Posts tagged ‘mpaa’

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.

googrecord

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 myfreemp3.re 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.

mpaasmear

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 MovieTube.cc, TuneVideo.net, Watch33.tv, MovieTube.cz, Anime1.tv, MovieTube.pm, FunTube.co, MovieTube.la and KissDrama.net. 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.

facebookadmit

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: MovieTube.tw, MovieTube.ph, TVStreaming.cc, MovieTube.sx, MovieTube.pw, MovieTubeNow.com, MovieTube.tf, MovieTube.co, MovieOnDrive.com, MovieTube.vc, TuneVideo.net, MovieTube.mn, MovieTube.cc, Watch33.tv, MovieTube.cz, Anime1.tv, MovieTube.pm, FunTube.co, MovieTube.la, KissDrama.net, MovieTube.so, MovieTube.click, MovieTubeHD.co, MovieTubeHD.net, MovieTubeHD.org, MovieTubeHD.tv, MovieTubeHD.us, MovieTubenow.in and TuneMovie.me.

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 wareztuga.tv 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 Sapo.pt.

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. Cineblog01.net, 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
limeagcom

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 Kino.to

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 Finans.dk.

Unsurprisingly, finger-pointing is already underway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

favorite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: 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 Popcorntime.io 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.

popgoogletop

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.

popcsuggest

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, SurfTheChannel.com 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.

surfthechannel

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.

Effective?
FCT ty

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

TorrentFreak: Google Takes MPAA to Court Over Secret Censorship Plans

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

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

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

In response to the looming threat Google filed a complaint against Hood last December, asking the court to prevent Hood from enforcing a subpoena that addresses Google’s failure to take down or block access to illegal content, including pirate sites.

This resulted in a victory for Google with District Court Judge Henry Wingate putting the subpoena on hold. At the same time Google requested additional details from the Attorney General and various other parties involved in the scheme, including the MPAA.

Thus far, however, these requests haven’t proven fruitful. In a motion to compel directed at the MPAA (pdf), Google explains that the movie industry group and other petitioned parties have yet to hand over the requested information.

“To date, the subpoenaed parties have produced nothing,” Google’s lawyers inform the court.

“They have inexplicably delayed producing the few documents they agreed to turn over, and have objected that many of their documents, including internal notes or summaries of meetings with AG Hood, are irrelevant or protected by some unsubstantiated privilege.”

In addition to the MPAA, Google has also filed similar motions against the MPAA’s law firm Jenner & Block, Digital Citizens Alliance, 21st Century Fox, NBC Universal and Viacom.

All parties thus far have refused to hand over the requested information, which includes communication with and prepared for the Attorney General, as well as emails referencing Google.

According to the MPAA this information is “irrelevant” or privileged, but Google disagrees.

“The relevance objections are meritless. As Judge Wingate has already held, there is substantial evidence that the Attorney General’s actions against Google were undertaken in bad faith and for a retaliatory purpose,” the motion reads.

According to Google’s legal team the documents will shine a light on how the MPAA and others encouraged and helped the Attorney General to push for Internet censorship.

“Google expects the documents will show that the Attorney General, the Subpoenaed Parties, and their lobbyists understood that his actions invaded the exclusive province of federal law,” the motion reads.

“More fundamentally, the documents are likely to show that the Attorney General’s investigation was intended not to uncover supposed violations of Mississippi law, but instead to coerce Google into silencing speech that Viacom, Fox, and NBC do not like…”

District Court Judge James Boasberg has referred the case to a magistrate judge (pdf), who will discuss the matter in an upcoming hearing. Considering the stakes at hand, the players involved will leave no resource untapped to defend their positions.

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

TorrentFreak: Kim Dotcom Thwarts Huge U.S. Government Asset Grab

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

In the long-running case of the U.S. Government versus Kim Dotcom, almost every court decision achieved by one side is contested by the other. A big victory for the U.S. back in March 2015 is no exception.

After claiming that assets seized during the 2012 raid on Megaupload were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes, last July the U.S. government asked the court to forfeit bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions connected to the site’s operators.

