Posts tagged ‘mpaa’

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.

TorrentFreak: Mega Rolls Out Legal Heavyweights to Refute Piracy Claims

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

mega_logoIn September 2014, NetNames published a report titled Behind The Cyberlocker Door: A Report How Shadowy Cyberlockers Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions. It accused New Zealand-based cloud-storage site Mega of being a “cyberlocker” and profiting from “content theft”.

Mega reacted angrily to the report, branding it defamatory and warning of further action.

This morning Mega revealed it had commissioned international law firm Olswang to critique the NetNames report, an interesting move considering the firm’s pedigree. In 2014 Olswang worked with the UK government’s IP advisor to publish a set of anti-piracy recommendations. They were later endorsed by the MPAA.

The report

“Olswang was asked to analyse the evidence and data used by NetNames in order to establish whether there was any factual basis for the claims. Olswang is renowned for its deep experience in the technology, media and telecoms sector,” Mega says.

The result is a 42-page teardown of the NetNames report, clarifying Mega’s business and legal practices while leaving the brand company with plenty of questions to answer.

“The NetNames report has been extremely damaging to Mega,” Oslwang begins. “Most notably, it has been relied upon by United States Senator Patrick Leahy to apply pressure to major payment providers and credit card companies to withdraw their services from those identified in the NetNames report.”

Allegedly infringing content

One of NetNames’ key claims is that the majority of the files stored on Mega are infringing. Olswang attacks both the claim and the company’s methodology.

Describing the analysis file sample as “inherently biased towards finding infringing content”, the law firm notes that only publicly available files were examined while the vast majority of files stored on Mega (encrypted and not publicly shared) were ignored.

“In September 2014, when the NetNames report was published, Mega had approximately 2.5 billion files stored on its servers. This means that the sample of files analysed represents just 0.00002% of the total number of overall files,” Olswang reports.

The law firm adds that NetNames took no steps to determine whether content was actually infringing. Instead, filenames were used as the lone indicator of illegality.

Business model

After holding NetNames to its own definition of an “illegal cyberlocker”, Olswang found no similarities with Mega, noting that the company’s business model is “entirely at odds with NetNames’ own description of those used by cyberlockers.”

Noting that Mega’s basic service is similar to those provided by many other major legitimate cloud-hosting providers, Olswang addresses NetNames’ claims that rogue cyberlockers limit download speeds in order to encourage users to pay to upgrade to higher speeds.

“Mega operates a bandwidth limit in the same way as other legitimate storage providers and does not limit download speeds,” the law firm notes.

And then to advertising.

“The NetNames report acknowledges that Mega does not host advertising and is therefore an ‘exception’ to the other 29 cyberlocker companies named. However it still categorizes Mega as a cyberlocker despite it being clear that Mega’s primary sources of revenue do not share any of the characteristics ascribed to cyberlockers. We therefore see no possible basis on which such a conclusion can be drawn,” the report adds.

Aggressive affiliate programs, which are considered by some to be one of the hallmarks of a rogue file-hosting site, are also tackled by Olswang in the clearest possible terms.

“The NetNames report estimates that Mega pays out $66,789 per month to affiliates. The source of this figure is unexplained, and it is entirely false. To date, Mega has not finalized any affiliate relationships and therefore has never paid any commission or retainer to any affiliate,” the law firm notes.

Legal

Of primary importance is whether Mega complies with the law, both locally in New Zealand and elsewhere internationally. The Olswang report highlights no deficiencies while noting that Mega’s policies are “fully compliant with the New Zealand Copyright Act 1994 and the equivalent intermediary liability regimes provided for in the US DMCA and European ECommerce Directive.”

The company takes down infringing content on demand and reports deleting 131,377 files in the first quarter of 2015, a figure representing just 0.003% of all files stored on Mega. Site users are subjected to a “5 strikes” regime, meaning that after five reports of infringement accounts are suspended.

“At the time of writing 29,290 user accounts had been suspended by Mega for this reason, comprising less than 0.16% of total Mega users,” Olswang notes.

Conclusion

“Having reviewed the NetNames report and undertaken analysis of Mega’s service, Olswang has found no evidence to conclude that Mega can be considered a cyberlocker, or that it knowingly, willingly or even passively assists in or condones wide scale copyright or other infringement,” the law firm writes.

“In summary, Olswang has concluded that the allegations in the NetNames report are highly defamatory of Mega and appear to have no factual basis whatsoever. The NetNames report contains numerous factual inaccuracies and methodological errors and draws conclusions that are entirely wrong.

“[All] of Mega’s characteristics are consistent with those of a legitimate cloud storage provider in the same way as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud, Dropbox and many other similar providers,” Olswang concludes.

Mega says it is pleased with the findings of the report and is now considering its legal position.

“It is quite clear from the comprehensive review conducted by Olswang that the assertions about Mega in the NetNames report are totally without foundation and are defamatory. We are now taking legal advice on this serious attack against Mega,” says Mega CEO Graham Gaylard.

“Olswang’s credentials on anti-piracy issues are impeccable, and their conclusions totally refute the allegations made in the NetNames report.”

Thus far NetNames has ignored requests for comment on the inclusion of Mega in its report. With pressure building as it now is, the company could soon be left with little choice.

The full report can be downloaded here (pdf).

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA & RIAA Demand DNS Action Against ‘Pirate’ Domains

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

stopstopOne of the key aims of the now infamous SOPA legislation that failed to pass several years ago was the takedown of domains being used for infringing purposes. The general consensus outside of the major copyright groups was that this kind of provision should be rejected.

However, within the movie and music industries the spirit of SOPA is still alive, it’s just a question of how its aims can be achieved without giving alternative mechanisms the same name. Yesterday, during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee’s Internet subcommittee, domains were firmly on the agenda.

One group in attendance was the Coalition for Online Accountability. COA’s aim is to improve online transparency and to encourage “effective enforcement against online infringement of copyrights and trademarks.”

No surprise then that its members consist of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA).

COA counsel Steve Metalitz’s testimony called for domain name registrars to deal with complaints effectively.

Domains

“In recent months, there have been increasing calls from many quarters for domain name registrars to recognize that, like other intermediaries in the e-commerce environment, they must play their part to help address the plague of online copyright theft that continues to blight the digital marketplace,” Metalitz said.

“Under the 2013 revision of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), domain name registrars took on important new obligations to respond to complaints that domain names they sponsor are being used for copyright or trademark infringement, or other illegal activities.”

However, according to Metalitz, registrars are not responding. The COA counsel said that the RAA requires registrars to “investigate and respond appropriately” to abuse reports and make “commercially reasonable efforts” to ensure that registrants don’t use their domain names “directly or indirectly” to infringe third party rights. But there has been little action.

“Well-documented reports of abuse that are submitted to registrars by right-holders, clearly demonstrating pervasive infringement, are summarily rejected, in contravention of the 2013 RAA, which requires that they be investigated,” he said.

As an example, Metalitz highlighted a Romanian-hosted ‘pirate’ music site using the domain Itemvn.com.

“By August of last year, RIAA had notified the site of over 220,000 infringements of its members’ works (and had sent similar notices regarding 26,000 infringements to the site’s hosting providers). At that time, RIAA complained to the domain name registrar (a signatory of the 2013 RAA), which took no action, ostensibly because it does not host the site,” he explained. A complaint to ICANN was also dismissed, twice.

It’s clear from Metalitz’s testimony that the MPAA, RIAA and ESA are seeking an environment in which domains will be suspended or blocked if they can be shown to be engaged in infringement. But the groups’ demands don’t end there.

