Posts tagged ‘mpaa’

TorrentFreak: Inside MPAA’s Piracy Deal With the Donuts Domain Registry

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

mpaa-logoDomain name registry Donuts describes itself as “the largest operator of new domain name extensions” and it certainly has some interesting ones under its belt.

In addition to future classics such as .EMAIL, .COMPANY and .GURU, Donuts also has more light-hearted options available including .FAIL and .WTF.

However, with a current registration volume that has just surpassed 900 domains, the gTLD of most interest to Hollywood (except .TAX, perhaps) is .MOVIE.

With this in mind it will come as no surprise that the MPAA has been building bridges with Donuts in order to keep .MOVIE clean while avoiding the nightmare scenario of ThePirateBay.MOVIE gaining traction with millions of Internet pirates.

Still available……at a price

tpb-movie

To that end, the MPAA and Donuts have just announced a voluntary agreement to ensure that domains under the control of the registry aren’t engaged in Internet piracy.

Under the agreement the MPAA will be granted “Trusted Notifier” status, i.e. it will become the definitive authority on what is considered a large-scale piracy website. Sites that are subsequently found to be breaching Donuts’ terms and conditions will either have their domains suspended or put on hold.

“This is a groundbreaking partnership and one we’re proud to undertake,” says Donuts Co-Founder and Executive Vice President Jon Nevett.

“Donuts, as the operator of .MOVIE, .THEATER, .COMPANY and almost 200 other domain extensions, is committed to a healthy domain name environment and this is another step toward a safe and secure namespace.”

While praising Donuts for its cooperation, MPAA chief Chris Dodd took the opportunity to show that it’s indeed possible for Hollywood and technology companies to reach voluntary agreement on piracy-related matters, without intervention from the law.

“This agreement demonstrates that the tech community and content creators can work together on voluntary initiatives to help ensure vibrant, legal digital marketplaces that benefit all members of the online ecosystem,” Dodd said.

So how will the deal work in practice? TF obtained a copy of the plan which begins with the assumption that the MPAA will act with integrity.

The agreement

“Donuts will treat referrals from the MPAA expeditiously and with a presumption of credibility,” it begins.

From there the MPAA is required to fulfill several criteria, including that any complaint filed with Donuts is authorized by its members. The movie industry group is then expected to provide evidence of “clear and pervasive copyright infringement” on the domain in question while indicating which laws have been violated.

However, before contacting Donuts the MPAA will have to do additional preparatory work, including alerting both the site’s registrar and hosting provider to the alleged problems. While providing Donuts with the details of the discussions, the MPAA will be required to indicate why these failed to stop the alleged infringement.

Human-only complaints

Perhaps wary of the carpet-bombing approach employed by many DMCA complaint companies around the world today, Donuts is insisting that any reports of infringement filed by the MPAA are not based on machine-generated complaints.

“[The MPAA’s referral will contain] confirmation that the referral was subject to careful human review and not submitted solely based on automated Internet scanning or scraping services,” the plan reads.

WHOIS

It is extremely common for ‘pirate’ sites to operate with falsified WHOIS information – after all, who wants to guide a lawyer to their front door? To that end Donuts will accept complaints from the MPAA when the group feels a domain’s records contain “false or misleading information”.

Checks

In addition to dealing with the MPAA’s complaints “on an expedited basis” (while determining a course of action within 10 business days), Donuts says it will coordinate with applicable registrars and/or registrants and set deadlines for them to respond to the allegations.

However, if Donuts has any “concerns or questions” regarding the scope or nature of the alleged infringement (or has received alternative instructions from law enforcement), the registry will give the MPAA the opportunity to “supplement or amend” its referral.

Suspension

Once Donuts is happy that the MPAA has a valid complaint, it will move onto the next and final stage.

“If Donuts is satisfied that the domain clearly is devoted to clear and pervasive copyright infringement, Donuts may, in its discretion and as permitted under its Acceptable Use and Anti-Abuse Policy, suspend, terminate, or place the domain on registry lock, hold, or similar status as it determines necessary to mitigate the infringement,” the company notes.

The future

In his statement the MPAA’s Chris Dodd praised Donuts for “their leadership” and his timing could hardly be better.

The Domain Name Association will hold its first Healthy Domains Initiative summit in Seattle today and the MPAA will be hoping that other registries will see the Donuts agreement as something to aspire to. It certainly ticks all the right boxes and could prove a potent weapon in the fight against piracy.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Takes Over Popcorn Time Domain

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

popcorntLate last year the main Popcorn Time fork, operating from the PopcornTime.io domain name, shut down its website unexpectedly.

The MPAA took credit for the fall announcing that it had filed a lawsuit against several of the developers in Canada. In response to these legal threats several key developers backed out.

Since the initial announcement there haven’t been any official updates on the case. TorrentFreak learned, however, that several of the accused developers have been negotiating a deal to settle the dispute out of court.

This week came the first public signs that the case is indeed moving towards a resolution. On Tuesday the PopcornTime.io domain changed ownership from Popcorn Time developer and defendant David Lemarier, to the MPAA.

This means that Hollywood is now officially in control of what was once the most popular Popcorn Time domain.

Whois Popcorntime.io
popio

TorrentFreak reached out to the MPAA and Lemarier for more details several days ago, but both have yet to reply. The other defendants we contacted preferred not to comment on the case.

From the information we were able to gather in recent weeks it appears that the movie studios prefer a settlement over a full court battle. Perhaps to save costs, perhaps to avoid attracting more attention to the Popcorn Time phenomenon.

This would be similar to how they approached their case against YIFY/TYS, which was arguable the most prominent piracy group of the past half decade. However, instead of taking the operator to court the movie studios quickly arranged an out of court settlement.

With the PopcornTime.io domain now in the hands of the MPAA it is safe to conclude that this fork is not coming back.

Previously the software’s developers maintained that they were not involved in any infringing activity. Theoretically, some of the accused may still choose to put up a fight but considering the recent developments this has become less likely.

Meanwhile, several other Popcorn Time forks continue to operate, launching new features and services as if nothing ever changed.

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

TorrentFreak: DVD Screener Piracy Could Be Stamped Out…But Not Yet

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

When perusing various file-sharing sites throughout the year it’s not uncommon to find posts which inquire when users can expect to find DVD screener copies of brand new films for illegal download.

Indeed, the practice is so common these days that when one types “when do dv” into Google the search engine helpfully autocompletes the question.

scr-google

The point is that the leaking of DVD screeners online every year is all but guaranteed and there doesn’t appear to be a single thing that Hollywood can do about it. This past Christmas leaks descended into a massive free-for-all, prompting angry industry executives to slam the attacks on their industry.

So assuming that most or all Hollywood executives really do believe that screener leaks aren’t free promotion, why after years of unrelenting leaks isn’t their security much better?

Well, according to Variety it seems like a straightforward case of failing to adapt to the digital age, topped off with a fear of – wait for it – piracy.

The most obvious approach would be to stop sending out physical discs to Oscar voters, granting them access to streaming copies instead. However, according to the report studio executives are worried that providing multiple secure digital video delivery platforms will lead to confusion and even stop people from voting.

Perhaps the great irony here is that in comparison pirates have to jump through many hoops to get hold of leaked screeners online yet are able to do so in their millions, despite it not being part of their job. Viewing apathy is not part of the equation. Are awards voters really that disinterested in movies?

Apparently the MPAA is aware that forcing awards voters to use multiple video platforms could act as a deterrent to watching screeners so is reportedly working with an outside vendor to supply an app that will provide a single point of access.

Interestingly there is no such app available to the general public who are forced to subscribe to dozens of services if they want access to all movies.

But things get really bizarre when one reads about the discussions surrounding potential platforms for the distribution of digital screeners. Prime Focus Technologies offers a service called SecureScreener which it says eliminates the need for DVD copies.

“Have peace of mind with CLEAR’s Secure Player as it is unbreakable. It cleverly blocks any download attempt so you know your content is safe,” the company explains.

“And to top it, it offers high-quality viewing experience so your users don’t miss the DVD feel. No more wait for feedback – Access to information like who viewed, liked, shared, and downloaded your content at your fingertips, literally!”

The system even offers a double verification system involving a username and password combo backed up a special code sent to the designated viewer’s (voter’s) cell phone. But somewhat hilariously this is apparently too advanced for some awards voters.

