Posts tagged ‘mpaa’

TorrentFreak: Torrent Sites Remove Millions of Links to Pirate Content

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

deleteEntertainment industry groups including the RIAA and MPAA view BitTorrent sites as a major threat. The owners of most BitTorrent sites, however, believe they do nothing wrong.

While it’s common knowledge that The Pirate Bay refuses to remove any torrents, all of the other major BitTorrent sites do honor DMCA-style takedown requests.

Several copyright holders make use of these takedown services to remove infringing content, resulting in tens of thousands of takedown requests per month.

Bitsnoop is one of the prime targets. The site boasts one of the largest torrent databases on the Internet, more than 24 million files in total. This number could have been higher though, as the site has complied with 2,220,099 takedown requests over the years.

The overview below shows that most of the takedown notices received by Bitsnoop were sent by Remove Your Media. Other prominent names such as the RIAA and Microsoft also appear in the list of top senders.


As one of the largest torrent sites, KickassTorrents (KAT) is also frequently contacted by copyright holders.

The site doesn’t list as many torrents as Bitsnoop does, but with tens of thousands of takedown notices per month it receives its fair share of takedown requests.

The KAT team informs TF that they removed 26,060 torrents over the past month, and a total of 856,463 since they started counting.

Torrent sites are not the only ones targeted. Copyright holders also ask Google to indirectly remove access to infringing torrents that appear in its search results. Interestingly, Google receives more requests for Bitsnoop and KAT than the sites themselves do.

Google’s transparency report currently lists 3,902,882 Bitsnoop URLs and several million for KickassTorrents’ most recent domain names. The people at TorrentTags noticed this as well and recently published some additional insights from their own database.

Despite the proper takedown policies it’s hard for torrent sites to escape criticism. On the one hand users complain that their torrents are vanishing. On the other, copyright holders are not happy with the constant stream of newly uploaded torrents.

Not all torrent sites are happy with the takedown procedure either. ExtraTorrent doesn’t keep track of the number of takedown requests the site receives, but the operator informs TF that many contain errors or include links that point to different domains.

Still, most torrent sites feel obligated to accept takedown notices and will continue to do so in order to avoid further trouble.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA and RIAA’s Megaupload Lawsuits Delayed Until 2016

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

megaupload-logoNearly four 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 several of his fellow Megaupload defendants are currently in the midst of an extradition hearing to determine whether they will be sent to the U.S. to stand trial.

But regardless of the outcome there’s more legal trouble ahead for Kim Dotcom and the defunct file-hosting service. In addition to the criminal case, Megaupload and 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 and this week it requested another six month stay.

Yesterday U.S. District Court Liam O’Grady granted Megaupload’s request in the RIAA lawsuit under the same conditions as the earlier orders.

Judge O’Grady’s order


A similar order is also expected in the MPAA case, as the movie studios haven’t objected to another extension.

The ruling means that both the MPAA and RIAA cases will now be delayed until April 2016, given that the criminal proceeding has progressed by then. A stay was also granted in a third civil suit filed by the music group Microhits on similar grounds.

Considering the legal action on multiple fronts and the fact that civil cases can take over half a decade to complete, Megaupload is likely to be tied up in legal proceedings for years to come.

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

TorrentFreak: Plenty of Ad Networks Still Love Pirate Sites

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

scamadIn recent years various copyright holder groups have adopted a “follow-the-money” approach in the hope of cutting off funding to so-called pirate sites.

Thus far this has resulted in some notable developments. In the UK hundreds of advertising agencies are actively banning pirate sites and similar initiatives are popping up elsewhere.

This week came another breakthrough when GroupM, the world’s largest advertising media company, adopted a set of anti-piracy guidelines. As a result it now requires media partners to agree to strict standards and ban pirate sites.

The MPAA applauded the initiative and expressed hope that other stakeholders in the ad industry will follow suit.

“The issues of ad-supported piracy is an important one for creative industries everywhere, and it is an important one for businesses whose brands are being hurt by having their advertisements associated with these illegal activities,” the MPAA’s Howard Gantman wrote.

GroupM’s announcement will definitely have an impact on the higher echelons of the ad industry. However, at the bottom and outside the public gaze, several companies are fighting for the grace of pirate sites.

Most regular visitors of pirate sites are probably familiar with the adult advertisements, gambling promotions and other dubious offers that are sometimes bordering on fraud.

