it appears that matters are only getting worse.

Earlier this month a TF report revealed how the MPAA (with a SOPA defeat still ringing loudly in its ears) is still intent on bringing website blocking to the United States.

The notion that Hollywood was intent on reintroducing something so unpopular didn’t sit well with critics, but that was only the beginning. A subsequent article in The Verge revealed a campaign by the MPAA to attack “Goliath” – a codeword for Google – by “convincing state prosecutors to take up the fight” against the search giant.

The MPAA budgeted $500,000 for the project with costs potentially rising to $1.175 million. The Hollywood group subsequently called on SOPA-supporting Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood to attack Google, which he did.

The New York times has a copy of the letter he sent to the search giant – worryingly it was almost entirely drafted by the MPAA’s lawfirm Jenner and Block.

After a week of “no comment” from Google, the company has just broken its silence. In a statement from SVP and General Counsel Kent Walker, Google questions the MPAA’s judgment over its SOPA-like aims and apparent manipulation of an Attorney General.

“Almost three years ago, millions of Americans helped stop a piece of congressional legislation—supported by the MPAA—called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). If passed, SOPA would have led to censorship across the web. No wonder that 115,000 websites—including Google—participated in a protest, and over the course of a single day, Congress received more than 8 million phone calls and 4 million emails, as well as getting 10 million petition signatures,” Walker writes.

“We are deeply concerned about recent reports that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) led a secret, coordinated campaign to revive the failed SOPA legislation through other means, and helped manufacture legal arguments in connection with an investigation by Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood.”

Then, in what can only be a huge embarrassment for the MPAA and the Attorney General, Walker turns to the letter AG Hood sent to him in 2013.

“The MPAA did the legal legwork for the Mississippi State Attorney General.
The MPAA then pitched Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood, an admitted SOPA supporter, and Attorney General Hood sent Google a letter making numerous accusations about the company,” Walker explains.

“The letter was signed by General Hood but was actually drafted by an attorney at Jenner & Block — the MPAA’s law firm. As the New York Times has reported, the letter was only minimally edited by the state Attorney General before he signed it.”

The Google SVP ends with a shot at the MPAA and questions its self-professed position as an upholder of the right to free speech.

“While we of course have serious legal concerns about all of this, one disappointing part of this story is what this all means for the MPAA itself, an organization founded in part ‘to promote and defend the First Amendment and artists’ right to free expression.’ Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?” Walker concludes.

Without delay, Google’s public comments were pounced upon by the MPAA who quickly published a statement of their own. It pulls no punches.

“Google’s effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful. Freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities and the internet is not a license to steal,” the statement begins.

“Google’s blog post today is a transparent attempt to deflect focus from its own conduct and to shift attention from legitimate and important ongoing investigations by state attorneys general into the role of Google Search in enabling and facilitating illegal conduct – including illicit drug purchases, human trafficking and fraudulent documents as well as theft of intellectual property.”

And, in a clear indication that the MPAA feels it acted appropriately, the Hollywood group lets Google know that nothing will change.

“We will seek the assistance of any and all government agencies, whether federal, state or local, to protect the rights of all involved in creative activities,” the MPAA concludes.

The statements by both Google and the MPAA indicate that in this fight the gloves are now well and truly off. Will ‘David’ slay ‘Goliath’? Who will get hurt in the crossfire?

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

TorrentFreak: Leak Exposes Hollywood’s Global Anti-Piracy Strategy

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

mpaa-logoThe Sony Pictures leak has caused major damage to the Hollywood movie studio, but the fallout doesn’t end there.

Contained in one of the leaked data batches is a complete overview of the MPAA’s global anti-piracy strategy for the years to come.

In an email sent to top executives at the major Hollywood studios earlier this year, one of the MPAA’s top executives shared a complete overview of Hollywood’s anti-piracy priorities.

The email reveals key areas of focus for the coming years, divided into high, medium and low priority categories, as shown below.

piracy-strategy-page

The plan put forward by the MPAA is the ideal strategy. Which elements are to be carried out will mostly depend on the funds made available by the studios.

High priority

For cyberlockers and video streaming sites the MPAA plans to reach out to hosting providers, payment processing companies and advertising networks. These companies are urged not to work with so-called rogue sites.

Part of the plan is to create “legal precedent to shape and expand the law on cyberlockers and their hosting providers,” with planned lawsuits in the UK, Germany and Canada.

Cyberlocker strategy
mpaa-cyberlocker

Other top priorities are:

Apps: Making sure that pirate apps are taken down from various App stores. Google’s removal of various Pirate Bay apps may be part of this. In addition, the MPAA wants to make apps “unstable” by removing the pirated files they link to.

Payment processors: The MPAA wants to use government influence to put pressure on payment processors, urging them to ban pirate sites. In addition they will approach major players with “specific asks and proposed best practices” to deter piracy.

Site blocking: Expand site blocking efforts in the UK and other countries where it’s supported by law. In other countries, including the U.S., the MPAA will investigate whether blockades are an option through existing principles of law.

Domain seizures: The MPAA is slowly moving toward domain seizures of pirate sites. This strategy is being carefully tested against sites selling counterfeit products using trademark arguments.

Site scoring services: Developing a trustworthy site scoring system for pirate sites. This can be used by advertisers to ban rogue sites. In the future this can be expanded to payment processors, domain name registrars, hosting providers and search engines, possibly with help from the government.

Copyright Notices: The MPAA intends to proceed with the development of the UK Copyright Alert System, and double the number of notices for the U.S. version. In addition, the MPAA wants to evaluate whether the U.S. Copyright Alert System can expand to mobile carriers.

Mid and low priority

BitTorrent is categorized as a medium priority. The MPAA wants to emphasize the role of BitTorrent in piracy related apps, such as Popcorn Time. In addition, illegal torrent sites will be subject to site blocking and advertising bans.

BitTorrent strategy
mpaa-bittorrent-strategy

Other medium and low priorities are:

Search: Keep putting pressure on search engines and continue periodic research into its role in facilitating piracy. In addition, the MPAA will support third-party lawsuits against search engines.

Hosting: The MPAA sees Cloudflare as a problem and is developing a strategy of how to deal with the popular hosting provider. Lawsuits against hosting providers are also in the agenda.

Link sites: Apart from potential civil lawsuits in Latin America, linking sites will only be targeted if they become “particularly problematic.”

In the email the MPAA’s top executive does not consider the above strategies to be “final” or “set in stone”. How much the MPAA will be able to carry out with its partners depends on funds being availble, which appears to be a subtle reminder that the studios should keep their payments coming.

“…the attached represents priorities and activities presuming online CP is adequately resourced. Your teams understand that, depending upon how the budget process plays out, we may need to lower priorities and activities for many sources of piracy and/or antipiracy initiatives,” the email reads.

The leaked strategy offers a unique insight into Hollywood’s strategy against various forms of online infringement.

It exposes several key priorities that were previously unknown. The MPAA’s strong focus on domain name seizures for example, or the plans to target cyberlockers with lawsuits in the UK, Germany and Canada.

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

TorrentFreak: Furious Google Ended MPAA Anti-Piracy Cooperation

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

Each week Google removes millions of ‘infringing’ links from search engine results at rightsholders’ request, 9.1m during the last documented week alone. In the main Google removes these links within hours of receiving a complaint, a record few other large sites can match.

But no matter what Google does, no matter how it tweaks its search algorithms, it’s never been enough for the MPAA. For years the movie group has been piling on the pressure and whenever Google announces a new change, the MPAA (and often RIAA) tell the press that more can be done.

By most standards, this October Google really pulled out the stops. Responding to years of criticism and endless complaints that it’s one of the world’s largest facilitators of pirate content, Google came up with the goods.

“We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites,” said Katherine Oyama, Google’s Copyright Policy Counsel.

“Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in search results. This ranking change helps users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.”

Google’s claims were spot on. Within days it became clear that torrent sites had been hit hard. Was this the tweak the MPAA had been waiting for?

Google seemed confident, in fact so confident that according to an email made public due to the recent Sony hack attack, the company contacted MPAA chief Senator Chris Dodd the day before to give him the headsup.

But if Google was hoping for a congratulatory public statement, they would need to look elsewhere. Instead of a warm reception the MPAA chose to suggest that Google knew it have been involved in wrongdoing.

“Everyone shares a responsibility to help curb unlawful conduct online, and we are glad to see Google acknowledging its role in facilitating access to stolen content via search,” the MPAA’s press release began.

The leaked emails reveal that Google responded furiously to the perceived slur.

“At the highest levels [Google are] extremely unhappy with our statement,” an email from the MPAA to the studios reads.

“[Google] conveyed that they feel as if they went above and beyond what the law requires; that they bent over backwards to give us a heads up and in return we put out a ‘snarky’ statement that gave them no credit for the positive direction.”

In response to the snub, Google pressed the ‘ignore’ button. A top executive at Google’s policy department told the MPAA that his company would no longer “speak or do business” with the movie group.