“Some film reps are concerned that not all Academy voters have cell phones to receive text notification,” Variety reports.

But even for those that do, the studios are still concerned about how screeners will be viewed if delivered digitally.

Will voters watch the movie on a smartphone and lose the cinematic experience? will they watch on a tablet and miss out on a meticulously arranged soundtrack? One can hear Tarantino wringing his hands right now, torn between a pre-release of The Hateful Eight and an Ultra Panavision extravaganza being displayed on a 7″ tablet.

So while millions of Hollywood’s customers are yearning for content to be delivered to them digitally in every possible way, the studios appear to be hamstrung by fears that industry voters – the people one might hope are on the cutting edge – can’t be universally trusted with anything more advanced than a DVD.

Of course, times will eventually change and following the DVD screener debacle of 2015, a greater urgency is definitely required to avoid a repeat in 2016/17 and beyond. Whatever happens though, it’s likely that the DVD screener has a few more years in it yet. And that will be great news for pirates.

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Outfits Flag MPAA’s Search Engine as a Pirate Site

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

wheretowatchThe movie industry has gone head to head with Google in recent months, demanding tougher anti-piracy measures from the search engine.

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

In addition, Google should boost the rankings of legal services and sites that allow the public to find legal content. To lead the way, the movie industry group launched its own WhereToWatch search engine where visitors can find out where to watch the latest blockbusters.

Ironically, the MPAA’s very own site is now being censored by Google upon request of a movie industry outfit in Europe.

In recent weeks film distributor “Forum Film Poland” sent several DMCA takedown requests to Google listing five URLs of the MPAA’s WheretoWatch.com service. The search engine kindly complied with the request and as a result the pages are no longer listed in Google’s search results.

People who try to find the WhereToWatch page for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2″ get the following result, linking to this DMCA notice.

Where to?
where2

The DMCA notices were sent by the reporting agency “Anti-Piracy Protection” who also sent one on behalf of another Polish media outlet, ITI Neovision, which removed the entry for “The Fault in Our Stars.”

This means that six WhereToWatch pages are no longer present in Google’s search results.

The errors illustrate how easily mistakes are made by often automated takedown processes. It appears that WhereToWatch is not whitelisted by the reporting organization and mistakenly flagged as infringing content.

Similar errors have been made in the past with other movie industry supported search engines such as FindanyFilm and JustWatch.

Yes, these type of mistakes are easily corrected with a counter-notice but then they have to be spotted first, which is usually not the case.

It will be interesting to see how quickly the MPAA files a counter-notice to have their pages restored again. At Google, the inadvertent censorship will probably be welcomed with a smile.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Fork Goes Dark After MPAA Hounds Developers

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

popcorntLast month the MPAA took credit for shutting down the main Popcorn Time fork, which operated from the PopcornTime.io domain name.

The Hollywood group had filed a lawsuit against several of the developers in Canada which caused other key developers to back out.

While the MPAA’s actions had a profound impact, it didn’t stop others from continuing with their own Popcorn Time spin-offs. The popular Popcorn-time.se fork was unharmed and most recently a new group of developers launched a Popcorn Time Community Edition (PTCE).

The people behind PTCE began their work with a fully operational fix for the .io fork which was circulated on Reddit. Later they also added their own fork and a dedicated website at Popcorntime.ml.

“Popcorn Time will probably never go away, despite the efforts made by organizations such as BREIN, the MPAA and others. Instead of fighting this great software they should embrace it,” the PTCE team told TF at the time.

PTCE

The new fork was welcomed by many estranged Popcorn Time users and quickly gained a healthy userbase. However, two days ago the project’s official website and GitHub repository went dark.

At first it was unclear what had happened but an insider informs TF that several people involved with the PTCE project are “getting bugged” by the MPAA.

“The people behind the official CE sites have been contacted by MPAA for some time now,” says Luretrix2k, who’s a moderator at the Popcorn Time subreddit.

“They decided to take everything down and start all over again with a new strategy/game plan for the official site and GitHub repository to avoid this problem in the future,” he adds.

The PTCE team doesn’t want anyone to get in trouble with the law and are figuring out what steps they can take to avoid this. They hope to get the site back up again in the future and will continue to work on the application behind the scenes.

The MPAA pressure shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the lawsuit against the developers of the popular .io fork. Also, two PTCE developers had to quit the project last month after they were targeted by Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN.

Even if the Community Edition doesn’t come back, others may jump in to take its place. Rinse and repeat.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Developers Poke MPAA with A New Fork

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

popcorntA few weeks ago the main Popcorn Time fork, operating from the PopcornTime.io domain name, shut down its servers.

The MPAA took credit for the fall announcing that it had filed a lawsuit against several of the developers in Canada. In response to these legal threats several key developers backed out.

However, that doesn’t mean the application is no longer available. Several other forks (variants) are still online and more recently a group of new developers launched the Popcorn Time Community Edition.

It all started with a fully working fix for the .io fork which was circulated on Reddit, as we reported earlier. This gained a lot of attention, which prompted the developers to start their own website.

This week Popcorntime.ml launched, which offers instructions on how to revive the .io fork plus fully operational installers for the new and improved Popcorn Time Community Edition (PTCE).

“Now we have taken it a step further and created a web site where people can find more information about the Community edition project and links to the working installers or other relevant information,” the PTCE teams tells TF.

PTCE

The new group of developers are not involved with the .io fork, they simply revived it. If there’s enough interest, the team will probably continue to expand and improve their own version.

“In the beginning it was just so people still could use the version from Popcorntime.io and continue to enjoy this great software. But as long as people use it and we have people to drive this project forwards it will probably continue to evolve in future as well,” they tell us.

Although the PTCE team is just a few weeks old, it has already lost two members. Last week Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN announced that it settled with two developers, who risk a €2,000 per day fine if they violate their agreement.

The PTCE team mourns their loss, but is not eager to comment on the legal side of the project.

“We wish the two developers all the best and we really miss them, other than that we have no comment on that or the legal debate regarding this software,” they say.

The message to copyright holders and anti-piracy outfits is clear though. Legal pressure or not, the Popcorn Time phenomenon is not going away anytime soon.

“Popcorn Time will probably never go away, despite the efforts made by organizations such as BREIN, the MPAA and others. Instead of fighting this great software they should embrace it,” PTCE tells TF.

In addition to the new Community Edition, the original Popcorntime.io fork is still working on a comeback of its own.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA ‘Softens’ Movie Theater Anti-Piracy Policy, Drops Bounty

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

recillegalThe MPAA sees illegally recorded movies as one of the biggest piracy threats and goes to extremes to stop it.

During pre-release screenings and premieres, for example, employees are often equipped with night-vision goggles and other spy tech to closely monitor movie goers.

In some cases members of the public have been instructed to hand over all recording-capable devices including phones and Google glasses.

Through these measures the MPAA hopes to prevent pirates from camcording movies or recording audio in theaters. The underlying policy is drafted in cooperation with the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), and a few days ago the most recent version was released.

At first sight not much has changed. The MPAA still recommends theater owners to keep an eye on suspect movie goers while prohibiting the use of any recording devices including phones.

“Preventative measures should include asking patrons to silence and put away their phones and requiring they turn off and stow all other devices capable of recording, including wearable technology capable of recording.

“If individuals fail or refuse to put any recording device away, managers—per your theater’s policy — can ask them to leave,” the recommendation reads.

There are several subtle changed throughout the document though, especially regarding the involvement of police. Previously, theater employees were encouraged to detain suspect visitors and hand them over to the authorities.

This is explicitly stated in the following snippet taken from the 2014 version of the best practices.

“Theater managers should immediately alert law enforcement authorities whenever they have clear indications that prohibited activity is taking place—the proper authorities will determine what laws may have been violated and what enforcement action should be taken.”

In the new document, however, it’s no longer a requirement to call the police. Instead, this is now optional.

“Theater managers have the option to immediately alert law enforcement authorities whenever they have clear indications that prohibited activity is taking place or managers can the stop the activity without law enforcement assistance.”

Similar changes were made throughout the document. Even reporting incidents to the MPAA no longer appears to be mandatory, which it still was according to last year’s text.

“After your theater manager has contacted the police, your theater manager should immediately call the MPAA 24/7 Anti-Camcording Hot Line to report the incident.”

