Posts tagged ‘mpaa’

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Wants U.S. Govt to Buy and Store its Servers

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

megauploadWhen Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were raided early 2012, the U.S. Government seized 1,103 servers at Carpathia’s hosting facility in the United States.

Nearly four years have since passed and after all this time the servers are still gathering dust at a Virginia warehouse.

In recent weeks the issue has come to the forefront again. QTS, the company that owns the servers after it acquired Carpathia hosting, asked the court if it can get rid of the data which costs them thousands of dollars per month in storage costs.

This motion triggered a reply from former Megaupload user Kyle Goodwin who still hopes to retrieve his files and a few hours ago Megaupload’s legal team also submitted a comment, asking the court to add it as an official response.

Megaupload points out that the data on the servers must be preserved. Not only for the users’ sake, but also because they contain crucial evidence. The company plans to use this to its benefit in the criminal proceedings as well as the pending cases against the MPAA and RIAA.

The DOJ previously allowed the data hosted in Europe to be destroyed, they argue. If the same happens to the Carpathia servers various examples of Megaupload’s “copyright neutral technology” may disappear.

“The database servers can show safe harbor compliance. The web servers can show the copyright neutral nature of the interface design. The content servers in combination with other data can show fair use and substantial non-infringing uses and users,” Megaupload writes.

Thus far the U.S. Government has only copied a very small percentage of the total data and Megaupload fears that this may be “cherry-picked” to favor the Department of Justice’s case.

“The Government is burdened with a weak case to present in a criminal trial and it wants to prevent a strong defense,” Megaupload’s legal team writes.

“The Government cannot criminally and civilly indict all the revenues arising out of all the global users of the Megaupload cloud storage site in the largest copyright case in history while at the same time cherry picking a sliver evidence to retain for trial and throwing away the rest to manifestly prevent the mounting of a fair defense,” they add.

Megaupload’s legal team asks the court to instruct the Government to buy the servers and transfer them to a facility where they and other authorized parties can access them.

“The Government should bear the cost of such purchase and preservation,” the legal team write.

Before ruling on Megaupload’s request, District Court Judge Liam O’Grady first has to decide whether to accept its request to be heard in the matter. The Government is also likely to chime in, as they’re probably not in favor of the proposed solution.

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

TorrentFreak: Former Megaupload User Asks Court to Return His Files

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

megaupload-logoNearly four years have passed since Megaupload’s servers were raided by the U.S. Government, and still it remains uncertain if former users will ever be able to retrieve their files.

Soon after the raids former Megaupload user Kyle Goodwin, a sports reporter who used Megaupload to store work-related files, took legal steps to secure his work.

Helped by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mr. Goodwin filed at least six requests asking the court to find a workable solution for the return of his data, but thus far without success.

The U.S. hasn’t been particularly helpful in the matter as it previously suggested that disadvantaged users shouldn’t bother the Government with complaints, but sue Megaupload instead.

Earlier this month QTS, which owns the servers after they acquired Carpathia hosting, asked the court if it could wipe the data. The company still spends $5,760 per month to preserve Megaupload’s files but doesn’t want to carry this burden forever.

QTS’ request is understandable and the company is not the only third-parties waiting for a solution. Following up on the company’s request, EFF and Kyle Goodwin are asking the court to come up with a solution so he and other former Megaupload users can retrieve their lost files.

“Getting access to the video files I had stored in my Megaupload account would be valuable for my business, my customers, and for me personally,” Goodwin tells the court.

“If I am able to access those files, I will continue to make original video productions from them […] and use the videos in documentaries and promotional materials. I believe the revenue I could earn from the use of the video files will help me grow my business.”

Goodwin’s attorneys has filed a response (pdf) to QTS’ request to dispose of the data. They stress to the court that it’s important to come up with a solution. None of the involved parties can or wants to take responsibility, so the court has to step in.

“It is unclear who currently controls Mr. Goodwin’s property. QTS says it does not have any interest in the data and cannot access it.”

“The government claims it has released control over the servers and the data on them. Megaupload, for its part, says it cannot afford to turn the servers back on and allow customers like Mr. Goodwin to retrieve their data because the government controls its financial assets.”

The uncertainly about the data is not Mr. Goodwin’s fault though, the lawyers argue. They therefore ask the court to come up with a solution.

“It is clear, however, that through no fault of his own, Mr. Goodwin does not control his property, and that this Court has the authority to remedy that. Mr. Goodwin respectfully requests this Court exercise that power and grant him, and those similarly situated, the return of their property.”

How such a data return would work is unclear. Technically the data can be mirrored and hosted elsewhere but someone has to pick up the bill. Thus far negotiations on the issue haven’t resulted in a workable solution.

Also, putting Megaupload’s data back online is likely to cause concern among copyright holders. The MPAA previously stated that users can have their files back as long as access to copyrighted files is blocked, which may be easier said than done.

The court will now have to review the situation once more and is expected to respond to Goodwin’s request during the weeks to come.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Seeks New Global Anti-Piracy Vice President

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

Due to opposing beliefs over how content should be consumed online, there is a war being waged on the Internet, one in which the guerilla forces of the file-sharing masses take on the world’s leading content companies and their armies of lawyers.

As a result, Hollywood and the major recording labels are committed to pouring endless millions into content protection, with the aim of affecting consumer behavior by any means – and by force if necessary.

To that end the MPAA is currently hoping to boost its already sizable anti-piracy team with the addition of a new Vice President of Global Content Protection.

The position – advertised externally this week – is an important one and will see the new recruit working with Hollywood studios to “define and execute” the MPAA’s global online content protection strategies.

“This position is primarily responsible for developing and executing a global Internet strategy for combating piracy, managing multiple projects simultaneously, managing staff and keeping apprised of technological developments in the piracy ecosystem and user behaviors online,” the MPAA’s listing reads.

The post is central to the MPAA’s entire anti-piracy operation. Responsibilities include directing international investigations of “websites, operators and business entities engaged in or associated with copyright infringement” while monitoring and reporting on emerging trends and threats.

Legal action is a large part of the MPAA’s work and the role requires the successful candidate to develop and manage relationships “with high-level law enforcement officials in key regions and countries” while helping to develop the movie group’s global civil litigation policy.

Also falling within the job description are key elements of the so-called “Follow the Money” approach to online piracy.

Along the lines of several collaborative initiatives already underway (six strikes etc), the new VP will be expected to develop relationships with intermediaries such as hosting providers, advertising companies, payment processors, domain name registrars and social networks such as Facebook.

He or she will also be responsible for providing technical assistance, research, data and training to government agencies, lobbyists and other rights holders concerning content protection issues.

As should be clear from the above, it’s a big job that will only be suitable for a limited number of applicants. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, candidates will need a graduate degree and experience in content protection intelligence, investigation and enforcement under their belts.

Naturally the MPAA only seeks the technically adept when it comes to piracy-related vacancies. Candidates should have plenty of experience with various content distribution methods including “streaming video, online file hosting and peer-to-peer sharing.”

For a group determined to hold third parties responsible for the infringements of others, it should comes as no surprise that applicants are also expected to have a sterling understanding of the relationships between “ISPs, domain names, IP addresses, and hosting providers, and technical infrastructure of such online resources.”

Finally, the MPAA insists that their ideal applicant will know right from wrong.

“[We require] a team player who has the utmost moral and ethical character to support the content protection team and to implement sound strategies that will benefit the motion picture industry today and tomorrow,” the MPAA concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Universal Music and Kim Dotcom Prepared a Deal to Tax Google

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

dotcom-laptopJust when some thought that Kim Dotcom might be running out of ammunition, the Megaupload founder has dropped another huge bombshell.

A recording of a discussion between the German and several Universal Music executives that took place in 2012 – just two days before the infamous raids – reveals a somewhat excited record label preparing to do business with Dotcom, in part at Google’s expense.