In future Google would speak with the studios directly, since “at least three” had already informed the search engine that they “were very happy about the new features.”

While the MPAA and Google will probably patch things up in future, the emails also suggest reasons why the MPAA might have given Google a frosty reception.

First up, the MPAA had no time to assess the changes Google had put in place, so had no idea whether they would work. Welcoming changes that fail to perform in future is clearly something the MPAA would want to avoid.

But intriguingly the emails suggest that the MPAA were trying not to affect another external matter from progressing.

“We were also sensitive to the fact that Mississippi [Attorney General] Hood is expected to issue a [Civil Investigative Demand] to Google sometime this week; we did not want an unduly favorable statement by us to discourage AG Hood from moving forward,” the MPAA email reads.

In conclusion the MPAA felt that Google overreacted to their October press release and that the problems will eventually blow over. It’s certainly possible that relations have improved since the emails were written in October.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Prepares to Bring Pirate Site Blocking to the U.S.

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

mpaa-logoSite blocking has become one of the go-to anti-piracy techniques for the music and movie industries. Mechanisms to force ISPs to shut down subscriber access to “infringing” sites are becoming widespread in Europe but have not yet gained traction in the United States.

If the Stop Online Piracy Act had been introduced, U.S. blocking regimes might already be in place but the legislation was stamped down in 2012 following a furious public and technology sector revolt. Behind closed doors, however, blocking proponents were simply waiting for the storm to die down.

TorrentFreak has learned that during 2013 the MPAA and its major studio partners began to seriously consider their options for re-introducing the site blocking agenda to the United States. Throughout 2014 momentum has been building but with no real option to introduce new legislation, the MPAA has been looking at leveraging existing law to further its aims.

Today we can reveal that the MPAA has been examining four key areas.

DMCA

According to TF sources familiar with the plan, the MPAA began by exploring the possibility of obtaining a DMCA 512(j) blocking injunction without first having to establish that an ISP is also liable for copyright infringement.

To get a clearer idea the MPAA commissioned an expert report from a national lawfirm with offices in Chicago, Dallas, New York and Washington, DC. Returned in July, the opinion concluded that a U.S. court would “likely” require a copyright holder to establish an ISP as secondarily liable before granting any site-blocking injunction.

This option might be “difficult” and financially costly, the law firm noted.

Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Rule 19 – ‘Required Joinder of Parties’ – is also under consideration by the MPAA as a way to obtain a blocking injunction against an ISP. In common with the DMCA option detailed above, the MPAA hopes that a blocking order might be obtained without having to find an ISP liable for any wrongdoing.

The MPAA is considering a situation in which they obtain a judgment finding a foreign “rogue” site guilty of infringement but one whose terms the target rogue site has failed to abide by. Rule 19 could then be used to join an ISP in the lawsuit against the rogue site without having to a) accuse the ISP of wrongdoing or b) issue any claims against it.

The same lawfirm again provided an expert opinion, concluding that the theory was “promising, but largely untested.”

Using the ITC to force ISPs to block ‘pirate’ sites

Among other things the United States International Trade Commission determines the impact of imports on U.S. industry. It also directs action on unfair trade practices including those involving patents, trademarks and copyright infringement.

The MPAA has been examining two scenarios. The first involves site-blocking orders against “transit” ISPs, i.e those that carry data (infringing content) across U.S. borders. The second envisions site-blocking orders against regular ISPs to stop them providing access to “rogue” sites.

Again, the same lawfirm was asked for its expert opinion. In summary its lawyers found that scenario one presented significant technical hurdles. Scenario two might be feasible, but first ISPs would have to be found in violation of Section 337.

“Section 337 declares the infringement of certain statutory intellectual property rights and other forms of unfair competition in import trade to be unlawful practices,” the section reads (pdf).

The lawfirm’s August report highlights several potential issues. One noted that an injunction against a domestic ISP would effectively stop outbound requests to “rogue” sites when it is in fact “rogue” sites’ inbound traffic that is infringing. Also at issue is sites that don’t “import” content themselves but merely offer links to such content (torrent sites, for example).

Nevertheless, the general conclusion is that if a clear relationship between the linking sites and the infringing content can be established, the ITC may take the view that the end result still amounts to “unfair competition” and “unfair acts” during importation of articles.

The Communications Act

Details on this final MPAA option involves the Communications Act and how it is perceived by the Federal Communications Commission and the Supreme Court.

The scenario balances on the MPAA’s stance that ISPs have taken the “public position” that they are not “telecommunications services”. When the position of the ISPs and opinions of the FCC and Supreme Court are combined, the MPAA wonders whether the ISPs could become vulnerable.

The scenario under discussion is one in which ISPs are not eligible for safe harbor as DMCA 512(a) “conduits” since the DMCA definition of a conduit is the same as the Communications Act’s definition of “telecommunications service” provider.

Major meeting two months ago

TorrentFreak sources reveal that a large meeting consisting of more than two dozen studio executives took place in October to discuss all aspects of site-blocking. A senior engineer from U.S. ISP Comcast was also invited.

On the agenda was a wide range of topics including bringing on board “respected” people in the technology sector to agree on technical facts and establish policy support for site blocking.

Other suggestions included encouraging academics to publish research papers with a narrative that site blocking elsewhere in the world has been effective, is not a threat to DNSSEC, and has not “broken the Internet”.

Conclusion

In June, MPAA chief and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd praised pirate site blockades as one of the most important anti-piracy measures, and in August a leaked draft revealed MPAA research on the topic.

The big question now is whether the studios’ achievements in Europe will be mirrored in the United States – without a SOPA-like controversy alongside. While the scale is unlikely to be the same, opposition is likely to be vigorous.

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

TorrentFreak: Kim Dotcom Is Not a Fugitive, Court Hears

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

kimfugitiveIt’s been nearly three years since Megaupload was taken down by the U.S. authorities but it’s still uncertain whether Kim Dotcom and his fellow defendants will be extradited overseas.

As there’s little progress in the criminal case, the U.S. launched a separate civil case asking the court to forfeit the bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants.

The U.S. claims that these assets were obtained through criminal activities. In a recent motion to strike the DoJ added that Kim Dotcom and his fellow defendants have no right to oppose the forfeiture request as they are fugitives.

“Claimants Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, and Sven Echternach, are deliberately avoiding prosecution by declining to enter the United States where the criminal case is pending,” U.S. Attorney Dana Boente noted.

Yesterday evening Megaupload’s legal team filed a response to the Government’s motion, noting that the U.S. heavily distorts the “fugitive” status concept.

The lawyers inform the court that Kim Dotcom and his fellow defendants aren’t trying to avoid prosecution. Instead, they’re remaining in place until the New Zealand court decides over their extradition request.

“These Claimants never fled the United States to evade prosecution. To the contrary, they remain precisely where they have long been residing and carrying out the very business enterprise that the Government characterizes as criminal—in New Zealand.”

“Nor have these Claimants altered their plans so as to avoid return to the United States. To the contrary, they are simply maintaining the pre-indictment status quo and following the rule of law by invoking their rights under the laws and procedures of their home countries, where they had long-planned to remain.”

In a declaration to the court Dotcom emphasizes that he’s currently under supervision of the New Zealand court. He never fled from the United States, in fact, he has never been there in his entire life.

“I have never been a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. I have never visited the United States,” Dotcom writes.

Megaupload’s lawyers ask the court to deny the U.S. “fugitives’” claim or keep it pending until there’s a decision on the motion to dismiss they filed earlier. In this motion they argued that the entire case should be dismissed since the U.S. doesn’t have a statute for criminal secondary copyright infringement.

If the court decides to move forward, Megaupload’s legal team want the “fugitives” claim to be converted to a request for summary judgment. This would allow them to conduct discovery and find out what role the MPAA played in the criminal investigation.

Shortly before the investigation began the MPAA hired former Assistant Attorney General, Cybele Daley, for lobbying purposes. Daley had a budget of over $1 million a year to lobby attorneys at the Department of Justice, and Megaupload’s lawyers want to find out where the U.S. was overreaching.

It’s now up to the Virginia federal court to decide how to proceed. Needless to say, the outcome will have a major impact on Dotcom’s means to fight back.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Users Need 27 Services to Get Most Popular Films, Report Finds

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

filmDuring September a new media availability report hit the United States, shouting loudly about how most popular content is legally accessible online.

Released by research company KPMG and commissioned by NBC Universal, the report was praised by the MPAA and other similarly interested parties. Supporters said that the study provided yet more proof that studios are fulfilling their part of the consumer bargain by making content widely available.

Less than three months on and KPMG has just published the results of a second study into availability of content online. In common with the US-focused September report, ‘UK Availability of Film and TV Titles in the Digital Age’ was also commissioned by NBC Universal.

The study examined UK availability of the most popular film and TV titles across legal digital streaming and download services and according to KPMG, things looked good.

“This report found that the vast majority of the most popular and critically acclaimed film and television content is available from legal digital platforms,” the report begins.

The study found that as of December 2013, almost nine out of 10 of the 756 films reviewed were indeed available from online video services, which does sound like a great start.