These brands have a hard time finding banner space on legitimate sites but not on file-sharing services. The added benefit is that the cost per 1000 impressions is much lower on pirate sites, not to mention the opportunities for intrusive ad formats such as popunders and interstitials.

There are several ad companies that specialize in this area. They act as the middlemen between pirate sites and advertisers in return for a significant stake of the proceeds.

At TorrentFreak we have seen several emails from ad networks advertising their services. Instead of being wary of pirate partnerships, these companies proudly promote their cooperation with these sites hoping to convince others to join.

Below is an example of a company that offers “amazing results” with its popups, mentioning KickassTorrents as one of its top clients.

Email sent by ad company A

Another advertising outfit already assigned an account manager, boasting streaming sites Watchseries, Movshare and Videoweed as partners.

Email sent by ad company B

The above shows that the anti-piracy efforts are not going to stop money from flowing to these sites. What it will do is limit the already minimal presence of mainstream brands, trading them in for more dubious ones.

Whether that will have a significant impact on revenues is unclear, but it does make visits to pirate sites without an ad-blocker more risky.

That leads to a rather grim conclusion that the anti-piracy measures are helping the vendors and advertisers who peddle shady and malicious ads, instead of really hurting pirate sites.

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

TorrentFreak: uTorrent Turns 10 Years Old Today

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

utorrent-logo-newuTorrent was first released to the public on September 18, 2005 and the torrent client has come a long way since.

What began as a minimalist and no-nonsense client, targeted at an already BitTorrent-savvy crowd, is now an application that’s become mainstream.

Over the years uTorrent’s target audience has also changed. BitTorrent was still a geek thing ten years ago but today its audience includes soccer moms, grandparents and many others who are not generally classified as computer experts.

How it started

The groundwork for uTorrent, where the μ stands for micro, was laid out in 2004. At the time most BitTorrent clients were resource hogs or bloatware, while computer memory was relatively limited.

Swedish developer Ludvig Strigeus wanted to counter this trend. Inspired by a friend he took up the task of building a simple but powerful client with the main purpose of downloading torrents.

At the end of 2014 Strigeus started coding the application in his spare time, but after a month development stalled. He eventually picked up the project in September 2015 and three days later the first version was released to the public.

In a matter of days the news spread among Windows-bound BitTorrent users worldwide. For many people uTorrent was a breath of fresh air, due to its simplicity and the minimal use of computer resources.

Fast forward a few months and hundreds of thousands of people had switched to the newcomer.


Most progress in terms of features was made in the first year. Strigeus implemented several key changes which are a core part of the BitTorrent ecosystem today. October 2015

It was among the first clients to implement DHT support, for example, as well as BitTorrent encryption.

Ashwin Navin, who was the CEO of BitTorrent at the time, praised uTorrent for its innovations early 2006. Navin said that he and his colleagues were big fans of Strigeus’ work which soon after introduced the next step in the software’s history.

The Takeover

December 2006, little over a year after the first release, uTorrent was acquired by BitTorrent Inc. The San Francisco based company of BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen had just secured millions in funding and with uTorrent it hoped to expand its userbase.

“Bringing together uTorrent’s efficient implementation and compelling UI with BitTorrent’s expertise in networking protocols will significantly benefit the community with what we envision will be the best BitTorrent client,” the two companies announced.

uTorrent’s founder, Ludvig Strigeus, cut his ties with the application soon after and went on to develop another piece of P2P-powered software, Spotify.

The takeover increased uTorrent’s development capacity but not all users were happy. Some feared that the client would become bloatware and others were wary of BitTorrent’s “deal” with the MPAA.

The vast majority of the people were satisfied though and the number of users grew exponentially.

In the years that followed uTorrent implemented several key improvements including the uTP protocol. In addition, the company also released long-awaited support for Mac and Linux operating systems.

By 2007 uTorrent had a larger userbase than any other BitTorrent client, and twice as many as the runner-up. And this trend continued. A year later uTorrent passed the milestone of 25 million active users and the year after more than half of all BitTorrent users had it marked as their favorite client.


Like all other commercial torrent clients uTorrent needed a business model. For many years the company has made the bulk of its revenue from bundled software such as toolbars. This software is presented as an option during the install process, which can be tricky to spot for some.

The “extra” software sometimes caused controversy. For example, earlier this year many users complained that uTorrent had silently installed a Bitcoin miner. Soon after the news broke, the company decided to no longer include this offer.