The 32 minute recording starts off mid conversation, with the one exec prompting Kim to talk a little bit more about Megakey, his system to monetize free music by replacing the ads that users normally see with ones supplied by Mega.


As previously detailed, Kim explained that when Megakey users surf the Internet they see Mega ads instead of ads provided by other companies such as Google. In exchange, users are given credit to access free content. By Dotcom’s estimates it would be possible for Megakey to pay the labels 33 cents per track while enabling users to obtain 75 songs per year for free.

Soon the execs were asking questions, such as how Megakey could properly target users with appropriate ads. Kim explained that initially they would receive the ads at the bottom end of the market but once users began to experience high quality music provided by UMG, that would attract a better quality of ads worth up to twice as much.

Dotcom also offered to profile users to better understand them, with part of the Megakey deal being that users reveal information about themselves such as age, sex and location when they sign up. Dotcom said that the company could also cross reference user information made available on Facebook.

Start slowly and build

Due to the controversial nature of the Megakey ad replacement mechanism, both sides expressed a desire to start off slowly, initially by replacing just 10% of a user’s adverts.

“We need to be able – and this is also going to be one of the challenges – to be able to sell all of these impressions we will have. So to be able to fully sell out 10% of the ads that 100 million users would consume each day, that is a challenge and that would take time to build up, to have that kind of buying power from advertisers,” Dotcom said.

“We’re basically talking about a few billion dollars here and you need to, you know, create these relationships and so on.”

The caution over taking more than 10% was shared by the UMG execs.

“I can see what they’d say already,” said one. “It’ll be described as a parasite on other cyber services.”

Dotcom said that his legal team had already looked into it and concluded that each user is the king of their own computer and if he or she wants to replace ads, they are free to do so. Quickly, Kim suggested a target.

Target: Google

“If we were to enter a partnership with UMG, we would advise to only, for example at the start, to only replace ads being served from Google. Because Google, frankly, is benefiting the most of all Internet companies from piracy,” the Megaupload founder said.

“They host the world’s largest piracy index and if you want to find a song that belongs to UMG you just go to Google and you find a thousand links on a hundred different sites. These guys are probably not sending you the ad dollars that they are making, so I think that replacing ads from Google would be a fair thing. You are basically now charging a little tax for the benefits that they have with your content.

“I completely agree,” said one exec.

Kim later asked whether there would be any commercial agreements with other labels that would get in the way of a Megakey deal?

“We probably would need to agree a whitelist of where you could replace ads, just to avoid deliberately antagonizing,” said one.

“But Google will not be on that list!” laughed another.

“It’ll just be open season!” “Fire in the hold!” chimed in two others.

Don’t use the ‘T’ word

By now the conversation was starting to warm, but at least one of the UMG execs had taken issue with Kim’s use of the word ‘tax’.

“Isn’t that the worst analogy you could make? Isn’t that the worst possible way of phrasing it?” he said.

Dotcom disagreed.

“You are trying to get legislation in place and get governments to do that for you but they won’t do that. They want to be reelected. They will not have a culture tax, ok? So we can make that happen for you, the culture tax,” Dotcom said.

The label exec preferred to frame it differently

“I’d argue that what you are trying to do is not imposing a tax on anybody, it’s that you are giving users a chance to control their own destiny when it comes to how ads are served and to participate in the revenue generated from it. Because anything that has the word tax in it is immediately ‘Oh God!”

“Let me add that we would never say that in any public forum,” Dotcom responded. “So I use this term in this closed round here but at the end of the day, that’s what it is.”

This thing has potential….

Soon the UMG execs were coming up with the ideas.

“If Universal decided to work with you guys, rather than replacing ads everywhere we could replace a much higher percentage when it came to any page connected to a Universal artist,” said one. “If we choose to work with you guys, Megakey replaces [the ads], and that then makes it less parasitic. There’s a bunch of spins we could take, we could replace them with Vevo ads.”

“I like you guys, why didn’t we talk years ago?” asked Dotcom.

“We are dealing with everyone who just hates us and wants to kill us but I think we really have a solution that can solve the problem of the content creators. We are very proud of it and would love to work with you guys as you seem to be really getting it and i’m so happy that we have had this meeting now.”

How soon can we start?

Complaining about the music business being run by lawyers after the Napster era, one UMG exec told Dotcom that things are changing.

“So, if we were to do a deal with [Megakey], how quickly could you [move]? This technology is live and in place now?”

“Yes, that’s correct,” Kim confirmed.

“So all we have to do is work out a deal, plug you guys into our legitimate feed of repertoire, and we could go live this side of the summer,” an exec responded.

“We need to have a commercial conversation about the deal making process and I’ll keep the lawyers at bay as long as I possibly can. When we come to paper the deal I’ll have to bring in a lawyer but I’ve got a lawyer I can trust who can do this.”

Dotcom and the UMG guys agreed to meet up in March 2012, but first there was a thorny issue to raise.

The Mega Song Controversy

“Have you guys heard about this Mega Song video that happened between UMG and us?” Dotcom asked.

UMG had previously angered Dotcom by wrongfully taking down his wildly successful video from YouTube and legal action was still pending.

“So the thing is because of that takedown we had to take some legal action and we’re basically now in court with UMG and if you guys feel like this is something interesting to talk about I think we should diffuse that a little bit,” Dotcom told the meeting.

“I agree,” came the response. “I think that in the wider conversation at some point it would be very helpful if that just disappeared.”

Interestingly, the execs then provided a surprise reason for the problems, partially laying the blame on Google.

Google had a point to prove on SOPA?

“The Google [YouTube] filters which are normally very inefficient got miraculously efficient. We could not understand why. We’d withdrawn the claim yet the filter was taking down stuff that in a million years it wouldn’t normally catch. So we were sat in the background going ‘What the fuck is going on here?’” one exec said.

“We did something that we thought was in good faith, we then took back the takedown and then the filters went mad in a way that if they’d done so on a normal day, we’d be happy.”

Then the conversation got a little bit dark, to say the least.

“Between you and I, please never repeat any of this conversation – because I’d be sacked – but there was a lot of weird shit going on in that very brief period where we had to wonder whether the people running the [YouTube] filters were running the business to their ends,” one exec explained.

“It was a perfect political football,” said another. “And they kicked it very hard.”

“Because of the SOPA thing, we got fucked. Which is fine.”

Moving on to the size of the market and Universal’s dominant share, one exec told Dotcom what he was waiting to hear.

“I will happily do a deal with you guys.”

‘Notorious Market’ lists are bad for business

But of course, an elephant remained in the room. Megaupload was out of favor with not only the record labels but also the MPAA and United States Trade Representative. Dotcom decided to point out what everyone in the meeting almost certainly had in the back of their minds.

“We have gotten a lot of fire from RIAA, MPAA, everyone in the content industry, for you know, Megaupload,” Dotcom said.

“We don’t have a rewards program, we are one of the cleanest guys. I mean you guys, UMG, RIAA, everyone has direct access to our servers. We remove content swiftly, we try our best to be the best player in our industry but we’re getting all the heat because of our size.

“What would also be nice is if we could try and defuse that whole situation and if you can make an effort to help us with that because, you know, putting us on all sorts of nasty lists and how bad we are and all of that, that doesn’t help either.”

The suggestion was well received.

Allow us to improve your standing, Mr Dotcom

“Yeah, I agree. In exchange for the litigation disappearing there are certain people I can have conversations with where you will be moved onto a different list as opposed to a bad list,” an exec told Dotcom

“We want to be on the friends list!” he responded.

“Yeah, well you get on to the friends list once we’ve signed a deal. And then the rules of engagement change completely. In the short-term I can downgrade your status from ‘evil’ to ‘bad’ and as the process goes on it will be from ‘bad’ to ‘good’ to ‘exceptional partner’.”

