Posts tagged ‘mpaa’

TorrentFreak: Pre-Release Movie ‘Hacker’ Indicted By The Feds

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

hackedYear in and year out dozens of movies leak online, some long before they are set to appear in theaters.

These pre-release leaks are of great concern to Hollywood and the cases often see the FBI become involved. But despite law enforcement’s best efforts the leakers are seldom identified.

This week, however, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted Dutch resident Joey Vogelaar for unlawfully obtaining three Hollywood movies back in November 2010.

The now 28-year-old from Delft allegedly accessed the Sony Pictures Entertainment film “How Do You Know,” Paramount’s “Rango” and the Dreamworks movie “Megamind,” all of which were unreleased at the time.

A copy of the indictment obtained by TF (pdf) shows that Vogelaar, also known under the aliases “TyPeR” and “neXus”, is accused of computer hacking and identity theft. Interestingly, no copyright infringement charges have been filed.

The Dutchman allegedly “hacked” into the computer of a company involved in the production of the three movies. The term “hacking” should be used loosely here, as Vogelaar appears to have accessed the computer with the login credentials of an employee, who’s mentioned by the initials T.H.

How the man obtained the login credentials is unknown, but it’s not unlikely that they were already available online.

For the computer hacking charge Vogelaar faces five years in prison, and a possible identity theft sentence could add two more years – if he’s extradited to the United States.

First the defendant will have to be served but according to his father, Ben, they haven’t yet been informed of the charges. “We’ll wait, it’ll be okay,” he says.

The Department of Justice is taking the case very seriously, especially with the Sony hack fresh in mind. This hack put cybersecurity firmly back on top of the political agenda and in part triggered President Obama’s new cybersecurity plans.

MPAA CEO Chris Dodd said that because of hackers certain companies have their “digital products exposed and available online for anyone to loot.”

“That’s why law enforcement must be given the resources they need to police these criminal activities,” Dodd noted at the time.

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

TorrentFreak: “Canada Remains A Safe Haven For Online Piracy”

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

canada-pirateThe International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has just published its latest submission to the U.S. Government, providing an overview of countries it believes should better protect the interests of the copyright industry.

The IIPA, which includes a wide range of copyright groups including the MPAA, RIAA, BSA and ESA, has listed its complaints against a whole host of countries. As in previous years, Canada was discussed in detail with the recommendation to put it on the 2014 Special 301 ‘watch list’.

One of the main criticisms against Canada is that the country offers a home to many pirate sites. The country recently revised its copyright law but that has done little to address this problem, IIPA believes.

“Although there has been some improvement in recent years, Canada still has far to go to rectify its reputation as a safe haven for Internet pirates. Indeed, a number of the world’s most popular Internet sources dedicated to online theft of copyright material retain connections to Canada.”

Among others, the report lists the popular torrent sites Torrentz.eu, Kickass.to and streaming portal Solarmovie.is as partially Canada-based.

Canada’s inaction against these websites has forced copyright holders to request website blockades in other countries, IIPA claims. In addition, these pirate sites hamper the growth of legal services.

“As long as these sites continue to use Canada as a base, efforts to provide a space within which legitimate, licensed services can take root and grow are undermined, not only in Canada, but around the world,” the report reads.

According to the report Canada’s current copyright law lacks the ability to motivate hosting providers to stop dealing with this sites. Instead, IIPA argues that the law gives these companies “overbroad safe harbors.”

“Clearly the legal incentives remain insufficient for Canadian providers of hosting services to cooperate with right holders to deal with massive and flagrant infringements carried out using their services,” they write.

Aside from hosting pirate sites, IIPA characterizes Canada as a pro-piracy country in general. Canadians download more than twice as much pirated music per capita, according the copyright group.

The “notice and notice” system that was implemented recently, where ISPs have to forward copyright infringement warnings to alleged pirates, is not expected to change much either they say.

“… while the Canadian “notice and notice” system requires service providers to retain records on the identity of subscribers whose accounts have been used for unauthorized file sharing or other infringing behaviors, multiple repeat infringers will be delivered the same notice.”

Ideally, IIPA would like to see a system where repeat infringers can be identified and punished if needed, similar to the “strikes” systems that have been implemented in other countries.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg for Canada. Among other things, the groups also call for stronger border protections and limiting the copyright exceptions for educational use.

The group ask the U.S. Government to “continue to press Canada” to address these and other issues that may hinder the growth of the copyright industry.

“[The U.S. Government] should encourage Canadian authorities to do what they can to give service providers greater incentives to come together with right holders to make meaningful progress against online copyright infringement; but further legislative change is likely to be needed.”

The IIPA’s full 2014 Special 301 recommendation report is available here. This also includes assessments from more than a dozen other countries, including Brazil, China, India, Russia and Switzerland.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA to Undergo Major Changes Following Studio Disquiet

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

mpaa-logoDuring November 2014, Sony Pictures was subjected to one of the most aggressive cyber-attacks in living memory. The studio’s systems were almost completely compromised, with thousands of emails leaking online alongside several major films.

While the hackers clearly wanted to finish Sony for good, in the end their efforts proved unsuccessful. The studio appears to be on the path to recovery with the hack costing ‘just’ $15m so far. Nevertheless, the fallout continues.

Last week it was revealed that Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal will be stepping down and now further revelations suggest that the hack will have wider implications outside Sony.

According to a report, Sony Pictures chairman Michael Lynton became infuriated by the complete lack of support offered to his company by the MPAA as it withered under the hack last year. While MPAA chief Chris Dodd eventually admitted that he’d handled the issue poorly, the damage had been done.

Alongside disquiet over the amount of cash the MPAA burns through every year, it’s now been revealed that Lynton began making plans for Sony to take the unprecedented move of leaving the movie industry group.

While this immediate crisis appears to have been averted (Lynton is said to have reversed course around Oscar time), he and other studio executives are now seeking to comprehensively alter the way the MPAA operates.

Several options are currently on the table, including opening up the MPAA to new members and expanding its mandate to include TV and digital content. Also under the spotlight are costs.

At the moment each of the member studios – Sony, Disney, Warner, Paramount, 20th Century Fox and Universal – pumps around $20 million into the MPAA every year (some of it going to Dodd’s salary of $3.3m) but it’s still not enough as the group is currently running at a loss.

The MPAA does have assets though, such as a valuable property (mentioned on several occasions in emails leaked from the Sony hack) located in Washington near the White House. That could be sold or developed to balance the books.

The New York Times managed to reach MPAA chief Chris Dodd on the telephone Thursday. When asked about the prospect for big changes at the MPAA he said: “I’m for that, completely.”

Dodd was on his way to have dinner in Los Angeles with top studio executives – Sony’s Lynton included – and he confirmed that a revamp of the organization was on the menu.

“He’s there. I’m glad he’s there. I think he’s handled this well,” Dodd said of Lynton, noting that some “feel more strongly” about potential changes at the MPAA than others.

Part of the MPAA’s problems relate to its inability to move quickly. All member companies have to agree on a course of action before it can be taken, something highlighted only too clearly when Dodd became hamstrung when considering what to do in support of Sony.

It’s questionable if that situation would improve with the addition of yet more members, but it would bring in much needed cash. The organization lost $4.4m in 2013 according to its latest tax filing.

Whether the coffers can be buoyed with a cash injection from the sale of MPAA real estate seems less certain. Asked about the MPAA’s Washington building and its lobbying-friendly location, Dodd sounded a note of caution.

“It’s an important spot,” he said.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Chrome Dragged Into Internet Censorship Fight

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

chromeHelped by the MPAA, Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood launched a secret campaign to revive SOPA-like censorship efforts in the United States.

The MPAA and Hood want Internet services to bring website blocking and search engine filtering back to the table after the controversial law failed to pass.

The plan became public through various emails that were released in the Sony Pictures leaks and in a response Google said that it was “deeply concerned” about the developments.

To counter the looming threat Google filed a complaint against Hood last December, asking the court to quash a pending subpoena that addresses Google’s failure to take down or block access to illegal content, including pirate sites.

Recognizing the importance of this case, several interested parties have written to the court to share their concerns. There’s been support for both parties with some siding with Google and others backing Hood.

In a joint amicus curae brief (pdf) the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Computer & Communications Association (CCIA) and
advocacy organization Engine warn that Hood’s efforts endanger free speech and innovation.