Dotcom and his co-defendants protested, but the Government deemed them fugitives and therefore disentitled to seek relief from the court. As a result District Court Judge Liam O’Grady ordered a default judgment in favor of the U.S. Government against assets worth an estimated $67m.

Following a subsequent request from the U.S., New Zealand’s Commissioner of Police moved to have the U.S. forfeiture orders registered locally, meaning that the seized property would become the property of the Crown. Authorization from the Deputy Solicitor-General was granted April 9, 2015 and an application for registration was made shortly after.

In response, Kim Dotcom and co-defendant Bram Van der Kolk requested a judicial review of the decision and sought interim orders that would prevent the Commissioner from progressing the registration application, pending a review. The Commissioner responded with an application to stop the judicial review.

In a lengthy decision handed down this morning, Justice Ellis denied the application of the Commissioner while handing a significant interim victory to Kim Dotcom.

Noting that the “fugitive disentitlement” doctrine forms no part of New Zealand common law, Justice Ellis highlighted the predicament faced by those seeking to defend themselves while under its constraints.

“The application of the fugitive disentitlement doctrine to a person who is exercising a bi-laterally recognized right to defend an eligibility hearing, with the result that he is deprived of the financial means to mount that defense, is to put that person on the horns of a most uncomfortable and (the plaintiffs would say) unconstitutional dilemma,” Justice Ellis writes.

Recognizing that Dotcom and Van der Kolk have a “substantial position to preserve”, Justice Ellis says there would be “very real consequences” if they were unable to do so.

“If the provisional view I have formed about the unavailability of post-registration relief is correct, authorizing the registration application to proceed now might deprive the plaintiffs of any ability to defend the extradition or to pursue their appeals against the forfeiture order in the United States,” Justice Ellis said.

“I have little hesitation in concluding that interim relief should therefore be granted.”

The New Zealand Commissioner of Police is now barred from taking further action to register the U.S. forfeiture orders until the court indicates otherwise.

Kim Dotcom informs TorrentFreak that his New Zealand legal team are “relieved” by the decision and can’t wait to “get back to work and beat this bogus extradition case.”

Elsewhere, the battle continues. Dotcom says that the decisions handed down in New Zealand will be presented in Hong Kong in an attempt to get more assets unfrozen there. Over in the U.S. there is also much work to be done.

“Our US lawyers are still bound by the US forfeiture judgment and won’t be allowed to accept funds from my unfrozen assets without a significant risk to them, unless the US government allows that, which is unlikely. But we have appealed the US Forfeiture judgment in the US and the team is optimistic that we will prevail,” he notes.

Megaupload’s U.S.-based lawyer Ira Rothken joined Dotcom in welcoming today’s ruling.

“We are grateful that the NZ court ruled in favor of fairness, natural justice, and due process today by stopping US efforts to take Kim Dotcom’s NZ assets for doing nothing more than opposing extradition to the US – a country he has never been to,” Rothken said.

In closing, a fiery Dotcom reiterated his intention to keep battling.

“The big fights are yet to come and I can’t wait to expose the US government and Hollywood for the most unlawful and corrupt law enforcement action ever taken against an Internet service provider. US attorney Jay Prabhu, the DOJ clown who lost control of the Megaupload domain recently, will only find a job at the MPAA after we are done with him,” Dotcom concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood: Piracy Poses A Great Cybersecurity Threat

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

piratefishThe major movie studios have been fighting piracy for decades, claiming that billions of dollars in losses are at stake.

Increasingly, however, Hollywood has started to bring piracy onto the political agenda by describing it as a broader cybersecurity threat.

Late last week the MPAA submitted its latest call to action, responding to a Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) request to identify cybersecurity threats.

In their comments the MPAA stresses that the Internet has proven to be a tremendous tool for creativity and commerce, but that there’s also a downside.

“Unfortunately, criminal enterprises are also using the Internet to hack into networks and computers for the purpose of stealing valuable data-whether personally identifiable information, trade secrets, or content,” the MPAA writes.

Citing an entertainment industry backed report, the Hollywood studios note that pirate sites are using infringing content as bait for various sorts of scams.