Another revenue stream comes from embedded advertisements. When these were first announced there was a lot of pushback from users, but these complaints slowly faded, in part because the advertisements became optional.

How much money the ads generate is unknown, but with billions of displays per year it must be a sizable amount.

uTorrent ads

Very tiny?

Those who compare uTorrent’s appearance will see that the basic layout hasn’t changed that much. However, in terms of functionality and features it’s an entirely different beast.

The downside of these improvements is that the application is no longer as minimal as it used to be.

The installer has also grown in size quite a bit. While it’s still advertised as a “(very) tiny” application the installer is now close to 2MB, instead of the 97kb it used to be back in 2005.

uTorrent version 1.1

Remarkably, however, the memory footprint is still very small. The first version of uTorrent consumed roughly 4MB memory, and today that’s roughly 12MB depending on the setup, which is low compared to most alternatives.

Going forward

Regular visitors and beta testers of uTorrent have noticed that the application’s development has stalled a bit, compared to the early years. However, new fixes and changes are still being released on a monthly basis.

One of the most prominent developments comes in the form of a new monetization strategy uTorrent will be testing during the months to come. Instead of bundled software uTorrent may switch to a new revenue model where it will ask users for money.

Looking back it’s safe to conclude that uTorrent led the way in many aspects, and it’s still a leader today. Alternative clients have a relatively small userbase compared to the client and despite a small group of vocal protesters who resist change, there are no signs of a mass exodus.

It’s safe to say that ten years ago nobody could have predicted that uTorrent would be installed over a billion times, with roughly 150 million active users a month today. As such, congratulations is certainly in order.

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

TorrentFreak: MPA Reveals 500+ Instances of Pirate Site Blocking in Europe

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

mpaOver the past several years Hollywood and its counterparts in the worldwide music industry have made huge strides in their efforts to complicate user access to so-called ‘pirate’ sites.

The theory is that if consumers find sites like The Pirate Bay more difficult to find, then the chances of those people buying official content will increase.

The first unlicensed site (AllofMP3) was ordered blocked in Denmark in 2006, and ever since rightsholders have been thirsty for more.

For almost a decade and with increasing frequency since 2010, site-blocking has been in the news, mainly centered around actions against torrent sites. In most cases of rightsholders testing the judicial waters around Europe, The Pirate Bay has been used as the guinea pig. History tells us that once The Pirate Bay gets blocked, the floodgates are well and truly open.

Although we’ve reported on every site-blocking court battle around Europe (including some that have been held behind closed doors), there are no publicly available central resources that provide an accurate overview of how many sites are blocked in each country. It doesn’t help that in UK, for example, rightsholders add sites to existing court orders without any fresh announcement.

Yesterday, however, the MPAA’s international variant, MPA Europe, provided some interesting numbers which highlight the extent of site-blocking on copyright grounds on the continent. The presentation, made by Deputy General Counsel Okke Visser at the iCLIC Conference in Southampton, UK, included the slide below.


What the image shows is a total of 504 instances of web-blocking across Europe. It’s worth noting that some of the instances are duplicates, since sites like Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents are blocked in multiple regions. Also, it appears that proxies aren’t included in the total.


The region with by far the greatest number of blockades is Italy, down in the south of Europe with 238 instances. The country’s AGCOM agency has been ordering sites to be blocked at an alarming rate, with no trials needed for a blackout.

However, things haven’t necessarily been going to plan. Research carried out in Italy found that blocking only increased blocked websites’ popularity, via the so-called “Streisand Effect”.

United Kingdom

It’s no surprise that the UK takes second place with 135 instances of blocking. Today they’re being ordered on behalf of Hollywood, the music industry, book publishers, sports broadcasters and even watch manufacturers.

The very first site to be blocked in the country on copyright grounds was defunct Usenet indexer Newzbin/2. The official process began in 2010 when MPA Europe, citing legal action in Denmark, asked local ISP BT to block the site. Subsequent court action resulted in an injunction and the floodgates were open for dozens of additional demands.


After being the site-blocking pioneer of Europe, Denmark now has 41 instances of site-blocking according to the MPAA. Earlier this year a large batch of torrent and streaming sites were blocked, followed by a second wave in August.


When new legislation came into effect in Spain in January, site-blocking was bound to follow.

Sure enough, in March 2015 local ISPs were given 72 hours to block The Pirate Bay and in April a block of a popular music site followed. According to MPA Europe, Spain now has 24 instances of blocking.