“No public official should have discretion to filter the Internet. Where the public official is one of fifty state attorneys general, the danger to free speech and to innovation is even more profound,” they write.

According to the tech groups it would be impossible for Internet services to screen and police the Internet for questionable content.

“Internet businesses rely not only on the ability to communicate freely with their consumers, but also on the ability to give the public ways to communicate with each other. This communication, at the speed of the Internet, is impossible to pre-screen.”

Not everyone agrees with this position though. On the other side of the argument we find outfits such as Stop Child Predators, Digital Citizens Alliance, Taylor Hooton Foundation and Ryan United.

In their brief they point out that Google’s services are used to facilitate criminal practices such as illegal drug sales and piracy. Blocking content may also be needed to protect children from other threats.

“Google’s YouTube service has been used by those seeking to sell steroids and other illegal drugs online,” they warn, adding that the video platform is also “routinely used to distribute other content that is harmful to minors, such as videos regarding ‘How to Buy Smokes Under-Age’, and ‘Best Fake ID Service Around’.

Going a step further, the groups also suggest that Google should filter content in its Chrome browser. The brief mentions that Google recently removed Pirate Bay apps from its Play Store, but failed to block the site in search results or Chrome.

“In December 2014, responding to the crackdown on leading filesharing website PirateBay, Google removed a file-sharing application from its mobile software store, but reports indicate that Google has continued to allow access to the same and similar sites through its search engine and Chrome browser,” they write.

The Attorney General should be allowed to thoroughly investigate these threats and do something about it, the groups add.

“It is simply not tenable to suggest that the top law enforcement officials of each state are powerless even to investigate whether search engines or other intermediaries such as Google are being used—knowingly or unknowingly—to facilitate the distribution of illegal content…”

In addition to the examples above, several other organizations submitted amicus briefs arguing why the subpoena should or shouldn’t be allowed under the First Amendment and Section 230 of the CDA, including the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, EFF, the Center for Democracy & Technology and Public Knowledge.

Considering the stakes at hand, both sides will leave no resource untapped to defend their positions. In any event, this is certainly not the last time we’ll hear of the case.

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Left Moldova Before Government Piracy Meeting

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

phoenix1The Pirate Bay is without doubt the most controversial file-sharing site ever to hit the Internet. Even Napster, still mentioned nearly 15 years after its demise, fails to eclipse the sheer number of headlines generated by The ‘Bay.

Throughout the site’s roller-coaster history, one element has remained constant. Sooner or later, one way or another, companies and organizations that provide infrastructure to the notorious site all come under the spotlight.

The latest Internet service provider to become associated with The Pirate Bay is Moldovan-based Trabia, the country’s largest datacenter. In January the ISP said that it supports freedom of speech and “barrier-free Internet usage” but noted that clients – Pirate Bay included – have to obey local and international laws.

It goes without saying that The Pirate Bay has rarely been associated with that kind of compliance so when the site came back online last Saturday, Trabia would’ve had good reasons to expect trouble. However, in the event, it did not do so from the company’s servers, Trabia has announced.

Trabia founder Sven Wiese says the operator of the infamous site contacted the ISP in January to inform the company that it would move to another location. While there’s no real reason to doubt Wiese’s word, it is now fairly difficult to backup the move with hard facts since, as usual, TPB is obfuscating its true location.

Speaking with Moldova.org, Wiese notes that The Pirate Bay is now ‘hosted’ with Cloudflare. While that’s not strictly true (the actual site is bound to be located in a separate hidden location), Cloudflare services are indeed providing a ‘front-end’ to the site.

It’s an interesting situation. After Hollywood pumped cash into Sweden to have local anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance investigate and then raid The Pirate Bay in December, the site has not only resurrected itself but has boldly planted some of its infrastructure firmly in the studios’ backyard.

Use of U.S.-based Cloudflare is not without its issues and has certainly helped the conspiracy theorists. Earlier this week several large publications bought into the notion that The Pirate Bay is now an FBI honeypot. It’s not (and the site will discontinue using it soon) – but if simply using Cloudflare is a cause for concern, let the nail-biting begin.

In addition to the original Pirate Bay, many of the largest Pirate Bay clones and alternatives also use Cloudflare. They include ThePirateBay.com.ua, ThePirateBay.co.in, ThePirateBay.cr, ThePirateBayv2.org and ThePirateBay.lv. Even the largest of them all – OldPirateBay.org – uses Cloudflare in its setup.

Cloudflare hasn’t commented on The Pirate Bay’s use of its services but for Trabia over in Moldova, associations with the site are set to put piracy discussions back on the agenda. According to the State Agency for Intellectual Property (AGEPI), the hosting of the Pirate Bay in the country may have “boosted the notoriety” of Moldova overseas.

“In our country no one doubts that a thief who stole something must be arrested,” said AGEPI deputy Ion Tiganas. “We want to be considered as a country that has laws and where these laws are respected.”

Tiganas says that this month there will be a meeting to discuss intellectual property rights and as a result of The Pirate Bay’s foray into the country, the site will be on the agenda.

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

TorrentFreak: Hotfile Agrees to Settle Piracy Lawsuit With Major Book Publishers

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

hfpLittle over a year ago the MPAA announced that it had settled its legal dispute with Hotfile for $80 million, which in reality came down to just $4 million.

Shortly after the settlement was announced a group of major book publishers followed in Hollywood’s footsteps.

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

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

The publishers held Hotfile liable for the many copyright-infringing works that were shared by its users, including ‘Office 2007 for Dummies’ and ‘C++ How to Program,’ As compensation for the damage that was suffered they demanded up to $7.5 million.

Hotfile later refuted that is was responsible for pirating users, and last December the Court scheduled a mediation conference hoping both parties would be able to resolve their issues.

This session was indeed effective as mediator Jeffrey Grubman informed the Court this week that both parties have agreed on a settlement.

“Mr. Anton Titov attended the mediation via Skype on behalf of Defendants, along with Defendants’ counsel. At the conclusion of the mediation session, the parties agreed in principle to a complete resolution of the dispute subject to final written settlement documentation,” Grubman writes.

The details of the agreement are unlikely to become public. However, it’s likely that Hotfile agreed to pay a settlement fee as it did in the MPAA case.

The finer details still have to be fleshed out and District Court Judge Beth Bloom has decided to administratively close the case for now. If the planned settlement falls apart either party has the option to reopen it.

For Hotfile the settlement will mark the end of several controversial years where it went from being one of the top file-hosting sites more than 100 million page views per month, to a defunct service with no visitors at all.

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

TorrentFreak: YTS Rolls Out New Design and Features

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

YTSOperated by the popular ‘YIFY’ release group, YTS has become one of the most popular pirate brands releasing several top movies on a weekly basis.

The group releases its movies on various popular torrent sites, but in recent years its home base YTS.re has also gathered a steady user base.

“We are currently looking at around 6.5 million pages views with just under a million unique users coming daily to the site,” the YTS team informs TF, adding that it’s roughly a 33 percent increase in uniques compared to last year.

Since the old site wasn’t built to serve millions of page views per day it started to fail more often, causing all sorts of problems. Several improvements were needed to keep things running smoothly, and in recent weeks YTS worked hard to put these in place.

Over the past weekend YTS was ready to roll out a major overhaul of the site. The backend was completely redone and the site got a redesign as well.

“We didn’t really decide to make these changes, we were kind of forced to. In the past half a year the old site was failing us. It started to crash and die with all sorts of errors on a regular basis,” YTS tells us.

While YTS was working on the backend they also decided to give the site a new look and roll out some frequently requested features. The movie pages were improved with new info and list both 720p and 1080p versions on the same page, for example.

yts-new

Another big change is the responsive design, which makes the site more easily accessible across various devices, including smartphones.

“We are finally embracing the future. We have added a responsive layout for our mobile users making life a little easier when it comes to surfing the website from your smartphone,” YTS notes.

Finally, the site’s API has also been upgraded and should be more simple to use now. This means that the developers of various Popcorn Time forks and other apps that rely on YTS will have to do some upgrades as well.

The growth of YTS hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hollywood either. A few months ago the MPAA reported YTS to the U.S. Government in its overview of notorious markets, describing it as one of the most popular release groups.

“[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 wrote.