The language above has now been changed to a less urgent option of simply reporting incidents, should a theater manager deem it appropriate.

“Your theater manager can also call the MPAA 24/7 Anti-Camcording Hot Line to report the incident.”

Aside from the softer tone there’s another significant change to the best practices. The $500 “reward” movie theater employees could get for catching pirates is no longer mentioned.

The old Take Action Award mention
takeactionreward

In fact, the entire “take action award” program appears to have been discontinued. The NATO page where it was listed now returns a 404 error and the details on FightFilmTheft have been removed as well.

This stands in stark contrast to the UK where the rewards for a similar program were doubled just a few weeks ago, with officials describing it as a great success.

The question that remains unanswered is why the MPAA and NATO have implemented these changes. Could it be that there were too many false positives being reported to the police, or is there an image problem perhaps?

In recent years several questionable police referrals resulted in a media backlash. A 19-year-old girl was arrested for recording a 20 second clip from the movie “Transformers,” which she wanted to show to her brother, for example.

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

Meanwhile, reports of real pirates being apprehended in a similar fashion have been notable by their absence.

Best Practices to Prevent Film Theft

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wins $10.5 Million Piracy Damages From MovieTube

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

movietubeUnauthorized movie streaming sites have been a thorn in the side of Hollywood for many years.

Responding to this threat the MPAA decided to take one of the most prominent players to court earlier this year.

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

In the complaint the MPAA listed several popular websites including MovieTube.cc, TuneVideo.net, Watch33.tv, MovieTube.cz, Anime1.tv, MovieTube.pm, FunTube.co, MovieTube.la and KissDrama.net, which were all believed to be operated by the same people.

Despite facing millions of dollars in damages, the site’s operators remained silent. They swiftly pulled the targeted sites offline after the compliant was filed, but never responded to any of the claims in court.

Due to this inaction the MPAA requested a default judgment at a New York federal court, demanding a permanent injunction as well as millions of dollars in damages.

This week a federal court judge ruled in favor of the MPAA, finding MovieTube liable for copyright infringement, federal trademark counterfeiting, and unfair competition (pdf).

The court agreed to statutory damages for willful copyright infringement in the amount of $75,000 per work, which brings the total to $10.5 million.

MTdama

The default judgment also includes a permanent injunction that prohibits MovieTube’s operators from offering or linking to any copyright infringing material. In addition, the movie studios will now take ownership of all domain names.

Dean Marks, the MPAA’s Executive Vice President, is happy with the outcome and says it helps to protect the livelihood of movie industry workers.

“By shutting down these illegal commercial enterprises we are protecting not only our members’ creative work and the hundreds of innovative, legal digital distribution platforms, but also the millions of people whose jobs depend on a vibrant motion picture and television industry.”

“This court order will help ensure the sites stay down and are not transferred to others for the purposes of continuing a piracy operation on a massive scale.”

While shutting down the MovieTube sites is a significant win for the MPAA, they are unlikely to see any of the money that’s been awarded to them. The true operators of the MovieTube sites remain unknown and will do their best to keep it that way.

The full list of domain names that will be signed over to the MPAA is as follows:

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

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

TorrentFreak: BREIN Stops and Settles With Popcorn Time Developers

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

popcorntIn less than two years Popcorn Time has become a piracy icon as well as one of Hollywood’s main nemeses.

Through various enforcement actions around the world the major movie studios hope to eventually contain this threat.

They recently booked a major victory when the MPAA filed a lawsuit against several key developers of the popular popcorntime.io fork in Canada. While this suit took down the associated website, there are several efforts to revive the project.

The problem for the movie studios is that Popcorn Time’s code is open source, allowing anyone to help out or distribute forks of their own. With minimal effort, developers can easily have their own improved version up and running.

While this results in a perpetual game of whack-a-mole, Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group BREIN has just announced a win.

The group reports that has tracked down two Dutch developers who helped to keep Popcorn Time alive, and urged them to stop their activities immediately.

“Since the recent action by the MPAA against popcorntime.io, which took the website offline, various parties are breathing new life into the software, as were these two Dutch individuals,” the group says.

According to BREIN the pair used GitHub to submit code and Reddit to share news about their accomplishments.

Preventing a possible court case, the developers signed a settlement with the anti-piracy group in which they agreed to stop their Popcorn Time development. The pair face a fine of €2,000 per day if they breach the agreement.

The Dutch developers don’t seem to be part of the core development team of the .io fork, which could explain why they got off with a relatively mild warning.

The lawsuit against three of the main popcorntime.io developers in Canada is still ongoing. They face millions in damages due to their involvement with the popular application and the associated VPN.ht service, which generated significant revenues.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Asked to Remove 1,500 “Pirate Links” Per Minute

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

deleteIn recent years copyright holders have flooded Google with DMCA takedown notices, asking the company to delete links to pirated content.

The number of requests issued has increased dramatically. In 2011, the search engine received only a few hundred takedown notices per day, but in the same period it now processes more than two million “pirate” links.

This translates to 1,500 links per minute, or 25 per second, and is double the amount being handled last year around the same time. The graph below illustrates the continuing increase.

Google takedown surge
google2m25

Over the past month Google received takedown notices from 5,609 different copyright holders targeting 65 million links, together spanning 68,484 different domain names.

Most of the reported URLs indeed point to pirated content and the associated links are often swiftly removed from Google’s search results. However, with the massive volume of reports coming in, mistakes and duplicate requests are also common.

The availability of pirated content in search results is a hot button issue for copyright holders, who believe that Google sometimes steers legitimate customers to unauthorized sites.

Google addressed this issue last year by implementing a significant change to its search algorithm, which downranks sites that receive many copyright infringement notices.

These efforts helped to make most large torrent sites less visible, but recent research shows that many streaming sites are still among the top results.

According to industry groups such as the MPAA and RIAA, Google should take a more aggressive approach and blacklist the worst offenders entirely. However, Google believes that this type of site-wide censorship goes too far.

For now, the dispute between both camps remains unresolved, which means that the takedown surge and purge is likely to continue.

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

TorrentFreak: Arrests as Police Target Latin America’s Largest Pirate Site

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

megalogoWhen it comes to enforcement of intellectual property rights, Brazil isn’t exactly a world leader. The country has long been criticized for its lack of progress in this area and has regularly found itself targeted by complaining authorities in the United States.

In 2009, former President Lula was even photographed cozying up to none other than The Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde. But six years later and it appears that the tides have changed.

Yesterday Federal Police in Brazil launched Operation Blackbeard, a coordinated action to take down MegaFilmesHD.net, Latin America’s most popular pirate site.

Launched in 2010 and mainly serving the Portuguese-speaking market, MegaFilmesHD has grown to become one of Brazil’s most popular sites, with a reported 60 million visits per month.

megafilmesopsFollowing a two month investigation, police executed 14 search warrants targeted at the alleged operators of the popular streaming portal.

A man and a woman believed to be a couple were arrested at their home on suspicion of copyright offenses. Four cars, two of them reportedly luxury (local media showed a $US58,000 Porsche SUV), were seized along with around US$5,300 in cash.

Police also questioned five alleged admins of the site and blocked seven bank accounts believed to be used for money laundering. Along with the site’s owners the admins will be indicted for running a criminal operation. Police say they face between three and eight years in prison on that count plus two to four years for copyright infringement offenses, plus fines.

Like many similar operations of its type, Mega Filmes HD listed thousands of movies and linked to files hosted on third-party cyberlocker-style sites. According to police the site generated around US$18,500 per month from advertising. Tests carried out by TF last evening revealed aggressive techniques, with most clicks resulting in the appearance of some kind of ad.

megafilmeshdnet

While it’s clear that the owners of Mega Filmes HD are now in serious trouble, the lawyer for the couple says that their arrest came as a complete surprise. Apparently one of his clients originally ran the business from Asia and expected no problems in Brazil.

“My client came from Japan and there the practice is common. He never imagined he would be arrested,” the lawyer told Globo.

Interestingly (although perhaps not surprisingly) figures reported by Brazilian police concerning Mega Filmes HD largely tie up with ones cited in a report the MPAA filed last month with the United States Representative.

“Megafilmeshd.net is a popular streaming linking site that currently offers more than 150,000 links to more than 6,000 illegally reproduced national and international titles including films, television series, and concerts,” the MPAA reported.