WHOIS

WHOIS databases carry the details of individuals or companies that have registered domains and registrars are required to ensure that this information is both accurate and up to date. However, since WHOIS searches often reveal information that registrants would rather keep private, so-called proxy registrations (such as Whoisguard) have become increasingly popular.

While acknowledging there is a legitimate need for such registrations (albeit in “limited circumstances”), the entertainment industry groups are not happy that pirate site operators are playing the system to ensure they cannot be traced.

As a result they are aiming for a situation where registrars only deal with proxy services that meet certain standards on issues including accuracy of customer data, relaying of complaints to proxy registrants, plus “ground rules for when the contact points of a proxy registrant will be revealed to a complainant in order to help address a copyright or trademark infringement.”

In other words, anonymity should only be available up to a point.

In a letter to the Committee, the EFF warned against the COA’s proposals.

“As advocates for free speech, privacy, and liberty on the global Internet, we ask the Committee to resist calls to impose new copyright and trademark enforcement responsibilities on ICANN. In particular, the Committee should reject proposals to have ICANN require the suspension of Internet domain names based on accusations of copyright or trademark infringement by a website,” the EFF said.

“This is effectively the same proposal that formed the centerpiece of the Stop Online Piracy Act of 2011 (SOPA), which this Committee set aside after millions of Americans voiced their opposition. Using the global Domain Name System to enforce copyright law remains as problematic in 2015 as it was in 2011.”

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

TorrentFreak: “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme Is a Sham, Filmmakers Say

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

pirate-runningTo counter the ever increasing piracy threat a group of smaller movie studios launched a new coalition last month, the Internet Security Task Force (ISTF).

ISTF, which includes Voltage Pictures, Millennium, Bloom, Sierra/Affinity and FilmNation Entertainment among its members, is poised to be more aggressive than the MPAA.

Today the group unveils its first point of action. According to the group it’s time to end the voluntary “six strikes” Copyright Alert System, the voluntary anti-piracy agreement between the RIAA, MPAA and several large U.S. Internet providers.

ISTF presents data which reveals that the six strikes warnings are not getting the desired result, describing the system as a “sham”.

According to Millennium Films President Mark Gill his studio sent numerous piracy notices directed at ‘Expendables 3′ pirates under the scheme, but only a tiny fraction were forwarded by the participating ISPs.

“We’ve always known the Copyright Alert System was ineffective, as it allows people to steal six movies from us before they get an educational leaflet. But now we have the data to prove that it’s a sham,” Gill comments.

“On our film ‘Expendables 3,’ which has been illegally viewed more than 60 million times, the CAS only allowed 0.3% of our infringement notices through to their customers. The other 99.7% of the time, the notices went in the trash,” he adds.

As part of the Copyright Alert System ISPs and copyright holders have agreed to send a limited number of notices per month, so anything above this threshold is not forwarded.

ISTF’s data on the number of ‘Expendables 3′ infringements suggests that the Copyright Alerts are in fact less effective than the traditional forwarding schemes of other providers.

Cox and Charter, two ISPs who do not participate in the Copyright Alert System, saw a 25.47% decrease in reported infringements between November 2014 and January 2015. However, the ISPs who sent six strikes notices saw a 4.54% increase over the same period.

“These alarming numbers show that the CAS is little more than talking point utilized to suggest these five ISPs are doing something to combat piracy when in actuality, their customers are free to continue pirating content with absolutely no consequences,” Voltage Pictures CEO Nicolas Chartier notes.

“As for its laughable six strikes policy, would any American retailer wait for someone to rob them six times before handing them an educational leaflet? Of course not, they call the cops the first time around,” he adds.

While it’s clear that ISTF is not happy with the Copyright Alert System, they seem mistaken about how it works. Customers don’t have to be caught six times before they are warned, they get an educational notice the first time they’re caught.

The “six strikes” terminology refers to the graduated response scheme, in which customers face stronger punishments after being caught more times.

Interestingly, the filmmakers promote the Canadian notice-and-notice system as a better alternative. Since earlier this year, Canadian ISPs are obligated to forward infringement notices to their subscribers, and ISTF notes that it has been instrumental in decreasing piracy.

Since the beginning of 2015, Bell Canada has seen a 69.6% decrease in infringements and Telus (54.0%), Shaw (52.1%), TekSavvy (38.3%) and Rogers (14.9%) all noted significant reductions.

The data presented is collected by the monitoring outfit CEG TEK. This American company sends infringement notices paired with settlement requests on behalf of copyright holders, sometimes demanding hundreds of dollars from alleged pirates.

Needless to say, these threats may in part be the reason for the reported effectiveness.

In the United States, ISPs are currently not obliged to forward copyright infringement notices. Some ISPs such as Comcast do so voluntarily, but they also strip out the settlement demands.

ISTF hopes this will change in the near future and the group has sent a letter to the MPAA, RIAA and the major ISPs urging them to expire the Copyright Alert System, and switch to the Canadian model instead.

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

TorrentFreak: Netload Resurfaces At New Home After Court Order

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

nloaFor several years copyright holder have branded Netload a piracy haven.

A few months ago the MPAA reported the site to the U.S. Government as a “notorious market” and in Germany several music groups have taken the site to court.

Back in 2011 record labels started legal proceedings against the site’s operator, demanding the names and addresses of uploaders. The site owner initially refused to do so, but eventually caved in when faced with a prison sentence.

Now, three years later, trouble continues for Netload. Music industry lawfirm Rasch recently obtained an injunction from a Hamburg Court ordering Netload to stop the distribution of a pirated music album.

“The District Court of Hamburg decided on Netload’s obligation to cease and desist from aiding their users to make a certain album available to the public,” Rasch lawyer Mirko Brüß informs TF, adding that he couldn’t name the album in question.

Under German jurisprudence this means that Netload will have to monitor external forums and search engines to make sure that these are not linking to the infringing work. If the site fails to do so the service faces a fine of hundreds of thousands of euros.

“If we find another (working) link to the album, Netload faces punitive fines of up to 250,000 euro per infringement,” Brüß notes.

The lawfirm served the operator of Netload with this injunction last week, and soon after the site vanished. Initially the lawyers and their clients believed that the site had shut down, but the assessment came too quickly.

netloadfull

While Netload.in is still offline a copy of the site has reappeared at Netload.me. This site is allegedly operated by the same people and the old logins are functional.

“It appears Netload is going to relaunch using the .me-domain. It’s the same company in the imprint and the old user logins are working. Uploads are not working so far,” Brüß tells TF.

Despite the change of address the injunction still stands, so the music industry lawyers will keep a close eye on the site to see if the infringing album appears.

Netload was contacted for a comment on the recent troubles but the company has yet to respond to our inquiry.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Urged Cameron to Keep DVD Ripping Illegal

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

uk-flagTo most consumers it’s common sense that they can make a backup copy of media they own, but in the UK this was illegal until late last year.

After consulting various stakeholders the Government decided that it would be in the best interests of consumers to legalize copying for personal use.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, not all copyright holders were in favor of the legal changes. In fact, emails published from the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack reveal that Hollywood wanted to stop the plans by urging UK Prime Minister David Cameron to keep Hollywood’s interests in mind.

The first email mentioning the issue was sent January last year. Here, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton was informed that MPAA boss Chris Dodd wanted him to give Cameron a call.