“They are also using Internet ads, as well as pirated content and software or other ‘bait,’ to fund their efforts and lure Internet users into revealing sensitive information, inadvertently download malware, or unknowingly becoming a node in a botnet,” MPAA adds.

To help tackle the issue, the movie studios are hoping for “voluntary” cooperation from various stakeholders including Internet providers, search engines, payment processors, advertising networks and the domain name industry.

As an example, the MPAA notes that search engines should promote legitimate sites in their search results, while removing or pushing down pirated content.

The Government can also help these efforts by encouraging cooperation between the various stakeholders, as it did with the Copyright Alert System.

The music industry agrees with Hollywood on most of these issues. In a separate set of comments the RIAA also stresses the importance of tackling the piracy problem in order to keep the public safe.

“…rogue operators use the offer of infringing versions of our members’ sound recordings and music videos as the ‘candy’ to attract users that are necessary for them to create and exploit cyber vulnerabilities,” RIAA writes.

“In light of this, any discussion addressing malvertising or trusted downloads should also address some of the roots of these problems.”

In other words, both the RIAA and MPAA suggest that if the Government wants to increase cybersecurity, it has to help fight piracy.

The question is, however, whether the movie studios and music labels are honestly concerned about people being infected by malware, or if they are simply using the angle to get piracy on the political agenda through the backdoor.

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

TorrentFreak: Police Shut Down Yet More ‘Pirate’ Sites in Ongoing Sweep

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

moviesWith web-blockades, domain seizures and payment processor interventions making headlines, campaigns to shut down individual sites have been less prominent than usual in the first half of 2015. But that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped.

Just last week the popular BT-Chat was shut down in Canada following pressure from the MPAA and news from Europe suggests that at least two more sites have fallen in recent days following industry action.

After a long investigation, police in Poland report that authorities swooped last week on individuals said to be part of a “criminal group” involved with the unauthorized distribution of video online, movies in particular. In an operation carried out by municipal police and officers from a regional cybercrime unit, several locations were searched including homes, offices and cars.

Three men aged between 24 and 33 years-old were arrested in Wroclaw, the largest city in western Poland. According to police, 14 computers, 13 external drives, 40 prepaid cards, several mobile phones and sundry other items were seized during the raids.

In addition to the images below, police have put together a video (mp4) of one of the targeted locations complete with a horror movie-style audio track for added impact.

pol-raid

While police have not published the names of the domains allegedly operated by the men, two leading sites have disappeared in recent days without explanation. TNTTorrent.info and Seansik.tv were the country’s 160th and 130th most popular sites overall but neither is currently operational.

The men are being blamed for industry losses of at least $1.3m and together stand accused of breaching copyright law which can carry a jail sentence of up to five years in criminal cases. For reasons that are not entirely clear, however, police are currently advising a potential three year sentence.

The latest shutdowns, which also encompass torrent site Torrent.pl, follow police action in May which closed down eKino.tv and the lesser known Litv.info, Scs.pl and Zalukaj.to. With around 324,000 likes on its Facebook page eKino.tv was by far the most popular site but it seems unlikely that it will return anytime soon. Currently displaying “THE END” on its front page, its owner was arrested last month.

arrest49Credit:Olsztyn.wm.pl

Local media is connecting the closure to the arrest of a 49-year-old businessman who had been running a company offering “Internet services” and also Poland’s largest pirate site. According to authorities he made millions of dollars from the operation and laundered money by investing in the stock exchange. Those funds have reportedly been frozen.

Also arrested were three accomplices, including a 36-year-old allegedly responsible for creating the database of movies and setting up a US company to assist with the site’s finances. They all stand accused of copyright infringement and money laundering offenses and face ten years in prison.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Threats Shut Down Popular Torrent Site BT-Chat

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

btchat Over several years the Canada-based torrent index BT-Chat has grown to become one of the most popular among TV and movie fans.

The site was founded over a decade ago and has been running without any significant problems since. Starting a few days ago, however, the site’s fortunes turned.

Without prior warning or an official explanation the site went offline. Instead of listing the latest torrents, an ominous message appeared with a broken TV signal in the background.