Also of interest is the current status of the site. Although its operators were arrested yesterday morning, until just a few hours ago Megafilmeshd.net remained operational. Currently the site is offline but that appears to be due to a massive influx of traffic following news of the raid.

Possibly complicating a shutdown is that MegaFilmesHD was only partially operated from Brazil. According to the MPAA the site had connections in both Poland and Bulgaria. Nevertheless, if it stays down the impact will be felt most locally. Police says that 85% of the site’s visitors were from Brazil, with an impressive 4.5 million followers on social media.

But despite the existence of MegaFilmesHD and a reported 41% of citizens downloading illegally from the Internet, legal services are thriving in Brazil. The country is now the fourth-largest market for Netflix behind the US, Canada and the United Kingdom, with Netflix chief Reed Hastings describing the country as a “rocket ship” for his company.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time’s Alive, Full Comeback In the Works

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

popcorntThe main Popcorn Time fork operating from the PopcornTime.io domain name shut down its servers late October citing internal problems.

A few days later the MPAA took credit for the fall, announcing that it had filed a lawsuit against several of the developers in Canada. In response some developers backed out.

Faced with an abrupt ending several Popcorn Time users were keen to revive the defunct application. The effort has been a success, with a fully working fix now circulating on Reddit.

The fixed version uses new APIs so movies and TV-shows now show up again. Instead of using YTS as a movie provider the revived application uses TorrentsAPI, and the TV-show feed has been replaced by a custom API.

The Reddit fix is only the start. Users of VPN.ht, the VPN service associated with Popcorn Time, were also alerted about a new update to the movie streaming application recently.

“VPN.ht Movies API FIX installed,” the message read, prompting users to restart the application.

It turns out that the VPN provider made several changes which allows users to access the Popcorn Time website and client without any issues.

Popcorn Time alert
popcornht

After the fix is applied Popcorn Time becomes fully operational again, filled with the latest movies as if nothing has happened.

For now the general public can’t use their old Popcorn Time client without manually applying a fix, but this may change in the near future.

Popcorn Time developer Wally, who also founded the VPN.ht service, informs TorrentFreak that he could revive Popcorn Time to its full glory.

“I am still considering a full comeback, I just do not want to release a half working version,” Wally says.

The developer, who controls both the official Twitter account and mailing list, first wants to make sure that all domain names are out of the MPAA’s reach. This is a concern, as the Canadian lawsuit is still ongoing.

Wally is not listed as a defendant in the Canadian lawsuit but his name was mentioned in the complaint. In addition, the VPN.ht company was mentioned in both the claim and injunction.

Instead of fighting Popcorn Time, Wally believes the MPAA should embrace its concept and technology.

“The popularity of Popcorn Time should be an example for the MPAA to a build a future streaming platform that will be open to the entire world,” Wally says.

Lawsuits or not, it’s clear that the technology is hard to stop. Even now that the original sources no longer work, people can still use the application as a basic torrent streaming client, manually loading torrents into it.

The MPAA is not going to be pleased with the plans to relaunch the popular Popcorn Time fork. However, neutral spectators may want to get the popcorn out, as this saga is far from over.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wants $10 Million Piracy Damages From MovieTube

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

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

In their complaint the movie studios listed MovieTube.cc, TuneVideo.net, Watch33.tv, MovieTube.cz, Anime1.tv, MovieTube.pm, FunTube.co, MovieTube.la, KissDrama.net and several related sites.

The websites in question were typical streaming services, where users could watch videos and in some cases download source files to their computers. Since they used the same hosting facilities and design elements the studios believed that they were operated by the same people.

Several months have passed since the action was filed and the operators of the MovieTube sites have yet to appear in court. They were quick to pull the accused sites offline after the compliant was filed, but never responded to any of the claims.

Due to this inaction, the MPAA now requests a default judgment. In an affidavit submitted to a New York federal court before the weekend they point out that MovieTube made a healthy profit from its operations.

“Defendants’ aggressive promotion and search-engine optimization of the MovieTube Websites permitted them to profit off their blatantly infringing activities,” the MPAA’s attorney writes (pdf).

According to the MPAA the MovieTube sites attracted over 81 million estimated visits per month, including more than 60 million visits from the United States.

“Defendants’ advertising-based revenue model would have yielded them significant profits given their high traffic, little to no overhead, and the fact that, unlike legitimate digital content services, they paid not a single dollar to license the content on their websites.”

In a proposed default judgment (pdf) the MPAA requests a permanent injunction that would prohibit the accused from offering or linking to any copyright infringing material. In addition, the movie studios want the domain names to be transferred to them.

In addition, the MPAA requests statutory damages for willful copyright infringement in the amount of $75,000 per title, for a total of $10.5 million.

The proposed injunction no longer requires search engines, ISPs and hosting companies to stop linking or offering services to MovieTube. This request was dropped earlier after Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo branded it as a broad censorship attempt.

Without any opposition from the defendants the MPAA is destined to win this case. However, whether they will ever see any damages is highly doubtful. For now the true operators of the MovieTube sites remain unknown.

That said, the Hollywood group has already scored a victory by shutting down the MovieTube ring when the lawsuit was filed.

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

TorrentFreak: Demonii Torrent Tracker Shuts Down For Good

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

demoniiTrackers are a crucial part of the BitTorrent infrastructure, making it easier for downloaders and uploaders to connect to each other.

Technically speaking trackers are similar to a DNS provider, they function as a ‘phone book’ pointing people to content without knowing what it is.

Over the past several months Demonii became the largest torrent tracker online, handling requests from more than 50 million peers, resulting in more than two billion connections per day.

However, since this weekend Demonii is no more.

The tracker simply vanished without an official explanation from the operator. Since it’s connected to the now defunct YTS/YIFY group, it’s safe to assume that the tracker is not coming back.

In addition to the suspicions, a well-informed source has also confirmed that this is the end for the tracker.

Started in 2013 Demonii was a relatively young tracker that soon became the largest of its kind. After OpenBitTorrent and PublicBT suffered prolonged downtime earlier this year it was the only top tracker left standing.

Demonii’s demise shows that the MPAA’s legal action against YTS/YIFY will have an even larger impact on the BitTorrent ecosystem than expected.

Demonii’s growth over the past year
demoniigrowth

After a settlement the YTS.to domain name is now controlled by the MPAA, but as far as we can see the Demonii.com domain hasn’t yet fallen into the hands of the Hollywood group.

Although one of the largest trackers has folded, most torrents will still work fine thanks to DHT, PEX, and some other large trackers that remain online. That said, in some cases it may take longer to connect to peers.

With Demonii, YTS and YIFY gone there’s no doubt that the torrent ecosystem has lost one of its biggest players. However, this is not the first time that a large BitTorrent tracker has folded and historically others have stood up to take the strain.

OpenBitTorrent and PublicBT have been up and running again for a while, and other sizable trackers such as Coppersurfer.tk and Leechers-Paradise remain available as well.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Must Take Blame For Spreading Bizarre Piracy News

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

sadpirateThe music and movie industries love to poke the finger at Google and blame the technology giant for a world of woes, not least the appearance of ‘rogue’ sites in its search results.

Well, you know what? They’re not the only ones that can play that game.

Here at TF we do our very best to bring the latest file-sharing news to our readers and always try to bring something fresh to our reports, whether we’re the initial source or not. However, there are other sites who don’t appear to care much about the topics they cover, only the number of clicks they can generate.

I’m talking about headlines like this from the file-sharing experts at Christian Today.

pic-1

“[W]ith reports saying that Microsoft’s new platform has more stringent security measures against torrents, fans are wondering if TPB and other sites will make it to Windows 10-enabled devices,” the site warns.

The article quotes fellow torrent-nonsense-farmers ‘Venture Capital Post‘ as the source, claiming that people upgrading to Windows 10 “will not have access to torrent sites, as Microsoft will reportedly actively block The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents and other file-sharing websites.”

These twisted accounts are based on erroneous claims about Windows 10 that date back to August and have been well and truly debunked. Still, both sites reported them only this week, with more misinformation and scaremongering thrown in for good measure.

Of further concern is how VCPost then links to International Business Times as the source of the story, a site known for its ‘advanced’ SEO techniques and its 2013 banning from Reddit.

Only adding to the hall of mirrors, IBTimes cites Christian Post as its ‘source’ with its totally baseless and speculative article titled “The Pirate Bay Update: After The Takedown Of YIFY, Is The Pirate Bay Next?”