“Essentially, Dodd thinks (and we agree) it would be helpful for you to call Prime Minister Cameron if you are willing in order to ensure our position is fully considered,” the email from Sony’s Keith Weaver reads.

According to Weaver it was still uncertain whether Hollywood’s concerns would be properly heard in Parliament.

“This is because prior interactions with the U.K. government over the last few months have left us with no certainty that our concerns will be addressed in the proposal that will be presented to Parliament for an up or down vote in February,” he explained.

Hollywood’s stance is that copying for private use should remain illegal if there are legal options available.

“A private copy exception must not apply in the event there are commercially available services that achieve the same need,” Weaver wrote.

Examples such as UltraViolet show that there is no market failure in the UK, and that private copying exceptions aren’t needed, in Hollywood’s view.

On the contrary, technical protections and restrictions are needed for legal services to flourish.

“We need to rely upon a legal framework that respects the technical protections necessary launch new consumer-oriented commercial services – this is key to our ability to make investments in films and great new TV shows,” Weaver added.

From the emails it’s not clear whether or not Sony’s CEO called Prime Minister Cameron at the time.

However, a few months later in June 2014 Lynton and Cameron had a meeting where the issue was prominently listed on the agenda, along with other anti-piracy issues.

Despite the lobbying efforts at the highest level, the protests of the MPAA and Sony Pictures were not successful. After a brief delay the private copying exceptions eventually became law in October.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Funds Pro-Copyright Scholars to Influence Politics

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

mpaa-logoLast year the MPAA started a new grants program inviting academics to pitch their research proposals.

Researchers are being offered a $20,000 grant for projects that address various piracy related topics, including the impact of copyright law and the effectiveness of notice and takedown regimes.

Last month marked the silent start of a new round of grant applications for the fall of 2015.

There’s no public announcement but MPAA boss Chris Dodd previously said there’s a need for better and unbiased copyright related research to find out how recent developments are affecting the film industry.

“We need more and better research regarding the evolving role of copyright in society. The academic community can provide unbiased observations, data analysis, historical context and important revelations about how these changes are impacting the film industry…,” Dodd noted.

While Dodd’s comments about unbiased research are admirable, there also appears to be a hidden agenda which until now hasn’t seen the light of day.

In an email leaked in the Sony hack MPAA General Counsel Steven Fabrizio explains to the member studios that they’re soliciting pro-copyright papers. The April 2014 email further reveals that the MPAA hopes to identify pro-copyright scholars who can be used to influence future copyright policies.

“As you know, as one component of our Academic Outreach program, the MPAA is launching a global research grant program both to solicit pro-copyright academic research papers and to identify pro-copyright scholars who we can cultivate for further public advocacy,” Fabrizio writes.

Needless to say, soliciting pro-copyright papers and spotting pro-copyright scholars for public advocacy doesn’t sound very unbiased.

Perhaps for this reason the MPAA has decided not to publicize the initiative too much. There was no press release on the official site regarding the grants and it’s also unknown which scholars received last year’s grants.

While $20,000 is relatively modest, the MPAA is also funding scholars outside of the grant program with much more. Last November we revealed that the MPAA had donated over a million dollars to Carnegie Mellon University in support of its piracy research program.

Thus far the Carnegie Mellon team has published a few papers. Among other things the researchers found that the Megaupload shutdown worked, that piracy mostly hurts revenues, and that censoring search engine results can diminish piracy.

As expected, these results are now used by the MPAA as a lobbying tool to sway politicians and influence public policy.

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Studios Give ‘Pirate’ Sites a 24h Shutdown Ultimatum

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

pirate-runningIn recent years Hollywood has tried several tactics to deal with so-called pirate sites.

Through lawsuits against isoHunt, Hotfile and Megaupload, for example, or by targeting intermediaries such as search engines, Internet providers and hosting companies.

The most direct option, however, is to simply contact the site owners directly. This is what the MPAA’s European branch has been doing lately.

During recent weeks various sources have informed TorrentFreak about emails received from Jan van Voorn, the MPA’s Vice-President Global Content Protection, Internet Operations. The emails all use standardized language and have been sent to a wide variety of services ranging from some of the biggest torrent indexes, to linking sites and hosting services.

The MPA mail puts the site operators on notice and alerts them to European jurisprudence under which they may be held liable for linking to pirated movies and TV-shows.

“Without prejudice to our contention that you are already well aware of the extensive infringements of copyright, this Notice fixes you with actual knowledge of facts and circumstances from which illegal activities […] are apparent,” Van Voorn writes.

Among other things the email mentions that Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive requires sites to stop offering infringing material. In addition, the Hollywood group cites other recent cases supporting their claim.

Without making a specific threat, the MPA demands that site operators stop offering infringing material within 24 hours.

“This Notice requires you to immediately (within 24 hours) take effective measures to end and prevent further copyright infringement. All opportunities provided by the Website to download, stream or otherwise obtain access to the Entertainment Content should be disabled permanently,” the email reads.

Interestingly, the movie studios are not just worried about pirated films. Towards the end of the email they also point out that some sites are using movie posters without permission.

“Finally, we draw your attention that any use of the artwork of the Entertainment Content (e.g. movie or TV show posters) (‘Artwork’) is prohibited without authorization of the rights holder. Since the MPA Members haven’t authorized the Website to publish the Artwork, the Website is infringing copyright on that basis as well,” Van Voorn writes.

For now the threats haven’t made too much of an impact. Only one site that we know of has shut down after receiving the email recently, and that’s the relatively unknown link site micromkv.com.

TF contacted the movie industry group for more details on the efficiency of the campaign. The MPA didn’t provide any details but informed us that the emails are standard notices sent to websites that carry infringing content.

“These notices ask respectfully that effective measures be taken to stop further infringement,” an MPA spokesperson says.

“This activity is part of the MPA’s ongoing strategy to curb copyright infringement, encourage consumers to use legal sources of content and increase the viability and quality of those services that actually pay creators for their work.”

It remains unclear whether the MPA will take legal action against the warned sites, or if the group will focus its anti-piracy efforts elsewhere.

One of MPA’s emails is posted in full below.

mpamail

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Anti-Piracy Initiative Requires a VPN Outside the U.S.

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

At the same time as the Hollywood studios complain endlessly about piracy, the counter argument that they simply haven’t done enough to make content available legally online persists.

Without a similarly complex system of release windowing and geo-restriction, the music industry has largely overcome those obstacles. Meanwhile, however, Hollywood appears largely hamstrung by its own business model, leaving itself open to criticism that it hasn’t done enough to provide legal alternatives to torrent and streaming sites.

In an attempt to dispel claims that content simply isn’t available, the MPAA came up with WhereToWatch, a searchable database listing where movies and TV-shows can be watched legally. Due to poor coding the site initially proved impossible for Google and Bing to index, a situation that has improved somewhat since last November.

Yesterday during a speech at CinemaCon, MPAA chief Chris Dodd again urged theater owners and customers alike to spread the word that in order in to protect the industry and its workers, consumers need to access content from legal resources.

“That’s why we at the MPAA created WhereToWatch.com – a one-stop shop, guiding your audiences to content quickly, simply, and – most importantly – legally. And if what they’re looking for is online, WhereToWatch.com will show which sites and at what prices that film is available,” Dodd said.

“On a broader level, this effort is also a crucial recognition of the changing technological landscape, and the need to continue evolving to meet the demands of our consumers,” he continued.

“That will mean finding new ways to enable audiences to see movies where and how they want, while maintaining the magic and unrivaled appeal of the theater-going experience that has been this industry’s driving force for well over a century.”