When 2012′s box office hits were examined 100% were available online, dropping slightly to 98% for those released in 2011. All-time box office hits also had good exposure, with 96% available online. Even 2013′s top 100 hits fared well, with 77% available digitally.

These stats are admittedly a fairly impressive read, but the details take off some the shine. Accessing content online should be a relatively painless affair, but UK film fans are going to need quite a lot of patience if they want the broadest possible choice.

In fact, in order to access content at the levels detailed above, users will need to use to more than two dozen services, 27 to be precise.

“As at December 2013, 86% of the 756 unique films reviewed were
available via online video on demand distribution on at least one of the 27 service offerings studied,” the report reads.

When the researchers required that titles must be found on 5 out of 27 services, overall availability drops to 73%, meaning that more than a quarter of popular content is missing, even for consumers with five separate online movie accounts.

In the US version of the KPMG report, notable was the poor availability of content on services such as Netflix. The findings showed that just 16% of the films studied were available through on-demand subscription services (SVOD). The UK does quite a bit better.

“A relatively lower proportion of the most popular and critically acclaimed films were offered under the SVOD model (39%),” KPMG found.

uk-kpmg

The UK online subscription market has grown quickly over the past couple of years fueled largely by Netflix. Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2014 revealed that revenue for online subscriptions for audio-visual content reached £111.7m in 2013, up from £63.5m in the previous 12 months.

Moving forward, Netflix’s growth faces similar challenges to that of its US-based service. According to KPMG, six out of 10 times consumers will not find the popular content they are looking for, meaning that additional payments to other services will be required.

The other issues relate to reducing piracy. While having content around 60% of the time is better than nothing, most pirated titles are recent releases that simply aren’t available on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon or other similar services.

And as far as Joe Public signing up to as many as 27 services in order to access most popular content, that isn’t going to happen in a hurry. An almost fully-comprehensive Spotify for movies might be a while off, but bringing one to market would simplify matters no end.

The report can be downloaded here.

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

TorrentFreak: LionsGate Targets Reddit Over Christmas Movie Piracy

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

madeachristSome jobs are never done. Whether it’s cleaning up after kids or shifting leaves in the fall, as soon as one mess is dealt with along comes another. And another. And another.

Copyright holders know the feeling only too well. While it may traditionally come around on February 2, for them every day is Groundhog Day. Check torrent and other file-sharing sites for infringing content, send takedown notices. Hope content disappears. Rinse and repeat.

No one knows how many DMCA notices are sent in total each week, but during the past seven days Google alone received 8.68 million. It’s believed that the majority of these notices are accurate, but the truth is no one really knows. Google rejects thousands every day, often due to notices targeting the same URLs time and again.

Other errors are more easily spotted, such as when copyright holders target content they don’t own the rights to. Another ‘trick’ is not targeting infringing content precisely – why send a DMCA notice for a single URL when one can move up a level and take out a whole bunch of content in a single swoop?

This week that’s exactly what LionsGate tried to do. In a single DMCA notice to Google the movie studio targeted 9,000 URLs spread over 379 domains. As usual dozens of URLs were duplicates and as such were rejected by Google, but a trio of links targeting Reddit were dismissed for different reasons.

Each targeted a Reddit sub called BestOfStreamingVideo after someone posted a link to the LionsGate movie ‘Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas‘.

image

However, instead of targeting the precise link as required under the DMCA, LionsGate tried to have the whole sub-reddit delisted from Google. It didn’t pay off.

Faced with wiping the very existence of /r/BestOfStreamingVideo from its search results, Google refused to go full nuclear and rejected all three attempts by LionsGate.

lions-reddit

It’s not clear why the search engine refused to comply but it’s possible that by being over-broad the studio shot itself in the foot. That being said, one of the URLs does link to the content in question so other factors could be at play.

The “over-broad” strategy has certainly paid off in the past, though. The MPAA previously managed to have the homepages of several popular sites removed from Google’s search results, including that of KickassTorrents.

On the other hand, more recent efforts have produced less impressive results, with Google rejecting an MPAA attempt at removing dozens of ‘pirate’ site homepages just last month.

So at least for now /r/BestOfStreamingVideo remains findable using Google, but it’s quite possible that it will be targeted again before the Christmas period is over……

stream-christmas

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Site ‘Hijacks’ MPAA’s Movie Search Engine

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

popcorncabEarlier this month Hollywood launched its very own search engine for movies and TV-shows. With WhereToWatch people can lookup the latest entertainment to check if and where it’s available.

The site offers a very handy service aimed at steering people away from pirate sites and promoting legal options. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t change the fact that most new films aren’t available for streaming or download.

To fill this gap torrent site PopcornCab decided to release a userscript that adds torrent links to the MPAA’s website. The code, which works in all modern browsers through an extension, makes WhereToWatch even more usable according to the PopcornCab team.

PopcornCab’s Travis McCrea, who also runs the eBook library Tuebl.ca and previously headed U.S. and Canadian Pirate parties, tells TF that he’s not a fan of the “morally corrupt” MPAA, but that their new site is a step in the right direction.

“I actually really like WhereToWatch and think it’s a great concept so getting people using the website to see what streaming options are available to them is nice in my opinion,” he says.

McCrea himself has subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. The user experience of these legal services is much better than torrents, he says, but the availability is lacking. In this regard, adding torrents is a win-win.

“I get to encourage people to go to WhereToWatch and see if maybe a streaming solution appeals to them but also give them a link to the torrent files from PopcornCab,” McCrea says.

Below is what a PopcornCab listing looks like when the userscript is enabled. The other streaming and download options are still listed as well, below the torrent link.

WhereToWatch with torrents
wheretotorrent

McCrea tells us that PopcornCab, previously know as TorMovies.org, is mainly operated by a friend who prefers to stay out of the spotlight. Many hours have gone into designing the user interface where it sets itself apart from most other torrent sites.

“I find that torrent sites frequently neglect user experience in favor of raw information, and I hate that. PopcornCab brings you a beautiful website which helps you find movies and TV shows with a great interface,” McCrea notes.

McCrea has considered the possible legal repercussions that come with running a torrent site in public and daring the MPAA, but he’s not worried. If he’s arrested, there’s someone else who can take over, he notes.

“I believe in what I am doing, I believe sharing culture is a fundamental right of every person on Earth and so civil penalties don’t scare me. That said, we are pretty careful to dot our I’s and cross our T’s legally so we SHOULD be fine…,” McCrea says.

PopcornCab’s operator has grown used to facing legal threats. Although he is convinced that they’re not doing anything illegal, there is an emergency fund available for the worst case scenario.

“I have money just sitting in a legal trust, and am almost getting disappointed that it isn’t being used…. but not that disappointed,” he says.

While legal trouble can’t be guaranteed, McCrea is certainly drawing attention from Hollywood with his latest project. So this bag of money may come in handy in the future.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Refuses MPAA Request to Blacklist ‘Pirate Site’ Homepages

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

google-bayEvery week copyright holders send millions of DMCA takedown notices to Google, hoping to make pirated movies and music harder to find.

The music industry groups RIAA and BPI are among the most active senders. Together they have targeted more than 170 million URLs in recent years.

The MPAA’s statistics are more modest. Thus far the Hollywood group has asked Google to remove only 19,288 links from search results. The most recent request is one worth highlighting though, as it shows a clear difference of opinion between Hollywood and Google.

Last week the MPAA sent a DMCA request listing 81 allegedly infringing pages, mostly torrent and streaming sites.

Unlike most other copyright holders, the MPAA doesn’t list the URLs where the pirated movies are linked from, but the site’s homepages instead. This is a deliberate strategy, one that previously worked against KickassTorrents.

However, this time around Google was less receptive. As can be seen below most of the MPAA’s takedown requests were denied. In total, Google took “no action” for 60 of the 81 submitted URLs, including casa-cinema.net, freemoviestorrents.com and solarmovie.is.

Part of MPAA’s takedown request
mpaa-takedown-refusal

It’s unclear why Google refused to take action, but it seems likely that the company views the MPAA’s request as too broad. While the sites’ homepages may indirectly link to pirated movies, for most this required more than one click from the homepage.

We previously asked Google under what circumstances a homepage might be removed from search results. A spokesperson couldn’t go into detail but noted that “it’s more complex than simply counting how many clicks one page is from another.”

“We’ve designed a variety of policies to comply with the requirements of the law, while weeding out false positives and material that’s too remote from infringing activity,” Google spokesperson told us.

In this case Google appears to see most reported homepages as not infringing, at least not for the works the MPAA specified.

The MPAA previously said that it would like to move towards blocking pirate sites from search engines entirely, however Google’s recent actions suggest that the company doesn’t want to go this far just yet.

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

TorrentFreak: Fail: MPAA Makes Legal Content Unfindable In Google

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

wheretowatchThe entertainment industries have gone head to head with Google in recent months, demanding tougher anti-piracy measures from the search engine.