The rest

While blocking measures are in place across the whole of the far west of Europe, thus far plenty of countries are holding their ground. In the north, Sweden is currently block-free, but that could all change depending on the outcome of pending legal action.

After putting up a tremendous fight against the odds, the Netherlands also has no blocks in place. However, a case against local ISPs still has some way to run.

Slightly to the east, Germany has no blocks and to date there has been little discussion on the topic in Poland or Romania. However, neighbor Austria now has six instances of blocking after the movie industry won a protracted legal battle against The Pirate Bay and other sites.

Instances of copyright-related site-blocking across Europe

#1 – Italy (238)
#2 – United Kingdom (135)
#3 – Denmark (41)
#4 – Spain (24)
#5 – France (18) (ref)
#6 – Portugal (15) (ref 1,2)
#7 – Belgium (13) (ref 1,2)
#8 – Norway (7) (ref)
#9 – Austria (6)
#10 – Ireland (2) (ref 1,2)
#10 – Greece (2) (ref)
#10 – Iceland (2) (ref)
#11 – Finland (1) (ref)

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

TorrentFreak: Sony Pictures Considered Buying BitTorrent Inc.

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

acqIn Hollywood, BitTorrent is often framed as a threat due to its pirate stigma, but the technology also offers opportunities.

BitTorrent Inc, the company behind the popular uTorrent software, helps artists to legally distribute their work to millions of people every year.

TF can now reveal that Sony Pictures’ interest in the technology was so concrete that the movie studio listed it as a potential acquisition. In a draft presentation from early 2006 BitTorrent flanks other buying opportunities such as TiVo and Netflix.

The Sony presentation discusses options to “refine” its business and saw BitTorrent as a potential candidate to diversify. Among other things, buying BitTorrent could improve margins and facilitate growth.

To accomplish this goal Sony could invest $2 to $4 billion dollars, certainly enough to buy BitTorrent. Even Netflix, which didn’t offer video streaming yet, was within reach based on a $1.2 billion valuation at the time.


According to the presentation the acquisition candidates would bridge a gap between Sony’s entertainment content and the company’s technology devices.

In the case of BitTorrent this could facilitate the development of set-top boxes and TVs with built-in technology to download and play video content. This is an area BitTorrent was already working on with other partners.


In an overview sheet Sony sums up some of BitTorrent’s strengths as well as recent developments. It mentions the agreement with the MPAA to keep infringing content off its website, among others.

Sony was also aware of BitTorrent’s plans to launch its own entertainment store. This eventually launched a year later but never got any real traction.


Despite the enthusiasm Sony never bought BitTorrent. The company went for Grouper instead and eventually bought a 25% stake in Starz Media as well.

Today almost a decade has passed, and in hindsight it’s not necessarily a bad decision for Sony to have passed on BitTorrent. The company has a massive userbase but struggles to find good revenues sources.

Netflix, on the other hand, is definitely a missed opportunity as the company now dominates online media distribution worldwide.

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

TorrentFreak: Gucci Sets Trend for Broad Internet ‘Censorship’

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

gucciIn July the movie streaming site MovieTube was sued by the MPAA, which tried to shut it down with a broad injunction.

Last month a coalition of global tech firms including Google, Facebook, Twitter protested the MPAA’s request, which would require search engines, ISPs and hosting companies to stop linking to or offering services to MovieTube.

The MPAA eventually dropped the request as MovieTube shut down voluntarily, but we can expect more of these requests in the future. In fact, they are already quite common in the fashion industry.

This year alone Gucci has targeted hundreds of “infringing” websites that sell knockoffs without permission, and the fashion icon has no trouble getting courts to shut these sites down through similar injunctions.

Gucci’s most recent case was filed three weeks ago (pdf). It targets 221 websites and is similar to lawsuits that were filed previously, which accuse site owners of selling counterfeit merchandise.

In the complaint Gucci asks for a preliminary injunction to prevent all third parties from doing business with the site. This includes payment services, social networks and other online services.

Furthermore, Gucci specifically requests an order to prevent “search engines, Web hosts, domain-name registrars and domain-name registries” from facilitating access to the sites in question.

Gucci’s request

While this case is still pending, the designer company has had success with previous requests. In May, for example, Gucci obtained an injunction which prohibits search engines from linking to 184 sites, while ordering domain name registrars to hand over the domains.