But while recognizing that consumers should be able to see content at a time and place of their choosing – a major complaint that has persisted for well over a decade – consumers wanting to find out where to watch that content legally are also faced with a dilemma.

Since its triumphant launch in November last year, the operators of WheretoWatch have now chosen to give it the same treatment that Hollywood bestows on its movies – by geo-restricting it.

wheretowatch

For the hundreds of millions of citizens outside the United States who are also expected to consume film and TV content legally, the above message is nothing less than they’ve come to expect. Free and equal access to content is not something the major studios and their distributors are good at, and that is now reflected by the very resource that former senator Dodd spent so long championing yesterday.

But never fear. Thanks to the wonders of tunneling technology, last evening TF was able to find a VPN exit node in Seattle that enabled us to sneak past the MPAA guard dogs. Once on WhereToWatch.com we were able to search for a number of films and find out where we could obtain them legally. The irony was headache inducing.

Overall it’s a ridiculous situation. The music industry largely managed to solve these issues years ago but for as long as users are forced to jump through hoops to obtain or even learn about the availability of legal content (not to mention waiting for extended periods, Australian style), piracy will persist.

And when other MPAA strategies such as site-blocking and “three strikes” systems are already being exported to all corners of the globe at huge expense, one has to wonder why the obvious solution isn’t being taken first.

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

TorrentFreak: Court: Google Can See Emails About MPAA’s Secret ‘SOPA Revival’

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

mailgIn backroom meetings the MPAA and Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood discussed a plan to bring website blocking and search engine filtering back to the table after the controversial SOPA law failed to pass.

The plan, dubbed “Project Goliath,” became public through various emails that were released during the Sony Pictures leaks. In a response Google said that it was “deeply concerned” about the developments.

To counter the looming threat Google filed a complaint against Hood last December, asking the court to 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 on his discussions with Hollywood.

During an oral hearing earlier this month Google requested various documents including an email conversation between MPAA’s Senior Vice President State Legislative Affairs Vans Stevenson and the Attorney General.

In addition, Google asked for copies of Word files titled Google can take action, Google must change its behavior, Google’s illegal conduct, CDA, and any documents gathered in response to a request previously submitted by Techdirt’s Mike Masnick .

After a careful review District Court Judge Henry Wingate sided with Google, ordering Attorney General Hood to hand over the requested information before the end of the month.

Judge Wingate’s order
hoodorder

The documents will help Google to get to the bottom of the censorship efforts and to determine what role the MPAA played and what its contributions were.

Various emails that leaked after the Sony hack already revealed that the MPAA’s long-standing law firm Jenner & Block had drafted a subpoena and other communication the Attorney General could use against Google.

Many of the “Project Goliath” emails and documents are readily available after Wikileaks released them late last week, but nearly all details had already been made public after the leaks first surfaced.

Interestingly, in one email the MPAA’s Vans Stevenson linked to a New York Times piece on how lobbyists court State Attorneys to advance their political agendas.

“FYI, first is a series of articles,” Stevenson wrote to several high level executives involved, not knowing that a follow-up would include “Project Goliath.”

Perhaps fittingly, New York Times’ journalist Eric Lipton won a Pulitzer prize for the series yesterday, for reporting “how the influence of lobbyists can sway congressional leaders and state attorneys general, slanting justice toward the wealthy and connected.”

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

TorrentFreak: Leaked: The MPAA’s iPad Piracy Potential Analysis

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

ipadAfter years of numerous hardware companies flirting and largely failing with the format, half a decade ago the revolution the tablet market had been waiting for finally arrived.

With a huge fanfare of publicity on April 3, 2010 Apple launched its now iconic iPad. The convenient, functional and practical era of tablets had well and truly arrived and for millions of consumers around the globe the device became the computing weapon of choice.

With new hardware came new opportunities and for the major Hollywood studios the iPad and its beautiful screen had the potential to be both friend and foe. An analysis made available following last year’s Sony hack and Wikileaks’ refreshed publication yesterday provides a sneak insight into the MPAA’s assessment of the device.

Titled “The iPad – From a Content Protection Perspective” the document lists the positive and potential negatives for the device.

The positives

On the plus side the MPAA was predictably pleased with Apple’s ‘walled-garden’ approach to DRM-protected premium content supply.

“Novice user will opt for ‘iTunes and App store’ type of use,” the document reads, noting that the iPad “allows for some technical protection measures as well as e-Commerce environments that allow for digital rights management.”

The MPAA was also impressed with the educational potential of the iPad and App Store, noting that the pair together promote the notion that content needs to be paid for.

“The iPad essentially acts as a digital wallet (a multifunctional credit card) so users will be much more aware that digital content can have a value,” the report notes.

Of course, Apple’s notoriously tough security also achieved a tick in the plus column but not without a reminder that things can be undone by the determined hacker.

“The iPad, like the iPhone may not be too appealing to the pirate type due to its closed (technological) environment. On the other hand, the iPhone has been ‘jailbroken’ and the iPad will share the same fate,” the report correctly predicts.

The negatives

Most of the negatives listed by the MPAA center around the conversion of media obtained in one format and then converted for use on the iPad. With relatively generous storage capacity by 2010 standards, that could amount to a few dozen pirate films on a device.

“Converting existing movies (Pirated, Blu-ray or DVD) to the .m4v format suitable for the iPad will take about 1 hr per movie using application such as ‘Handbrake’,” the report reads.

“The typical ripped Blu-ray file, made ready for the iPad, will take up 1.5 Gigabyte of disk space. On average a 64 GB iPad will be able to carry 40 high quality rips.”

But the MPAA feared the risks wouldn’t end there. Once obtained on one device, pirate content could then spread to another.

“Although the above steps may only be taken by those accustomed to pirating content, the nature of this platform will smoothen large-scale exchanges of clusters of movies (iPad to iPad),” the report reads.

“Although most pirates will tend to go and download content illegally, to first put it on desktop computer and only then convert it to the iPad, it is not difficult to foresee a future wherein they may go and enable inter-iPad file sharing or file streaming.”

In addition to concerns that iPad owners might start adding “PVR type” TV broadcasting recordings to their devices, the MPAA was also developing fears over the iPad’s ability to connect to large screen devices.

“Although quite cumbersome (at least three different video adapters are
available and each has different functionalities) it is possible to display content on external devices such as projectors and TVs. It is also possible to both display and stream content from a desktop computer to an iPad,” the report adds.

And with Airplay video landing later in 2010, the MPAA correctly predicted it would take off.

“The wired and wireless streaming of iPad data to external (remote) screens is expected to become very popular,” the report notes.

Finally – the big positive and big negative, all in one

The very first positive point in the MPAA’s piracy assessment of the iPad is the type of video delivery system the device is optimized for.

“Device aimed at users of streaming services,” the number one plus point reads.

While undoubtedly excellent for viewing streaming content (the Netflix iPad app debuted on the iTunes App Store at the device’s launch in April 2010), little did the MPAA know that almost exactly five years later it would be greeted with the following headline:

Popcorn Time Releases iOS App Tomorrow, No Jailbreak Needed.”

Five years is definitely a long time in technology terms….

Further reading on the studios’ iPad studies courtesy of Wikileaks, here and here.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wants Private Theaters in U.S. Embassies to Lobby Officials

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

screeningYesterday Wikileaks published a searchable database of the emails and documents that were released from the Sony hack.