Never one to miss a point of negotiation, Dotcom persuaded the execs to change his designation from “evil to bad” to “evil to neutral” and they agreed, noting that companies can be easily removed from the notorious markets list if they so desire.

But sadly for all involved, none of that came to pass.

“They wanted to reduce my status from ‘evil to neutral’ if I partnered with them,” Dotcom told TorrentFreak this morning.

“This call was two days before the raid. They were excited about Megabox and especially my Megakey innovation. It clearly shows that I was trying to help artists to create more income from the Internet.”

And then the raid happened, and the rest is history.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Ducks Censorship Battle With Google, Twitter and Facebook

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

movietubeLast month the MPAA sued several popular movie streaming websites which all operated under the MovieTube flag.

As part of the lawsuit the major movie studios asked for a preliminary injunction ordering several third-party companies to stop linking or providing services to the sites.

For several tech companies this request went too far. Last week Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo explained to the court that it could result in broad Internet censorship, similar to the blocking provisions that were listed in the controversial SOPA bill.

The filing appeared to be the start of a new standoff between Hollywood and the tech companies, but a letter submitted by the MPAA yesterday puts it on hold.

The MPAA informed the court that a preliminary injunction is no longer required as the MovieTube sites have been offline for several weeks already.

“Plaintiffs are no longer seeking preliminary injunctive relief at this time but will seek permanent relief as soon as possible,” the MPAA’s lawyers write.

The decision to drop the request may very well have been triggered by the Amici Curiae brief of the tech companies. After all, the MovieTube sites were already offline when the MPAA submitted the injunction request weeks ago.

In their letter to the court the MPAA stress that the opposition brief should no longer be considered now that they have pulled their request for an injunction.

“…because Plaintiffs have withdrawn their motion for preliminary injunctive relief, the arguments offered by Amici Curiae in opposition to that motion are not ripe for consideration and are otherwise inapplicable.”

“To the extent Amici are requesting what amounts to an advisory opinion, such a request is improper and should not be entertained,” they add.

It appears that it’s a strategic move from the MPAA not to challenge the tech companies, for now. However, the movie industry group has made it clear that website blocking is one of their main anti-piracy priorities so we can expect this battle to reignite in the future.

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

TorrentFreak: Should Web Browsers Block Copyright Infringing URLs?

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

stop-blockedWith more than 150 million active users per month uTorrent is without a doubt the most popular file-sharing application.

Many people use the software to download pirated material, which worries copyright holder groups such as the RIAA.

Earlier this month the music group sent a letter to uTorrent’s parent company BitTorrent Inc. urging it to do something about this unauthorized use. Ideally, the RIAA would like infringing hashes to be banned so that users can no longer share these files.

“We are willing to establish a process to share the hashes with BitTorrent Inc. on a regular basis so that BitTorrent Inc. can use the information to deter further infringement of those files via its goods and services,” the RIAA wrote in a letter to the company.

Technically speaking it’s quite easy to block hashes. Several BitTorrent trackers already do this to keep copyright holders appeased, but thus far this has been a bridge too far for the company behind uTorrent.

BitTorrent Inc. hasn’t responded to our repeated requests for comment, but in a brief statement provided to Venturebeat the company notes that the protocol is open source, legal and that they themselves don’t host any infringing content. This is true, but the response also misses the main point.

The RIAA’s request isn’t about the protocol or the technology. It’s about adding a piracy prevention mechanism to a neutral piece of software. Should BitTorrent be obliged to do that?

Legally speaking BitTorrent Inc isn’t required to take any action. Browser developers don’t have to block infringing URLs either, even though hundreds of millions of people use their software to download or stream pirated content.

However, the RIAA’s letter shows that the music group is trying to shift this obvious boundary, and they are not only focusing on BitTorrent.

TF has learned that the RIAA and MPAA are pushing for automated pirate site blocking/warning technology. Outright takedown requests to browser vendors are not going to happen anytime soon, but subtle changes may appear.

The RIAA previously noted that it would like Google to expand Chrome’s malware warning system to cover pirate sites. This would mean that users see a red warning screen when they attempt to visit known piracy sites.

For its part the MPAA is actively lobbying for “site scoring” tools behind closed doors. A leaked copy of the group’s anti-piracy strategies lists site scoring services, which identify pirate sites, as a high priority.

The Hollywood group writes that these pirate site lists can then be used as a blocking tool by advertisers, payment processors, domain name registrars, hosting providers and search engines. Web browsers are not mentioned specifically, but it’s not hard to imagine these also appearing on the MPAA’s wish list.

In any case, the efforts outlined above show that copyright holders would like to extend anti-piracy measures beyond traditional service providers to software vendors. Today it’s BitTorrent clients but browser vendors may be next.

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

TorrentFreak: Google, Facebook and Twitter Protest Hollywood’s ‘SOPA Resurrection’

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

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

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

Most recently, such a request came from Hollywood’s major movie studios, who previously sued several MovieTube websites. The companies asked for a preliminary injunction ordering several third-party companies to stop linking or providing services to the pirate sites.

This proposal reminded some opponents of the blocking provisions that were listed in the controversial SOPA bill. Among the opposition are some of the largest tech firms in the world.

A few hours ago Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo submitted an amicus brief (pdf) asking the New York federal court not to include neutral service providers in the injunction.

According to the tech giants the proposed language goes too far. An injunction should not target companies that are not in “active participation” with MovieTube, nor should it circumvent the rules that are outlined in the DMCA, they argue.

The tech companies suggest that the MPAA is trying to resurrect SOPA-powers through this lawsuit and ask the court to halt their efforts.

“Plaintiffs now appear to be repackaging the excesses of SOPA into the All Writs Act. Indeed, the injunction proposed here would require the same online intermediaries targeted by SOPA to engage in the same kind of content and domain blocking that would have been required under SOPA had it been enacted,” the tech companies argue.

“The Court should not allow intellectual property rightsholders to obtain through the existing statutes the very sort of third-party blocking orders that failed to gain legislative approval.”

Instead, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo ask the court to rule that online services can’t be targeted by broad injunctions against websites they are not actively involved in.

“Such a ruling would be all the more appropriate in light of the fact that Congress recently rejected a push to change the law to authorize exactly these kinds of broadbased online blocking orders,” they note, referring to SOPA.

While the requested injunctions are not new, this is the first time that a broad coalition of tech companies has voiced its opposition. As a result, the MovieTube case may set a crucial precedent for the future of website blocking in the U.S.

Last week the EFF also warned against the potential danger of the MPAA’s proposed injunction. This didn’t fare well with several entertainment industry insiders, who told the group to shut up. However, with the tech giants getting involved there will only be more talk about it now.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Recruits Software Programmer to Combat Piracy

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 evolve its anti-piracy strategies and tools.

It’s no secret that the movie industry group often hires outsiders to track down pirates, but it’s now also recruiting fresh blood to bring some of this technology in-house.

The MPAA currently has several open positions including one for a Software Programmer. This is an interesting job application as it reveals a bit more about what the MPAA is up to behind the scenes.

The person hired for the programmer job will work under the supervision of Vice President of Internet Content Protection and will be tasked with developing monitoring tools and investigating piracy trends.

Among other things, the MPAA is looking for candidates who can create tools to automatically gather large amounts of data. This could be related to the sending of DMCA notices, for example, which the MPAA hasn’t done much of recently.

“They will develop and use automated tools for gathering large amounts of data from online websites and resources, and generate meaningful statistics to help guide and bolster enforcement actions,” the application reads.

The key responsibilities also reveal other anti-piracy tasks, such as forensic analysis of websites, monitoring and reporting infringements, and gathering intelligence on pirate sites.

– Monitor, investigate and report on copyright infringement occurring online via established and emerging content distribution technologies.
– Develop scripts for conducting automated scrapes of online information for intelligence gathering and enforcement purposes.
– Conduct detailed forensic analysis of online content, including reviewing technical infrastructure of online platforms and sites.