That in turns links to a site called ‘Yibada’ with its article “The Pirate Bay (TPB) Last Man Standing After YTS/YIFY Shutdown: TPB Next In Line?” and home to other gems including (deep breath) “After Taking Down The Pirate Bay, Will MPAA Go Easy On TPB Like It Did With YTS/YIFY? Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom Cries Double Standard.”

Then, shock/horror, Yibada directs back to International Business Times as the source – are we noticing a pattern here? Yeah? Well, the end result when searching for Pirate Bay in Google search often looks something like this.

baitshots-1

This sorry state of affairs is entirely the fault of Google. Instead of monitoring and reading every single story in its indexes and carrying out quality control of every opinion and claim linked therein, the search giant is blatantly sending unwitting visitors to uninformed sites which misleads the public and starves creators.

So, just like elements of the entertainment industry, we’re demanding a totally self-serving modification of Google’s algorithm to push this nonsense way down the results. We’re not going to accept no for an answer either. If Google can do it for child porn, malware, and wait – Hollywood and the RIAA, they can do it for us too, surely?

Oh, and apparently there are hundreds of other companies waiting in the wings with similar plights and demands. Each is keen to feature more prominently in Google’s results and each is prepared to endlessly wail over why its case deserves special attention and how Google must be to blame.

Sadly, and as the pettiness over the mind-bending Google-gaming articles listed above highlights, no one really gives a damn and it’s no wonder that Google doesn’t either. Now excuse me while I cozy up to a few politicians and go crying like a baby to the US government. Need to get in early, there’s going to be massive queue if Google becomes compliant.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. and MPAA Protest Return of Megaupload’s Servers

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

megaupload-logoWhen Megaupload was raided early 2012 the U.S. Government seized 1,103 servers at Carpathia’s hosting facility in the United States.

Nearly four years have since passed and it’s still uncertain what will happen to the servers, which are safely stored in a Virginia warehouse at the moment.

After a renewed request for guidance on the issue, District Court Judge O’Grady started to explore what options are on the table. He asked the various parties what would be required to release the servers and whether their possible return has any complications.

In a response, hosting company QTS/Carpathia says that most data will still be intact but that retrieving it will be a costly endeavor.

The equipment that was used to link the servers together is no longer on the market. Used parts are still available but this would cost roughly $500,000. In addition, hundreds of thousands of dollars are needed to move the servers and set them up properly.

United States Attorney Dana Boente notes that a successful data return would likely cost millions. However, the Government has no interest in the servers and doesn’t want any of Megaupload’s restrained funds to be released to pay for the costs.

According to the Government some of Megaupload’s money comes from illicit proceeds. In addition, the possible return of the servers is a concern because they contain child pornography.

“The United States further reminds the Court that the Federal Bureau of Investigation found that many of these servers contain, as indicated more particularly under seal, copies of known images of child pornography,” Boente writes (pdf).

The MPAA also responded to questions posed by the court. The Hollywood group says it’s still gravely concerned that the copyrighted movies and TV-shows may fall into the hands of others.

“The MPAA members remain gravely concerned about the potential release of the copyrighted works that are stored on the […] servers at issue here,” the movie industry group writes (pdf).

Transferring the data to Megaupload or another party would be copyright infringement in and by itself, they argue.

“The release of these digital files would not only risk the further infringing distribution of the MPAA members’ highly valuable copyrighted works, but any transfer of these files by QTS to Megaupload or a third party would itself be an infringement of the MPAA members’ copyrights in those works.”

Based on the reasoning above it’s nearly impossible to move any of the data without violating the rights of the movie studios.

However, former Megaupload user Kyle Goodwin, represented by the EFF, stresses that there’s no need to restore the entire infrastructure. He only wants access to the personal files he lost during the raid.

Finally, Megaupload’s defense argues that it can’t pay for the servers as long as their assets are restrained.

Dotcom’s defunct file-hosting service suggests placing the servers “under a litigation hold” at a reputable eDiscovery vendor such as KPMG, to ensure the confidentiality of the files. Recovering the data won’t come cheap though.

“Megaupload had previously received an e-vendor’s estimate of US$7.7 million for forensic duplication of the data needed for e-discovery and evidence purposes,” they write (pdf).

It’s now up to District Court Judge Liam O’Grady to make a recommendation regarding the possible return of Megaupload’s servers. Based on the input from the parties above this may prove to be a difficult task.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Plans For Site Blocking in the U.S. Dealt a Blow

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

It’s 2012 and you’re the organization representing the world’s largest movie studios. You’ve just received a bloody nose while failing to get the extremely unpopular SOPA legislation passed. All that SOPA entailed, site blocking included, is now off the table. What do you do, give up? Not a chance.

Help us block, ITC

As revealed last year, the MPAA continued to explore other options to have unauthorized sites and content blocked in the United States, one of which involved leveraging the powers of the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The ITC determines the impact of imports on industry in the U.S. and can tackle unfair trade practices including those involving patents, trademarks and copyright infringement.

The MPAA quietly hoped that it could encourage the ITC to order blocks against ISPs carrying infringing content across U.S. borders. It also hoped it could obtain injunctions against regular ISPs to stop them providing access to overseas “rogue” sites. At the time the MPAA’s lawfirm highlighted several problems, not least that no actual goods are sent across U.S. borders by ‘rogue’ sites.

This is important. The definition of “articles” under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 is what allows the ITC to take action in such cases. The big question is whether an “article” must be a physical item or whether it can relate to content in the digital realm. The answer lies in a case about crooked teeth.

At first view ClearCorrect v. ITC looks like just another boring patent case but it has been closely monitored by the MPAA.

ClearCorrect, a competitor of invisible brace manufacturer Invisalign, had one of its subsidiaries in Pakistan create 3D models of braces. These were sent over the Internet and 3D-printed in its office in Texas, potentially infringing Invisalign’s patents.

Invisalign parent company Align Technologies complained to the International Trade Commission in the hope of getting something done about the alleged cross-border infringement. In the short term it paid off, with the ITC ruling against ClearCorrect while noting that the Tariff Act of 1930 does allow it take action against the transmission of digital files.

ClearCorrect objected against the decision and the case was heard by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Yesterday the Court handed down its decision, overturning the ITC’s initial ruling.

“The Commission’s decision to expand the scope of its jurisdiction to include electronic transmissions of digital data runs counter to the ‘unambiguously expressed intent of Congress’,” Judge Sharon Prost wrote.

“Here, it is clear that ‘articles’ means ‘material things,’ whether when looking to the literal text or when read in context ‘with a view to [the term’s] place in the overall statutory scheme.’ We recognize, of course, that electronic transmissions
have some physical properties — for example an electron’s invariant mass is a known quantity — but commonsense dictates that there is a fundamental difference between electronic transmissions and ‘material things’.”

The Court’s majority 2-1 ruling (Judge Newman dissenting) that the ITC has no jurisdiction in this case and possesses no expertise when it comes to ensuring that the “Internet remains an open platform for all” has upset the MPAA.

“This ruling, if it stands, would appear to reduce the authority of the ITC to address the scourge of overseas web sites that engage in blatant piracy of movies, television programs, music, books, and other copyrighted works,” the Hollywood group said.

After filing a brief in the case, interests group Public Knowledge described the ruling as a “big win” for the open Internet.

“By rejecting the ITC’s attempt to expand its jurisdiction, the Federal Circuit helps to ensure that Internet users have unfettered access to the free flow of information that has proved so useful for innovation and free expression,” said Charles Duan, Director of Public Knowledge’s Patent Reform Project.

“In particular, Judge O’Malley’s concurrence strongly recognized the importance of ensuring that ‘the Internet remains an open platform for all.’ This recognition of the central role that open information flow has played in the digital age is heartwarming to advocates like us who have tirelessly worked to protect that Internet openness.”

Countering, the MPAA chose to cite the opinions of the one dissenting judge.

“As Judge Newman’s dissent trenchantly argues, the majority ‘ignores precedent and logic, and removes a vast body of technology from the protection of a statute designed for its protection.’ We will be watching closely for further proceedings in this case, including potential en banc review, and continue to support the ITC in its efforts to address 21st Century challenges.”