Needless to say, the movie industry group will be less excited with YTS’ continued expansion.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood’s Release Delays Breed Pirates

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

babypirateHollywood has a message to all those pirates who keep making excuses to download and stream films illegally.

“You have no excuse.”

The major movie studios have done enough to make their content legally available, launching thousands of convenient movie services worldwide, they claim.

“We need to bust the myth that legal content is unavailable. Creative industries are tirelessly experimenting with new business models that deliver films, books, music, TV programs, newspapers, games and other creative works to consumers,” Stan McCoy noted on the MPAA blog this week.

“In Europe, there are over 3,000 on-demand audio-visual services available to European citizens,” he adds.

So is the MPA right? Is “availability” an imaginary problem that pirates use as an excuse not to pay?

We decided to investigate the issue by looking at the online availability of the ten most downloaded films of last week. Since the MPAA’s blog post talked about Europe and the UK we decided to use Findanyfilm.com which focuses on UK content. The results of our small survey speak for themselves.

Of the ten most pirated movies only Gone Girl is available to buy or rent online. A pretty weak result, especially since it’s still missing from the most popular video subscription service Netflix.

Ranking Movie Available Online? Buy / Rent
torrentfreak.com
1 Interstellar NO
2 American Sniper NO
3 Taken 3 NO
4 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies NO
5 John Wick NO
6 Into The Woods NO
7 Fury NO
8 Gone Girl Rent/Buy
9 American Heist NO
10 The Judge NO

Yes, the results above are heavily skewed because they only include movies that were released recently. Looking up films from 2011 will result in a much more favorable outcome in terms of availability.

But isn’t that the problem exactly? Most film fans are not interested in last year’s blockbusters, they want to able to see the new stuff in their home too. And since the movie industry prefers to keep its windowing business model intact, piracy is often the only option to watch recent movies online.

So when the MPA’s Stan McCoy says that lacking availability is a myth, he’s ignoring the elephant in the room.

For as long as the film industry keeps its windowing business model intact, releasing films online months after their theatrical release, people will search for other ways to access content, keeping their piracy habit alive.

Admittedly, changing a business that has relied on complex licensing schemes and windowing strategies for decades isn’t easy. But completely ignoring that these issues play a role is a bit shortsighted.

There’s no doubt that the movie studios are making progress. It’s also true that many people choose to pirate content that is legally available, simply because it’s free. There is no good excuse for these freeriders, but it’s also a myth that Hollywood has done all it can to eradicate piracy.

Even its own research proves them wrong.

Earlier this year a KPMG report, commissioned by NBC Universal, showed that only 16% of the most popular and critically acclaimed films are available via Netflix and other on-demand subscription services. The missing 84% includes recent titles but also older ones that are held back due to rights issues.

Clearly, availability is still an issue.

So if Hollywood accuses Google of breeding pirates, then it’s safe to say the same about Hollywood.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Trademark Forces “Rated R” Beer To Drop Its Name

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

ratedrThe MPAA is best known for its efforts to protect the rights of the major movie studios. However, the group also has some intellectual property of its own to defend.

A few weeks ago the MPAA sent a cease and desist letter to Minneapolis beer brewery 612 Brew, who’re known for their tasty beers including the popular “Rated R” brand.

The movie industry group pointed out that the company was using the “Rated R” trademark without permission and urged the beer maker to drop the name to avoid confusion.

The MPAA registered “Rated R” at the trademark office in the eighties as a certification mark, indicating that a movie is rated unsuitable for children under 17, unless they’re accompanied by an adult.

While movie ratings have nothing to do with beer, the MPAA took offense at the name after the brewery filed their own trademark application. According to 612 Brew co-founder Kasak, the MPAA didn’t want the beer makers to use any of the “Rated” variants.

“[Our beer] could have been PG, PG-13 or R. It didn’t matter. As long as it contained the word ‘rated’ it would still get flagged,” Kasak told Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.

An MPAA spokesperson confirmed that the group sent a cease and desist letter but further details are not available.

The brewery first responded to the demands by arguing that the Rated R name can be used as they clearly operate in a different industry. The MPAA wasn’t convinced though, so 612 decided that it was easiest to change the name.

The trademark specifically notes that the MPAA doesn’t have an exclusive right to the word “rated,” but 612 Brew decided to go for a different variant.

Starting this year the name of “Rated R” beer was changed to “Unrated,” which isn’t trademarked by the MPAA. While the change is a setback for the brewery it’s co-founder doesn’t believe it will harm business in the long run.

“It’s going to take some time for people to get used to it, but it will be OK. It’s a great beer and they’ll drink it regardless of the name,” Kasak notes.

The brewery now has to hope that the “unrated” name won’t cause any headaches in the future. A quick search reveals that there’s an “unrated” trademark application in progress by a “yoga pants” outfit, so fingers crossed.

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

TorrentFreak: How Hollywood Plans to Seize Pirate Site Domain Names

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

pirate-runningLast December a leaked document from the MPAA exposed Hollywood’s global anti-piracy priorities for the coming years.

The leak listed the mysterious term “Fujian” as one of the top priorities, without explaining what the name of a Chinese province has to do with online piracy.

Additional documents seen by TF shed more light on the issue. It turns out that the MPAA is slowly but steadily testing a novel legal procedure through which it hopes to seize the domain names of top pirate sites.

Fujian actually refers to the company “Fujian Sharing Import & Export Ltd,” which was sued several years ago for selling counterfeit Polo Ralph Lauren and The North Face clothing.

The counterfeiters used thousands of websites to sell their knockoffs using just as many domain names. If one was taken down, Fujian would simply replace it by a new one selling the same counterfeit gear.

To stop this game of Whack-A-Mole a federal court in New York ordered various intermediaries, including domain name registries, to stop working with the company and hand over the domain names to the clothing manufacturers. If they failed to comply, the registries themselves would be held liable.

In recent years both The North Face and Polo Ralph Lauren frequently updated the list of counterfeit domain names and had them seized by their registries and deleted from search engines.

The movie studios are now planning to use the same strategy against pirate sites. Besides asking reputable domain name registries to take voluntary action, they also plan to use the “Fujian” model in court.

In a detailed overview of its strategies the MPAA says that it wants to “persuade or compel domain name registries that control the reputable gTLDs (e.g., .com, .org) to terminate domain services for demonstrated pirate sites.”

“Efforts principally include civil litigation (Fujian strategy) and outreach to registries seeking to ensure they do not provide domain services to pirate sites,” they add.

Thus far they have had some success in the U.S. in a lawsuit against a ring of counterfeit DVD sites. However, the tactic has yet to be tried against sites that offer streaming services, torrents or links to pirated material.

Behind closed doors the MPAA admits that targeting domain names will be less effective than site blocking, which is also on the agenda, as sites can move to so-called “rogue” registries. But it is still expected to have a decent impact.

“Nevertheless, domain name termination can be very effective in disrupting pirate sites and the user experience in visiting them. At least temporarily, thesite is made inaccessible,” MPAA notes.

“Even sites that come back online can be expected to see reduced traffic, with a corresponding impact on profitability and sustainability,” they add.

And there’s more to worry about. Looking at one of the most recent (24th!) supplemental order in the Fujian case we see that the court grants rightsholders powers that go much further than targeting domain names alone.

The order also requires search engines to delist the infringing URLs, banks to seize the site’s assets, and forbids ISPs, back-end service providers and web designers to do business with the domain name owners.

Whether the MPAA will be successful with their efforts has yet to be seen but persistent pirates may want to learn the IP-addresses of their favorite sites by heart, just in case.

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

TorrentFreak: Failed MPAA / Xunlei Anti-Piracy Deal is Shocking

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

mpaa-logoAs one of China’s top 10 Internet companies, Xunlei is a massive operation. In the first three months of 2014 the company enjoyed 300 million monthly unique visitors.

Among other file-sharing ventures, Xunlei operates ‘Thunder’, the world’s most popular torrent client. This and other issues have placed the company firmly on the radar of the MPAA.

The movie group first took legal action against the China-based outfit in 2008 but by 2014 relations began to warm with Xunlei pursuing an IPO in the United States. In May last year there was a breakthrough, with the former rivals signing a Content Protection Agreement (CPA) requiring Xunlei to protect MPAA studio content including movies and TV shows.

In October 2014, however, the MPAA reported Xunlei to the U.S. government, complaining that piracy was rampant on the service. Something had clearly gone wrong, an assertion that was only underlined this morning with a report that the MPAA has now sued Xunlei.