Another job opening at the MPAA that’s worth a mention is that of Cisco Network Engineer. This is another tech position and a crucial one as it involves the operation and management of the MPAA’s local network and file-storage services.

With the recent Sony hack in mind, this is quite a sensitive job and the Hollywood group points out that applicants must possess the “highest level of work ethics and integrity” and be able to “maintain confidential information.”

Both positions are still vacant so readers looking for a job at one of the best known anti-piracy firms are welcome to respond.

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

TorrentFreak: EFF Told to “Shut the Hell Up” About SOPA

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

effAfter a massive wave of opposition more than three years ago, the Stop Online Piracy Act died and dozens of technology-focused companies and websites breathed a sigh of relief. But despite its demise the memory of SOPA has lived on, particularly in the minds of those who opposed it.

On that front there can be few more notable than the EFF who played an important role in bringing SOPA to its knees. It should therefore come as no surprise that when the EFF spots efforts by corporations to achieve SOPA-like powers through other means, the group quickly tells the world.

This week in a piece titled ‘Movie Studios Seek SOPA Power Through Broad Site-Blocking Order‘, EFF lawyer Mitch Stoltz told the story of how the MPAA aims to wipe a group of websites from the Internet without trial.

[The] studios are asking for one court order to bind every domain name registrar, registry, hosting provider, payment processor, caching service, advertising network, social network, and bulletin board—in short, the entire Internet—to block and filter a site called Movietube,” Stoltz warned.

“If they succeed, the studios could set a dangerous precedent for quick website blocking with little or no court supervision, and with Internet service and infrastructure companies conscripted as enforcers.”

The piece appears to have touched a nerve with elements of the movie industry who have lined up over the past 24 hours to criticize both Stoltz and the EFF. First up, filmmaker and anti-piracy activist Ellen Seidler.

“Stoltz sounded the alarm by dusting off the well-worn SOPA canard and cries of ‘censorship’ and ‘abuse.’ His love of the word ‘abuse’ was so strong, in fact, variations of the term appear 9 times in his piece,” Seidler writes.

“Isn’t it time for those at the EFF and others who yell ‘SOPA’ each time the movie industry takes legal action against online pirates to shut the hell up? What is abusive is the way online piracy (for profit) is allowed to flourish, made sacrosanct by tech apologists.”

Next up to admonish the EFF is filmmaker David Newhoff. Likening the rights group to Monty Python’s ‘Knights Who Say Ni’ and suggesting that at best they maintain a “loose relationship” with reality, Newhoff accuses the EFF of trying to scare the public.

“For instance, in this recent missive, EFFer Mitch Stoltz uses the acronym SOPA seven times in the first four paragraphs, which might lead the reader to think that the subject of the article has something to do with SOPA. Of course, it has nothing to do with SOPA,” Newhoff writes.

“They say SOPA, and hope the peasants cringe,” the filmmaker adds. “Thus, the EFF invests tremendous energy in this strategy, breathlessly warning us about the inevitable doom that will surely follow if, heaven-forbid, the rule of law might apply to trade across our precious tubes.”

Last but certainly not least, Ruth Vitale of anti-piracy group Creative Future weighs in with her take on the EFF piece in her rebuttal titled ‘If You’re Reading This The Internet Ain’t Broke‘.

“I know that ‘stop censorship’ and ‘don’t break the internet’ were effective talking points more than three years ago. That’s the past and a reference to legislative history. I think we’re all a bit wiser now. Can we finally collectively agree that piracy is not free speech?” Vitale writes.

“If we can come to that understanding, I and many in Hollywood would applaud EFF’s efforts to eliminate real censorship all over the world – but EFF’s relentless attacks on efforts by creative industries to protect their work damages its credibility.”

While the EFF and its critics are naturally miles apart on the topic, what’s puzzling here is the apparent unwillingness to grasp what Internet users are driving at when they refer to ‘SOPA-like’ activity.

From the day of its public outing to the day of its demise and beyond, the SOPA acronym has become synonymous with any legislative effort to clamp down on Internet piracy by forcing hosting providers, domain companies, the DNS system, payment processors, advertisers and social networks to become entertainment industry enforcers. It’s an extremely unpopular proposal.

Underlying all of this is the nature of the entities pushing for these powers. One only has to look at the unfolding nightmare that is the MPAA’s assault on Google via Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to see how far Hollywood is prepared to go to get its way.

“[This kind of power] will be abused, which is why it’s important to stop it from being created in the first place,” the EFF warns.

Call it SOPA-like or call it something else, it’s difficult to argue with that conclusion. But as long as it has a recognizable name, people will understand what’s at stake, and for the EFF and other activists that’s more than half the battle.

SOPA might be dead but its name will live on – and the EFF isn’t likely to shut the hell up anytime soon.

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

TorrentFreak: Copyright Troll Asks Court to Ban the Term ‘Copyright Troll’

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

trollsignMalibu Media, the Los Angeles based company behind the ‘X-Art’ adult movies, is one of the most active copyright trolls in the United States.

This year alone they have filed a 1,104 individual cases against alleged downloaders.

The main goal of the company is to demand settlements of a few thousand dollars, without going to trial. However, defendant Micheal Harrison decided to fight back and wants to have his case heard before a jury.

The lawsuit in question dates back to 2012 and both sites are now gearing up to present their arguments in court. This is new territory for the porn company, and recent motions reveal that the ‘copyright troll’ is worried about its image.

In particular, Malibu Media is worried that the ‘porn’ stigma and terms such as ‘copyright troll’ may influence the jury. It therefore asks the court to ban the use of these terms during the trial.

“If Defendant is permitted to refer to Plaintiff as ‘a copyright troll,’ ‘pornographer,’ ‘porn purveyor,’ or ‘extortionist,’ the negative connotations of those titles are clear and Plaintiff would be unfairly prejudiced in attempting to prove its case,” Malibu writes (pdf).

“The jury would likely be led to abandon its impartiality if those or similar titles are permitted in the courtroom,” they add.

According to the porn company using the term “porn” in court may lead the jury to believe that it its films are not entitled to copyright protection. In addition, they believe that it would trigger preconceived negative connotations.

“Such preconceived negative connotations may impart that Plaintiff’s works are not entitled to copyright protection or that Plaintiff should be treated differently under the law simply because of the industry that it is in,” Malibu writes.

The company wants to avoid these potential problems and has asked the court to restrict the defendant to the terms “Plaintiff” and “Malibu Media” when referencing the porn company during trial.

Defendant Micheal Harrison doesn’t agree with the request and this week he asked the court to dismiss the motion (pdf). Malibu Media is a producer of pornographic movies and should be described as such, he argues.

In addition, the defendant points out that “copyright troll” is a proper description for the business Malibu is engaged in, noting that the company has filed approximately 3,539 lawsuits in the United States.

If Malibu’s requests are granted it would not mark the first time that certain terms have been banned during a copyright trial. Hotfile was previously granted a motion that prohibited the MPAA from using “piracy,” “theft” and “stealing,” but this case was settled before the proceedings started.

Aside from the controversial terms, Malibu Media also asked the court not to accept references to “copyleft” blogs and to exclude an expert testimony of WiFi hacking and other speculative defenses.

The court has yet to decide on whether any terms, citations or other evidence will be off-limits during the trial. In any case, it will prove to be an interesting battle.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Asked to Remove 18 ‘Pirate Links’ Every Second

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 the same number is now reached in a matter of seconds.

At TF we processed the number of URLs submitted by copyright holders over the past month, which were roughly 47 million in total. Or put differently, Google is now being asked to remove well over 18 links to alleged copyright infringing material every second.

Just last week Google received a record breaking 12.5 million reported links in seven days, showing that the surge in notices is still ongoing.

The BPI and RIAA are among the most active senders of DMCA takedown requests. Together, the music groups have sent notices for 5.5 million URLs over the past month, which represents 12% of all requests.