While a lot of ground was already covered after the initial breach, some new information is now bubbling up to the surface.

One of the conversations that caught our eye mentions a request from MPAA boss and former U.S. senator Chris Dodd.

In an effort to get foreign policy makers onside, the movie group asked its member studios to help fund an upgrade of the screening rooms in various U.S. embassies around the world.

In an email from Sony Pictures Entertainment Head of Worldwide Government Affairs Keith Weaver to CEO Michael Lynton last March, Weaver explains that the studio had been asked for rather a sizable contribution.

“I wanted to make you aware of a recent MPAA request, as Senator Dodd may contact you directly,” Weaver’s email begins.

“Essentially, the request is for the member companies to consider upgrading screening rooms at U.S. Embassies in various countries (Germany, Spain, Italy, UK, and Japan)…”

These rooms could then be used by the ambassadors to show off Hollywood content to invited high-level officials.

“…the idea being that these upgraded screening rooms would allow American ambassadors to screen our movies to high level officials (and, thus, inculcate a stronger will to protect our interests through this quality exposure to our content),” Weaver adds.

In other words, the MPAA wants to pay for an upgrade of the embassies’ private theaters, to indirectly protect the interests of U.S. movie studios abroad.

It’s a rather interesting lobbying effort and one that doesn’t come cheap. The estimated cost for the project is $165,000 per studio, which means the total budget for the project is close to a million dollars.

Unfortunately for the MPAA, Weaver suggested giving the project a miss and in a reply Lynton agreed.

“While studios have supported efforts like this in the past, my inclination is that we pass on this financial commitment at this time (of course, applauding the idea/effort),” Weaver noted.

In an email a few months later the issue was addressed again with additional details.

In this conversation Weaver notes that the request is “not unusual” and that the studio supported a similar request years ago. “Apparently, donations of this kind are permissible,” Weaver writes.

Again, Lynton replied that he was not inclined to support the project. It’s unclear whether any of the other members chipped in, or if the plan has been canceled due to a lack of financial support.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Seeks Net Neutrality Exceptions to Block Pirates

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

throttleThe Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet (Marco Civil da Internet) is legislation that governs the use of the Internet in Brazil. Under development since 2009, among other key issues the Marco Civil is aimed at protecting online privacy rights and net neutrality principles.

The law, which passed last April, was fast-tracked in the wake of revelations from Edward Snowden indicating that the U.S. had been spying on President Dilma Rousseff’s emails and phone calls, those of Brazil’s biggest oil company, and the communications of millions of citizens.

After being in place for a year, Brazil is now rolling out the Marco Civil’s secondary legislation, with the Ministry of Justice announcing a public consultation process allowing stakeholders to contribute to the development of the law.

One of the organizations getting involved is the Motion Picture Association, the international big brother to the United States’ MPAA. According to the MPA, which counts all the big movie studios among its members, the Marco Civil’s net neutrality provisions present an obstacle to rightsholders seeking to protect their content online.

In a submission to Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo, the Motion Picture Association expresses concern that the legislation’s current wording is too tight and that exceptions need to be introduced in order to deal with online piracy.

“[Our] position is that the regulation should contain cases of exception to the general rule of net neutrality, enabling the judiciary to determine that traffic to a given illegal repository can be blocked,” the MPA writes.

“The aforementioned suggestion is based on the premise that an adequate service must be in harmony with the possibility of allowing the judiciary to block access to content that, based on judicial scrutiny, is illegal for any reason, from a case of child pornography and trafficking of illegal substances, to the case of systematic disregard for the consumer and violation of intellectual property rights.”

The MPA notes that due to the borderless nature of the Internet anyone can access content from any location. This presents challenges on a national level when undesirable content is made available from other parts of the world, the group says.

“For content hosted within a national territory a judge may issue a removal order, or in the case of breaches in the copyright field, the rightsholder can send a takedown notice to the ISP, requesting that the content is rendered unavailable,” the MPA states.

“However, when the content is hosted in a foreign nation, the Brazilian court order may [not have jurisdiction] or produce the expected results for months, perhaps years, after the court order has been issued.”

According to the MPA there is only one way to remedy this kind of impotence but the way the law is currently worded, the solution remains elusive.

“In these cases the Brazilian courts only have only one option: to order service providers to implement technical measures to block Internet traffic when it has been established that services are illegal,” the MPA notes.

“Without a clear provision for these techniques, in the midst of regulations, the current wording of the Marco Civil deprives courts of this possibility, leaving them unable to address such threats.”

The net neutrality debate is a sensitive one and one that has the potential to seriously affect Hollywood’s interests. With that in mind the MPA and MPAA will be keen to ensure that any new legislation, whether overseas or on home turf, won’t hinder the pursuit and monitoring of online pirates.

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

TorrentFreak: Sentenced to Jail, Warez Operator Faces $30m Damages Claim

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

warezEvery year the RIAA and MPAA submit their overviews of so-called “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR). Sites detailed in these reports are branded “rogue”, a label reserved for the supposed worst-of-the-worst in the piracy landscape.

In the RIAA’s most recent submission all the usual suspects were present, including The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and Goear, the site blocked in Spain this week. Also present was Wawa-Mania, a popular ‘warez’ forum specializing in a broad range of ‘pirate’ content.

Founded in 2006 by Dimitri Mader, Wawa-Mania became the biggest local site of its type with more than 2,000,000 registered members.

Unsurprisingly this success attracted the attention of rightsholders and in 2009 Mader was detained after the Association Against Audiovisual Piracy (ALPA) identified more than 3600 films being made available via the site without permission.

Mader, known online as Zac, received an unusual level of support from sympathizers, some of whom scaled Alpa’s headquarters and placed banners in support of the site operator.

wawa-mania

This week more than five years later, it was announced that Mader had been handed a year in jail and fined 20,000 euros for his role on the site. According to a statement issued by the Civil Society of Phonogram Producers (SCPP), the 26-year-old was sentenced in absentia, having fled to the Philippines some time ago.

The court also ordered Wawa-Mania to be shut down but it currently remains fully operational using an Ecuadorian TLD and the same Moldovan host previously used by The Pirate Bay.

mader-tv5

But for Mader the bad news doesn’t end here. Some of the world’s largest movie companies including Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount, Tristar, Universal, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. are now seeking huge damages amounting to around $30 million.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for late May. According to unconfirmed reports Mader is considering a return to France to face proceedings. Meanwhile, supporters are discussing ways to keep Wawa-Mania alive after any shutdown.

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

TorrentFreak: Stallone Thanks Piracy Police For New Expendables 3 Arrest

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

cityoflondonpoliceLast year the movie The Expendables 3 leaked in extremely high-quality several weeks before its theatrical debut, sparking huge Hollywood controversy.

The fully finished DVD Screener copy of the action movie featuring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared late July 2014 and was downloaded millions of times before its official release mid August 2014.

Three months later came the first news of arrests in connection with the case.

During November 2014 the Intellectual Property Crime Unit of City of London Police (PIPCU) announced that two men aged 33 and 36 had been taken into custody after being arrested in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and Upton, Wirral.

This morning the same police unit announced the arrest of a third man, again in the UK.

In what is being described as a joint investigation with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), City of London Police arrested the 26-year-old at his workplace in Leeds yesterday morning. He was taken to a local police station for questioning.

“The suspect is believed to be involved in obtaining high-quality films, which are either only available at the cinema or are unfinished movies which have yet to be released, and then leaking them on to the internet. It is estimated his actions are costing the industry millions of pounds,” PIPCU said in a statement.