According to the MPAA and others, Google makes it too easy for its users to find pirated content. Instead, they would prefer Google to downrank sites such as The Pirate Bay from its search results or remove them entirely.

A few weeks ago Google took additional steps to decrease the visibility of pirated content, but the major movie studios haven’t been sitting still either.

Last week MPAA announced the launch of WhereToWatch.com, a website that lists where movies and TV-shows can be watched legally.

“WheretoWatch.com offers a simple, streamlined, comprehensive search of legitimate platforms – all in one place. It gives you the high-quality, easy viewing experience you deserve while supporting the hard work and creativity that go into making films and shows,” the MPAA’s Chris Dodd commented.

At first glance WhereToWatch offers a rather impressive database of entertainment content. It even features TorrentFreak TV, although this is listed as “not available” since the MPAA’s service doesn’t index The Pirate Bay.

Overall, however, it’s a decent service. WhereToWatch could also be an ideal platform to beat pirate sites in search results, something the MPAA desperate wants to achieve.

Sadly for the MPAA that is only a “could” since Google and other search engines currently have a hard time indexing the site. As it turns out, the MPAA’s legal platform isn’t designed with even the most basic SEO principles in mind.

For example, if Google visits the movie overview page all links to individual pages are hidden by Javascript, and the search engine only sees this. As a result, movie and TV-show pages in the MPAA’s legal platform are invisible to Google.

Google currently indexes only one movie page, which was most likely indexed through an external link. With Bing the problem is just as bad.

wtw-google

It’s worth noting that WhereToWatch doesn’t block search engines from spidering its content through the robots.txt file. It’s just the coding that makes it impossible for search engines to navigate and index the site.

This is a pretty big mistake, considering that the MPAA repeatedly hammered on Google to feature more legal content. With some proper search engine optimization (SEO) advice they can probably fix the problem in the near future.

Previously Google already offered SEO tips to copyright holders, but it’s obvious that the search engine wasn’t consulted in this project.

To help the MPAA on its way we asked isoHunt founder Gary Fung for some input. Last year Fung lost his case to the MPAA, forcing him to shut down the site, but he was glad to offer assistance nonetheless.

“I suggest MPAA optimize for search engine keywords such as ‘download ‘ and ‘torrent ‘. For some reason when people google for movies, that’s what they actually search for,” Fung tells us.

A pretty clever idea indeed, as the MPAA’s own research shows that pirate-related search terms are often used to “breed” new pirates.

Perhaps it’s an idea for the MPAA to hire Fung or other “industry” experts for some more advice. Or better still, just look at how the popular pirate sites have optimized their sites to do well in search engines, and steal their work.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Copyright Alert System Security Could Be Improved, Review Finds

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

spyFebruary last year the MPAA, RIAA and five major Internet providers in the United States launched their “six strikes” anti-piracy plan.

The Copyright Alert System’s main goal is to inform subscribers that their Internet connections are being used to share copyrighted material without permission. These alerts start out friendly in tone, but repeat infringers face a temporary disconnection from the Internet or other mitigation measures.

The evidence behind the accusations is provided by MarkMonitor, which monitors BitTorrent users’ activities on copyright holders’ behalf. The overseeing Center for Copyright Information (CCI) previously hired an impartial and independent technology expert to review the system, hoping to gain trust from the public.

Their first pick, Stroz Friedberg, turned out to be not that impartial as the company previously worked as RIAA lobbyists. To correct this unfortunate choice, CCI assigned Professor Avi Rubin of Harbor Labs to re-examine the system.

This week CCI informed us that a summary of Harbor Labs’s findings is now available to the public. The full review is not being published due to the vast amount of confidential information it contains, but the overview of the findings does provide some interesting details.

Overall, Harbor Labs concludes that the evidence gathering system is solid and that false positives, cases where innocent subscribers are accused, are reasonably minimized.

“We conclude, based on our review, that the MarkMonitor AntiPiracy system is designed to ensure that there are no false positives under reasonable and realistic assumptions. Moreover, the system produces thorough case data for alleged infringement tracking.”

However, there is some room for improvement. For example, MarkMonitor could implement additional testing to ensure that false positives and human errors are indeed caught.

“… we believe that the system would benefit from additional testing and that the existing structure leaves open the potential for preventable failures. Additionally, we recommend that certain elements of operational security be enhanced,” Harbor Labs writes.

In addition, the collected evidence may need further protections to ensure that it can’t be tampered with or fall into the wrong hands.

“… we believe that this collected evidence and other potentially sensitive data is not adequately controlled. While MarkMonitor does protect the data from outside parties, its protection against inside threats (e.g., potential rogue employees) is minimal in terms of both policy and technical enforcement.”

The full recommendations as detailed in the report are as follows:

recommendations

The CCI is happy with the new results, which they say confirm the findings of the earlier Stroz Friedberg review.

“The Harbor Labs report reaffirms the findings from our first report – conducted by Stroz Friedberg – that the CAS is well designed and functioning as we hoped,” CCI informs TF.

In the months to come the operators of the Copyright Alert System will continue to work with copyright holders to make further enhancements and modifications to their processes.

“As the CAS exits the initial ramp-up period, CCI has been assured by our content owners that they have taken all recommendations made within both reports into account and are continuing to focus on maintaining the robust system that minimizes false positives and protects customer security and privacy,” CCI adds.

Meanwhile, they will continue to alert Internet subscribers to possible infringements. After nearly two years copyright holders have warned several million users, hoping to convert then to legal alternatives.

Thus far there’s no evidence that Copyright Alerts have had a significant impact on piracy rates. However, the voluntary agreement model is being widely embraced by various stakeholders and similar schemes are in the making in both the UK and Australia.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Pays University $1,000,000 For Piracy Research

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

mpaa-logoLast week the MPAA submitted its latest tax filing covering 2013. While there are few changes compared to previous years there is one number that sticks out like a sore thumb.

The movie industry group made a rather sizable gift of $912,000 to Carnegie Mellon University, a figure that neither side has made public before.

This brings the MPAA’s total investment in the University over the past two years to more than a million dollars.

The money in question goes to the University’s “Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics” (IDEA) that researches various piracy related topics. During 2012 MPAA also contributed to the program, albeit significantly less at $100,000.

TF contacted IDEA co-director Rahul Telang, who told us that much of the money is spent on hiring researchers and, buying data from third parties and covering other research related expenses.

“For any substantial research program to progress it needs funding, and needs access to data and important stakeholders who care about this research. IDEA center has benefited from this funding significantly,” he says, emphasizing that the research applies to academic standards.

“All research is transparent, goes through academic peer review, and published in various outlets,” Telang adds.

While IDEA’s researchers operate independently, without an obligation to produce particular studies, their output thus far is in line with Hollywood’s agenda.

One study showed that the Megaupload shutdown boosted digital sales while another reviewed academic literature to show that piracy mostly hurts revenues. The MPAA later used these results to discredit an independent study which suggested that Megaupload’s closure hurt box office revenues.

Aside from countering opponents in the press, the MPAA also uses the research to convince lawmakers that tougher anti-piracy measures are warranted.

Most recently, an IDEA paper showed that search engines can help to diminish online piracy, an argument the MPAA has been hammering on for years.

The tax filing, picked up first by Variety, confirms a new trend of the MPAA putting more money into research. Earlier this year the industry group launched a new initiative offering researchers a $20,000 grant for projects that address various piracy related topics.

The MPAA sees academic research as an important tool in its efforts to ensure that copyright protections remain in place, or are strengthened if needed.

“We want to enlist the help of academics from around the world to provide new insight on a range of issues facing the content industry in the digital age,” MPAA CEO and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd said at the time.

The movie industry isn’t alone in funding research for ‘political’ reasons. Google, for example, heavily supports academic research on copyright-related projects in part to further its own agenda, as do many other companies.

With over a million dollars in Hollywood funding in their pocket, it’s now up to IDEA’s researchers to ensure that their work is solid.

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

TorrentFreak: Why Hollywood Director Lexi Alexander Sides With “Pirates”

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

lexIt’s pretty obvious that Lexi Alexander isn’t your average Hollywood director. Instead of parading on the red carpet sharing redundant quotes, she prefers to challenge the powers that rule Hollywood.

A few months ago Alexander campaigned to get Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde released from prison, pointing out that throwing people in jail is not going to stop piracy.

She believes that the MPAA and other pro-copyright groups are a bigger threat than casual pirates, and unlike some of her colleagues she is not afraid to tell the world.

Recently Alexander penned five reasons why she’s pro file-sharing and copyright reform. While she’s doesn’t agree with the “everything should be free” mantra of some anti-copyright activists, Alexander believes that file-sharing is mostly a symptom of Hollywood’s failures.

Over the past day or so this turned into a heated debate (e.g. 1, 2) between a movie industry workers on Twitter, where various anti-piracy advocates condemned the movie director and others for siding with “pirates.”

From a Hollywood perspective Alexander’s ‘balanced’ comments may indeed appear extreme, not least since like-minded voices keep quiet for career reasons. So why has she decided to jump on the barricades then? Today, Alexander explains her motivations to us in a short interview.