Both groups are topped by takedown agencies Rivendell and Degban though, who are good for reporting 7.7 and 6.3 million URLs respectively.


Over the past month more than 2,600 copyright holders submitted takedown notices, targeting 77,514 separate domain names. The relatively unknown MP3 search engine tops the list with nearly a million removed pages, and several Pirate Bay related domains are also among the top targets.

The vast majority of the reported links have been removed, but the takedown notices also include duplicate or non-infringing URLs for which Google takes no action.

Despite the frequent use of the takedown process many copyright holders are not happy with Google’s take on the piracy problem. Groups such as the RIAA and MPAA have repeatedly stressed that the company should do more to prevent pirated content from showing up in the top search results.

Faced with this harsh criticism, Google has gradually altered its search algorithms. October last year the company implemented the most significant change yet, aimed at downranking sites that often link to copyright-infringing material.

Still, the major copyright holders remain far from pleased. They’ve urged Google to completely de-list infringing domains and boost the rankings of legitimate sites. Until that happens, it’s unlikely that we’ll see the number of reported links going down.

TF reached out to Google for a comment on the ever-increasing volume of takedown requests and how the company is able to cope with the surge, but at the time of publication we haven’t heard back.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Emails Expose Dirty Media Attack Against Google

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

google-bayLate last year leaked documents revealed that the MPAA helped Mississippi Attorney General (AG) Jim Hood to revive SOPA-like censorship efforts in the United States.

In a retaliatory move Google sued the Attorney General, hoping to find out more about the secret plan. The company also demanded copies of internal communications from the MPAA which are now revealing how far the anti-Google camp planned to go.

Emails between the MPAA and two of AG Hood’s top lawyers include a proposal that outlines how the parties could attack Google. In particular, they aim to smear Google through an advanced PR campaign involving high-profile news outlets such as The Today Show and The Wall Street Journal.

With help from Comcast and News Corp, they planned to hire a PR firm to “attack” Google and others who resisted the planned anti-piracy efforts. To hide links to the MPAA and the AG’s office, this firm should be hired through a seemingly unaffiliated nonprofit organization, the emails suggest.

“This PR firm can be funded through a nonprofit dedicated to IP issues. The ‘live buys’ should be available for the media to see, followed by a segment the next day on the Today Show (David green can help with this),” the plan reads (pdf).

The Today Show feature would be followed up by a statement from a large Google investor calling on the company to do more to tackle the piracy problem.

“After the Today Show segment, you want to have a large investor of Google (George can help us determine that) come forward and say that Google needs to change its behavior/demand reform.”

In addition, a planted piece in the Wall Street Journal should suggest that Google’s stock would lose value if the company doesn’t give in to the demands.

“Next, you want NewsCorp to develop and place an editorial in the WSJ emphasizing that Google’s stock will lose value in the face of a sustained attack by AGs and noting some of the possible causes of action we have developed,” the plan notes.


Previously, the MPAA accused Google of waging an “ongoing public relations war,” but the above shows that the Hollywood group is no different.

On top of the PR-campaign the plan also reveals details on how the parties would taint Google before the National Association of Attorneys General.

Through a series of live taped segments they would show how easy it is for minors to pirate R-rated movies, buy heroin and order an assault weapon with the help of Google’s search engine.

Finally, the plan includes a “final step” where Attorney General Hood would issue a civil investigatory demand to Google.

In its court filing (pdf) Google uses the information above to argue that the AG’s civil investigatory demand was not the basis of a legitimate investigation. Instead, it was another tool pressuring the company to implement more stringent anti-piracy measures.

Given this new information, Google hopes that the court will compel Fox, NBC and Viacom to hand over relevant internal documents, as they were “plainly privy” to the secretive campaign.

It’s now up to the judge to decide how to proceed, but based on the emails above, the MPAA and the AG’s office have some explaining to do.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Sues MovieTube Sites Over Mass Piracy

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

movietubeUnauthorized movie streaming sites have been a thorn in the side of Hollywood for many years, and yesterday the MPAA decided to take one of the most prominent players to court.

MPAA members 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros filed a lawsuit against a group of MovieTube affiliated websites, which operate from more than two dozen domain names.

In the complaint, filed at a New York District Court a few hours ago, the movie studios describe MovieTube as a business that’s designed and operated to promote copyright infringement for profit.

The MPAA lists several popular websites including,,,,,,, and These sites share hosting facilities and a similar design and the studios believe that they are operated by the same people.

The websites in question are typical streaming sites, where users can watch videos and in some cases download the source files to their computers.

“Defendants, through the MovieTube Websites, aggregate, organize and provide embedded links to extensive libraries of Infringing Copies of Plaintiffs’ Works,” the compliant (pdf) reads.

“…users can watch Infringing Copies without leaving the MovieTube Websites. The MovieTube Websites even allow users, in some instances, to download Infringing Copies by clicking on a selection from a menu built into the video player software supplied by Defendants.”

According to the MPAA, MovieTube’s operators are well aware of the infringing nature of their site. On one of their Facebook pages they write that it’s not a problem that many films are pirated, since they are not bound by U.S. laws.


The complaint accuses MovieTube of various counts of copyright and trademark infringement. This means that the site’s operators face millions of dollars in statutory damages.

Perhaps more importantly, the MPAA is also demanding a broad preliminary injunction to make it virtually impossible for the operators to keep their sites online.

Among other things, the proposed measures would prevent domain registrars, domain registries, hosting companies, advertisers and other third-party outfits from doing business with the site.

If granted, MovieTube’s operators will have a hard time keeping the sites afloat, but it appears that the injunction may not even be needed.

At the time of writing all MovieTube domain names are unreachable. It is unclear whether the operators took this decision themselves, but for now the future of these sites looks grim.

The full list of sites mentioned in the complaint is as follows:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and

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

TorrentFreak: Public Revolts Against Plan to Kill Domain Name Privacy

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

whoisguardA new ICANN proposal currently under review suggests various changes to how WHOIS protection services should operate.

The changes are welcomed by copyright holders, as they will make it easier to identify the operators of pirate sites, who can then be held responsible.

However, several domain registrars, digital rights groups and the public at large are less enthusiastic. They fear that the changes will also prevent many legitimate website owners from using private domain registrations.

To allow the various parties to weigh in ICANN launched a public consultation, and the overwhelming number of responses over the past several weeks show that domain name privacy is a topic that many people have taken to heart.

At the time of writing ICANN has received well over 11,000 comments, most of which encourage the organization to keep private domain registrations available.

A few dozen comments have been filed by special interest groups, but most were submitted by ordinary Internet users who fear that they will have to put their name, address and other personal details out in public.

Countering the “piracy” argument, several people note that the changes would do very little to stop people from running illegal websites, as WHOIS data can easily be faked.

“The truth is, if the website is an illegal website, then the information in the Whois is not going to be legit anyway. So you are not helping anything when it comes to tracking down crime. You are only helping crime by providing the criminals with more information. On people that are being legal,” one commenter notes.

Others warn that the proposals will leave the door open for all sorts of harassment, or even aid oppressive regimes and terrorist groups including ISIS.

“Please do not make it easier for these oppressive regimes and terrorists to identify and target the brave men and women who risk their lives by writing and blogging about what goes on in those dangerous parts of the world,” a commenter writes.

In large part however, the massive protests are fueled by the “Respect Our Privacy” campaign site which was launched by the EFF, Namecheap and Fight for the Future. This site allows people to submit a pre-written letter in just a few clicks, which results in thousands of duplicate comments.

The MPAA previously criticized the form letters noting that they are triggered by “hype and misinformation sponsored by certain registrars and advocacy groups,” while accusing the campaign site of spreading “completely false” information.

It will be interesting to see how the public consultation will influence ICANN’s proposal and the future operation of domain name privacy services.