Unlike with the MovieTube case, there has been little public outcry about the Gucci cases. However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation believes that they pose a significant threat.

“The Gucci cases are certainly of concern for the same reasons as the MovieTube case, and they deserve more public scrutiny,” EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz informs TF.

“Vaguely written orders that could be used to co-opt numerous Internet intermediaries into blocking or filtering websites are an abuse of the law and threaten some of the same harms as the infamous SOPA bill did,” he adds.

In all fairness, Gucci shouldn’t get all the ‘credit’ here. Several other designer brands have successfully requested similar injunctions in the past, including Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

Similarly, media company ABS-CBN has been granted broad injunctions by American courts before.

Still, none of these cases triggered the same response as the MovieTube case did. Perhaps the involvement of the MPAA was needed to really hit a nerve with the tech companies?

In any case, it’s clear that Hollywood isn’t setting the trend here, they’re simply following a path already laid out by others.

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

TorrentFreak: ISPs and Rightsholders Extend “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme

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

pirate-runningDuring the summer of 2011 the MPAA and RIAA teamed up with five major Internet providers in the United States, announcing their a plan to “educate” BitTorrent pirates.

The parties launched the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) and agreed on a system through which Internet account holders are warned if their connections are used to download pirated content. After five or six warnings ISPs take a variety of repressive measures, including bandwidth throttling and temporary disconnections.

Initially the first ISPs were expected to start sending out “Copyright Alerts” by the end of 2011, but due to several delaying factors it took until 2013 before the system went live.

A few weeks ago the original agreement (pdf) quietly expired, but that doesn’t mean that warnings are off the table. Behind the scenes, copyright holders and ISPs have agreed to extend the original agreement for four more months while they work on several changes and improvements.

According to a document seen by TF the parties opted for the short extension because more time is needed to reach a new agreement. The yearly volume of notices is likely to be one of the key issues up for discussion.

An insider informed TF that CCI is committed to keeping the flagship Copyright Alert program alive. In addition, the group is working on an expansion of its consumer education efforts in an effort to direct people to legal services.

While warnings are at the center of the Copyright Alert System, the ultimate goal of CCI is to “shift social norms and behavior.”

At the moment it remains unclear how effective the alerts have been thus far. Some initial statistics were released early 2014 but TF was told that no new figures will be made public before next year.

While CCI remains positive about the program, there has also been critique from copyright holders. A few months ago several independent movies studios called for an end to the “six strikes” scheme, describing it as an ineffective “sham”.

According to the movie studios the copyright alerts are highly ineffective because only a small fraction of the piracy notices are forwarded to the Internet providers.

Time will tell whether any of the upcoming changes will address these concerns.

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

TorrentFreak: US Govt. Denies Responsibility for Megaupload’s Servers

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

megaupload-logoIn a few months’ time it will be four years since Megaupload’s servers were raided by U.S. authorities. Since then, virtually no progress has been made in the criminal case.

Kim Dotcom and his Megaupload colleagues are still awaiting 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 from users. The question is, for how long.

Last month 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.

Megaupload’s legal team suggested that the U.S. Government should buy the servers and take care of the hosting costs. However, in a new filing (pdf) just submitted to the District Court the authorities deny all responsibility.

United States Attorney Dana Boente explains that the Government has already backed up the data they need and no longer have a claim on the servers.

“…the government has already completed its acquisition of data from the Carpathia Servers authorized by the warrant, which the defendants will be entitled to during discovery,” Boente writes.

“As such, there is no basis for the Court to order the government to assume possession of the Carpathia Servers or reimburse Carpathia for ‘allocated costs’ related to their continued maintenance.”

The Government says it handed over its claim on the servers early 2012 after the search warrant was executed and the hosting company was informed at the time. This means that the U.S. can and will not determine the fate of the stored servers.

The authorities say they are willing to allow Megaupload and the other defendants to look through the data that was copied, but only after they are arraigned.

In any case, the U.S. denies any responsibility for the Megaupload servers and asks the court to keep it this way.

“…the United States continues to request that the Court deny any effort to impose unprecedented financial or supervisory obligations on the United States related to the Carpathia Servers,” the U.S. Attorney concludes.

Previously the U.S. and MPAA blocked Megaupload’s plans to buy the servers, which is one of the main reasons that there is still no solution after all those years.

The MPAA also renewed its previous position last week (pdf). The Hollywood group says doesn’t mind if users are reunited with their files as long as Megaupload doesn’t get hold of them.