TF: What triggered you to discuss file-sharing and copyright related topics in public?

Lexi: It wasn’t my intent to be that outspoken about file-sharing, at first I just wanted to expose the hypocrisy of Hollywood going after anybody for any crime. But after I had published that first blog, I was suddenly exposed to a lot more information about the issue, either from people in the copyright reform movement or through outlets like yours.

Frankly, TorrentFreak has a lot to do with the extent of my outspokenness. Sometimes I see your headlines in my Twitter feed and I think I’m in some alternative universe, where I’m the only one who swallowed the red pill. “Another kid in prison for a file-sharing”, “Anti file-sharing propaganda taught in schools”, “torrent sites reported to the state department”, etc., etc. All done in the name of an industry that is infamous for corruption. I mean, doesn’t anybody see that? Hollywood studios shaking their finger at people who illegally download stuff is like the Vatican shaking their finger at pedophiles.

TF: What’s your main motivation to support file-sharing and copyright reform??

Lexi: Well, first and foremost I will not stand for young, bright minds being hunted and locked up in my name. And since I am still part of the film & TV industry, albeit not the most popular member at this point, these acts are done in my name. Even if I would agree with this ludicrous idea that everything to do with file-sharing or downloading is theft and should be punished with prison…then I’d still insist that everybody in Hollywood who has ever stolen anything or cheated anybody needs to go to prison first. If we could somehow make that rule happen with magical fairy dust…you’d never hear another beep about imprisoning file-sharers.

Secondly, I have said this a million times and it’s like I’m talking to the wall…horrible thieves (aka the four letter acronym) are stealing 92.5 % of foreign levies from filmmakers in countries outside of the US, breaking the Berne Convention in the process. It’s actually not legal for those countries to hand any money to anybody else but the creator. But somehow, some very smart con men duped these shady collection societies into handing them all the dough. Ask me again why I need copyright reform?

See, I wish more of my colleagues would come out of the fog…but that fog is made of fears, so it is thick and consistent. Fear to upset the decision makers, fear to get blacklisted and never get to make movies again, fear to get fired by your agents, fear to become unpopular with your film-industry peers, it’s so much easier to blame the British, pimple-faced teenager, who uploaded Fast and the Furious 6, for the scarcity we experience.

I used to get frustrated about my peers’ lack of courage, but lately I feel only empathy. I don’t like seeing talented storytellers ruled by fear. I don’t even enjoy the endless admissions I get anymore from producers or Executives who whisper in my ear that they’re pro file-sharing too (this is often followed by a demonstration of their illegally downloaded goods or their torrent clients, as if they’re trying to make sure I’ll put in a good word, if the power were to shift to the other side one of these days).

TF: Do you believe that your opinions on these topics may impact your career? If so, how?

Lexi: What do you think? LOL

But my opinions on these topics are based on facts, so therefore the question I have to ask myself next is: If I keep the truth to myself and watch innovators get sent to prison by actual criminals…how does that impact my soul?

I do realize how huge the giant I decided to criticize really is whenever I read about the amount of money that’s at play here.

At the moment I still have a TV show under option, which I am currently developing and I’m getting ready to pitch another one. A few things definitely fell through right after my first piracy post and I’m not sure how many people don’t consider me for projects because of my file-sharing stance. I can’t really worry about that. First and foremost I’m still a filmmaker, so if this shit gets too real I have to force my mind down the rabbit hole (filmmaker euphemism for escaping into your screenplays or movies).

TF: File-sharing also has its downsides of course. What’s the worst side of piracy in your opinion?

Lexi: The worst part is that there are a lot of people who suddenly feel entitled to do anything they want with our work, at any given stage. I spoke to a filmmaker the other day whose film got leaked during post production. It was missing the visual effects and it had a temp score (temporary music used as a filler before the real score is ready). Then reviews started popping up about this version of the film on IMDB, yet the people who posted those reviews had no fucking clue what they were judging, revealed by the many comments about “the director ripping off the Dark Knight score”. It was the Dark Knight score, you morons.

That was really heartbreaking and whoever doesn’t understand that can go to hell. I don’t think there’s anybody in the world who’d like their work, whatever it may be, stolen when it’s half way done and paraded around the world with their name on it.

I also will never be able to respect anybody who films or watches one of those shaky cam movies. I don’t buy that there’s anybody who enjoys a movie that way, I think this is all about trying to be the shit on some forum.

TF: In what way do you think file-sharing will (and has) change(d) the movie industry?

Lexi: I entered this industry right at the beginning of the transition to digital technology. I remember insisting to shoot my first two films on film stock, by then people were already dropping the “dinosaur” and “stone age” hints. We were all beaten into submission when it came to new digital technologies, because they reduced production and distribution costs. Then the powers started realizing that those same technologies also made unauthorized duplications much easier, so the narrative changed and now we were told to hate that part of it. It’s almost comical isn’t it?

I quickly realized that file-sharing would shatter borders and as someone who considers herself a citizen of the world, rather than of one country, this made me extremely happy. I have always wanted entertainment events to be global rather than national. This is good for the world.

The more the audience becomes familiar with foreign movies and TV shows (not synchronized and released months later, but subtitled and premiering simultaneously) the sooner we will start accepting, maybe even demanding shows and movies with a diverse, global cast from the get go. And since those are the shows I create… it cannot happen fast enough.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Demands Tougher Penalties for Aussie Pirates

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

ausThe MPAA has published its latest submission to the U.S. Government. It provides an overview of countries the studios believe could better protect the interests of the copyright industry.

The movie group lists more than two dozen countries and describes which “trade barriers” they present.

In recent years the Obama administration has helped Hollywood to counter online piracy and with a letter, signed by MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd, the movie organization urges the Government not to drop the ball.

“The US government must not falter from being a champion of protecting intellectual property rights, particularly in the online market,” Dodd told the United States Trade Representative.

According to the MPAA there are more than two dozen countries that require special attention. This includes Australia, which has one of the highest online piracy rates in the world

“Australia has consistently ranked amongst the highest incidence of per capita P2P infringement of MPAA member company films in the region,” the MPAA chief writes.

One of the main grievances against Australia is the lack of thorough copyright laws. On this front the movie studios put forward a specific recommendation to draft legislation to deter ‘camming’ in movie theaters.

“Australia should adopt anti-camcording legislation. While illegal copying is a violation of the Copyright Act, more meaningful deterrent penalties are required,” the MPAA notes.

In recent years there have been several arrests of people linked to scene release groups who illegally recorded movies in theaters. However, instead of several years in jail they usually get off with a slap on the wrist.

“For instance, in August 2012, a cammer was convicted for illicitly recording 14 audio captures, many of which were internationally distributed through his affiliation with a notorious release group; his fine was a non-deterrent AUD 2,000,” the MPAA writes.

“These lax penalties fail to recognize the devastating impact that this crime has on the film industry,” they add.

The MPAA hopes that the U.S. Government can help to change this legal climate Down Under. The most recent anti-piracy plans of the Aussie Government are a step in the right direction according to the Hollywood group.

This is not the first time that the MPAA has become involved in Australian affairs. Previously a Wikileaks cable revealed that the American movie group was also the main force behind the lawsuit against iiNet.

In addition to Australia, the MPAA also points out various copyright challenges in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden. The latter country is seen as a “safe haven” for pirates and lacks effective enforcement, as The Pirate Bay remains online despite the convictions of its founders.

“The law [in Sweden] must also change in order to effectively curb organized commercial piracy, as evidenced by the difficulties thwarting The Pirate Bay – an operation the court system has already deemed illegal,” MPAA writes.

MPAA’s full list of comments and recommendations is available here.

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

TorrentFreak: Columbia Pictures Wants Anti-Piracy Policies Kept Secret, Indefinitely

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

columbiaIt’s been almost a year since Hotfile was defeated by the MPAA, but the case hasn’t yet gone away completely.

Earlier this year the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the court to unseal documents regarding the workings of Warner Bros.’ anti-piracy tools.

These documents are part of the counterclaim Hotfile filed, where it accused Warner of repeatedly abusing the DMCA takedown process. In particular, the EFF wants the public to know what mistakes were made and how these came to be.

In September the Court ruled that the sealed documents should indeed be made public, and the first information was released soon after. Among other things the unsealed records showed that Warner Bros. uses “sophisticated robots” to track down infringing content.

This week the MPAA submitted its proposed schedule (pdf) for the release of the other documents. With regards to Warner’s anti-piracy system they propose a wait of at least 18 months before more information is unsealed. By then Warner will have changed its systems significantly so that the information can no longer be used by pirates to circumvent detection.

In the case of Columbia Pictures, however, things are more complicated. The sealed information of the Sony Pictures owned studio would still be beneficial to pirates for decades to come, the court is told.

“Defendants have cited two specific pieces of information regarding Columbia’s enforcement policies that, if revealed to the public, could compromise Columbia’s ability to protect its copyrighted works,” the MPAA’s lawyers write.