The commenting period closes this coming Tuesday and will be followed by an official report. After that, the ICANN board will still have to vote on whether or not the changes will be implemented.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wants to Kill Domain Name Privacy, For Some

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

boxedA new ICANN proposal currently under review suggests various changes to how WHOIS protection services should operate.

The plans have raised concerns among registrars and consumer organizations who warn that it may put an end to private domain name registrations for some websites.

Copyright holders, on the other hand, have welcomed the proposed changes as they would help them to track down operators of pirate sites. Yesterday the MPAA submitted its comments to ICANN reiterating this stance.

In particular, the MPAA wants privacy protection services to hand over the registration information if a website owner is unresponsive to abuse complaints. These services should be required hand over the details without a court order or subpoena.

“In situations where clear and verifiable cases of abuse are found and direct communication with the customer of a privacy protection service is not possible, an effective and predictable framework to obtain contact details of the customer is required,” the MPAA’s Alex Deacon writes.

The Hollywood group stresses that it isn’t calling for an outright ban on WHOIS privacy protection for all commercial websites. However, the group does support ongoing discussions on the issue.

Many opponents of the proposed changes warn that privacy limitations may make it easier for criminals to harass website owners. The MPAA turns the tables instead, arguing that consumers have the right to know who runs a commercial website.

“MPAA believes it is equally important to consider the privacy interests and rights of Internet users who interact with web sites, many using privacy protection services, on a daily basis. Users right to know the identity of commercial entities with whom they are transacting, is a foundational principle in consumer protection law,” Deacon notes.

In a separate blog post on the issue the MPAA complains that its stance on the domain name privacy issued has been mischaracterized.

“Unfortunately, in recent weeks there have been a growing number of assertions that have sought to mischaracterize the MPAA’s position on privacy and proxy services,” Deacon writes.

In a blog post the MPAA notes that it doesn’t object to legitimate use of privacy protection services at all, even for commercial services. In addition, it stresses that privacy protection services should not reveal any private information without solid evidence.

However, they add that the new rules must “strike a balance” to ensure that individuals who use domain names for “illegal and abusive activity” can be easily exposed.

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

TorrentFreak: “U.S. Copyright Group” Shuts Down Portugal’s Largest Pirate Site

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

babypirateLate last week file-sharing fans in Portugal received the worst possible news. WarezTuga, the country’s most popular ‘pirate’ movie and TV show site, announced it was closing down with immediate effect.

“It is an extremely difficult decision for all of us, more than most can even imagine, but our work reached heights of popularity so high, it became absolutely impossible to continue to fight and to manage a project of such scale,” its operators announced.

While less well-known overseas, WarezTuga was a significant operation. In February it was one of the top 20 most popular sites in all of Portugal, jostling for position with giants including Twitter and Yahoo. Even today, with traffic plummeting due to the shutdown, WarezTuga is still the country’s 25th most trafficked domain. But that success didn’t come easily.

“Four years of struggle, sweat, dedication and sacrifice have now come to an end, but also years of pleasure, satisfaction and pride for what we have achieved together. We leave with a clear conscience, because we have achieved what we always dreamed about: to be an example, a reference, a statue of what can be achieved when the will power is infinite,” its operators said.

“In the end, we are proud to say that today we close willingly and we were those who resisted longer, despite all the external pressures.”

Now, however, more details are emerging which make it clear that while the shutdown might ultimately have been voluntary, the site had been under massive pressure from the movie industry both locally and in the United States.

Local anti-piracy group FEVIP (Portuguese Association of Audiovisual Works Defense) has now revealed it was behind the shutdown. Complaints were filed against WarezTuga in May 2014 by FEVIP and now-defunct anti-piracy outfit ACAPOR who were acting on behalf of companies in the United States.

However, there was a problem to overcome. As is becoming increasingly common with similar sites, WarezTuga used U.S.-based Cloudflare, a service which can shield the true location of a site’s servers. But as other sites are discovering, that protection is easily unlocked by filing a complaint with the CDN service.

With the site’s location known, FEVIP headed off to Romania where WarezTuga operated its servers. There a webhost known as Alistar-Security received threats from “representatives of a U.S. copyright group”. Unconfirmed, but almost certainly the MPAA and its affiliates.

What happened next is unclear but whatever it was seems to have seriously spooked the operators of WarezTuga. After operating under pressure since 2011, the operators took the decision to close down the site. FEVIP welcomed the move.

“It was the pirate site most used in Portugal; even if others arise, at least this site has been taken down,” FEVIP chief Paulo Santos told

The shutdown of the site was bitter-sweet for Nuno Pereira, the former head of now-defunct anti-piracy group ACAPOR. The copyright group became one of WarezTuga’s most aggressive opponents but was shut down after the interests they represented – video rental outlets – became a thing of the past.

“It was the most important pirate site and the one we wanted to close down quickly, but it turned out it took more time to close,” Pereira said.

But while video rentals disappear into the Portuguese sunset, a new dawn of video consumption is appearing on the country’s horizon. After a long wait, Netflix will finally land on local shores in October and not a minute too soon for FEVIP’s Santos.

“Of course it would be desirable that the service had come much earlier, before everyone who uses the Internet modernly have sought alternatives. But it is likely to be a success, something seen immediately by the amount of attention that the Portugal arrival announcement has generated,” Santos says.

But even as Netflix tries to take hold in a market free of WarezTuga, Santos says that the pirate vacuum might be filled sooner rather than later.

“Generally, for every hundred sites that close, there are 60 returning. These are averages that we know in the industry,” the FEVIP chief concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Censoring Pirate Sites is Counterproductive, Research Finds

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

stop-blockedRather than taking operators to court, copyright holders are increasingly relying on Internet providers to block ‘pirate’ domains.

Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to various pirate sites, and in Italy this process is formalized through telecoms regulator AGCOM.

The idea behind these blockades is that they help to decrease online piracy. However, research increasingly suggests that this aim is not being fulfilled. In fact, a new study shows that blocking attempts may actually be counterproductive.

To find out whether blocking efforts are effective, University of Padua professor Giorgio Clemente decided to run a comprehensive analysis, comparing traffic data before and after the measures were implemented.

The research uses the same methodology as an earlier MPAA-commissioned study by Incopro which examined UK blockades. However, instead of merely looking at the blocked domains, Professor Clemente also took domain name changes into account because site operators commonly switch domains to bypass censorship efforts.

The results are quite revealing and show that Government-sanctioned blockades actually increase traffic to the targeted sites.

“The blocking efforts of the Italian ISPs are all being thwarted,” Professor Celemente writes.

“The analyzed data shows that after a year the overall effects can be summarized as a significant increase in Italian search engine traffic to the targeted sites and a consequent increase in piracy rather than a decline,” he adds.

In many cases the websites simply switched to a new domain name to evade the blocking efforts., for example, moved to a .li domain name and as a result of the attention the site received from the blocking efforts, search engine traffic spiked more than 1000%.

“AGCOM’s blocking measures have actually increased the site’s popularity, which went from 106,000 Italian search engine visitors in March 201 to 2,294,000 users a year later,” the report reads, adding that this caused a spike in piracy activity.

The same pattern was observed for other sites. Limetorrents, for example, saw Italian search engine traffic increase from 9,000 to 162,000 a few months later after, as shown below.

Limetorrents traffic increase

The measures also helped to promote previously unknown sites. TorrentDownloads had no Italian visits before the blocking measures but started to see traffic coming in after AGCOM put the site on its blocklist.

The full report lists a total of 27 sites which nearly all increased their visitor numbers. This leads to the overall conclusion that the time and money invested in the measures is wasted.

“The resources and energy which Internet providers put into the blocking efforts are completely unjustified, and so are the copyright protection activities of AGCOM, given the obvious ineffectiveness of the measures,” the report reads.

Professor Clemente notes that his research confirms a recent study by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, which reached a similar conclusion regarding the shutdown of the popular movie streaming portal

Italian lawyer Fulvio Sarzana, who represented the owners of several blocked websites, says the report confirms what many people already expected.