In other words, the MPAA won’t be giving up on its site-blocking ambitions just yet.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA OK With Copyright Law But Seeks Allies For Piracy Fight

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

As Europe conducts a reassessment of copyright law and its ability to keep pace with technology, the United States is doing likewise.

In a speech during the World Intellectual Property Day celebrations at the Library of Congress in April 2013, Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced that the House Judiciary Committee would carry out a comprehensive review of United States copyright law.

“I am announcing today that the House Judiciary Committee will hold a comprehensive series of hearings on U.S. copyright law in the months ahead. The goal of these hearings will be to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age,” Goodlatte said.

As of mid-October 2015 the Committee had held 20 hearings on various topics, from the scope of copyright protection and Fair Use, the preservation and reuse of copyright works, to the first sale doctrine and music licensing.

With additional meetings with hearing witnesses now underway, the House Judiciary Committee is conducting a “listening tour” to gather input from those involved in the creative process. After stopping off in Nashville, Goodlatte and other members of the Committee appeared at Santa Clara University in Northern California yesterday. Today they’re hosting a roundtable discussion at the University of California, Los Angeles.

In addition to Google’s senior copyright counsel Fred von Lohmann, Dean Marks, the MPAA’s chief of global content protection, is also expected to attend. Neil Fried, SVP, Government and Regulatory Affairs, says that while the MPAA welcomes the discussion to Hollywood, changes to copyright law aren’t high on its agenda.

“Although not perfect, the Copyright Act is fulfilling its mission of promoting the production and dissemination of creative works,” Fried says.

“In 2014 alone, viewers used lawful online services to access 66.6 billion television episodes and 7.1 billion movies. We expect these TV and film numbers to reach 101.6 billion and 11.7 billion by 2019. Clearly the market and copyright law are working.”

But while the MPAA says it’s broadly satisfied with the law, it insists that more must be done to combat piracy. Cooperation with other stakeholders will provide the solutions the industry is looking for, the movie group says.

“The Internet’s decentralized nature allows anyone around the world to contribute to its content and architecture, but that also means no single entity can solve problems that arise, like piracy,” Fried says.

“That is why we are currently focusing our attention on forging cross-industry, voluntary initiatives to ensure a safe and innovative digital environment, rather than seeking a legislative rewrite of copyright policy.”

And to date there have indeed been significant developments on this front.

In addition to attempting to choke the finances of pirate sites by forging closer relationships with processors including PayPal, MasterCard and Visa, there have been national and international campaigns to ensure that big brands avoid placing their ads on pirate sites. Users have been targeted too.

“The motion picture and recording industries have also partnered with the five largest ISPs to create the Copyright Alert System, a progressive system of alerts that is used to make consumers aware of possible infringing activity that has occurred over peer-to-peer networks using their Internet accounts, provide them with information on how to prevent such activity from happening again, and also inform them of the wide range of legal online alternatives,” Fried adds.

But while some ISPs, processors and advertising networks may be on board, bigger challenges lie ahead for the development of voluntary agreements. For example, the MPAA is desperate to find a simple way to stop pirate sites from easily registering and then using domain names for infringing purposes.

“Even though the terms of service for domain name registrars and registries almost uniformly prohibit the use of domain names for illicit activities, these provisions are rarely enforced,” Fried explains.

To date progress on this front has been slow and in some cases responses have been somewhat hostile.

And of course, the MPAA will be pleased that Fred von Lohmann is expected at today’s roundtable. The Hollywood group is still not happy with how easy it is for Internet users to find infringing content using Google search. Google previously stated that people tend to find infringing content because they’re specifically looking for it, but the MPAA sees things somewhat differently.

“Nearly 60 percent of the queries that led to stolen content contained only generic or title-specific keywords, indicating consumers were not specifically seeking pirated material,” Fried says.

With the heat of the Project Goliath debacle still simmering beneath the surface, the MPAA’s current tone is certainly measured. Only time will tell whether its claimed satisfaction with copyright law will continue longer term should Google and others decide not to play ball.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA: Online Privacy Hurts Anti-Piracy Enforcement

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

mpaa-logoEvery year the United States Trade Representative (USTR) inventorizes what problems local industries face when doing business abroad.

The major Hollywood studios, represented by the MPAA, just submitted their latest overview listing trade barriers across the globe.

The MPAA points out that many countries don’t do enough to deter piracy. This is also a common theme in Europe, where privacy laws and regulations make it harder for copyright holders to go after online pirates.

“Privacy has always been a major issue in the European Union. EU Member States have implemented a number of privacy directives to protect individuals’ personal data,” MPAA writes.

According to the MPAA, European privacy rules are extremely complex and difficult. As a result they are often used against efforts that could help to prevent copyright infringement.

For example, IP-addresses are protected as private personal information in several countries including Italy, where they can only be used in criminal cases.

“All EU Member States have detailed data protection laws. These rules, often very strict, are subject to the interpretation of the national data protection authorities,” MPAA notes (pdf).

“Most of them consider IP addresses as personal data and believe that the privacy rules apply to their use,” they add.

The MPAA points out that privacy rights of citizens often trump the rights of copyright holders, which they believe is a “very problematic” development.

As a result, Internet providers often refuse to cooperate with copyright holders claiming that this violates the privacy of their users. This makes it hard for the content industries to cooperate with these companies in various anti-piracy efforts.

“Telecommunications operators and ISPs constantly invoke data protection rules to avoid any meaningful cooperation with the content sector,” MPAA writes.

“Such restrictive interpretations preclude meaningful cooperation with Internet intermediaries, such as telecommunications operators and ISPs, in particular cooperation to combat IP theft.”

In addition, the MPAA is not happy with the EU Court of Justice decision to no longer make data retention mandatory. As a result, many ISPs no longer keep extensive IP-address logs.

The movie studios believe that data retention is an important law enforcement tool, suggesting that it’s harder to track down online pirates without logs.

“Data retention remains a very valuable tool for law enforcement. Rights holders have always claimed the need for reasonable rules and legal certainty. This decision has created even more legal uncertainty in this field.

“Member States have started to respond to the consequences of this decision with legislation and some have invalidated their rules,” MPAA adds.

The data retention argument is not new, but it’s worth noting that the U.S. itself has no mandatory data retention laws. This makes it hard for the U.S. Government to demand that other countries adopt them.

It’s clear though, that the MPAA is not happy with the increased interest in online privacy. With or without help from the U.S. government, they will continue to try and minimize the impact it has on their enforcement efforts.

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

TorrentFreak: YTS Reaches MPAA Deal But Dotcom Faces Decades in Jail?

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

After reporting on thousands of file-sharing related stories around the globe for almost ten years, the folks here at TF have a ‘feel’ for how certain scenarios play out. With that in mind, something doesn’t feel right with the ongoing drama involving YTS / YIFY.

When sites as big as YTS get taken down by the MPAA, RIAA, or their partners around the world, these organizations usually order their PR departments to repeatedly bash the big button marked “CONGRATULATIONS TO US”. Yet for weeks following the YTS shut down there was complete silence.

Details of the multi-million dollar lawsuit supposedly filed in New Zealand are nowhere to be found either. And if one was expecting the usual “Shut down by ICE/FBI/DELTA FORCE” banner to appear on YTS.to instead of the usual YIFY movie rips, then there’s only disappointment there too.

Ok, the MPAA have this week admitted they’re behind the shutdown, but the way it’s being handled is extremely puzzling. The announcement from MPAA chief Chris Dodd was muted to say the least and the somewhat compulsory gloating at having taken down one of the world’s most important piracy sites is almost non-existent.

This is odd for a number of reasons, not least when one considers the nature and scale of the operation. YIFY / YTS released as many as five thousand copies of mainstream movies onto the Internet. Between them they were shared dozens of millions of times, at least. Over the past decade those kinds of numbers – and a lot less – have seen people jailed for up to five years in the United States and elsewhere.

Yet according to credible sources the operator of YTS – a 21-year-old who for unknown reasons isn’t even being named – has already settled his beef with the MPAA. This, despite running a site that has been repeatedly listed as a worldwide notorious market in the USTR’s Special 301 Report.

Of course, the operator of YTS isn’t in the United States, he’s in New Zealand, but geographical boundaries are rarely an issue for Hollywood. Take the drama surrounding Kim Dotcom and his former site Megaupload, for example.