In a sworn declaration Sony Pictures’ Vice President Content Protection, Sean Jaquez, explains that the redacted documents describe broad policy decisions regarding online copyright enforcement that are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

“Columbia intends to continue to implement these confidential copyright enforcement policies indefinitely,” Jaquez writes.

“These confidential enforcement policies will not become less sensitive over time because they reflect broad policy judgments, rather than specific implementation features of Columbia’s anti-piracy enforcement system that are likely to change as technology evolves or time passes,” he adds.

To keep these secrets out of the public eye, the MPAA asks the court to keep the records relating to Columbia Pictures under seal indefinitely. If that’s too much, the information should remain secret for at least ten years.

It’s now up to Judge Williams to decide whether the proposed timeframes are reasonable and whether Columbia can keep its anti-piracy secrets locked up forever.

To be continued.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Pressured to Push Proper Porn Over Piracy

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

sadpirateEvery adult knows. Give a child a treat and before you know it all others in the vicinity are queuing up crying for the same. And if you don’t play fair with the goodies, feet are stamped until you do.

Google has been handing out treats too lately, and like parents everywhere it’s now realizing that when you do something for one and not another, you get accused of discrimination.

As usual the problems center around piracy. During October and after years of applying metaphorical Band Aids, Google flicked its algorithmic wrist, pirate sites were demoted, legal content was promoted, and the creative industries rejoiced. Well some did at least.

Less than a month has passed and now Google is suffering fresh wailing in its other ear, this time from the porn industry. Entirely predictably the skin-flick pushers say they too want a piece of the piracy put-down pie.

According to the BBC, “prominent figures” in the porn industry are now demanding that Google does for them what the search engine just did for the audio-visual sector.

“Our whole industry has been turned upside down due to the stealing of adult content,” studio owner and actress Tasha Reign told the corporation.

But if Google’s movie and TV show issues are complex, that’s nothing when compared to getting friendly with the porn industry. Firstly, Google has begun placing ads at the top of search results when people search for TV shows such as Game of Thrones. Friendly links therein direct users to legal sources.

That is not going to happen with porn – Google forbids it. In fact, AdWords doesn’t even allow promotions for dating or international bride services. Good luck with Gangbangs of New York and Saturday Night Beaver.

Secondly, the porn industry is virtually impossible to navigate. While the MPAA and IFPI might have the luxury of speaking for the major studios and 90%+ of the recorded music sector, no such coordination exists in the porn industry. Reaching consensus on what precisely should be done could prove impossible.

Then comes the issue of demoting sites. The ‘pirate’ enemy cited most often by the adult industry are so-called tube sites but that raises even more complex issues, not least since some of the biggest companies in porn own several of the largest tube sites.

Throw in the fact that many tube sites carry both licensed and unlicensed content and any demotion could hit legitimate creators’ distribution strategies of using thousands of adult movie clips to drive traffic to external sites.

But whatever the complexities are, they are all completely moot. When approached by the BBC on the topic, Google declined to comment – period. The search engine wouldn’t be drawn “on any aspect” of the discussion, a sign that in this case the porn industry isn’t going to get what it wants.

“By working with adult companies, Google could ensure the content that is seen contains age restrictions, unlike pirated content,” protests Tasha Reign.

Tumbleweed, stage left…..

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

TorrentFreak: VKontakte Asks U.S. To Remove “Pirate Site” Stamp

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

vkThe Russian social network VKontakte (VK) has long been criticized for its passive approach to piracy. The site has millions of users, some of whom use it to share copyrighted content.

As a result the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has labeled the site a “notorious market” on several occasions, and last week the MPAA and RIAA advised the Government to maintain this listing in its upcoming report.

The movie studios and record labels claim that VK is still not doing enough to address the piracy issue. However, in a letter (pdf) to the USTR, VK director Dmitry Sergeev disagrees.

VK’s director admits that the social network has a history of being used for piracy, especially audio. However, in recent years the company has put a lot of effort into its anti-piracy measures, often in cooperation with rightsholders.

“Over the last years, especially in 2013 and 2014, VK took numerous steps to address copyright holders’ concerns. These steps were part of the VK long-term plan of improvement and cooperation with the rightsholders and copyright industry associations,” Sergeev notes.

Sergeev says that his company can’t control all information that’s uploaded to the site. Scanning all uploaded files for possible copyright infringement is therefore not a realistic option.

“VK does not have the technical capability to pre-moderate, filter, or otherwise prevent the uploading of works due to the enormous volume of information being uploaded by users on a daily basis and the fact that VK does not have reliable information confirming violation of copyright in advance,” he notes.

However, VK has clear terms of service that forbid sharing of unauthorized material. In addition, users have to agree that they are authorized to share a file every time they upload something.

The company also processes DMCA-style takedown notices. This means that copyright holders can make files inaccessible if they spot infringing content. This is similar to how other large Internet services work and more than 450,000 notices have been submitted so far.

While the MPAA and RIAA label VK as a piracy haven, VK emphasizes that plenty of content is shared legally. Many starting artists in Russia use it as the most important platform to promote their work, and many established musicians are happy to share their work as well.

“A very large amount of VK’s content is uploaded absolutely legitimately. For instance, lots of famous musicians, singers, authors and other IP owners enthusiastically use VK.com for their own purposes of promotion,” he says.

VK’s director lists several examples of popular artists that have official profiles, including Tiësto, Armin Van Buren, Shakira, Moby, Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys.

And there’s more. VK says it has reached agreements with various copyright holders to share revenue and it’s currently negotiating licensing deals with Sony/ ATV, Warner Chappell and Music Publishing Group and others.

In addition, the company also implemented a fingerprinting technology that automatically prevents uploads of infringing audio files for which it already received a takedown notice. This measure aims to prevent the takedown “groundhog day” the RIAA complained about.

Considering its long list of anti-piracy initiatives VK asks the United States Trade Representative not to include the site in the upcoming 2014 Out of Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. Whether this will be the case or not, will become clear in a few weeks.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Lobbies Lawmakers on Internet Tax and Net Neutrality

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

mpaa-logoIn its quest to stamp out piracy, the MPAA continues to pump money into its lobbying activities hoping to sway lawmakers in its direction.

While the lobbying talks take place behind closed doors, quarterly lobbying reports provide some insight into the items on the agenda.

The MPAA’s most recent lobbying disclosure form (pdf) has added several new topics that weren’t on the agenda last quarter. Among other issues, the movie group lobbied the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives on Internet tax, net neutrality and online service provider liability.

TorrentFreak contacted the MPAA hoping to get some additional information on Hollywood’s stance on these topics, but a week has passed and we have yet to receive a reply.

The only thing we know for sure is what Hollywood is lobbying on, but it doesn’t take much imagination to take an educated guess on the why part.

Net neutrality for example. While the MPAA hasn’t got involved publicly in the recent net neutrality discussions, it clearly has something to tell to lawmakers. The Hollywood group most likely wants to assure that its anti-piracy efforts aren’t hindered by future legislation.

Previously the MPAA has warned that net neutrality could make it hard to use deep packet inspection, filtering and fingerprinting techniques to prevent piracy. This concern was partially addressed by FCC’s proposal which doesn’t include “unlawful traffic” under the net neutrality proposals.

Part of MPAA lobbying disclosure filing
mpaa-lobby

The Internet tax mention is perhaps most the controversial topic. There were massive protests in Hungary this week after the Government announced it would charge a tax of 62 cents per gigabyte on all Internet traffic. For now the Hungarian plan has been shelved, but an Internet tax remains an option for the future.

In the U.S. there has been a ban on Internet Tax for more than a decade, but that expires this year. There’s currently a bill pending in the Senate that extends the ban, but this has yet to be approved. It seems likely that the MPAA has weighed in on this proposal.

Finally, the MPAA also lobbied on liability of online service providers. This presumably relates to the possible revision of the DMCA, where Hollywood wants to ensure that online services can’t leave widespread piracy unaddressed.

Ideally, the movie studios would like to make it harder for sites and services to hide behind the DMCA, as the MPAA also made clear in its lawsuits against isoHunt and Hotfile.

While we may never know what the MPAA’s exact positions are on these topics, we do know that they are trying to steer lawmakers in their direction. Perhaps future legislative proposals and discussions may reveal more details.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Glass Now Banned in US Movie Theaters Over Piracy Fears

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

Google Glass poses a significant threat to the movie industry, Hollywood believes. The advent of the wearable technology has sparked fears that it could be used for piracy.

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

At the time the MPAA shrugged off the incident as an unfortunate mistake, claiming that it had seen “no proof that it is currently a significant threat that could result in content theft.” This has now changed.

Starting today Google Glass is no longer welcome in movie theaters. The new ban applies to all US movie theaters and doesn’t include an exception for prescription glasses.

The MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) stress that they welcome technological innovations and recognize the importance of wearables for consumers. However, the piracy enabling capabilities of these devices can’t be ignored.

“As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown,” MPAA and NATO state.