“The research by the University of Padua shows what everyone already knows: administrative copyright enforcement by blocking access to websites is an unnecessary and harmful waste time,” he tells TF.

The controversial AGCOM measures are up for a review at the Italian Constitutional Court later this year which will look at whether they limit people’s right to free expression. If the court rules the measures unlawful, Sarzana says that the affected sites may be entitled to a substantial damage claim for being unfairly blocked.

However, taking the results of Professor Clemente into consideration there’s little damage to complain about.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Lawfirm Defrauded Rightsholders Out of Millions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unsurprisingly, finger-pointing is already underway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Piracy Concerns May Soon Kill Domain Name Privacy

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

whoisguardIn recent months copyright holders have been increasingly pushing for changes in the domain name industry.

Groups such as the MPAA and RIAA, for example, want registrars to suspend domain names of clearly infringing websites.

While this is unlikely to happen on a broad scale in the near future, a new ICANN proposal may put an end to private domain name registrations for some websites.

A new proposal (pdf) will no longer allow ‘commercial’ sites, which could include all domain names that run advertisements, to hide their personal details through so-called WHOIS protections services.

This change is backed by copyright holder groups including the MPAA, who previously argued that it will help them to hold the operators of illegal sites responsible.

“Without accurate WHOIS data, there can be no accountability, and without accountability it can be difficult to investigate and remedy issues when individuals or organizations use the Internet in illegal or inappropriate ways,” MPAA’s Alex Deacon said recently.

“Ensuring this data is accurate is important not only to the MPAA and our members, but also to everyone who uses the Internet every day.”

On the other side of the spectrum, the proposal has ignited protests from privacy advocates and key players in the domain name industry.

Digital rights group EFF points out that copyright holders can already expose the operators of alleged infringers quite easily by obtaining a DMCA subpoena. This is something the RIAA has done already on a few occasions.

EFF further warns that the new rules will expose the personal details of many people who have done nothing wrong, but may have good reasons not to have their address listed publicly.

“The limited value of this change is manifestly outweighed by the risks to website owners who will suffer a higher risk of harassment, intimidation and identity theft,” EFF’s Mitch Stoltz writes.

Namecheap, one of the largest domain registrars, also jumped in and sent a mass-mailing to all their customers urging them to tell ICANN not to adopt the new proposal.

“No WHOIS privacy provider wants their service to be used to conceal illegal activity, and the vast majority of domain owners are not criminals. Using a WHOIS privacy service is no more suspicious than having an unlisted phone number,” Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall notes

“These new proposed rules would wreak havoc on our right to privacy online. ICANN is moving quickly, so we should too – contact them today and tell them to respect our privacy,” he adds.

ICANN is currently accepting comments from the public and Namecheap is encouraging its customers to use the Respect Our Privacy campaign site to protest the proposed changes.

Of course, Namecheap has more to worry about than the privacy of its users alone. The company itself operates the Whoisguard service and earns a lot of revenue through these private registrations.

Thus far most of the responses received by ICANN have come in through the special campaign site, arguing against the proposal. The commenting period closes in two weeks followed by an official report. After that, the ICANN board will still have to vote on whether or not the changes will be implemented.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Tops Google Search Results for “Popcorn”

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

popcorntDubbed the “Netflix for Pirates,” the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people over the past year.

The application has some of the major media giants worried, including Netflix which sees the pirate app as a serious competitor to its business.

Increasing this threat, Popcorn Time has now taken the top spot in Google search results, a position that used to be held by the popular movie snack “popcorn“.

For years, the Popcorn Wikipedia entry has been listed as the number one result but it has now been replaced by the website.

Results may vary based on location, but TF has confirmed that the pirate app has seized the top spot in the US, UK and the Netherlands. The screenshot below shows Google’s results from California.

Popcorn Time’s domination is not shared on Bing, where the app is nowhere near the top results.


In addition to the top listing, Google’s Autocomplete feature also favors Popcorn Time over the snack. Just entering the three letters “pop” is enough for the suggestion to appear.

It’s unclear why Google favors Popcorn Time over Popcorn, as the latter is still more sought after in the search engine. Perhaps the recent rise of the application and the many online discussions have something to do with it.


Whatever the case, Hollywood is not going to be pleased with how Google algorithms have pushed Popcorn Time into the limelight.

The MPAA has been complaining bitterly about pirate sites outranking legitimate content, and they’ll see this recent example as yet more ammunition to keep pushing. So get the popcorn ready!

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA: Google Assists and Profits from Piracy

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

google-bayLate last year leaked documents from the Sony hack revealed that the MPAA helped Mississippi State Attorney General Hood to revive SOPA-esque censorship efforts in the United States.

In a retaliatory move Google sued the Attorney General, hoping to find out more about the secret effort. As part of these proceedings Google also demanded internal communication from the MPAA, but the Hollywood group has been hesitant to share these details.

After several subpoenas remained largely unanswered Google took the MPAA to court earlier this month. The search giant asked a Columbia federal court to ensure that the MPAA and its law firm Jenner & Block hands over the requested documents.

The MPAA and its law firm responded to the complaint this week, stressing that Google’s demands are overbroad. They reject the argument that internal discussions or communications with its members and law firm will reveal Attorney General Hood’s intent, not least due to the Attorney General not being part of these conversations himself.

According to the Hollywood group, Google’s broad demands are part of a public relations war against the MPAA, one in which Google inaccurately positions itself as the victim.

“Google portrays itself as the innocent victim of malicious efforts to abridge its First Amendment rights. In reality, Google is far from innocent,” the MPAA informs the federal court (pdf).

The MPAA notes that Google is knowingly facilitating and profiting from distributing “illegal” content, including pirated material.

“Google facilitates, and profits from, the distribution of third-party content that even Google concedes is ‘objectionable.’ ‘Objectionable’ is Google’s euphemism for ‘illegal’,” the MPAA writes.

The opposition brief states that for a variety of reasons the subpoenaed documents are irrelevant to the original lawsuit and are far too broad in scope. The MPAA’s initial searches revealed that 100,000 documents would likely require review, many of which it believes are protected by attorney-client privilege.

The MPAA says that Google is trying to leverage the information revealed in the Sony hack to expose the MPAA’s broader anti-piracy strategies in public, and that this is all part of an ongoing PR war.

“The purpose of these Subpoenas is to gather information — beyond the information that was already stolen via the Sony hack on which it relies — on the MPAA’s strategies to protect its members’ copyrighted material and address violations of law on the Internet affecting its members’ copyrights and the rights of others,” they write.

“Moreover, Google openly admits that it opposes any order to keep these discovery materials in confidence, revealing its goal to disseminate these documents publicly as part of its ongoing public relations war.”

Positioning itself as the victim, the MPAA goes on to slam Google for going after anyone who “dares” to expose the search engine’s alleged facilitation of piracy and other unlawful acts.

“…the most fundamental purpose of these Subpoenas is to send a message to anyone who dares to seek government redress for Google’s facilitation of unlawful conduct: If you and your attorneys exercise their First Amendment right to seek redress from a government official, Google will come after you.”

In conclusion, the MPAA and its law firm ask the court to reject Google’s broad demands and stop the “abuse” of the litigation process.

It’s now up to the judge to decide how to proceed, but based on the language used, the stakes at hand and the parties involved, this dispute isn’t going to blow over anytime soon. It’s more likely to blow up instead.

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

TorrentFreak: ICANN Refuses to Play Piracy Police

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

cassetteIn recent years copyright holders have demanded stricter anti-piracy measures from ISPs, search engines and payment processors, with varying results.

Continuing this trend, various entertainment industry groups are now going after organizations that manage and offer domain name services.

The most influential organization in this industry is without a doubt ICANN, the main oversight body for the Internet’s global domain name system.