“Error 791-the internet is shutdown due to copyright restrictions,” the mysterious message read.

chatdown

Initially is was unclear whether the message hinted at hosting problems or if something more serious was going on. Many of the site’s users hoped for the former but a BT-Chat insider informs TF that the site isn’t coming back anytime soon.

The site’s operators have decided to pull the plug after receiving a hand delivered letter from the Canadian MPA, which acts on behalf of its American parent organization the MPAA.

In the letter, shown below, Hollywood’s major movie studios demand that the site removes all infringing torrents.

“We are writing to demand that you take immediate steps to address the extensive copyright infringement of television programs and motion pictures that is occurring by virtue of the operation of the Internet website www.BT-Chat.com.”

MPAA-CAN

The MPAA makes its case by citing U.S. copyright law, and states that linking to unauthorized movies and TV-shows constitutes contributory copyright infringement.

Referencing the isoHunt case the movie studios explicitly note that it’s irrelevant whether or not a website actually hosts infringing material.

“It makes no difference that your website might not have infringing content on it, or only links to infringing content,” the letter says.

The threats from Hollywood have not been taken lightheartedly by the BT-Chat team. While giving up a site that they worked on for more than a decade is not easy, the alternative is even less appealing.

In the end thry decided that it would be for the best to shut the site down, instead of facing potential legal action.

And so another popular site bites the dust…

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

TorrentFreak: High Court Orders UK ISPs to Block eBook Sites

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

stopstopRather than tackling unauthorized sites with direct legal action, major entertainment industry companies are increasingly attempting to disrupt ‘pirate’ operations with broader strokes.

One of the favored tools is site blocking, a technique that has gathered considerable momentum in Europe and the UK in particular. More than 120 domains are currently blocked by the country’s major ISPs, largely thanks to action taken by the movie and music industries plus soccer body The Premier League.

This week the pool of organizations to succeed in site-blocking legal action deepened with the addition of The Publishers Association (PA). The group, which has more than 100 members with combined revenues of £4.7 billion, went to the High Court to demand the blocking of several eBook focused download sites.

They are: Ebookee, LibGen, Freshwap, AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre and Freebookspot.

According to the PA its investigations found that over 80% of the material made available by the sites infringes copyright. In total the sites are said to offer in excess of 10 million titles.

In response the PA and its members claim to have sent close to one million takedown notices directly to the sites and requested that Google remove 1.75 million related URLs from its search results.

In common with all previous similar actions initiated by the MPAA and BPI, The Publishers Association (with support from the Association of American Publishers) sued the UK’s leading ISPs – BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE – under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Presenting a case which demonstrated mass infringement on the eBook sites in question alongside evidence that the major ISPs have “actual knowledge” that their subscribers are infringing copyright, the PA argued that the sites should be blocked without further delay.

After consideration, yesterday the High Court handed down its ruling in favor of the publishers. The outcome was never really in question – UK ISPs have long since given up defending these cases.

“We are very pleased that the High Court has granted this order and, in doing so, recognizes the damage being inflicted on UK publishers and authors by these infringing websites,” says Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of The PA.

“A third of publisher revenues now come from digital sales but unfortunately this rise in the digital market has brought with it a growth in online infringement. Our members need to be able to protect their authors’ works from such illegal activity; writers need to be paid and publishers need to be able to continue to innovate and invest in new talent and material.”

The ISPs listed in the injunction now have 10 days in which to implement a blockade.

High Court injunctions represent a new anti-piracy tool for The Publishers Association. In addition to its regular takedown work with search engines such as Google, The PA is also involved in City of London Police’s Operation Creative, run out of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU). Last year PIPCU acted on The PA’s behalf by taking down a domain operated by eBook site OnRead.

The full list of sites to be blocked in the UK is now as follows:

New: Ebookee, LibGen, Freshwap, AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre and Freebookspot.