Like the operator of YTS, Dotcom also lives in New Zealand. Importantly, it’s never been claimed that Dotcom uploaded anything illegal to the Internet (let alone thousands of movies) yet he was subjected to a commando-like raid on his home by dozens of armed police. He’s also facing extradition to the United States where he faces decades in jail.

Now, think of the flamboyant Dotcom what you will. Then feel relieved for the admin of YTS, who by many accounts is a thoroughly nice guy and has somehow managed to save his own skin, despite providing much of the content for global phenomenon Popcorn Time.

But then try to get a handle on how differently these two people are being treated after allegedly committing roughly the same offenses in exactly the same country. One case is still dragging on after almost four years, with tens of millions spent on lawyers and no end in sight. The other was a done deal inside four weeks.

Earlier this week TorrentFreak spoke with Kim Dotcom who told us he’d been following the YTS story in the media. Intrigued, we wanted to know – how does it feel to be raked over the coals for close to four years, have all your property seized, face extradition and decades in jail, while someone just up the road can walk away relatively unscathed from what would’ve been a slam-dunk case for the MPAA?

“It’s a double standard isn’t it?” Dotcom told TF.

“I think our case has chilled law enforcement and Hollywood against pursuing the criminal route in cases such as this. Quick civil settlements seem to be the new way to go.”

Dotcom may well be right and the fact that New Zealand already has a massive headache because of his case may well have been a factor in the decision not to make a huge example of the YTS operator. At the moment no one is talking though, and it’s entirely possible that no one ever will.

That makes a case like this all the more unsettling. Are we witnessing Hollywood’s ability to switch on a massive overseas law enforcement response in one case and then reel in the United States government in another? It’s worth saying again – YTS was a ‘notorious market’ in the eyes of the USTR yet apparently that be dealt with privately these days.

But with all that being said, it is quite possible that the U.S. government has learned lessons from its heavy-handed actions in 2012 and doesn’t want to repeat them again, least of all in New Zealand, a country whose judges must be growing tired of the Dotcom debacle.

“As the DOJ admitted the Megaupload case is a test case. The test isn’t going well for them,” Dotcom concludes.

And for that the guy behind YTS must be thanking his lucky stars.

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

TorrentFreak: Aurous Gets Beaten Up By the RIAA But Peace is Near

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

Within days of its October 10 launch, music discovery tool Aurous was in big legal trouble. Aurous Group and developer Andrew Sampson are now being sued by the RIAA and pretty this definitely ain’t.

Last month, plaintiffs Atlantic Records, Warner Bros, UMG, Sony and Capital Records obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) from a Florida district court, forbidding Sampson and everyone else associated with the project from infringing their copyrights.

Shortly after, Sampson published the ‘back-end’ Aurous source code to Github, enraging the RIAA who accused him of breaching the TRO. Aurous’ legal team had previously offered to settle and throw in the towel, but the alleged breach appeared to scupper those plans.

Instead, the RIAA asked for Sampson and Aurous Group to be held in contempt of court and punished via monetary sanctions, all while plowing ahead in pursuit of a preliminary injunction. Aurous made two attempts at convincing the court that a preliminary injunction should not be issued and earlier this week the RIAA issued its response. It makes for train-wreck reading.

“Defendants continue to ignore critical evidence of their liability for copyright infringement and the irreparable harm they are causing, while misciting the law and misstating the facts,” the RIAA begins.

“Defendants make a fundamental error in asserting that ‘[t]he motion for a preliminary
injunction is an attempt to hold Aurous responsible for the actions of its users.’ To the contrary, this motion is about Defendants’ conduct in creating a service through
which Defendants cause and facilitate copyright infringement..”

There’s a good reason why legal advice often begins with “say nothing” and in this respect the RIAA is making hay while the sun shines.

“It is too late for Defendants to pretend that they ‘had no knowledge of the infringement of either the consumers, or the websites in which the consumers were directed towards’,” the RIAA states.

“Defendants’ belated profession of innocence rings with hypocrisy, particularly in light of Defendant Sampson’s own earlier statements (some of which he has tried to delete) reflecting his own sophisticated knowledge of copyright infringement and his commitment to aiding infringers while thwarting copyright owners.”

Noting that Sampson marked as ‘favorite’ a Twitter message declaring “dead [A]pple [M]usic, dead Spotify, as soon as Aurous launches its [sic] all over”, the RIAA references comments made by Sampson in a Billboard article which detailed his attitude towards takedown efforts.

“If you were to receive a cease-and-desist, what would your reaction be?” the publication asked.

“Ignore it,” Sampson responded.

Things only get worse when the RIAA recalls what happened when one of their representatives sent Sampson a DMCA notice asking for content to be removed from his ‘Strike‘ search engine.

“Sampson responded by telling the representative to ‘f*ck off’,” the RIAA explains.

The RIAA continues by picking apart almost every defense put forward by Aurous, including that pulling music from YouTube and SoundCloud without a license is permissible under law.

“Plaintiffs have not authorized the streaming or downloading (copying) of their recorded music from websites except pursuant to agreements that control the terms on which such works are made available,” the RIAA notes.

“Defendants can only cause such downloads to occur by circumventing the protections such sites have against such downloading and violating the sites’ terms of service that expressly prohibit such conduct.”

Even efforts by Aurous to claim a “safe harbor” defense under the DMCA appear to have fallen on stony ground, with the RIAA noting that the music service failed at the first hurdle.

“Defendants cannot satisfy the basic threshold requirements for eligibility because they do not have a designated agent for receipt of infringement notifications registered with the U.S. Copyright Office,” the labels explain, adding that the service also failed to display an agent’s details on its website.

Pressing on, the RIAA says that safe harbor protection also requires that a service adopts and reasonably implements “a policy to terminate repeat infringers”. Aurous has no such policy but the RIAA suggests that point is moot since DMCA safe harbor immunity is “granted only to ‘innocent’ service providers.”

To support the latter point the RIAA digs out case history from isoHunt versus the MPAA, which noted that no safe harbor is available when “the record is replete with instances of [the defendants] actively encouraging infringement.”

Wrapping up, the RIAA criticizes the earlier release of the Aurous source code while demanding a preliminary injunction.

“It is particularly telling that Defendants no longer deny that Defendant Sampson violated the TRO by making the current Aurous source code available to the public for more than five hours on Sunday, October 25. Instead, they now shamelessly suggest that ‘[i]f this is the case, then the cat is out of the bag’,” the RIAA writes.

“It is precisely this type of blatant disregard for Plaintiffs’ rights and this Court’s Orders that requires entry of a preliminary injunction.”

But despite the aggression from the RIAA, there are now signs of peace on the horizon. At the start of an evidentiary hearing yesterday, both sides requested time for a discussion. Out of that discussion came an agreement to put the preliminary injunction hearing on hold and work towards “a global resolution of the case within the next ten days.”

Considering the background to the case, this apparent offer to enter into settlement negotiations is excellent news for Andrew Sampson and Aurous Group. On the downside, any conclusion is also guaranteed to involve the total closure of the Aurous service and anything similar Sampson may have up his sleeve.

Considering what the RIAA could’ve inflicted upon him, that is probably a very small price to pay.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Judge Explores Return of Megaupload Data

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

megaupload-logoNearly four years have passed since Megaupload’s servers were raided by U.S. authorities. Since then very little progress has been made in the criminal case.

Kim Dotcom and his Megaupload colleagues are currently awaiting the result of their extradition hearing in New Zealand and have yet to formally appear in a U.S. court.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Megaupload servers from Carpathia Hosting remain in storage in Virginia, some of which contain crucial evidence as well as valuable files uploaded by users. The question is, for how long.

In August QTS, the company that now owns the servers after acquiring Carpathia, asked the court if it can get rid of the data which is costing them thousands of dollars per month in storage fees.

This prompted a response from a former user who wants to preserve his data, as well as Megaupload, who don’t want any of the evidence to be destroyed.

For its part the U.S. Government denied any responsibility for the servers stating that they already copied all the crucial evidence.

Faced with these different positions, U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady now has to decide how to move forward. A few days ago he sent off a set of questions to the relevant stakeholders, including Megaupload, the U.S. Government and the MPAA.

The questions deal with the logistics and financial implications of a possible return of the data, as well as the concerns and problems that may arise.

For example, the hosting company was asked if the data stored on the servers is recoverable at all. Several years have passed, which may mean that some hard drives have degraded significantly.