“For too long we have witnessed valuable creative content being taken and monetized without the permission of the copyright owner. That has to stop and stop now,” said Mike Ellis, the MPAA’s Asia-Pacific chief.

While it’s clear that the MPAA are disappointed with Xunlei’s efforts, it’s certainly possible that the company found it impossible to fulfill its agreement with the MPAA. Documents obtained by TorrentFreak dated May 2014 (days before the deal was signed) detailing a draft agreement which Xunlei “stated unequivocally in writing that it will accept” reveal the toughest set of anti-piracy demands ever seen.

Content filtering

The CPA reveals that Xunlei agreed to deploy Vobile‘s fingerprinting system across all of its services (including file-sharing clients) to ensure that no unfiltered content would ever be uploaded or downloaded. Filters were to have been deployed within 120 days of signing the agreement and would have to be implemented on both past and future projects.

Repeat infringers

The CPA requires Xunlei to terminate those who not only infringe but also those who attempt to infringe copyright. For all U.S.-based users of Xunlei the company agreed to implement a three-strike policy, with Chinese user strike numbers to be determined later.

“This is a very strict repeat infringer policy — as strict as exists anywhere in key respects — in that both uploads and downloads count and in that infringement is determined by the filter (not just based on
notices received),” the MPAA document reads.

“[The] filter will identify each and every instance of a user attempting to infringe a studio work, by uploading or downloading. Thus, the repeat infringer numbers likely will be off the charts in our favor when we have those later negotiations. Xunlei is also obligated to preserve data on identified infringers, and we can request this data in our due diligence reviews.”

Site blocking

The CPA also grants the MPAA the power to determine who Xunlei can deal with online.

“[The MPAA] will be able to identify to Xunlei what we believe to be ‘pirate sites’ and Xunlei will block those domains from all aspects of its system (e.g., no using those domains for accelerated downloads and no accepting communications/links from those domains),” the MPAA writes.

Licensing – content is banned unless the MPAA says otherwise

As a content provider Xunlei has licensing deals with many companies to provide legitimate content. However, the CPA with the MPAA restricts the company’s ability to make its own decisions without reference.

“The definition of Unauthorized Content…excludes content for which Xunlei has a license directly or for which the studios have granted a license to a site or users that would extend to and authorize the use contemplated by Xunlei. However, this is not left to Xunlei to determine,” the MPAA notes.

“All content is deemed Unauthorized unless Xunlei obtains express written confirmation from the appropriate studio that a relevant license has been granted,” with the CPA “putting the burden on [Xunlei] to get written confirmations and effectively to create a white list.”

Access to source code

“[The MPAA] will have rights of due diligence, which will allow us access to source code and technical data/documents, to assess Xunlei’s compliance,” the MPAA adds.

When it all goes wrong

The Content Protection Agreement includes clauses for the MPAA not to sue Xunlei for copyright infringement as long as it keeps to its side of the deal. However, it appears the MPAA wanted to avoid legal action if at all possible.

“[In] the event that we are still seeing significant infringement even with Xunlei honoring its filtering obligations, then either [Xunlei] violated its representation (which by agreement is deemed a material breach) or the ongoing cooperation provisions kick in – and if [Xunlei] does not comply with them, we can sue,” the MPAA notes.

“Given the limited relief available in an action in China and the uncertainty of suit in the US, we strongly recommend that we accept the contingent covenant not to sue in the draft CPA.”

There are currently no reports of the MPAA’s legal action in Chinese media but it will be interesting to see the reaction in the days to come.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wants to Censor OpenCulture’s Public Domain Movies

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

opencultureDespite the growing availability of legal services in many countries, movie studios face a constant stream of pirated films.

In an attempt to deter these infringements, the MPAA and individual movie studios send thousands of takedown notices to Internet services every month. Most of these requests are directed at Google.

When it comes to takedown notices the MPAA has a dubious track record. The movie industry group has got into the habit of asking Google to remove the homepages of allegedly infringing sites instead of individual pages where the infringing movies are listed.

A few days ago, for example, the MPAA asked Google to remove the homepage of the most popular torrent site Kickass.so, alongside several other torrent and streaming sites. As with previous requests Google declined to do so as the request was too broad.

kickmpaa

The same takedown notice includes another unusual and perhaps more worrying request. Between all the “pirate sites” the MPAA also targeted Open Culture’s list of public domain movies.

For those unfamiliar with the project, Open Culture offers an archive of high-quality cultural & educational media. With Stanford University’s Dan Colman as founder and lead editor, the content listed on the site is selected with great care.

The MPAA, however, appears to have spotted a problem with the list and has asked Google to remove the entire page (containing 700 movies) from its search results, as shown in the image below.

openculturedown

So why would MPAA target content that’s seemingly in the public domain?

The full details of the takedown notice have yet to be published, but there is a good chance that the request was sent in error.

In any case, the notice doesn’t look good for the MPAA. Over the past seferal months the MPAA has lobbied Google to block entire domains from its search results, but mistakes like these are a reminder for Google to remain cautious.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Links Online Piracy to Obama’s Cybersecurity Plan

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

mpaa-logoThe unprecedented Sony hack has put cybersecurity on top of the political agenda in the United States.

Just last week Representative Ruppersberger re-introduced the controversial CISPA bill and yesterday President Obama announced his new cybersecurity plans.

New measures are needed to “investigate, disrupt and prosecute” cybercrime as recent events have shown that criminals can and will exploit current weaknesses, according to the White House

“In this interconnected, digital world, there are going to be opportunities for hackers to engage in cyber assaults both in the private sector and the public sector,” President Obama notes.

Together with Congress the Obama administration hopes to draft a new bill that will address these concerns. Among other things, the new plan aims to improve information sharing between private Internet companies and the Government.

Privacy advocates argue that this kind of data sharing endangers the rights of citizens, who may see more private data falling into the hands of the Government. President Obama, on the other hand, sees it as a necessity to stop attacks such as the Sony breach.

“Because if we don’t put in place the kind of architecture that can prevent these attacks from taking place, this is not just going to be affecting movies, this is going to be affecting our entire economy in ways that are extraordinarily significant,” the President cautions.

With the Sony hack Hollywood played a central role in putting cybersecurity back on the agenda. And although President Obama makes no mention of online piracy, the MPAA is quick to add it to the discussion.

In a statement responding to the new cybersecurity plans, MPAA CEO Chris Dodd notes that because of these criminals certain companies have their “digital products exposed and available online for anyone to loot.”

“That’s why law enforcement must be given the resources they need to police these criminal activities,” Dodd says.

The MPAA appears to blend the Sony hack with online piracy. It calls upon Congress to keep the interests of Hollywood in mind, and urges private actors including search engines and ISPs to help in curbing the piracy threat.

“… responsible participants in the Internet ecosystem – content creators, search, payment processors, ad networks, ISPs – need to work more closely together to forge initiatives to stop the unlawful spread of illegally-obtained content,” Dodd says.

Hollywood’s effort to frame online piracy as a broader cybersecurity threat is not entirely new.

Last year an entertainment industry backed report claimed that 90 percent of the top pirate sites link to malware or other unwanted software. In addition, two-thirds were said to link to credit card scams.

This report was later cited in a Senate Subcommittee hearing where the MPAA urged lawmakers to take steps so young Americans can be protected from the “numerous hazards on pirate sites.”

Whether a new cybersecurity bill will indeed include anti-piracy measures has yet to be seen. But for the MPAA it may be one of the few positive outcomes of the Sony hack, which exposed some of its best kept secrets in recent weeks.

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

TorrentFreak: Student “Not Guilty” in First 3D Movie Piracy Case

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

There have been a number of so-called “camming” cases in the UK in recent years with the MPAA-affiliated Federation Against Copyright Theft keen to stamp out the practice.

Punishments can be severe. Fast and Furious 6 ‘cammer’ Philip Danks was sentenced to 33 months in prison last year for recording, uploading and selling physical copies of the popular movie. But prosecutions can be complex and sometimes things can backfire in the biggest possible way.

Earlier this month, Birmingham student Ciprian Florea went on trial accused of attempting to ‘cam’ the space blockbuster Gravity. The case was special in a number of ways, not least that this was the first time that an individual had been accused of going equipped to capture a movie in full 3D.