“Officers from PIPCU and HSI searched the man’s home in Halifax where several computers and mobile devices were seized.”

News of the arrest was welcomed by Sylvester Stallone himself, who expressed gratitude to the authorities for their work in apprehending the man.

expendables“I’d like to thank the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at the City of London Police for working with US Homeland Security Investigations to apprehend the suspect in this case. It is important to protect the rights of creatives around the world from theft,” Stallone said.

Commenting in the arrest, City of London Police Detective Inspector, Mick Dodge, said that the operation was indicative of the international reach of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).

“PIPCU has a remit to protect the UK’s creative industries but we are also committed to ensuring the UK is not a safe haven for criminals seeking to attack international businesses from our shores,” Dodge said.

“Working with law enforcement partners across the world, PIPCU is coming down hard on criminals exploiting intellectual property for their own financial gain and today’s action should serve as a warning to online pirates.

“This joint investigation also demonstrates our close working relationship with the US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) which was recently marked with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.”

Matthew Etre, U.S. Embassy London’s Attaché for US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said that dealing with the issue of online piracy remains a top priority for law enforcement, despite the perception that infringement is a victimless crime.

“Too often these types of crimes are regarded as immaterial because they are seemingly without victims; however, when a business suffers a loss, it is felt at all levels, from the C-suite to the mailroom,” Etre said.

“In cases such as this, preventing piracy is akin to protecting people’s livelihoods. This arrest is yet another success story highlighting what strong, collaborative relationships between law enforcement agencies can accomplish. HSI London values its relationship with the PIPCU and continues to work closely with them to battle against intellectual property crime.”

According to PIPCU, yesterday’s arrest stems from a tipoff received by Homeland Security in July 2014 regarding movie piracy. To date, no arrests in the United States in connection with the case have been made public.

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

TorrentFreak: EFF Seeks DMCA Exemption to Preserve Abandoned Games

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

effWhile video gaming used to be a strictly offline affair, in the current market many titles require continued access to custom online resources in order to function.

Updates, patches and multi-player support aside, some titles simply cease to function when their developers or publishers decide that the game has outlived its usefulness.

While this is convenient for companies looking to promote the latest titles to their customer bases, those who have invested in software are regularly abandoned along with their now-useless games.

In attempt to remedy this situation the Electronic Frontier Federation (EFF) has teamed up with law student Kendra Albert to seek legal protections from the Copyright Office for those who modify gaming code in order to keep titles playable.

The problem lies in the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Section 1201) which create legal uncertainty for those digging into code for such purposes. To create clarity, provide protection and allow for the functional preservation of videogame art, the EFF is seeking an exemption to the Act.

“Section 1201 is often used by the entertainment industries not to prevent copyright infringement but to control markets and lock out competition. So it’s not surprising that ESA (the trade association for the largest game producers), along with MPAA and RIAA, have written to the Copyright Office to oppose this exemption,” EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz explains.

“They say that modifying games to connect to a new server (or to avoid contacting a server at all) after publisher support ends—letting people continue to play the games they paid for—will destroy the video game industry. They say it would ‘undermine the fundamental copyright principles on which our copyright laws are based’.”

Indeed, the testimony of ESA Senior Vice-President and General Counsel Christian Genetski before the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet last year (pdf), outlines the software group’s position clearly.

“[W]hile addressing copyright infringement is one important objective of Section 1201, it is not its only objective,” Genetski said.

“[A] prohibition on the hacking of technological protection measures controlling access to protected works (even if the hacking does not result in any copyright infringement) [is] necessary in order to encourage innovation in the online distribution of copyrighted works.”

mario64While the ESA appears to have at least drawn a distinction between piracy and non copyright-infringing activity in its 2014 submission, the EFF says that the software group is now using language that closes the gap somewhat.

Any exception to Section 1201’s blanket ban on circumvention would send a message that “hacking — an activity closely associated with piracy in the minds of the marketplace — is lawful”, the ESA says, adding that the same would “undermine the fundamental copyright principles on which our copyright laws are based.”

It’s fair to say that the EFF remains unimpressed by this interpretation.

“Imagine the havoc that could result if people believed that ‘hacking’ was ever legal! Of course, ‘hacking’ is legal in most circumstances,” Stoltz says.

“Most of the programmers that create games for Sony, Microsoft, EA, Nintendo, and other ESA members undoubtedly learned their craft by tinkering with existing software. If ‘hacking,’ broadly defined, were actually illegal, there likely would have been no video game industry.”

In its submission to the U.S. Copyright Office (pdf), the EFF lists dozens of server shutdowns in 2014 alone, affecting titles such as Age of Empires Online, various Battlefield, Command and Conquer and Crysis titles, several FIFA, Madden and Mario games, plus more than a dozen Pokemon editions.

While these titles have been committed to the graveyard for now, the EFF hopes that an exemption to the DMCA will allow them to enjoy new life. They are supported by T.L. Taylor, Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“The preservation of computer games includes not only making sure we can see their graphics or hear their sounds, but understand the complexity of their mechanics. Given the market life-cycle of most games, protection is needed to ensure research can continue on these artifacts even after developers have moved onto other ventures,” Taylor writes.

“I believe the exemption proposed here offers a critical path to supporting a range of work that, far from harming any stakeholders, fosters the lively use, development, and scholarship of digital gaming.”

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

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Freezes MPAA and RIAA Lawsuits For Six Months

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

megaupload-logoWell over three years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, but aside from Andrus Nomm’s plea deal there has been little progress in the criminal proceedings.

Dotcom and his fellow Megaupload defendants are still waiting to hear whether they will be sent to the U.S. to stand trial.

The extradition hearing is currently scheduled to start early June after a request from Dotcom’s lawyers to postpone was turned down last month.

But there’s more legal trouble for the defunct file-hosting service. In addition to the criminal case, Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were sued last year by the major record labels and Hollywood’s top movie studios.

Fearing that they might influence criminal proceedings, Megaupload’s legal team previously managed to put these civil actions on hold.

After being delayed for a year the proceedings were expected to continue this month. However, since the extradition hearing has yet to take place, Megaupload asked the court to freeze the MPAA and RIAA cases until October.

This week District Court Judge Liam O’Grady granted the request under the same conditions as the previous order.

staymega

The ruling means that both the MPAA and RIAA cases will now be delayed for another six months. The movie and music studios consented to the freezing request, which made it a relatively straightforward decision.

A stay has not yet been granted in a third civil suit filed by the music group Microhits. In this separate case Megaupload’s legal team was ordered to present an oral argument in support of its motion, which will take place later this month.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay To Open Its Own .PIRATE Domain Name Registry

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

pirate bayThe Pirate Bay’s parent company Reservella Ltd. has started the registration process for a new gTLD with a .PIRATE extension.

Responding to increased pressure from the MPAA and RIAA on the domain name industry, the torrent site hopes to break away from the rules and regulations which forced it to move to several new domains in recent years.

“We can no longer trust third party services and registries, who are under immense pressure from the copyright lobby. So we decided to apply for our very own gTLD and be a true Pirate registry,” TPB’s Winston informs TF.

The new registration is currently being processed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the main oversight body for the Internet’s global domain name system which accepts new gTLD proposals.

.PIRATE application
pirapri1

If the new TLD is finalized the Pirate Bay team plans to open registrations to the public. While it has to agree to some oversight formalities and ICANN agreements, the .PIRATE domains are expected to be less prone to censorship.