“As has been our long-standing policy, all phones must be silenced and other recording devices, including wearable devices, must be turned off and put away at show time. Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave,” they add.

Cautioning potential pirates, the movie groups emphasize that theater employees will take immediate action when they spot someone with wearable recording devices. Even when in doubt, the local police will be swiftly notified.

“If theater managers have indications that illegal recording activity is taking place, they will alert law enforcement authorities when appropriate, who will determine what further action should be taken.”

The wearable ban is now part of the MPAA’s strict set of anti-piracy practices. These instruct movie theater owners to be on the lookout for suspicious individuals who may have bad intentions.

Aside from the wearables threat, the best practices note that all possible hidden camera locations in the theater should be considered, including cup holders. In addition, employees should be alert for possible concealed recording equipment, as often seen in the movies.

“Movie thieves are very ingenious when it comes to concealing cameras. It may be as simple as placing a coat or hat over the camera, or as innovative as a specially designed concealment device,” it warns.

To increase vigilance among movie theater employees, a $500 bounty is being placed on the heads of those who illegally camcord a movie.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Reports The Pirate Bay to The U.S. Government

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

mpaa-logoResponding to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the MPAA has sent in its annual list of rogue websites.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the MPAA’s latest submission. The Hollywood group targets a wide variety of websites which they claim are promoting the illegal distribution of movies and TV-shows, with declining incomes and lost jobs in the movie industry as a result.

These sites and services not only threaten the movie industry, but according to the MPAA they also put consumers at risk through identity theft and by spreading malware.

“It is important to note that websites that traffic in infringing movies, television shows, and other copyrighted content do not harm only the rights holder. Malicious software or malware, which puts Internet users at risk of identity theft, fraud, and other ills, is increasingly becoming a source of revenue for pirate sites,” MPAA writes.

Below is an overview of the “notorious markets” the MPAA reported to the Government. The sites are listed in separate categories and each have a suspected location, as defined by the movie industry group.

Torrent Sites

BitTorrent remains the most popular P2P software as the global piracy icon, MPAA notes. The Pirate Bay poses one of the largest threats here. Based on data from Comscore, the MPAA says that TPB has about 40 million unique visitors per month, which appears to be a very low estimate.

“Thepiratebay.se (TPB) claims to be the largest BitTorrent website on the Internet with a global Alexa rank of 91, and a local rank of 72 in the U.S. Available in 35 languages, this website serves a wide audience with upwards of 43.5 million peers,” MPAA writes.

“TPB had 40,551,220 unique visitors in August 2014 according to comScore World Wide data. Traffic arrives on this website through multiple changing ccTLD domains and over 90 proxy websites that assist TPB to circumvent site blocking actions.”

For the first time the MPAA also lists YIFY/YTS in its overview of notorious markets. The MPAA describes YTS as one of the most popular release groups, and notes that these are used by the Popcorn Time streaming application.

“[Yts.re] facilitates the downloading of free copies of popular movies, and currently lists more than 5,000 high-quality movie torrents available to download for free,” MPAA writes.

“Additionally, the content on Yts.re supports desktop torrent streaming application ‘Popcorn Time’ which has an install base of 1.4 million devices and more than 100,000 active users in the United States alone.”

The full list of reported torrent sites is as follows:

- Kickass.to (Several locations)
– Thepiratebay.se (Sweden)
– Torrentz.eu (Germany/Luxembourg)
– Rutracker.org (Russia)
– Yts.re (Several locations)
-Extratorrent.cc (Ukraine)
-Xunlei.com (China)

The mention of Xunlei.com is interesting as the Chinese company signed an anti-piracy deal with the MPA earlier this year. However, according to the MPAA piracy is still rampant, and there is no evidence that Xunlei has fulfilled its obligations.

Direct Download and Streaming Cyberlockers

The second category of pirate sites reported by the MPAA are cyberlockers. The movie industry group points out that these sites generate million of dollars in revenue, citing the recently released report from Netnames.

Interestingly, the MPAA doesn’t include 4shared and Mega, the two services who discredited the report in question. As in previous submissions VKontakte, Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, is also listed as a notorious market.

- VK.com (Russia)
– Uploaded.net (Netherlands)
– Rapidgator.net (Russia)
– Firedrive.com (New Zealand)
– Nowvideo.sx and the “Movshare Group” (Panama/Switzerland/Netherlands)
– Netload.in (Germany)

Linking Websites

The largest category in terms of reported sites represents linking websites. These sites don’t host the infringing material, but only link to it. The full list of linking sites is as follows.

- Free-tv-video-online.me (Canada)
– Movie4k.to (Romania)
– Primewire.ag (Estonia)
– Watchseries.lt (Switzerland)
– Putlocker.is (Switzerland)
– Solarmovie.is (Latvia)
– Megafilmeshd.net (Brazil)
– Filmesonlinegratis.net (Brazil)
– Watch32.com (Germany)
– Yyets.com (China)
– Cuevana.tv (Argentina)
– Viooz.ac (Estonia)
– Degraçaemaisgostoso.org (Brazil)
– Telona.org (Brazil)

The inclusion of Cuevana.tv is noteworthy as the website stopped offering direct links to infringing content earlier this year. Instead, it now direct people to its custom “Popcorn Time” equivalent “Storm.”

Finally, the MPAA lists one Usenet provider, the German based Usenext.com. This service was included because, unlike other providers, it allegedly heavily markets itself to P2P users.

Later this year the US Trade Representative will use the submissions of the MPAA and other parties to make up its final list of piracy havens. The U.S. Government will then alert the countries where these sites are operating from, hoping that local authorities take action.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Blockade Set For Icelandic Expansion

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

In common with many countries around Europe, the movie and music industries in Iceland have been working hard to cut down on copyright infringement online. To this end copyright groups including the local equivalents of the RIAA (STEF) and MPAA (SMAIS) have targeted the leader of the usual suspects, the notorious Pirate Bay.

After complaints to the police failed, STEF and SMAIS turned to web-blocking in the hope of achieving similar results to those netted by rightsholders in the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.

Following setbacks STEF decided to go it alone and earlier this month achieved the result they’d been looking for. The Reykjavík District Court handed down an injunction to ISPs Vodafone and Hringdu forcing them to block several domains belonging to The Pirate Bay and Deildu, a private torrent site popular with locals.

Just two weeks later and it’s now becoming clear that STEF won’t be happy until all of Iceland’s leading ISPs are blocking too.

Earlier this week the rights group demanded responses from ISPs including Sím­inn, Tal and 365 Media as to whether the companies will agree to block Pirate Bay and Deildu in the wake of the Vodafone decision. Threatening legal action, STEF gave the ISPs until Wednesday to respond.

According to local news outlet MBL, 365 Media informed STEF it was willing to at least consider the idea but both Sím­inn and Tal appear to have rejected voluntary blocking, preferring official action through the courts instead.

Sím­inn said that it is not the role of communications companies to decide which sites should be closed and which should remain open so it would need to be presented with a formal injunction in order to block Pirate Bay and Deildu. In broad terms, Tali said the same.

As a result, lawyer Tóm­as Jóns­son says that STEF will now press ahead with its efforts to obtain injunctions against the ISPs that have raised objections. Procedural issues aside, which have dogged previous efforts, it’s likely that sooner or later STEF will achieve its aims.

Finally, there has been a trend recently for under-pressure sites to look at Icelandic hosting and local .IS domains in the belief they offer improved security over those available elsewhere.

While that may indeed be true, Iceland’s domain registry has just canceled an .IS domain that was operated by people with links to Islamic State.

“This is in fact a sad day for IS­NIC. We are very sad over this. It was not an easy de­ci­sion to do this. We had a rep­utaion for never hav­ing sus­pended a do­main name. That is not the re­al­ity any­more. These peo­ple have ru­ined that for us,” said ISNIC director Jens Pé­tur Jensen.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Will Punish “Pirate” Sites Harder in Search Results

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

google-bayOver the past few years the entertainment industries have repeatedly asked Google to step up its game when it comes to anti-piracy efforts.

These remarks haven’t fallen on deaf ears and Google has slowly implemented various new anti-piracy measures in response.

Today Google released an updated version of its “How Google Fights Piracyreport. The company provides an overview of all the efforts it makes to combat piracy, but also stresses that copyright holders themselves have a responsibility to make content available.

One of the most prominent changes is a renewed effort to make “pirate” sites less visible in search results. Google has had a downranking system in place since 2012, but this lacked effectiveness according to the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright industry groups.

The improved version, which will roll out next week, aims to address this critique.

“We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites. This update will roll out globally starting next week,” says Katherine Oyama, Google’s Copyright Policy Counsel.

The report notes that the new downranking system will still be based on the number of valid DMCA requests a site receives, among other factors. The pages of flagged sites remain indexed, but are less likely to be the top results.

“Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in search results. This ranking change helps users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily,” the report reads.

Looking at the list of sites for which Google received the most DMCA takedown request, we see that 4shared, Filestube and Dilandau can expect to lose some search engine traffic.