According to the prosecution, Florea attended a Cineworld cinema in the city during November 2013 equipped with a home-made recording rig consisting of a pair of high-def cameras fashioned together in a device held on the man’s chest.

Florea, a student of film technology at Birmingham City University, is said to have hired the cameras the day before his arrest. These had been placed in a custom-made box in order to record the left and right eye as required for 3D imaging.

But before he had even entered the screening the student was spotted by a security guard who confiscated the device and called the police.

Florea said he had no intention to record the movie and only had the device to record his friends. He attended the screening without the device.

In the light of the fact that the UK has no specific “anti-camming” legislation and no copyright works were ever recorded, the prosecution accused the student of possessing a 3D camera with intent to commit fraud, i.e the recording and subsequent distribution of the movie.

The Judge didn’t buy it.

“I am sure everything was done with the best of motives. However I have real concern as to whether this prosecution should have been brought at all,” said Mr Recorder Nolan QC.

“It ought to have been absolutely clear there was no legal basis for it,” he added.

The Judge added that there was nothing to suggest that Florea had intended to commercially exploit any copy. Going further, he noted that even if a copy had been made and posted online, the offense may have been a breach of copyright but would not have amounted to fraud.

This may well present a problem for similar future prosecutions. With no uploading to the Internet and no evidence to support that was the intent, it appears claims of copyright infringement and/or fraud are effectively ruled out. In a case like this, where the movie hadn’t even been recorded, it’s not difficult to see why the case fell apart.

Nevertheless, the Federation Against Copyright Theft, who supported the prosecution, told TorrentFreak that the student’s behavior suggested he intended to break the law.

“The circumstances of Mr Florea’s actions in entering a cinema with equipment constructed to capture a 3D film provided strong evidence that he intended to commit a criminal offense,” FACT said.

“FACT supported the prosecution brought against him by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service on the basis of the serious damage caused to the film industry by those who illegally record films in cinemas. We are disappointed with the verdict, but respect the decision of the court.”

In comments to the Birmingham Mail after the verdict, Florea said he was glad the whole thing was over.

“I am relieved. It has taken a year and to be honest it has been a big pain in my life,” the student said.

“Although I won the case it has really been hard for me in my third year of my course. It was the first test of my final year’s project. I was just taking film of friends at the cinema.”

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

TorrentFreak: IFPI Targets ‘Pirate’ Domains With New Site Blocking Law

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

Domain blocking is now firmly established as one of the entertainment industries’ go-to methods for reducing online copyright infringement. Its use is widespread around Europe by both the music and movie sector.

In Europe the most important legal decision was announced in March last year when the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed that EU ISPs can be required to block access to sites engaged in copyright infringement.

Elsewhere, individual countries are making their own decisions on how to move forward. Last July, Singapore legislators approved the Copyright Amendment Bill which allows copyright holders to obtain High Court orders forcing local service providers to block “flagrantly infringing” websites. Now, six months on, entertainment companies are ready to launch their first tests.

IFPI regional director Ang Kwee Tiang confirmed that the music group will initially target three to five “infringing sites” over the next two months.

“We are now actively looking into exercising this in the future,” he said.

The sites to be targeted have not yet been revealed but it’s always been the understanding that The Pirate Bay would be tackled first. The site’s reputation as the “worst-of-the-worst” allows entertainment companies to present a relatively straightforward case to the courts. The rising number of blocking orders already granted elsewhere only add to the mix.

“Now, The Pirate Bay has more than 6 million links. We take the screenshots and we show that these are not licensed. We’re going to show that The Pirate Bay has been blocked in nine or 10 different countries. I think that will be very convincing for our cause,” Ang said.

However, with The Pirate Bay currently down, it’s possible that other targets will have to be selected in the first batch. Ang confirms that evidence is still being collated but he’s confident that a successful blockade will help to reduce piracy.

“I divide (consumers) 80 to 20 – 80 per cent are average consumers, if they cannot get it easily and if a legal site offers it, they may go for the legal site,” he said.

“The committed pirate is like a committed criminal. They will search for ways to circumvent. But once we have the website blocking, then we are free to tackle the 20 per cent.”

The driving force behind the site blocking phenomenon can be found in the entertainment companies of the United States but following the SOPA debacle public discussion to progress site blocking has been fairly muted. That doesn’t mean nothing has been happening, however.

In December it was revealed that behind closed doors the MPAA has been working hard to bring site blocking to the United States. Whether those aims will still be progressed following the somewhat embarrassing leaks will remain to be seen, but it’s likely the movie group won’t be steered off course for long.

Overall, Hollywood definitely sees blocking as an important anti-piracy tool. The practice is endorsed by none other than MPAA chief Chris Dodd and internal MPAA research has found it to be effective.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. ‘Strikes’ Scheme Fails to Impact Piracy Landscape

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

FBIpiracydeptAlongside site blocking and attacking the finances of pirate sites, so-called “strike” schemes are one of the preferred anti-piracy mechanisms of the mainstream entertainment companies.

The idea is simple. Rightsholders monitor their works being exchanged on file-sharing networks, capture IP addresses of alleged infringers, and send complaints to those individuals’ ISPs. These notices are then forwarded to inform customers of their errant behavior.

There can be little doubt that this option is preferable to suing users en masse, but is the approach effective? Thanks to MPAA documents sent to the studios and obtained by TorrentFreak, we now have a clearer idea of whether the movie business itself thinks that “strikes” programs work – and more besides.

One document, titled ‘Notice & Graduated Response Programs’ begins by stating the primary aim of the programs: “Reduce P2P piracy while educating consumers about, and directing them to, legal content.”

Also confirmed is the MPAA’s desire to implement graduated response schemes with mitigation measures and awareness campaigns attached, the U.S. “Copyright Alerts System” (CAS) for example.

CAS mitigation measures haven’t proven to be particularly aggressive thus far but plenty of users have received notices. Around 1.3 million notices were sent in the first 10 months of operations. By November last year, Comcast alone had sent one million warnings.

But does the Copyright Alerts System work?

While it’s clear that the studios believe these schemes are part of the answer, the MPAA is pragmatic about the CAS behind closed doors, largely since it believes efforts thus far are just the beginning.

The U.S. system is “not yet at scale” or operating with “enough education support” according to the MPAA. As a result the CAS has not made an “impact on the overall [piracy] landscape.”

That said, the MPAA does claim some successes among those receiving notices.

“US program – with escalating remedial measures – [is] reasonably effective in decreasing P2P piracy by those actually receiving notices/alerts,” one summary reads.

However, the claim that some notice recipients mend their ways after receiving a warning (the rate of re-offending is actually quite high) is somewhat contradicted by another statement later in the same document.

“No current information as to the behavior of users who appear to stop P2P infringement – do not know whether [they are] migrating to other pirate systems or to lawful services,” the statement reads.

Nevertheless, the MPAA appears keen to expand the program to a point where impact is more meaningful. This will require cooperation with ISPs, both on volumes and mitigation measures.

Expansion, tougher punishments

“Attainability as to existing programs boils down to whether ISPs will agree (a) to expand scale to levels that might impact overall P2P piracy, and (b) to enhance remedial measures so as to improve efficacy,” the MPAA writes.

Plans to double up on the number of warnings being sent have already been revealed but whether ISPs will be keen to further punish customers remains to be seen. Still, the MPAA’s graduated response “secondary objective” might help them decide.

“Build and leverage relationships with ISPs; acknowledgement by ISPs of some responsibility for infringement through their systems; gain and/or strengthen government and other influential support for ISP accountability,” the objective reads.

Strikes systems worked elsewhere, right?

Perhaps surprisingly the MPAA has pushed ahead with CAS in the United States despite knowing that similar schemes have produced lukewarm results elsewhere.

“Programs in France and South Korea (both mandated/managed by government) – and available in New Zealand and Ireland” have had a “limited impact” according to the MPAA.

And the notice-and-notice scheme just launched in Canada and the UK’s upcoming VCAP warning system probably won’t produce nice surprises either. The MPAA believes that both are “likely” to prove less effective than programs with mitigation measures, such as the United States’. CAS.

The future

For the coming year it seems likely that while the MPAA will try to expand its current notice programs by volume, it will not attempt to introduce similar schemes elsewhere.

Will users flood to legitimate services though? The MPAA doesn’t know today and won’t know anytime soon but in any event that desired effect will probably require much more investment.