Previously blocked: popcorntime.io, flixtor.me, popcorn-time.se, isoplex.isohunt.to, watchonlineseries.eu, axxomovies.org, afdah.com and g2g.fm, Bursalagu, Fullsongs, Mega-Search, Mp3 Monkey, Mp3.li, Mp3Bear, MP3Boo, Mp3Clan, Mp3Olimp, MP3s.pl, Mp3soup, Mp3Truck, Musicaddict, My Free MP3, Plixid, RnBXclusive, STAFA Band, watchseries.lt, Stream TV, Watchseries-online, Cucirca, Movie25, watchseries.to, Iwannawatch, Warez BB, Ice Films, Tehparadox, Heroturko, Scene Source,, Rapid Moviez, Iwatchonline, Los Movies, Isohunt, Torrentz.pro, Torrentbutler, IP Torrents, Sumotorrent, Torrent Day, Torrenting, BitSoup, TorrentBytes, Seventorrents, Torrents.fm, Yourbittorrent, Tor Movies , Demonoid, torrent.cd, Vertor, Rar BG, bittorrent.am, btdigg.org, btloft.com, bts.to, limetorrents.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, seedpeer.me, torlock.com, torrentbit.net, torrentdb.li, torrentdownload.ws, torrentexpress.net, torrentfunk.com, torrentproject.com, torrentroom.com, torrents.net, torrentus.eu, torrentz.cd, torrentzap.com, vitorrent.org.Megashare, Viooz, Watch32, Zmovie, Solarmovie, Tubeplus, Primewire, Vodly, Watchfreemovies, Project-Free TV, Yify-Torrents, 1337x, Bitsnoop, Extratorrent, Monova, Torrentcrazy, Torrentdownloads, Torrentreactor, Torrentz, Ambp3, Beemp3, Bomb-mp3, Eemp3world, Filecrop, Filestube, Mp3juices, Mp3lemon, Mp3raid, Mp3skull, Newalbumreleases, Rapidlibrary, EZTV, FirstRowSports, Download4all, Movie2K, KickAssTorrents, Fenopy, H33T and The Pirate Bay.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Appeals Domain Seizure Decision

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

tpbhydraxLast week a two year old case launched by the Swedish state concerning a pair of key Pirate Bay domains came to an end.

While the prosecution failed in its quest to hold the Swedish .SE registry responsible for infringements carried out by The Pirate Bay and its users, it did convince the Stockholm District Court to put ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se out of action.

Even though the domains were held in a third-party’s name, the Court found that Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij owned and operated them. On that basis they were ordered to be placed under the future control of the Swedish state, never to be used again.

“Fredrik Neij has participated in the [copyright infringement] crimes that have been identified and he is the actual holder of the domain names. It is therefore no obstacle to confiscate domain names from him,” the Court said.

The parties were given until June 9, 2015, to appeal but less than a week later we now know that The Pirate Bay’s most recognizable domains will remain operational for at least a little while longer.

Through his lawyer Jonas Nilsson, this morning Fredrik Neij confirmed that he will appeal the confiscation order handed down May 19 by the District Court. But while some might presume that getting the domains handed back is a key aim of Neij, that is not the case. He is actually more interested in challenging the Court’s reasoning.

“The district court makes an erroneous assessment of how to look at a domain name. We believe it is an address assignment, not an estate,” Nilsson says.

“The prosecution has alleged two things. One is that crimes have been committed via The Pirate Bay. Fredrik Neij really has no views on this. The second is that he is involved in The Pirate Bay operation.”

It was the assertion that the domains were controlled by Neij and used to infringe copyright that appeared to make it a straightforward decision for the Court to order their forfeiture. But for Neij, however, that has the potential to develop into a more serious matter.

In 2009 the Stockholm District Court banned Fredrik Neij and co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm from having anything to do with the site, even though both were living outside Sweden (even the EU) by that time. Nevertheless, the court attached a 500,000 kronor ($59,500) penalty to any breach.

With Neij set to be released from prison next week after serving his Pirate Bay sentence, one has to wonder if the District Court’s determination will negatively affect that in some way. As reported here in December 2014, a leaked MPAA email predicted continued trouble.

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

Either way, Neij has unfinished business in Sweden and with his history of moving to far-off lands to avoid justice, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the prosecution argued for his continued detention.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Domain Seizures Are Easy in the United States

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

court1-featuredOne the biggest piracy-related stories of the year broke this week after Swedish authorities succeeded in their quest to take over two key Pirate Bay domains.