“The ultimate goal is to create a true PIRATE hydra. This means that we will allow other sites to register .PIRATE domain names too. Staying true to our pirate roots the domains can be registered anonymously without charge,” Winston tells us.

The Pirate Bay crew has prepared the application in secret, setting the wheels in motion nearly a year ago. Ideally, the process would have been finished by late January but a police raid and persistent hosting problems caused some delay.

“Things are looking good so far, but we’re not there yet. Fingers crossed. Let’s hope nothing foolish happens,” Winston concludes.

For the time being, however, The Pirate Bay will continue operating from the Swedish based .SE domain name. A transition to the .PIRATE domain is expected to take place this summer, at the earliest.

The MPAA and RIAA couldn’t be reached for a comment on today’s news, but it’s expected that they will do everything within their power to block Pirate Bay’s deviant plans.

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

TorrentFreak: UK IP Chief Wants ISPs to Police Piracy Proactively

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

uk-flagMike Weatherley, a Conservative MP and Intellectual Property Adviser to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, has pushed various copyright related topics onto the political agenda since early last year.

Previously Weatherley suggested that search engines should blacklist pirate sites, kids should be educated on copyright ethics, and that persistent file-sharers should be thrown in jail.

In his latest proposal the UK MP targets information society service providers (ISSPs) including ISPs, who he believes could do more to fight piracy. The just-released 18-page report stresses that these companies have a moral obligation to tackle copyright infringement and can’t stand idly by.

The report (pdf) draws on input from various pro-copyright groups including the MPAA, BPI, and the Music Publishers Association. It offers various recommendations for the UK Government and the EU Commission to strengthen their anti-piracy policies.

One of the key points is to motivate Internet services and providers to filter content proactively. According to the report it’s feasible to “filter out infringing content” and to detect online piracy before it spreads.

The UK Government should review these systems and see what it can do to facilitate cooperation between copyright holders and Internet service providers.

“There should be an urgent review, by the UK Government, of the various applications and processes that could deliver a robust automated checking process regarding illegal activity being transmitted,” Weatherley advises.

In a related effort, Weatherley notes that Internet services should not just remove the content they’re asked to, but also police their systems to ensure that similar files are removed, permanently.

“ISSPs to be more proactive in taking down multiple copies of infringing works, not just the specific case they are notified of,” he recommends.

“This would mean ISSPs actively taking down multiple copies of the same work which are hosted on its services, not just the individual copy which is subject to the complaint. The MPA believe this principle could be extended further still to ensure that all copies of the infringing work are not just taken down…,” Weatherley explains.

This type of filtering is already used by YouTube, which takes down content based on fingerprint matches. However, the report suggests that regular broadband providers could also filter infringing content.

Concluding, Weatherley admits that it’s all too easy to simply demand that ISPs take the role of policemen, but at the same time he stresses that they have a “moral responsibility” to do more.

The UK MP presents an analogy of a landlord whose property is used for illegal activities. The landlord cannot be held liable for these activities, but he may have to take action if a third-party reports it.

“If the landlord is told that the garage is being used for illegal activity, and that this information is from a totally reliable source, then does the landlord have a moral obligation to report it?”

“I would argue that it is the duty of every citizen or company to do what they can to stop illegal activity and therefore the answer is, yes, the landlord should report the activity,” Weatherley notes.

Weatherley also believes that protecting the rights of copyright holders has priority over a “no monitoring” principle that would ensure users’ privacy. That is, if the monitoring is done right.

“There is also the question as to whether society will want to have their private activities monitored (even if automatically and entirely confidentially) and whether the trade off to a safer, fairer internet is a price worth paying to clamp down on internet illegal activity. My ‘vote’ would be “yes” if via an independent body …”

Overall, the recommendations will be welcomed by the industry groups who provided input. The report is not expected to translate directly into legislation, but they will be carefully weighed by the UK Government and the EU Commission when taking future decisions.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wanted Less Fair Use In Copyright Curriculum

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

gr3During the summer of 2013 we voiced our doubts about an initiative from the Center for Copyright Information (CCI).

The group, which has the MPAA and RIAA as key members, had just started piloting a kindergarten through sixth grade curriculum on copyright in California schools.

The curriculum was drafted in collaboration with iKeepSafe and aims to teach kids the basics of copyright. Unfortunately, the lesson materials were rather one-sided and mostly ignored fair use and the more flexible copyright licences Creative Commons provides.

These concerns were picked up by the mainstream press, creating a massive backlash. The CCI and other partners emphasized that the pilot was tested with an early draft and promised that the final curriculum would be more balanced.

In the months that followed the lesson plans indeed got a major overhaul and last summer the “Copyright and Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens” curriculum was finalized.

As reported previously, the new and improved version was indeed expanded to discuss fair use principles and Creative Commons licenses. However, as far as Hollywood is concerned it now includes too much discussion on fair use.

TorrentFreak received a copy of a leaked email the MPAA’s Howard Gantman sent to various insiders last summer, explaining what happened. It starts off by mentioning the negative response to the leak and states that the MPAA and RIAA will try to keep a low profile in future, probably to prevent another wave of critique.

“After there was serious negative commentary on twitter, blogs and by news columnists who are not strong supporters of copyright last fall when a draft version of the curriculum was leaked accidentally by iKeepSafe – a determination was made to try to release this in a way that would keep a low profile for any MPAA or RIAA involvement,” Gantman writes.

The copyright holder groups and CCI decided to let iKeepSafe and its PR firm handle the media, something which eventually came to pass. Continuing the conversation Gantman explains that the lesson materials were heavily edited to include a broader and more diverse perspective on copyright.

“The curriculum that has been produced also went through numerous rounds of edits and debate involving a wide range of organizations with differing views on copyright,” Gantman writes.

According to the MPAA, the end result is a compromise that includes more fair use than they had wanted, but still good enough to teach kids how to behave ethically on the Internet.

“So the end result contains sections on fair use that are more extensive than we would use if we drafted the curriculum ourselves. But overall, the effort will hopefully lead to an active program within our schools to help get kids to understand what it means to behave ethically on the Internet,” Gantman adds.

By comparing the first pilot materials with the final curriculum it becomes clear that nearly all additions are about fair use.

Grade 4 lesson handout
shareinggrade4

For example, where children were initially warned against using copyrighted images and music from the Internet in Powerpoint presentations, they are now told that this is totally fine, as long as the material is only shown in class.

Similar changes have been made throughout the entire curriculum, as we documented in our earlier coverage.

The question that remains is whether these extensive changes would have been made if the pilot materials hadn’t leaked in advance. That will probably remain a secret, but at least it’s clear that Hollywood got more fair use than they hoped for.

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

TorrentFreak: YIFY Torrents Faces Domain Suspension, Moves to YTS.to

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

YTSOperated by the popular ‘YIFY’ release group, YTS has become one of the most popular pirate brands.

The group releases its movies on various popular torrent sites and its home base YTS.re has also become increasingly popular.

Over the past year YTS gathered fame as the movie source for the “pirate Netflix” app Popcorn Time. Pretty much all popular Popcorn Time forks get their movie releases from the YTS API.

This connection further raised YTS’s profile and turned it into a prime target for various copyright holder groups. Even the U.S. Government chimed in, labeling YTS a notorious pirate site.

Apparently this pressure has paid off. YTS is now being forced to switch to a new domain after being advised by French domain name registry FRNIC that its .re domain is doomed.

“We got a warning from FRNIC that the domain is frozen and will be suspended by the end of March,” a YTS admin informs TorrentFreak while announcing YTS.to as their new domain.