Among other things, ICANN develops policies for accredited registrars to prevent abuse and illegal use of domain names. Still, various copyright groups believe that the organization isn’t doing enough.

In recent months the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright industry groups have encouraged the organization to strengthen its anti-piracy policies.

However, ICANN is not eager to take on the role of piracy police. Earlier this week ICANN president Fadi Chehadé noted that “everybody” is asking the organization to police content, which is a trend they hope to change.

Speaking out on the issue for the first time, ICANN’s Chief Contract Compliance Officer Allen Grogan emphasizes that they are not going to police the Internet to protect copyright holders.

“ICANN has no role in policing content – it’s entirely out of our scope,” Grogan informs TF.

“Our mission is to coordinate, at the overall level, the global Internet’s systems of unique identifiers, and in particular, to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifiers,” he adds.

While various copyright lobby groups suggest that ICANN has the ability and authority to take action against pirate sites, the organization itself clearly disagrees.

“ICANN was never granted, nor was it ever intended that ICANN be granted, the authority to act as a regulator of Internet content,” Grogan says.

Instead of letting the domain name industry decide what is allowed and what is not, copyright holders should fight their battles in court. According to ICANN, there are sufficient means to take on infringing sites through other venues.

“It’s important people understand this and direct their content complaints to the institutions that are already in place to handle these issues, such as law enforcement, regulatory agencies and judicial systems,” Grogan notes.

ICANN’s comments will be a disappointment to the MPAA and RIAA, who would have preferred an easy way to target the domain names of pirate sites. For now, their best option is to go through the courts, something we’re seeing more and more often these days.

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

TorrentFreak: SurfTheChannel Admin Facing Jail Again Over Unpaid Piracy Debt

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

Three years after its birth in 2007, was among the most-visited streaming link websites on the Internet. The site enjoyed more than six million visits a day from 400,000 users who were mainly looking for the latest movies and the most popular TV shows.

The site soon became the focus of an MPAA investigation carried out by the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft. As previously documented the anti-piracy groups went to extraordinary lengths to pin down site operator Anton Vickerman and present their evidence to the police.

After the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service declined to take on the case, the MPAA and FACT brought a private criminal prosecution against Vickerman. Accusing him of being involved in a Conspiracy to Defraud the Movie Industry, the tactic paid off. In August 2012 Vickerman was sentenced to an unprecedented four years in jail.


Following an unsuccessful appeal that was rejected a year after his conviction, Vickerman was eventually freed in August 2014. But for the MPAA the matter was from over.

Just months later in December 2014, Vickerman was called before the courts again under the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). It was argued that the money Vickerman made from the site was a proceed of crime and whatever hadn’t already been disposed of must be forfeited to the state – if any could be found.

While Vickerman insisted that all of the money was long gone, police financial investigators said the former site operator had placed money not only in the UK, but also other countries including Spain, Latvia, Cyprus and Tanzania.

“Vickerman moved the money he made out of the UK and into accounts around the globe, but working closely with FACT we were able to unravel his trail of bank transfers running across international borders and demonstrate to the court that six years on this convicted criminal still had access to assets worth over £73,000,” said Claudia Celentano from the City of London Police Asset Recovery Team.

Following a court ruling last December which ordered Vickerman to pay back £73,055.79, the clock has been ticking for the former site operator. He now has little over a week to repay the full amount or face being thrown back into jail for a further 21 months.

Surf the Channel’s Anton Vickermanvickerman-lg

In desperation, Vickerman’s family and friends have launched a GoFundMe campaign to try and raise the money.

“As anyone who knows [Anton] personally will tell you he is a man who has been financially ruined by the legal battle with the powers against him and is not a man who has any money. Currently he lives on a council estate in the North West of England with his fiance working multiple jobs to try and put food on the table,” the appeal reads.

“This means that on June 16 [Anton] will be sent back to prison for another ten and a half months which, when added together with his first unjust sentence brings the total to a six year prison sentence [Anton] will have served for the victimless ‘crime’ of owning and running a search engine.”

If Vickerman can’t raise the money by next Tuesday, he will be sent to prison. However, that still won’t be the end of the matter. The 21 month sentence (with half deducted for good behavior) will not cancel out the requirement to settle the debt.

“The debt is for life and survives bankruptcy, it never goes away,” his family explain.

“On release [Anton] can look forward to being regularly dragged back before the courts to explain why he hasn’t paid in full, attachment of all earnings he makes, regular visits from bailiffs to seize any goods (not that he has any now having sold everything he could to pay some of the POCA debt) and, finally, further prison sentences if the UK Government decides that the interest on the debt has risen to a level that justifies more prison time.”

FACT declined to comment for this article but Director General Kieron Sharp previously thanked police for their assistance in the confiscation proceedings.

“FACT would like to thank the City of London Police for their assistance in pursuing confiscation proceedings against Anton Vickerman,” Sharp said.

“This private criminal prosecution produced many difficulties, not least of which was how to uncover Vickerman’s hidden criminal assets without the authorized powers of a financial investigator.”​​​​

Whether raising such a large sum of money in a week is a realistic proposition remains to be seen, but if Vickerman is to get any closure the debt (which is subject to interest at 8% per annum) simply has to be cleared. He’s managed to reduce it by £6,000 by “selling anything he owns of value” but that still leaves £67,000.

“Help us stop this never ending persecution of a man who just wants the chance to rebuild his life and start afresh,” his family concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Block Doesn’t Boost Sales, Research Shows

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

pirate bayThe Pirate Bay is the most censored website on the Internet. Countries all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site, with Russia being the latest addition.

The idea behind these blockades is that they will help to decrease online piracy. However, a new study published by Carnegie Mellon University and Wellesley College researchers, suggests that blocking one site isn’t very effective.

The researchers used data collected by an anonymous Internet consumer panel tracking company to compare the browsing habits of UK citizens, both before and after The Pirate Bay was blocked by major ISPs in 2012.

After comparing the results to a control group and ruling out various other variables, the researchers conclude that there is no significant effect on legal consumption.

Instead, Pirate Bay users chose to circumvent the measures by using VPNs, proxies, or switching to other pirate sites.

“Our results show that blocking The Pirate Bay had little impact on consumption through legal channels — instead, consumers seemed to turn to other piracy sites, Pirate Bay ‘mirror’ sites, or Virtual Private Networks that allowed them to circumvent the block.”

While the above findings support the many opponents of website blocking, it’s only part of the story. The researchers also analysed data after a subsequent blockade that covered more than a dozen large pirate sites at once.

The results here were quite different, with a significant uptick in the number of visits (of ‘pirates’) to legal movie services such as Netflix.

“…blocking 19 different major piracy sites caused users of those sites to increase their usage of paid legal streaming sites such as Netflix by 12% on average,” the researchers write.

This effect was most pronounced for people who used the pirate sites most frequently. According to the researchers this makes sense as they were most affected by the blockade.

“The lightest users of the blocked sites increased their clicks on paid streaming sites by 3.5% while the heaviest users of the blocked sites increased their paid streaming clicks by 23.6%, strengthening the causal interpretation of the results.”

Overall the results show that blocking The Pirate Bay in isolation is futile. For website blockades to have a serious impact they should be directed at a broad selection of pirate sites, making it harder for people to find illegal alternatives.

“Our results suggest that website blocking requires persistent blocking of a number of piracy sites in order to effectively migrate pirates to legal channels,” the researchers note.

Perhaps just as importantly, the researchers add that copyright holders should also make legal content more attractive in order to convert pirates into paying customers.

It has to be noted that the research was carried out as part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics (IDEA), which received a generous donation from the MPAA. However, the researchers suggest that their work is carried out independently.

The results may not help efforts to demand isolated Pirate Bay blockades, which is common in most countries. However, they can be used as ammunition to demand wider website blockades, which is arguably even better from a copyright holder perspective.

FCT ty

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