The court order, handed down Tuesday, will see ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se fall under the control of the Swedish government, provided no appeal is filed in the coming weeks. It’s been a long and drawn out process but given the site’s history, one with an almost inevitable outcome.

Over in the United States and spurred on by ‘rogue’ sites such as TPB, much attention has been focused on depriving ‘pirate’ sites of their essential infrastructure, domains included. Just last week the MPAA and RIAA appeared before the House Judiciary Committee’s Internet subcommittee complaining that ICANN isn’t doing enough to deal with infringing domains.

Of course, having ICANN quickly suspend domains would be convenient, but entertainment industry groups aren’t completely helpless. In fact, yet another complaint filed in the United States by TV company ABS-CBN shows how easily it is to take control of allegedly infringing domains.

The architect of several recent copyright infringement complaints, in its latest action ABS-CBN requested assistance from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The TV company complained that eleven sites (listed below) have been infringing its rights by offering content without permission. To protect its business moving forward ABS-CBN requested an immediate restraining order and after an ex parte hearing, District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas was happy to oblige.

In an order (pdf) handed down May 15 (one day after the complaint was filed) Judge Dimitrouleas acknowledges that the sites unlawfully “advertised, promoted, offered for distribution, distributed or performed” copyrighted works while infringing on ABS-CBN trademarks. He further accepted that the sites were likely to continue their infringement and cause “irreparable injury” to the TV company in the absence of protection by the Court.

Granting a temporary order (which will become preliminary and then permanent in the absence of any defense by the sites in question) the Judge restrained the site operators from further infringing on ABS-CBN copyrights and trademarks. However, it is the domain element that provokes the most interest.

In addition to ordering the sites’ operators not to transfer any domains until the Court advises, Judge Dimitrouleas ordered the registrars of the domains to transfer their certificates to ABS-CBN’s counsel. Registrars must then lock the domains and inform their registrants what has taken place.

Furthermore, the Whois privacy protection services active on the domains and used to conceal registrant identities are ordered to hand over the site operators’ personal details to ABS-CBN so that the TV company is able to send a copy of the restraining order. If no active email address is present in Whois records, ABS-CBN is allowed to contact the defendants via their websites.

Once this stage is complete the domain registrars are ordered to transfer the domains to a new registrar of ABS-CBN’s choosing. However, if the registrars fail to act within 24 hours, the TLD registries (.COM etc) must take overriding action within five days.

The Court also ordered ABS-CBN’s registrar to redirect any visitors to the domains to a specific URL (http://servingnotice.com/BL4G47/index.html) which is supposed to contain a copy of the order. At the time of writing, however, that URL is non-functional.

Also of interest is how the Court locks down attempts to get the sites running again. In addition to expanding the restraining order to any new domains the site operators may choose to move to, the Court grants ABS-CBN access to Google Webmaster Tools so that the company may “cancel any redirection of the domains that have been entered there by Defendants which redirect traffic to the counterfeit operations to a new domain name or website.”

The domains affected are: freepinoychannel.com, lambingan.to, pinoymovie.to, pinoynetwork.to, pinoytambayan-replay.com, pinoytambayantv.com, tambaytayo.com, tvnijuan.net, phstream.com, streampinoy.info and tambayanatin.com.

Despite the order having been issued last Thursday, at the time of writing all but one of the domains remains operational. Furthermore, and in an interesting twist, pinoymovie.to and pinoynetwork.to have already skipped to fresh domains operated by none other than the Swedish administered .SE registry.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Cuts More Jobs, Awards Bonuses to Execs

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

riaa-logoThe RIAA has just submitted its latest tax filing to the IRS, covering the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014. Time for us to see where the music industry’s anti-piracy arm stands.

In previous years the RIAA reported a massive decline in revenue after the record labels cut back on their membership dues, but this trend now appears to have stopped.

Total revenue according to the latest filing is $24.2 million, a slight increase from $24.1 million the year before. Despite the stabilizing income, which mostly comes from the record label’s membership dues, the RIAA continues to trim employees.