“Should see reasonable economies of scale…but to scale to level that will impact overall P2P piracy will likely require substantial additional resources,” the movie group says.

“May not have reliable data about impact for 1-2 years.”

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wants to Sue ‘Pirate’ Site Hosting Providers

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

mpaa-logoLast month a leaked document from the MPAA exposed Hollywood’s global anti-piracy priorities for the coming years.

The leak revealed where the movie studios would focus their efforts, with file-hosting and streaming sites among the top targets.

The same data breach also included a more in-depth overview of the anti-piracy plans which were previously unreported. This new leak comes from an email the MPAA sent to the movie studio’s top executives October last year and provides additional background.

One of MPAA’s main anti-piracy priorities are file-hosting services, often referred to as cyberlockers. As part of the strategy to deal with this threat the movie studios plan to sue the site’s hosting providers.

The two items below reveal Dutch hosting provider LeaseWeb is named as one of the possible targets. The MPAA also leaves the option open to go after “recalcitrant” hosters in the United States, if these choose not to cooperate.

- Litigation against a significant hosting provider in the Netherlands (e.g., Leaseweb).
– Outreach to hosting providers in the US, where sufficient legal precedent exists (potentially to be followed by litigation against recalcitrant US hosting providers).

mpaastrat1

In a specific section describing its strategy towards hosting services the MPAA also notes that it will put a “political spotlight and pressure” on hosting providers who make a lot of revenue from pirate sites.

In addition the MPAA plans to make criminal referrals against hosting companies, accusing them of money laundering and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement.

Interestingly, it’s unclear whether the criminal route will be successful as the document mentions that the U.S. Government may be reluctant to take these on “given difficulty with Megaupload case.”

mpaahosting1

LeaseWeb is surprised to learn that they are referenced in these MPAA documents. According to the company’s Senior Regulatory Counsel Alex de Joode there is no reason why they should be considered a target.

“There is no basis or ground for the MPAA to target any LeaseWeb company as part of its anti-piracy strategy,” De Joode tells TF.

“LeaseWeb companies that provide services to third parties have stringent policies to which cloud storage providers and video streaming sites must adhere, and which ensure rights holders can enforce their rights effectively. All LeaseWeb companies also have efficient abuse notification procedures in place, and act quickly upon takedown requests,” he adds.

LeaseWeb operates various companies, also in the United States, but the MPAA’s plan suggests that a possible lawsuit would take place in the Netherlands.

Thus far, however, LeaseWeb hasn’t seen any signs of or reasons for a potential lawsuit. In fact, they maintain a good relationship with the local Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group BREIN with which they have regular meetings in the Netherlands.

“Neither BREIN nor the MPAA has informed any LeaseWeb company that the MPAA may consider any of the LeaseWeb companies a target as part of its anti-piracy strategy or why such may be the case. The only reason that we can think of for ‘LeaseWeb’ to be on the list is that we are a big brand and big player in the hosting business, and as a group of companies have a vast and fast network.”

LeaseWeb is indeed a major player in the hosting business. It previously provided hundreds of servers to the now defunct Megaupload, and still serves many streaming sites and file-hosting services.

For now, no lawsuits against hosting providers have been filed by the MPAA. Whether or not this will happen depends in part on the level of funding the major movie studios are willing to contribute to the laid out anti-piracy proposals.

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Sets Sail For Home Base…

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

pirate bayA month has passed since The Pirate Bay was raided at the Nacka station, a nuclear-proof data center built into a mountain complex near Stockholm.

After being down for two weeks the site’s domain became responsive again, waving a pirate flag and a counter that kept track of the time that had elapsed since the raid.

Last week this counter suddenly started counting down, indicating that something is about to happen on February 1st. A few hours ago a few new mystery changes were made to the site.

The Pirate Bay logo in the right left corner started to move to a new image named totheisland.png on the bottom left. The CSS class of the image is “setsail,” suggesting that TPB is moving to the island.

The question that remains, however, is what it all means. The text on the island image is hardly readable but on closer inspection it appears to be a copy of one of TPB’s older doodles, pictured below.

The island in question features Pirate Bay’s home base and a few other torrent landmarks, including the seeder’s cave, dead torrents swamp and the grave of the MPAA.

pirate bay

So does this mean that the Pirate Bay is heading home for a fresh start? Or will the ship dock for good?

Besides the moving ship and the island image TPB also added a new “pipe vi Makefile” class for the encrypted AES code. This is yet another suggestion that something’s coming, but in common with the other hints it’s still unclear what.

tpb-source

A source close to The Pirate Bay team informs TF that they are not ready to make an announcement on the site’s future yet. However, an official statement will follow in a few days time.

While Pirate Bay users are eagerly hoping for a full comeback on February 1st, the site could also announce something new. The extended downtime suggests that the site was hit hard and it’s not unthinkable that recent backups are out of reach.

Meanwhile, several Pirate Bay copycats are trying to gain the hearts and minds of lost Pirate Bay users. Yesterday, one of the imposters using the com.ua TLD went as far as issuing a press release, stating that the Pirate Bay has found a new home in Ukraine.

For now, however, the real Pirate Bay remains without torrents. And if it eventually makes a comeback, it will be at the official thepiratebay.se domain.

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

TorrentFreak: PirateSnoop Browser Unblocks Torrent Sites

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

pirate-cardBlocking of file-sharing related sites is becoming widespread in Europe, particularly so in the UK. In fact, it’s now almost impossible to access a top torrent site from any of the country’s leading ISPs, with the notable exception of OldPirateBay since the site is so new.

Users in the United States can’t rest easy either. As reported here in December, the MPAA is working hard to introduce site-blocking by utilizing creative interpretations of existing law. It seems unlikely that Hollywood will stop until it gets its way.

It’s becoming clear that Internet users everywhere will need to prepare if they want unfettered access to the Internet. While that can be achieved using premium services such as VPNs, there will always be those looking for a free solution. Today we have news of one such product.

In appearance PirateSnoop looks a lot like the popular Chrome browser. In fact the only immediate giveaway that things are a little different is the existence of a small pirate-themed button on the right hand side of its toolbar.

pirate-unblock

Underneath, however, PirateSnoop is based on the freeware web browser SRWare Iron which aims to eliminate some of the privacy-compromising features present in Google Chrome. PirateSnoop is then augmented with special extensions to enable its site unblocking features.

PirateSnoop (PS) was created by the team at public torrent site RARBG. While certainly less referenced by the mainstream media than The Pirate Bay for example, RARBG is now the 7th most popular torrent site in the world and a force to be reckoned with. It was also blocked by major UK ISPs recently.

Anti-censorship agenda

rarbg-logo“Nazi Germany had less censorship than we have today on the Internet,” the PS team informs TorrentFreak.

“However you are not paying for the Internet itself to your ISPs, but for the carrying of the Internet connectivity. ISPs are legally enforced by their countries to block content and what we are worried about is that little to none of the ISPs decided to fight any blocking court order.”

PirateSnoop vs PirateBrowser

The web-blocking features of PirateSnoop are similar to those of The Pirate Bay’s PirateBrowser, but there are some important differences. Although users are not rendered anonymous, PirateBrowser uses the TOR network. PirateSnoop sees this as problematic as torrent sites are increasingly blocking TOR IPs.

“The TOR network is abused by a lot of people – uploading fakes for example. It’s also used by DMCA agencies to scan sites. TOR is no longer an option to access sites. Its blocked on almost every site I know,” a dev explains.

Instead, PirateSnoop uses its own custom proxy network which utilizes full HTTPS instead of the HTTP used by basic proxies. Just like a regular browser to website connection, PS allows websites to see their users’ IP addresses (unless they’re using a VPN) in order to cut down on abuse.

Overall, PirateSnoop should be a faster browsing solution than PirateBrowser, its creators say.

Limitations and future upgrades

Currently several major blocked sites are supported by PirateSnoop but there are a couple of omissions. However, the team is prepared to expand the browser’s reach based on user demand.

“Any site that is requested to be added will be added immediately with no questions asked,” the team note.

The PirateSnoop team say they are committed to upgrades of their software to include proxy updates (added automatically upon browser restart) and full browser updates following any Iron browser core updates.

PirateSnoop can be downloaded here (using BitTorrent, of course).