“The MPAA members’ principal concern is assuring that adequate steps are taken [to] prevent the MPAA members’ content on the Mega Servers in Carpathia’s possession from falling back into the hands of Megaupload or otherwise entering the stream of commerce,” they write.

The above means that none of the parties is willing to move forward. The servers are still trapped in between the various parties and it appears that only District Court Judge Liam O’Grady can change this.

It appears to be a choice between saving the 25 Petabytes of data or wiping all servers clean.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Demands Extraordinary Measures to Prevent Piracy

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

cameraspyAt some stage the majority of content created by the world’s leading movie and TV companies enters the digital realm. Whether during production, post-production, marketing or distribution, the digitization of video is the inevitable outcome of technological advances.

As a result, dozens of companies are involved in shifting studio content around the world, either as part of the creative process or when finished material is made available to the public via platforms such as Netflix or Amazon.

Of course, every company that gets involved represents an additional weak link in the chain, with the potential for movies to be pirated before they’re ready for distribution (workprints, for example) or once they’re completed. Unsurprisingly, the MPAA works extremely hard to ensure that such leaks are kept to a minimum.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the documentation that accompanies the MPAA’s Content Security Model, a set of best practices aimed at companies entrusted with handling protected media and content. Amazon, one of the MPAA’s partners, has published the Hollywood group’s latest set of requirements.

Admittedly many of the MPAA’s demands will be already-established business practices for a big company like Amazon, but a few really stand out as examples of how far Hollywood is prepared to reach into its suppliers’ operations.

For example, in addition to carrying out background screening on all employees and third party contractors, the MPAA demands that all workers sign annual confidentiality agreements that forbid them from talking about protected content.

With an eye on local law, companies must also implement random searches of their workers for traces of MPAA content, including the removal of coats, hats and belts, the emptying of pockets, a full security pat-down, scanning with metal detectors and inspection of electronic devices.

Workers are also forbidden from entering/exiting premises with any digital recording devices such as USB drives, cameras and cellphones, while anyone bringing food into a production area must do so using a transparent bag or container.

And to ensure that no one tries to smuggle content out, companies such as Amazon are required to implement a worker dress code which bans the use of “oversized clothing” such as baggy pants or hooded sweatshirts.

Overseeing all of these precautions are any number of security guards, but not even they escape the eyes of the MPAA. Studio partners are also required to implement additional controls to ensure that their own security guards are “actively” monitored.

For workers with computer access there are dozens of rules and regulations (most making complete sense from an IT security perspective), but those thinking of smuggling out a file or two should perhaps reconsider. The MPAA insists that all movement of content, both internally and externally, should be subject to comprehensive logging, including username, timestamps, filenames, plus source and destination IP addresses.

The above represent just a few examples of the MPAA’s comprehensive requirements but no matter how stringent the rules, content leaks happen each and every year.

Whether that’s the handful of movie workprints that periodically make the headlines or the dozens of fully finished Oscar screeners hitting the web annually, leaks are here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Former Megaupload User Asks Court to Return His Files

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Seeks New Global Anti-Piracy Vice President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Start slowly and build

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

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

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

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

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

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

Target: Google

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

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

“I completely agree,” said one exec.

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

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

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

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

Don’t use the ‘T’ word

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

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

Dotcom disagreed.

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

The label exec preferred to frame it differently

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

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

This thing has potential….

Soon the UMG execs were coming up with the ideas.

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

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

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

How soon can we start?

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

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

“Yes, that’s correct,” Kim confirmed.

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

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

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

The Mega Song Controversy

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

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

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

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

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

Google had a point to prove on SOPA?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Notorious Market’ lists are bad for business

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

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

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

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

The suggestion was well received.

Allow us to improve your standing, Mr Dotcom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Should Web Browsers Block Copyright Infringing URLs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Recruits Software Programmer to Combat Piracy

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

mpaa-logoIn its quest to stamp out piracy, the MPAA continues to evolve its anti-piracy strategies and tools.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These requests have increased dramatically over the years. In 2008, the search engine received only a few dozen takedown notices during the entire year, but the same number is now reached in a matter of seconds.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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TorrentFreak: MPAA Emails Expose Dirty Media Attack Against Google

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Sues MovieTube Sites Over Mass Piracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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TorrentFreak: Public Revolts Against Plan to Kill Domain Name Privacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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