Over the past five years the number of employees at the RIAA has been slashed in half, dropping from 117 to just 55.

In its most recent filing the RIAA lists 55 people on the payroll compared to 58 the year before. In total these employees earned $11.7 million of which more than 25% went into the pockets of three top executives.

Interestingly, while more than half of the organization’s workers have been let go, the RIAA’s top employees have enjoyed salary increases year after year, including some healthy bonuses.

The top earner in the year ending March 2014 was CEO Cary Sherman with a $1.6 million a year payout for a working week of 50 hours. Sherman’s base salary is a cool million dollars, but that was boosted with a half million bonus and other compensation.

Other high income employees were Mitch Glazier (Senior Executive VP), Steve Marks (General Counsel) and Neil Turkewitz (EVP International) with $776,616, $728,959 and $657,952 respectively, including over a quarter million in bonuses.

RIAA top earners
990riiarev

While these incomes are significant, they are relatively modest compared to other industry groups. For example, MPAA boss Chris Dodd earns $3.3 million, while its former General Counsel Henry Hoberman earned close to a million.

Looking at other expenses reported in the tax return we see that the RIAA spent $2.3 million on lobbying, a figure that has remained relatively stable over time.

The same cannot be said for the group’s legal fees, which dropped from $16.50 to $1.28 million in a few years. In part, this is because the expensive lawsuits against individual file-sharers and services such as Limewire have ended.

Most recently the RIAA started another lawsuit, this time targeting the music linking site MP3Skull, so perhaps the amount spent will increase again in future years.

The full 2013/2014 filing is available here.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Complained So We Seized Your Funds, PayPal Says

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

paypaldeniedFor several years PayPal has been trying to limit how much business it does with sites involved with copyright infringement. Unsurprisingly torrent sites are high up on the payment processors “do not touch” list.

For that reason it is quite rare to see PayPal offered as a donation method on the majority of public sites as these are spotted quite quickly and often shut down. It’s unclear whether PayPal does its own ‘scouting’ but the company is known to act upon complaints from copyright holders as part of the developing global “Follow the Money” anti-piracy strategy.

This week Andrew Sampson, the software developer behind new torrent search engine ‘Strike‘, discovered that when you have powerful enemies, bad things can happen.

With no advertising on the site, Sampson added his personal PayPal account in case anyone wanted to donate. Quickly coming to the conclusion that was probably a bad idea, Sampson removed the button and carried on as before. One month later PayPal contacted him with bad news.

“We are contacting you as we have received a report that your website https://getstrike.net is currently infringing upon the intellectual property of Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.,” PayPal began.

“Such infringement also violates PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy. Therefore your account has been permanently limited.”

Strike-paypal

It isn’t clear why PayPal waited for a month after donations were removed from Strike to close Sampson’s six-year-old account but the coder believes that his public profile (he doesn’t hide his real identity) may have led to his issues.

“It seems someone at the MPAA realized I took donations using PayPal from some of my other LEGAL open source projects (like https://github.com/Codeusa/Borderless-Gaming) and was able to get the email of my account,” the dev told TF.

While Sampson had regularly been receiving donations from users of his other open source projects, he says he only received $200 from users of Strike, a small proportion of the $2,500 in his personal account when PayPal shut it down.

“That money was earned through legitimate freelance work and was going to be used specifically for my rent/car payment so it kind of sucks,” he says.

While it’s going to be a painful 180 day wait for Sampson to get his money back from PayPal, the lack of options for receiving donations on his other projects could prove the most damaging moving forward. Sampson does accept Bitcoin, but it’s nowhere near as user-friendly as PayPal.

Of course, this is all part of the MPAA’s strategy. By making sites like Strike difficult to run, they hope that developers like Sampson will reconsider their positions and move on. And in this case they might just achieve their aims.

“I’ve allowed someone else to manage the site for the time being. It will operate as it normally does but I need a bit to clear my head and don’t want anything to do with it as it’s become quite stressful,” Sampson says.

“I think the MPAA is playing low ball tactics against a developer who just wanted a better search engine. I don’t condone piracy, but I sure as hell understand why it happens.”

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