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

TorrentFreak: Google Asked to Remove 345 Million “Pirate” Links in 2014

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

google-bayIn the hope of steering prospective customers away from pirate sites, copyright holders are overloading Google with DMCA takedown notices.

These requests have increased dramatically over the years. In 2008, the search engine received only a few dozen takedown notices during the entire year, but today it processes more than a million reported “pirate” links per day.

Google doesn’t report yearly figures, but at TF we processed all the weekly reports and found that the number of URLs submitted by copyright holders last year surpassed the 345 million mark – 345,169,134 to be exact.

The majority of these requests are honored with the associated links being removed from Google’s search results. However, Google sometimes takes “no action” if they are seemed not to be infringing or if they have been taken down previously.

Most takedown requests were sent for the domains 4shared.com, rapidgator.net and uploaded.net, with more than five million targeted URLs each. The UK Music industry group BPI is the top copyright holder of 2014, good for more than 60 million reported links.

2014-takedown

Despite the frequent use of the takedown process many copyright holders have stressed that the search giant should take responsibility and do more to tackle the piracy problem.

Facing this harsh criticism from copyright holders, Google has gradually changed its attitudes towards sites and services that are often associated with piracy.

October last year the company implemented the most significant change to its search algorithm to date, aimed at downranking sites that often link to copyright-infringing material.

This significantly reduced the visibility of pirate links in search results and had a major impact on the traffic levels of some sites. However, Google also reminded copyright holders that they too can do more to prevent piracy.

Without legal options it’s hard to beat unauthorized copying, is the argument Google often repeats.

“Piracy often arises when consumer demand goes unmet by legitimate supply. As services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated, the best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services,” the company noted earlier.

“The right combination of price, convenience, and inventory will do far more to reduce piracy than enforcement can.”

In recent weeks tensions between rightsholders and Google reached a new high. After the MPAA issued a ‘snarky’ press release responding to Google’s downranking efforts, the company ended its anti-piracy cooperation with the Hollywood group.

Not much later, Google sued Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood who secretly collaborated with the MPAA to get certain pirate sites delisted.

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Studios Fear a Google Fiber Piracy Surge

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

googlefiberlogoGoogle is slowly expanding its fiber to the home services in the United States. Most recently Austin, Texas, was added to the list and a few dozen other cities will follow soon.

Promising free Internet and blazing fast gigabit per second connections at a relatively low price, many consumers are happy with Google’s new product.

Hollywood on the other hand fears the worst. While great connectivity offers commercial opportunities for entertainment companies, some are overly worried about the negative consequences.

Earlier this week we received a leaked presentation covering the results of a Google Fiber survey conducted on behalf of Warner Bros and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The research was conducted in 2012 and aimed to get a baseline of the piracy levels, so changes can be measured after the rollout.

The survey respondents came from Kansas City, where Google Fiber first launched, with St. Louis residents as a control group. In total, more than 2,000 persons between 13 and 54 were asked about Google Fiber, their piracy habits and media consumption in general.

The results reveal that more than half of those surveyed were very interested in Google’s offer. This includes a large group of pirates, which make up 31% of the entire population.

About a third of these pirates said they would download or stream more with Google Fiber. Perhaps even more worrying for Hollywood, about a quarter of the non-pirates said they would start doing so if Google comes to town.

The most interesting part, however, is that the research tries to estimate the studio’s extra piracy losses that Google Fiber could create across the nation.

Drawing on an MPAA formula that counts all pirated views as losses the report notes that it may cost Hollywood over a billion dollars per year. That’s a rather impressive increase of 58% compared to current piracy levels.

fiber-pirates

The research also finds a link between piracy and broadband speeds, which is another reason for Hollywood not to like Google’s Internet service.

According to the report this is “another indication that piracy becomes more attractive with Google Fiber.”

fiberspeed

We will refrain from analyzing the methods and the definition of piracy losses, which deserve an article of their own. What’s most striking from the above approach is the way the studios frame Google Fiber as a piracy threat, instead of looking at the opportunities it offers.

For example, the same report also concludes that 39% of the respondents would use paid streaming subscription services more, while 34% would rent and purchase more online video. Yet, there is no mention of the potential extra revenue that will bring in.

Judging from all the piracy calculations, statistics and projections, it appears that Hollywood is mostly occupied with threats. But of course there’s nothing new there.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Considered Pulling Out of UK Pirate Notice Program

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

One of the cornerstones of modern online piracy schemes are so-called ‘copyright alert’ programs. The idea is simple – rightsholders monitor online file-sharing networks, capture IP addresses of alleged pirates and have ISPs send warnings to subscribers.

Several countries in the world currently operate these systems. France was one of the pioneers but the largest project is handled with the cooperation of the largest ISPs in the United States. In the summer a new deal was reached between the music and movie industries and the government to bring notices to the UK.

However, TorrentFreak has learned that just three months earlier Hollywood was getting cold feet over the scheme. Leaked emails reveal that the MPAA was giving consideration to the consequences of pulling out of VCAP (or delaying it by 18 months) due to the group not having enough information on the effectiveness of notice-only, no punishment schemes.

Since consequences could include political fallout due to UK government involvement in VCAP, the MPAA decided to send former Senator Chris Dodd to the UK. Dodd met Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, and Tim Luke, Prime Minister David Cameron’s Senior Policy Advisor, in the first week of March 2014.

Dodd returned with plenty of praise for Vaizey whose apparent efforts in paving the way for site blocking and attacking the finances of pirate sites were showing results. Nevertheless, there were sticking points.

It appears that a notice-only warning system, one in which subscribers aren’t punished for their actions, was not something the MPAA aspired to. This left the MPAA wondering whether launching VCAP quickly would be a favorable thing to do.

Interestingly, Dodd also made it clear to Vaizey that the MPAA was seriously considering the political implications of when VCAP should begin, a point not lost on the politicians.

Both Vaizey and Luke felt that if notices only started going out in the months preceding the May 2015 general election that would be an unwelcome development. A delay on notice-sending until the fall of 2015 was preferred all round.

Whatever happened in the interim period, in May news leaked that an agreement had been reached and by June the MPAA were confirming internally that a Memorandum of Understanding had indeed been signed.

Despite public comments welcoming the VCAP agreement it seems clear that the MPAA would prefer a system with account suspensions and disconnections. For now, however, that is not on the agenda.

At this point it appears Hollywood will give VCAP time to work, but could pull out at a later point if the public simply isn’t getting the message.

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

TorrentFreak: isoHunt Founder: Piracy is A Convenience and Access Problem.

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

garyfungNovember last year isoHunt’s founder shut down the site after he signed a $110 million settlement agreement with Hollywood.

After being one of the lead figures in the BitTorrent community for over a decade, Fung is now about to close his first year as an outsider.

Has this new perspective changed his outlook on piracy? What lessons has he learned, and what should the major entertainment industry companies do to address the piracy challenge? Today Fung shares some of his thoughts from the past year.

On Piracy and The Future of Media Distribution

By Gary Fung

I’ve often said before, in court and elsewhere, that isoHunt’s shutdown means nothing against what and how much people share. isoHunt was a tool and its stats a reflection of what people wanted to share. I was right, nothing of substance has changed in file-sharing on BitTorrent. Neither has the recent downtime of The Pirate Bay it seems.

For now, piracy is being maintained by the inability of media giants to serve their customers well.

I like movies. I’ve always gone to theaters to see good movies, with friends. isoHunt’s shutdown hasn’t changed that. Recently, there was a movie I wanted to see: The Imitation Games. After weeks of it being premiered in the US, I still couldn’t see it here in BC, Canada. Only a few days ago did it start showing in just one local theater.

“Piracy” is not a money problem, it’s a convenience and access problem. Money is merely a part of the access problem. What are studios supposed to expect people to do when they want to see a movie but they can’t pay because it’s not playing locally?

So how can the entertainment industry stop piracy? Innovation.

Not being involved in file-sharing gives me the freedom to say that streaming services are the future of movies and TV. Technically, streaming and superior recommendations are the things that can effectively compete with piracy, which is not as convenient, not as legal and not as high quality. Continue to hamstring collective streaming services with licensing limitations and territorial barriers and expect piracy to endure. The War on Internet cannot be won with lawyers.

I wanted isoHunt to evolve into a service of frictionless content discovery. I realize now that without cooperation with the content owners, this isn’t possible. Technologically, I envision studios and other media companies creating open APIs and platforms so new innovative streaming services can be developed on top.