The report further highlights several other tweaks and improvements to Google’s anti-piracy efforts. For example, in addition to banning piracy related AutoComplete words, Google now also downranks suggestions that return results with many “pirate” sites.

Finally, the report also confirms our previous reporting which showed that Google uses ads to promote legal movie services when people search for piracy related keywords such as torrent, DVDrip and Putlocker. This initiative aims to increase the visibility of legitimate sites.

A full overview of Google’s anti-piracy efforts is available here.

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

TorrentFreak: United States Hosts Most Pirate Sites, UK Crime Report Finds

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

sam-pirateThe UK IP Crime Group, a coalition of law enforcement agencies, government departments and industry representatives, has released its latest IP Crime Report.

The report is produced by the UK Government’s Intellectual Property Office and provides an overview of recent achievements and current challenges in the fight against piracy and counterfeiting. Increasingly, these threats are coming from the Internet.

“One of the key features in this year’s report is the continuing trend that the Internet is a major facilitator of IP crime,” the Crime Group writes.

The report notes that as in previous years, Hollywood-funded industry group FACT remains one of the key drivers of anti-piracy efforts in the UK. Over the past year they’ve targeted alleged pirate sites though various channels, including their hosting providers.

Not all hosts are receptive to FACT’s complaints though, and convincing companies that operate abroad is often a challenge. This includes the United States where the majority of the investigated sites are hosted.

“Only 14% of websites investigated by FACT are hosted in the UK. While it is possible to contact the hosts of these websites, there still remains a considerable number of copyright infringing websites that are hosted offshore and not within the jurisdiction of the UK.”

“Analysis has shown that the three key countries in which content is hosted are the UK, the USA and Canada. However, Investigating servers located offshore can cause specific problems for FACT’s law enforcement partners,” the report notes.

ushostpirate

The figure above comes as a bit of a surprise, as one would expect that United States authorities and industry groups would have been keeping their own houses in order.

Just a few months ago the US-based IIPA, which includes MPAA and RIAA as members, called out Canada because local hosting providers are “a magnet” for pirate sites. However, it now appears they have still plenty of work to do inside U.S. borders.

But even when hosting companies are responsive to complaints from rightsholders the problem doesn’t always go away. The report mentions that most sites simply move on to another host, and continue business as usual there.

“In 2013, FACT closed a website after approaching the hosting provider on 63 occasions. Although this can be a very effective strategy, in most instances the website is swiftly transferred onto servers owned by another ISP, often located outside the UK.”

While downtime may indeed be relatively brief the report claims that it may still hurt the site, as visitors may move on to other legitimate or illegitimate sources.

“The [moving] process usually involves a disruptive period of time whereby the website is offline, during which users will often find an alternative service, thus negatively affecting the website’s popularity.”

While hosting companies remain a main target, tackling the online piracy problem requires a multi-layered approach according to the UK Crime Group.

With the help of local law enforcement groups such as City of London’s PIPCU, copyright holders have rolled out a variety of anti-piracy measures in recent months. This includes domain name suspensions, cutting off payment processors and ad revenue, website blocking by ISPs and criminal prosecutions.

These and other efforts are expected to continue during the years to come. Whether that will be enough to put a real dent in piracy rates has yet to be seen.

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

TorrentFreak: New Github DMCA Policy Gives Alleged Infringers a Second Chance

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

githubLike other highly-trafficked domains relying heavily on user contributed content, coding and collaboration platform Github now publishes its own transparency report detailing copyright-related complaints received by the company.

Some of these DMCA notices have been reported here on TF in recent months, including one sent by the MPAA which effectively ended Popcorn Time’s presence on the site and another sent by Microsoft targeting an Xbox music app.

Now, in a move to bring more transparency and clarity to its copyright processes, Github has announced significant changes to the way it handles DMCA complaints. The company says that three major changes have been implemented in order to improve on-site experience and better serve users.

In the first instance, copyright owners will need to conduct their investigations as usual and send a properly formatted takedown notice to Github. Presuming it meets statutory requirements, Github will publish it in their transparency report and pass a link to the user in question.

At this point Github’s new policy begins to take effect. Previously the company would’ve immediately taken down the complained-about content but Github now says it wants to provide alleged infringers with a chance to put things right “whenever possible.”

24 hours to take action

To this end, Github says users will have the opportunity to modify or remove content within 24 hours of a complaint. Copyright holders will be notified that Github has given the affected user this leeway and it will be down to the user to inform Github within the allotted period that the appropriate changes have been made. Failure to do so will see the repository removed.

Despite this wiggle room, not all complaints will result in the luxury of a 24 hour ‘action’ period. Should a DMCA notice claim that the entire contents of a repository infringe, the repository in question will be removed “expeditiously.”

Forks will not be automatically disabled

The second significant change is that when Github receives a copyright complaint against a parent repository, it will not automatically disable project forks. For that to happen any complaint will have to specifically include not only the parent’s URL, but also the locations of all related forks.

“GitHub will not automatically disable forks when disabling a parent repository. This is because forks belong to different users, may have been altered in significant ways, and may be licensed or used in a different way that is protected by the fair-use doctrine,” Github explains.

Fighting back: Counter-notices

As required by law, users affected by takedown notices have a right of reply if they believe they’ve been wrongly targeted. Sufficiently detailed counter notices can be submitted to Github for forwarding to complaining rightsholders. They will also be published in the site’s transparency report.

This right of reply is very important and one that appears to be under utilized. Earlier this month Github published a complaint which targeted and took down a wide range of addons for the popular media player XBMC.

Apparently sent by ‘DMCA Secure’, a company that has no immediately visible web presence, the notice claimed to represent a wide range of copyright holders including Sony, Fox, Dreamworks, NFL and WWE, to name just a few.

The notice is unusual. While it’s common for the first three companies to team up, we’d never seen a notice featuring such a wide range of diverse rightsholders before. Also, while the functionality of the code could give rise to copyright issues, none of those companies own the copyrights to the code in question.

TF put it to Github that the complaint looked unusual and might even be bogus, but the company declined to comment on specific cases. Like many companies in similar positions, it appears Github has to take notices on face value and relies on users to submit counter-notices to air their complaints. None of the repositories in question have done so.

Github’s revamped DMCA policy can be found here, along with how-to guides on submitting takedown and counter notices.

While Github is well-known in the technology sector, it may come as a surprise just how popular the service is. Around seven million people use the site and according to Alexa, Github.com is the 127th most-visited domain in the world.

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

TorrentFreak: Freedom-Friendly Iceland Blocks The Pirate Bay

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

In 2013, copyright groups including the local equivalents of the RIAA (STEF) and MPAA (SMAIS) reported the operators of The Pirate Bay to Icelandic police. It had zero negative effect on the site.

So, with a public anti-piracy awareness campaign under their belts, STEF and SMAIS embarked on a strategy successfully employed by copyright holders in the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and other European countries. The groups issued demands for local ISPs to block not only The Pirate Bay, but also Deildu.net, Iceland’s most popular private torrent tracker.

Modifications to the country’s Copyright Act in 2010 authorized injunctions against intermediaries, so the chances of success seemed good. However, this was Iceland, a country strongly associated with freedom of speech. Could protection of copyrights trump that?

“This action doesn’t go against freedom of expression as it aims to prevent copyright infringement and protect the rights and income of authors, artists and producers,” the rightsholders insisted.

Initial legal action against ISPs faced issues, with one blocking request rejected on a procedural matter. Another featuring four plaintiffs was reduced to three when in May this year the Supreme Court decided that only music group STEF had the rights to claim injunctive relief.

But despite the setbacks, this week the rightsholders achieved the ruling they had been hoping for. The Reykjavík District Court handed down an injunction to ISPs Vodafone and Hringdu forcing them to block several domains belonging to The Pirate Bay and Deildu.

STEF Director of Policy Gudrun Bjork Bjarnadóttir told local media that the decision of the Court is an important event that will smooth the way for much-needed additional blockades.

“We will never reach a final victory in the battle so it makes sense for people to realize that it’s likely that new sites will spring up. However, following similar actions abroad visitor numbers to such sites have declined significantly,” Bjarnadóttir said.

The domains to be blocked include thepiratebay.se, thepiratebay.sx and thepiratebay.org, plus deildu.net and deildu.com. Currently the injunction applies to just two ISPs and it’s unclear whether there will be an attempt at expansion, but in the meantime the effort is likely to be a symbolic one.

The block against The Pirate Bay will be circumvented almost immediately due to the wide range of reverse proxy sites available and Deildu has already taken evasive action of its own. Within hours the private tracker announced a brand new domain – Iceland.pm – one that isn’t listed in the court order.

ISP Hringdu says that the Court ruling runs counter to company policies.

“It is clear that [the ruling] is not in harmony with Hringdu’s policy regarding net freedom,” director Kristinn Pétursson told Vísir. “The company has placed great emphasis on the idea that our customers should have unrestricted access to the internet.”

Neither of the ISPs has yet indicated an appeal to the Supreme Court.

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