It’s unclear where the complaint originates from, but the MPAA and BREIN would be on top of the list if YTS has to take a guess. The admin is happy, however, that FRNIC informed them in advance so they have time to inform users about the transition.

“It was very nice of FRNIC to give us more than a week prep time. I see too many cases were the registrar closes an account without warning,” the YTS admin says.

The MPAA and other anti-piracy groups are increasingly pressuring domain name registrars and registries to cut off “pirate” domain names. While not all organizations are as eager to comply as FRNIC, YTS doesn’t blame them for the suspension.

“I don’t blame them for caving into threats. After all, 10 to 50 USD per year is not enough to warrant the hassle of dealing with lawyers and 3rd party law enforcement bodies. It’s easier and cheaper to just drop the client,” the admin concludes.

Despite the unforeseen move, YTS will continue to release the latest movie torrents from its new YTS.to domain.

For its users the implications are limited to updating their bookmarks. The various Popcorn Time forks will have to update their API links to point to the new domain name, but other than that things should work as usual.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Net Neutrality Has a Massive Copyright Loophole

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

copyright-brandedIn 2007 we uncovered that Comcast was systematically slowing down BitTorrent traffic to ease the load on its network.

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

This Open Internet Order was the foundation of the Net Neutrality rules the FCC adopted two weeks ago. The big change compared to the earlier attempt is that ISPs can now be regulated as carriers under Title II.

Interestingly, the exact language of the new rules remained secret until three days ago. The broader concepts, including a ban on paid prioritization and blocking were known, but the fine print was kept secret until everything was signed off on.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the full text has quite a few caveats.

When we read the new rules it’s clear that the “copyright loophole” many activists protested against in the past is still there. In short, ISPs can still throttle or block certain types of traffic as long as it’s related to copyright infringement.

In its most recent order the FCC has listed the following rule:

“Nothing in this part prohibits reasonable efforts by a provider of broadband Internet access service to address copyright infringement or other unlawful activity.”

The FCC argues that copyright infringement hurts the economy, so ISPs are free to take appropriate measures against this type of traffic. This includes the voluntary censoring of pirate sites, something the MPAA and RIAA are currently lobbying for.

“For example, the no-blocking rule should not be invoked to protect copyright infringement, which has adverse consequences for the economy, nor should it protect child pornography. We reiterate that our rules do not alter the copyright laws and are not intended to prohibit or discourage voluntary practices undertaken to address or mitigate the occurrence of copyright infringement,” the FCC explains.

Interestingly, this issue has been pretty much absent from the discussion in recent months. This is curious as many activist groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), protested heavily against the copyright loophole in the past, issuing warnings over massive collateral damage.

“Carving a copyright loophole in net neutrality would leave your lawful activities at the mercy of overbroad copyright filtering schemes, and we already have plenty of experience with copyright enforcers targeting legitimate users by mistake, carelessness, or design,” the EFF wrote at the time.

So why was there little outrage about the copyright loophole this time around? TF contacted EFF staff attorney Kit Walsh who admits that the issue didn’t get much attention, but that it’s certainly problematic.

“The language about ‘lawful’ content and applications creates a serious loophole that seems to leave it up to ISPs to make judgments about what content is lawful or infringes a copyright, subject to challenges after the fact about whether their conduct was ‘reasonable’,” Walsh says.

“It’s one thing to say that ISPs can block subject to a valid court order, quite another to let ISPs make decisions about the lawfulness of content for themselves,” he adds.

According to Walsh the issue is particularly concerning because many ISPs also have their own media properties. This means that their incentive to block copyright infringement may be greater than the incentive to protect fair use material.

For example, although the Net Neutrality rules prescribe no blocking and throttling, ISPs could still block access to The Pirate Bay and other alleged pirate sites as an anti-piracy measure. Throttling BitTorrent traffic in general is also an option, as long as it’s framed as reasonable network management.

A related concern is that ISPs can use privacy invasive technologies such as Deep Packet Inspection to monitor users’ traffic for possible copyright violations. The FCC didn’t include any protections against these practices. Instead, it simply noted that people can use SSL, VPNs and TOR to circumvent it.

“The FCC’s response to concerns about deep packet inspection is that users can just use SSL, VPNs and TOR,” Walsh says.

“Of course SSL, VPNs, and TOR are great tools for Internet users to preserve their privacy, but this approach of leaving users to fend for themselves isn’t a great start for the FCC on protecting the privacy of broadband subscribers,” he adds.

The above makes it clear that Net Neutrality has its limits. The problem remains, however, that it’s still unclear how far ISPs can go under the “copyright” and “network management” loopholes.

Previously, the EFF seriously doubted if it was a good idea at all to give FCC control over the Internet. However, as things stand now they are happy with the new rules, even though they aren’t perfect.

Title II regulation with forbearance was the main goal, and that was achieved. In addition, the EFF is also content with the bright line rules against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of “lawful” traffic.

“We won a large portion of what we argued for, thanks to a broad coalition of advocates and the voices of four million Americans, but we did not get everything we wanted. We’re clearly better off overall with the order than without, but we’re not going to hesitate to criticize the areas where the FCC gets it wrong,” Walsh says.

Fingers crossed….

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

TorrentFreak: Music Industry Demands Action Against “Pirate” Domain Names

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, advertising networks and payment processors, with varying results.

Continuing this trend various entertainment industry groups are now going after companies that offer domain name services.

The MPAA, for example, has joined the domain name system oversight body ICANN and is pushing for policy changes from the inside.

A few days ago the RIAA added more pressure. The music group sent a letter to ICANN on behalf of several industry players asking for tougher measures against pirate domains.

The RIAA’s senior vice president Victoria Sheckler wants the Internet to be a safe place for all, where music creation and distribution can thrive.

“… we expect all in the internet ecosystem to take responsible measures to deter copyright infringement to help meet this goal,” she notes.

The music groups believe, however, that domain registrars don’t do enough to combat piracy. ICANN’s most recent registrar agreement states that domain names should not be used for copyright infringement, but most registrars fail to take action in response.

Instead, many registrars simply note that it’s not their responsibility to act against pirate sites.

“We […] do not see how it is an appropriate response from a registrar to tell a complainant that it has investigated or responded appropriately to a copyright abuse complaint by stating it does not provide non-registrar related services to the site in question,” Sheckler writes.

In what appears to be a coordinated effort to pressure ICANN and other players in the domain name industry, the U.S. Government also chimed in last week.

According to the U.S. Trade Representative, Canada-based Tucows is reported as “an example of a registrar that fails to take action when notified of its clients’ infringing activity.”

Despite the critique, it’s far from clear that Tucows and other registrars are doing anything wrong. In fact, the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that there is no law requiring registrars to disconnect pirate sites.

“Domain registrars do not have an obligation to respond to a random third party’s complaints about the behavior of a domain name user. Unless ordered by a court, registrars cannot be compelled to take down a website,” notes Jeremy Malcolm, EFF’s Senior Global Policy Analyst.

“What the entertainment industry groups are doing is exaggerating the obligations that registrars of global top-level domains (gTLDs) have under their agreement with ICANN to investigate reports of illegal activity by domain owners, an expansion of responsibilities that is, to put it mildly, extremely controversial, and not reflected in current laws or norms.”

Law or no law, the entertainment industry groups are not expected to back down. They hope that ICANN will help to convince registrars that pirate sites should be disconnected, whether they like it or not.

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