That would solve the studio’s fear of single players like Netflix dominating media distribution and eventually dictating terms in the industry. New streaming services could find a hybrid approach by using BitTorrent P2P streaming to lower cost and Bitcoin for pay per view micro-transactions.

Imagine when everyone can watch and listen to anything, anytime, anywhere, with mere cents, automatically and continuously deducted from your Bitcoin wallet. No, you won’t own your media, but that was never the case to begin with. Our entertainment will be completely in the cloud, searchable and discoverable with recommendations. Not yours, physically or otherwise, but available and priced low enough that you don’t think much about the charge.

I believe that the frictionless micro-transactions that enable this will be ideal for bridging the digital divide between creators and consumers. Taylor Swift doesn’t want to be on Spotify? She can create her own platform using a streaming API, a clearinghouse for rights, and bitcoin purchase details made available by her label. The same would be true for any TV show and movie producer.

And here’s my tip to industry associations like the MPAA and RIAA for continued relevance in this Internet age, possibly for everyone’s benefits. Become standards bodies for programmatic APIs over media rights, metadata and micro-transaction details. Record labels and movie/tv studios can use these standards to make their own works available for streaming and to accept payments from third parties.

With open APIs, new streaming services can freely innovate. With increased competition and choice, consumers can get better pricing and collectively access everything, just as the Internet eventually makes everything available. And with competing streaming services, the labels and studios don’t have to fear streaming giants such as Netflix, YouTube and Spotify consolidating too much power over distribution.

Streaming services will become the new channels, available on any connected TV, sound system and mobile device. Micro-transactions that are frictionless in access is the hardest part from a technical point of view, but has the potential to end download stores, subscription streaming and piracy of today. Free and cheaper tiers of access through the APIs are possible when supplemented with advertising naturally and new forms of product placements and endorsements, already pioneered by Youtube channels now (although ethics in continued melding of content and advertising will have to be questioned).

The piracy and ownership debates I believe will be largely academic when access to content in reality will be that easy. Media companies that hound their future customers and technology partners with lawsuits will be laughed at, like we can now laugh at horse carriages suing automobiles for going too fast

That would be a sight to see.

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

TorrentFreak: Sony Accidentally Funded “Rogue” Piracy Sites

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

In recent years the mainstream entertainment industries have largely come to the realization that chasing down individual file-sharers is unlikely to yield significant anti-piracy results.

With this in mind new strategies have been adopted, one of the most important being the attacking of ‘pirate’ site revenue streams. The theory under consideration is that such sites would cease to exist if a profit could not be made from their operations.

One of the key ways sites generate revenue is via advertising so pressure has been mounting on agencies and the companies placing the ads to do everything possible to stop their promotions appearing on pirate sites. On occasion, groups such as the Digital Citizens Alliance publish information aimed at naming and shaming big brands who’ve let their ads appear in the wrong places.

“Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business” was a DCA report from February 2014 which estimated that the top “pirate sites” generate $227 million in annual ad revenue.

The report also called out big companies including Amazon, American Express, Dell, Ford, Lego and McDonalds for allowing their ads to appear on pirate domains. What it failed to do was point the finger at companies a little closer to home.

TorrentFreak has learned that during its monitoring of “pirate” sites in early 2014, the MPAA discovered that ads commissioned by entertainment companies close to the ones it represents were appearing on those very same sites.

In a five month analysis (Jan to May 2014) the MPAA found that Sony companies including Sony Online Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Entertainment Network, Sony Corporation, and Sony Mobile Communications, were placing ads on ‘rogue’ sites.

This wasn’t a few here and a few there either. In the first five months of the year Sony company ads appeared on “pirate” sites almost two million times, with the lion’s share placed by SCE and its partners.

Internal correspondence reveals that Sony Pictures were keen to eliminate this embarrassment, with the company’s content protection department writing to other divisions requesting that ads are kept aware from pirate networks in future.

Sony said its goals were threefold:

– “Starving pirate sites of any additional ad revenue generated by viewers clicking through on those internet ads”

– “Eliminating any semblance of legitimacy that ads for well­ known
brands might lend these rogue sites”

– “Protecting the reputation of our brand, since these sites often include malware and ads for questionable and/or illegal content.”

Noting that the information had been provided by the MPAA, Sony asked its sister companies to assist them in the fight against piracy. It’s unclear whether Sony has achieved its aims but in any event, don’t expect an MPAA partner company to be called out for supporting piracy anytime soon.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij Now “Wanted for Hacking”

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

One by one the key players behind The Pirate Bay have been captured by police and forced to complete jail sentences previously determined by Swedish authorities.

The most recently detained was Fredrik Neij, a key player in the operations of The Pirate Bay right from the very early days of the site.

After realizing that his fate in Sweden involved a 10 month jail sentence, Neij fled to Laos in Asia where he lived until recently with this young family. He traveled from Laos into bordering Thailand on many occasions but last month his luck ran out.

On November 4, immigration police announced that Neij had been detained while crossing the border into Nong Khai, a city in North-East Thailand. What followed was a very public press conference in which a bewildered looking Neij was paraded before the media while flanked by several officers.

fredrik

But while the rest of the world had to wait until November 4 to hear the news, leaked emails obtained by TorrentFreak show that the Hollywood studios knew about things well in advance.

In an email dated the day before Neij’s arrest was made public, the MPAA advised chiefs at Disney, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros, NBC Universal and FOX of the Swede’s arrest. But things went deeper than that.

Already there had been rumors in Thai media that “U.S. movie companies” had hired a lawfirm to track down Neij and that a house on the island of Phuket plus a bank account containing five million baht ($153,000) had been discovered. Emails seen by TF confirm the MPAA’s involvement, but also that they didn’t want that noticed in public.

“Jan Van Voorn [MPA’s Regional Director for Content Protection] and Neil Gane [former policeman, former AFACT boss, now MPA APIC chief in Asia] are in contact with both Swedish and Thai authorities providing additional assistance,” the email reveals.

“Thai Immigration is planning a press conference for tomorrow, November 4. We have alerted our Communications Section, and do not plan to comment to the media.”

Another email confirmed the MPA’s intention to lie low, but that it might already be too late to hide any involvement.

“Huge win! Don’t know if hackers will retaliate,” an email from a studio begins. “MPA is laying low and quiet, but the pirate blogs are attributing the pursuit to movie studios.”

While a brash affair, the press conference itself revealed few details of Neij’s actual arrest other than the time, place, and what he was wearing. However, the correspondence the MPAA had with the studios reveals they knew quite a bit more.

Holding a long-standing belief that Neij was somehow still associated with the running of The Pirate Bay, in 2011 the studios obtained a beefed-up injunction which banned the Swede from being involved with the site.

Not only has their mindset remained the same for three years, but the studios also believe that Neij could be on the hook for other offenses too.

“Neij is facing a 10 month prison sentence in Sweden for his conviction in the Pirate Bay case. Neij may also face new charges for his continuing role in the operation of TPB and two additional charges for computer hacking,” the emails read.

No additional details on any hacking charges were provided or have been released since, but the MPAA are hopeful that items taken from Neij when he was arrested will provide the clues.

“Two laptop computers were seized from Neij at the time of his arrest, and may provide additional evidence against Neij and others in the ongoing TPB investigation in Sweden,” the MPAA writes.

While an investigation into The Pirate Bay is now obvious following the raid two weeks ago, another MPAA email confirms that a criminal referral was also made against “TPB co-founder Frederik Neij and his ISP DCP Networks.”

Fredrik Neij is currently serving his 10 month Pirate Bay related sentence in a Swedish jail but his arrival there from Thailand was never announced publicly. He is the third key Pirate Bay operational figure to be jailed.

Gottfrid Svartholm was the first to be detained after authorities in Cambodia handed him over to Swedish police in 2012. Gottfrid completed his sentence but is currently detained in Denmark following an unrelated hacking case.

Peter Sunde was captured by a special police unit on a farm in Sweden during the summer of 2014. Sunde served his sentence and is now a free man, probably traveling around Europe.

With the imprisonment of Fredrik Neij the MPAA now have the full set, an achievement they were happy to pat themselves on the back for.

“Another excellent example of global cooperation and coordination between our content protection hubs,” a November email concludes.

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