Also, the Judge wants to know how much Megaupload is willing to pay for the servers and how it would preserve these while protecting any confidential data.

Previously Megaupload offered to buy back the servers for $1 million, but in their latest submission Dotcom’s legal team suggested that the U.S. Government should bear the costs.

Judge O’Grady’s questions (pdf)
serverqs

The Judge also asked the MPAA about its concerns regarding the copyrighted material stored on the servers, which may become an issue if users are granted access to their data.

Finally, Judge O’Grady asks all parties to estimate the costs of returning the files to innocent users, and how they would go about contacting them.

The questions suggest that the servers could indeed be opened up in the near future. This is good news for users who still hope to retrieve their files, and also for Kim Dotcom and the other Megaupload defendants who say they contain crucial evidence.

The responses to the full set of questions are due before the end of next week and the court is likely to issue an order soon after.

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

TorrentFreak: YTS / YIFY Signs Unprecedented Settlement With MPAA

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

YTSThis week the MPAA ended the mystery surrounding the unexpected shutdown of the torrent site YTS.to and its associated release group YIFY.

While the announcement answered a lot of questions it also raises a few more.

The alleged mastermind behind the operation, a New Zealand citizen, was facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit. However, the dispute was already settled before the case got properly underway.

Sources have informed TorrentFreak that the operator and the movie studios reached a private agreement. It’s unclear what the terms are but judging from previous deals it’s likely to involve a damages payment as well as some type of information sharing

The news of a quick resolution is corroborated by local MPAA representatives who informed the NZ Herald that the case against the YTS/YIFY operator was settled out of court.

To many this deal comes as a surprise, as the MPAA previously preferred to send a strong and deterring message. In this case, however, other factors may have weighed stronger.

It could be that the operator has very valuable information to trade. It’s also possible that the MPAA wanted to avoid another piracy case besides Megaupload in New Zealand. Or they might simply want to settle the case without incurring large legal fees.

Whatever the case, the settlement is unprecedented when compared to other MPAA cases that dragged on for years, including the ones against isoHunt, Hotfile and TorrentSpy.

It also stands in sharp contrast to the criminal referrals the MPAA made against Megaupload, NinjaVideo and the IMAGiNE release group.

Since YTS/YIFY was both a release group and a major torrent site, it was certainly just as big of a target as the aforementioned, if not bigger.

TF contacted the MPAA for information on the decision to settle as well as further details on the agreement. The movie group said it couldn’t comment.

Thus far the YTS operator has remained silent. Perhaps we’ll hear the true story from him one day a few years from now…

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Can Access Popcorn Time Services & VPN, Court Rules

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

pop-ytsAfter weeks of rumor and sealed lips, last evening it was made official. Movie torrent site YTS is dead, release group YIFY is no more, and the main Popcorn Time fork, PopcornTime.io, have all been shut down by the MPAA.

The operation involved legal action in two territories. In New Zealand the operator of YTS and related release group YIFY was hit by a multi-million dolalr lawsuit lodged at the High Court on October 12. Confidentiality agreements are in place so public details are scarce, but its believed that YTS has already settled with the MPAA.

In Canada, however, information is more readily available. On October 9, 2015, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal City Studios, Universal Network Television, Warner Bros. and Disney, filed a statement of claim in the Federal Court.

Their targets were people and companies associated with PopcornTime.io, including key developer David Lemarier and his company Wasabi Technologie plus VPN.ht Limited, the outfit behind Popcorn Time’s VPN.

The demands of the studios were broad but clear – stop infringing their rights, stop developing Popcorn Time, shut down its websites and shut down VPN.ht.

“Since April 2014, the individual Defendants David Lemarier, Robert English and Louie
Poole have been developing, operating, distributing and promoting the computer
application ‘Popcorn Time’,” the studios wrote.

“In December, 2014, a paid VPN service provided by the Defendant VPN.ht Limited was integrated in Popcorn Time (PT Add-On). The integration of the PT Add-On acts as an important enticement for users of Popcorn Time to engage in acts of copyright infringement, and is explicitly marketed as such on its website.”

The studios claim that Lemarier is the CEO of VPN.ht and Louie Poole has worked there as a software engineer “at least as early as September, 2015.” Owned by Lemarier, Wasabi Technologie is the company operating VPN.ht’s PayPal account.

“The sale of the PT Add-On service generates important monthly revenues which directly profit the Defendants David Lemarier and VPN.ht Limited, and the Defendant Louie Poole as an employee of VPN.ht Limited. All the individual Defendants as well as VPN.ht Limited derive financial benefits from their participation in Popcorn Time,” the studios add.

Just seven days later on October 16, 2015, Mr Justice Martineau in the Federal Court responded to the studios’ demands by handing down an interim injunction (pdf) against the defendants listed above.

In broad terms it restrains them from infringing the studios’ copyrights, including by continuing to develop, operate, distribute or promote Popcorn Time or “any similar software application” or website. However, it goes further – much, much further.

The injunction includes a huge list of domains and sub-domains which the studios say must be dealt with in order to “fully deactivate” Popcorn Time. PopcornTime.io. and a further 17 are said to relate to the service’s API while 39 relate to the website and four the blog. Dozens of others make up discussion forums, development platforms, mail servers, nameservers, content delivery and sundry others.

The injunction orders the defendants to hand over the login credentials “for the hosting providers and/or registrars accounts” for all of them. They are also required to do the same for the official Popcorn Time Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts. This is so that computer forensics experts “acting under the supervision” of the studios can gain access to them.

Also under the microscope is VPN.ht. The injunction orders the defendants, including VPN.ht’s operators, to hand over the login credentials for “hosting providers and/or registrars” hosting the VPN.ht domains and sub-domains. They are also required to authorize computer forensics experts under the eye of the MPAA to log into VPN.ht’s infrastructure and deactivate the service.

While this development will be of concern to VPN.ht’s customers, the service itself says that there is currently nothing to worry about.

“VPN.ht is not a Canadian company, nor has any of its operations located in Canada, this means Canadian laws are not relevant in out case what so ever,” VPN.ht said in a statement.

“We understand that some of you might be worried or intimidated by the idea of the film studios, but we want to remind you that VPN.ht never logs, never shares any information with anyone else and mostly, cares about our clients and their safety. After all this is why we started VPN.ht, to protect the vulnerable.”

The company says it operates a warrant canary to notify users in the event it has been compromised. Currently that alone raises no alarms but it’s highly likely that user confidence will be undermined by the forceful nature of the injunction and the international reach of the MPAA.

To be continued…

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

TorrentFreak: Found a New YTS / YIFY Site? It’s a FAKE

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

fakeDespite concerns from BitTorrent elitists that the site was a cesspit of poor quality rips, YTS was one of the world’s most popular torrent indexes for a reason.

Simple to find, publicly accessible, nice to look at and bulging with movies, YTS carried thousands of the world’s most popular titles in an easily digestible, convenient format.

Previously the home of YIFY rips, YTS is no more. The site was shuttered by a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed in a New Zealand court by the MPAA and it won’t ever be coming back.

However, considering the number of tips received at TF this morning you’d think nothing was wrong. Email after email has declared that “YTS is back!!” and in fighting form too.

As can be seen from the screenshot below, it certainly looks like it.

yify-fake

But to the disappointment of all YTS and YIFY fans, the above site is a fake. It’s located at yts.ag and it’s being promoted by the same people who carried out a hostile takeover of EZTV earlier this year.

However, as pointed out by a TF reader, the site does indeed index some old YIFY rips. That may be, but in the same way that EZTV no longer carries genuine EZTV releases, YTS.ag won’t have new ‘genuine’ YIFY rips either, since YIFY is no longer in business.

It’s a blatant attempt to cash in on the void left by the demise of YTS and rest assured it won’t be the last. If they aren’t already appearing, torrent sites will soon be flooded with fake torrents claiming to be from YIFY. They won’t be, guaranteed.

Of course, there’s a certain irony in declaring a clone site as a bad player on the basis that it’s pirating another pirate site’s image. But, nevertheless, if a site can’t make it on its own merits and is prepared to mislead now, who’s to say what other tactics it will employ when it has a nice unsuspecting userbase on board.

Copying is the name of the game, no doubt, but being upfront about it is probably a better long-term strategy.

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